Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why I'm Not Nietzsche

Philosophy as a formal study is not something I have ever tried to do. Probably because I cannot even spell Schopenhauer or Kierkegaard without help, and then, too, pronunciation of the latter's name leaves my tongue feeling extremely pretentious. Same is true for Nietzsche. He was friends -- on and off -- with Schopenhauer and Kapellmeister Hans Von Bulow and all kinds of fascinating people. Imagine having the whole lot over for dinner. If there were a mass suicide after port and cigars, you'd know at the very least, your cooking hadn't provoked it. I take small comforts where I can.

I have often wondered why Nietzsche is so popular. Probably because much of his life and philosophies are easily misunderstood and so cleverly applied out of context.

Whenever I want to understand metaphysics and existentialism and other pompous-sounding nods to bleak abstracts, hopelessness and the anguish of the human condition, I go to my main point man, Woody Allen.
Woody knows how to cut to the chase. Woody is a genius, just like Nietzsche. In Hannah and Her Sisters, Woody, who is wallowing in a search for the meaning of life, contemplates the infinite. He observes that Nietzsche's Theory of Eternal Recurrence means we are doomed to repeat our lives over and over: "Oh, God," he laments, "I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again." Woody makes it so easy to absorb. Woody makes me laugh.
I 'll bet Friedrich Nietzsche never laughed, poor man. That's why I am not him at all. I admire his immense kopf, I am in awe of his intellect -- and I am pleased to know he severed all former relations with friends, publishers -- anyone -- who had succumbed to the dark lure of antisemitism. Nietzsche ended up a lone wolf, a voice of truth and rebellion in a "godless" world defined most narrowly by the strictest codes of moral turpitude.

I gotta hand it to him. He was brave and I'd like to be brave. He wrote relentlessly and I need to write relentlessly. He spoke the truth as he saw it. I try to do likewise. So, there is a kinship between us. For one thing, we both come at the world like outside observers; for another, we spell our names with a Z. Try as I might to have loosened up the old guy just a little, I would have been smacked down for being petty bourgeois and not one of the "exemplary" people whom he believed should live outside the "moral code" -- just like Jean Brody!

Most of all -- and I think this is important -- Nietzsche and I greatly differ in that he had a very unruly and unattractive moustache. I try to keep mine under control.


  1. Love the mustache ending!

    Jack Ruttan said to come say hello and I'm glad I did.

    You really do need to get to twitter. :)

  2. Congratulations on your blog launch Carol!

  3. Ah, but the things one can hide in a moustache!
    Great blog. I'll be back.

  4. Stuff your gut with tons of food
    And then collapse while muscles pound
    Don't claim Thanksgiving is the reason
    You eat this way all year round.

    from an old MAD Magazine poem that I remember

    BTW. Sandy what's that moustache crack