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.