“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Thursday, June 09, 2005

a short and not so sweet post

LI has been terrible lately. We know it. Exhaustion on this end. And also – there is a strange cycle in trying to write posts daily. Sometimes, what comes out of my fingers seems like gold – and then sometimes it seems like fool’s gold. I am rather fascinated by that volatility, even if LI's poor readers might find it less than engrossing. It isn’t connected to the quality of ideas – writing isn’t a command and control process, in which the concepts come first and tell the language, or one’s share of it, how to get to work. The concepts are vaguely there, a sort of drape fluttering and room hum, and one’s share of the language is sprawled on the floor, grinding up crayons and picking their noses. And then some cognitive throat clearing occurs, and the language either jumps up and starts spontaneously doing the dance of the bumble bee back from the pollen laden flowers – which is good -- or it bucks and whinnies like a dying mule – which is bad.

Our recommend for your reading pleasure this morning is this Knight Ridder article about the freedom loving Iraqi government our boys and gals are dying for. Those boys and gals are probably proud as punch that the Iraqi gov has discovered such creative uses for the electric drill as an instrument of information gathering. Gee, it is almost as if our boys and gals are dying to reincarnate the very forms and ceremonies of the last Iraq government, Saddam Hussein’s. But that can’t be – can one imagine Donald Rumsfeld, for instance, supporting that kind of thing?

Your neighbors. Their blood. Your hands. The virtuous circle rides again, and it is mornin’ in Bush’s America.

Our other recommend is a much longer and lasting read. Santayana's philosophical masterpiece, the Life of Reason, has been put up in all five volumes at the Gutenberg site. We think Santayana was the most important conservative philosopher of the twentieth century, and maybe the sole original American contribution to conservative thought. Plus, he is an excellent writer (too excellent, many philosophers claim -- he liked writing a little bit too much). He makes the Strausses and Kirks look like amateur pikers.

5 comments:

kmort said...

Tucholsky:
“Tell me what you need, and I will find a Nietzsche quote for you. With Schopenhauer, this isn’t so easy. With Nietzsche? Pro Germany and anti-German. For peace and against peace. For literature and against literature. Whatever you like.”

This I would tend to agree with.
There is a tender, somewhat aesthete Nietzsche--as evidenced in the Birth of Tragedy--is there not? One who also enjoys Emerson and Beethoven and poetry. Yet there is the more militaristic scary Nietzshce as indicated in your quote from Antichrist. Inconsistency, the hobgoblin of little minds and so forth. How do we know FN was not mad anyways? And the sort of programme derived from FN's books does not appear to be so complex or workable or profound: Mencken summed it up--more respectfully than any real philosopher might have-- in about 5 or 6 paragraphs: anti-democratic, anti-Christian, anti-systematic. His writing's far too individualist and rebellious to be classifed as a real nazi propagandist (as say Wagner's anti-semitic rants are); really I think there are many indications that the madness may have shown up years before the official dates of his "sickness"..............

kmort said...

Es Toot mir Leid for puling away on your boards. Roger the inductivist and closet-case analytical is I think preferable to Roger the post-mod Nietzschean.

In some sense Nietzsche is one of the Greats--a sort of cosmic Head Coach for the Joe Varsities of College Town Inc. who are surrounded by marxists and lesbians and the badass yokels a few miles away in El Campo; a bit of a Prussian Aristotle (tho I think he needed a bit more elbow greasing from some rotlicht Xanthippe), FN's thoughts are not so applicable apres-Freud, apres Einstein, apres-Russell/Wittgenstein, apres- Skinner and Chomsky........are they?? (Aks me nicely and I will depart).

roger said...

kmort, I'm not ignoring your comments, it is just that I haven't yet got to my own argument, and I don't want to show my cards yet. I have one more post about the fascist interpretation of Nietzsche, and then I will make an argument for ... well, a way of reading Nietzsche, to put the dullest feathers on it.

kmort said...

I won't taint your latest Nietzschean piece, but I do think--following someone like Mencken more than any academics I may recall-- there is a fairly immutable core to FN's thought, which is anti-democratic, opposed to compassion and to "slave morality"; FN seems somewhat cavalier in places more than a german nationalist or fascist, true, but I don't think it is clear--or I dont understand how you would establish it-- that Nietzsche would have opposed fascism per se.

At the risk of grunting I will say I think (and hope ) that Nietzsche would have been horrified at the final solution and camps, but I suspect he would not have objected to the Blackshirts or Brownshirts at least in their original conception: aren't there sections praising Prussian military regiments and even Bismarck?

roger said...

Nietzsche volunteered in the Franco-Prussian war. At the end of that war, he began -- in his letters -- to criticize Prussia. By the end of his life, in Ecce Homo, he was claiming that his enmity towards Bismarck was among the achievements he was proudest of. This didn't prevent him from having distinct moments of overwhelming military enthusiasm -- he liked the idea of hard, cynical generals exchanging anti-clerical remarks over their schnapps -- and of enthusing over the soldier's discipline -- but basically, the major themes of Nietzsche's politics, sounded again and again, was about small states -- the warring states of Renaissance italy, the confederacy of small German states before Bismarck's confederating of the nation -- and how to save the noble culture nourished by such states in what he believed to be the coming international state. Extending someone's politics beyond his lifetime is one of those games that has no real rules -- it is like praising the books one likes by saying they will be read one hundred years hence, a proposition nicely shielded from any possible proof -- but if I were to extend Nietzsche's politics, I'd say that he would have long left Germany to live in permanent exile before the 30s. He was against parties -- and fascism is nothing if not a party structure -- against the enlarged, nationalistic state -- ditto -- and he mentions the extensive money spent on military budgets of his time as evidences of pure decay. This occurs even when Nietzsche was on his downers -- in the notes in 1889, where the world was obviously speeding up for him. Here's a note from that period: (check out the link here)http://thenietzschechannel.fws1.com/nache25.htm

As a proof that the house is led by fools and criminals from above, Europe now pays an annual sum of 12 billion ripping up gaps between the emerging nations,leading the most brain burning wars that have ever been fought: all the preconditions for great tasks, for world historical goals, for a nobler and finer spirituality have been negated by Furst Bismarck with a cursed certainty of instinct. And look now at the Germans, the lowest, stupidest, commonest race that crawls upon the earth, hohenzollert up to the neck with its hatred for the mind and freedom. Look at their "genius," Bismarck, the idiot among the statemen of all time, who has never thought a handbreadth away from the interests of the house of Hohenzollern."

At the same time, you get stupid notes about how Nietzsche is going to become a world power by being adopted by International Jewish bankers.

Basically, he was still sane enough to revise these themes in his last book -- the notes you write for a book are interesting, but they are also not the "truth" about an author.