Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nietzsche - Part 1

I don't know about other divorced guys, simply because I don't belong to any kind of support group. In some way the whole support group concept doesn't seem very manly anyway and I like to think of myself as a manly sort of guy. Perhaps then it is our egos that makes us so susceptible to life's challenges. A topic perhaps for another day.

Today, however I wish to discuss a bit of Nietzche. I have been reading a bit of "The Dawn of Day" of late. Of course you may ask, "What kind of moron would read Nietzche when going through a divorce?" I would respond that it is a rare moron that would do so, for it is this moron that tries to find meaning in misery. The contemporary man would latch on to the concept of misery and state, "what is so miserable about being divorced, for you are now a free man able to set your own course and find new ports of call." Ah! True indeed! But I am no contemporary man. A topic perhaps for another day as I sidetrack myself.

Nietzche, Section 77 states:

THE TORTURES OF THE SOUL - The whole world raises a shout of horror at the present day if one man presumes to torture the body of another: the indignation against such a being bursts forth almost spontaneously. Nay; we tremble even at the very thought of torture being inflicted on a man or an animal, and we undergo unspeakable misery when we hear of such an act being accomplished. But the same feeling is experienced in a much lesser degree and extend when it is a question of the tortures of the soul and the dreadfulness of their infliction. Christianity has introduced such tortures on an unprecedented scale, and still continues to preach this kind of martyrdom - yea, it even complains innocently of backsliding and indifference when it meets with a state of soul which is free from such agonies. From all this it now results that humanity, in the face of spiritual racks, tortures of the mind, and instruments of punishment, behaves even to-day with the same awesome patience and indecision which it exhibited in former times in the presence of the cruelties practiced on the bodies of men or animals.

Section 45 states;

A TRAGIC TERMINATION OF KNOWLEDGE - Of all the means of exaltation, human sacrifices have at times done most to elevate man. And perhaps the one most powerful thought - the idea of self-sacrificing humanity- might be made to prevail over every other aspiration and thus to prove the victor over even the most victorious.

Nietzche needs to smoke that weed a little while longer. On the one hand he criticizes Christianity for the misery of the soul, but earlier in the text he acknowledges self-sacrificing humanity as a means of exaltation. Could one reasonably conclude that one who wishes to be exalted would indulge themselves in some misery causing self-sacrifice? I would think so.

Consider this in another context; an athlete who trains for some great competitive event will place his or her body in considerable discomfort, or misery, for months or years to prepare. The result of that physical misery is that the body becomes tuned and prepared above those around him so that it can perform at the event. One could say that his or her body becomes exalted. Likewise, the great mind which derives unique and important thought for our society undergoes a similar process. Through tribulation of study and repetition the mind absorbs concepts and knowledge of past minds until at some point it is able to stand on its own and build upon that knowledge to create a new, unique thought. If if were not for that mental discomfort that unique thought could not be borne and the mind exalted.

The spirit is no different than the mind and body; without misery it cannot grow and we cannot be exalted. The more we are exposed to that misery and overcome the pangs of submission to desire, the stronger we become spiritually until at some point we become somewhat numb to the effects spiritual misery. During the journey we may falter, however if we do not lose hope and continue our efforts in ernest then Christianity affords grace. It is here where we see that the law, and the misery derived within, exalts man, however grace provides hope if our misery becomes to great to bear.

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