Though class last night was interesting, I still can’t write about Nietzsche with any insight. Part of the issue with Human, All-Too-Human is that it is a collection of aphorisms which at variably appear linked then disconnected, making a page-to-page reading difficult. While the writing itself isn’t so difficult, I found myself bogged down in attempting to knit a philosohpical narrative together. I am not sure if that’s possible with Nietzche, or perhaps it’s just not possible for me.
If I could say one thing about Nietzche it would be that I find him quite cynically dark – perhaps a gallows-humour? But I see instead the paralysis of emotion, which seems antithetical to “A Book for Free Spirits”. It’s not that I don’t see his perspective, for he makes rational assertions about the world in which he lives – but it is that I don’t want to dwell in this place where all desire is stunted by society. For example the following aphorism:
Hope. Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods’ gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the “lucky jar.” Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good–it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man’s torment.
This of course brings immediately to mind Waiting for Godot and the hope that keeps Didi and Gogo expectantly waiting by the side of the road. They could hang themselves from a tree (if only they would bring a bit of rope), but instead they hang on to the hope that Godot will arrive and thus…. well, we don’t really know what Godot might do to relieve their angst)
This inverse read of Pandora’s myth doesn’t exactly inspire joy, does it? That our lives are an illusion, held together with the cruelest evil – HOPE – without which we would end our torment rather than go on? This seems a rather sad reduction of human emotion and experience – that we simply live in anticipation of a better world, and there is no way to construct the better life in our thoughts and behaviours.
(Stay tuned for more thoughts when my mind starts working a bit better – afternoons don’t work for me when it comes to writing, but I simply had to get something down to mull over in greater detail when I have more time to write.)