nietzsche

"Was Socrates a Greek at all?"

"By birth, Socrates belonged to the lowest class: Socrates was plebeian. We are told, and can see in sculptures of him, how ugly he was. But ugliness, in itself an objection, is among the Greeks almost a refutation. Was Socrates a Greek at all?" Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, the third of the Maxims and Arrows sequence.

"She wanted to do something else too: be Nietzschean!"

Is it OK to be changed by reading a philosopher? Tom Stern in The Point: "You have to be careful about questions like this, and not only because the number of murderers claiming Nietzsche as their inspiration is higher than I would like. What the student usually means is: “Nietzsche mocks careful scholarship: Can I, in his spirit, write my paper however the hell I want and still get a good grade?” In this case, though, the student knew perfectly well how to write a scholarly paper. She wanted to do something else too: be Nietzschean!"

"Half-artist, half-bird, half-metaphysician"

"And how many new ideals are not, at bottom, still possible? Here is a little ideal that I seize upon every five weeks, while upon a wild and lonely walk, in the azure moment of a blasphemous joy. To spend one's life amid delicate and absurd things; a stranger to reality; half-artist, half-bird, half-metaphysician; without a yea or a nay for reality, save that from time to time one acknowledges it, after the manner of a good dancer, with the tips of one's toes; always tickled by some happy ray of sunlight; relieved and encouraged even by sorrow -- for sorrow preserves the happy man; fixing a little tail of jokes even to the most holy thing: this, as is clear, is the ideal of a heavy spirit, a ton in weight -- of the spirit of gravity." Friedrich Nietzsche: The Will to Power — §1039.

Nietzsche on the "tyranny of the actual"

"What antiquated thoughts I harbour in my breast toward such a complex of mythology and virtue! But they must out for once, and may everyone have a good laugh. I would say the following: history always inculcates: "once upon a time," the moral: "you ought not" or "you ought not to have." So history becomes a compendium of actual immorality. How grievously he would err who would at the same time view history as the judge of this actual immorality! That a Raphael had to die at the age of thirty-six, for example, is offensive to morality: such a being ought never to die. If now you want to come to the aid of history, as apologists of the actual, you will say: he expressed all he had to say and given a longer life he would always only have produced beauty as the same beauty, not as new beauty, as things of this sort. Thus you are advocates of the devil, namely by making of success, of fact, your idol: while a fact is always stupid and has at all times resembled a calf more than a god." (From Nietzsche's On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, section 8. Translation by Peter Preuss.)

"I have gratitude for nothing else, nor have I any other touchstone for testing what is good."

"And once more: I become a better man when Bizet speaks to me. Also a better musician, a better listener. Is it in any way possible to listen better? -- I even burrow behind this music with my ears. I hear its very cause. I seem to assist at its birth. I tremble before the dangers which this daring music runs, I am enraptured over those happy accidents for which even Bizet himself may not be responsible. -- And, strange to say, at bottom I do not give it a thought, or am not aware how much thought I really do give it. For quite other ideas are running through my head the while. ... Has any one ever observed that music emancipates the spirit? gives wings to thought? and that the more one becomes a musician the more one is also a philosopher? The grey sky of abstraction seems thrilled by flashes of lightning; the light is strong enough to reveal all the details of things; to enable one to grapple with problems; and the world is surveyed as if from a mountain top—With this I have defined philosophical pathos -- And unexpectedly answers drop into my lap, a small hailstorm of ice and wisdom, of problems solved. Where am I? Bizet makes me productive. Everything that is good makes me productive. I have gratitude for nothing else, nor have I any other touchstone for testing what is good." -- From the introduction of Friedrich Nietzsche's The Case of Wagner

A Wagnerian youth

"Taking everything into consideration I could never have survived my youth without Wagnerian music. For I was condemned to the society of Germans. If one wishes to escape from unbearable pressure then one needs hashish. Well, I needed Wagner. Wagner is the antidote to everything essentially German -- the fact that he is a poison too I do not deny. From the moment that Tristan was arranged for the piano -- all honour to you Herr von Bulow! I was a Wagnerian. Wagner’s previous works seemed beneath me -- they were too commonplace, too "German”. But to this day I am still seeking for a work which would be a match to Tristan in dangerous fascination and possess the same gruesome and sweet quality of infinity; I seek among all the arts in vain. All the quaint features of Leonardo da Vinci’s work lose their charm at the sound of the first bar in Tristan. This work is without question Wagner’s non plus ultra; after its creation the composition of the Mastersingers and of the Ring was a relaxation to him. To become healthier—this in a nature like Wagner’s amounts to going backwards. The curiosity of the psychologist is so great in me that I regard it as quite a special privilege to have lived at the right time and to have lived precisely among Germans so as to be ripe for this work. The world must indeed be empty for him who has never been unhealthy enough for this "hellish voluptuousness": it is allowable, even obligatory to employ a mystic formula here. I suppose I know better than anyone the prodigious feats of which Wagner was capable, the fifty worlds of strange delights to which only he had wings to soar; and as I am alive today and strong enough to turn even the most questionable and most dangerous things to my own advantage and thus to grow stronger, I declare Wagner to have been the greatest benefactor of my life. The bond which unites us is the fact that we have suffered greater agony even at each other’s hands than most men are able to bear nowadays and this will always keep our names associated in the minds of men. For just as Wagner is merely a misunderstanding among Germans so in truth am I and ever will be. You lack two centuries of psychological and artistic discipline my dear countrymen! But one can never catch up that amount of lost time." From Ecce Homo: "Why I Am So Clever", section 6.

Trinity College to provide access to Wittgenstein's Nachlass

From the press release: A new facsimile edition of the entire Nachlass, using cutting edge technology, is in the process of being completed, and it is anticipated that the first images will be available by the end of September 2014. Importantly, the Nachlass will be made available on an open-access basis. The project has been planned for some considerable time, and is made possible through a partnership between Trinity College Cambridge, the University of Bergen and the Stanhill Foundation.

Pablo D'Iorio's Nietzsche Source may also be of some interest.

Maintaining cheerfulness in the midst of a gloomy task, fraught with immeasurable responsibility, is no small feat; and yet what is needed more than cheerfulness? Nothing succeeds if prankishness has no part in it. Excess strength alone is the proof of strength.

Nietzsche, in the preface to Twilight of the Idols

"Artists have an interest in others’ believing in sudden ideas, so-called inspirations; as if the idea of a work of art, of poetry, the fundamental thought of a philosophy shines down like a merciful light from heaven. In truth, the good artist’s or thinker’s imagination is continually producing things good, mediocre, and bad, but his power of judgment, highly sharpened and practiced, rejects, selects, joins together; thus we now see from Beethoven’s notebooks that he gradually assembled the most glorious melodies and, to a degree, selected them out of disparate beginnings. The artist who separates less rigorously, liking to rely on his imitative memory, can in some circumstances become a great improviser; but artistic improvisation stands low in relation to artistic thoughts earnestly and laboriously chosen. All great men were great workers, untiring not only in invention but also in rejecting, sifting, reforming, arranging."

— Nietzsche in Human, All Too Human

You can interpret the past only on the basis of the highest power of the present. Only in the strongest tension of your noblest characteristics will you surmise what from the past is great and worth knowing and preserving. Like by like! Otherwise you drag the past down to your level. Do not believe a piece of historical writing if it does not spring out of the head of the rarest of spirits. You will always perceive the quality of its spirit if it is forced to express something universal or to repeat once more something universally known. The true historian must have the power of reshaping the universally known into what has never been heard and to announce what is universal so simply and deeply that people overlook the simplicity in the profundity and the profundity in the simplicity. No person can be simultaneously a great historian, an artistic person, and a numskull.

— Friedrich Nietzsche in The Use and Abuse of History for Life