Friday, September 21, 2018

Nietzsche teaches: Don’t let Trump’s vileness make us vile too

"The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters," by Goya (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
     “Beyond Good and Evil,” a cornerstone of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy, contains one section that is a list of numbered maxims.
     They veer from true to false, profound to ridiculous, current to outdated. No. 144, for instance, begins, “When a woman has scholarly inclinations, there is usually something wrong with her sexuality,” which I guess passed for insight in 1886, when the book was published, but has not aged well, beyond offering a glimpse into how certain guys thought then and no doubt still do.    
Friedrich Nietzsche

     Others are sharp and useful, such as No. 68, worth bearing in mind as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh does or does not remember what he might or might not have done at a party in high school:
     “I did that,” says my memory. “I could not have done that,” says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually — the memory yields.”
     Does it ever. People whitewash their pasts trying to fit their own pristine estimations of themselves. Which is stupid, given the universality of sin, and the freeing effect of simply admitting the wrongs you’ve done. Honesty can be hard, which is why people lie and distort. But it rewards us in the long run.
     No. 146 is my favorite, useful in all sorts of situations — really, it’s like a cordless electric drill — and came fluttering to mind earlier this week, as Twitter lit up with anatomical details from the new memoir by Stormy Daniels, the porn star who had sex with Donald Trump, who botched the payoff meant to silence her.

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  1. I started my day, as I always do, with EGD. You cracked the code with Nietzsche. To make a point by leveraging his genius, you must acknowledge up front some of his creepily misguided insights.

    After reading your column I veered over to for my supplemental dose of thoughtfulness and ran across the following essay which I thought would interest you. It's thought provoking but take note of the author's implication that any performance institution that isn't in New York is a regional institution. Tiresome.

  2. Trump is impervious to any reasonable criticism. You could destroy his positions logically all day and he wouldn't understand or care. He's a racist and doesn't care that we know. Doesn't care about women, law, fascism, treason, etc.

    There is hope, though, that he does care what people think of his penis. He has indicated that in the past. So that might be the only way to get through to him, it might be his only soft spot.

  3. I will second that Neil, after the war on terror lots of people I once considered normal now dip into totalitarian tendencies without a second thought. In particular, after Kappernick, I find myself having to remind teachers regularly that it is in fact illegal to force students to stand for the pledge.

    1. And the Supreme Court upheld those student's right to not stand in 1943, in the middle of WWII!

  4. Nietzsche's observation about the sexuality of scholarly women probably reflected what certain guys felt. Elizabeth Montague, a lady of advanced views for her time and an early feminist, wrote in 1750 "I am sorry to say that the generality of women who have excelled in wit have failed in chastity."

    In the news this a.m., our Dear Leader, with his own record of gentlemanly behavior toward the opposite sex, has come out strongly supporting the Judge and attacking his accuser. Talk about cognitive dissonance!


    1. One thing that's consistent with our "Dear Leader" is that, no matter how inconsistent his thoughts, he'll eventually get it wrong.

  5. Cory Booker seems to have gotten it right by admitting he was wrong. Too late for Kavanaugh of course.

    As to my own conduct, my pride hasn't quite vanquished my memory, but memory is flat on the canvas and the referee has counted up to 8 or 9. Not look'n good.


  6. There are people who want to make men's lives more difficult for no other reason than the chance it provides them afterwards to offer their prescription for alleviating life; their Christianity, for instance. Friedrich Nietzsche


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