A Respectful ‘Leave-Taking’ from Nietzsche

(addressed to his Spirit – if it still exists and reads)

Dear Maestro Nietzsche,

As you have fallen in and out of love with Schopenhauer and Wagner on the way to falling in love with yourself, I, too, have fallen in and out of love with you before falling in love with myself. While your constant tone of uncompromising tenacity and self-celebration remains pleasant to my ears, some of your key specifics are simply offensive to my slightly more exacting judgement.

I can’t deny having suffered many hells and indulged in many ecstasies where only your voice (particularly as expressed in Thus Spake Zarathustra) made any sense to me. But there were also many moments where even your voice seemed absurd and forced me to embark on life-threatening journeys of exploration – journeys on which, once again, you were my most inspiring, if slightly imperfect, companion.

The fundamental oversight (according to my judgement) which pervades and, thus, pollutes your philosophy, is the very same notion which repulsed you in most previous philosophers – namely that of mistakenly worshiping one’s own feelings and preferences, which, by virtue of being experienced directly, always posses the illusion of greater authenticity and absolute superiority.

Your subjective instincts and preferences were indeed shared by a small minority and therefore seldomly defended – not to mention celebrated – by the masses. Indulging in your nature required tireless and merciless war, most of which would have been unnecessary had ‘dice-throwing’ nature provided you with more peers. This ill-fated luck of numbers necessitated an exhausting defensive on your part (i.e. the destruction of the endless sanctions with which your instincts were constantly bombarded), which, I believe, caused you to overlook the fact that your instincts could have been justified without having had to label them the “noblest” and “healthiest” to be found amongst men. Indeed, the motto you liked to quote from The Society of Assassins – “Nothing is sacred! All is permitted!” – eliminates the need to distinguish and discriminate between instincts – since they are all equally permitted.

In defending the superiority of your instincts you point to your heroes (whom only your instincts make you want to emulate) who shared those very instincts with you. You point to civilizations and cultures, including your own cold-loving Gothic forbearers (which your instincts cause you to consider ideal) who cherished the same values as you do. This obvious inherent cyclicality consistently eluded you and, as embarrassing at it is, I’m forced to believe that you, one of the only philosophers to have ever entertained me (and, thus, one of the only philosophers to have any value for me) were capable of believing your culinary tastes – created by the molecular structure of your little taste-buds – to be the “noblest” of all tastes to have been produced by the human (or animal) experience. Perhaps you’d even consider your body-odor – which only time has taught you to tolerate, or love – to be the “noblest” and “most refined “of all human repugnances.

There are many philosophers, artists and poets, myself included, who share your hatred for repression and the stinting of human instincts. Yet, perhaps in no small part due to your groundwork, we remain free of the need to sanctify, or even glorify, our individual instincts and preferences. One can celebrate and pursue sexual freedom without labeling their own sexual preferences of the moment anything more than – “preferences.” Many of us have even been lucky enough to discover pleasures and beauty developed precisely by people possessing instincts different from our own – indeed, instincts which you considered primitive without noticing that they were full of the very life and energy which you so desperately sought in Europe (e.g. Jazz, African art, music, dance, etc.). Indeed, we remain free of the entire search for any ideal instinct(s) – realizing that any proof, or support, of those ideals would eventually come back to depend on our very own preferences. (A similar phenomenon can be found amongst religious people who glorify the notion of “faith” as opposed to constant decision-making and judgement-calls without realizing that it only their own judgement which tells them which of the “faiths” are the most authentic.) I, for one, would ‘instinctually’ wipe out your heroic, aggressive warriors, to allow for peaceful meditation, sexual and intellectual experimentation, sun-bathing, love-making, etc., much as they would have cleared their habitat of animals of prey to ensure a peaceful night’s rest before raiding their neighboring villages.

The same holds true for all other human instincts and pursuits, including art, ideal climate, war, pain, cruelty and even power in general. In describing the most universal impetus, I would replace your “Will to Power” with the “Will to Pleasure” (which would also have to include those pleasures which most people consider painful, i.e. the pleasures labeled “Masochistic”). Of course there are those for whom power is a great, or perhaps the greatest, pleasure. But there are also those, including myself, whose pride allows them no pleasure from power over people – much as you would have derived no pleasure from power over goldfish. (Perhaps the “Will to Power of Attaining Pleasure”, would have better described the universal impetus. But aside from having been redundant, you would have considered it – in line with your instincts – effeminate.)

I assume you’d be horrified at the thought of me finding so much pleasure, and even support, in the bulk of your writings. And that is the very point which I count as your one, regrettably dominant, philosophical oversight.

I often indulge in the fantasy of having been able to challenge you in person, and delighting in the sight of one of us being forced to relinquish a certain measure of pride. Unfortunately, however, you are as dead as the Gods you so delighted in eulogizing, and it is only figuratively that I address these thoughts to you. It is mainly to my contemporaries who agree with any number of your ideas, that I write this.

With best wishes for peaceful eternal rest, if that is indeed what follows our lives as humans.


Sir Tijn Po

P.S. And what’s all this talk about the “Eternal Recurrence,” and “Whatever could be, must be?” How could you have over-looked the simple possibility of several variants repeating themselves endlessly. Theoretically, a die can be thrown over and over again for all eternity and always land on the same number! And the same must be true for all die-like particles of our universe! Thus, while it is certainly possible that every possible variation will eventually play itself out, I can’t see the logical necessity in believing that they all must play themselves out!
And just as a little riddle, the family of which you so adored, I present you with this question: If every possible universe must have existed, or does exist, etc. what about the universe in which only several variants keep repeating themselves endlessly for all eternity? How can both of these realities co-exist? If all possibilities were to play themselves out, it wouldn’t contain the possible version of eternal Repetition of several variants. Thus, it seems to me, that it is actually impossible for every possibility to play itself out!
If only you were still alive to answer me! I swear that I’d be willing to walk across the earth to be able to indulge in that opportunity! But, unfortunately, nothing currently lures me out of my little hamlet.