File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_2000/nietzsche.0008, message 30

Subject: Re: Nietzsche ist tot
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 00:25:20 +0100

----- Original Message -----
From: George Sherwood <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, August 31, 2000 9:13 PM
Subject: Re: Nietzsche ist tot

> At 02:41 PM 8/31/00 +0100, you wrote:
> >
> >It is not clear at all that freedom is squandered. One first has to be
> >to squander freedom. I assert that it is not clear or easily appreciable
> >that we are free. We may have some freedoms or rights BUT to claim that
> >are free per se is to squawk parrot fashion what we are told by the mass
> >media. Supposedly we live in free countries BUT how is one to demonstrate
> >such a statement? I think perhaps it would be correct to assert that we
> >in an ethos where freedom is espoused as a high principle in Western
> >Democracies. This ethos does not at all mean that what is within it
> >contains a grain of fact - it is merely an attitude. However, each of us
> >be free to state any claim or perform any action BUT we may have to live
> >with quite hideous consequences, such as incarceration. Perhaps the life
> >Socrates has much to teach us. He had opportunities to escape
> >but chose not to. He chose to make himself the example. He chose to die.
> >me, it seems too high a price, for it is not clear that the arguments he
> >made on his own behalf were even understood, let alone believed as right,
> >the masses before which he stood accused. In sum, he fell on his own
> >whilst his words fell on deaf ears.
> While I agree Americans are nowhere as free has they believe they are,
> another possibility is Tim Robbin's character in The Shawshank Redemption.
> Despite the fact he was in prison, he remained free.

Well, that would be the romantic interpretation of the film. He might have
been 'free to think' but he wasn't free to act. Indeed, regarding actions he
was quite abominably treated by the resident 'anal intruder'. I certainly
think he retained his dignity BUT dignity what is that exactly? I think the
character gained his freedom through his escape. However, he aslo showed
resentment toward his incarcerators by his actions immediately subsequent to
his escape. Revenge for him was sweet, though I think that given what he had
to put up with I wouldn't really have denied him such an action if I were in
a position to deny him. Given the way he looked when he handed over the
package with all the compromising information in it I think it is feasible
that the look on his face was one of irony. Broadly speaking, though, the
film was all too human.

Freedom is better understood in relation to power.

> >
> >As for Overman, well Nietzsche presumably has the idea that his concept
> >beyond all this. But what is Overman that he is not involved in such
> >Is Overman suprahistorical? Does Overman resign himself to that which
> >surrounds him? I am not yet so certain of what Overman is to answer those
> >questions. I welcome input on these matters.
> What is most interesting about this list the lack of a formal and credible
> definition of Overman. Perhaps Nietzsche planned it that way.

Perhaps. Although, given the careful nature with which Nietzsche composed
his works my thoughts lean toward the notion that he wasn't certain of his
views. Although, I think he was in a process of formulating them so it is
certainly fair to say that Nietzsche was pointing toward his conception of

> >
> >Nietzsche stated "the unhistorical and the historical are necessary in
> >measure for the health of an individual, of a people and a culture."
> >Furthermore, Nietzsche considered the past and the present to exist not
> >the purpose of truth but for the purpose of life. In other words,
> >remembering and forgetting are a pre-condition for a healthy life. The
> >history we remember does not have to be true, rather it has to affirm
> >The things we forget should only be the things that are detrimental to
> >You are right to the extent that ideals are a source of resentment BUT
> >on the proviso that one does not realize ones surroundings. To demand,
> >a child, that things should be thus is of no use to life. However, ideals
> >when considered in light of a realism can be life affirming, providing
> >and purpose.
> Agreed and well said, however, let us not deceive ourselves into thinking
> our ideals are stronger and more worthy that what nature has in store for
> us. An interesting book on this subject is Morse Peckman's "Beyond the
> Tragic Vision," and you will find his concluding chapter here:

I'm not certain of what you mean here. What do you mean by what nature has
in store for us?

Thanks for the reference. I'll have a read and get back to you on that.

> >Ideals, in a sense, are unhistorical - they are a not yet come
> >into being,
> Yes, but I submit the engine that drives them is resentment. "This world
> sucks because of this or that, and only through my vision of an ideal
> am I able to have hope and tolerate this ugly, ugly world." Well, I say
> world and life are not all that ugly. Creating an ideal against it is a
> form of suicide, and wanting to wipe out this our that sin (or sinful
> person) is only another way of extirpating the passions. True, "a yes, a
> no, a straight line, a goal" can be strengthening and life affirming, but
> usually is no more than an expression of ressentiment.

In the context of what I said your view does not apply because I added a
proviso. However, it is the case that generally Ideals inspire resentment.
They do so through a critical treatment of history, especially the history
of morals. It is my interpretation that Nietzsche did not consider all
ideals of themselves inspiring resentment. There are ideals which are
authentic, arising from an artistic spirit, and are more inspired by a
monumental treatment of history rather than a critical one. It is very
important to distinguish the historical modes for they are pointers toward
what Nietzsche was driving at.

> >and yet ideals are also in some way historical for they are
> >often mingled with the notion of a great historical past that has long
> >gone, but yet a past that is desired above all other things a return to
> >presence, a return to the manifest. So, the present and the past,
> >realism and subjective idealism, form the basis for a projection into the
> >unhistorical where life can be affirmed. It is perhaps best viewed as a
> >complex interplay of forces continually renewed.
> Well, to me "thus I willed it" is the affirmation of life through the
> eternal return. "What? This life again? Sure, I willed it once, I can will
> it again." Now those who resent life and want to improve it would find
> thought terrifying. "What? Do it again?!! Start all over again? But we
> just making 'progress'! And all those things and traumas that made me
> despise life and want to improve it, I would have to live through all
> again! Please, anything but that!" "Anything?" one might ask, "how 'bout
> death? How 'bout I kill you right here and now?" And suddenly life doesn't
> seem so bad after all :)

:-) I have often wondered about the converse. What about those people who
would not have life otherwise if given the chance but were confronted with
the fact that it would always be otherwise? ;-)

> >
> >I get the impression that you have an idea of what a potential Overman
> >Men of politics? Kings? Hermits? Hierophants? Perhaps you can help me by
> >saying something about how Overman flourishes. I have always found
> >expresses Overman in ambiguous terms. E.g.. WTP804 - "The herdman will
> >experience the value feeling of the beautiful in the presence of
> >things than will the exceptional or over-man". Note that Nietzsche states
> >the 'exceptional or over-man' BUT that he could mean the two concepts
> >interchangeably or as different concepts with something in common.
> >will the Overman be distinguishable from the herd by the herd? Would
> >hide himself by regarding invisibility as invincibility? The exceptional,
> >the other hand, are noticeable by virtue of being exceptions. They may
> >fame of a sort, whereas Overman may not.
> No, not really, but do think I might have a slight idea of what he/she is


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