A Winter Adventure with Nietzsche: Zarathustra’s Speeches Continued

Thus-Spoke-Zarathustra-Nietzsche-Friedrich-9780140441185Back again for some existential fun time to get us through another melancholy winter.  Picking up where I left off last winter.

On the Teachers of Virtues:

Most of this section is composed of the sage lecturing about sleep and virtues then ending with Zarathustra’s pithy retort.  Let’s take a look at the sleep thing.

What is known about Nietzsche is that he suffered many ailments, and his poor health deprived him of sleep.

Consider:

  • The Sage is obviously of good conscience and thus sleeps well, but this doesn’t sit well with Zarathustra – “Blessed are the sleepy ones, for they will soon drop off.”  This is against Zarathustra’s Will to Power, obeying one’s morals is just not good enough.  I think of the aphorism Nietzsche wrote, paraphrased (can’t find it right now, I think it is in Twilight of the Idols) – the virtuous obey morals out of fear of consequence.
  • Nietzsche must have known something of Kant’s lifestyle and possibly envied it.  Kant was known to have and promote very rigid sleeping schedules.  In contrast with both sleep and philosophy/morality, Nietzsche, I believe, uses this little speech to bash all religious sages (of good conscience) and secretly Immanuel Kant (Nietzsche bashing Kant’s philosophy is a whole other topic).  But there is a hint of Nietzsche liking his despair, his amor fati (love of fate), and despite his inability to sleep, his will overcame his frailty to produce masterful works of philosophy
  • The greatest line from this speech puts Nietzsche’s ‘Power’ versus ‘Pleasure'(in this sense sleep is a ‘pleasure’) – “And verily, if life had no sense, and I had to choose nonsense, then I too should consider this the most sensible nonsense.”  This line also, naturally, attacks nihilism which Nietzsche was opposed and unfairly gets paired with.

On the Afterworldly:

This is one of the most important sections of this book.  Let’s consider what he is saying about the “afterworldly”.

  • “At one time Zarathustra too cast his delusion beyond man, like all the afterworldly.”  So it’s apparent to Zarathustra, the belief in the afterlife is a delusion.  The word play here is great.  In existential terms, these psychological manifestations are the basis of anything religious, all gods and afterlifes, no religion withheld, and in conclusion do not help us with living none-whatsoever.   “…that dehumanized inhuman world which is a heavenly nothing; and the belly of being does not speak to humans at all, except as a human.”  
  • Zarathustra gives us a solution – Bear your earthly head freely and make meaning of the earth.  This couldn’t get any clear in existential thinking.
  • There is a very Taoist sentiment in Zarathustra’s following advice of his new will, “…to will this way which man has walked blindly, and to affirm it, and no longer to sneak away from it like the sick and decaying.”  So this ‘way’ I take to mean Life, the path we live on, which Taoist’s call the Way or ‘Tao’.  In conclusion – investment of an afterworld subtracts from the actual life, the living, we live in the now.
  • “Zarathustra is gentle with the sick.”  That has personal written all over it.  Even the sick (like Nietzsche himself) can overcome thoughts of afterlife, still embrace the will to power, but the sentiments for heaven, still “betray” one’s life, sick or not.
  • Zarathustra slams the powerful people, or godlike men, who use religious afterlife for their own power, they are very much existentialist, believing in their body as a “thing-it-self” (this is what Schopenhauer called the Will).  We can think of David Koresh or Jim Jones, but it can be more than that.  Any priestly person using the sentiments of an afterlife to feed his/her power from the flock’s fear of death and the hereafter.

On The Despisers of the Body:

But the awakened and knowing say:  Body am I entirely, and nothing else; and Soul is only a word for something about the body.”  In German, the word for soul is ‘Seele’ which can also mean life.  So we know where this is going.

His quotation of a child “Body am I, and Soul”, is an homage to the natural existential framework children possess before they are taught all the hokum of religion.

Consider:

  • Zarathustra shows the contrast – body as great reason (and Soul is a word for the body) versus a little instrument of the body is called “spirit” (in German – Geist) and a toy for a great reason.  
  • Despisers of the Body, there is a few notions of what he actually means, is one better than the other?  The two that come to mind:  those who mistreat their bodies in a general sense (over-eating, drinking/drugs, laziness), and those who deprive the body of natural functions (think priests who abstain of sex or ascetics who fast excessively).  Whatever the case, the despisers of the body still have to serve the body in some sense or another according to Zarathustra

In sum, the despiser of the body cannot create beyond himself and thus is no bridge to the overman.  Whether it is a abstinent holyman or a drugaddict, neither can create something better, someone who embraces life and the earth and existence.

Piece: A Novel for 2014

Piece – A modern tragedy

In writing, I tend to have a one-track-mind about a particular story until I see it through.  This is unlike the rest of my creative endeavors which are often left unfinished.  I sincerely eat and sleep a story, much like a method actor doesn’t breaking character during filming.  Unfortunately, the book I’m trying to finish for this spring, Dipso, keeps mentally getting interrupt by the seedling of my next novel, Piece.

The synopsis thus far:  A young woman seeks out her biological mother after her hyper-religious foster family disowns her when she comes out with her homosexuality.  Her real mother, a rough-and-tumble barfly, is initially angered by the encounter with her forgotten daughter.  But after reconciling, she takes her daughter through a depressing hunt to find who the real father is.  The daughter is tossed into her real mother’s world of miserable memories, having to shuffle from man to man all in hopes of finding out which one of the rapists is her biological father.  The barfly has to struggle with her own humanity and femininity, her violent craving of revenge.  She contemplates becoming who her tormentors are – the ravishers of her body and murderers of her spirit. Can her daughter keep her real mother from descending into the grotesque nadir of the male psyche – a murdering rapist?

Obviously, it’s a sad story and quite taboo, but what I hope to play out in the story is the different ways our psychology handles tragedy, how our society deals with rape victims, how rape victims deal with themselves, how certain people cannot forgive others for who they are, the list goes on.  On the positive note, there will be an illumination of existentially dealing with misery in a positive light, self-overcoming through peaceful resolve.

I’m coming to terms with shoving things (ideas, verbiage, pictures, et cetera) related to Piece into this messy pile into the digital ether and on my corkboard.

I’m well aware that in a year from now, these characters will be very real to me and writing their story will break my heart.  Trust me, I have no qualms about crying at the keyboard.

Female Body Types – from ‘All Things Humans Hate About Each Other’

Included in the list of All Things Humans Hate About Each Other is body image, in this case Body Type, namely the female’s.  Although both human genders deal with this petty disdain of people’s differences, it goes without mention that women suffer (and have suffered) the most of this judgment of body shape.

There is a mild revolution of women’s body image against the paradigms set by media and marketing.  This is great, but what is not so great when this comes out in hateful ways.  It further extends the pitting of woman versus woman that is commonplace in our society.  What I’ve noticed is that the waif-style, exomorphic type of body is steadily under attack in social media.  The idea that any particular body type should be criticized is stupid, but it’s strange that super skinny people are targeted when they are not considered the female paradigm and are only glorified in a limited corner of haut couture fashion.  If anyone looks like a waif in pop culture, they are instantly attacked for having an eating disorder.

Let’s consider the case for the exomorphic woman:

  • Exomorphic body types are a real thing, not just the result of eating disorders
  • Naturally thin women have endured several millennia of disregard, they’ve been considered not fit to bear children
  • They have only this brief window in human history to even be considered attractive starting with perhaps Leslie Lawson aka Twiggy and ending in the post-apocalypse which may be ten years from now
  • They may just eat really well, e.g.  vegan/vegetarian/raw foods diets

In contrast, the last fifty years have done a number on the endomorphic or full-figured women.

Consider:

  • Modern media has until very very recently shun the full-figured woman in the last fifty years, and even with the nod from the hoi polloi, they still have a stigma in elite circles such as Hollywood
  • The full-figured woman regardless of actual fitness has been portrayed as ‘fat’ or ‘big-boned’ in the last fifty years
  • Before the sixties, the full-figured woman had been a paradigm for the female figure since prehistory, but this does not mean that this type should be shunned in a more superficial modern era

The only thing I should mention about the mesomorphic woman applies to all women.  The pressures of our modern society on the female figure and face are grossly powerful.  All types of women have to face the judgments of people about the size of their breasts, the width of their hips, the form of their buttocks, and the shape of their lips and nose et cetera.  This is a shame, that humankind has not embrace beauty in all things, tall or wide, black or white.  Will we ever see a world that will embrace all women?  I hope so, but I think not.  We still haven’t gotten over dogmatic and medieval oppression of women and we are supposedly in the apex of our humanity.  Rubbish.

I’ll give a small case for the male figure, though as a man, I feel that we don’t deserve it.  We are the cause of all things bad, and since I am a male, I have the right to say that we do not deserve a defense.  To be equal though, here it is.

Some random things about all male body types:

  • No body type seems to be superior to the next
  • Height is an issue for men, but this doesn’t seem to reflect on the body type itself, I’ve never heard a woman say she likes short guys, they’re out there I’m sure but I haven’t met one
  • Exomorphic guys are presupposed to have large penises (not sure if this is scientifically true or if people believe this)
  • Women/men seem to enjoy all different male body types but the pressure to be one or the other doesn’t seem to be there for most men(of course that are men that really suffer from body image problems but this seems to be a very modern and isolated thing)
  • Bodybuilding doesn’t seem to carry the same prestige as it did in Ancient Rome and Greece, but the ‘fighter’s build’ on the other hand seems to still be popular
  • Big bellys were considered attractive and prestigious during the Renaissance, not so much now

I will not deny that men have their own personal issues with body image, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of significance to actual body type.  The issues that men do have with body image though, are generally perpetuated by men themselves.

Our human pettiness has barely progress since fifty thousand years ago, and I doubt that we are going to get much better.  But it is worth having an ideal, a hope, that we as human beings can get over all these measures of differences and realize the we are all in the same sinking boat.  We can let it sink, or we can bail and float together.