Editor of Omong-Omong Media

Friedrich Nietzsche and So On and So On

Moch Aldy MA

10 min read

“I’m not a man, I’m dynamite.”

—Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Throughout the history of western philosophy, no philosopher has been as crazy, brave, frontal, iconic, enigmatic or as eccentric as Nietzsche. No philosopher has ever been as ‘edgy’ as Nietzsche. As a philosopher, philologist who researches ancient texts, theologist, cultural critics, litterateur, and composers—his muses and insight into human civilization is possibly unquestionable.

With his authentic style, he spit in the face of a world that relies heavily on money, state, politics, religion, and science. As a featherless biped, Nietzsche is like a lunatic rooster who is possessed by a question mark. He was really insane—in the positive connotation: at the age of 24, Nietzsche was awarded a doctorate degree, became a professor of classical philology and was the youngest German professor up to that time.

From a young age, he questioned everything that had been taught to him, and something that was taught to everyone. Nietzsche was born and raised in a religious family. In fact, his father was a devout priest, but young Nietzsche valiantly declared: “God is dead … and we have killed Him!”

Nietzsche also once said that religion is escapist, dogmatic, and narcissistic. He thought, religion is like looking in the mirror and saying: “my religion is good, my religion is right, other religions are bad and wrong.” In a broader perspective, this is certainly dangerous, if belief system in existence and self-identity is not supported by tolerance and empathy.

In other words, it equates to the binary opposition of modernity: “If it is not one, it must be zero. If I am right, then what is outside of me must be wrong. If I am good, then the other must be evil.” And unfortunately, this precisely depicts the tendency of some religious people that are still attached to puritanism (rigid religiosity).

According to Nietzsche, the reason why people believe in God or the singular truth is their indecision and fear in facing reality, which has one core, namely self-deception. It would be better if we faced, and truly lived, the transience of existence and the real meaninglessness of life—he added.

Sketchily, Nietzsche simply calls for us to stand on our own feet without the aid of obedience—any form of doctrines, dogmas or status quo. Therefore, Nietzsche not only jumps on adherence of religion, but also belief in values or objective truth such as science.

On Idée Fixe

“There are two different types of people in the world, those who want to know, and those who want to believe.”

—Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

To understand Nietzsche, firstly, we need to know that he detested the idée fixe (psychological term: the belief that someone refuses to change their mind even though it might be wrong). For him, this can lead to the death of interpretation (or in a more crude language; the death of God)—it is a logical consequence of the concept of truth which has been final. When something is in the state of idée fixe or in the form of finality, it will die in a certain shroud. There are no new interpretations; static, frigid, and rigid.

By means of idée fixe, the Supreme God will be buried in the dwarf of human conception. It even raises a wild hypothesis: that illogical God is forced into the contents of the logical human mind. And has been final, so The Will for the Truth has become a deadly thing. For example, eight Crusade warfare, endless Middle East wars, eternal Gaza conflict, or Bosnian genocide in 1995, and so on—and so on.

Nietzsche also launched a scathing critique of idée fixe in his book, The Gay Science—first published in 1882—which sometimes translated as The Joyful Wisdom or The Joyous Science:

“… It is further stated that the madman made his way into different churches on the same day, and there intoned his Requiem æternam Deo. When led out and called to account, he always gave the reply: “What are these churches now, if they are not the tombs and monuments of God?”

On Atheism and Binary Oppositions

But Nietzsche did not only criticize the religion and their clergy, he also did not hesitate to criticize atheism. At the root of its essence, atheism itself is a reflection of Radical Aufklärung (Age of Enlightenment centered in Europe) that is too confident in science. And in fact, scientism has become an absolute belief and almost become a new religion who is worshipped by scientists. Perhaps, we cannot run from The Will to Believe, as William James said and named his book.

This idée fixe’s model of thinking has actually been reflected in the Modern Age— which was marked by advances in science and technology. To assume that this massive progress can bring enlightenment and become a single field in understanding reality.

That is, one, absolute, and unshakable. Later, a French contemporary philosopher, Jacques Derrida, called this Western culture in the name of logocentrism—which is trapped in binary oppositions (right-wrong, good-bad, etc.)—so that one will defeat the other.

In the context of that Western progress, whether intentionally or not, Nietzsche prophesied the arrival of nihilism. In a nutshell, nihilism became a philosophical school that marked the beginning of the inevitable cultural crisis in which the highest values lost their meaning and led to a loss of purpose.

On Dynamite

“He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures.”

—Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Nietzsche argues that behind every belief whatsoever, there must be a purpose. Thus Nietzsche chose to remain skeptical of widely held beliefs, because he did not fundamentally believe in their cause. Perhaps, that is why Nietzsche is often referred to as ‘The Dynamite—on account of—he is the one who will detonate that belief to pieces.

On January 1st 2004, British anarchist author, teacher, and organizer—John Moore—published 147 pages books namely I Am Not a Man, I Am Dynamite: Friedrich Nietzsche and the Anarchist Tradition.

In essence, Nietzsche was born and destined to surpass man and madman. In fact, he is already very controversial just by the statement, “God is Dead” (German: Got is Tott)—which has shaken dogmas, and truths that have been deemed established as well as absolute. So it is no exaggeration indeed, if Nietzsche refers to himself as ‘The Dynamite.

On Persian Prophet

To study Nietzsche, of course to study about his magnum opus, namely Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (German: Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen)—which contains the famous phrase “God is Dead”, although the phrase has previously appeared in The Gay Science.

Objectively, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a magical, poetic, philosophical, and genius book. The influence was also immense on 20th century writers, such as Franz Kafka, Bernard Shaw, Jean-Paul Sartre, unto Albert Camus.

However, the question is … why Zarathustra? Why did Nietzsche choose (even tends to sanctify?) the Persian prophet of Zoroastrianism? How important was Zarathustra in Nietzsche’s life?

To answer this, perhaps, we should read directly from Nietzsche’s own autobiography, Ecce Homo. To be precise, a quote from the chapter Why I am a Fatality:

“I have not been asked, as I should have been asked, what the name ‘Zarathustra’ means in precisely my mouth, in the mouth of the first immoralist: for what constitutes the tremendous uniqueness of that Persian in history is precisely the opposite of this. Zarathustra was the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the actual wheel in the working of things: the translation of morality into the realm of metaphysics, as force, cause, end-in-itself, is his work. But this question is itself at the bottom of its own answer. Zarathustra created this most fateful of errors, morality: consequently he must also be the first to recognize it. Not only has he had longer and greater experience here than any other thinker … what is more important is that Zarathustra is more truthful than any other thinker. His teaching, and his alone, upholds truthfulness as the supreme virtue … To tell the truth and to shoot well with arrows: that is Persian virtue—Have I been understood? The self-overcoming of morality through truthfulness, the self-overcoming of the moralist into his opposite—into me—that is what the name Zarathustra means in my mouth.”

On Apollonian and Dionysian

As a philosopher, Nietzsche used to express his philosophical ideas in poems, short stories, & novels—with the most poetical form of language. And as a philologist, cultural critic, and litterateur—he muse Greece, which was so famous for its Greek Tragedy—then inspired to dichotomy the two main streams of Greek Art (theatre, literature, etc.) in his book—The Birth of Tragedy. Become the two great poles or duality, namely Apollonian and Dionysian.

Philosophically, Apollo symbolizes light, thinking, self-controlled, logical, utopia, order, sane, and consciousness. While Dionysius represents the dark world, or the opposites such as feeling, antiquity desire, insanity, intoxication, unconsciousness, dystopia, irrationality, and even possessed. In sum, Apollo represents order, science, and rationality—while Dionysius represents music, ecstasy, and passion.

As Nietzsche said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Nietzsche views that the elegy of heartbreak: sad artworks, the melancholic poetry, the minor music—seem to provide an orchestra for the grief that many people experience. Its energy is not just limp, but allows us to absorb sadness with the deepest meaning.

So that, in the end, sadness (and suffering) is no longer treated as something that is burdensome, lamented or cursed, and avoided. Anyhow, we must face it, be grateful, absorb it, and enjoy it. Nietzsche assesses how great it means if we can imagine, make friends, and enjoy sadness with courage that burns our left chest.

On Übermensch and Nazism

Frankly, that’s why an Übermensch or superman, superhuman, or overman was once echoed by Nietzsche—at first, must be amor (love) the fati (fate) that often brutum (brutal). No wonder, to keep in mind, Nietzsche views that reality is chaos, chaotic, completely formless, messy, mess up, contradictory, disorderly, disorganized, and jumbled.

Nietzsche wanted humankind to grow, reach out, pull out, and go up. But not out of morality nor immorality, but because we live, and life is about The Will to Rule (and The Will to Power too). Therefore, we must be honest with ourselves, and always be creative and innovative.

But over time, it seems that it has become a habit for common people to judge Nietzsche haphazardly (and arbitrarily). Either as a pioneer of irrational ideologies about power, or slander him which indirectly gave birth to fascism and Nazism, especially in Germany.

On this matter, in fact, there are many aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy that are clearly different with Nazism. Thus, he should not be scapegoated for all the hatred, sins, and blood shed by Nazism around the world.

Briefly, Übermensch is … the ideal superior man of the future who could rise above conventional religion morality to create and impose his own values. We must see that what Nietzsche aspires to, Übermensch is more like an ultra-creative human or a housebreaker of spiritual order—not a man behind the genocide of Jews in the Auschwitz concentration camp … because he was rejected twice by an art school in Vienna … who is run by a Jewish rector, nor supreme leader with wacky mustaches … like a comedian named Charlie Chaplin … who truly believes in Aryan supremacy, nor imperious empire founder of the Third Reich, nor a screwy Führer (a dictatorial leader), nor a person who thirsts for power to conquer 5 of 5 parts of earth such as Adolf Hitler.

Simply put, Übermensch is a human who loves life, lives life in totality, due to Nietzsche, sees humans as creatures that must continue to exist, and have high aspirations to become super, beyond normality. “To infinity and beyond!” as Buzz Lightyear said in the Toy Story movie (1995).

Later, Übermensch became one of the most philosophical ways to value oneself without turning away from the brutal world—and looking across another world. Since valuing brutal reality or meaning the meaningless of life can only be achieved through Übermensch.

Lattermost, Übermensch is a human being who sees himself as a source of value. One who has reached the level of Übermensch—are who always faces the darkness of reality and fate, and Übermensch is impossible to achieve without understanding Nietzsche’s legendary phrase: “Fatum Brutum Amor Fati”.

On Fatum Brutum Amor Fati

“Live! Your life!”

The quote could be a small part on the representation of Fatum Brutum Amor Fati. We only live once and, of course, we cannot revise what we have done in the past. That was the perspective of Fatum Brutum Amor Fati: a kind of unconditional affirmation to reconcile with fate. Thus, we are required not to condemn reality. We should live in the present and stand up in the presence of chaotic realities.

Fatum Brutum Amor Fati came as a philosophy or at the same time became a main narrative in living a mortal life. That’s the only genuine way, to be able, to reach the end of a good life whenever death comes.

We should admit without the hypocrisy that nearly all of us must have planted hope. We all invest in the future, and as investors, we too often allow temporary emotions to enslave us. Nietzsche may be an anomaly (exception), because he dissociates himself from investing hope in the future.

But clearly, Nietzsche is just an ordinary person who has a different vision from most of us. The difference, perhaps, also from his courage to articulate chaotic-reality beautifully in his outbursts of aphorisms.

On Nietzschean

But life is a choice, to be a normies (one whose tastes, lifestyle, habits, and attitude are mainstream and far from the cutting edge, or a person who is otherwise not notable or remarkable) or a Nietzschean (one who follows the philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche). But what needs to be underlined first is we need to know that the true meaning of Nietzschean is: a person who follows himself. So, being a Nietzschean is about being ourselves.

Being a Nietzschean means walking against the herd, and going out alone to the wilderness. Being a Nietzschean is about being honest, like Zarathustra—even if it almost certainly will be labeled as edgy, madman, bizarre, or annoying.

Nietzsche encouraged us to become the martyr of ourselves. To be like the most renowned philosopher in Greece, Socrates, who dared to defend his thought—even though, in the end, he was eventually executed by consuming a deadly potion of the poisonous plant hemlock—in account of poisoning the minds of young Athenians, or be accused by questioning the doctrine of Gods/Goddess (belief system) in Ancient Athens.

Once again, Nietzsche is a lone wolf who cannot be domesticated by the common mind. He has melted into solitude. The only love in his life, Lou Salome, even left him. Nietzsche was willing to become estranged from his family and friends, just to defend his beliefs.

Perhaps in reality, loneliness can destroy many people, but Nietzsche faced loneliness through his choices. He obeyed himself. And his exile from people who like to be in herd, actually gave him more awareness of seeing the world with eagle eyes.

Finale

Despite the cynicism of Nietzsche who said that “God is Dead”, we should rather acknowledge the fact that The Dynamite didn’t mean it literally. He only intended to vent his disgust on people on his eras—who were already so corrupt, cruel, and dumb as to kill the God within themselves.

Perhaps, in his contemplation, Nietzsche did see God being buried. God died in the fight against human ferocity. It is also possible that Nietzsche wants to say: “God has died in the heart of man … and we are all His/Her murderers.”

After all, the God in our reverie, or the real God at all—is indeed not able to be calculated by narrow logic. His/Her almighty looks unreal, like ocean waves crashing against the shoreline. Or a slap to the cheek, or like electricity turning on a light, or like money which can buy a handful of sweet candy.

The mysteriousness of God is also what makes many of us turn atheists or agnostics. Personally, I believe that we can prove God and feel it with our conscience. Seeking God using brain, logic, and rationality is like looking for a Wi-Fi signal with an archaic cell phone that most certainly doesn’t have the specifications to connect to Wi-Fi.

Lastly, between the labels like amoral, atheist, agnostic, crazy, or whatever we have attached to Nietzsche, I just want to say that Nietzsche is one of the most religious philosophers ever.

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

—Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

May all beings be happy.

 

Editor: Emma Amelia

Moch Aldy MA
Moch Aldy MA Editor of Omong-Omong Media

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