I had a lot to say about Neitzshce after reading these essays…three weeks ago. Three weeks can really do things to your memory; oh well.
My first impression of this guy was a rather bad one—he seemed to possess a strong need to constantly build up his own ego while looking down on others (i.e. the reader), and a great deal of his first essay was filled with so much pointless fluff that I found myself reading every second sentence to alleviate the drone going on in my head at stuff I’ve heard before and heard better. Granted, Neitzsche did have legitimate arguments (unlike, say…Rousseau) which he portrayed in an annoyingly roundabout way, and his ego building had peculiar undertones of irony that I half-believed and half-thought I was imagining. So ended his first essay; and so began his second.
His second was largely devoid of the fluff that infested the first—a pleasant surprise, but not enough to make me lower my guard. This felt like the meat of the essays while I was reading it, with themes very similar to Leviathan and actually better written in my opinion. Political science, political science, and more political science; the good stuff, I suppose, although it was similar to his first essay in that I’ve heard it all before. My general opinion of him was certainly improved upon finishing this essay—and so began his third. His…third.
Horror of a vacuum is a universal truth of humankind (in technical terms, everyone with self-awareness). This fear, of course, is paradoxical (and this is one of if not the only correct application of the word ‘paradox’), and can be reasoned out on an intellectual level (but never really goes away as a pure emotion). We would rather will nothingness than not will—this is the sentence that told me this essay was different than the rest. Very different. Asceticism, asceticism, asceticism. Despite not knowing what exactly that word meant for the entire essay (I googled it after), I found myself pulled along by Neitzsche and his suddenly concise, effective, and well-flowed writing. The two essays were revealed as simple foundations for this one, where he, after repeating things I’ve heard before again and again, finally pulled out something that I’ve never heard before. Asceticism, applied in the physical sense—self-torture. Asceticism, applied in the philosophical sense—self-fulfilment. The law of normality, working in conjunction with one of if not the most enduring form of the pleasure principle (Asceticism), produces the delusion of religion, guided by the ascetic priest—mass salvation. This is a view that I’ve never read before (maybe because I don’t read a lot), and I stand corrected on my original view of Nietzsche (well, maybe not completely). In my view, his third essay was not about morality; it was about, well…asceticism. The title “Genealogy of Morals” would have been better named “Genealogy of Asceticism,” although then a lot of people would probably either get the wrong idea or lose interest entirely. I myself lose quite a bit of interest in anything with the word “moral” in its title, but I guess I’m in the minority; oh well.