Tag Archives: Friedrich Nietzsche

The Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel: Philosophy of History or Eschatological Fiction? by Walter C Cambra, a 1993 thesis, approved by Jacob Needleman and Donald Provence, has arrived at the Reading Room courtesy of the author.

Walter C Cambra The Book of Daniel

“This thesis attempts to demonstrate that the canonical Book of Daniel is an example of what Friedrich Nietzsche refers to as a text based upon a morality of resentment. Furthermore, this thesis argues that many symbols in the Book of Daniel are based upon material that has an historical milieu originating in the sixth century B.C. and which was incorporated into the redacted text of the second century B.C. producing a new eschatological scheme.”

Tragic Posture and Tragic Vision

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Tragic Posture and Tragic Vision: Against the Modern Failure of Nerve by John A Ruprecht, Jr.

Louis A Ruprecht Jr Tragic Posture and Tragic Vision

This wide-ranging meditation combines several elements: a rehabilitation of the concept of tragedy, a condemnation of the “tragic posture” as a feature of modern reflection, and theory about continuity and discreteness in religion. Author Ruprecht first sets himself against his contemporary theorists Alasdair MacIntyre and George Steiner, whom he takes as exponents of the (false) tragic posture of fatalistic pessimism. Then, in order to clarify what he understands as the (true) tragic vision, he begins with the classics, focusing especially on Sophocles’ Antigone as an exemplar. He moves from there into Hegel’s ideas about tragedy, and then to Nietzsche’s. He is not in perfect concurrence with either of these thinkers, but he sees their ideas as a tonic against the tragic posture, even if Nietzsche seems to court it in his later works.

Finally, Ruprecht takes issue with Nietzsche’s “Dionysus versus the Crucified” motto, postulating instead (like some of the Romantics whom Nietzsche criticized) that Jesus was a sympathetic development of Dionysus rather than an oppressive reaction against the pagan tragic ideal. He makes his case by championing the gospel of Mark as a tragic “performance,” focusing on the garden of Gethsemane, and indulging in a full comparison of the four canonical gospels with respect to this episode. In this longest section of the book, Ruprecht conspires with Frank Kermode (whose Genesis of Secrecy he repeatedly cites, though not always in agreement) to get me to view Mark as the best of the four Evangelists, whether or not he is the most “primitive.”

Particularly in the chapter on Nietzsche, and in a related appendix regarding the history of the Parthenon, Ruprecht insists on continuity over discreteness in religion and human experience generally. His opposition to the “tragic posture” is in large measure an objection to a modern exceptionalism (even if what is supposedly exceptional about modernity is its suckitude). I am rather sympathetic to this argument, without taking it to perennialist extremes — and Ruprecht doesn’t — but he also seems to want to view the question of technology (yes, he’s read his Heidegger) as a more peripheral or even cosmetic aspect of the modern condition, with its most significant consequences in degradation of the natural environment. This attitude makes me want to protest: Moore’s Law isn’t just a river in Egypt. [via]


The Shortest Shadow

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two by Alenka Zupančič, part of the Short Circuits series from The MIT Press:

Alenka Zupančič's The Shortest Shadow

This book is a Lacanian psychoanalytic study of certain issues and themes in Nietzsche’s work. Author Zupančič is primarily concerned to offer a reading in which Nietzsche’s writing upholds and advances a Lacanian idea (I think? I have not read Lacan) of “the Real as the minimal difference of the same,” which is her interpretation of the figure of “the shortest shadow” among Nietzsche’s important “noon” tropes. According to Zupančič, this notion is the crux of a “philosophy of the two” to escape the sort of complementarity which reduces itself to unity.

I came to this book with a very different reading of “the shortest shadow,” and while Zupančič did not persuade me that hers was better, I did enjoy the book. The general gist is antimetaphysical without becoming a rationalist empiricism or materialist positivism — a feature of Nietzsche’s own work, to be sure. It is demanding, though; I found that even the least fatigue on my part could reduce the writing here to gobbledygook. There was more of value for me in the first half of the book than the second, although that was perhaps a function of my limits as a reader.

Zupančič appends an essay “On Love as Comedy,” which treats some of the same issues, without any direct references to Nietzsche. It had been written as a separate project. Somewhat disorientingly in the context of a volume on Nietzsche, its definition of the comedic genre does not relate to classical or even Shakespearean sources. Instead, the exemplars are the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin. And yet references to tragedy are still to Aeschylus, following Lacan.

I might read other volumes in this series edited by Slavoj Zizek — of which The Shortest Shadow is the second. But the experience of this one suggests that I could benefit from a little “remedial” reading in Lacan before I do. [via]

 

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Our God Is Dead

Our God Is Dead
Our God Is Dead, originally uploaded by Sam W Cole.

 

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?
—Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125, tr. Walter Kaufmann

 

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The Comedy of Agony

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Comedy of Agony: A Book of Poisonous Contemplations by Christopher Spranger from Leaping Dog Press:

Christopher Spranger's The Comedy of Agony from Little Dog Press

 

This slender volume of aphoristic meditations can be read in a variety of ways. One possibility is to consider it to be instructional scripture by Tyler Durden. Another would be a rich mine of sigfile quotes guaranteed to offend the pious and conventionally-minded. I think this one may need to go in my Christmas cards: “Had she only miscarried, the Virgin Mary could have saved the world.”

Spranger’s religious reflections presume a Biblical-Miltonian narrative, although his atheology has a wide scope, including admiration for the metaphysically sadistic aesthetics of Asian Buddhism. There’s no indication of familiarity with Aleister Crowley’s work, but Spranger’s strong affinity for and constant allusion to Nietzsche (who, unnamed throughout, is referenced once as “a certain leg-puller”) makes him a close cousin to Thelemites, at any rate. In particular, his piece on “The Attractions of Rage” makes a fine complement to Crowley’s chapter on love in Little Essays Toward Truth, and he makes some insightful remarks on the Thelemically-vexed term “compassion”: “Men to whom agony is unknown have grabbed a hold of this concept and perverted it completely, reducing it to something low and effortless, when in fact compassion requires risk and presupposes rank.”

Spranger is evidently resigned to embodiment, attachment, strife and sorrow, but he writes that like it’s a bad thing. One wonders what the return of Saturn has in store for the 28-year-old author. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Pax Hominibus Bonae Voluntatis by Aleister Crowley in International, Dec 1917.

“We have the most artistic photographs dating back not so long ago of Mr. Roosevelt with his arm around the Kaiser’s neck. Immediately before the war Mr. Herbert G. Wells published a book in which he said that Germany was the one country in the world worth living in. German science, German manners, German morals, German everything was the only love of Mr. Herbert G. Wells. No sooner did war break out than he published another book to prove that Germans were raving maniacs hypnotized by Nietzsche.” [via]

American Idol: On Nietzsche in America

American Idol: On Nietzsche in America” by Ross Posnock is an article in the Nation from Nov, 2011 which talks about Friedrich Nietzsche and a book American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen.

 

“Nietzsche paid a heavy price for daring to strip away the comforting props of Victorian piety, bringing readers face to face with the imperative ‘to become what you are.’ He launched his own version of Emerson’s project, which begins with the recognition that man is but ‘a half-man,’ a ‘dwarf of himself.’ The time was ripe: how thrilling it must have been for Americans long shackled to the ‘agonized conscience’ of Puritan rectitude, the ‘yoke’ of the genteel, in George Santayana’s phrasing. Cease hiding behind conformity and habit and laziness, Emerson and Nietzsche implore; the former invites ‘every man to expand to the full circle of the universe,’ while the latter will eventually call for the overcoming of the human, summoning what he will name the ‘overman.’” [via]

 

“Nietzsche-mania erupted in Europe a decade before the philosopher’s death in 1900, spreading throughout the continent and on to Russia, and reaching the United States in the new century’s first decade. A question raised almost at once (and periodically revived) was why Nietzsche was proving so popular here: ‘What is the philosophy of an anti-Christian, antidemocratic madman doing in a culture like ours? Why Nietzsche? Why in America?’ Ratner-Rosenhagen wonders. Nietzsche became the exemplar for those seeking, in Emerson’s words, ‘not instruction, but provocation’; not intellectual doctrine but the visceral sense of liberation in hearing the inadmissible given voice. Radical leftists—anarchists, socialists and feminists—were early enthusiasts, including Emma Goldman, Randolph Bourne and the Harlem socialist Hubert Harrison, who found in Nietzsche’s contempt for religion and democracy a way to rouse the masses from obedience to Christian ideals of submission and democratic fictions of a free market.” [via]

 

 

Of course, Friedrich Nietzsche is proclaimed Saint of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica in the Gnostic Mass and there are other resources in the collection of the Hermetic Library. You may also be interested in these other articles at the library which mention Nietszche, to name a few: