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: