I just had a realization.
The more I (re-)read Nietzsche (although, how does one re-read anything, considering how much we change between readings?), the more I feel like I want to read those of whom he writes. I want to read Chamfort, Montesquieu, and more of Goethe. But (and this was my realization) what I really want to do is keep reading Nietzsche!
Reading Nietzsche opens my mind to a world of concepts to which my every day life is alien, and what I realize is that this sense comes from the reading itself and not from the references or referents. I’m inspired by the moment, and not necessarily by the potential or the ambition of that moment. That ambition is not extensive, it is its own reward. A
And yet there is more ambition out there.
This is not unlike the realization, which I have from time to time, that it is the moment of beauty, and not the object of beauty, which is inspiring and awesome. In a sense, art and our ability to appreciate it is a phenomenon of appreciating ourselves (both specifically and generally, as human beings). Yes, it was the creativity and genius of the artist which is the efficient cause, but it is the commonality of interior architecture of our minds—the shared culture, language, and worldview of both observer and creator—which is the (metaphorical) location of the art.
Much like the blueness of an object is not contained within the object itself (and certainly not within some ultimate being, whether “god” or some Vedantic/Noumenal/Platonic reality), but within the relationship between our perceptual gear (our brain) and the actual material object which causes the light to exist in such a wavelength as it does.* And the label, “blue”, a cultural construction used to identify the coherence and consistency of our shared experience (Assuming we are not color-blind), is mere convention of course. We could learn new labels, but the material reality is not conventional. It is real.
No, there is no inherent beauty, no inherent color, and no inherent meaning. The world actually is—there is a reality and it is not an illusion—but there is no inherent perspective before we create it by perceiving. There is no objective perspective, whether it be a “god” or some set of Platonic ideals.
Similarly, there is no inherent me, only the passing self that will change upon each re-reading. In a very loose metaphorical sense, we are a book we are constantly re-reading. And while the subject is unchanging and (perhaps) the words are the same, each time we look at it we come from a different point of view, we notice different parts of the narrative, and perhaps we remembered this or that part differently than we see on this reading.
Each time I re-read a book such as The Gay Science or The Catcher in the Rye I see it from a different point of view. But the same basic phenomenon is the case each time I look into myself. Depending on mood, memory, experience, etc I am a different person each moment, even if I know I’m holding the same ‘book’.
I still want to read some Chamfort, if only to make sure that the next time I re-read myself, there is some new perspective from which to read. It is when we stop desiring new peaks to view the world from that we become bored–and boring!
*We never actually see the noumenal object not because the noumena is inaccessible to us, but because that concept is a category error. The object does exist on its own, but the perception, including the color, shape, etc, are a simulation based on a physical relationships with the object. The concept of noumena is an attempt to project that simulation onto reality, where that noumena is, in fact, merely an abstraction of the phenomena. The noumena, in short, is a fabrication; an attempt to project our linguistic and cognitive constructs onto the world. The noumena, therefore, is not inaccessible to us, since we create it. This is precisely what many atheists, myself included, mean when we say that we create gods. I’m an atheist, in part, because I recognize that we create the noumenal through projection of our own perception onto reality. I don’t reject the supernatural because I am an atheist, I am an atheist because I reject the supernatural.
Also, I wanted to add this video here, not because it is (directly) related, but just because it’s amazing and beautiful.
2 thoughts on “Re-reading oneself”
“Reading Nietzsche opens my mind to a world of concepts to which my every day life is alien,”
I’ve read Nietzsche’s books many times, perhaps like yourself. It was the last time I read them that was the most rewarding. And alien. Here’s why.
I read Thus Spoke, Ecce, Genealogy, Good and Evil, Idols, Gay, Antichrist knowing that I had written them. That is, I was Nietzsche writing about myself, for myself, through myself.
And when I proved that Nietzsche was God denying, destroying, and otherwise excluding Himself, “God is Dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him,” that made my understanding of my works so much easier to grok. Which, of course, only God could do.
I’m not sure if I understand this comment. Are you saying that Nietzsche made you realize there was a god, because only god could accomplish you understanding your own work?
The sentence structure above is a little ambiguous, so forgive me if I’m misunderstanding.
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