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Home Uncategorized Tarantulas and Dynamite

Tarantulas and Dynamite

Sean Sheehan
I Am Dynamite: A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche, by Sue Prideaux, Faber & Faber, 464 pp, £10.99, ISBN: 978-0571336227 The New Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche, edited by Tom Stern, Cambridge University Press, 464 pp, £26, ISBN: 978-1316613863 Moral Psychology with Nietzsche, by Tom Leiter, Oxford University Press, 224 pp, £37, ISBN: 978-0199696505 Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy: Nietzsche. The Birth of Tragedy, Human All Too Human, Daybreak, The Gay Science, Untimely Meditations, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, Cambridge University Press A friend at university was a member of the Catholic Society but his beliefs underwent a dramatic change and his apostasy took the form of joining a groupuscule, the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). CPGB-ML looked to Enver Hoxha’s Albania as the only country that enshrined its core principles and my friend’s next “holiday” was a work trip to the country where, as a condition of his entry, his far from long hair was shorn at Tirana’s airport. On his return, mockery was water off a duck’s back. He was, having swapped one militancy for another as swiftly as his change in hairstyle, unassailable. Our friendship was challenged again when conveying to him my excitement at reading Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. He didactically pronounced that the author was a decadent philosopher who had influenced Hitler and on no account should I have any truck with such a poisonous thinker. This level of misunderstanding, not spectacularly uncommon at the time, has mercifully been rectified and it’s clear now that Elisabeth curated her brother’s writings to make them Nazi-friendly. The biopolitics of antisemites and the libidinal satisfaction they derive from persecuting Jews were completely foreign to Nietzsche. He was repelled by the antisemitism he was exposed to at the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876 and the prejudices of Richard and Cosima Wagner contributed to the eventual breakdown in his relations with the composer. Relations with his sister were permanently fractured after she married a rabid antisemite. In Joyce’s story “A Painful Case”, Mr Duffy’s choice of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Gay Science for his neatly arranged bookshelf reveals another and not unrelated level of misunderstanding about Nietzsche. Solitary-minded Duffy, shutting out love from his life, is emotionally obtuse but he probably sees himself as a kind of Übermensch who has risen above the common herd of his fellow citizens. If the style of what he writes in his journal –…



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