Anarchy & the Post-Mortem Condition
by Max Cafard
a friend one should have one's best enemy," says Zarathustra
[Z168](1), and Nietzsche
certainly proves himself to be the best friend and the best enemy
a cursory survey of Nietzsche's works reveals that the term "anarchist"
is for him invariably a term of abuse. He does not hide his boundless
contempt for this "sickly" and "decadent" "slanderer"
who is an "underminer" and a "destroyer." For
Nietzsche, anarchism is one of the most baneful expressions of that
psychic malaise he calls ressentiment. It is a symptom of
modern society's grave and perhaps terminal illness--destructive
nihilism. What better friend could anarchists possibly wish for
than this brilliant and uncompromising enemy?
there is beyond, and indeed beneath, Nietzsche's anarchophobia a
Nietzschean Anarchy that is infinitely more anarchistic than the
anarchism he assails.
is nothing like the Nietzschean Anarchy that some recent observers
have discovered. We will call these observers "Post-Mortemists"
and their view from the crypt "Post-Mortemism." We will
call these Post-Mortemists the "Waking Dead," because
of their peculiar celebration of death. They find themselves to
be "in the wake" of death. They consider their morbid
celebration to be "a wake" for the dead. I say none of
this in accusation: I only recount what they repeat endlessly about
themselves. Ces revenants.
For the spirit of Post-Mortemism is pervaded by a certain kind of
repetition compulsion, a fixation on certain images, certain figures
of speech, even certain catch phrases (though in fact they catch
little). For Nietzsche, "the scholar is the herd animal in
the realm of knowledge," one who speaks and thinks as he does
"because others have done so before him." [WP 226] The
Post-Mortemists, these sheep in wolves' clothing, are just such
herd animals, despite their ferocious exterior, despite their howling,
wild enough to wake the dead.
Anarchy is not the Anarchy of Post-mortem wakes, but rather the
Anarchy of the Awakened Mind (a pre-Ancientist idea). The Post-Mortemist
wake is the Party of Death. The Nietzschean Anarchist Party is the
Party of Life.
will call the Post-Mortemists the "Anarcho-Cynicalists."
Cynicism is the disease of preference of our age, and Nietzsche
has the distinction of being one of the first to diagnose its onset.
Post-Mortemism is one of the most exotic growths to blossom in the
decaying social body. It attacks the reigning cynicism on behalf
of a more radical cynicism. The uncharitable Nietzsche would reserve
a special contempt for those Post-Mortemists "who lost their
high hope" and then "slandered all high hopes" [PN
156] using a borrowed tongue--often, ironically, a tongue borrowed
from Nietzsche himself.
many, Nietzsche is a Post-Mortemist anarchist who inspires the somber
celebration of the Death of God. But for us--Pre-Ancientists and
Surre(gion)alists--Nietzsche is a Pre-Ancientist anarchist who celebrates
the eternal Rebirth of the Gods.
us," I say. But what right do we have to claim "Nietzsche"
as our own? None at all, and we will not raise a hand if you attempt
to carry off this rotten corpse to put it in some museum or reliquary
we will claim him anyway, justifying this outrage by our full recognition
of the multiplicity of Nietzsches. Of course, it is a commonplace
that there are as many Nietzsches as there are readers of Nietzsche.
But beyond this, there are many Nietzsches within Nietzsche, and
within the many Nietzsches. As the philosopher himself comments,
there is a chaos within the creative self. And as the philosophical
joker Chuang Tzu told in his Pre-Ancient story, brutal interference,
however well intended, causes the Body of Chaos (Hun-Tun) to die.
We recognize then that we must refrain from violence against the
chaotic body--the Body of Nature, the Social Body, the Spiritual
Body. We recognize that we can have no knowledge of "self,"
except as we explore the regions of self, regions that have no clear
boundaries of selfhood, which extend deeply beneath the surface
of selfhood, and outward beyond the borders of selfhood.
our present surre(gion)al journey will explore, not "Nietzsche,"
but rather, certain Nietzschean regions. Regions that we might call,
collectively, Anarchica. You are invited along on this voyage: "Travel
to Anarchica and stalk the Cold Monster!"
our exploration we will be guided by the strict science of Psychogeography.
The earliest Psychogeographers discovered that not only does one
never step into the same river twice, but that one never arrives
at a single source. Whether this be the Source of the Nile, or the
Source of Nihilism.
this reason nothing would be more more pointless than to seek some
true Nietzsche who "is" or "is not" an anarchist.
A Prof. Basinski (under the influence of Martin "Dr. Death"
us that Nietzsche never believed in the Will to Power, Eternal Recurrence,
and the Übermensch. These were, we are told, no more
than metaphysical illusions he created to hide his own nihilism.(3)
course Nietzsche didn't believe in any of it! And the good Prof.
Basinski cannot possibly believe any of these silly rumors he's
spreading about Nietzsche.
we forsake the quest for the Promised Land of Nietzsche. There is
no compass that could direct us to such a destination. Here as everywhere,
Nagarjuna's radical Awakened-Mind dialectic must be our guide. As
we cross the non-existent borders of the Nietzschean regions, we
find that we might explore the Nietzsche who is an anarchist, the
Nietzsche who is not an anarchist, the Nietzsche who both is and
is not an anarchist, and the Nietzsche who neither is nor is not
an anarchist. Or more accurately, we might explore the ways in which
the many Nietzsches are and are not all of these.
what follows, we will hear from some of these Nietzsches.)(4)
Antichrist Versus The Anarchist
said, "the urge to destroy is a creative urge also." But
as Nietzsche pointed out, sometimes the urge to destroy is--let's
face it--an Urge to Destroy.
course, Nietzsche is well aware of the truth in Bakunin's insight.
In fact he expressed the same idea much more eloquently than did
Bakunin: "The desire for destruction, change and becoming
can be an expression of an overflowing energy that is pregnant with
future . . . ." [GS 329] So, yes, it can be creative.
he adds, "it can also be the hatred of the ill-constituted,
disinherited, and underprivileged, who destroy, must destroy,
because what exists, indeed all existence, all being, outrages and
provokes them. To understand this feeling, consider our anarchists
closely." [GS 329] This is almost touching: "our anarchists."
How many philosophers have been willing to claim as their own these
oft-scorned stepchildren of politics? Nietzsche does, and even seeks
to understand their feelings! What he discovers is that "our
anarchists," poor souls that they are, are in the grips of
a nihilistic rage against reality.
he speaks of "our anarchists," Nietzsche has in mind a
certain kind of anarchist. His model is not the anarchist who is
a fanatic for freedom, but rather the one who is obsessed with injustice.
For him, this anarchist is just the extreme type of a certain kind
of revolutionary, one who expresses viscerally the revolt of the
masses, of the downtrodden, of the "underprivileged."
The anarchist is thus the purest and most spiritually contaminated
expression of a certain kind of reactivity, the perfect embodiment
of reactive revolt. Nietzsche's stinging charge against such
an anarchism is that it is, at its deepest level, reactionary.
Reaction is not the exclusive preserve of the right, in Nietzsche's
Nietzsche doesn't hesitate to cast aspersions on the "underprivileged"
and their self-ordained champions, his critique is no simplistic
defense of "privilege." He can as well as anyone attack
and demolish the smug pretensions of the privileged. After all,
it is those very "privileged" who overturned the old order
of privilege to create the mass society and herd morality that Nietzsche
detests so fervently. He sides neither with the established order
nor with those who struggle to topple it. For Nietzsche, to paraphrase
Bierce, conservatives are those who heroically defend the old absurdities,
while "our anarchists" are those who strive mightily to
replace them with new ones. His critique is thus a diagnosis of
a sensibility rooted in reactivity, ressentiment, and one-sided
negativity. Those of "our anarchists" who fall prey to
such an insidious sensibility become obsessed with the injustices
of the existing world and with their own powerlessness in the face
of such evil. They are in effect, the mirror image of those slavish
souls who are entranced and corrupted by the awe-inspiring spectacle
of power, wealth and privilege. But in the case of our rebellious
little anarchists, the spirit is poisoned by an impotent, reactive
is Nietzsche the Antichrist who savagely attacks the Anarchist,
since anarchism for him is a kind of Christianity. He does not,
by the way, mean by "Christianity" the spiritually and
socially inflammatory teachings of Jesus, which he shows to be ironically
negated by the entire history of the Church. He means, rather, the
reactive institutional Christianity that retreats into pessimism
and nihilism in its utter dissatisfaction with the world. Nietzsche's
indictment of Christianity and anarchism resembles Hegel's dissection
of the "Beautiful Soul." For Hegel, the moral idealist
creates a dream world with little connection to ethical reality,
the embodiment of good in the actual world. But Nietzsche is much
more scathing in his assault on such idealism. The "Beautiful
Soul" is for him a quite "Ugly Soul," corrupted by
its narrowness and alienation from the truths of experience and
the virtues of the world.
the higher person, the Übermensch, is like a vast sea
in which immense evil is diluted and dissolved, the moral purist
is a small stagnant puddle, in which the most exalted goodness putrefies.
"The Christian and the anarchist: both decadents, both incapable
of having any effect other than disintegrating, poisoning, withering,
bloodsucking; both the instinct of mortal hatred against everything
that stands, that stands in greatness, that has duration, that promises
life a future." [A 648] The tragic flaw in both these character-structures
results from an identification of the self with an ungrounded, ahistorical
ideal. The result is a rage against the the real, in which the most
authentic achievements evoke the most intense reactive hostility,
since they threaten the necessity of the absolute break with what
exists, l'ecart absolu, that has become a psychological necessity.
image of the anarchist is inspired by the classical anarchist revolutionary
who was the reactive response to the industrializing, accumulative
capitalism and the centralizing, bureaucratically expanding nation-state
of the 19th century. Yet much of what he says also characterizes--perhaps
even better--various strands of Western anarchism that emerged in
the 1960's and which linger on in certain subcultures. Such an anarchism
defines itself practically by what it is against. It fumes and fulminates
against "all forms of domination," by which it means every
one of this fallen world's institutions and social practices, none
of which has any liberatory potential.
is the anarchism of permanent protest. The anarchism of militant
marginality. The anarchism of sectarian theoretical purity. The
anarchism of grand gestures that become increasingly petty and indeed
meaningless as they are dissolved in the vast Post-mortem Ocean
of Signifiers. As sophisticated surrealism becomes the stuff of
advertising and music videos, and the entire culture lapses into
brutal cynicism tinged with irony, all homely gestures of resistance,
all sighs on behalf of the oppressed, all "critiques of all
forms of domination," all this becomes low-level noise, lost
in a din of background noise (The High Deci-Bel Epoque). Though
if any of it happens to be mildly interesting, it can be recycled
as bits and pieces of style.
once pointed out that the interesting question for Kantian ethics
is not what actions are necessary according to the Categorical Imperative,
but why belief in a Categorical Imperative was so goddamn necessary
for Kant. Similarly, we might ask why for certain classical anarchists
cataclysmic revolution was an absolute necessity, and for certain
contemporary anarchists sectarian dogmatism and the politics of
permanent protest are a psychological necessity. Why does their
spirit (and perhaps their nervous system) crave it so intensely?
I have heard certain anarchists proclaim, with evident satisfaction,
that "everything our enemies say about us is true" (and
many more have entertained such thoughts, whether with pride or
guilt). According to their Manichean worldview, everything these
enemies think to be so horrifying is in reality quite wonderful,
and to be accused of it should be a source of boundless pride. Such
anarchists thus recreate themselves in the reactive image of the
reactive image that reactionaries have of them. Rather than negating
the negation, they affirm the negation, achieving the bliss of some
rather incoherent sort of pure negativity.
particular anarchists that Nietzsche targets are only one variety
of a nihilistic species that includes all kinds of "slanderers,
underminers, doubters, destroyers." [WP 26] It is for this
reason that he places "anarchism" in a seemingly bizarre
list that includes such other symptoms as "celibacy,"
"sterility," "hystericism," and "alcoholism."
[WP 26](5) Such an
anarchism sees nothing but the negative in what is, yearns for revolutionary
destruction, and finds hope (or perhaps merely a "principle
of hope") only in a post-revolutionary Utopia bearing little
connection to anything that actually exists. Such an anarchism is
a kind of Left Platonism, taking refuge not in Plato's Realm of
Eternal Forms, but in an equally ghostly and disembodied Realm of
Eternal Forms of Freedom.
critique of anarchism is merely a minor variation on Nietzsche's
major theme of the destructive nature of all varieties of ressentiment.
"This plant," he tells us, "blooms best today among
anarchists and anti-Semites," who seek "to sanctify
revenge under the name of justice--as if justice were
at bottom merely a further development of the feeling of being aggrieved--and
to rehabilitate not only revenge but all the reactive affects
in general." [BGE 509-510] The wisest old anarchist I ever
met once said to me (summing up his philosophy of life): "We
deserve the best!" His entire life has been a celebration of
as much of this best as we (all of us--no one is excluded
from his Anarchist Party) have experienced and created. Yet for
every anarchist with such a spirit, I have found many whose whole
being proclaims the question, "Why have they done this to me?"
Such an anarchist is a walking complaint.
the 19th century this ressentiment of revolt was embodied
above all in Nechaev's fanatical and murderous nihilism. But it
also found expression in the side of Bakunin's character that drew
him so powerfully to Nechaev, the lumpenproletariat, and the brigands,
and led him to fantasize vast revolutionary potential in every poorly-organized
insurrection. In recent anarchist sectarianism ressentiment
reemerges ("with a vengeance," needless to say) in Bookchin's
anarcho-negativism, in which political theory and practice deteriorates
into the politics of spleen. Social ecology becomes anti-social
egology. The cult of negativity finds its déraison d'être
in ressentiment--not only against "all forms of domination"
but against every existing reality. Every practical attempt to transform
the conditions of life is condemned as irrelevant, simpleminded,
or else some sort of devious reactionary plot. And the more insidious
it is, the more seriously it threatens to accomplish some good deemed
unattainable according to the dictates of abstract dogmatism.
have depicted Nietzsche as the enemy of dialectical thinking. They
presume that merely because he demolishes the sophistries and self-delusions
of dialecticians that he is somehow anti-dialectical. Yet no one
has ever but more teeth into a biting dialectical logic. "Whoever
fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not
become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss
also looks into you." [BGE 279] How many anarchists in their
struggle against the state have reproduced a little state within
themselves? How many leftists in their crusades against domination
have turned themselves into domineering, power-hungry dogmatists?
The monster signifies violence, fanaticism in ideas, rigidity of
character, contempt for persons--all of which have been reproduced
in abundance, even in more extreme forms, in the monster-slayers
themselves. The warriors of being fall into the abyss of nihilism.
"We are nothing but we shall be all." But out of nothing
an affirmation of nothingness (a Bad Infinity, to be distinguished
from the Nothingness of Affirmation of Gautama, B-hme, etc.) arises
from the propensity to define oneself in relation to that which
one is not; in this case the system of power and domination. By
defining oneself as powerless, or merely subject to power, one overlooks
the marvelous powers that are slumbering within one's own creative
spirit. Just as "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts
absolutely," powerlessness corrupts and absolute powerlessness
corrupts absolutely. In the case of the oppressed, or, rather those
who allow themselves to be defined by the conditions of their oppression,
their souls are poisoned by their reactive will to power. Their
oppositional perspective comes to absorb their entire being. They
are occasionally dangerous but always tiresome lions. The spirit
of the child has been entirely extinguished in them. Their creativity,
spontaneity, playfulness, and vitality are destroyed.
message concerning such anarchist sectarians is the same as his
message about all dogmatists, all who wield their truth like a weapon.
"Avoid all such unconditional people! They are a poor sick
sort, a sort of mob: they look sourly at this life, they have the
evil eye for this earth. Avoid all such unconditional people! They
have heavy feet and sultry hearts: they do not know how to dance.
How should the earth be light for them?" [Z 405-406] In effect,
Nietzsche says to the "unconditional" anarchists, "If
I can't dance, I don't want your anarchism!" Despite all their
ideological purity, despite their incessant talk of "humanity"
and "ecology," such anarchists cannot love actual human
beings, nor can they love the earth.
Monsters Hot and Cold
Nietzsche proves himself to be anarchism's best friend and enemy.
But his gift to anarchism goes far beyond his amicable hatred. For
despite his scathing attacks on anarchists he shows himself to be
not only a good friend and a good enemy of all anarchists but also
to be a good anarchist.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of anarchism is its
voluntarism--its opposition to the imposition of the will of one
upon another through force and coercion. And no anarchist has stated
the case against coercion more perceptively than has Nietzsche.
Coercion is corruptive force, he says. But contrary to the conventional
anarchic complaint, its most significant corrupting effect is on
the victims, not the perpetrators. "Every power that forbids,
that knows how to arouse fear in those to whom something is forbidden,
creates a 'bad conscience' (that is, the desire for something combined
with the consciousness of danger in satisfying it, with the necessity
for secrecy, for underhandedness, for caution). Every prohibition
worsens the character of those who do not submit to it willingly,
but only because they are compelled." [WP 391] No wonder some
anarchist rhetoricians become discouraged when their ringing condemnation
of "all forms of domination" falls on deaf ears. They
pay far too much attention to the injustices of the oppressors and
to little to the ways in which power has transformed those who are
coerced and dominated.
imperious questioning of techne also betrays his deeply anarchistic
spirit. His critique of technical rationality and technological
domination is prophetic. Despite his well-known admiration for some
varieties of "will to power," the will to dominate and
manipulate nature is the object of his most scornful derision. "Our
whole attitude toward nature, the way we violate her with the aid
of machines and the heedless inventiveness of our technicians and
engineers, is hubris." [BGE 549] He sees that our will
to dominate nature inevitably produces a will to dominate human
nature also. "[O]ur attitude toward ourselves is hubris,
for we experiment with ourselves in a way we would never permit
ourselves to experiment with animals and, carried away by curiosity,
we cheerfully vivisect our souls . . . ." [BGE 549] Certain
impeccably anarchistic but nonetheless simplistic theories onesidedly
trace the quest to dominate nature in the actual domination of "human
by human," but dogmatically dismiss the roots of social domination
in the urge to conquer nature. In reality the relationship between
the two dominations is--as Nietzsche, that great anti-dialectical
dialectician, grasped quite well--dialectical.
is not only one of the most devastating critics of the state,
but also one of the most accurately perceptive analysts of
that institution. Few before him were quite so indiscrete in divulging
the origins of the state in force, violence and domination. The
state, he says, "organized immorality--internally: as police,
penal law, classes, commerce, family; externally: as will to power,
to war, to conquest, to revenge." [WP 382] He grasps the ironic
truth that "law and order" as carried out by the state
is in fundamental contradiction with the nature of its subjects.
The masses on whose subservience it depends are incapable of either
the banal cruelties or the paroxysms of horror that define the monster.
"How does it happen that the state will do a host of things
that the individual would never countenance?--Through division of
responsibility, of command, and of execution. Through the interposition
of the virtues of obedience, duty, patriotism, and loyalty. Through
upholding pride, severity, strength, hatred, revenge--in short,
all typical characteristics that contradict the herd type."
[WP 382-383] It's ability to do that which would terrify the individual
is not for Nietzsche a reproach against the state, however, but
merely a statement of the brutal truth that the mass of state-worshipers
refuse to recognize. "None of you has the courage to kill a
man, or even to whip him, or even to--but the tremendous machine
of the state overpowers the individual, so he repudiates responsibility
for what he does (obedience, oath, etc.)---Everything a man does
in the service of the state is contrary to his nature." [WP
383] Here he does no more than taunt the good citizen with the blatant
self-deception and hypocrisy on which every state is founded.
is perhaps no more powerful assault on the state in Western philosophical
thought than Zarathustra's vilification of "The New Idol."
There Nietzsche indicts the state for its artificial, coercive,
technical-bureaucratic reality that contradicts and undermines what
is most valuable in any culture. "State is the name of the
coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it tells lies too, and this
lie crawls out of its mouth: 'I, the state, am the people.'"
[Z 160] Not only is the state not "the people" it in fact
devours the people and all that they have created. State versus
people is one of the crucial chapters in the epochal story of the
battle between mechanism and organism, between the machine and life.
The Artificial Monster ("that great Leviathan . . . that
mortal god,") consumes any organic culture:
state tells lies in all the tongues of good and evil; and whatever
it says it lies--and whatever it has it has stolen.
Everything about it is false; it bites with stolen teeth, and bites
easily. Even its entrails are false. Confusion of tongues of good
and evil: this sign I give you as the sign of the state.
vitality is drained from the living social organism so that the
Cold Creature might live. The Monster is a grotesque parasite, a
strange Gargantuan vampire, and the people understand this. "Where
there is still a people, it does not understand the state and hates
it as the evil eye and the sin against customs and rights."
diagnosis of the state was still prophetic in the 1880s, since the
the triumphant Monster still had a century to fulfill its deadly
destiny before beginning its precipitous decline and decay. His
strident indictment sounds rather dated, however, in the era of
the new Monster, the corporate Global Golem. "'On earth there
is nothing greater than I: the ordering finger of God am I'--thus
roars the monster," [Z 161] according to Zarathustra. Today
such a roar would be met with laughter, except possibly in some
Third-World dictatorship in which the secret police might be watching.
For as Nietzsche himself had quite presciently begun to realize,
in mass society nothing really seems so "great," and cynicism
reigns supreme. The state as "the ordering finger of God?"
Ha! In this sad Post-mortem world, God has given everything the
the state may be, as Nietzsche says, the Coldest Monster. But now
there are cold, hot and even luke-warm Monsters at large. The late
modern state, that Post-mortem Monster, we are coming to discover,
is no more than a Lukewarm Monster. Thus it lies only lukewarmly.
It could not with a straight face say, "I the State am the
People." It can, however, halfheartedly tell us that it feels
dominion of the great Monster Leviathan has been superseded not
by that of the Lukewarm Monster, but by the ascendancy of another
Beast, one that is neither cold nor lukewarm It has a rather dark,
satanic, and hot interior, but a radiant, divine, and above all
cool exterior. It is Moloch, the Monster that eats its young--the
in fact realized that mass society would have little place for the
old authoritarian state. "Who still wants to rule? Who obey?
Both require too much exertion." [Z 130] He is slightly less
prophetic on the topic of work, observing that "One still works,
for work is a form of entertainment." [Z 130] Under the reign
of Moloch few would confuse the two. Today, few work for amusement,
though many do so because work is for them a means toward entertainment.
On the other hand, in an ironic reversal of Nietzsche's aphorism,
entertainment has increasingly become a form of work. Just as producers
were once taught to feel shame if their work was not up to par,
consumers now feel suitably guilty if they are not entertained in
the correct manner.
Nietzsche's true object of attack in his assault on the state is
not one particular historical institution but all the forces that
are destructive of life. "State I call it where all drink poison,
the good and the wicked; state, where all lose themselves, the good
and the wicked; state, where the slow suicide of all is called 'life.'"
[Z 162] Nietzsche's primary target is often statist political conformity--the
dissolution of individuality into good citizenship, the homogenization
of cultural diversity into official state Kultur, the mechanization
of life in a techno-bureaucratic world. But he also had strong intimations
of where the corporate state was going, that the accent was to fall
more on the corporate, the economistic, and less on the state,
is the color of power today? "Behold the superfluous! They
gather riches and become poorer with them. They want power and first
the lever of power, much money--the impotent paupers!" says
Zarathustra. [Z 162] As I read this passage late one night, I heard
someone passing by outside my window, speaking these precise words
(for I wrote them down immediately): "It's not about black
and white anymore. It's about power and domination, and it has no
color except . . . ." At this point the voice faded out and
I could not hear the final word. I rushed to the door but found
no trace of the passer-by. I'll call the voice, "The Ghost
was already on to the message of this Ghost. The progression in
his successive tirades against "The New Idol" and "The
Flies In The Market Place" prefigures a real historical movement.
After warning us about the dangers of the state, Nietzsche cautions
us concerning the threat of the developing economistic society.
"Where solitude ceases the market place begins; and where the
market place begins the noise of the great actors and the buzzing
of the poisonous flies begins too." [Z 163] Nietzsche foresees
the coming of the society of the spectacle, a world of illusion
in which "even the best things amount to nothing without someone
to make a show of them." [Z 163] He heralds the coming of those
swarms of poisonous flies that now overrun the earth, spreading
poison everywhere. They are poisonous indeed! Nietzsche sounds the
tocsin for the rising flood of toxins that inundate the world. If
we poison the spirit can the corruption of the body be far behind
(or vice versa)? As Nietzsche predicted, the masses may have a long
life of slow death to look forward to in this poisonous, Post-mortem
world. Perhaps God was lucky to die early and avoid the crowds.
Or did he?
may have written the obituary for a certain ancient psychopath who
sometimes goes under the alias "God." (6)
Yet this same Nietzsche heralds the coming of a new Post-mortem
God. "Verily he [the actor] believes only in gods who make
a big noise in the world." [Z 164] The culture of noise, the
society of the image, gets the God it needs and deserves. Nietzsche
had a prophetic insight into the coming domination of spirit and
psyche by the what has with suitable irony been called "the
culture industry" (presumably because it produces bacteria).
Nietzsche understood with Blake that "All deities reside in
the human breast." But he also foresaw the day in which the
the gods of pandering and publicizing, the gods of spectacle and
sensationalism would supplant the old psychic Pantheon, the divinities
of creative energy and wild imaginings.
is quite explicit in his judgment of the market and the society
of the image. "Far from the market place and far from fame
happens all that is great . . . ." [Z 164] The free market
frees the masses from such burdens as creative imagination, spontaneity,
depth of the spirit, solitude, playfulness, the joy of the present
moment--all that is "great" and good according to the
Nietzschean valuation. Freed from these, one is free to pay for
to Nietzsche, culture and the state are "antagonists."
"One lives off the other, one thrives at the expense of the
other. All great ages of culture are ages of political decline:
what is great culturally has always been unpolitical, even anti-political."
[TI 509] What Nietzsche means, what he perceived so acutely under
the Reich, was that culture is the enemy of the "political"
in a quite specific sense--it is the enemy of empire and all that
is imperial. Greatness of culture is annihilated by empire, whether
this empire be political or economic.
is thus once again more anarchistic than the anarchists. It is true
that he sounds rather authoritarian in his suggestion that "Genuine
philosophers . . . are commanders and legislators" who
say "this shall it be!" [BGE 326] Yet what he intends
is as anarchic as the dictum of the anarchist poet Shelley in his
"Defense of Poetry" that poets are "the unacknowledged
legislators of the world." For Nietzsche's philosophers also
rule through their power of creativity. "Their 'knowing' is
creating, their creating is a legislation . . . ." [BGE
326] And he does not mean the philosophers of the academy, but rather
the philosopher-poets of the spirit. The question for Nietzschean
Anarchy is who shall rule: either the masters of the state and of
the market, with their heroic will to plunder and destroy, or the
creators with their generous will to give birth, their gift-giving
shall return to this anarchic Nietzschean question, but first another
question concerning another Nietzschean Anarchy.
is Post-Mortemism?" Above all, the "Post-mortem"
is a nihilistic form of consciousness emerging from forces of decline,
separation, disintegration, negation, and, in short, Thanatos. Post-Mortemism,
can thus, as the expression of an absolute spirit of negation, validly
present itself as the most radical form of theoretical Anarchy.
But despite attempts by Post-Mortemists to claim Nietzsche as one
of their prophets, Post-Mortemism itself falls victim to Nietzsche's
distinguishes between an "active nihilism" which is "a
sign of increased power of the spirit" and a "passive
nihilism" which is "decline and recession of the power
of the spirit." [WP 17] While Nietzsche's most passionate anarchic
dimension expresses his active nihilism, his destruction for the
sake of creation, Post-Mortemist Nietzsche becomes the passionless
prophet of passive nihilism.
us consider a favorite proof-text, much beloved by certain Nietzschean
then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms--in
short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced,
transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which
after long use seem firm, canonical and obligatory to
a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten
that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and
without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and
now matter only as metal, no longer as coins. [TL 46-47]
read Nietzsche as if this were all ever said about truth, as if
he had no concern for the truth of the body and the truth of worldly
to such a view, "truths are illusions," for Nietzsche,
mere perspectives on reality. There is no "transcendental signified,"
for we are bound by our chains of illusion, or perhaps, better,
our chains of allusion, our chains of signification.
indeed, Nietzsche did recognize the inescapably perspectival nature
of knowledge. Nietzschean perspectivism is the insight that all
perception, all knowing, all valuing come from somewhere. They
are arise out of, and are rooted in, some perspective, some position,
some place. But unlike Nietzschean perspectivism, the Post-mortem
variety is deracinated, à la dérive. It is
the annihilation of place, the view from nowhere.
view of truth cannot be reduced to a Post-mortem nihilism, for it
always retains a naturalistic core of pragmatic realism. Signification
arises in the midst of a continuum of experience. "The feeling
of strength, struggle, of resistance convinces us that there is
something that is here being resisted." [WP 290] Nietzsche
would dismiss our contemporary Post-Mortemist theoretical Anarchy
as the the latest form of escape to the dream world of ideas, the
terrorism of pure theory, in which comic revolutionaries fantasize
heroic conquests of idea by idea, yet remain out of touch with
a reality that resists their control.(7)
Nietzsche, we are told, is an enemy of the whole. And quite appropriately
(and ironically) this Nietzsche emerges precisely through the dismembering
of the Nietzschean corpus. A dissected Nietzsche-part does indeed
tell us that "Nihilism as a psychological state is reached
. . . when one has posited a totality, a systemization, indeed any
organization in all events, and underneath all events," etc.
[WP 12] Nietzsche attacks the "positing" of a fictitious
Totality that can give value to one who feels valueless "when
no infinitely valuable whole works through him." [WP 12] Yet
Nietzsche also shows that when the creative, gift-giving whole (as
opposed to any fictitious Totality) does indeed work through the
person, there is no need for such a "positing."
ignore the Nietzsche who speaks of unity-in-diversity and the dynamic
whole. This is the Dionysian Nietzsche:
word 'Dionysian' means: an urge to unity, a reaching out
beyond personality, the everyday, society, reality,
across the abyss of transitoriness: a passionate-painful overflowing
into darker, fuller, more floating states; an ecstatic affirmation
of the total character of life as that which remains
the same, just as powerful, just as blissful, through
all change; the great pantheistic sharing of joy and sorrow that
sanctifies and calls good even the most terrible and
questionable qualities of life; the eternal will to procreation,
to fruitfulness, to recurrence; the feeling of the necessary unity
of creation and destruction. [WP 539]
attack on "decadence" as "the anarchy of atoms"
is aimed at those forces that produce a disintegration of the living
whole. "The whole no longer lives at all: it is composite,
calculated, artificial, and artifact." [CW 466] In other words,
it is state, spectacle, and megamachine. In opposition to such a
spirit, Nietzsche's Dionysian is based on an affirmation of one's
place in the living whole:
a spirit who has become free stands amid the cosmos with
a joyous and trusting fatalism, in the faith
that only the particular is loathsome, and that all is redeemed
and affirmed in the whole--he does not negate any
more. Such a faith, however, is the highest of all
possible faiths: I have baptized it with the name of Dionysus.
is quite prophetic concerning the developing spiritual illness of
Post-Mortemism. In fact, he helps us grasp the fact that the "Post-mortem"
is in fact nothing but the "Late Modern."(8)
Long before Post-Mortemism emerged as a seemingly revolutionary
social transformation, Nietzsche saw the accelerating development
of many of its salient themes. Eclecticism, diversification, style,
discontinuity, artifice, speed, superficiality, coolness. An abundance
of disparate impressions greater than ever: cosmopolitanism in foods,
literatures, newspapers, forms, tastes, even landscapes.
The tempo of this influx prestissimo; the impressions
erase each other; one instinctively resists taking in anything;
a weakening of the power to digest results from this. A kind of
adaptation to this flood of impressions takes place:
men unlearn spontaneous action, they merely react to
stimuli from outside. [WP 47]
apt diagnosis of the Post-mortem Condition: in sum, an "artificial
change of one's nature into a 'mirror'; interested but, as it were,
merely epidermically interested . . . ." [WP 47]
what of the universal will to power? Does this not lend support
to Anarcho-Cynicalism? Does not Nietzsche proclaim: "Where
I found the living, there I found will to power; and even in the
will of those who serve I found the will to be master"? [Z
226] Post-Mortemists often find in Nietzsche nothing but affirmation
of the will and discovery of power seeking everywhere. He is of
course a "master of suspicion." But is not suspiciousness
a mark of the slave mentality that he detests? Is not an obsession
with power a mark of the inferior sensibility? The highest metamorphosis
of the spirit is the child, and only the most neurotic child wastes
much time on suspicion. Nietzsche exalts the will only to forget
it. "He must still discard his heroic will; he shall be
elevated, not merely sublime: the ether itself should elevate him,
the will-less one." [Z 230] The will attains its greatest power
through its own disappearance.
what about "difference"? Nietzsche, living at the height
of productionist industrial society, thought that the great threat
to individuality and creativity was the imposition of sameness.
"No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody
is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse."
[Z 130] History's dialectic of absurdity has moved one step beyond
Nietzsche, so that the rage for sameness now takes the form of an
obsession with difference. The consumptionist mind reaches new levels
of brilliance in its sensitivity to difference, which has little
to do with excellence, as Nietzsche might once have assumed. The
code of commodity consumption creates a minute sensitivity to differences
of symbolic import, connotation, image and style. Though sameness
is alive and well, huge profits are to be made from the growing
quest to "feel different" by means of an infinite variety
of modes of consumption. Even "going voluntarily into a madhouse"
becomes a form of commodity consumption that can be marketed as
a distinctive (and quite profitable) mode of being different. And
in academia, that zoo for Nietzsche's "herd animals of the
intellect," stupidity finds a refuge in difference. Mediocre
intellects pursue their quest for tenure and then fulfill their
publication quotas through mindlessly mouthing the slogans and mimicking
the jargon of Post-Mortemism. And one is subjected to the tortuous
spectacle of Anglo-Saxons, or even more depressingly, Saxons, engaging
in an unintentional parody of Gallic wit. The result has all the
brilliance of a joke translated by a computer program.
as much as we might wish to bury Post-Mortemist Nietzsche, his Specter
remains very much alive. It has terrified more than one ill-informed
anarchist. Murray Bookchin, certainly the most authoritative
voice in contemporary anarchology, once opposed the idea of a seminar
on Nietzsche at his Institute for Social Ecology on the grounds
that it might undermine his pupils' values. He was terrified that
the philosopher might corrupt the youth of his little polis. In
a recent work, Bookchin undertakes the theoretical demolition of
Nietzsche's supposedly pernicious influence. It turns out that Bookchin's
Nietzsche is no more than a parody of Post-Mortem Nietzsche. At
the hands of Bookchin, this genealogist of culture becomes a zany
literary type who sees all of history as merely "a disjointed,
variable, and free-floating collection of narratives."(9)
Nietzsche went to some lengths to show that realities like "narratives"
are symptoms of realities that are far from "free-floating"--realities
such as systems of power and cultural institutions that interact
with fundamental biological drives and psychological impulses in
shaping the self. Bookchin, in his frenzied attack on the evils
of Post-Mortemism, discovers a Nietzsche that reflects his own aversion
to Post-Mortem textualism more than it reveals anything particularly
Nietzschean. Bookchin's Post-Mortemism is an incoherent jumble in
which A: Derrida says that there's nothing outside the text, and
B: Nietzsche influenced Post-Mortemism, ergo C: Nietzsche must have
believed that history is nothing but textuality.
who is willing to take the plunge into the murky waters of Post-Mortemality
will search vainly for a Nietzschean view of history in Derridean
textualism. As Nietzsche states in the "preface" to The
Genealogy of Morals, "our ideas, our values, our yeas and
nays, our ifs and buts, grow out of us with the necessity with which
a tree bears fruit--related and each with an affinity to each, and
evidence of one will, one health, one soil, one sun." [GM 452](10)
Nietzsche would never say that "il n'y a pas de dehors du texte."
He would say that there is no life that is without perspective.
But every perspective is rooted deeply in life, in the body, in
the earth, in the great "dehors."
might apply Nietzsche's naturalistic-imaginistic mode of critique
to Bookchin himself. Nietzsche would never dismiss Bookchin's creation
of his own fictitious character "Nietzsche" as a mere
"free floating narrative." Rather, he would situate the
Bookchinite imaginary Nietzsche within Bookchin's own peculiar narrative
will to power, his creation of an authoritative theoretical edifice
on behalf of which he must do battle with, and attempt to annihilate
all theoretical (and intensely emotion-charged) threats. He would
also explore the foundations of this edifice in Bookchin's own seething
ressentiment, and indeed the foundations of this ressentiment
itself--the forces that shaped an imperious will, the underlying
states of health and malaise, the qualities of the soil in which
it developed, the nature of that sun that infused it with energy,
or which perhaps hid its face at crucial moments. Finally, Nietzsche
might reflect on why such a marvelous example of the reactive character
structure should have found its place of refuge and its field for
raging self-assertion in anarchism, that most convenient
utopia of self-justifying ressentiment.
Anarchy: Forgetting Nietzsche's Umbrella
is the habitual carriage of the umbrella that is the stamp of respectability."--Stevenson,
Philosophy of Umbrellas.
forgot my umbrella"--Nietzsche
umbrella is alive and living in Paris."
[an umbrella] is just [an umbrella]."--Freud
is an Anarchy of the Text. Yet Nietzsche would have no trouble diagnosing
Post-Mortem textual Anarchy as a form of what he calls "literary
decadence." For Nietzsche "the mark" of such decadence
is that "life no longer resides in the whole." Though
he would no doubt admire the brilliant sense of multiplicity that
it sometimes achieves, he would certainly conclude that its focus
on diversity comes "at the expense of the whole" so that
"the whole is no longer a whole." Its Anarchy is not the
Anarchy of life, of the organic, of the dynamic whole, but rather
"the anarchy of atoms." [CW 626]
Literary Anarchy is a rebellion against the absurd concept that
texts are autonomous totalities, textual organisms in which subtexts
are textual organs, textual cells, textual organelles. But in their
haste to murder the textual organism in order to dissect it, the
Post-Mortemist anarchists ignore the larger ecology of the text.
Their urge to deconstruct is an ecocidal urge also.
Derrida exhibits this impulse, the urge to deconstruct totality
transmuted into an impulse to murder the whole, to deconstruct that
which defies construction. He directs this ecocidal impulse toward
a "whole" that he calls "Nietzsche's text,"
quite appropriately invoking a Monster. Referring to a seemingly
cryptic "fragment" found among Nietzsche's papers, Derrida
whatever lengths one might carry a conscientious interpretation,
the hypothesis that the totality of Nietzsche's text,
in some monstrous way, might well be of the type, 'I have
forgotten my umbrella' cannot be denied. Which is tantamount to
saying that there is no 'totality to Nietzsche's text,'
not even a fragmentary or aphoristic one.(11)
it possible that a crucial difference between Nietzsche and Derrida
consists in the fact that the former, when he has forgotten his
umbrella, knows that it is in fact an umbrella that he, chaos that
he is, has forgotten. Derrida on the other hand, might think that
"il s'agit d'un texte, d'un texte en restance, voire oublié,
peut-être d'un parapluie. Qu'on ne tient plus dans la main."
(12) Or, as Derrida's
English translator renders this idea, those who seek meaning in
Nietzsche's aphorism "must have forgotten that it is a text
that is in question, the remains of a text, indeed a forgotten text.
An umbrella perhaps. That one no longer has in hand."(13)
we come face to face with the Anarchy of undecidability. We peer
into an anarchic abyss. We are perhaps about to be devoured by the
Monster of Post-Mortemism.
is striking that Derrida chooses as an example of undecidability
a text that alludes to the forces of nature, and, indirectly, to
protection from the forces of nature. For textualism is itself a
metaphysical umbrella that protects one from those very forces.
Such strange Anarchy has lost touch with the atmosphere. We are
dealing here with l'oubli de l'atmosphère.(14)
to Derrida's English translator, "<<I have forgotten
is "[f]ragment classified no. 12,175 in the French translation
of Joyful Wisdom, p. 457." (16)
to Derrida, "<<J'ai oublié mon parapluie>>."
(17) is "[f]ragment
classé avec la cote 12,175, tr. fr. du Gai savoir, p.
to the original (19)
German: "ich habe meinen Regenschirm vergessen"
is a note classified "Herbst 1881 12" in Nietzsche's
collected works. (20)
examining this "fragment," we find that Nietzsche not
only "forgot his umbrella," he also forgot his punctuation.
In this he is unlike Derrida and Derrida's English translator, both
of whom not only remembered this punctuation, but decided to give
it back to Nietzsche. Interestingly, they appear to be incompetent
to give him back his forsaken umbrella (no matter how severe the
weather may be), yet they are perfectly capable of giving him back
these little bits of forgotten text.
in view of Derrida's case for undecidability, the nature of his
(and his translator's) restoration of Nietzsche's text seems highly
ironic. First, he helps restore Nietzsche's ego, for Nietzsche seemingly
defied the laws of punctuation in order to mark his "ich,"
even though it begins the statement, with a humble lower case "i."
However, Derrida bestows on Nietzsche a majescule "J,"
reversing this self-effacement. Secondly, by restoring the initial
capitalization, Derrida helps anchor the case of the umbrella firmly
in time. Our floating forgotten umbrella affair now has a point
of origination or initiation. And finally, in restoring the "period"
he "puts a point" to the whole affair, as if the forgetting
were previously held in suspension, but the umbrella is now, once
and for all, and quite decisively, "forgotten."
Derrida is right and this passage is undecidable, that is, in so
far as it is a forgotten text, and therefore perhaps not
about a forgotten umbrella. But how can it be nothing more than
a forgotten text? Only in so far as we make a Derridean decision,
a decision not to decide.
you need to decide!
we decide that it is une parapluie. We decide that it is
un parasol. We decide that it is a shield against the domineering
light of the Sun, that image of hierarchical power and domination.
We decide that it is une ombrelle. We decide that it is un
nombril. We decide that it is le nombril du monde. We
decide that it is the axis of imagination around which turns the
wheel of fate. We decide that it is the vast Nietzschean umbrella,
which points to the heavens, to the heights, to the lightness of
Dionysus, and which opens up to infinity.
decide, on the other hand, that it is a sad little text signifying
that poor Nietzsche forgot his umbrella.
As Prophet Of Pre-Ancientism
we have seen, Nietzsche is not much of a Post-Mortemist (though
he may be the Post-Mortemist's best friend!). And we have begun
to discover that he is, at least in his best moments, a Pre-Ancientist.
Let us call this Nietzsche "Pre-Ancientist Nietzsche"
or PAN. The allusion to the pagan god is appropriately Nietzschean.
For Pan, "this dangerous presence dwelling just beyond the
protected zone of the village boundary" is the Arcadian counterpart
to the Thracian god Dionysus, Nietzsche's favorite deity. (21)
And as Bullfinch points out concerning Pan, "the name of the
god signifies all," and Pan "came to be considered
a symbol of the universe and personification of Nature," and
later to be regarded as "a representative of all the gods and
of heathenism itself." (22)
PAN is the Nietzsche of pagan celebration, the Nietzsche of love
of the Earth, the Nietzsche of life-affirmation, the Nietzsche of
generosity and gift-giving.
celebrates and endows with eternity that which appears. He "saves
the phenomena" or "saves appearances" ("sauve
les dehors") so to speak.
certain emperor always bore in mind the transitoriness of all things
so as not to take them too seriously and to live at
peace among them. To me, on the contrary, everything
seems far too valuable to be so fleeting: I seek an eternity for
everything: ought one to pour the most precious salves
and wines into the sea? [WP 547-548] His vision reminds us of another
great Pre-Ancientist and anarchist, William Blake, who famously
"held infinity in the palm of his hand" and saw "Eternity
in an hour." Exactly such an affirmation of being becoming
in all its diversity and particularity is the core of PAN's enigmatic
doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence. It signifies the infinite depth
and richness of the present moment valued for its own being, not
for any end beyond itself. (23)
PAN excludes only one philosopher from his general condemnation
of the history of Western philosophy.
the highest respect, I except the name of Heraclitus. When
the rest of the philosophic folk rejected the testimony
of the senses because they showed multiplicity and change,
he rejected their testimony because they showed things as if they
had permanence and unity. Heraclitus too did the senses
an injustice. They lie neither in the way the Eleatics
believed, nor as he believed--they do not lie at all . . . . But
Heraclitus will remain eternally right with his assertion
that being is an empty fiction. The 'apparent' world
is the only one: the 'true' world is merely added by a lie. [TI
gives his fellow Pre-Ancientist Heraclitus well-deserved recognition,
but does the latter an injustice in regard to his view of the senses.
For Heraclitus the senses do and do not lie. And if they lie it
is only to reveal truth through their lies. Heraclitus did the senses
complete justice when he said "he prefers things that can be
seen, heard and perceived."
is a critique of the illusions of centrism. And Nietzsche is one
of the great critics of all centrisms, including anthropocentrism.
"If we could communicate with the mosquito, then we would learn
that it floats through the air with the same self-importance, feeling
within itself the flying center of the world." [TL 42] This
is the message of Lao Tzu also: the universe does not revolve around
us (unless we adopt a metaphysics worthy of a mosquito). "Heaven
and Earth are not humane. They regard all things as straw dogs.
The sage is not humane. He regards all people as straw dogs."
(24) PAN directs
us back to pre-Ancient times, before the blockheads carved nature
up, geometricized the world and prepared it for domination. The
crucial step was the replacement of the multitude of spiritual centers
with a centering of power in the ego.
Nietzsche has been seen as a kind of philosophical egoist. One of
the great Nietzschean ironies is that this critic of the heroic
has so often been reduced to a rather adolescent sort of hero-worshiper.
His reflections on the will point in a quite different direction.
According to Zarathustra, "all 'it was' is a fragment, a riddle,
a dreadful accident--until the creative will says to it, 'But thus
I willed it.' Until the creative will says to it, 'But thus I will
it; thus shall I will it.'" [Z 253] One might ask who this
self is that can be said to have willed all things, wills all things,
and shall will all things. The small self with its small will seems
to become a great self with a vast will. What is the meaning of
this riddle that Zarathustra poses to us?
find that this person with "creative will" is one who
rejects another sort of will--the heroic will--and renounces
the rebellion against nature. Such a person is, as that most anarchic
of Pre-Ancientists, Chuang Tzu, calls her, the "man without
desire," who "does not disturb his inner well-being with
likes and dislikes," the "true man of old," who "accepted
what he was given with delight, and when it was gone, . . . gave
it no thought."(25)
Whoever possesses a "creative will" accepts life, experience,
and the flow of being, the appearance of phenomena, as a gift, and
realizes that one can never have a proprietary claim on any gift.(26)
Heroic will is bound to the Spirit of Gravity and takes everything
seriously, the creative will expresses the Spirit of Levity, and
takes everything lightly. Nietzschean Anarchy knows the anarchic
power of laughter. (27)
"Learn to laugh at yourselves as one must laugh!" says
Zarathustra [Z 404] Elsewhere he explains that it is through laughter
that we kill monsters. So as we learn to laugh we learn to kill
the self. We slay the Dragon of the Ego. As I-Hsüan said, "if
you seek after the Buddha, you will be taken over by the Devil of
the Buddha, and if you seek after the Patriarch, you will be taken
over by the Devil of the Patriarch." So:
anything that you happen on. Kill the Buddha if you happen to meet
him. Kill a Patriarch or an Arhat if you happen to meet
him. Kill your parents or relatives if you happen to
meet them. Only then can you be free, not bound by material things,
and absolutely free and at ease. . . . I have no trick
to give people. I merely cure disease and set people
one laughs at the self one becomes other than the self that is laughed
at. One finally gets the joke that is the ego.
to PAN's diagnosis of the causes of the awful ego-sickness of ressentiment:
every sufferer instinctively seeks a cause for his suffering; more
exactly, an agent; still more specifically, a guilty
agent who is susceptible to suffering--in short, some living
thing upon which he can, on some pretext or other, vent his affects,
actually or in effigy: for the venting of his affects represents
the greatest attempt on the part of the suffering to
win relief, anaesthesia--the narcotic he cannot help desiring
to deaden the pain of any kind. [BGE 563]
comes to much the same conclusion as does Gautama concerning this
subject: our mental disturbances are rooted in suffering, a false
view of causality, and the illusion of the separate ego. Our constructed
ego cuts us off from the whole, we resist the flow of energies,
we fight against the movement, we seek to step into the same river
of selfhood again and again, we blame reality and time, we seek
revenge through whatever convenient target presents itself.
might have become an even more skilled physician of culture had
he followed Gautama further in exploring the connection between
ego, suffering, and compassion. He travels part of the way on this
path as he reflects on eternal recurrence and amor fati.
Just as he goes part of the way down the path of that other great
old Anarchic Doctor, Lao Tzu. PAN tears away ruthlessly at some
of our most deeply-rooted illusions about ourselves. "Beyond
your thoughts and feelings, my brother, there stands a mighty ruler,
and unknown sage--whose name is self. In your body he dwells; he
is your body." [Z 146] It is true that he here describes the
body as the true self, the "great reason," that acts though
the ego and the "little reason." But he shows also that
he sometimes thinks beyond this body. Zarathustra slips and gives
away PAN's more profound view when he says that "the mighty
ruler" not only "is your body," but is also greater
than the body and "dwells in your body." [Z 146] This
is the self of the self of the ego-self, the great reason of the
great reason of the little reason. For PAN, our embodiedness carries
us not only beyond our little self toward a larger self, but beyond
our little body toward a larger body. As Lao Tzu says, "He
who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire."
is this wisdom of the body that is at the heart of PAN's anarchic
critique of the domineering ego and its heroic will. Domination
has always rested on the hierarchical exaltation of the "world
of man"--the human world--over the world of nature, and of
the "world of man"--the masculine world--over all that
is feminine or childlike. PAN is in accord with Lao Tzu's anti-hierarchical
prioritizing of the childlike and feminine aspects of the psyche.
Zarathustra praises the child as "innocence and forgetting,
a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement,
a sacred 'Yes.'" [Z 139] Lao Tzu goes one step further, asserting
that "he who possesses virtue in abundance may be compared
to an infant." (30)
Zarathustra surpasses even this, urging us to "to be the child
who is newly born," and noting that to do this, "the creator
must also want to be the mother who gives birth and the pangs of
the birth-giver." [Z 199] An image that Lao Tzu also evokes
when he asks, "can you play the role of the female in the opening
and closing of the gates of Heaven?" (31)
This is the secret of Nietzschean Anarchy--the opening of oneself
to these forces of spontaneity, creativity, generosity, affirmation.
Anarchy is PAN's Dionysian dance. It is child's play. It is beginner's
References to Nietzsche's works will be indicated in brackets by
the abbreviated title and page number. See the bibliography of Nietzsche's
works below for titles and abbreviations.
God(is-Dead)Father of Post-Mortemism.
Journal of Value Inquiry 42:271.
The many Nietzsches are often brilliant, witty, satirical, ironic,
incisive, analytical, subtle, intelligent, and profound, but not
infrequently also superficial, pretentious, heavy-handed, pathetic,
spiteful, petty, fatuous, and buffoonish. It would be tempting to
turn our surre(gion)al travelogue into "A Tale of Two Nietzsches."
However, we will limit our visit for the most part to "The
Best of Nietzsches." There is, however, "The Worst of
Nietzsches," and this worst can be indeed abysmal. The abysmal
Nietzsche emerges for example in a statement, quite appropriately,
on the topic of "depth." A man, he says, "who has
depth, in his spirit as well as in his desires . . . must always
think about women as Orientals do; he must conceive of woman
as a possession, as property that can be locked, as something predestined
for service and achieving her perfection in that." [BGE 357]
And savor the exquisite odor of this statement: "We would no
more choose the 'first Christians' to associate with than Polish
Jews--not that one even required any objection to them: they both
do not smell good." [A 625] On Nietzsche as a pretentious buffoon,
see Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, part two, "Why I
am So Clever," and part five, "Why I am Such an Asshole."
Bizarre, though to be honest, has there ever been
a careful study of anarchist groups to see what proportion of their
members are hysterical celibates or sterile alcoholics? Perhaps
there is grant money somewhere.
Though this still redoubtable personage, apparently thinking that
rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated, lives on in
certain circles in a state of indefinitely suspended senility. Some
have accused the devotees of the patriarchal authoritarian God with
worshiping a "white male God." But their God really is
a white male. How do we know? As criminologists have pointed out,
that's the exact profile for a serial killer.
Despite all their anarchic pretensions, the failure of Post-Mortemists
to join in this resistance constitutes a de facto collaborationism.
Murray Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity: A Defense of the Human
Spirit Against Anti-Humanism, Misanthropy, Mysticism and Primitivism
(London: Cassell, 1995), p. 179.
Yes, Nietzsche did indeed say that "our buts grow out of us
with the necessity with which a tree bears fruit""--another
comment on the decadent life of the scholar, perhaps.
Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press), pp. 133, 135.
Ibid., p. 130.
Ibid., p. 131.
See Max Cafard, "Derrida's Secret Name: Or, What Transpired
in the Auditorium of Gaea and Logos" in Exquisite Corpse
38 (1992): 2-3.
Derrida, p. 123. Guillemets in the original.
Ibid., p. 159. Reversed italics in the original.
Ibid., p. 123.
Ibid., p. 159. Reversed italics in the original.
N.B.: "the original," that is, as it is represented in
a book, and herewith re-represented. We feel compelled to admit
that the following is not actually Nietzsche's scrap of paper.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke, (München
and Berlin: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag and Walter de Gruyter,
1980), Band 9, p. 587.
Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 81.
Thomas Bullfinch, Bullfinch's Mythology
(New York: Modern Library, N.D.), p. 136.
Though some humorists say that it means that everything occurs over
and over and over and . . . . We will call this the Twilight Zone
Tao te Ching [The Lao Tzu] in Wing-Tsit Chan, A Sourcebook
in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Un. Press, 1963),
Chuang-Tzu, Inner Chapters (New York: Vintage Books, 1974),
pp. 108, 114.
As Nietzsche states it with unusual eloquence, "no one is free
to be a crab." [TI 547] His point is that we must always go
"forward"--even if "downward" into decadence.
A crab (in Nietzsche's particular imaginary zoology) backs away
from and rejects this gift of life, growth, change, transformation.
This does not mean, however, that Nietzsche was funny, for unfortunately
he was not. I once attended a lecture in which a philosophy professor
spoke at great length on the topic of "Nietzsche and Humor." His
thesis was that Nietzsche was a member of that rare species -- the
funny philosopher! The Professor assured the audience that Nietzsche's
works were replete with humorous discussions, funny one-liners and
hilarious episodes. Indeed, he revealed that when he reads Nietzsche
he is often moved to smile, and even to laugh out loud! What he
did not reveal was one single hilarious line from the entire collected
works of Nietzsche, though this did not prevent many members of
the audience from smiling broadly and even chuckling a bit. Apparently,
the highly-developed sense of humor cultivated by certain professors
of philosophy allows them to extract a certain quantum of hilarity
from statements like "Nietzsche is funny." Or did they get the other
"The Recorded Conversations of Zen Master I-Hsüan"
in Chan, p. 447.
Ibid., p. 145
Ibid., p. 165.
Ibid., p. 144.
of Nietzsche Cited
Nietzsche, The Antichrist in The Portable Nietzsche,
trans. Walter Kauffman (New York: Penguin, 1976).
Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil in Basic Writings of Nietzsche,
trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 1968).
Nietzsche, The Case of Wagner in Basic Writings of Nietzsche,
trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern Library, 1968).
Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals in Basic Writings of
Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Modern
Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New
York: Vintage Books, 1974).
Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols in The Portable Nietzsche,
trans. Walter Kauffman (New York: Penguin, 1976).
Nietzsche, "On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense,"
in The Portable Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kauffman
(New York: Penguin, 1976).
Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter Kauffman (New
York: Vintage, 1968).
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra in The Portable Nietzsche,
trans. Walter Kauffman (New York: Penguin, 1976).