‘A book for all and none’. I almost led with a deep sigh followed by a long drawn out profane utterance (you know the type you might exasperatedly express after fighting with a crossword for more than two hours). But that would just underscore my intellectual ineptitude. The sad reality is…
I am not smart enough for this book. Which is a strange thing to admit. It is unfortunately also true. Even worse… this is actually the second time I’ve read this book. And my understanding has not improved with age and/or experience. If anything, it actually took me longer this time round. (I read in forty minute bursts, often interjected with Playstation and Stranger Things on Netflix which I enjoy but doesn’t really do anything for my cognitive ability)
It was interesting however to read my notes, which I’d made previously. I was faking intellectual prowess. Ha ha. I look at it now and think, ‘god, I was a pretentious knob’.
Loads of people read Nietzsche and then reference him as this phenom among the intelligentsia. By virtue of the praise heaped upon it, it becomes almost required reading. I obviously can’t speak for everyone. I would read a chapter and think, ‘yeah, this is okay, but I’m not having this profoundly cathartic experience. Why is that? What am I missing? And then I’d re-read the paragraph or the page. And I’d be like… fuck. What am I not seeing here? And then I’d get angry with myself and irritated. As the book progresses my notes start to get more and more sparse. Pages go by without any annotations. Eventually I just started reading it as a story without looking for word games or a hidden wisdom. I think maybe that’s the way to approach this book, don’t try an emulate what others got by reading this….
Besides, they could just be bullshitting you.
I think there is often a great deal of dishonesty that happens with books like this. I imagine its like when your friends are talking about a movie and everyone is animatedly discussing it. And you agree with them, even though you haven’t even seen the movie. I think its something we’ve all done at some stage in our lives. You get caught up in the enthusiasm or the desire to please the group… or something.
I’m not saying Thus Spoke Zarathustra isn’t brilliant. It might be. BUT. It could also just be that Nietzsche is just fucking with all of us (it often feels like he is). I don’t know. Like I said I’m not that smart. What I can attest to is that I’m feeling really drained. I feel like I need something… less intensive for my next foray into words. Maybe something with pictures and speech bubbles. I’m thinking I might re-read Mike Mignola’s Hellboy.
One of these days I would like to tackle Thus Spoke Zarathustra in the original. (some time before I die I mean) I found that with Faust (nowhere near finished) the translation didn’t do the original justice. I mean its a good translation, but it loses the poetry and some of the beauty when converted into English. I found myself wondering if that happened with Nietzsche.
For me Thus Spoke Zarathustra is like Fear and loathing in Las Vegas. I’m not sure if its brilliant or basically the precursor for the decent into madness. I think we need to bear in mind that Nietzsche did eventually go mad. A world without Xanax is a scary world, nothing to bring you back from the brink.
I was expecting Thus Spoke Zarathustra to be an enema for my mind. A purgative event that cleansed me and brought to closer to enlightenment. If anything I’ve decided that I prefer Nietzsche soundbites and disembodied quotes taken out of context. This seems more digestible to a person like me. Fiber be damned.