Monday Aphorism: On Reading Nietzsche

It was a purple colored paperback book
I borrowed from my niece,

the selected or collected works of Nietzsche

…which I only read much later,
as I slowly gathered time
and nerve.

Perhaps it was that the pain I had in those days
was so close to each moment’s experience;

perhaps I was generally down and depressed,
waiting for something to happen
which would not materialize,

but it was then
I began to read his works.

And I went with him
everywhere that he went,
and; I imagined, beyond…
if that is possible.

The will to power,
the will to will,
the rise of European nihilism,
the proclamation
of the death of God,

the transvaluation of all values…

the stirring prose,
the power of the aphorism
coming hard on the trail
of Machiavelli’s “Discourses,”
pulling me up
upon Zarathustra’s Mountain,
licking my wounded vanities,

grappling for the first time
with my ignorances
and bluster
and arrogance which seemed then to pale
next to his.

A ready kinship as philologist
and amateur musician,
I tried to feel
as substance
and author.

Into every nook and cranny,
the dizzying pace of somersaults
trying to know each critical point
in thought,

to move beyond each next beyond,
always aware that his had led to
an enduring insanity
in which he assured himself
that his destiny was fulfilled
because he had fulfilled destiny.

His attack upon morality,
upon the meekness
and weakness of a love preachment,

into my own becomingness,

revolving through my own being
as I was myself
attacking the foundations of language’s preeminence,

took me up to the heights he praised
and into the depths
he seemed to think
were necessary;

to climb up to the next place.

  • Quite a journey. Thanks for sharing that…

  • Harvey Sarles

    This all occurred in a “time” of rethinking – who I (thought I) was, how to increase the scope of my thinking (beyond all the “traditions”), to increase my own senses of verve and nerve. It goes on…

  • Gus


    Most of my Nietzsche books are green, except Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist, which is red.

    This post resonates with me.

    Nietzsche is someone I’ve pretended to read for a long time, and an author I actually started to read lately. I carry his book around, but I’m rarely in the mood to remember exactly where I had left off, and what page I could plunge into. I walk around with him in my bag, in my pack, in my car, next to my bed. Nowhere can I read him, except in a tent, only sometimes.

    His ideas aren’t in my head. The ideas of his ideas are. He is a phantom to me. Nietzsche doesn’t actually exist, only people who talk about him. I can go to his books, but part of me feels it is too late. I could, but why? Am I concerned with what I “ought to know” over what I want to know? How do I know what I want to know? Can I figure out the world, and my place in it, without Nietzsche? Can I learn about my place from the living or from the dead? These are questions I’ve been asking myself.

    I wander because I only think when I’m moving. When I stay put, my thoughts stiffen and freeze. The two times I had Nietzsche in my head this summer, I was in the Rockies and in the Appalachians. Right now I live somewhere in between those mountain ranges, north of the great plains. And when I’m here, life is flatter, and there’s no crag for Nietzsche to perch on. I’m not necessarily looking for the peaks and the caves. At this point, I’m just looking for perspective.

  • Harvey Sarles

    Me. too. I “always” have him with me – continually to help keep my thinking expanding in both time and breadth. His notion of being a “posthumous” author – aiding him in continuing sorts of critical trust/distrust of his own thinking, yet “permitting” him to move “beyond”…

    This continues to be one of my most favorite aphorisms.