There are many generalizations and sweeping judgments made about Nietzsche and his philosophy. I find such remarks next to useless. For me, there is only one way to approach Nietzsche – read each paragraph and maxim and aphorism slowly and carefully and arrive at my own conclusions after seeing how his words apply to my own life. As by way of example, below are several of his shorter aphorisms from this book coupled with my comments.“FROM CANNIBAL COUNTRY – In solitude the lonely man is eaten up by himself, among crowds by the many.
Choose which you prefer.” ---------------- I’ve spent many hours in solitude, sometimes days or even weeks at a time. For me, solitude is pure gold: to live within, to mediate, to relax into the core of one’s body and inner light is most refreshing, a sheer joy, anything but an experience of being lonely. Matter of fact, any feelings of loneliness quickly poisons one’s solitude.
If you feel lonely, perhaps it’s time to slow down and take a serious account of your life.“AGAINST THE DISPARAGERS OF BREVITY – A brief dictum may be the fruit and harvest of long reflection. The reader, however, who is a novice in this field and has never considered the case in point, sees something embryonic in all brief dicta, not without a reproachful hint to the author, requesting him not to serve up such raw and ill-prepared food.” ---------------- I enjoy 800 page novels but I also enjoy reading aphorisms.
The shorter, the better. Sometimes, one, two or three sentences is all that’s needed to spark probing reflection and sincere consideration.“DEBAUCHERY – Not joy but joylessness is the mother of debauchery.” --------------- I recall college drinking parties with lots and lots of beer and hard liquor, where everyone drank themselves into numbness and a drunken stupor. Those memories are like a distant bad dream. Fortunately, it only took a party or two for me to realize that wasn’t my scene. I started practicing yoga and meditation and have had the good fortune to experience great joy for many years as a direct result of this practice.“KNOWING HOW TO WASH ONESELF CLEAN – We must know how to emerge cleaner from unclean conditions, and, if necessary, how to wash ourselves even with dirty water.” ---------------When I encounter ugliness, whether in people or in my surroundings, I try to use such ugliness as a sting, a reminder to cherish experiences of kindness and beauty.“THE FARCE OF MANY INDUSTRIOUS PERSONS - By an excess of effort they win leisure for themselves, and then they can do nothing with it but count the hours until the tale is ended.” -------------------- I recall Joseph Campbell relating how many workaholics and professionals spend many years climbing the ladder but when they get to the top they realize they are leaning against the wrong wall.
From my own experience, I’ve had a couple professional careers but I’ve always enjoyed weekends more than weekdays. I think Nietzsche hits the bulls-eye here: If you are at a loss when you spend time away from your work-a-day world, ask yourself if you are really living life from your own creative and spiritual depth.“SIGNS FROM DREAMS - What one sometimes does not know and feel accurately in waking hours whether one has a good or a bad conscience as regards some person is revealed completely and unambiguously by dreams.” --------------------- I just finished ‘The Kindly Ones’ by Jonathan Littell where the main character recalls his life as a Nazi SS officer when he had a series of vivid, horrific, hellish dreams.
However, he refused to listen carefully to what he dreams were telling him- if he did, he probably wouldn’t have continued to engage in twisted, perverted practices and a number of senseless murders. For myself, for years I’ve kept a dream journal and practiced lucid dreaming. Most fruitful for self-discovery.Since this is a review of one of Nietzsche’s books, Nietzsche gets the last word. And since we are all readers of books here, I thought this maxim most appropriate:“A GOOD BOOK NEEDS TIME – Every good book tastes bitter when it first comes out, for it has the defect of newness.
Moreover, it suffers damage from its living author, if he is well known and much talked about. For all the world is accustomed to confuse the author with his work. Whatever of profundity, sweetness, and brilliance the work may contain must be developed as the years go by, under the case of growing, then old, and lastly traditional reverence. Many hours must pass, many a spider must have woven its web about the book.
A book is made better by good readers and clearer by good opponents.”