Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nietzsche's fire hounds

digital painting by Lohbado
Before sitting down to a plate of spaghetti Lohbado read Deleuze’s comments (page 196 Quadrige puf) on the fire hound section of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (book II, Of Great Events). Two dogs appear on a volcanic island. One dog nourishes itself on resentment and substances characteristic of the reactive personality, someone with a bad conscience, intense jealousy and self-pity. The other dog affirms life, speaks from the heart of the earth. It’s laugh flies around like colored clouds, or to quote Nietzsche, from the affirmative hound “Laughter flutters out of him like colorful clouds; nor is he well disposed toward your [the resentful hound’s] gurgling and spewing and intestinal rumblings.” (page 244 The Portable Nietzsche, edited and translated by Walter Kaufmann. 

Lohbado is nearly finished reading Nietzsche et la philosophie by Gilles Deleuze. His edifying and poetic commentary on Nietzsche speaks frequently of two approaches to reality, influenced by Spinoza’s Ethics. Spinoza wrote of sad passions and joyful passions. To oversimplify for the sake of brevity, the human yearns for fulfillment. Just as a flower is planted, then grows to maturity, blooms and exudes perfume, so an individual is born and yearns for wisdom, beauty and truth. This is a natural yearning. Anything that interferes with this process is part of the sad passions. The natural state, which is to flourish, is joyous. In Spinoza’s Ethics, the sad passions would be ideally restrained or eliminated to make way for joyous passions. Sad passions consist of jealousy, rage, self-pity and similar emotions. Joyous passions are creative, curious, open and friendly.

Nietzsche, following Deleuze’s reading, develops sad passions into ressentiment, an evocative French word imperfectly translated as resentment and all the associated emotions. The vile, ignoble, slave mentality embraces the sad passions or resentment and views life in negative terms, as a sort of punishment. The slaves are part of the herd guided by church and state. Creative, open minded people follow a joyous path of discovery, research, creativity, song and dance. The joyous person follows the mode of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. Their way is life affirming. As Deleuze suggests, the life affirming path of the superman (overman) relates to life as a multiplicity of connections. The life-denying path is entangled in a dialectic of yes or no, being and nothingness, this and not that, being in opposition to no-being. The life-affirming path goes beyond the this versus that approach and says each situation is open to an infinite variety of possibilities, in other words, this in relation to many other things, as opposed to simply that or its opposite. The joyous, affirming noble person can sing, dance and enjoy infinite possibility and creative freedom.

No comments:

Post a Comment