Archive for the ‘Jaspers’ Nietzsche’ Category

Chapter 4: Great Politics

November 8, 2006

I finished this chapter a couple days ago. If I’d tried to write something about what I read on a daily basis, it’d come out a lot differently than it is now. It’s interesting to me that if I’d have written about it only yesterday this post would be .., no, this post wouldn’t be. I think about that sometimes, about how the things I’ve done as I’ve done then, the things that have happened as they’ve happened, what I’ve wanted, what’s been realized, anyone who’s ever lost something they’ve written knows that a moment comes only once.

Yesterday, instead of writing about Chapter 4, I ran over to the East Van Cinema and watched US vs. John Lennon. I was 10 when John Lennon was shot. I remember where I was when I heard. At least I think I remember, but I missed pretty much his entire life before that. I’d heard his music. It’s the kind of thing a child enjoys. I still enjoy it, in the same way I eat oatmeal everyday. But during the film there were two moments I saw someone incredible. He’s dancing on the street, wearing a white suit, with Yoko. He does a leg kick. Pure magic. He moved like a god among men. The other moment was at a press conference for the WAR IS OVER billboard campaign he and Yoko ran. One question was who’s paying. John was, but he mentioned that some others were coming forward to help with the cost. The follow up question was, “How much?” and John says I don’t know, less that someone’s life. The way he said it, without thinking and without dwelling on it, I mean he was talking about something else immediately was pretty powerful, like a punch in the stomach. A punch in the stomach is different from one to the face. When you feel the pain in your face you’re thinking ouch, I just got hit, but to the stomach you’re aware you’ve been hit, and then you’re thinking ouch, that hurt.

Lennon says in the movie, “I’m an artist first, a politician second.” He was a great artist, and a great politician, in the sense of Nietzsche’s great politics. The great politics about fighting for the power to make the decisions about what counts as truth. Nietzsche instructs us to Fight for this power. Jasper writes, “From the standpoint of great politics it means fighting with the aid of the creative thoughts which invisibly shape and transform men. Truth attains actuality only in the struggle for power; here lies both its source and its limit.”

Truth Pt. 1

October 5, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Truth pt. 1

I’m still struggling through this chapter on truth. Writing something now won’t hurt. The problem is the word itself. Nietzsche uses it in different senses. There’s the idea of truth as social consent, or at least the truth in social consent, like the truth in error. There’s also the idea of truth in the moment, and truth as ultimate reality, which aren’t necessarily exclusive.

Nietzsche’s conception of man, which is in a process of becoming, leads to a truth/reality in change. Jaspers says that you can’t understand Nietzsche’s thought without looking at his life, and the conception of truth Nietzsche would have been destroying was absolute truth. So Nietzsche saying there is no truth would be consistent with his saying God is dead. There is no one. There is no one truth, no one of anything.

As an aside, I have read a lot of Neil Postman’s stuff. All his books about teaching should be mandatory reading for teachers. He pushes for pluralism in education. But his last book, I think it was his last book, was a real disappointment. For a while there I was reading Zinn, Chomsky and Postman. It was Postman who sent me back to Nietzsche, and on to Foucault. But in Building a Bridge to the 18th Century he betrays his motivations. I still think The End of Education is a worthwhile book, there’s something to his ideas in a school, but out in the world he’s a weakling. Postman wants God back in our lives, and he says if you have doubts, behave as if the narrative is true. He at one point goes so far to wish that Nietzsche had the maturity to keep quiet. But I think Postman had it backwards. He blames Nietzsche for the wars of the 20th century. I laughed typing that. Postman wants all the God talk and Natural Right talk of the 18th Century to be true, But Nietzsche saw through the illusion.