Nietzsche – Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

The counterthrow to all of Nietzsche’s affirmation, published one year after Zarathustra. Taking off from his theory of affirmation, he claims that “truth” is not best defined according to good and evil, but to what extent a “judgment” is “life-advancing, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-breeding” (§4). This does not mean that we assimilate to nature (“live according to nature” like the Stoics), but rather participate in the aggressive, combative drives by which nature perpetuates itself (§9). For this reason, self-preservation is not primary, but a consequence of the animals desire to utilize (“vent”) its strength (§13). “Be aware of superfluous teleological principles.”

Style is defined as the byproduct of translation: “That which translates worst from one language to another is the tempo of its style,” which is linked to the “average tempo of [a race’s] metabolism” (§28)

He defines life as an organic process (and also the soul as a social composite-effect) coextensive with the will-to-power. He wonders whether that which is given–our desires and passions–might not suffice for an understanding of our material world: “as a kind of instinctual life in which all organic functions, together with self-regulation, assimilation, nourishment, excretion, metabolism, are still synthetically bound together” (§36).

Crucially, Nietzsche is not calling for laisser aller, but for a form of living that is concerted and artistic: “Every artist know how far from the feeling of letting himself go his ‘natural condition’ is, the free order, placing, disposing, forming in the moment of ‘inspiration'” (§188).

Everyday experience is a process of (artistic) invention, creation, deception. (§192). Herd instinct is the unfortunate outcome of “narrow” human evolution [Curious way of approaching pastoral] (§199). Connect this with History for Life, which talks about the need to turn away from becoming in order to create something eternal. This also connects with Jane Bennet’s ontology of resistance as the means by which the subject carves out a space for agency. 

Nietzsche does not believe in disinterestedness–the “aesthetics of disinterested contemplation through which the emasculation of art tries, seductively enough, to give itself a good consciensce” (§33)–but does not give a very good argument.: He who has sacrificed know he really wanted something in return, perhaps something of himself in exchange for himself…to feel himself more.” At the very least, he believes the aesthetic functions otherwise. Pursue this in relation to Kant and Hegel, and Deleuze. (§220)

For Nietzsche, historical sense resides in the palate, and is associated with mixing and inbreeding, etc. He condemns “tasting” as a sort of dilettantism,” a curiosity in everything that holds back from the investments of desire. Every once in a while, something infinite transcends the measuredness of good taste. (§224)

Man unites created and creator. (225)

Growth is the fundamental process by which humans, civilizations, and species progress….It is a frighteningly violent form of identity-thinking: “The power of the spirit to appropriate what is foreign to it is revealed in a strong inclination to assimilate the new to the old, to simplify the complex, to overlook or repel what is wholly contradictory.” (230)

Weird stuff about bad cooking being a root cause of cultural decline. Women take the hit, of course. (234)

Adaptation and Capital: N dreams of a supra-national nomad that slowly emerges above and beyond the mass of readily employable workers, praises such a dream-man, but also notes the necessary disparity between classes that would ensue. Interesting and important: flow of capital as growth, organic, etc. (242)

Nietzsche indulges in the stock stereotypes of Jews (greedy and smart, but deplorable) and English (stultifying but impressive).

In Hegelian fashion (but also working from his theses concerning adaptation and accumulation), N defines life as fundamentally an act of appropriation, even if this is an ugly idea. (259)

Nietzsche foresees a moment outliving the “old morality” in which the “individual stands there, reduced to his own law0giving, to his own arts and stratagems for self-preservation, self-enhancement, self-redemption.” Modernity if ruled, then, by the power of the average–the lowest common denominator. Nietzsche is both awed and scared of mediocrity (§268). Connect this with Thomas Hardy’s concept of loving-kindness.

After-dinner nausea (282)

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