Friedrich Nietzsche was famous for many things but, for those of us who love his style despite philosophical protestations to the effect that style is lost in translation, his use of the aphorism is both a delight and a surprisingly effective way of transmitting his ideas in these days of the short attention span and the advertisement.
Aside from being pithy and laden with meaning far greater than their brevity at first indicates, Nietzsche’s aphorism may well have been the result of his appalling myopia, a condition that meant both that he had to take frequent rests, work in partial gloom, and keep his eyes very close to the paper on which he was writing.
Influenced by French verbal miniaturist La Rochefoucauld, several of Nietzsche’s aphorisms are common currency:
He who fights with monsters should look to it that he does not become a monster…
That which does not kill me makes me stronger…
That which is done out of love takes place beyond good and evil.
It bears pointing out that only the last of those three is fully quoted here, and the second and perhaps most famous appears in modified in Ecce Homo. Why should we not draw one aphorism from inside another, like a Russian babushka doll containing a smaller version of itself? Nietzsche is famously non-systematic as a thinker, and being taken out of context would not have concerned him, as I suspect, as part of his whole project, existential, historical and philosophical, was to try to examine what context was or is, what, as Marcus Aurelius might ask, is its nature. This is what fascinated Derrida about the German. But I digress.
The best-known selection of Nietzsche's aphorisms are in The Twilight of the Idols, and known in English as Maxim and Arrows (Spruche und Pfeile). I have always enjoyed dipping into them and selecting one at random like a child pulling a little toy from a tombola. I recently came across a notepad – I am a compulsive keeper of notepads – in which I have obviously tried an homage to Nietzsche, always the philosopher of choice at Traumaville town hall.
Without further ado, therefore, and in the order they occur, here are my Pfeile und Spreche, my Arrows and Maxims.
Western governments are not incompetent. The West, in decline as it is, is what a certain type of competence looks like.
The Liberal-Left – who could not envisage not being loved – believe their children will love them for creating the world those children must live in. The truth may not be much to their liking.
Literature, music and art; these faithful, moist-eyed friends will link arms and lead you through a world of faithless, dry-eyed, illiterate, tin-eared Philistines.
Wisdom casts religious philosophy as the babbling of children, Enlightenment philosophy as the voice of strong men. But, during the darkest night, does the child whisper to the man to comfort and console?
For the modernes, a new and uncomfortable idea is not to be debated, but drowned out by the harpie’s scream.
The philosopher asks of the world; What will you allow me to see? The moderne says of the same world; Thus you will be allowed to be and must be.
There is no ‘we’, just an empathic and imaginative ‘I’.
The leaders have studied into the night, but their schoolroom is the looking-glass, their subject themselves.
Live like a student, love like a miser, drink like a stevedore. Then come down into the world to die.
For the man, compassionate love is a malady. For the woman, a surgical procedure.
The only army being out-generaled by Islam is one composed of Western Liberal Progressives.
The base salt to which the chemistry of human relations reduces is control.
If Islam is permitted to take a lead in the West, the West will become a class of pupils learning at the pace of the slowest child.
‘Commanding right and forbidding wrong’ (Koran). Why the Left adores Islam.
To accept the right of other countries to implement shariah is to admit there is no universal value system. But then, my friend, of what value are you yourself…
The strength of minority opinion is proven by the fact that the West is run by an opinionated minority.
The USA is Puritan Europe’s failed experiment.
The importation of Islam into Europe is being fast-tracked because the elites want Muslims to police the rest of us.
We can indeed learn from Islam; That the world is a fiercer place than Mummy told us it was.
The elites mean to re-primitivise the West as a corrective to the freedoms brought about by Liberalism and enhanced by technology.
Not bad, I think, for someone who doesn’t have tertiary syphilis. Well, not yet.