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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Interesting Facts about Friedrich Nietzsche

One day while walking on the streets, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche saw a man whipping a horse because it wouldn’t move. The beast was clearly unable to move, and Nietzsche threw himself between the horse and its tormentor — and fainted. When he awoke, he was never the same again.

Most people would applaud his kindness to the horse, but not Nietzsche. In his eyes he had betrayed his own principles by stooping to pity, a common emotion he believed the enlightened man should avoid.

He apparently understood at that moment that he was not the Superman he preached, and though he was temporarily more energetic and healthy than he had been his entire adult life, it was an energy mixed with insanity as he wrote letters to national leaders claiming to be the world’s savior. Soon he degenerated, mindlessly staring and mumbling, and died 11 years later.

Nietzsche was brilliant but often misunderstood because he used brief, pointed comments called aphorisms that were intended to jolt people and make them think. If taken at face value many of these aphorisms seem hard and cruel. Perhaps for this reason Nietzsche was a popular philosopher in Nazi Germany, where he was used to justify the Nazis’ actions.

One advantage of his aphoristic style, however, is that it is easy to read. Compared with the almost-incomprehensible works of some other philosophers, Nietzsche’s writing is direct, and often funny, especially in “Thus Spake Zarathustra” (1885), his most famous work.

Nietzsche’s philosophy is based on two themes: God doesn’t exist and people are driven only by the desire to obtain power.

Despite all the talk about morals, he argued, morals don’t exist and we shouldn’t pretend they do. Morals are just a facade to cover up people’s real motivation: the desire to control other people and prevent other people from controlling them. He called this the “Will to Power” and claimed that all attempts to construct societies without realizing the centrality of this will to power are doomed.

And since God didn’t exist, he argued, Christianity was just a ploy to keep power in the hands of the majority who resented the few who were more suited to rule.

Another of Nietzche’s concepts is that of the “Superman.” People, he argued, stop short of their potential by needing to be comfortable, or by feeling sorry for themselves. This is why he disliked democracy: it gave power to those who hadn’t proven themselves fit to govern. Man, he said, should become Superman by overcoming his fears, comforts and petty concerns.

Though Nietzche has been used as justification by totalitarians, he was also an inspiration to Sigmund Freud and Jean Paul Sartre. Nietzche argued that people’s expressed reasons for their actions are not their real motivation, and that people can make something of themselves by an act of the will. Freud picked up on the idea of real reasons behind stated reasons to develop psychoanalysis, and Sartre picked up on Nietzche’s idea that man becomes something as he acts.

A group exhibition by Deano Shirriffs, Jimi Bellaney & Lars Preisser @ Modaks Cafe

Tūrangawaewae : A Place to Stand. A group exhibition by Deano Shirriffs, Jimi Bellaney & Lars Preisser @ Modaks Cafe

Opening - Friday 24th September 5.30pm - 9pm (ish)
featuring some Art, Music & Booze

exhibition runs till 24th October

Artworks in the exhibition inspired by the concept of Tūrangawaewae

Tūrangawaewae is one of the most well-known and powerful Māori concepts. Literally tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), it is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home.

Embrace Noir

I go back to the scene where the two men embrace
& grapple a handgun at stomach level between them.

They jerk around the apartment like that
holding on to each other, their cheeks

almost touching. One is shirtless, the other
wears a suit, the one in the suit came in through a window

to steal documents or diamonds, it doesn't matter anymore
which, what's important is he was found

& someone pulled a gun, and now they are holding on,
awkwardly dancing through the room, upending

a table of small framed photographs. A chair
topples, Sinatra's band punches the air with horns, I

lean forward, into the screen, they are eye-to-eye,
as stiff as my brother & me when we attempt

to hug. Soon, the gun fires and the music
quiets, the camera stops tracking and they

relax, shoulders drop, their jaws go slack
& we are all suspended in that perfect moment

when no one knows who took the bullet--
the earth spins below our feet, a blanket of swallows

changes direction suddenly above us, folding
into the rafters of a barn, and the two men

no longer struggle, they simply stand in their wreckage
propped in each other's arms.

Nick Flynn

IMAGE: Louise Bourgeois "Triptych for the red room"Etching and watercolor, Collection Xavier Tricot, Ostend.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

William Blake

Photo: Penny Siopis: Three Trees, 2009, ink and glue on canvas, 783⁄4 by 981⁄2 inches; at Michael Stevenson.