Monday, September 19, 2011

gem-stumbling in german thought

Sporadically, I study the angst-smothered yet-somehow-delightful writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. Well, "study" might be a stretch--I quit studying a long time ago--probably a phenomenon concurrent with quitting my cigarettes--the latter being a function of the former along with heavy drinking and pre-medicated anxiety. So let's just say that every now and then I pick up an unfinished book of Nietzsche's and pseudo-studiously read a few pages with the intent of one day finishing the dang thang.

Today I laid some more inroads in the seemingly interminable and largely inscrutable The Will to Power. Of the several Nietzsche offerings I have read, this particular one would come least recommended by me however so integral to N's over-all "philosophy" the musings might be. And they are integral, best as I can tell.

At any rate, as so often I have in the past, I stumbled upon a gem of concurrence between the grumpy sage and I.

For a long time now (and longer and longer now and now), I have sought subjects for my poetry that disturb the common notion of beauty. I have modified my proclivity towards the Wordsworthian Sublime to include an adoration of the stultified mundane and the staggering mutant. (A modification Wordsworth himself made as he grew older, less assured of his faith in memory and nature. But enough scholarship already . . . I have no cigarettes, no booze, and my medication alone is a poor defense.)

So as to my affinity with N. regarding the above:

"To represent terrible and questionable things is, in itself, the sign of an instinct of power and magnificence in the artist; he doesn't fear them . . . There is no such thing as a pessimistic art . . . Art affirms [. . .] The things they [such artists] show us are ugly; their reason, however, for showing them to us is their love of ugliness [. . . ] What a relief Dostoievsky is!"

Bear in mind, I claim no magnificence as an artist nor fully subscribe to N's perception of the "instinct of power." However, if not the spirit of the argument then the stuff of the argument stands. Life is mostly gross. Mostly stubbed toes and F-bombs. Mostly venom and bile. Mostly cow-cud and llama spit. For every daffodil, a million weeds. For every wandering cloud, an ominous, hail-gorged dark one.

I will end this post with one more quote from N because 1] it is apropos and 2] it makes me giggle.

"It is absolutely unworthy of a philosopher to say that 'the good and the beautiful are one'; if he should add 'and also the true,' he deserves to be thrashed. Truth is ugly. Art is with us that we may not perish through truth."

And finally with a bonus quote from my poem, "Ten More on Sandstone Tablets":

I shall stop and smell the sewage, too,

Otherwise the rose is just a rose that’s just a rose.


  1. I like your words better than N's. And, are you surprised that I think truth and ominous clouds are beautiful?