Today, continuing my series of posts on In Nietzsche You Can Find a Line for Everything, I give you Nietzsche on bloggers and blogging.
(The first two posts in this series drew on Human, All Too Human: A Book For Free Spirits, translated by RJ Hollingdale, Cambridge University Press, 1986 (this version includes Volume 2: Assorted Opinions and Maxims); that trend continues here, and will continue do do so for a while, though I suspect that as I teach my current semester’s seminar on Nietzsche, I will draw on other sources as well. The reliance on Human, All Too Human is grounded in my marking many of its passages as sources of sources of blogging inspiration; I will only move on when I have exhausted them. Which could, of course, take me many years. But who’s rushing? )
So, without further ado we have, first, from Volume 1, Chapter 8, “A Glance at the State”, Section 482:
And to repeat. – Public opinions – private indolence.
And then, from Volume 1, Chapter 9, “Man Alone with Himself”, Section 525:
Adherents out of contradictoriness. – He who has raised men up in rage against him has gained a party in his favor too.
I’m tempted to let these pass without comment but since this about this post is about the indulgences of blogging, why not bloviate a bit?
Section 482’s suggestion of private indolence’s entailment from public opinions is certainly provocative, and like most good Nietzschean aphorisms cuts uncomfortably close to the bone. How much easier to pontificate, prescribe and preach in public than to practice in private! (Apologies for the rampant and extravgant alliteration, it was entirely unintended.) The blogger invites diagnosis and treatment by his visible neurosis, on his insistence on exposing us to his need for public exposure. What private tasks has he left unaccomplished in his rush to publicize his ramblings?
Section 525’s linkage of blogging success and visibility to contrariness is even more suggestive. To be more than a speck of foam in the ocean of bloggers and blogging, conflict and engagement seems necessary. Votes of approval, chimings-in of support, acolytic hosannahs of one’s fellow-bloggers and writers simply will not do; better to rush on headlong into conflict, provoke outraged reaction, and to dispense advice, correction and critique freely. Deploy the polemicist’s arsenal; drop all pretense to politeness; honey is over-rated; bring on the vinegar!
But Section 525’s real punch lies in helping us understand Nietzsche’s writing, his “will to power” even better. He wrote to make us read him; to re-read him, to return to him again and again to understand him, to figure him out. He might have feared a lack of comprehension of his ideas, a rejection of his claims. But he feared even more a systematic lack of attention, a casting aside and passing on. By writing again and again in a way that went straight for the jugular of so many of our safely established moral and intellectual comforts, he forced us to keep reading him, even if not in agreement (and certainly, sometimes in angry disagreement). He knew all about bringing in the clicks and hits. A man for our time.