Sunday, June 19, 2011
The Portable Nietzsche
Purchased, I think, at Rust Belt Books, in the summer of 1999.
I believe I have spoken of this summer in the past. I was in the throes of another post-breakup depression. This time, weirdly, I had done the breaking up, but it felt a lot more as if I had been the one given his pink slip. At least in the sense that the post-break up action turned the tables on me. Not so much in the power-game sense of things, but in the sense of invisibility or insignificance.
That is, for half of the year-long relationship we'd played a romantic game of keeping it a secret from everyone. After a time, I wished to reveal the secret to our circle of friends, but was routinely scolded when I did. Which made me feel kind of invisible.
Eventually, many other factors led me to put an end to the relationship myself, which didn't keep her from finding someone else and immediately showing him off to the whole world, making me feel doubly insignificant. None of which is earth-shattering, I know, but it sure felt that way at the time.
Anyhow, I spent much of that summer reading Nietzsche. I don't what compelled me to push through a depression by reading him, but there it is. Each day I would walk down Maryland Ave and over the pedestrian bridge across the I-190 and over the softball diamonds in LaSalle park to the point where Lake Erie flows into the Niagara river. There, I would sit on a bench and read Thus Spake Zarathustra. When I got bleary-eyed, I'd stare out at the water, or across the shore to Canada.
I was thirty, the same as Zarathustra when he climbed to his cave for a decade before descending again to spread his message among men. I'd quit smoking and was working out five or six times a week. I spent most of the summer at the gym. I was very unhappy. Nietzsche, sad to say, did not make me feel much better.
But then neither did anything else.
from Thus Spake Zarathustra
When Zarathustra was thirty years old he left home and the lake of his home and went into the mountains. Here he enjoyed the spirit and his solitude, and for ten years did not tire of it. But at last a change came over his heart, and one morning he rose with the dawn, stepped before the sun and spoke thus:
"You great star, what would your happiness be had you not those for whom to shine?
"For ten years you have climbed to my cave: you would have tired of your light and of the journey had it not been for me and my eagle and my serpent.
"But we waited for you every morning, took your overflow from you, and blessed you for it.
"Behold, I am weary of your wisdom, like a bee that has gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to receive it.
"I would give away and distribute, until the wise among men find joy once again in their folly, and the poor in their riches.
"For that I must descend to the depths, as you do in the evening when you go behind the sea and still bring light to the underworld, you overrich star.
"Like you, I must go under–go down, as is said by man, to whom I want to descend.
"So bless m,e then, you quiet eye that can look even upon an all too great happiness without envy!
"Bless the cup that wants to overflow, that the water may flow from it golden and carry everywhere the reflection of your delight.
"Behold, this cup wants to become empty again, and Zarathustra wants to become man again."
Thus Zarathustra began to go under.