Sunday, August 20, 2017


          "Also Sprach Zarathustra".
          Stanley Kubrick used Richard Strauss's music in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Elvis Presley used it as his own concert introduction theme. But before it was Strauss's music, Thus Spoke Zarathustra was Friedrich Nietzsche's book.
          He's the German philosopher in the 1880s depicted with the giant mustache who says, "What does not kill me makes me stronger."
          Misrepresented in death by his sister, who altered a book he had abandoned and gave it to Hitler as an all-purpose excuse for evil in a moral vacuum, for decades the misplaced idolatry of the Nazis for Nietzsche ruined his posthumous reputation, but in the 1950s scholarship revealed the error and his thought has been widely used ever since by disparate groups and individuals for varied ends.
          In the excellent 2016 BBC documentary "Genius of the Modern World--Friedrich Nietzsche", engaging host historian Bettany Hughes cogently distills Nietzsche's often notoriously elusive ideas. And she visits scholars with their own observations.
          For example, one scholar responds to the question of who is a Nietzschean Ubermensch or Overman, "An Overman is one who is no longer reliant on external goals." It is someone "who is able to commit to goals that you set yourself."
          The documentary travels to the areas in Europe where he lived, showcasing the panoramic views of Sils Maria, Switzerland, the forests, rivers, and snow-capped mountains that inspired a philosophy of celebrating this life here and now and finding joy in overcoming obstacles and thereby reaching new heights.
          Born in Rocken, Germany, in 1844, the philosopher who said, "I'm not a man, I'm dynamite!" began life as the son of a Lutheran minister in a household that, according to Hughes, "lived and breathed Christianity." It has been said of Nietzsche that he did not speak until he was four. It was at that age that his father died, an early event which shook young Nietzsche's faith.
          In his early twenties he decided not to follow in his father's footsteps, but instead became a professor of Philology (Linguistics today) at Basel, Switzerland, the youngest professor in the university's history.
          At this time he met Richard Wagner. Wagner was thrilled to have the young philosopher as a fan whose academic stature lent the composer additional weight. But after the opening of the new theater in Wagner's honor at Bayreuth and the production of his opera, The Ring, Nietzsche was deeply disappointed.
          Itching to spread his wings, Nietzsche cited ill health (accurately enough) and resigned from the university, crisscrossing Europe and spending "the rest of his adult life in a state of nomadic solitude."
          But he had, as Hughes observes, "his mind for company."
          Part of a highly informative 3-part series focusing on great thinkers of the late-19th century whose ideas resonate today.
          Freely available  online.

Stewart Kirby writes for

And I also write short stories, short novels, and a couple of screenplays.

Check out my Nietzsche screenplay by clicking the link to OVERMAN below:

Can't get enough Nietzsche action?
Check out my story MOTHERS WITHOUT MASTERS, wherein we learn that Nietzsche never died at all, but actually went on to form the world's foremost fighting team...

No comments:

Post a Comment