Thursday, February 9, 2012

Friedrich Nietzsche Human, All Too Human chapter nine aphorism 638 The Wanderer

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 Chapter 9 Aphorism 638

Chapter nine of Friedrich Nietzsche’s book Human, All Too Human is entitled “Man Alone with Himself,” and the title of the concluding aphorism of this chapter is entitled—The Wanderer.  This paper will argue that The Wanderer is the paradigmatic case of a free spirit come to fruition and that this aphorism is not only the conclusion to Volume One but is also the conclusion of the “convalescence” of spirit which Nietzsche has been thinking us through in earlier chapters of the book.

            Richard Schacht, in his introduction to the 1996 Cambridge University Press edition of the R.J. Hollingdale translation, of Human, All Too Human, opens by reflecting on Nietzsche’s statement in Ecce Homo that “Human, All Too Human is the monument of a crisis.”[i]  During this crisis, Nietzsche is coming to terms with his need to sever attachments to many of the key drivers and inspirations of his earlier thought.  Nietzsche realizes that he must cure himself from Schopenhauer’s “blind will to morality,” as well as move beyond his vision of Wagner’s romanticism as a beginning and not an end (“likewise over the Greeks, likewise over the Germans and their future”). [ii]   These deceptions he had “lived on” must now be replaced, or at least his “tenacious will to health” is pushing him to do so in order to become unfettered and able to hear, see, think, (and dare one say, feel?) clearly.[iii]

            For most of Human, All Too Human Nietzsche has provided prescriptions, warnings, helpful hints—seemingly providing for us a highlighted path to becoming a free spirit; or at the very least the path a free spirit would take; and the human, all too human  barriers that keep most of us from achieving such a form of engagement with the world.[1]   But in chapter nine Nietzsche in a way, begins anew to discuss the resolution of this “crisis” he has undergone in an all-together different manner.  The resolution to the crisis Nietzsche had to endure—and all who desire to become unfettered--is to engage the world as a “man alone with himself” and sustain a resolve to continue “wandering”.  Specifically, Nietzsche finds this “living alone with oneself” to mean that one is engaged with the world in a way which adherers both to a certain methodological approach which Nietzsche provides for us in the first chapter—a “historical philosophy” of identifying and collecting the little unpretentious truths—and doing so in a way that is neither mere resignation of ones place in the world, nor indulgent of metaphysical illusions and self-sustaining vanities which hinder clear insight and thoughtful understanding of the world and ones place in it. 

A strong case can be made that in chapter nine Nietzsche is describing free spirits in action and that health is no longer sought out, rather it is something to sustain.  What then, is this free spirit in action?  It is one who has attained, “some degree of freedom of mind,” who can only be described as feeling a sense of wandering the earth.  The sense of wandering comes from living a life which lacks destination; and the free spirit must endure the ups and downs, the triumphs, alienation, and loneliness of such a journey.  The free spirit must engage a world of “strong winds”, “dreadful nights”, and a heart which will grow weary of wandering through such climate.  In this way chapter nine can be read as providing examples of such strong winds and moments of weariness.  But the key to this kind of engagement with the world is that “as recompense, there will come the joyful mornings of other days and climes, when he shall see, even before the light has broken, the Muses come dancing by him in the mist of the mountains…”[iv]

A distinct aspect of the wanderer—the free spirit—is that the struggles one faces are not self-inflicted illnesses or confusions but are simply normal ups and downs up engaging the world openly and honestly and this is laid out quite clearly in the concluding aphorism leading to the argument that The Wanderer aphorism provides the paradigmatic example of the free spirit.  There is nothing to cure in oneself when bad nights appear, or one is forced to dwell in deserts alone, because “joyful mornings of other days and climes” are just around the corner and one cannot cure oneself from such a world but merely stay “cheerful and transfigured” wandering towards a “philosophy of the morning”.

[1] I hesitate to use the word perspective because of the many interpretations of, “Nietzsche-ian perspectivism”, I neither am using here nor claim to understand and have therefore used the word engagement.

[i] pg. vii

[ii] Preface Sec. 1 Pg 6

[iii] Preface Sec 4 pg 8

[iv] Aphorism 638 p. 203

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