Bataille 03

Bataille 03

Bataille on Nietzsche
As I write, I’ll admit that moral investigations that aim to surpass the good lead first of all to disorder. There’s no guarantee yet I’ll pass the test. Founded on painful experience, this admission allows me to dismiss those who, in attacks on or exploitations of Nietzsche, confuse his position with that of Hitler.
“In what height is my abode? Ascending, I’ve never counted the steps leading to myself–and where the steps cease, that is where I have my roof and my abode.” * [The Will to Power]
「我的居所在怎樣的高處?在攀登處。我從來沒有計算通往我自己的腳步。在腳步停止的地方,那就是我的屋頂及我的居所。」( 權力意志)
Thus a demand is expressed, one not directed at some comprehensible good–but all the more consuming to the degree that it’s experienced.
I lose patience with crude equivocations. It’s frightening to see thought reduced to the propaganda level–thought that remains comically unemployable, opening to those whom the void inspires. According to some critics, Nietzsche exercised a great influence on his times. I doubt it: No one expected him to dismiss moral laws. But above all he took no political stance and, when pressed to, refused to choose a party, disturbed at the possibility of either a right- or leftwing identification. The idea of a person’s subordinating his or her thinking to a cause appalled him.

His strong feelings on politics date from his falling out with Wagner and from his disillusionment with Wagner’s German grossness-Wagner the socialist, the Francophobe, the anti-Semite . . . The spirit of the Second Reich, especially in its pre-Hitlerite tendencies–the emblem of which is anti-Semitism–is what he most despised. Pan-German propaganda made him sick.
“I like creating from tabula rasa,” he wrote. “It is in fact one of my ambitions to be imputed a great scorner of the Germans. Even at the age of twenty-six, I expressed the suspicions that their nature had aroused in me” ( Third Jeremiad). “To me, there is something impossible about the Germans, and if I try to imagine a type repellent to all my instincts, it’s always a German who comes to mind” ( Ecce Homo). For the clear-sighted, at a political level Nietzsche was a prophet, foretelling the crude German fate. He was the first to give it in detail. He loathed the impervious, vengeful, self-satisfied foolishness that took hold of the German mind after 1870, which today is being spent in Hitlerite madness. No more deadly error has ever led a whole people astray and so terribly ordained it for destruction. But taking leave of the (by now) dedicated crowd, he went his way, refusing to be part of orgies of “self-satisfaction.” His strictness had its consequences.
Germany chose to ignore a genius so unwilling to flatter her. It was only Nietzsche’s notoriety abroad that belatedly secured the attention of his people . . . I know of no better example of the wall of incomprehension existing between one person and his or her country: for fifteen years a whole nation remaining deaf to that voice–isn’t this a serious matter? As witnesses to that destruction, we ought to look in admiration at the fact that while Germany took the path leading to the worst developments, one of the best and most passionate Germans turned away from his country with feelings of horror and uncontrollable disgust. Taken all round in any case, in their attempts to evade him as much as in their aberrations, doesn’t hindsight let us see something vulnerable in this inconclusiveness?
In their opposition to each other, at last both Nietzsche and Germany will probably experience the same fate: both equally, aroused by demented hopes, though not to any purpose. Beyond this tragically pointless confusion, lacerations, and hatreds governed their relations. The resemblances are insignificant. If the habit of not taking Nietzsche seriously did not exist, the habit of doing what most annoyed him, giving him a cursory reading to exploit him, without even putting aside positions which he saw as being incompatible with his, his teaching would be seen for what it is–the most violent of solvents. To view this teaching as supporting causes it actually discredits not only insults it but rides roughshod over it–showing that his readers know nothing at all about what they claim to like. To try, as I have, to push the possibilities of his teaching to the limit is to become, like Nietzsche, a field of infinite contradictions. Following his paradoxical doctrines, you are forced to see yourself as excluded from participating in current causes. You’ll eventually see that solitude is your only lot.



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