The Journal of a Mind

2002-09-21

As previously mentioned in this space, I'm slowly reading through all the works of Friedrich Nietzsche. As the rate of a few pages a night I'm currently reading Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, the first of his books to employ what is usually referred to as his aphoristic style. Yet that moniker does not do justice to how Nietzsche was philosophizing after he finished his Untimely Meditations. After publishing "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth" in 1876, all of Nietzsche's books consist almost entirely of fairly brief reflections on a wide range of topics. Often he writes about the same topics again and again, spiraling back to think and rethink his views on art, science, history, culture, individualism, and the like. In a book like Human, All Too Human, most of the "entries" consist of a short title and a paragraph (from one or two sentences up to several pages). Given that most of this material originated in Nietzsche's notebooks (suitably polished for publication), I've come to see Nietzsche's writings as the greatest journal of a single human mind ever created. There is an alarmingly personal quality to his writings, and a singular directness. Indeed, Nietzsche's books feel an awful lot like a philosophical weblog! If I had the time and the grasp of German, I'd translate one entry from Nietzsche's books every day. What a project! Even just volume one of Human, All Too Human contains 638 entries. The complete Nietzsche would probably take twenty years or more. Maybe it would make more sense as a collaborative weblog. Hmm...


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