Careful what you wish for

“The Socialists desire to create a comfortable life for as many as possible.  If the enduring homeland of this comfortable life, the perfect state, were really to be attained, then the comfortable life would destroy the soil out of which great intellect and the powerful individual in general grows: by which I mean great energy.  If this state is achieved mankind will have become too feeble still to be able to produce the genius.  Ought one therefore not to desire that life should retain its violent character and savage forces and energies continue to be called up again and again?  The warm, sympathizing heart will, of course, desire precisely the abolition of that savage and violent character of life, and the warmest heart one can imagine would long for it the most passionately: and yet precisely this passion would nonetheless have derived its fire, its warmth, indeed its very existence from that savage and violent character of life; the warmest heart thus desires the abolition of its own foundation, the destruction of itself.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (emphasis in original; trans. Hollingdale)

Fifty shades

“There will always have to be bad writers, for they answer to the taste of the immature, undeveloped age-group; these have their requirements as well as do the mature.  If human life were longer, the number of mature individuals would preponderate or at least be equal to that of the immature; as things are, however, most by far die too young, that is to say there are always many more undeveloped intellects with bad taste.  These, moreover, desire that their requirements be satisfied with the greater vehemence of youth, and they demand bad authors and get them.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (emphasis in original; trans. Hollingdale)

“Extinguisher” and “Unpacking the Object”

Two new pieces are posted this morning in the “Previously Published Stories” sidebar.  Last year the editors at Salt Hill contacted writers who had previously had work published in the magazine–mine was “Tossing Baby to the Tiger,” published in Salt Hill 14–and asked us if we would submit new work to be considered for their anniversary issue, Salt Hill 30.  I sent something and they rejected it.  They asked me to try again and I sent “Extinguisher” and they accepted it.  They also asked me if I could write a little something about the story and how it was written.  I did and that is “Unpacking the Object.”  The two pieces are understandably published together here.

Hanged for a token

“The truth is that pornography is just a sad affair all round (and its industrial dimensions are an inescapable modern theme).  It is there because men—in their hundreds of millions—want it to be there.  Killing pornography is like killing the messenger.” – Martin Amis, The War Against Cliché

Yeah, hey, back off, man

“If the Christian dogmas of a revengeful God, universal sinfulness, election by divine grace and the danger of everlasting damnation were true, it would be a sign of weakmindedness and lack of character not to become a priest, apostle or hermit and, in fear and trembling, to work solely on one’s own salvation; it would be senseless to lose sight of one’s eternal advantage for the sake of temporal comfort.  If we may assume that these things are at any rate believed true, then the everyday Christian cuts a miserable figure; he is a man who really cannot count to three, and who precisely on account of his spiritual imbecility does not deserve to be punished so harshly as Christianity promises to punish him.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (emphasis in original; trans. Hollingdale)

Running in place

“There are sober and industrious people to whom religion adheres like a border of higher humanity: such people do well to remain religious, it beautifies them. – All men incapable of wielding some kind of weapon or other – mouth and pen included as weapons – become servile: for these Christianity is very useful, for within Christianity servility assumes the appearance of a virtue and is quite astonishingly beautified.  – People whose daily life appears to them too empty and monotonous easily become religious: this is understandable and forgivable; only they have no right to demand religiosity of those whose daily life is not empty and monotonous.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (trans. Hollingdale)

Throwing down the gauntlet

“The Greeks did not see the Hellenic gods as set above them as masters, or themselves set beneath to gods as servants, as the Jews did.  They saw as it were only the reflection of the most successful exemplars of their own caste, that is to say an ideal, not an antithesis of their own nature.  They felt inter-related with them, there existed a mutual interest, a kind of symmetry.  Man thinks of himself as noble when he bestows upon himself such gods, and places himself in a relationship to them such as exists between the lower aristocracy and the higher; while the Italic peoples have a real peasant religion, with continual anxiety over evil and capricious powers and tormenting spirits.  Where the Olympian gods failed to dominate, Greek life too was gloomier and more filled with anxiety. – Christianity, on the other hand, crushed and shattered man completely and buried him as though in mud: into a feeling of total depravity it then suddenly shone a beam of divine mercy, so that, surprised and stupefied by this act of grace, man gave vent to a cry of rapture and for a moment believed he bore all heaven within him.  It is upon this pathological excess of feeling, upon the profound corruption of head and heart that was required for it, that all the psychological sensations of Christianity operate: it desires to destroy, shatter, stupefy, intoxicate, the one thing it does not desire is measure: and that is why it is in the profoundest sense barbaric, Asiatic, ignoble, un-Hellenic.” — Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (emphasis in original; trans. Hollingdale)

Vicious circle

“In the history of women, there is probably no matter, apart from contraception, more important than literacy.  With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, access to power required knowledge of the world.  This could not be gained without reading and writing, skills that were granted to men long before they were to women.  Deprived of them, women were condemned to stay home with the livestock, or, if they were lucky, with the servants.  (Alternatively, they may have been the servants.)  Compared with men, they led mediocre lives.  In thinking about wisdom, it helps to read about wisdom—about Solomon or Socrates or whomever.  Likewise, goodness and happiness and love.  To decide whether you have them, or want to make the sacrifices necessary to get them, it is useful to read about them.  Without such introspection, women seemed stupid; therefore, they were considered unfit for education; therefore, they weren’t given an education; therefore they seemed stupid.” – Joan Acocella, “Turning the Page”