Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Nietzsche for Idiots
Photo of Friedrich Nietzsche by F. Hartmann
Nietzsche has always been as hard to spell as he is to
swallow. You type out Nietsche or Nietzche and finally you get the added
letter, but Nietzsche, like one says about some complicated people, is work. An evening correcting the misspellings of his name can leave you feeling
empty and emotionally exhausted. If you’re having trouble with your Nietzsche, you might want to point the finger at someone other than yourself. What were Nietzsche's ancestors thinking when they decided to place an s after a z? No one is saying that there is anything wrong
with the name. It’s Beyond Good and Evil. However Robert Heilbroner once wrote a book called The Worldly Philosophers, which totally bypassed Nietzsche in favor of thinkers like Karl Marx and Adam Smith. And the question
is, why not make Nietzsche more worldly by coming up with some shorthand that makes his name and hopefully his ideas more user friendly. How’s about
Nichi? It’s simpler and something kids will like too. Instead of being some
hard to spell philosopher, his name will make him sound like a legendary
martial artist. Nichi and Bruce Lee. Nichi is such a catchy name that it might
be turned into a computer game that would be a challenge to Grand Theft Auto.
Heidegger comes bearing a lot of freight, not the
least of which are tongue twisters like Unheimlichkeit. But there isn’t too much
leeway. Heidegger is a hard word to misspell, although Americans put off by his
fascist leanings might warm up to him if his name were changed to Hy Digger.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.