Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Very Nietzschean Christmas

This cartoon from Big Fat Whale has something for all us war-on-Christmas foot soldiers* -- I particularly like the Richard Dawkins snow man, the wreath design, and the Nietzsche sweater, though I think Nietzsche was an agonized sort of atheist rather than the cheerful sort -- I read him to mean something more like 'Oh crap, god is dead, now what?' as distinct from 'Hooray, god is dead, let's party like it's 1899!'

Then again, insanity contains multitudes (as does genius), and no one trash-talked religion with more alacrity and verve than crazy, brilliant old Freddy Nietzsche -- one of his writings is titled The Antichrist, after all. This is from Ecce Homo:

"God", "immortality of the soul", "redemption", "beyond" -- Without exception, concepts to which I have never devoted any attention, or time; not even as a child. Perhaps I have never been childlike enough for them? I do not by any means know atheism as a result; even less as an event: It is a matter of course with me, from instinct. I am too inquisitive, too questionable, too exuberant to stand for any gross answer. God is a gross answer, an indelicacy against us thinkers -- at bottom merely a gross prohibition for us: you shall not think!
Zing! And this from The Gay Science:
One form of honesty has always been lacking among founders of religions and their kin: they have never made their experiences a matter of the intellectual conscience. "What did I really experience? What then took place in me and around me? Was my understanding clear enough? Was my will directly opposed to all deception of the senses, and courageous in its defence against fantastic notions?" None of them ever asked these questions, nor to this day do any of the good religious people ask them. They have rather a thirst for things which are contrary to reason, and they don't want to have too much difficulty in satisfying this thirst, so they experience "miracles" and "regenerations," and hear the voices of angels!
Zung! The point is, I am confident that if he were still alive today, Nietzsche would be flattered, amused, and enraged to see one of his most provocative statements stitched into a garish Christmas sweater. He would also be very, very old, and probably crazier than ever.

No, I have re-thought the matter one final time and it turns out there was no point, as "points" are for suckers. Merry Christmas!

(via Domestically Challenged)

*As I have explained before, I have nothing against Christmas. Indeed, I celebrate it with good cheer, and insofar as I get testy about it, it's over the tiresome "Jesus is the reason for the season" chatter. Sure, it has something or other to do with Jesus, or had at one time -- he apparently wanted his birthday remembered with a society-wide gift exchange and large-scale disfigurement of pine trees rather than a surprise party and wish-granting candles stuck into a cake -- but I do not concede The True Meaning of Christmas to Jesus's friends or anyone else. Christmas belongs to all by now.


rebecca said...

Merry Christmas to you!

Last year, Jesse and I had a hard time deciding what to use for our tree topper, so we got some sparkly pipe cleaners and small styrofoam balls and made an atom. It's not quite as good as the wreath in this cartoon, but it makes me happy.

Domestically Challenged said...

Interesting interpretation of Nietzsche!

I'm tempted to make a t-shirt version of the sweater on CafePress...

Dale said...

Rebecca, right back at ya. I like the creativity of the decorations. I have very limited appetite for Xmas decorating but I admire it when well and inventively done.

DC, that would make a great t-shirt. I say put it out there and see what happens. Maybe you'll become the next internet zillionaire?