2005

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Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards


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"The AntiChrist" by Nietzsche

"The AntiChrist" by Friedrich Nietzsche, I think, is the last Nietzsche book I've to read. Nietzsche is an idol of mine, he is the most poetical genius writer ever to attempt to teach mankind. Twilight of the Idols and Zarathustra are up there amongst the best books I've ever read.

But... The AntiChrist was a bit of a let down. It is basically a compendium of all his anti-Christian arguments and comments, in one huge, almost immature, rant. The arguments are obfuscated by his constant intense negativity. In the second half of the short book, the arguments are more clear, although in typical Nietzsche style there are so many offshoots that you have to read several pages to understand the larger-scale arguments. Which is part of his excellence, because his style is very readable: You can read a few sentences, and get one argument, a paragraph and get the feel for a general trend of arguments, or a few pages and realize that the total is even greater than all the individual offshoots, and realize some wonderfully poetic argument comprised of a dozen fluid parts, all summarized (occasionally) with beautiful and genius-like key paragraphs and built-up phrases.

Nietzsche writes, therefore, like music... a sentence per beat, with versus and choruses which are all worthy on their own, but the total is so much more.

However, The AntiChrist was perhaps limited by it's limited scope. It is a final "And just in case you ever doubted what the greatest expression of decadence is, just in case you somehow missed the rest of my text, here is it ugly and bold: Christianity sucks".

The best threads in this book are of the "psychological types" and history of Christianity, in particular, the gospels versus Paul, and Jesus versus Paul. He credits the Gospels with some genuine worth and good news, although he relegates this "worth" to not quite as bad as the rest of the attempts of the unhealthy, crap masses at the bottom of humanity, which was still a pretty unhealthy and destructive attempt at rising to power.

As a result of typical Nietzsche writing, I found myself quoting once from the middle of a paragraph that was over two complete pages long. I love Nietzsche :-) He had a unique writing style, completely fluid and wonderous, if the writing world were as intelligent at Nietzsche, his writing style would catch on. However as most writers are not, it is probably best not to try to copy his tangled, synthetic (yet not simplisticly modern) style!

OK... anyone have any thoughts on The AntiChrist, perhaps some slightly more positive ones?

I basically feel the same way about this work. He builds up Christ as his most worthy opponent, and lashes out with berserker fury. My copy came coupled with Twilight of the Idols, together a 'grand declaration of war'.

What is the grand declaration of war? I've seen it noted to once or twice, but haven't read it. I will guess in advance it is a diatribe against decadence, mental ill health and their biggest representative on Earth, Christianity.

(See my reply to Arkady about Christ). I haven't noticed him concentrate on Christ as an actual opponent as distinct from Christianity as a whole - yet Arkady said the same thing - maybe I've missed a book after all! (With the amount of cross-content, cross-references that occurs between the notes on his books, I'm not sure if I've read them all or not! I will re-read them all as I purchase them, as I only own a few)

He does lash out with berserker fury, I agree! I think he got sick of people taking too long to understand him, and maybe wanted something Very Obvious, so that it might annoy more people, and get his message more attention!

You have to bear in mind that "Twilight of the Idols" and "The Anti-Christ" were both produced in 1888, the last allegedly "sane" year in his life. In both these final works he was lashing out at self-deception. During this time Nietzsche had become very much obsessed with certain ideas; he went through a gradual mental breakdown from 1880 onwards that culminated in collapse in 1889. During the 9 years leading up to his collapse he became a total recluse. He finally went insane in 1899 and remained in a condition of mental and physical paralysis - what would be termed catatonia or persistent vegetative state nowadays - until his death in 1900. Thus one must read his final works with this in mind; the increasingly agitative stance of his works during this time reflect his growing internal turmoil.

Following "Anti-Christ", Nietzsche went on to write "Ecce Homo", his autobiography. In order to totally appreciate any philosopher's work one must also understand and appreciate his life and gain some understanding of the background forces that lead to his stance and thinking. By this time his long-standing friendship with Wagner had deteriorated into something akin to hatred, which undoubtedly had a major impact on his mental wellbeing and subsequently his writing and ideas. He was frustrated with what he saw as the increasing tendancy to "herd" or "slave" mentality in society; "Twilight of the Idols" was intended - in his own words - as a "declaration of war" which failed to stir the very people it was aimed at. "The Anti-Christ" was his last effort to drive home his point; and by this time he felt his only worthy opponent was Christ Himself.

(Note I'm not a scholar of philosophy, I am an amatuer but will nevertheless contribute what I think I know!)

I know that Twilight and A were written in his final productive year before insanity, but, I know and love Twilight, and find it to be one of his most powerful, clear and effective works, almost in complete contradiction to The AntiChrist, which is almost pointless, given that his take on Christianity is laid out more elogantly (but less crudely) in previous text. Ecce Homo was one of the first N books I read, I should probably return to my copy of it now! (But as always I've got a multitude of books to be read!).

I thought that his relationship with Wagner had already came to hatred and bitterness by this time, and that actually these final three books were "past" the time when he felt the need to insert anti-Wagner comments! But I might have my chronology mixed up on that one, especially as I read Ecce Homo first!

I don't see that Nietzsche does view Christ, not the actual person, as his arch-enemy. I picked up, in The AntiChrist, an occasional positive comment about Jesus' actual life, especially his "living life as he taught it should be lived", but that in particular he viewed Christianity as a decline "from the moment Jesus died on the cross", that actually "there is not a single Christian" because of this immediate decline. He said of Jesus that his "good tidings" were immediately followed by the worst tidings, those of St Paul. I think, he views St Paul, the early Christian community which "can be seen through the gospels to have already have become corrupt", and especially Luther, as the main causes of both Christianities success (through pandering to the lowly needs of the masses) and inherent ill-health (through it's need to debase humanity in order to facilitate it's own worth).

A Christian named, um, I have a copy of his essay, prompted me to consider Nietzsche an "Anti-Luther" and an "Anti-Christian" more than an actual anti-Jesus. I think Nietzsche admits that we know very little about Jesus' actual message or life, because of the large amount of decadent and corrupting text written by those with ulterior motives (i.e., the Gospels, and then St Paul), and therefore prefers to partially hint that Jesus may have had some consistency, but that Human nature, especially that of Christians, destoyed it and turned into a symbol of the untermensch, and an unhealthy method of their promotion.

In summary... I think Nietzsche is more of an anti-WhatChristianityIs rather than anti-ItsFounder.

However, I grant Nietzsche utmost worth in the area of good, solid, productive and powerful sceptical thinking combined with a real sense of how to rise above the pointless masses of man, in short, I value his elitism and am inspired by it, the particulars of his anti-Christian message haven't been what I've concentrated on whilst reading Nietzsche. With The AntiChrist of course I've had little choice but to concentrate on that particular aspect. If I re-read Nietzsche paying more attention to this area, I might learn more!

When it comes to general anti-Christianity, my own base of thought is more based around historical philosophy, with less of a psychological aspect than Nietzsche, concentrating more on rational thinking in terms of history and theology, Nietzsche approach is more psychological, and he is one of the most qualified people (IMO) to make such an approach, whereas I (as a mere computer programmer) am more inclined towards the more technical historical and theological issues surrounding the particular beliefs and sociological transmission and change-over-time of those beliefs!

Eeek, apologies for the long reply!

The translation was by Anthony M. Ludovici, for some reason I didnt instinctively like the feel of the translation. It was a plain translation with too few German-language-notes & notes, and N is a big one for playing German word-games in his text, I don't like to miss out on them!

Unfortunately, no, I have no positive thoughts on that book. I'm just immensely relieved to read that it's *not* one of his better works (at least not in your opinion, which I respect). It's the only one of his books I've attempted reading, and I was incredibly disappointed in it. So maybe I just need to seek out a different one now.

- ♥ -

perhaps he did not feel that there were enough people saying "christianity sucks", so he decided to sum it up by over doing it just a little. But I do agree, Zarathustra is a much better read.
I know I am jumping off of subject, but are you into A.O. Spare at all?

Well he did say that he was disappointed that he hadn't yet caused a cascading war against Christianity, and this was another and more brutal kick in that direction, much less subtle, probably trying to appeal to less educated people.

A. O. Spare, I know of him and will one day read him, but at the moment I only know him in passing. Some people have been surprised (after reading stuff like The Power Of Symbols, http://www.dpjs.co.uk/symbols.html ) that I have managed not to quote Spare, but the truth is I haven't read him yet!

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