The Flames of Transformation
Nietzsche's Alpine Epiphanies
Thank you all for the phenomenal response since I started posting my newsletter with regularity this year.
Its growth has surprised me, especially from paid subscribers.
During the pandemic, I realised I was in a dogfight for my creative life. The challenge was clear; adapt or die.
Since then I’ve not only reconciled my relationship with social media but am embracing the possibilities in the digital economy.
It’s a steep learning curve, but one I’m greatly enjoying!
The endeavour to sustain oneself in the arts is a lifelong journey that necessitates ongoing adjustment and adaptation.
In music, I’ve experienced the heights of a major label and the battle of eeking it out in the underground. In film, I’ve lived the gutsy hustle of making documentaries on a shoestring budget, and the challenge of building a freelance business in a foreign country.
However, I believe there is a path forward for me beyond the ragtag approach which has defined my artistic life to date.
I don’t know where this faith comes from, but it has set my pulse racing. From my greatest low has emerged the energy of new beginnings. It doesn’t make sense but fills life with purpose.
Sometimes I guess, we need something to fight against to bring out the best in us. It’s for that reason that I’ve decided to explore my love of Nietzsche in this newsletter. It feels like introducing the crazy friend you always loved but hesitated to introduce to the family!
Before that a note and an update.
First, due to the growth of the newsletter, I’ve decided to commit to a publishing schedule. As such you can expect it in your inbox at 10am on a Saturday.
Second, you will notice the newsletters are shortening. I want to provide maximum value in a time-pressed world. It will also help me keep consistent.
Third, the newsletter is a keystone in my re-commitment to artistic life. To anyone considering subscribing today; you are the very lifeblood that keeps me going on this journey.
Me and Friedrich
“Courage, however, is the best destroyer, courage that attacks: it destroys even death, for it says: ‘Was that life? Well then! Once more!’”
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (page 178) Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche's Alpine Epiphanies
I have been making my way through “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” for over a year. Why so slow one might ask?
Because the greatest writing fuels you from the fewest words.
No writer remains more misunderstood than Nietzsche.
His tragedy is that academics have disseminated his message, while dubious political cults have exploited and twisted it.
You have to go directly to the writing with Nietzsche, to the man himself.
You will never find a writer who embodies paradox in the same way.
It is the driver of his insight.
Nietzsche fearlessly engages with every idea, approaching them with a barbaric fervour.
Not out of sadism, but because he grasped the necessity of continuously dismantling and reconstructing truth.
It lives not on its fixity, but because it needs ever reinterpreted, ever uncovered. And because it’s linked with time and to humans, truth is a fragile thing, burnished by some, and corrupted by others.
Yet it’s not how Nietzsche dismantles that inspires me, but how he reconstructs.
Has a writer ever written with more gusto, more verve, more sheer intoxication with the power of nature?
The animation of his prose pushes it beyond philosophy and into poetry.
His message is canonised by its form, propelled by metaphor, embellished by simile.
One moment he uses lightning to dismantle our assumptions, the next a soaring eagle to illustrate the loneliness at the apex of creation.
“The Superman” is not a crazed fantasy of a replaced species but a metaphor for our latent potential: to become more than we are.
That’s why Nietzsche savages us.
Who are we willing to be?
Are we ready to embrace our true potential by shedding our old selves?
And why is his work so misrepresented?
Because it’s interpreted by people in armchairs whereas his ideas are formed in the vitality of the mountains.
Every day he would thrust himself into the Swiss Alps, stare into the seclusion and wrestle with the void.
And while he did so he wrote, not as a static endeavour, but during the act of grasping itself.
This animation drives his interpretation of psychological space as an abyss.
A vastness where the inner and outer collide, clash, and fuse.
Perhaps he came too dam close to what he sought.
He couldn’t hold onto his tightrope and fell from the precipice of his own sanity.
He saw too deeply and too much.
Make no mistake, you pursue truth at your peril.
Its rewards are great but its impact devastates.
Yet step back from that pursuit and you risk an even bleaker state.
Truth; the most intractable of all the mysteries.
Even love breaks upon it.
Yet the story of Nietzsche’s life is not the way he died, but the way he lived.
Like the Indian Gods, he realised that affirmation is only possible in relation to the greatest destruction.
That is the great cosmic dance Nietzsche dared to tango with.
He played dice with the gods and like Prometheus dared to win.
And they tortured him for it.
Not because he stole from them, but because he threatened them.
Maybe because they respected him too.
I could spend the rest of my life distilling takeaways from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”.
But for now, here are three:
1) Look at your writing as a way to freeze the animating essence within you rather than as a static entity.
2) Make nature a discipline and it will reward you with penetrating insight.
3) Courage is pursuing your truth while knowing that nearing it amplifies its cost.
As Nietzsche said, “Turn it all to light and fire”.
Read on below for:
HOARDING: An Elegy for Incomplete Things.
In it, I explore:
a) How to unburden yourself from the emotional weight of incomplete projects
b) The transcendence of letting go and self-forgiveness
c) How my failures have led to unexpected freedom.
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