I have been relatively incommunicado and not blogging because of the Thanksgiving break. Over break and the “down-days” leading up to it, I “relaxed” and by that I mean “drank lots of delicious bourbon.” That was because I was not working out and did not have to be doing any “work.” I could just drink and think or talk—I did a lot of talking, not all of it appreciated.
Anyway, break ended for me and I begin working out again on Monday. This means I had to “dry out,” so to speak; the most difficult part of that being trying to think and write while exerting the appropriate amount of “No” will to the desire to luxuriate again.
I want to describe this experience in light of Nietzsche’s description of our physiological-soul-commonwealth. There was a bourbon soul, a work (slave) soul which has its root in physical timidity, an attack soul (writing an attack piece for some publication) which has its root in a desire to “exert will to power” by relying on my own arms as much as possible, and then my physical-power soul which demands I undertake certain athletic and hygienic measures.
The difficulty I face is the misery of the slave soul, which raises its head on account of my “career-insecurity”—the misery of the slave soul deadens my spirit and gets in the way of other things. I sit at my desk for 5 hours and do everything I can to do something utterly boring. Then I accomplish the slave task I had set out for myself (grading papers) and head back to my apartment where I have been dreaming all day of going on the attack. I eat dinner and try to go on the attack. I can’t figure it out—for various reasons it becomes difficult to remember the line of attack and my deepest motivations for the attack. My mind is numb from the slave work and from days of relying on the bourbon-soul. Everything I write is shit. The bourbon soul calls to me and promises to come to my aid, but I know that this soul will be at the expense of the physical-power soul (athletics and hygiene) and I have to remind myself, which takes an effort, what it means to be weak on Sunday with workouts looming and more slave work to do. I remind myself also that the bourbon soul will weaken soon enough and my attack powers will resume the use of their more natural resources. Time plods on and my apartment is a miserable place to be even though it is exactly how I like it these days and I’ve cleaned everything and … so I start reading Nietzsche to see the motions of attack. Even that is frustrating!
Near the end of BGE he writes about how the soul of a base person reacts to a lofty man:
“Anyone who does not want to see what is lofty in a man looks that much more keenly for what is low in him and mere foreground—and thus betrays himself.” (275)
While I found that aphorism charming, a dread crept over me as I finished the chapter. I was getting frustrated with Nietzsche because I couldn’t understand! (Specifically the conversation aphorisms 278-282) and realized that my soul was base.
My initial impression was that I could interpret that section according to the apparently concluding aphorism 277, “When one has finished building one’s house, one suddenly realizes that in the process one has learned something that one really needed to know in the worst way—before one began.” I thought the following aphorisms were going to be light and humorous “winding down” aphorisms, whose meaning would signify the inherent difficulty in writing a book that must amount to some sort of recommendation, a recommendation which is unavoidable even if he said “this isn’t a recommendation!” in all his irony. Needless to say, I don’t think that was what those aphorisms are about and I couldn’t (and can’t right now) figure out why they are there. The upshot is I slandered Nietzsche a little in my heart for going on in such an incomprehensible way, before catching myself being so base.
So I tried to finish the chapter in a better mood because I know I’ve liked it thoroughly before, though, I thought to myself, “perhaps with the aid of a commentary! Or a friend’s insights!” and then I lamented the baseness of my soul a little more and finished the book.
The attack spirit didn’t come and I remained frustrated, paced around, ate some Jalapeno Muenster cheese which is my favorite these days. That helped. Finally the fog broke (I honestly have no idea why) and my attack soul came out. I worked on my piece for a happy but too-short 30 minutes, took my shower and felt like a crazy person for all the moping about I had done and thought of this blog post.