Preceptorial Spotlight: Nietzsche’s Later Works

[If you’re wondering what a “preceptorial” is, please visit this post first.]

Whack. Bam. Splat. Only onomatopoeiae do justice to how this philosopher’s philosophy aims for the gut. Brave students on the Annapolis campus have elected to confront this hammer-wielding thinker for sixteen weeks, reading five master works Friedrich Nietzsche pounded out in his last dash of creativity. Leading their charge is Mr. Louis Petrich, tutor and author of the following words:

“In my preceptorial this semester we are reading the last completed works of Nietzsche: The Case of Wagner, Twilight of the Idols, The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, and Nietzsche Contra Wagner. I don’t know these works, all written in the last year of his sanity, and I always prefer in preceptorial reading works that I don’t know, as a student among fellow students.

In these works, Nietzsche confronts each of his great opponents, whom he acknowledges as the progenitors of his advantages as an immoralist and free spirit: Socrates (or rationalism), Jesus (Jewish and Christian values), Wagner (and thus Schopenhauer and nihilism), and his own past self (as equally fated as his future self). Nietzsche always wrote with brave honesty, but I think in these works he lays himself even more open for beholding than before, his thoughts still dancing in affirmation of life.



For me, the overriding question of the preceptorial (the one that made me offer it) is whether Nietzsche’s dance is to become my kind of dance. More broadly put, is he our philosopher, known like a tree by his inspiring of fruitful life under conditions of modernity? Or is he a man in whose words we do not taste the sweetness or feel the supple motions of a higher life? Also, I’m intrigued to accompany a mind at the height of its powers, while on the edge of insanity — which dual position may be unavoidable at the heights, anyway. Perhaps in his company up there (so I hope) we may encounter the Dionysian ecstasies in Apollinian forms, whose tense combination in Greek tragedy Nietzsche discovered at the start of his career. He spent himself as a philosopher — to the end — in that double mode of being human, all-too-human.

That leads me furthermore to ask: what does it mean, really, to be quite human? Not an image of something else (God), but all-in-all human, and there an end, no other worlds or ways of being? That’s the question that I want each student to try to answer, for him or her self.”

black white mountain

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