Usually I’m pretty quick in answering people’s emails, but I’ve been aesthetically procrastinating answering Rainer – and it wasn’t because I had a problem finding an anomalous and alterior perspective. As Rainer rightly asserts, I’m cracked in my own head just about the right places where philosophers such as Nietzsche are concerned – I’m thinking here, of course, of Leonard Cohen’s words of wisdom: “there’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light comes in.” Now that the exact level of arrogance has been established, I can say that the reason why I’ve been resisting addressing Rainer’s essay has to do with my having stumbled over the word ‘morality’ quite a few times in the last month. If I were superstitious I would refer the reader to one of Murphy’s laws: “We could do worse, we always have.” On all occasions, as morality was presented as a holy cow, I rather felt the urge to put things right: morality is only interesting to the extent that it articulates something beyond self-evidence; that is to say, morality is not something we have, but something that is imposed on us by whomever has the power to do so. Just think of yet another of Murphy’s brilliant calculus: “No matter who gets elected, Government always gets in”. Twice so far, in this public forum, I’ve been posting fragments saying things about choice and self interest; once in connection with some remarks about Valerie Solanas – whom, by the way, I’ve referred to via Avital Ronell’s excellent phrase as a “mutant Nietzschean” – and another time in connection with a review of a series of philosophy programs hosted by a colleague of mine at Roskilde University, Vincent F. Hendricks.
So Rainer, as you invite me to consider morality in writing (third time, lucky time), here are a couple of considerations that can be seen as entanglements of what I’ve said before. First of all, I like your title The Birth of Genealogy Out of the Spirit of Mutation and the immediate link that you create between the resonance in your title and what it suggests: permanent change yet entangled with the remains of an individual trait, and the two epigraphs from Nietzsche that bring in the Heraclitean notion of becoming: Says Nietzsche: “Philosophy, the way I alone regard it, is the most general form of history”. In light of this statement alone, I think one can safely infer that what Nietzsche is talking about is a form of transgressive parody in which philosophy formulates a fool’s lament over the decay of history. Is this anomalous enough? I hope so, as what I mean to say is that Nietzsche can only be considered a genealogist of morals to the extent that he can be considered a woman with a mustache, one that alters critical thinking not behind, but besides the insignificant and irreligious double of ‘method’.
You thus ask: “Is Nietzsche actually a genealogist? Does he employ genealogical methods? Is he as Deleuze declared the inventor of the method?” If one thinks of Nietzsche as a philosopher who is in the business of playfully appropriating the critique of reason, hijacking the gene in logos, then one can advance the idea that he can’t (read that as Kant) circumvent his methods without blowing himself away, wasting his writing, becoming a cantor instead of a reasonable glyph’er inscribing his methodical mark within the space of morality.
To answer your other question: “what does Nietzsche’s writing itself state? Does he avow that he is a genealogist as many allege? Or no? Or is the matter ambiguous?” Here I would have to say this: I rather think that if Nietzsche was a genealogist, he was one in the business of cutting his “perspectival attitudes” (Twilight of the Idols) short. Deleuze did the same. He also decided resolutely that if one wants to, or aspires to be a writer, one definitely has to become a woman first. So cutting one’s balls becomes the philosopher, who, then, thus re-fashioned, is enabled to read the signs well and start prophesying like your Cassandra. You have the last word here, as you put it in your last line: “To practice theory or philosophy today and not to read Nietzsche is akin to being a scientist and not reading Einstein. It’s still possible though that this assessment will ring through the academy like the piercing cry of Cassandra. Some are blind, others, deaf. For those who have ears to hear, listen!”
Thus I like what you say on how you want to proceed with reading Nietzsche: “With caution then, using snake tongs and hooks, and with a Hazmat suit, I will attempt to unravel this tangled web, or rather, I will strive to cut it into pieces because, as Foucault said, “knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting” (Foucault, 154) . . . And now, let’s replace the kaleidoscope with a telescope.”
On my part, a lot more could be said, and I’m in danger of appropriating your clever essay, incorporating it into my own theater of illusion, but stick with telescoping Nietzsche: as a genealogist of morals, who was yet banging Eros any chance he got, Nietzsche’s method was definitely into the politics of infinity. He became…
On the 12th of April, Rainer sends me this text below to post here in reponse to my response above to his essay. I don't want to relegate his beautiful text to the 'comment' box, as it writes itself in the entanglement of that poetic space in which we are all inspired, or rather should I say anticipate the influence of others.
Rainer, my man, my musketeer dressed in androgynous dress, I love your text - banging Eros through the cracks of New York. Before I give you the word, here's more entanglement, through quoting myself, using myself as the woman of the sword executing more writers. Here's a passage from another review I wrote of another poet's language, Robert Gibbons, who is also into banging, philosophizing with big hammers at the edge of "elliptical cryptical fragments": "Those familiar with physics will have made a correlation to the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox. This paradox draws on a phenomenon anticipated by quantum mechanics, namely entanglement, to show that measurements performed on spatially separated parts of a quantum system can apparently have an instantaneous influence on one another. The fact that this effect is also known as “quantum weirdness” may not go unnoticed by those who see a strong relationship between the poetics of poetry and the poetics of physics. What makes this paradox a paradox is the possibility of taking quantum mechanics and adding to it the conditions of “locality,” “realism,” and “completeness.”
I hear you Rainer, as you hear me. I bow.
Touché, my friend, and en garde, for now it’s time to dance! In the pen with the bulls and the clowns, I am not yet a woman for I have still not become all the names in history, but as a clown I wish to sing in an Aristophanic key as an expression of gratitude.
Is not the pen a mighty sword, its ink proof, when rich with blood, of the real danger of words? Your sword is sharp. The avatars of thought are perilous, and the perilous curve their thoughts into active forces. Why else execute writers? If we have not engendered a revolution, we, too, have not cultivated grain but gunpowder ... I Sing the Body Electric. I look at science in the perspective of the artist and at art in that of life. I loathe all trades. Masters and servants, all peasants ignoble. The hand with the pen is worth the hand on the plow.—What an age of hands! The Bible counsels us to turn our swords into ploughshares but I say unto thee, let swords be swords: draw blood with them and write! And if you have a ploughshare, let it break the day into pieces ... Rip. Rig. Panic. Rip. Rig Veda ~
Am I not a fly caught in the web of the mustache, that is—the horse’s tail? It whips. The mustache whips. Snap! Snap! Snap! Every strand is a horse’s tail, a horse running into Nietzsche’s nose. The sound of the cracking whip is galvanizing. The sound of the latitudinal cavalcade—do ye ‘ear it? What energy! Do you ‘ear the crack of the hairs? The furious rhythmic canter of the horses’ many feet? Do you see the cavalcade? The danger of enthusiasm, a necessity we must succumb to, a hermeneutic encounter that transforms us, the enthusiasm for venturing into the cracks of other’s consciousness and splitting our s e l v e s into the many that we are, proliferating, abundant, exploding into fragments though striving to continually unify our frag-men-t-al selves. When are we but mincing nuts instead of cutting our own diamonds? Cutting our teeth on the hide of our own horses, the sheer horse power of clowns smashing atoms before the weeping ghost of Democritus ... What is this but the detritus of thought, the whip, the crack, the fragment ... The dance of [Lou] Salome, who said: “Bring me the head of Alfredo Guerro Nietzscho! I’d rather he be headless than holy; I’d rather be Rilke’s Femdom than God.” The water of his lachrymal ducts—Nietzsche, not God—like a saint you will not collect; we will not find the relics of Nietzsche in the golden arm of a dead pope’s carcass, and we will not find a dead pope’s carcass in the midst of the relics of El Nietzscho Buffoono ... “The tastiest grapes in Torino? The women save them for me.”
Despite their admiration and affection
for the Horse of Horses,
the officials of Switzerland
will not permit the resurrection
of Lord Friedrich von Dynamite
in the Gotthard tunnel...
Cracks. After having wrestled with fragments, is it not time to wrestle with cracks? To write a book on cracks and the cracking of the mind, the rupture that shatters and gives birth to new shoots. The light that floods in ... “I do not want to be a holy man; sooner even a buffoon” (EH Destiny §1). But the cracks in your head are evident from the copious beams of light that stream into your skull. The acolytes are mistaken though; it is not a halo, it is not light sacrosanct beams of transcendental light streaming out but poetico-philosophico light streaming in. She’s a maenad not a nun. I received the throw of the lucky dice, the third throw, of an essais on morality considered, its considerations entangled in your past considerations like the past and the future entangled at the gateway Moment in Also Sprach Zarathustra. Since Plato, the role and significance of art has been rigorously questioned, and it is he who inaugurates the agon between philosophy and poetry. While to this day the contest between philosophy and poetry remains with us, it has not continued without ruptures. For certain free spirits—like the Romanian hierophants of the fragment—philosophy and poetry, like the coming together of the past and the future at the gateway Augenblick in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, are entangled. When describing the will to power as pathos and the oppositional forces dancing together within it (KSA 7: 7 ), Nietzsche used the word entanglement to express its complex character. Here we are, entangled, in mutation, in parody, in the explosive protean body of text.
Nietzsche’s strident critique of the Romantics has often led scholars and readers to discount any relation between them, but there are clear affinities between Nietzsche and the Jena Romantics. Prior to Nietzsche, the entanglement of philosophy and poetry and the urgent necessity for their entanglement is explicitly stated by Schlegel in one of his Critical Fragments:
"The whole history of modern poetry is a running commentary on the following brief philosophical text: all art should become science and all science art; poetry and philosophy should be made one." (KA 2:161; LF 157)
In this declaration, a central aspect of Nietzsche’s philosophico-poetic project is prefigured, with the Jena Romantics standing as some of the Freier Geister who wrestled to unite philosophy and poetry in opposition to Platonic law. But his riddling and his questionable questions and dangerous maybes have broken the ground beneath our feet. In our seismic encounter with the horses, for he, as we, is many, we must keep overcoming ourselves and the certainty that tricks us into believing that we’ve understood, whatever precisely it might mean to understand. Are you understood? Or, as Herr Bloom would have it, have I deliberately misunderstood you, pregnant with anxiety as I am despite my not yet becoming a woman despite my desire to do so? The other day, his—Bloom’s, not the woman I’ve yet to become—horse was drinking water in front of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater as he observed Deep Trance Behavior ... I do not lie. Ask Pythia. ‘Tis true. But I digress and must now be hijacked back to the gene, back to logos, back to your dancing text.
The Mustache, the Horse, Hanswurst the Satyr, and Herr Dynamite kan’t, you say, with particular crackiness, “circumvent his methods without blowing himself away, wasting his writing, becoming a cantor instead of a reasonable glyph’er inscribing his methodical mark within the space of morality”? Is there a self to blow away? Who is Nietzsche anyway? While he certainly isn’t a hazzan it’s definitely verifiable that he’s a cantor, that is, a lunar impact crater on the far side of the moon... I may not have persuaded you and may no longer be persuaded myself; in fact, I’d probably proceed from an altogether different crack though still sing in a parodic key. When discussing this with one of Nietzsche’s finest cows, he thought that On the Genealogy of Morals didn’t belong in the hands of academics but in a museum of modern art—that is a true story, really. Ask Pythia.—and that it was the most misunderstood text, read, not naturalistic at all, in “Nietzsche scholarship.” Have we ruminated enough? Reading is dangerous business.
“I should actually risk an order of rank among philosophers depending on the rank of their laughter—all the way up to those capable of golden laughter. And supposing that gods, too, philosophize, which has been suggested to me by an inference—I should not doubt that they also know how to laugh while in a superhuman and new way—and at the expense of all serious things. Gods enjoy mockery: it seems they cannot suppress laughter even during holy rites” (BGE §294).
Since I may have been appropriated, I decided, or succumbed to the forces exerting their charms to further appropriate myself and plunge deeper into the theater of illusion. If we can keep banging Eros every chance we get as you proclaimed Herr Dynamite did, if we can venture into the Politics of Infinity—there’s a title for us to capitalize on! What of a volume of essais with that theme?—it might be possible to circumvent the Platonic Plague, to recuperate strife and return to the true birthplace of philosophy. Ameinias led Parmenides to stillness, hesychia, which doesn’t mean the quiet life as Plato would have us believe. It is to enter into a meditative state—what Nietzsche recasts as rumination—and out of that state to receive knowledge, wisdom, laws, etc; as an esoteric if even ‘mystic’ practice it has largely been discounted in the history of philosophy. As one philosophical rogue observes, stillness for the Greeks was in part “intensely disquieting—and not just disquieting but also sinister, alien, profoundly inhuman.” For the tragically oriented, it is a certain volcano in Sicily that is the true incandescent birthplace of philosophy. To many, Plato and Socrates are our progenitors; to others, it is Empedocles and his future doppelganger, Herr Dynamite... So, to the inhuman, to the Übermensch that is, and to fornicating wildly with that woman. Bang, bang, bang, here we be-come, Eros. Again and again and again. I hear the maenads shrieking...
With Dionysian Regard,