I and Me are still slowly chugging along in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” alone. Most of the time, I read a “speech” and think, “I have no idea what he’s trying to say!” Then there are a few that allow me a glimmer of hope…only to be dashed to the rocks again. I’ve shared a few quotes on my Instagram page, one-liners that made some kind of sense to me. I know that’s not what Nietzsche meant for his readers to do. They are parables, stories that are supposed to lead you in the direction of his thinking so that you can follow him and achieve your own ubermensch. They aren’t supposed to be dissected or quoted without context, the same way the parables of Jesus were.
But here I am…totally confused, trying to find the meaning. They remind me of riddles. I hate riddles. It is helping us to read them slowly, sometimes two or three times, then allowing them to make sense or not and moving on. It’s like those dot pictures they had in the mall in 80’s that you were supposed to be able to see pictures in. We’d all stand and stare and then someone would proclaim, “I see it! Do you? The boat with a kitten at the helm?!” And then we’d all agree, “Oh, yes! There it is!” Honestly, I doubt anyone ever saw what we were supposed to see. We just didn’t want to look stupid.
But that’s exactly how I feel reading Nietzsche, every single time. There’s meaning in there, I know it! I’ve heard some of it explained. Sometimes I see the edge of a picture, but then I shift my focus and it’s gone. Damn.
I found this little gem in “On the Friend” yesterday.
“I and Me are always too earnestly in conversation: how could it be endured, if there were not a friend?
For the hermit the friend is always the third person: the third person is the cork that prevents the conversation of the other two from sinking into the depths.
Ah, there are too many depths for all hermits. That is why they long so much for a friend and for his heights.”
A couple things. First off, I am not a hermit in any sense of the word. In my imagination, I long to attempt a short hermitage. Step away from all human contact for a prescribed amount of time, just to see if I can do it. I know I’ll be miserable, and the older I get, the more averse to being uncomfortable I become. The closest I get is turning my phone off for a few hours or lacking an internet connection while the power it out.
But I do get the “I and Me” being “always too earnestly in conversation.” We tend to have very deep conversations with myself and can spiral down into misery pretty quickly if we are left to our own devices. Where would we end up if we didn’t have a friend that called and invited us out for a lunch date or a hike? I shudder to think. I might complete a thought, finish a story, or learn something new.
Second, I’m not sure that Nietzsche was saying this was a good thing. I think he believed it a weakness, something we should overcome to come closer to ubermensch. Now that I’ve sat here writing out my thoughts, I can see why. We’re terrified of being alone.
Alone is where we get out biggest work done. It’s where we find our true selves, not reflected in someone else’s thoughts and ideas. If we had more time alone, what could we accomplish? What would we think?
Something to think about more, but I have a lunch date today, so I have to run off into the world.
Want to start from the beginning? Pop back to my first post, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra: New Read.”