Monday, May 20, 2024

39 Books: 2011

How does one respond to Nietzsche's revelation at Sils Maria?

I read Pierre Klossowski's Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle because the thought of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same occurred to me as a literary concept, perhaps the ultimate experience of the literary, but needed someone else's words to express it. However, this book draws one inexorably into a mode of intellectual habilitation apparently irreconcilable with the "hohe Stimmung" of Nietzsche's experience. This meant my perennial negotiation between a wish to understand an idea and its implications and the wish for a work subject to the experience of which it speaks rather than one safely distant from it. This may explain the haphazard procedure of my reading over the course of these 39 years.

The literary quality of Nietzsche's work could be why Klossowski claims that the thought of Eternal Recurrence preserves "the character of ... a sudden unveiling" even as it becomes a literary experience. Walter Kaufmann dilutes the suddenness, however, by noting Nietzsche had previously encountered the idea in a book by Heinrich Heine.

What does it mean when the violent ecstacy of thought becomes the peace of the book?

Tense, unnerved, and close to madness before writing – and when I read what I've written it looks so calm.

This is from Peter Handke's notebook. His best novel, Repetition, takes its English title from the nature of storytelling, a synonym of Nietzsche's key word. Could we then read a novel as the eternal recurrence of the same in microcosmic, human form, and we turn to novels to induce in the forgetting necessary to enable the sudden unveiling that, while we exist in time, there is another time? The temporality of narration becomes the temporality of God, that is to say eternity in which there is nothing new under the sun? This is why the peace of the book disturbs us and generates the anxieties over its relevance.

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