Nietzsche: In my own words
Seeing is believing. Imagine something familiar like a tree or even person; now imagine something exotic like a parrot or shark that you’ve never seen in real life but only in photographs. Now imagine something you’ve never seen before. What do you see? Anything? Then try this: think of your favorite word, maybe something like happy, and use this word in a story. Now using this story, try to tell it to someone or re-tell it to yourself without utilizing happy or any other words for that matter. Or skip the story altogether and try to think at all without using any words. The purpose of these activities is to demonstrate the necessity of images and words not only in thought and communication, but also in conceptualizing and comprehending the world around us. Before you see anything, it is impossible to visualize or imagine something. A person, who has never seen an elephant, has no idea what an elephant may look like. Therefore when I describe an elephant to this person, they must take for granted that I myself have actually seen an elephant and that this description is correct. Only when this person has seen an elephant for his or herself will that creature become real.
Nietzsche and his aphorisms force the reader to supply his or her own experiences in order to appreciate the depth and profundity of his statements. One such aphorism “The sleep of virtue. When virtue has slept, she will get up more refreshed” (pg. 52) implies honest reflection on the part of the reader. Readers must then ask themselves what events in their life can make this statement true or if not true what events may discount it. Personally, I can understand that people, myself included, sometimes drop their morals and principles to live a more exciting or adventurous life not bounded by rules of behavior. Yet after the adventure and excitement fades, those people may turn to a more rigid and disciplined lifestyle. I think most people experience this transition between adolescence and adulthood for many reasons but most often because some sort of added responsibility. The amazing thing is Nietzsche knows that the reader knows this, to some degree, and instead of explaining his reasoning in this aphorism, he wants the reader to test and challenge it on their own.
In the above five aphorisms, I attempted to illicit the same response from the reader as Nietzsche does. I even wrote an aphorism about experience to remind the reader not only of the importance of it, but also to urge the reader to learn from their mistakes and consider what pain may be avoidable to them. Perhaps my aphorisms are much less complex than Nietzsche’s, but hopefully they are able to include the reader in the philosophy and consideration of the truth contained in them. I enjoyed reading Nietzsche almost as much as imitating him, and I look forward to reading his works again in the future to see if my impressions of his aphorisms change as I change. Nietzsche: In my own words attempts not only to supply the reader with a better understanding of his work, but also a better comprehension of the active reading needed to fully appreciate his aphorisms.