Tuesday, June 7, 2022

My Jeremiah room

I dreamed that I was setting up a "Jeremiah room" -- a dedicated room specifically for the study of the works of the prophet Jeremiah. I had put up a large blond-wood bookcase and was putting a few books on it -- books that had absolutely nothing to do with Jeremiah. My wife asked me about two of the books and I gave strange descriptions of them, different from anything I would say in real life.

"This is I Married a Communist by Philip Roth. It's a funny book. I mean really hilarious."

"And this one?"

"That's Also sprach Zarathustra. People say it's Nietzsche's easiest book because it's the most readable, but actually it's so poetic that it's easy to misunderstand. It's also in German."

I spent a long time trying to set up a desk lamp. The shade had been packed full of yellow beeswax, which was supposed to make its light look like candlelight. The jointed arm wouldn't stand up because all the joints were too loose, until I found a tiny button on the base of the lamp that locked the joints.

I read Zarathustra in 2001 and I Married a Communist in 2006. I have no idea why those titles would suddenly appear in a dream after all those years, or why they would recommend themselves to my subconscious as suitable accoutrements for a "Jeremiah room," but the juxtaposition feels potentially significant, so I note it.


Bruce Charlton said...

I've read and pondered a fair bit of Nietzsche over the years, but never got anywhere at all with Zarathustra - which I found boring and incomprehensible.

I presume this was for the reason you say - it is essentially a poem, hence (for me) pretty much untranslatable; although N. is regarded as one of the very greatest stylists of German literature.

Yet, in World Wars II, my understanding it was used as a kind of 'Bible'-equivalent by the National Socialists, being distributed free to (I believe) hundreds of thousands of troops. Whether many of them actually read it, I have no idea.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I discovered Zarathustra when I was about 10 or 11 and loved it so much that I quickly went on to read and reread every Nietzsche book in the local library. I haven't felt much need to return to it in adulthood, though. It is one of the only major works of Nietzsche which I do not own and have not reread at all recently.

Totalitarians may have loved Zarathustra, but Zarathustra certainly did not love totalitarians: "The state is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lieth also, and this lie creepeth from its mouth: 'I, the state, am the people.' It is a lie!"

a_probst said...

"I read Zarathustra in 2001.."
"I discovered Zarathustra when I was about 10 or 11..."

So, born about 1990 were you?

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I've read it many times. 2001 was the most recent.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I could probably say about Zarathustra what Byron said about Paradise Lost: "Since I was twenty I have never read Milton; but I had read him so frequently before, that this may make little difference."

Bruce Charlton said...

The way that the NSDAP used Nietzsche is curious. Clearly it was selective, but it was also substantially based upon a tendentious post-sanity work (Will to Power) collected by his sister Elizabeth.

She was apparently a strangely magnetic, dominant and manipulative personality; who used her guardianship of her brother to promote his reputation (and her influence and wealth) far beyond, and in different directions from, anything during his writing-life. Interestingly, she - for a while - utterly charmed Rudolf Steiner, intending to attract him from editing Goethe's scientific writings to her brothers.

But, as I recall, she wanted this done without payment, which for Steiner was impossible... and then she 'turned nasty' and he saw-through her.

Steiner's little book about Nietzsche from this era is a strange 'sport' in his ouevre. https://rsarchive.org/Books/GA005/English/RSPI1960/GA005_index.html . It's well written, but I can't grasp what the book is trying to say - so far; except that it seems very different from late Steiner.

Characteristically, the late Steiner claimed that his Nietzsche book was all building towards his mature ideas; but you would never guess this. In fact Steiner underwent several big changes in his convictions in young adult life - but a lonely, vulnerable and vacillating young man prone to intellectual 'crazes' did not fit the narrative he wanted to tell his Theosophical/ Anthroposophical followers.

Easy Without You

This is one of the most seamless mashups I've ever heard.