In this article, I draw connections between Nietzsche’s diagnosis of nihilism, his emphasis on the importance of the things “nearest” to us and often overlooked, and methodological issues in contemporary thought. In particular, the connection between “the devaluation of the highest values” and the task of transvaluation gives us a context for addressing nihilism as a crisis of orientation. I argue that Nietzsche’s turn toward the “nearest” things as a new direction for philosophical thought seems to resonate with the priorities recently identified by Laura Marcus as the “keywords” of our time: “embodiment, affect, the quotidian, singularity, contingency, intimacy, precarity.” In order to pursue the deeper implications of this affinity, I consider some recent engagement with Nietzsche in new materialist writings. I claim that Nietzsche’s ideas about the “nearest things,” properly understood, may provide these theories with resources to contest nihilism at the level of value, without reinstating an uncritical appeal to the authority of “lived experience.”


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pp. 59-79
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