Silence and Circularity in Ecce Homo: “Und so erzähle ich mir mein Leben”
The master of laughter?
The master of ominous silence?
The master of hope and despair?
The master of laziness? Master of the dance?
It is I!
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
I am not a prisoner of history. I should not seek there for the meaning of my destiny.
I should constantly remind myself that the real leap consists in introducing invention into existence.
In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself.
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
We have seen how Augustine writes himself into silence, the silence of religion, the eternal silence of God, whose words become his own. By losing himself in an ideal other who redeems the flaws of his material being, Augustine returns to the origin. His goal is to become the mirror image of God through the imitation of Christ. The idea that redemption means total absorption into the other implies a hierarchical system of relationships in which all possibilities of egalitarian relations or interactions, as Glissant might put it, are abolished and negated. In such a system, the self and the other can never interact as peers or equals; the self must always undergo sublation into the other, whose transcendent qualities will always be coded as the “positive” versions of those with which the self is endowed.
If the self must become other, must lose itself in the other’s essence, all possibilities of transformation into a third term—as happens in the métissage and transculturation described by Glissant and Nancy Morejón—are blocked. What we have instead is assimilation, incorporation, and identification with a mirror image that, since it is the reverse of the self, functions as the locus of a deadly attraction, a narcissistic illusion. Maryse Condé’s Heremakhonon illustrates that predicament. Her narrator internalizes the collective psychosis of her colonial culture and cannot conceive of attributing value to the unknown realities she encounters but cannot decode because they exist outside of the Manichean principles she has absorbed.
It is by rejecting the whole Western tradition of binary thinking, which contributes to the naturalization of such distinctions as male/female, master/slave, autonomous/dependent, writer/reader, that Nietzsche succeeds in reaffirming a principle of interconnectedness in which subjects and objects, self and other, are conditioned by their interactions in the world and thus become open to transformations of all sorts. To privilege autonomous subjectivity or original writing as the locus of the authentic self is a way of ignoring that subjectivity (and writing) is always already filled with the voices of others—hence Nietzsche’s interest in the literariness of the self and in the dynamic self-fashioning that results from the description and interpretation of that self. As we shall see in Ecce Homo, however, such a self often remains caught in an alienating polarization against the other or in a negative identification with that other, while it is struggling to procreate a third term. For Nietzsche, the transvaluation of values can only be performed by an affirmative principle beyond resentment and negation, which says an unconditional “Yes” to life in all its forms.
Through the work of two famous Martinican critics of white Western supremacy, I can suggest one of the threads that runs through my own reading of Nietzsche: the nomadic thread of a search for Nietzsche’s homeless voices, the ones echoed in Aimé Césaire’s poetry and Frantz Fanon’s politics. Césaire and Fanon were both influenced by Nietzsche, and their texts, like Nietzsche’s aphorisms, have been subjected to reductive appropriations that did not take into account the indeterminacy, plurality, and heterogeneity of their messages. I do not intend to offer here a rereading of Césaire or Fanon. But I should explain that my approach to Nietzsche is colored by a Francophone creole perspective, as is theirs. It is for this reason that I wish to detour through negritude and its critics before I follow Nietzsche’s wanderings through the microcosm of his own corpus, through the bulk of his literary output.
“The master of laughter? / The master of ominous silence? / . . . Master of the dance? It is I!”: these are direct echoes of Zarathustra, the prophet of irony, who wanders through islands and mountains, attacking the constraints of reason. Aimé Césaire’s poetry attempts to liberate expression through a Dionysian mingling of dance, death, and ritual. He aims to alter the language of the “master race” by using poetic structures borrowed from surrealism and imagery inspired by his native island. His lyric and dramatic hero is a kind of black Übermensch, understood as an exemplary sufferer who redeems his community through his sacrifices. Césaire had read Nietzsche and mentions him in the issues of his journal Tropiques, published in the 1940s.1
For Frantz Fanon, this Dionysian self-creation—“In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself”—is diametrically opposed to the concept of “race” as romanticized and mysticized in a certain idea of negritude, which Césaire himself was to end up denouncing as deterministic.2 Fanon’s search was for a form of authentic communication not based in reaction and ressentiment but emphasizing a continually broadening freedom and responsibility, an actualization of Nietzsche’s philosophy of becoming and affirmation.
“Man is not merely a possibility of recapture or of negation. . . . Man is a yes that vibrates to cosmic harmonies. Uprooted, pursued, baffled, doomed to watch the dissolution of the truths that he has worked out for himself one after another, he has to give up projecting onto the world an antinomy that coexists with him,” Fanon proclaims, echoing a Nietzschean affirmation of life for life’s sake.3 Like Zarathustra, who says “Where one can no longer love, there one should pass by,” Fanon reaffirms his belief in the human capacity for love and change, for becoming more self-aware politically, for inventing new strategies and new semiotic contents for tired old social concepts.4
To attempt to read Nietzsche’s “autobiography” from the place where Césaire and Fanon regard Western culture critically is thus to adopt a stance that questions our inherited notions of race, language, and selfhood in ways that are themselves radically Nietz-schean. The circularity of this approach is perhaps a necessary step toward deterritorializing some of Nietzsche’s voices, the ones that are implicitly heeded by the women writers discussed in this book, because they too perform subversive operations on our traditional notions of race, gender, culture, language, and genre. Let us then use as starting point the following denunciation of territorial, racialist thinking:
Among Europeans today there is no lack of those who are entitled to call themselves homeless in a distinctive and honorable sense: it is to them that I especially commend my secret wisdom and gaya scienza . . . We children of the future, how could we be at home in this today? . . . We “conserve” nothing; neither do we want to return to any past periods; . . .
We who are homeless are too manifold and mixed racially and in our descent, being “modern man,” and consequently do not feel tempted to participate in the mendacious racial self-admiration and racial indecency that parades in Germany today as a sign of a German way of thinking and that is doubly false and obscene among the people of the “historical sense.”5
In this aphorism from The Gay Science Nietzsche leaves no doubt as to his feelings about nationalism and racism: he reaffirms his refusal to be linked in any way to the proto-Nazis of Germany or to any other form of fanaticism. Posterity would not immediately remember him for this strong antinationalism, partly because of the Procrustean editing his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche performed on his writing, thus helping fashion an unprepossessing popular legend.6
To be sure, Nietzsche’s metaphors, flamboyant style, and apparently contradictory statements can, and have, led to devastating misunderstandings. As both his French and American translators, Pierre Klossowski and Walter Kaufmann, have remarked, Nietzsche is too “explosive” a figure not to have provoked violent reactions in France, England, and the United States in the wake of two world wars that seemed to vindicate a militarist/imperialist interpretation of his conception of power.7 Recent readings of Nietzsche by critics as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Rodolphe Gasché, Sarah Kofman, Alexander Nehamas, Margot Norris, and Ofelia Schutte (among others) have contributed to a more nuanced understanding of his ideas and their relevance to our contemporary concerns, our antisystematic approaches to language, literature, philosophy, ethics, and politics.8
Less well known (and understandably so, given Nietzsche’s reception in the English-speaking world) is the influence Nietzsche has had on a writer like Aimé Césaire, whose concept of negritude was a salutary and historically necessary antithesis to white racism, while it was reactive in the Nietzschean sense. Negritude has been attacked by Fanon and others for its totalizing (and essentialist) approach to “blackness,” which does not take into account the historical and cultural differences among peoples. As Fanon reminds us, negritude’s emphasis on searching for a homeland and for the “identity” of the black soul partakes of a mythical desire for a plenitude that is always already lost for all those who are “homeless” by virtue of the colonialist diaspora of the last three hundred years:
And it is also true that those who are most responsible for this racializa-tion of thought—or at least of patterns of thought—are and remain those Europeans who have never ceased to set up white culture over and against all other so-called non-cultures [d’opposer la culture blanche aux autres incultures]. . . .
The Negroes of Chicago only resemble the Nigerians or the Tanganyikans in so far as they were all defined in relation to the whites. But once the first comparisons had been made and subjective feelings were assuaged, the American Negroes realized that the objective problems were fundamentally heterogeneous. . . .
Negritude therefore finds its first limitation in the phenomena which take account of the historicization of mankind.9
If the desire and the search for plenitude were the only foci of Césaire’s works, then one would be entitled to criticize their essentialist underpinnings. But the limits put on concepts like negritude are comparable, mutatis mutandis, to the misunderstandings that have surrounded Nietzsche’s writings. For example, in a recent article, Sunday O. Anozie discusses Leopold S. Senghor’s concept of negritude and criticizes what he calls “a totalizing, emotional, reductionist and therefore misleading concept” that contradicts Senghor’s own statements about “the liberating character and force of reality,” as well as his “desire to maintain a lively fluidity of existence.” The debate seems uncannily familiar to anyone aware of the history of Nietzsche criticism and the semantic disputes that arose over a narrowly construed reading of terms such as “will to power” and “master morality,” on the one hand, and negritude, “black consciousness,” and “black aesthetism,” on the other.10
Césaire and Fanon have a larger debt to Nietzschean views of culture than to any other Western conceptual apparatus, unsurprisingly so in light of the radical critique of Western ideology and dogmatism that Nietzsche’s works incorporate: his thoughts on history, language, selflessness, and selfishness, as well as homelessness, are pertinent to “Third World” or minority writers who want to shake off the damaging traps of dialectical thinking and of a founding myth of origins. For being “homeless in a distinctive and honorable sense” is not just the existential condition par excellence of generations of postwar Europeans (since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870), as Nietzsche points out. It has also been the de facto experience of millions of people since the beginning of the European colonial era, a fact often obscured and occluded by a historical discourse that focuses on European perspectives on (neo)colonialism rather than giving a voice to those “too manifold and mixed racially and in [their] descent” to be tempted by any form of patriotism or by “this most anti-cultural sickness and unreason there is, nationalism, this névrose nationale with which Europe is sick,” as Nietzsche proclaims in Ecce Homo, one of his most controversial works and, in Richard Samuel’s terms, “perhaps the strangest autobiography ever written.”11
Ecce Homo is divided into two prefaces and four sections: “Why I Am So Wise,” “Why I Am So Clever,” “Why I Write Such Good Books,” and “Why I Am a Destiny.” The first two sections focus on the accidents of fate and physiology, the influence of place and climate on the body, and the choices of personal hygiene; the third contains a microcosm of Nietzsche’s whole literary corpus; and the fourth, a strident finale, is “a burst of apocalyptic rhetoric that delivers no threat, extorts no repentance, urges no conversion,” and thus reverses the Christlike gesture of the title page, in a grand and consciously self-deceptive manner, which proclaims itself to be the obverse of the “folie circulaire” (EH 334), or manic-depressive insanity of decadent Christian humanity.12
In this chapter, I want to discuss each of the sections, focusing on the intertextual references of Nietzsche’s rhetoric as regards the physical body and the literary corpus in order to show how he gives us a “map” for reading his works, while he is producing evidence about the “fated” nature of creativity, its grounding in the body. I shall conclude with a discussion of his view of hyperbole and selfdissimulation as the sine qua non of literary redemption. As he puts it in The Will to Power: “The spell that fights on our behalf, the eye of Venus that charms and blinds even our opponents, is the magic of the extreme, the seduction that everything extreme exercises: we immor-alists—we are the most extreme.”13 That is why he can claim to be, in schizophrenic fashion, “every name in history,” Christ and the Antichrist, and why he uses a style that disorients because each layer hides another that subverts the meaning of the first: biography and myth, history and allegory, strident tone and subdued irony.14
Reading and Writing the (Dying) Body
Published in 1908, Ecce Homo was written in the last productive year of Nietzsche’s life, 1888, just months before he collapsed from insanity and a paralysis of syphilitic origin. It is his last work and in the second preface, he claims to have begun writing it on his forty-fourth birthday, that is, on October 15, 1888. As Europe is diseased and decadent, so does Nietzsche feel that his life is on the decline, and he sets out to analyze how he is affected by his “dual heritage” [doppelte Herkunft]”15 which makes him both “a decadent and a beginning” (224), a principle of death and a harbinger of life: in other words, the perfect overthrower of idols, the one who knows how to follow the “crooked path,” “the way up” (315), that is, the path that leads to a new dawn for culture. Nietzsche takes it upon himself to perform for Europe the role that Oedipus had for Athens: to die as his old self, almost blind (223), in order to be reborn in his works, for the benefit of the “children of the future.”
Thus on that fall day of 1888, “this perfect day, when everything is ripening and not just the grape turns brown, the eye of the sun just fell upon my life: I looked back, I looked forward, and never saw so many and such good things at once” (221). Nietzsche, godlike, contemplates his accomplishments, echoing Genesis 1:31 and Augustine’s use of this scriptural phrase: “And you saw all that you made, O God, and found it very good.”16 But Nietzsche celebrates his forty-fourth birthday by “burying” the past, godlike but also devillike, for he has created things that are “too beautiful.” In the subsection of Ecce Homo called Beyond Good and Evil (1886), he ironically talks about theology and the need to relax and recuperate after creating such a masterpiece as Thus Spoke Zarathustra (written during the three years preceding Beyond Good and Evil): “Theologically speaking—listen closely, for I rarely speak as a theologian—it was God himself who at the end of his days’ work lay down as a serpent under the tree of knowledge: thus he recuperated from being God.—He had made everything too beautiful” [Er hatte alles zu schön gemacht]” (EH 311; SW 8:387).
So Nietzsche is “grateful, [dankbar]” (EH 221; SW 8:298) for his own accomplishments, that is, for his “whole life,” and he proceeds to bury his forty-fourth year by canceling out the residue of physiological weakness, the cycle of ill health, recovery, relapse, and decay that has been his lot for the past several years. He says that he started to suffer from a debilitating loss of energy and vitality when he reached his thirty-sixth birthday, the age at which his own father had died, but he is fond of the symbolism of dates. Nietzsche is not to be trusted with the “truth” of those facts: he could not already be thirty-six in the spring of 1879 if he turned forty-four in the fall of 1888! But this mythic identification with his father sets the tone for the rhetorical gestures of the “autobiography” which link him directly to Christ, the Son of God the Father, who dies as man in order to be resurrected as a divine, glorious body. Thus Nietzsche is “already dead,” like his father, but with Ecce Homo his writings are in the process of being immortalized, remembered, catalogued: about two-thirds of the text is devoted to his own interpretive reading of his opus, from The Birth of Tragedy (1871) to The Case of Wagner (1888).
His dying body has given him, he says, “a subtler sense of smell for the signs of ascent and decline than any other human being” (222), because it has made him acutely aware of the torments of physical pain and the possibility of self-regeneration through his own instincts of self-preservation. He has also acquired the ability to ride that pain, to let it carry him to new heights of freedom, to give him wings (227), to allow him to fly, Zarathustra-like, “6000 feet beyond man and time” (295). In other words, although physically diminished, he has never been afflicted by those “pathological disturbances of the intellect” (223) which might hinder his thinking: quite the contrary, he has “possessed a dialectician’s clarity” and coldness (222), these being the ultimate symptoms of decadence, as exhibited by Socrates. He has a privileged sense and sensitivity “for all signs of healthy instincts” (257) and can thus avoid all forms of fanaticism. “Even in periods of severe sickness I never became pathological” (257), he says, reaffirming his disdain for poses and pathos, self-pity and self-doubt.17 Indeed, some of his best books— The Antichrist, Dionysus Dithyrambs, Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche contra Wagner, Ecce Homo—were written in that forty-fourth year, and we may surmise that it is because the corpus is immortal that “whatever was life in [that year] has been saved, is immortal” (221). The body is on its decline, but the corpus is soaring.
What are we to make of this apparently contradictory state of wisdom, wherein he is both a decadent and its opposite, God and the devil, the father and the son, Socrates and Zarathustra? The state of being wise is physiologically determined, most noticeably by his special “nose,” which is acutely able to smell out lies (“Mein Genie ist in meinen Nüstern” [SW 8:400; EH 326]), and by his “fingers for nuances” which know the filigree art of grasping (EH 223). But his wisdom also allows him to assimilate all past historical figures into his doppelgänger role: “This dual series of experiences, this access to apparently separate worlds, is repeated in my nature in every aspect: I am a Doppelgänger, I have a “second” face in addition to the first. And perhaps also a third” (225).
Nietzsche created the myth of his own mixed ancestry : he liked to say that he had a Polish father and a German mother, that he considered himself “mixed racially” and thus fatally governed by the principle of contradiction: “The good fortune of my existence, its uniqueness perhaps, lies in its fatality: I am, to express it in the form of a riddle, already dead as my father, while as my mother I am still living and becoming old” (222). He consciously appropriates this double origin, the dead father and the living mother, and as Derrida has said, commenting on this passage: “Inasmuch as I am and follow after my father, I am the dead man and I am death. Inasmuch as I am and follow after my mother, I am life that perseveres, I am the living and the living feminine. I am my father, my mother and me. . . . The double birth explains who I am and how I determine my identity: as double and neutral.”18
These are the three faces of Nietzsche: the opposing poles of the dialectic and the neutral third that nuances the first two; dead, alive, and decadent; male, female, and neutral; Dionysus, Ariadne, and the labyrinth; positive, negative, and “chance” or fate: “My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity” (258). Although physiologically speaking he is unhealthy, his sickness has given him insight into the “instinct of self-restoration” (224), the necessity to reject all forms of reactive behavior, which can only poison existence, make one vulnerable to the ravages of ressentiment. To be resentful is to be decadent, diseased, to leave oneself open to more depletions of energy. The only way to recover is to “exploit bad accidents to [one’s] advantage” (224), to become a principle of selection, active rather than reactive. Since death is inevitable, one might as well take it in stride: “I do not know any other way of associating with great tasks than play” (258). In the context of disease and death, it is worth recalling that the hour of final reckoning, the last ordeal of the Christian soul, is often conflated with the image of a terrible game man plays with the figure of death (often a game of chess, as in medieval iconography or, more recently, in Ingmar Bergman’s movie The Seventh Seal).
Nietzsche thus begins Ecce Homo by showing his philosophy to be a function of the accidents of his parentage, his genetic and physiological disposition: “I turned my will to health, to life, into a philosophy.” He recalls his most depressed and darkest year, 1879, the year he claims to have turned thirty-six, retired from his professorship at Basel, and “reached the lowest point of [his] vitality” (222), becoming a shadow of his former self. It also happens to be the year he wrote The Wanderer and His Shadow. Augustine’s narrative of his life revolved around similar experiences of death: the deaths of his father, his son, his best friend, his mother are metaphors signifying his own progressive descent into the abyss of sin. This loss of physical being culminated in severe pneumonia and forced Augustine to resign his professorship at the age of thirty-three: the death of the embodied self is a necessary prelude to his rebirth and resurrection in Christ, as infans and child of God. Augustine consequently devotes the rest of his life to the imitatio Christi that will, from then on, generate and guarantee his immortality, his eternal life.
For Nietzsche, the loss of vitality and energy, the cycle of recovery and relapse serve the purpose of “nuancing” his perceptions from the perspective of the sick [“von der Kranken-Optik”] (SW 8:301), of making him an expert on “the instinct of decadence” (223). He loses and regains his eyesight, acquiring insight into “observation itself as well as all organs of observation” (223). He turns his physical disability into a source of knowledge: “Now I have know-how, have the know-how to reverse perspectives: the first reason why a ‘revaluation of values’ is perhaps possible for me alone” (223). He is diseased and healthy; he is the sum of opposite racial, genetic, and physiological tendencies; he can encompass in his body all positive stimuli for life because he is strong enough to use everything to his own best advantage (“daβ ihm alles zum besten gereichen muβ,” [EH 225; SW 8:303). Using the same argument that nineteenth century science made against racial mixing, Nietzsche simply reverses its conclusions: rather than making him into a degenerate offspring, his mixed lineage has given him the advantage of being “the opposite of a decadent” (225), one who thrives on principles of affirmation, who says “the great Yes to life” (226).
What Nietzsche is in fact doing here is translating the traditional ontological-ethical dichotomy between appearance and essence, visible signs and noumenon, onto the purely biological level, rather than disposing of it completely: one can appear to be sick or morbid, yet “im Grunde gesund ist” (SW 8:302), just as Nietzsche took himself in hand, made himself healthy again, thus proving that he was not fated, predestined to be morbid “im Grunde [at bottom]” (224). This ostentatious, detailed, graphic display of the body and its physiological characteristics serves, as Margot Norris has shown, several important functions: “The action of taking charge of his health, of taking a kind of physiological responsibility for both the causes and cures of his illness, solves Nietzsche’s crucial rhetorical problem of devising a way of speaking of his ill health without making an appeal for sympathy and pity. . . . [I]t gives him an active, rather than a passive, invalid role and thereby certifies the continued efficacy of his powers, and it denies the lack or weakness that invites the appropriation of the ‘other’ (doctors, relatives, friends)”.19
This self-display is not meant to invite response; it is meant to ground the enterprise of self-writing in an act of antispiritualism, a radical reversal of an ancient occupation since Augustine. I mean the traditional Neoplatonic Christian inquiry into the “true” nature of man, which consists in the memoria sui, the “inner man” who can be known only when abstraction is made of the physical, external being. It is through the death of this embodied being that true conversion is attainable and possible for Augustine and all those who search for their transcendent self beyond the mere simulacrum of spatial and temporal representation, be it physical, verbal, or painterly. At the core of this search is the belief that the degree zero of man, the ultimate reality of “being” is the self made in the image of God, the imago Dei, or, for the humanist who does not adhere to the Christian logos, the original, rational, and universal notion of a “truth” of man, a Cartesian “vérité de l’être.”
Interestingly enough, the first drafts of Ecce Homo present us with a clear departure from this traditional inquiry in vocabulary that ironically reverses the Christian representation of an essential self. According to Richard Samuel’s research, Nietzsche considered, then abandoned several titles: Der Spiegel and Versuch einer Selbstschild-erung [crossed out] Selbsabstraction [sic] and Ecce Homo/In media vita and Fredericus Nietzsche/De vita sua. As Michel Beaujour has pointed out, one cannot help but be struck by the medieval connotations of those discarded titles.20 The mirror (Spiegel), the speculum, harks back to the Augustinian attempt (Versuch) at self-portrayal in book 10 of the Confessions, where self-depiction (Selbstschilderung) is really an effort at self-abstraction (Selbstabstraktion). This is a form of selferasure, since the memory of particular and sensible details is negated with the express purpose of transcending the “idols” of particularism and individualism and reducing the self to an outline, a drawing in the manner of mere shadow theater. The religious paradigm is clearly adopted and inverted. It is then further refined by the use of Latin phrases. In media vita alludes to the medieval Christian view of birth into this world as the real death:—“Media vita in morte sumus [In the midst of life, we are in death],” says a prayer in the Roman missal of the Council of Trent;21 De vita sua recalls the custom of representing the exemplary lives of the saints as models of Christian itineraries. The religious paradigm finally culminates in the direct reference to the suffering and displayed body of Christ during his Passion: “Ecce Homo” was Pontius Pilate’s exclamation as he presented Jesus in his crown of thorns and purple robes to the Jews before the crucifixion. In Christian eschatology, Christ’s crucified body is supposed to be the object of a perpetual and devoted contemplation on the part of the faithful, who can thus become imbued with a sense of their own physical mortality and eventual redemption and rebirth in Christ’s resucitated body. In the Middle Ages, “Ecce homo” (“Behold the man”; “Voilà l’homme”) is used as an iconoeraphic title for pictorial representations of the crucifixion and by artists doing self-portraits, including Fra Bartholomeo and Albrecht Dürer.
That Nietzsche should proceed to render in detail the physical reality of his bodily ailments further contributes to the ironic inversion of the paradigm: three-day migraines, vomiting of phlegm, difficulties with his digestive system, effects of alcohol, coffee, tea, cocoa, etc. (222, 238, 239); the effects of place and climate on his constitution (240–41); the usefulness of hashish (249); and finally, the importance of being self-protective like “a hedgehog” (253) instead of being the object of self-flagellation, like the saints, or anthropophagous appropriation by one’s disciples, like Christ. For Nietzsche, resurrection and renewal are possible strictly through “good hygiene,” never as a result of ascetism.
For example, when Zarathustra encounters the Magician (Z, pt. 4, 367), whose moanings and jeremiads irate him, he does not let himself be contaminated by pity at the sight of this suffering body: instead, he beats the distressed man, who proceeds to congratulate him for his hardness. Indeed, the Magician explains that he only intended to test Zarathustra’s “greatness” by engaging in a “game,” albeit a serious one, pretending to be “the ascetic of the spirit” (368) only in order to ascertain Zarathustra’s ability to act with the cruelty required of all great men, those of whom one may say “Behold a great man!” (370). And in Beyond Good and Evil (¶209), Nietzsche collapses the figures of Christ, Goethe, Napoleon, and himself into one ironic, anti-German comment about the remark (“Voilà un homme!”) Napoleon is supposed to have made when he met Goethe at Erfurt in 1808: “At long last we ought to understand deeply enough Napoleon’s surprise when he came to see Goethe: it shows what people had associated with the ‘German spirit’ for centuries. ‘Voilà un homme!’—that meant: ‘But this is a man! And I had merely expected a German.’”22
Ecce Homo: Wie man wird, was man ist [“How one becomes what one is”]: Nietzsche’s final title, viewed in the light of the foregoing remarks, multiplies the irony and the plurality of identifications he appropriates as his faces or masks: “I am granted an eye beyond all merely local, merely nationally conditioned perspectives: it is not difficult for me to be a ‘good European.’ On the other hand, I am perhaps more German than present-day Germans” (EH 225). The rhetorical strategy involved in canceling the origin while reaffirming its importance is analogous to the gestures inscribed in the first preface, wherein Nietzsche (dis)orients his reader by stating a la Rousseau that “it seems indispensable to me to say who I am” because, above all, he does not want to be mistaken “for someone else.” Not having left himself “without testimony” (217), he is compelled to read and clarify his own fragmented authorship, lest he be mistaken for some “prophet” or “those gruesome hybrids of sickness and will to power whom people call founders of religions” (219). It is thus important for him to distinguish his own voice from Christ’s or Zarathustra’s, the writer from the written, the author from the reader, although in this case, the author’s self-reading tautologically returns him to the source, while granting him the special privilege of being his own best reader: “It is a privilege without equal to be a listener here. Nobody is free to have ears for Zarathustra” (220). Only a detour through the labyrinth of the corpus enables one to acquire the proper “ear” for those “otobiographi-cal” revelations.23 In attempting to bypass the mimetic identification with such others as Christ and Goethe, Nietzsche articulates the need to avoid idealist notions of imitation and returns language to its material and physical site: the body. In so doing he insists on the materiality of the word, opposing it to abstract rationality and to the religious or philosophical logos.
Reading the Corpus
What then is this “privilege without equal” which allows one to decipher decadence, to hear the silence of “objection” [“Einwand]” (EH 229; SW 8:307) and yet to be beyond ressentiment? Clearly it is a privilege that can be shared only by those who have eyes to see, a nose to smell, fingers to grasp, and ears to hear, in other words who are not disoriented by the spiritual strivings of their cultural selves, “the bite of conscience,” that “evil eye” of ascetism and education (EH 236). Unlike Nietzsche’s contemporaries—readers who are deceived by their belief in a different kind of truth and thus “hear” nothing when they read his books—those who are “worthy of hearing” (265) Zarathustra’s riddles are the ones brave enough to “embark with cunning sails on terrible seas” (264). We have a theory of reading quite close to Augustine’s here, a reading/hearing that is a form of absolute receptivity to the “other”, an attempt to understand the complexities of the text, at the risk of losing one’s own idiosyncratic point of view, rather than the reductive—subjective—appropriation of one of its layers. This is the kind of reading which allows one to experience the text in a blissful way and to “hear meaning” as Kristeva, following Lacan, has said: “jouissance = j’ouïs sens.” For Lacan, this jouissance is the ecstasy of the mystics, but for Barthes it is a radical form of materialism which returns theory to the site of physical pleasure.24 For Nietzsche too it is a state of exquisite physical perception, one in which pain and pleasure are collapsed into one another, or as Marie-Thérèse Humbert’s narrator would put it, Zarathustra-like, it is a feeling quite the obverse of pity, it is “this hideous joy, so keen that it seemed closer to pain than to pleasure [cette affreuse jouissance, dans son acuité plus proche de la douleur que de la joie].”25 It is thus an experience through which the temper of the individual is tried, the body put to the test: “The world is poor for anyone who has never been sick enough for this ‘voluptuousness of hell’: it is permitted, it is almost imperative, to employ a formula of the mystics at this point” (EH 250).
We may recall Socrates’ analysis of pleasure and pain in the Phae-do: they form a pair of opposites attached to a single head, and anyone visited by one of them is later bound to come face to face with the other as well (6ob5-c5). This Janus-like experience is at the heart of all Nietzschean conceptual critiques, and we must bear in mind that the yes-saying individual thus shares a common “head” with the no-saying one, for better or for worse: Dionysus and Socrates, God and the devil are faces of the same Nietzsche. That is why to read Nietzsche with one’s ear tuned to the duplicitous operations of jouissance under the hyperbolic claims of the defensive self is to be truly prepared for the “thoughts that come on dove’s feet” (EH 219), the revelations that only the receptive reader will have the opportunity of discovering only if s/he can “grasp” the fact that the book is “a present,” “a voice bridging centuries,” “a halcyon tone” (219).
Thus when Nietzsche implies that his aim is both to establish the difference between him and his books:—“I am one thing, my writings are another matter” (259)—and the impossibility of being anything other than the corpus he creates, his literary selves, we can take him quite literally, for he is Zarathustra, Dionysus, the Antichrist, the immoralist: “I have chosen the word immoralist as a symbol and a badge of honor for myself; I am proud of having this word which distinguishes me from the whole of humanity” (331). This can be viewed as a parodic and transgressive gesture toward Montaigne, who says in the exhortation “To The Reader” of his Essays, “I am myself the matter of my book.” For Nietzsche then proceeds to emulate “Montaigne’s sportiveness” (243), his well-known need to be physically active in order to think clearly: “My thoughts fall asleep if I make them sit down. My mind will not budge unless my legs move it.”26 And compare this with Nietzsche’s advice for thinking clearly: “Sit as little as possible; give no credence to any thought that was not born outdoors while one moved about freely—in which the muscles are not celebrating a feast, too. All prejudices come from the intestines” (239–40). But whereas Montaigne could say with confidence, “I have done what I wanted. Everyone recognizes me in my book, and my book in me,”27 Nietzsche can only act like the hedgehog who is never sure of the intentions of the “other” and must keep on adopting masks as shields for self-protection and self-dissimulation, because of the “smallness of [his] contemporaries” (217) who first must be seduced into listening to him, then into going it alone because he does not want any disciples. Nietzsche attempts to create a space for himself which is the site of a profound contradiction: a space independent of the gaze of the other and of the voices of culture and society, which can only make him more vulnerable to the kind of imitation he vehemently rejects because of its universalizing potential.
In Miroirs d’encre, Michel Beaujour has argued that the dialectical relationship between the self and the book, the body and the corpus constitutes one of the foremost characteristics of the “genre” of “autoportrait,” that is, the mode of self-description whereby a writer uses a set of rhetorical topoi as means of self-writing. Montaigne and Nietzsche are prime examples of authors who use fragmentary writing to convey the dispersion, the dissemination of the self in language. As I hope to have shown for Augustine and as I maintain about Hurston, Angelou, Cardinal, and Humbert, even a traditional, linear, and chronological narrative of “a life” can exhibit this tropological structure, especially in the case of women writers who seek modes of discourse which reflect by analogy the traditionally stratified nature of their lives as “heroines” and as women, lovers, daughters, sisters, mothers, writers, and so on. In the case of Nietzsche, the conflation of the “life” with the corpus occasions an exemplary transformation of the trope of the body into its literary counterpart, the corpus, thus undermining all philosophical claims to the universality of the description:
Sick persons, actors, poets and athletes discuss their own bodies without aspiring to universalism. But the relation the self-portraitist entertains with his body is more complex, and more paradoxical, because although a self-portrait is not strictly limited to a description of the author’s own body, neither can this be passed over in silence. The self-portrait is the only genre in which writing cannot avoid wondering about the site of its production, the incarnation of the word and the resurrection of the body. The self-portrait thus stands in opposition to the philosophical logos. It is situated somewhere between opinion and reason, between embodied individuality and commonplace. The question of the relation between loci and bodies is thus raised in a general way through the body-corpus metaphor as well as through the details of the symbols around which the self-portrait organizes its topics.
“Ecce Homo,” writes Beaujour, “is the textual site where the corpus and the body of Nietzsche respectively change status.”28
Indeed, in the section titled “Why I Write Such Good Books,” Nietzsche gives us his interpretations of his writings but also explains in detail how external circumstances—place, climate, wellbeing—influenced his process of creativity, “fated” his body to become capable of inspiration and revelation (300). In other words, the “autobiography” becomes strictly a retrospective look at the loci, the geographical topoi and psycho-physiological predispositions that favored the hatching or emergence of the corpus. This is why Nietzsche finds it necessary to adopt the veil of the iconoclast, for example, when discussing the nature and purpose of “woman” in the scheme of creation: for Nietzsche envies nothing more than women’s ability to procreate, to maintain their “natural” physiological superiority over men who are “always a mere means, pretext, tactic” in women’s instinctive drive to give birth (267). But this giving birth, like all Nietzsche’s extremist statements, must be understood literally and metaphorically. His maternal space is a “biocentric” locus of energy and affirmation quite different from the phallic/symbolic realm within which Augustine’s being comes to a perfect rest. Nietzsche’s return—one might even say his reversion or regression—to such an elemental and prelinguistic site as the essential source of inspiration for his own writings raises fundamental questions regarding the very possibility of cultural production. By thus returning to the body, Nietzsche provides a link in the nineteenth century between the (male) use of embodiment in Latin and Renaissance rhetoric and the emphasis of contemporary women writers on their shared specificity, their culture-producing body languages. As I shall discuss in my last chapter, on Humbert, creation and procreation, production and reproduction are, like pleasure and pain, merely dual aspects of the same process for Nietzsche, and he even compares his own long period of conception before the creation and production of Thus Spoke Zarathustra to the gestation period undergone by the female elephant—“we get eighteen months for the pregnancy” (295). Finally, the author underwent a “sudden birth that occurred in February 1883 under the most improbable circumstances,” that is, exactly at the moment of Richard Wagner’s death in Venice. Notice also how Nietzsche emphasizes the “sudden and profoundly decisive change in [his] taste” (295) at the onset of the “pregnancy” in mid-1881, just as newly pregnant women are believed to experience new and sudden cravings. Nietzsche’s musical taste especially undergoes transformation, is followed by “a rebirth of the art of hearing.” Music is for Nietzsche what reading is for Augustine. Just as Augustine undergoes illumination and transfiguration through a process of reading alterity which returns him to the state of infans—the speechless, totally dependent creature— thus making him disponible and all ears for the Other, Nietzsche develops a new art of hearing, but in his case it is the acute ability to listen to himself become the begetter of words and the words themselves: midwife, mother, and child.
Metaphors of pregnancy and birth are extremely common in Nietzsche, so common that Derrida, for one, has called him “le penseur de la grossesse [the thinker of pregnancy].”29 Here again, we can say that he is emulating his “enemy,” Socrates, who performed the ancient art of midwifery, except that Socrates helped other people with the birthing of their thoughts. Moreover, Socrates insists that only those individuals who can no longer give birth become midwives (Theaetetus, 149–51), whereas Nietzsche is the pregnant one and the midwife at the same time, a rather circular and solitary predicament. Caught between solipsism and universalism, Nietzsche stresses the tripartite female nature of his being, thus parodying the male Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But as he says, “On every metaphor you ride to every truth” (301), and in these images of pregnancy and midwifery lies his whole conception of creativity—a conception, therefore, that owes much to Socrates’ discussion of the topic in the Theaetetus. The body is the source of the begetting—the work—and the self-reading is the maieutic interpretation, which helps in the total process of (pro)creation. This pro-creative self-interpretation is an effort to avoid the silence that would follow the experience of creating a new language for people who have no ear for it. For if “a book speaks of nothing but events that lie altogether beyond the possibility of any frequent or even rare experiences . . . nothing will be heard, but there will be the acoustic illusion that where nothing is heard, nothing is there” (EH 261). The originality of Nietzsche’s experience, then, is that of giving the world a “first language for a new series of experiences” (261), a language that makes visible those very things for which we would not otherwise have eyes. That is why in the Gay Science (¶261) Nietzsche defines originality as the ability “to see something that has no name as yet and hence cannot be mentioned although it stares us all in the face. The way men usually are, it takes a name to make something visible for them.—Those with originality have for the most part also assigned names” (218).
If his readers cannot be trusted with the ability to see and give meaning to this new series of experiences with which his works confront them, then he must be both mother and father, must give birth and have the prerogative of naming, since this is the only way to avoid the silence of ignorance. He has the responsibility to put into words, narrate, explicate the means by which he has come to understand himself as the “first tragic philosopher” (273) or, put another way, the philosopher who can negate being and affirm becoming, in order to redeem the past and the future:
Zarathustra once defines, quite strictly, his task—it is mine too—and there is no mistaking his meaning: he says Yes to the point of justifying, of redeeming all of the past. “I walk among men as among the fragments of the future—that future which I envisage. And this is all my creating and striving, that I create and carry together into One what is fragment and riddle and dreadful accident. And how could I bear to be a man if man were not also a creator and guesser of riddles and redeemer of accidents? To redeem those who lived in the past and to turn every ‘it was’ into a ‘thus I willed it’—that alone should I call redemption” (EH 308–9).30
This form of redemption is the basic theme of amor fati, or eternal return, the inescapable links between past and future, which must be named to be recognized and affirmed. The difficulty is that even such a naming does not guarantee that Nietzsche will be heard or understood, for the solipsistic gesture involved in raising the stakes at every confrontation between opposing concepts (or historical figures or contemporary “good-natured canaille” ) is bound to devalue the intensity of the hyperbole. And indeed, the last section of Ecce Homo, “Why I Am a Destiny,” ends on the hysterical repetition of the phrase “Have I been understood?” and with the infinite regression of the “folie circulaire” (334) against which Nietzsche raises his pen and his voice, but in the wake of which he must needs become the other face of the same Janus, his doppelgänger. Wishing as he does to overthrow the idols, he leaves himself open to the vampirism of those moralists who would suck “the blood of life itself” (334) from his corpus. His oppositional stance makes him fall back on the very ground he is attempting to undermine.
Wanting to distinguish himself from Socrates and the philosophical tradition of objectivity and universality, Nietzsche constantly resists any form of dogmatic self-effacement that might suggest that his writings offer some form of universal truth. Instead, he gives us strident or hyperbolic statements that force the reader to take stock of what is actually being said, to get some distance from it, to be provoked into thinking for him- or herself. This is the “essence” of perspectivism, in that it forces one to question the origin and the ground on which beliefs and opinions are based, to rediscover “that nethermost self which had, as it were, been buried and grown silent under the continual pressure of having to listen to other selves (and that is after all what reading means)” (EH 287–88). To read and listen to other thinkers who would do your thinking for you is thus to become selfless in the worst possible way, to lose all “instinct of self-defense” (253), all ability to nurture your own thoughts and to cultivate and protect your (pro)creation.
Already in “Why I Am So Clever,” Nietzsche had given his view of what reading means for a thinker: it is “recreation from [his] own seriousness” but, by the same token, must be avoided when he is “hard at work” (242): “Has it been noted that in that profound tension to which pregnancy condemns the spirit, and at bottom the whole organism, chance and any kind of stimulus from the outside have too vehement an effect and strike too deep? . . . a kind of walling oneself in belongs among the foremost instinctive precautions of spiritual pregnancy. Should I permit an alien thought to scale the wall secretly?—And that is what reading would mean. The periods of work and fertility are followed by periods of recreation: come to me, pleasant, brilliant, clever books” (242). Creativity and reading are two closely related phenomena, as are cultural creativity and biological procreation. They must avoid competing or interfering with each other. Ideas and books offer themselves like “sea animals” brought up in a net or on a fishhook from the depths of memory (290). Each thought is to some degree determined by its place of birth, and that is why Nietzsche situates the “origin” of each of his books in the geographical space, the topos where he was inspired to write each one of the books. The Birth of Tragedy was begun before the walls of the city of Metz, “amid the thunder of the battle of Worth” (270), when Nietzsche was working as a medical orderly; Human, All Too Human is linked to the first Bayreuther Fest-spiele; Dawn, to the coast of Genoa; Thus Spoke Zarathustra, to Sils-Maria, Rapallo, Genoa, Rome, and Nice and Eze (both of which had been part of Italy until 1860); Twilight of the Idols, to the Upper Engadine and Turin, where Nietzsche would reside from then on.
There is a specific geographical body linked to the creation of the corpus, and we will see in Marie Cardinal and Marie-Thérèse Humbert’s works a specific assimilation of the female body and the textual corpus to Algeria and Mauritius, respectively. With Maya Angelou it is the nomadic and picaresque wanderings of the “heroine” which will be opposed to the enclosed and nurturing places where the “writer” becomes able to create: her grandmother’s store and the library. For Condé’s narrator, exile to France and Africa allegorizes the alienating impossibility of being grounded and nurtured by a specific physical, geographic environment and the mimetic illusions of false returns to mythic places of origin. Her predicament exemplifies the sterility of lost and severed connections. Anthropological field research allows Zora Neale Hurston to collect information on her lost “siblings” of the African diaspora and to reestablish lost connections. Using that information, she creates an autobiographical self that, Chapter 3 will argue, owes much to Nietzschean notions of genealogy and ethnicity.
1See, for instance, Aimé Césaire, “Maintenir la poésie,” Tropiques 8–9 (Oct. 1943), in which he discusses the implicitly Nietzschean dimensions of Claudel, pp. 7–8 and “Poésie et connaissance,” Tropiques 12 (Jan. 1945), in which he gives his view of what the beginnings of modem literature owe to Nietzsche: “1850—la revanche de Dionysos sur Apollon,” p. 159. Also A. James Arnold, in his Modernism and Negritude: The Poetry and Poetics of Aimé Césaire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981), discusses the influence of Frobenius, Spengler, and Nietzsche on Césaire’s poetics (pp. 37–44, 50–54); the internal differences between Senghor’s and Césaire’s views of negritude (pp. 33–34, 44); and the debate among critics of the concept, such as Maryse Condé, Stanislas Adotevi, and Roberto Fernández Retamar (pp. 45–47). The quotation is from Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry, trans. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), p. 83.
2See Arnold, p. 44. In the interview Césaire gave to Lilyan Kesteloot in Dec. 1971, he says: “I am for negritude from a literary point of view and as a personal ethic, but I am against an ideology founded on negritude” (published in Lilyan Kesteloot and Barthélemy Kotchy, Aimé Césaire, l’homme et l’oeuvre [Paris: Présence Africaine, 1973], p. 235). The quotation is from Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Charles L. Markmann (London: Pluto Press, 1986), p. 229.
3Fanon, Introduction to Black Skin, White Masks, p. 10. Fanon discusses Hegel and Nietzsche specifically in chap. 7.
4Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, pt. 3, in The Portable Nietzsche, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Viking Press, 1967), p. 290, hereafter cited in the text as Z, with part and page number. See also Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, p. 228: “Have I no other purpose on earth, then, but to avenge the Negro of the seventeenth century?” and p. 230: “No attempt must be made to encase man, for it is his destiny to be set free.”
5Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), paragraph 377, p. 338. Hereafter cited by paragraph number and the abbreviation GS.
6See Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (Cleveland: Meridian Books/World Publishing, 1956), p. 19.
7See especially Pierre Klossowski, Un si funeste désir (Paris: Gallimard, 1963), chaps. 1 and 7. “Explosive” is Kaufmann’s word in Nietzsche, p. 20.
8Gilles Deleuze, “Nomad Thought,” in The New Nietzsche: Contemporary Styles of Interpretation, ed. David B. Allison (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), pp. 142–49, and Nietzsche and Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983); Jacques Derrida, Spurs/Eperons: Nietzsche’s Styles, trans. Barbara Harlow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), and The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation, trans. Peggy Kamuf and Avital Ronnell (New York: Schocken Books, 1985); Rodolphe Gasché, “Autobiography as Gestalt: Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo,” in Why Nietzsche Now? ed. Daniel T. O’Hara (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1958), pp. 271–90; Sarah Kofman, “Metaphor, Symbol, Metamorphosis,” in The New Nietzsche, pp. 201–214; Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985); Margot Norris, Beasts of the Modern Imagination: Darwin, Nietzsche, Kafka, Ernst, and Lawrence (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1958); and Ofelia Schutte, Beyond Nihilism: Nietzsche without Masks (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).
9Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington (New York: Grove Press, 1968), pp. 212, 216, modified here from the French, Les Damnés de la terre (Paris: Maspéro, 1968), pp. 148–49. See also the introduction by Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith, Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry, pp. 1–31.
10Sunday O. Anozie, “Negritude, Structuralism, Deconstruction,” in Black Literature and Literary Theory, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York: Methuen, 1984), p. 121.
11“Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo (New York: Vintage Books, 1969), p. 321. References will be given in the text, and the abbreviation EH used when necessary. Richard Samuel, “Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo: An Autobiography?” in Deutung und Bedeutung: Studies in German and Comparative Literature Presented to Karl-Werner Maurer, ed. Brigitte Schuldermann et al. (The Hague: Mouton [De Proprietatibus Litterarum, Series Maior 25], 1973) p. 210.
12Norris, p. 99.
13Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power (New York: Vintage Books, 1968), paragraph 749, p. 396, hereafter cited in the text by paragraph number.
14In Nietzsche’s final letter to Jacob Burckhardt. See Unpublished Letters, trans. and ed. Kurt F. Leidecker (New York: Philosophical Library, 1959), p. 155. See also the discussion in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), p. 21.
15German quotation is from Ecce Homo, in Sämtliche Werke (Stuttgart: A. Kroner, 1964), 8:299, hereafter cited in the text, abbreviated SW.
16Augustine, Confessions, trans. R. S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin Books, 1979), 13:28, p. 340.
17This form of stoicism recalls Montaigne: “What matter if we twist our arms, provided we do not twist our thoughts? . . . In the attacks of the stone, let her [philosophy] preserve the soul’s capacity for knowing itself, for following its accustomed course, combating the pain and enduring it, not prostrating itself shamefully at its feet; . . . I test myself in the thickest of the pain, and have always found that I was capable of speaking, thinking, and answering as sanely as at any other time.” See “Of the Resemblance of Children to Fathers,” The Complete Works of Montaigne, trans. Donald Frame, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1948), p. 577.
18Derrida, The Ear of the Other, p. 16.
19Norris, p. 87.
20Samuel, p. 210; Michel Beaujour, Miroirs d’encre (Paris: Seuil, 1980), pp. 320–21, my translations. Beaujour notes that the whole ambiguity of Nietzsche’s enterprise is evident in the symbolic move from German to Latin in those discarded titles. Nietzsche’s ostentatious display of his body is thus an imitation of Christ as well as the performance of a transsubstantiation from Christian idealism to a new form of idiosyncratic materialism.
21See Philippe Aries, The Hour of Our Death (New York: Knopf, 1981), p. 13.
22Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (New York: Vintage Books, 1966), paragraph 209, p. 133, hereafter cited by paragraph number in the text.
23See Derrida, The Ear of the Other.
24See Jacques Lacan, Le Séminaire: Lime XX—Encore (Paris: Seuil, 1975), pp. 9–18; Julia Kristeva, Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, trans. Tom Gora, Alice Jardine, and Léon Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980). The introduction by Leon S. Roudiez contains a useful glossary, pp. 12–20; Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (New York: Hill and Wang, 1975).
25Marie-Thérèse Humbert, A l’autre bout de moi (Paris: Stock, 1979), p. 427, my translation.
26Montaigne, “Of Three Kinds of Association,” Complete Works, p. 629.
27Montaigne, “On Some Verses of Virgil,” ibid., p. 667.
28Beaujour, pp. 307–8, 324.
29Derrida, Spurs/Eperons: Nietzsche’s Styles, trans. Barbara Harlow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 64.
30With these words, Carl Pletsch has said, “Nietzsche illuminates not only his concept of personal life as amor fati, but his authorship as well. His writings are fragments, riddles, and dreadful accidents redeemed by his Dionysian mission of raising the chaos of life from falsehood to the status of opportunity . . . to impose his own meaning upon the chaos—the chaos of his writings as well as the chaos of life.” See “The Self-Sufficient Text in Nietzsche and Kierkegaard,” Yale French Studies 66 (1984), 181. What I want to underline more specifically here is that Nietzsche views the re-membering of fragments of the past as redemptive of chaos—past chaos and future chaos: anamnesis and utopia.