Nietzsche frequently takes breaks in his writing to remind his readers that his philosophical path is not for everyone. I continue to wrestle with questions like whether it’s possible to be a liberal Nietzschean and whether you can have a traditional family life and follow the Nietzschean way. I’ll have much more to say about these questions as this series continues.
Today he poses a different challenge:
Here are hopes; but what will you hear and see of them if you have not experienced splendor, ardor, and dawns in your own souls?
What Nietzsche is describing here is an artistic temperament, the ability to see beautiful and to feel deeply. If you lack the artistic temperament, then you’re not a good candidate for his philosophy and you’ll never be one of the Hyperboreans.
That’s simple enough, but I’ve had an experience that brings some contemporary depth to this challenge. While on the anti-depressant Lexapro, I’ve sometimes had the feeling of non-contextual elation. It’s not a feeling of being buzzed, drunk or stoned, it’s a very specific feeling — very much like love at first sight.
That sounds wonderful and for awhile it is, but over time it becomes increasingly strange because there’s no new object for this elation and it’s not possible to consciously fake the feeling.
So let me invert Nietzsche’s proposition — what if you feel splendor, ardor and dawns in your existence, but the feelings are artificially stimulated? Do these experiences raise consciousness or numb us to genuine experience? And since, for Nietzsche, suffering is a necessary component for creativity and striving toward goals, might these feelings annihilate the will to power?
One other question I’d like to raise: is it possible that human moods come first with the actions and human associations we ascribe to them actually found after the fact? Do moods drive us towards connections and actions that bring coherence to our feelings?