The reason Nietzsche remains my favorite antagonist is that he was a Phenomenologist before the advent of modern Phenomenology. Unlike most philosophers, he does not like defining and systematizing “what is truth.” In fact, he seems to despise that mode of philosophizing, as well as the notion of truth itself. On the contrary, he is one who speaks through the voice of the phenomenon itself and gets frustrated that the rest of us do not understand his language.
“But I live in my own light, I drink back into myself the flames that break from me. I do not know the joy of the receiver; and I have often dreamed that stealing must be more blessed than receiving. It is my poverty that my hand never rests from giving; it is my envy that I see expectant eyes and illumined nights of desire. Oh wretchedness of all givers! Oh eclipse of my sun! Oh craving for desire! Oh ravenous hunger in satiety! They take from me: but do I yet touch their souls? A gulf stands between giving and receiving; and the smallest gulf must be bridged at last.”
~ Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra (p. 129). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.
His preference for sharing a first-hand experience of the Übermensch phenomenon is precisely the same mode as we prefer in our first-hand experience of RoyaumeFrance, though with dramatically different outcomes. Nietzsche gives himself away as a phenomenologist by his enthusiasm and zeal, similar to our own. He also seeks solitude , as do we, because he simply cannot reach us though he desires terribly to do so.
“It is night: ah, that I must be light! And thirst for the things of night! And solitude! It is night: now my longing breaks from me like a well-spring – I long for speech. It is night: now do all leaping fountains speak louder. And my soul too is a leaping fountain. It is night: only now do all songs of lovers awaken. And my soul too is the song of a lover.”
He is creative, visionary, and romantic, similarly to us. However, he sulks in solitude because we are not capable of realizing, or even worse in Nietzsche’s mind, of desiring his Superman. So, he will go into solitude, into the forest, and onto the mountain. There, he grieves in silence. He has nowhere to go, no one with whom he can relate.
We are empathetic. The most troublesome challenge for the phenomenologist is that of communicating what cannot be communicated, to appeal appropriately to the objective through our own subjectivity so that others may access it for what it is. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, saw this as the essence of Phenomenology.
“As a phenomenologist she knew that everything objective must be accessed appropriately so that it can show itself as what it is.”
~ Introduction to Edith Stein. Potency and Act (The Collected Works of Edith Stein) (Kindle Locations 207-208). Kindle Edition.
We share that pain with Friedrich Nietzsche. We, too, are led into the solitude of the mountain. However, we are on a very different mountain, far away, with a very different environment. We wish only that Nietzsche would join us.
I looked at Joan of Arc, as we stood to move along
The mystery of her life no longer locked away
Her soul and that of Thérèse, both given to God in love
By sacrificing all for Him
Asking, neither one, for anything save union with Jesus
We started forward again, in peaceful silence
My feet were dry, and I felt well rested
I had never spoken a word, and this was good
For looking up ahead I could see majestic mountains
With snow and treacherous passes
~ Adams, Walter. Little Flowers and Fiery Towers: Poems and poetic prose in honor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Joan of Arc (pp. 85-86). Joan and Thérèse Publications. Kindle Edition.
Nietzsche is fire with no place, no one, to ignite and share in its raw passion. This, it seems, is his end with no answer save for the one path out – being consumed alone by that fire in the evolution of the Superman. Our fire, equally difficult to translate, also consumes but through a radically different medium. Our fire consumes through Surrender rather than Superman. Those who surrender ignite us, and we, in turn, ignite others.
That we could ignite Nietzsche and that his Superman might yield to Surrender…
Whence comes this fire
Whence comes this fire that burns eternally?
Immovable in essential dignity
Majestic flames that leap from age to age
Unchangeable, the source of beauty made
The flame of these most beautiful to me
Is that by Joan of Arc from Domremy
Her shadows flicker, loving ardor of fire
Thawing cold, frozen souls beside the pyre
Whence comes this flame consuming Joan of Arc?
I start to walk away with broken heart
But Jesus calls in haste for me to turn
To see her fire erupt in holy yearn
The fires of hate transformed to love by grace
Into that fire of Christ that mocks death’s claim
As Joan was lifted high in blinding arcs
I caught by glance her blowing me a spark
~ Adams, Walter. Little Flowers and Fiery Towers: Poems and poetic prose in honor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Joan of Arc (p. 87). Joan and Thérèse Publications. Kindle Edition.