Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"In your friend you shall posses your best enemy..."

I was sparring with an old mate today (carefully, cautiously - aware of my dodgy neck).

Afterwards, Nietzsche's words came to mind. "In your friend you should possess your best enemy," he wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. "Your heart should feel closest to him when you oppose him."

I've chiefly taken this existentially (and broadly) - that is, as a statement of independence, honesty. To be a true friend, we must be capable of resisting a friend's values and beliefs; of not being sucked into their idiosyncrasies, and instead being ourselves proudly.

In doing so, we can help them - not by pandering to their weaknesses, or placating them, but by encouraging themto be strong, responsible, free.

But, I remind myself: this is also true of martial arts. Our sparring partners, if they are to help us, must attack us; must impose themselves on us; must resist, oppose, antagonise.

And it's done, not with malice or cruelty, but in friendship: helping one another to develop. If done in the right spirit, a quick right to the jaw can be an act of kindness.

3 comments:

Gordon said...

To extrapolate, Is this (Mr.Nietzsche) the argument for capitalism?

I've chiefly taken this existentially (and broadly) - I thought you were saying "in the past this is how I took it", that you would add "but now I feel it in the immediate flow of the mundane, in my heart, now I really know what it means for us humans...."

But I find the expectation is not totally squandered; you do present a very direct example, in the fighting.

Without going into it, Tarkovsky, the Soviet film director, in totally non-Nietzschian terms (very lofty spiritual terms that blister with colour, assuming that others also see this as the opposite of gray industrial existentialism) makes about the same recommendation in contradistinction to the Soviet/Materialist/Marxist (or whatever) ideological interdiction against self-integrity.

Is the 'invisible hand' logic of the market meant to meant to recommend/describe a similar logic on a big scale? The collective Soviet/Leninist (or whatever) methods, that seem to me similar to ideals of "Charity" ( "pandering to their weaknesses" as you say?), which some 'Marxists' hate even today, global welfare states etc. are big versions of anti-Nietzschian everyday individual philosophy?

What is the difference between Nietzsche's recommendations and John Wayne style American/Texas individualism?

Given the nature of people, it is easy enough to ask, what is the truth certain allegations (although we know Nietzsche was explicitly not anti-Jewish, the apllication of the reasoning can be to anyone)? For instance (to put it in the most categorical, obscene, brutal etc. form), on the wild level of total-existentialism, why are not the SS to be understood as teaching the Jew, like a good sparring partner: " Our sparring partners, if they are to help us, must attack us; must impose themselves on us; must resist, oppose, antagonise." Why are they not applying a radical form of "exposer therapy" that can only be understood from some Hegelian/End of History standpoint or by Wisdom?

Damon Young said...

The "malice or cruelty" part is important. We oppose, not out of pettiness, vengeance or greed, but out of respect, care. This does not characterise the SS.

As for capitalism, I can't see any reason why it leads to the kind of independent, noble souls Nietzsche heralded. It just as often rewards herd mentality, mechanistic thinking and pettiness.

But Nietzsche was never system-builder, despite the continuities in his thought.

Gordon said...

Unfortunately the words of Pol Pot (wikipedia quotes) "We want only peace, to build up our country", "I came to join the revolution, not to kill the Cambodian people. Look at me now. Am I a violent person? No." were most likely quite sincere and betokened good 'Nietzschean values'. The love of Eva Braun for her respectful and honorable man and everything else of this kind makes one ask why is moral relativism, where the subject who wins determines the goodness factor of his emotional motivations (not only by himself, but through communal norms), so staunchly evacuated from the public discourse, except that, as I believe others have pointed out, it is simply to simple and obvious a truth?

While I appreciate the point (to an extent! - i.e., ipso facto, not at all!) it seems, to me, to be seen through the lens of 'healthy' persons living in 'healthy' climes, and I have my doubts whether it was Nietzsche's (because I think he must have been much more Darwinian, pitiless and without grace). All philosophies cease to pose a danger when enacted in a safe environment, evacuated of rage, resentment and the 'real world' is the message I get.

P.S.
The reason I mentioned Capitalism was because Sartre explicitly says (his) existentialism is a humanism, whilst Marx ( I am given to understand) explicitly gives his system as non-humanism (since it is focused on classes rather then individuals).