October 2010 Archives

How Little Fritz Became the Great Nietzsche

If history could've buried Nietzsche, it would have. Cuz he said things that were not merely offensive, but downright heretical (.. such as 'God is dead'). The Dark Ages would've had him drawn & quartered. Progress.

Few people with whom I spoke -- and I chat with some fairly educated folk, including professors -- knew very much about the man. The ones who did tho, seemed to like him the least.

The more religious a person was, the more they disliked Nietzsche, as a general rule. And 'dislike' is putting it mildly. I mean, people got pretty fired up reading his aphorisms .. especially those on religion & morality.

NietzscheI'm like » Dude, I didn't write the book. Okay? I'm just reading it.

But you don't have to read many headlines these days to know that organized religion has had its share of problems. We're talking BIG problems.

Serious morality issues continue to plague the church. You know. You read the news. And that's hypocritical, cuz they claim to represent & champion the moral standard. Especially when 'tolerance' isn't considered a Christian virtue.

» Nietzsche & Religion

So, at least in our day, it's not unreasonable to find fault with religion. And I doubt things were much different back in Nietzsche's day.

The reason history hasn't been able to bury Nietzsche .. is cuz he was brilliant. Remarkably perceptive. No doubt about it. Anyone who grapples with his ideas - even on a casual level - will readily admit. Tolstoy was only partially correct.

That's why he's still one of the youngest ever tenured professors (at age 24). And note that being a professor meant his intellect was highly developed.

Is God Dead?Most people associate Nietzsche with an arrogant 19th century intellectual who found fault with religion because of its hypocritical morality.

Yeah okay. But Nietzsche wasn't the first or only to do so. Remember what Jesus said?

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

For they say and do not. You don't hear that verse preached from many pulpits. Seems little has changed over the centuries.

No one is immune to error cuz we're all human, and therefore fallible (by definition). You know anybody who's not-capable of making a mistake? I don't.

But hypocrisy is particularly odious .. such as that practiced by politicians when they write laws to punish those who do the very same things they themselves do in secret (.. in an airport bathroom, for example).

Newport Back Bay - 5 Photos

Special treat today. Took my camera to the Back Back this weekend (.. here in Newport Beach). Major estuary .. where fresh water meets & mixes with ocean water (.. depending on the tide). It was overcast, but the light is nice for taking pictures when skies are gray. Bright sunlight tends to wash out colors.

Newport Back Bay | Newport Beach, CaliforniaFive photos. First one posted here » Newport Back Bay #1.

I cropped out most of the sky (using Fireworks) and resized down from the camera's default resolution (2272 x 1704). Used high-quality jpeg encoding, so each photo is ~100 KB (.. way down from ~2 megs each in the camera).

This one is the biggest, at 146 KB. The zillions of lines of grass are hard to encode without using lots of bytes, even with encoding quality set lower.

This one is my favorite. This place is the coolest, being there. Kinda spiritual.

Newport Back Bay | Newport Beach, CaliforniaHope you enjoy. The Back Bay is like my mental-health clinic. I go there to get away and lick my wounds. You'll usually find me there with a poet or two.

About 60,000 birds come to the Back Bay for the winter months .. from far away as Alaska.

Saw a coyote there this weekend. First one I've seen there. Big guy. Biggest coyote I've ever seen. Obviously well fed. Traipsing down the trail at a comfortable clip. Acting like he owned the place. The trickster.

It's good to challenge ourselves from time to time. To run a marathon, for example. Or log a new personal best for the 10K. Learn a new technology. A new sport. Anything that might test our mettle. Personal growth via increasingly challenging experiences. You know » Tony Robbins stuff.

Restricted area |  Keep outNietzsche challenges me like that. Tho in a different way. He goes deep .. to the very foundations of our Western belief systems. An area normally off-limits.

Anything considered part of our belief system automatically gets password-protected and receives appropriations from the defense budget. This area is heavily guarded and protected at all costs.

Normally I'm not receptive to people or things that question & challenge (attack) my most basic beliefs. (Few are, from what I can see.)

Seems however, like it might be a worthwhile exercise. Like weightlifting .. where we endure an uncomfortable struggle (temporarily) .. that leads to growth & development.

Friedrich Nietzsche» Grenades

Reading Nietzsche feels like someone walking thru your mind wearing a bandolier of grenades, lobbing them, one after another, at everything we (in the Christian Western world) hold sacred.

He does this with the following rationale » I have seen where your belief systems are taking you and it suks to the point of being pathetic.

Yet he also describes WHY (it suks). And here is where Nietzsche flexes his philosophical muscles. Rather impressively. He makes his points well.

The most prominent 'feeling' I got from reading Nietzsche is » What balls! What gigantic huevos rancheros!

He goes after (attacks) the very foundation of Western civilization itself .. and he doesn't stop until until he arrives (axe in hand) at the doorstep of Christian morality. Cajones gigantos.

Nietzsche's father was a Lutheran pastor, as was his daddy before him. Friedrich's use of scripture makes it clear he was familiar with both the bible & Christian doctrine.

From there, he takes the reader to the floors below Christian morality. When the elevator door opens, he starts poking around, saying (I'm paraphrasing):

"Look over here, dude. You're getting your knowledge from your beliefs. You got it backwards. There's the source of your problem. No wonder you're so screwed up. Can't believe nobody has pointed this out before. You should be getting your beliefs from your knowledge. You need to believe less and doubt more."

Nebuchadnezzar » Nebuchadnezzar & Insanity

Let's pause here a moment to note that Nietzsche went insane. He had a mental breakdown in his mid-40's and never recovered. Spent his last 10 years as toast. Then he died (August,1900, age 55).

Remember the story of Nebuchadnezzar? (~600 B.C.) He went crazy, too. God layeth down the smack on ol' king Nebby. Ka-blammo! Next thing you know, Nebby is out in the field munching grass beside the cows.

"You will .. live with the wild animals and eat grass like cattle .. until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign.."

Not very regal, is it? [ Some think it was syphilus, and not God that/who drove Nebby nuts. Sames goes for Nietzsche. ]

Auschwitz sign» The Sign

It's probably just my imagination .. but I see a foreboding sign hanging over the entrance to Nietzsche's garden (more like minefields):

Beware! All who dare enter here
Remember what happened to Nietzsche.
Signed: God
P.S. This is the guy who said 'God is dead'.

If you listen, you can hear the howls of FN echoing from the nearby forest .. where he's searching for more tasty grass. Same forest Nebby roamed.

Exploring Nietzsche & Yoga

Been looking at Nietzsche (1844-1900), digging into his life. (He was born in October.) Finding lots of interesting stuff there. Not only did he say many thought-provoking things, but he was also a fascinating character (.. if not a bit of an @sshole). Remarkably perceptive.

NietzscheHis quotes are more easily weaponized than those of most other philosophers.

I'm considering doing a Rad bit on him .. trying to figure out how to keep it short-n-sweet. (The bit I did on Che grew rather long.) Nietzsche short & sweet .. could be a challenge.

Reading Nietzsche makes my brain/mind feel like it did on Calculus (.. fit, trim, strong, surplus of intellectual energy) which is probably the most finely tuned it has ever been.

Does this suggest that Nietzsche (& his ideas) employ a larger portion of your brain than normal?

If not careful here I could easily slip into Nietzsche-mode and get carried away. But Nietzsche deserves a well-planned entry.

It will be fun. Nietzsche is a trip. I like to play Freud and try to figure out what makes a person tick (.. even if I'm totally wrong) .. what motivates a person to do & say the things they do.

Tell me about your childhood, Friedrich. Was it happy?

Nietzsche is intellectually stimulating. He has a sense of humor and is not afraid to offend. That's sorta the price you pay to do Nietzsche.

Controversy surrounding his ideas .. cuz he said many controversial things. He had a nervous breakdown and was basically toast his last 10 years, so some feel he was always a bit of a lunatic.

The dividing line on opinions about Nietzsche, I feel, falls along whether or not a particular reader takes offense to his ideas. I mean, cuz he can pretty offensive.

But there's no denying he was remarkably perceptive & insightful, and dedicated to things like truth & knowledge .. to a ruthlessly admirable degree. [ He begins BG&E with 'truth'. ]

First Month of Kindergarten

Hey, Fancy Pants! an Asian boy called out .. wearing a smile, early one morning this week .. happy ring in his voice .. hurrying toward his classroom (I assumed). Hey! the Bug responded with a waive .. as I locked his bike at school. The boy was obviously older.

Pooh & PigletWhat'd he call you? I asked.

That's my nickname, dad, he said. They call me 'Fancy Pants' here. That boy there started it.

Hey, Fancy! another kid called out, half-running in the same direction. Also older.

While we walked toward the place where the Bug assembles with his class, I heard someone say » Hey, Mister Fancy Pants! But I didn't see who said it, cuz there were so many kids everywhere. But it was a boy's voice.

Seems the school has a computer lab .. where kids learn basic computer skills. The Bug said » Fancy Pants is way harder than the stuff we do there. They also have some high-end gaming PCs at an after-school daycare there, along with a Nintendo Wii (.. or was it an Xbox?).

Fancy Pants 2 Pant-Colors & Trophies» Mr. Fancy Pants Himself

One of the girls who works there later told me (about the Bug, aka Mr. Fancy Pants) » Yeah, he taught all the kids how to play.

Does he play Fancy Pants, too? I asked the Bug about the Asian boy.
Is he good?
I asked.
He's okay. But sometimes I have to help him.

Seems the Bug is teaching upperclassmen to play Fancy Pants and helping them when they get in trouble. Making a name for himself. Literally. (Cracks me up.)

Tho here at the ranch, he has moved on to a new game called » Chaos Faction 2 .. very fast game. [ Totally kicks my butt. ]

He loves that game. The neighbors can hear his cries of laughter & delight. Hey, dad, he called out. Watch me rock his butt! =)

Video Games in the Classroom» Video Games in the Classroom

Speaking of 'games' .. perhaps you've heard about the experiment being conducted at a noncharter public school in New York City (.. in Manhattan, near Gramercy Park).

The NY Times published a series of articles recently on the use of video games in the classroom, as a tool to help kids learn.

Watch the video & hear for yourself the kids (& parents) saying how much better they enjoy school now. See here » Learning by Playing.

At the heart of the Learning-by-Playing model, you'll find this quote:

Not learning with games, but rather problem-based learning, in which kids practice skills as they solve problems. Today our schools focus on facts and information, but not problem solving. Thus, many students cannot solve problems, even when they can pass tests on facts and information.

and this one:

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