Give style to your character, a great and rare art.
Nietzsche Gay Science (290)
What are we to make of Nietzsche? There has been an explosion of scholarship over the past twenty years, much of it revealing and insightful, a good deal of it controversial if not polemical. The controversy and polemics are for the most part straight from Nietzsche, of course, and the scholarly disputes over what he ‘really’ meant are rather innocuous and often academic compared with what Nietzsche meant (or might have meant) with his conscientiously inflammatory rhetoric and hyperbole. We have been treated to extended debates about Nietzsche's politics, his attacks on Christianity and morality, his famed notion of the übermensch and his less lampooned (but more edifying) doctrine of the ‘eternal recurrence’. We have recently heard Nietzsche reinterpreted as an analytic philosopher, as a deconstructionist, as a feminist, even as a closet Christian and a liberal. Stephen Aschheim suggests in his recent book that Nietzsche provides us with something like a Rorschach test, inviting readers with amazingly different commitments and ideologies to ‘make their own Nietzsche’ (as a Times Literary Supplement review bluntly put it). But there is another approach to Nietzsche, something quite different from interpreting him in terms of his various ‘theses’ and positions, unpacking his ‘system’ or repeating unhelpfully that he displayed no such coherence and consistency, something more than finding out ‘who’ Nietzsche is as opposed to what we have made out of him. The simplest way of getting at this alternative approach might be to ask, what Nietzsche would make of us? I grant that this is a bit cryptic, and it invites a variety of unflattering answers. But I think it is very much in the spirit of what he (and his spokesman Zarathustra) are all about. It is an intimately personal approach to Nietzsche, an approach that will, no doubt, be somewhat different for each and every one of us. But that, too, of course, is just what Nietzsche (and Zarathustra) would have demanded.