Again the key question to begin thinking about now is: what do the fates of Lydia and Mrs. Bennet mean? is it not the case that Austen tells us to find them both morally seriously flawed? if so then why does she leave them not only unpunished but rewarded?
Here are some important terms and passages (extra-super important ones in bold) to keep an eye out for as you’re reading. Numbers refer to chapters not pages. As a step toward organizing Nietzsche’s thought I’ve categorized them into very broad themes, but this is just an heuristic and to be taken with a big grain of salt: Nietzsche uses his aphoristic style precisely to achieve a level of complexity and subtlety that resists this kind of categorization.
I. GRATITUDE FOR ILLNESS/DRAWING COMEDY FROM TRAGEDY
- Preface: intoxication of convalescence; this tyranny of pain even excelled by the tyranny of pride that refused the conclusions of pain–and conclusions are consolations; the voluptuousness of a triumphant gratitude
- 1. the short tragedy always gave way again and returned into the eternal comedy of existence.
- 13. pain always raises the question about its origin while pleasure is inclined to stop with itself without looking back.
- 301. The higher human being always becomes at the same time happier and unhappier.
- 307. We negate and must negate because something in us wants to live and affirm.
- 337. even the poorest fisherman is still rowing with golden oars!
- 349. in nature it is not conditions of distress that are dominant but overflow and squandering, even to the point of absurdity.
II. PHILOSOPHY AS EROTIC ART
- Preface: truth is a woman (cf. 339 and the quote from Beyond Good and Evil below); those Greeks were superficial–out of profundity.
- 56. Neediness is needed.
- 107. Art as the good will to appearance.
- 279. star friendship
- 283. the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is—to live dangerously!
- 290. one thing is needful–to give style to one’s character
- 291. personal infinity
- 295. Brief habits
- 304. By doing we forego.
- 319. We ourselves wish to be our experiments.
- 339. life is a woman.
- 344. will to truth might be a concealed will to death.
- 345. all great problems demand great love.
- 374. the world [has] become ‘infinite’ for us all over again, inasmuch as we cannot reject the possibility that it may include infinite interpretations.
III. LOVE OF FATE/INTELLECTUAL CONSCIENCE
- 2. The intellectual conscience
- 109. Once you know that there are no purposes, you also know that there is no accident.
- 125. God is dead…and we have killed him!; Deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars–and yet they have done it themselves.
- 276. Amor fati
- 335. We want to become those we are; long live physics, and even more so that which compels us to turn to physics–our honesty!
- 341. the greatest weight (the eternal recurrence)
- 343. our sea lies open again
Finally, regarding Nietzsche’s likening of life and truth to a woman (in 339 and the Preface), consider the Preface to Beyond Good and Evil (which is also closely to related to the notion of making a “passion of one’s problem,” and to the whole project of a gay or joyful science):
“SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman—what then? Is there not ground for suspecting that all philosophers, in so far as they have been dogmatists, have failed to understand women—that the terrible seriousness and clumsy importunity with which they have usually paid their addresses to Truth, have been unskilled and unseemly methods for winning a woman? Certainly she has never allowed herself to be won; and at present every kind of dogma stands with sad and discouraged mien—IF, indeed, it stands at all! ….the worst, the most tiresome, and the most dangerous of errors hitherto has been a dogmatist error—namely, Plato’s invention of Pure Spirit and the Good in Itself. But now when it has been surmounted, when Europe, rid of this nightmare, can again draw breath freely and at least enjoy a healthier—sleep, we, WHOSE DUTY IS WAKEFULNESS ITSELF, are the heirs of all the strength which the struggle against this error has fostered. It amounted to the very inversion of truth, and the denial of the PERSPECTIVE—the fundamental condition—of life….But the struggle against Plato, or—to speak plainer, and for the “people”—the struggle against the ecclesiastical oppression of millenniums of Christianity (FOR CHRISTIANITY IS PLATONISM FOR THE “PEOPLE”), produced in Europe a magnificent tension of soul, such as had not existed anywhere previously; with such a tensely strained bow one can now aim at the furthest goals. As a matter of fact, the European feels this tension as a state of distress, ….we GOOD EUROPEANS, and free, VERY free spirits—we have it still, all the distress of spirit and all the tension of its bow! And perhaps also the arrow, the duty, and, who knows? THE GOAL TO AIM AT….”
1. According to stanzas one and two of the Ode on Melancholy, why should we resist suicide? does the final stanza not describe something like self-sacrifice? if so what makes this different from suicide?
2. In his letter of 21 April 1819 to his brother George and his wife, Keats says that instead of speaking of the world as a ‘vale of tears’ we should call it ‘the vale of soul-making;’ what does this mean?
1. What is the difference between the “truth-experience” and a “truth-effect” (172)? (nb. Zizek without explanation has Nietzsche stand (i.e. take the blame) for post-structuralist relativism. Whether or not you buy this conclusion I hope you’ll find plenty in The Gay Science, especially on the themes of amor fati and intellectual conscience, to seriously complicate it.)
2. What does the question of the possibility of metalanguage have to do with myths of the origin of state power, like that of Freud’s primal parricide and Hegel’s master and slave and Rousseau’s noble savage? The answer has something to do with Lacan’s claim that “the ethical imperative is the mode of the presence of the Real in the Symbolic” (182). So a metalanguage like the aforementioned myths are according to Zizek necessary though impossible fictions: they structure the world of social phenomena; it would be impossible to perceive the world of social phenomena (and in particular the phenomenon of social purpose, that the society we’re participating has something to accomplish, has a point) without presupposing the kind of explanation they provide; but by the same token they could not assume phenomenal form without “materializing their own impossibility by their patent absurdity” (175). When we try to get to the essence or origin of the social world all we find is the empty imperative to, effectively, be social. It’s this empty form of the imperative that these impossible fictions sustain. There’s no way of opting out of this imperative; it is constitutive of the bedrock, non-negotiable “Real.” Hence Zizek paraphrasing Kant (and, implicitly, Burke) says that “we cannot penetrate the obscure origins of power because we should not do so (because by doing so, we put ourselves outside its domain and so automatically subvert its legitimacy)” (185).
3. “The Spirit is a bone” refers to Hegel’s account of phrenology, which argues that if this pseudo-science exercised normative authority in its historical context, then in this context it was in fact that case that spirit animated the skull bone. This is the kind of “patently absurd” (175) explanatory proposition whose manifest impossibility demonstrates its underlying necessity: hence “we succeed in transmitting the dimension of subjectivity by means of the failure itself, through the radical insufficiency, through the absolute maladjustment of the predicate in relation to the subject” (234).