Loughner’s Nietzsche

Jared Lee Loughner’s Nietzsche: Why the philosopher is misunderstood by angry young men. – By Matt Feeney – Slate Magazine

If your social world fails to appreciate your singularity and tells you that you’re a loser, reading Nietzsche can steel you in your secret conviction that, no, I’m a genius, or at least very special, and everyone else is the loser. Like you, Nietzsche was misunderstood in his day, ignored or derided by other scholars. Like you, Nietzsche seems to find everything around him lame, either stodgy and moralistic or sick with democratic vulgarity. Nietzsche seems to believe in aristocracy, which is taboo these days, which might be why no one recognizes you as the higher sort of guy you suspect yourself to be. And crucially, if you’re a horny and poetic young man whose dream girl is ever present before your eyes but just out of reach, Nietzsche frames his project of resistance and overcoming as not just romantic but erotic.

If you’re a thoughtful and unhappy young man, in other words, why wouldn’t you want to read someone who seems to reflect both your alienation and your uncontainable desire back to you as masculine bravery and strength? Indeed, there’s something in every book you’re likely to pick up—some enticement of form or content or both—that addresses your horniness/alienation and flatters you in the pretense that, though you have no formal training and are actually kind of a crappy and distracted reader, you are doing philosophy.

This is such a perfect expression of why I liked Nietzsche when I was a teenager.

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