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Nietzsche, the philosopher seemingly opposed to everyone, has met with remarkably little opposition himself. He remains what he wanted to be— the limit-philosopher of a modernity that never ends. In this provocative, sometimes disturbing book, Bull argues that merely to reject Nietzsche is not to escape his lure. He seduces by appealing to our desire for victory, our creativity, our humanity. Only by ‘reading like a loser’ and failing to live up to his ideals can we move beyond Nietzsche to a still more radical revaluation of all values—a subhumanism that expands the boundaries of society until we are left with less than nothing in common.
Anti-Nietzsche is a subtle and subversive engagement with Nietzsche and his twentieth-century interpreters—Heidegger, Vattimo, Nancy, and Agamben. Written with economy and clarity, it shows how a politics of failure might change what it means to be human.
the success of any text (or act of reading) depends upon a reader’s sympathetic involvement. A significant part of that involvement comes from the reader’s identification with individuals or types within the story. People routinely identify with the heroes of narratives, and with almost any character who is presented in an attractive light. This involves ‘adopting the goals of a protagonist’ to the extent that the success or failure of those goals occasions an emotional response in the reader
compassionate strong and of the savage weak. Counter-Interest How then does reading like a loser diverge from the morality of Schopenhauer? It differs not only in its inclusion of the unmediated failure of the savage weak, but also in its interpretation of the compassion of the strong. Schopenhauer’s account of compassion is a distinctive one. It starts from the observation of nature and the ceaseless processes of change and movement that drive plants and animals through life towards
ethical plane . . . it appears obvious that a weak ontology will have to take up the teaching of Schopenhauer’.85 This paradoxical argument creatively links the ‘moderation’ of the Superman, the idea that ‘there are no facts, only interpretations; and this too is an interpretation’, and the overcoming of self-interest. As argued above,86 the moderation of the Superman lies (only) in avoiding an extreme aversive reaction to extreme nihilism—not in his accepting that the interpretation that all is
law on the grounds that justice depends on the parties’ involved being of equal power.36 Contracts, he suggests, continue to exist only for as long as the parties to them remain equal; ‘an end is put to them if one party has become decisively weaker than the other’.37 What then is the fate of the law when, perhaps due to the consequences of decadence, those over whom jurisdiction is exercised are unequal to the law? The question preoccupies Nietzsche, and he considers it in terms both of the
them the possibility that passive revolution might be more than a type of failed revolution or prototype of counterrevolution. In order to explore this possibility, it is necessary to return to the beginning of the narrative, the point at which the history of revolution first appeared to have come to an end. Gramsci maintained that the French Revolution ‘found its widest class limits’ in the Jacobins’ maintenance of the Le Chapelier law. It was for this reason that the Jacobins ‘always remained