Posts Tagged ‘Friedrich Nietzsche’


“[I]t is at an end with priests and gods if man becomes scientific! — Moral: science is the thing forbidden in itself — it alone is forbidden. Science is the first sin, the germ of all sin, original sin. This alone is morality — ‘Thou shalt not know.’ All the rest follows from it.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ


Iain M. Banks

“There is a saying that some foolish people believe: what does not kill you makes you stronger. I know for a fact, having seen the evidence — indeed often enough having been the cause of it — that what does not kill you can leave you maimed. Or crippled, or begging for death in one of those ghastly twilights experienced — and one has to hope that that is entirely not the right word — by those in a locked-in or persistent vegetative state. In my experience the same people also believe that everything happens for a reason. Given the unalleviatedly barbarous history of every world we have ever encountered with anything resembling Man on it, this is a statement of quite breathtakingly casual retrospective and ongoing cruelty, tantamount to the condonation of the most severe and unforgivable sadism.”

–“Tem” in Iain M. Banks’ Transition

(In the first sentence, Banks is referring to Nietzsche’s most idiotic aphorism: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” from Twilight of the Idols)


“Nietzsche was wrong. God isn’t dead. . . . He just has shitty representation back on Earth.”

–“Dechert” in David Pedreira’s Gunpowder Moon


Monogamy graphic by J.R. Swanson from "The Devil's Dictionaries"

LOVE, n. The recognition of another’s ability to increase one’s happiness; 2) A form of temporary insanity. The cure, as Nietzsche points out, often costs no more than the price of a new pair of eyeglasses; 3) The motivation of religious folk when they inflict pain upon you for your own good.

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— from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded), the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. (The link goes to 50 sample definitions and illustrations.)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


Mr. Fish Donald Trump graphic

“Why the stupid so often become malignant – To those arguments of our adversary against which our head feels too weak, our heart replies by throwing suspicion on the motives of his argument.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human

(graphic by Mr. Fish)


cover for Normal, by Warren Ellis(Normal, by Warren Ellis. Farrar, Straus and Giraux, 2016, 148 pp., $13.00)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

 

Whether Normal is science fiction is questionable. It is however, very much concerned with the future and those who predict it, futurists. In this case, futurists who have been driven mad by contemplating the future or by allowing themselves to be used by governments and corporations racing to put new technologies to the worst possible uses.

The novella begins with its protagonist, Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, heavily sedated, en route to Normal, the rehab facility that treats those who for too long have “gazed into the abyss.”

(See Nietzsche’s aphorism 146 from Beyond Good and Evil:

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

References to, and paraphrases of, this aphorism appear repeatedly in Normal, but neither the full aphorism nor its attribution appear anywhere in the book; Ellis apparently figured that this is such a famous quotation that readers will be familiar with it.)

Once at Normal, Adam falls into the place’s decidedly oddball routine and quickly gets to know its even more oddball inhabitants, including Clough, “a man from the north of England, by his accent, with a face like a mallet and skin like a map of Yorkshire scratched out in gin-broken veins.”

Very shortly, one of the other patients, Mansfield, goes missing from his locked room. When the door is forced, the orderlies find only a huge pile of insects on Mansfield’s bed.

The investigation of Mansfield’s disappearance is undertaken by, first, the facility’s staff, and then by the patients with Adam in the lead. During that investigation, we gradually learn what drove him crazy, more about the technological horrors dreamed up by some of the futurists, and how both these things relate to Mansfield’s disappearance.

Along the way, there’s frequent dark, often grotesque humor, vivid descriptions of humans crazed from “gazing into the abyss,” and occasional trenchant political and social comments, such as that of Adam to his psychiatrist, Dr. Murgu:

Americans are all about ‘supporting our troops,’ until those troops come home, and the best those troops can expect is some idiot mouthing ‘Thank you for your service.’ Because the moment they come home, they’re abandoned and forgotten by the system. Unless there’s a VA hospital available to kill them in.

Although only 30,000 words long, Normal is replete with fine descriptive passages, well drawn characters, dark humor, and glimpses of the horrifying future being prepared for us by the state and the corporations that control it.

Highly recommended.

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(Note: Given the normal lag time between a writer’s finishing a book and its being published, Ellis likely wrote Normal in 2014 or early 2015. Three days ago I read a report on the recipient of a DARPA grant creating what is nearly identical technology to the frightening technology central to Normal.)

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Reviewer Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia. He’s currently working on its sequel. A large sample from Free Radicals, in pdf form, is available here.

Free Radicals front cover

 

 

 

 

 


Rush

Why the stupid so often become malignant –To those arguments of our adversary against which our head feels too weak, our heart replies by throwing suspicion on the motives of his argument.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human