On Nietzsche’s Late Notebooks

Notebook 35, May - July 1885 35[20]
Up to now a morality has been, above all, the expression of a conservative will to breed the same species, with the imperative: ‘All variation is to be prevented; only the enjoyment of the species must remain.’ Here a number of properties are long held fast to and cultivated while others are sacrificed; all such moralities are harsh (in education, in the choice of wives, generally against the rights of the young, etc.), and the result is men whose characteristics are few, but very strong and always the same. These characteristics are related to the bases upon which such commonwealths can hold their own and assert themselves against their enemies. All at once, the bonds and fetters of such breeding collapse (- for a time there are no enemies left -). The individual now lacks such restraints and grows wild; there is immense ruin alongside magnificent, multifarious, jungle-like upwards growth. For the new men, who now inherit the most diverse things, the need arises to make themselves an individual legislation, one appropriate to their peculiar conditions and dangers. The moral philosophers appear, who are usually representatives of some more common type and, with their discipline, useful to a particular kind of man.

It is perhaps possible to improve upon this note. For one, morality as it emerges among the few is certainly used to direct the breeding of — the species? This is where Nietzsche’s observation falters. In speaking of the species, or of what is truly a biological instinct, one is tempted to say with Althusser, it appears only in the last instance — and the last instance never comes. In a given human set, one group seeks the demise of another. The appearance of the group is rather ad hoc, it forms according to a random or chaotic — or other — reality, and a group has all the characteristics of what in Leibniz is a mass (or ensemble). It immediately projects itself, externalizes itself via this or that imago, this or that set of performatives. Those who cannot fit themselves into this now-redoubled


logic of raw, mostly invisible conditions and now outward ‘enunciated’ content are soon on the way out. They belong to the vague, formless negative domain of the non-P. They do not exist — but inasmuch as they do exist, they are an unseemly reminder of something…perhaps the virtual nature of the construct to begin with. They are spectral — or perhaps after a campaign of public opinion, there is an enunciated discourse wherein they finally ‘have a place’. (Discourses of bigotry, racism, eugenics, and so on, all give this other a semi-established place to in a way normalize the uncanny, intrusive aspect, to tame the irruption.) This in effect, and on some level, is also a life-process, and one directed at breeding. This or that human group (again, thought of as a mass, a collection, an ensemble) seeks not only to destroy the outside, the remainder, but to eliminate it from consciousness entirely. And given the ‘indestructibility’ of the contents of the unconscious, this means eliminating it always already, from ever having existed. So in this creation of the same, the group, just as Nietzsche writes, seeks an end to all variation. In the abstract, this underlies the dynamics of any human group driven by fear (as they all perpetually seem to be). In an environment of resource scarcity, a certain few individuals will always seek to sit atop the heap, to control it: this includes the resource of women, who properly maintained are a resource that will increase the number of, if not perfect allies, nearer allies within the group and therefore the group itself. In today’s age of relative abundance, the resource-squatting does not extend to women, at least not yet, in the West, say, on Wall Street: the banker does not yet have seven or twenty wives. He has a wife, of course, and a mistress. The mistress is a concubine and not meant for breeding. The sexual purpose extends to high-price call-girls with whom there might be semi-exclusivity (a devotion on the part of the male), which makes her a sort of lesser concubine, albeit a publicly-shared one. [A publicly-traded company?] (The pure sexual purpose driving this sort of arrangement, along with today’s particular notion of prostitution is itself shaped by a certain scientism. Compared with the more organic keeping of a concubine, today’s sex-for-pay without the possibility of breeding seems reductionistic, materialistic inasmuch as it is founded on the current scientized distinction between sex and reproduction.) Nietzsche here fancifully equates sameness with strength. Or rather, he is at least venturing to impute to this awful, tyrannical anti-life the characteristic of durability. The harsh sameness one sees enforced by


constant threat among tribes (not excepting the modern day tribes of nations) serves to stamp out intelligence, refinement, sophistication — not of culture, which is mere artifice, but of thought, complexity of thought. The insistence on (imaginary) sameness is a constant wearing-down against (symbolic) complexity. Anything supremely exceptional (and therefore adaptable) is bred out of the population: consider today’s Italy. The final paragraph, naturally, is Nietzsche referring to himself, casting himself in the role vis-à-vis the Germans. The Germans, legendary for their insistence on sameness (das Volk), were at it in Nietzsche’s time. Nietzsche is self-aware that out of the ruins of the triumphal sameness which has truly succeeded, expanded and stamped out any other, a Nietzsche is produced as if because of a certain neglect, an outsider was allowed to grow from within. Like the jungle that springs up among the stone ruins (a beautiful way of representing the harsh imposition, the desire for permanence of morality, of the Same) the individual is now able to run wild since the Same, having become Total, has in a sense evaporated. We see this world-historically in the collapse of empires where what emerges instantly from their midsts and remains are wild, bizarre configurations — as if out of this death there is a wild, manic freeing of life. And this ‘revving-up’ of life’s engine occurs so effortlessly, so imperturbably and so on schedule in the face of what feels like total, irrevocable collapse that the conclusion cannot be avoided that it is all part of life’s ‘plan’, which is to say, the whole deadly collapse and the rebirth indifferent to it and to all the human suffering attached belong to the same mechanical-feeling process. Life is not burdened by the collapse at all, and moves according to its own rules, on cue, without hesitation, with perfect knowing precision.


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