You are on page 1of 24

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy

THETHREESTIGMATAOFFRIEDRICHNIETZSCHE:

GreatPolitics,EternalReturn,andThePhilosopheroftheFuture

NanditaBiswasMellamphy

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 2

for Dan
for ever

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 3

InHindumythology[]
Theentirecycleofhumanevolutionisfigured[]intheformofacow,
symbolizingVirtue,
eachofwhosefourfeetrestsononeofthesectors
representingthefouragesoftheworld.
Inthefirstage,
correspondingtotheGreekageofgoldandcalledtheCredaYugaorageofinnocence,
Virtueisfirmlyestablishedonearth:thecowstandssquarelyonfourlegs.
IntheTredaYuga,orsecondage,
correspondingtotheageofsilver,itisweakenedandstandsonlyonthreelegs.
DuringtheDwaparaYuga,orthirdage,
whichistheageofbronze,itisreducedtotwolegs.
Finally,intheageofiron,ourownage,
thecyclicalcoworhumanvirtuereachestheutmostdegreeoffeeblenessandsenility:
itisscarcelyabletostand,
balancingonlyononeleg.
Itisthefourthandlastage,theKaliYuga,
theageofmisery,misfortuneanddecrepitude.
TheageofironhasnoothersealthanthatofDeath.
Itshieroglyphistheskeletonbearing[]theemptyhourglass,
symboloftimerunout,andthescythe,reproducedinthefigureseven,
whichisthenumberoftransformation,ofdestruction,andofannihilation.
TheGospelofthisfatalageistheonewrittenundertheinspirationofSaintMatthew,
Matthaeus,theGreek,comesfromand,
whichmeansScience.[]
ItistheGospelaccordingtoScience,
thelastofallbutforusthefirst,
becauseitteachesusthat,
saveforasmallnumberofthelite,
wemustallperish.

Fulcanelli,Lemystredescathdrales

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 4
TABLE OF CONTENTS

POLITICALPHYSIOLOGYINTHEAGEOFNIHILISM:THETHREESTIGMATA

NietzscheasPoliticalPhysiologist

TheSubjectasProsthesis:TheSubjectiveProblemofProduction

10

NihilismasaPathologicalCondition

18

THEMNEMOTECHNICSOFNIHILISMANDTHEPRODUCTIONOFTHEHUMAN

25

ThePoliticalPhysiologyofEternalReturn

30

MappingtheArgument

41

THEDISPLACEDORIGINOFPOLITICALTHOUGHT

50

ThePsychoPhysiologicalBasisofWilltoPower

51

PoliticalOntologyandthePrePlatonicPhysiologists

58

ThePoliticalPhysiologyofPower:Hobbesvs.Nietzsche

69

TheNomotheticActivityofPoliticalPhysiology

74

THEPROBLEMOFPRODUCTION:NATURE,CULTURE,LIFE

84

GeneralEconomyandtheGenesisofthePhilosopher

85

TheStructuralEconomyofGreatPolitics

91

THEPROBLEMOFMETAMORPHOSIS:THETRANSFORMATIONOFTHEBERMENSCH

103

DoubleVision:ContradictionsintheConceptoftheOverman

104

TheHarmonyofOpposites:TheComplementaryMan

110

TheTeachingoftheOverman

120

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 5

ETERNALRETURNASTHEMETAMORPHOSISOFNIHILISM

125

TheOvercomingofChristianNihilism:Socrates,Jesus,Zarathustra

126

MetamorphosisandtheWillingofDeath

138

EternalReturnasMetamorphosis

145

NOVUMORGANUM:THEOVERMANIFOLD

156

THETRANSMIGRATIONOFHOMONATURA

173

BIBLIOGRAPHY

191

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 6
PoliticalPhysiologyintheAgeofNihilism:TheThreeStigmata

Iamstillwaitingforaphilosophicalphysicianintheexceptionalsenseofthatword
onewhohastopursuetheproblemofthetotalhealthofapeople,time,raceorofhumanity
tomusterthecouragetopushmysuspiciontoitslimitsandtorisktheproposition:
whatwasatstakeinallphilosophizinghithertowasnotatalltruth
butsomethingelseletussay,health,future,growth,power,life
GSPreface2

Yououghttobetheonethatknows;yourememberwhatyousaw.Allthreestigmata:
thedead,artificialhand,the[slitsfor]eyes,andtheradicallyderangedjaw.Symbolsof
itsinhabitation,hethought.Inourmidst.Butnotaskedfor.Notintentionallysummoned.
Andwehavenomediatingsacramentsthroughwhichtoprotectourselves;
wecantcompelit,byourcareful,timehonored,clever,painstakingrituals,
toconfineitselftospecificelementssuchasbreadandwaterorbreadandwine.
Itisoutintheopen,rangingineverydirection.
Itlooksintooureyes,anditlooksoutofoureyes.

PhilipK.Dick,TheThreeStigmataofPalmerEldritch(1964)

NietzscheasPoliticalPhysiologist

Inthefollowingstudy,IexaminethreeconceptsfoundinthethoughtofFriedrich
Nietzsche,butwhicharenotusuallytreatedtogetherinthesecondaryscholarship:first,inthe
domainofhispoliticalthought,Nietzschesconceptofgreatpolitics;second,inthe

phenomenologicaldomain,hisconceptofeternalreturn;andfinally,setagainstthebackdrop

ofhismaterialisttheoryoftheself,theconceptofthephilosopherofthefuture.Eachof

thesesocalledconceptsisveiled,eachonestigmataofsomethingelse;nonearegivenexplicit
orsystematicdefinition,andyeteachoneisunequivocallyacrucialstrandofNietzsches
thought.Indrawingtogetherthesethreeconceptsandattemptingtoexaminethemexplicitlyin
lightofoneanother,whatemergesisathoughtthatconjoinspoliticalepistemology,

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 7
philosophicalontologyandpsychophysiologicalexplanationsfortheproductionof
individuality.Onefundamentalassumptionofthisthoughtisthattheengineofindividuation
thatdrivestheformationofindividualpersonality,identityandvaluesinthehumanrealmcan
alsobefoundinotherlivingforms.Humans,inthisregard,arelikeotherorganismandanimals;
butinhavingstriventoforgetandovercometheiranimality,humanshavebecomesick

organisms.Goingbacktothehistoricalsourceofwesternthought,Nietzschewouldfindthe

illnessofEuropeancultureatthespeculativerootofwesterncivilization:indeed,onemayask
asaphysician:howcouldsuchamaladyattackthisloveliestproductofantiquity,Plato?(BGE
Preface).WhatwereconsideredbymosttobethesignsofhumanflourishingPlatonic
philosophy,Christianity,andparliamentarydemocracyNietzschesawassignsofdegeneration
ofacollectiveorganism.Nietzschewouldthusapproachthefundamentalpoliticalquestionof
humanbeingswhorulesandoverwhom?asamaladytobediagnosedandtreated.As
pathologicalasNietzscheswritingsbecameoverthecourseofhisfertilebutfragilethinkinglife,
theyarenonethelessexemplaryintheirattentiontotheparticularlypathologicalnatureof
modernhumanexistence.

TheaimofthisbookistobringNietzschesphysiologicalperspectivetothequestionof

thepolitical,theantipoliticalandtheoverpoliticalinNietzschesworkitself.1When

consideringNietzscheswork,wecanandperhapsmoreforcefully,weshouldreadthese
threetermsasstigmatathatmarkallofhislatethought.Iinvokethedefinitionofstigmata
asNietzschehimselfdid,thatisinapsychophysiologicalsense:first,asbodilymarksthat

For a snapshot of the current debate in Nietzsche scholarship, see the recent volume, Nietzsche, Power, and Politics,
eds. Herman W. Siemans and Vasti Roodt (Berlin, De Gruyter: 2008).

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 8
resembleormimicanothercondition;andsecond,stigmataasthatwhichenablethediagnosis
ofthatcondition.Therefore,itisnotsimplythatinreadingNietzsche,wemustdecidewhichof
thethreepositionswefindmorecompelling;rather,itisaquestionofforcingthesethree
togethertodeterminewhethertheyformafieldofinformation,perhapsevenwhatFlix
Guattarihascalledanunconsciousmachineofdesire2.Itisaquestion,assuch,ofespousingthe

perspectiveofthephilosopherphysician,asNietzschehimselfhadurged:toseethesethree

stigmataasmutuallyimplicatedsymptomsthataidinidentifyingthepathologyofahiddenand
collectiveconditionthatNietzschehadalreadydiagnosedinhisownagetheillnessknownas
nihilism.Inthefollowingpages,IpresentwhatIconsidertobeatheoryofpoliticalphysiologyin

Nietzschesthought.3

Political,AntiPolitical,berpoliticalthesearethethreegenericstandpointsthat

continuetocirculateintheeconomyofNietzschestudiestoday.Intherecentvolume,

Nietzsche,PowerandPolitics:RethinkingNietzschesLegacyforPoliticalThought,theaimof
whichistogiveasnapshotofthecurrentinterpretivelandscapeonthisissueintheEnglish
speakingworld,thesethreetermsaretakenasmutuallyexclusivepositions:
IsNietzscheapoliticalthinkeratalloranantipoliticalphilosopherofvalues
andculture?Isheanaristocraticpoliticalthinkerwhodamnsdemocracyasan
expressionofherdmentalityorcanhisthought,especiallyhisthoughtofthe
Greekagon,befruitfullyappropriatedfordemocratictheoryIsNietzschea

Felix Guattari , Machine and Structure, Psychanalyse et Transversalite, trans. R. Sheed in Molecular Revolution,
New York: Penguin 1984). Also quoted in Christian Kerslake. Felix Guattaris Desiring Machines (Draft Paper),
accessed at http://www.scribd.com/doc/9530717/Kerslake-Christian-Felix-Guattaris-Desiring-Machines
3
The term political physiology will no doubt bring to mind the work of John Protevi who has also been working on
this concept specifically in relation to the work of Deleuze and Guattari. Protevi has defined political physiology in
the following way: It is the study of the construction of bodies politic, that is, the interlocking of emergent
processes that link the patterns, thresholds and triggers of affective and cognitive responses of somatic bodies to the
patterns, thresholds and triggers of actions of social bodies. http:/www.protevi.com/john/Geophilosophy.pdf (2005).
See also, J. Protevi, Political Physics: Deleuze, Derrida and the Body Politic (2001).

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 9
politicalphilosopheratall,orratheranantipoliticalevenasuprapoliticalthinker?
(SiemensandRoodt,1,2).

Briefly,thepoliticalstandpointclaimsthatNietzschewaseitheraproponentofacertain

typeofpoliticalperspective(beitdemocraticoraristocratic,oftenconnectabletoaposition
thatsupportsthegoalofhumanperfectionismaswesee,forexample,inDanielConways
argument);theantipoliticalpointstoNietzschesexplicitstatementaboutbeingthelastanti

politicalGermanandacriticoftheGermanReichinfavorofthesuperiorityoftheGerman
culturalspirit;andfinallythesuprapoliticalviewpointstothemanyinstancesinwhich

Nietzschesphilosophyaimsbeyondanyformofcoexistence,insofarasitdissolvesanykindof
humanrelationshipbetweendistinctentities.NowanyonewhohasreadNietzschewiththese
questionsinmindfacesthedilemmaoffindingallthreepositionsinperhapsunholy(unheilig)
butdefinitelyunhomely(unheimlich)coexistenceinNietzschespublishedandunpublished

works.Theyareallthereandconsequently,neitheronecanfinallydispensewiththeothers
withoutsomeformofinterpretivemaneuvering.Theyappear,sometimeslessobviously
sometimesmoreso,butalwaystogether.Fromtheperspectiveofaphysiologist,onecouldsay
thatthethreestigmataformapathologyofeffects;thetaskofthepoliticalphysiologististo
decipherandtranslatethispathologywiththegoalofrestoringconditionsofhealth.Butinthe

conditionofnihilism,healthandillnessarenotsoeasytodistinguishandmayleadtomany

misunderstandings,asweshallsee.ForasNietzscheremindsusintheprefacetoTheGenealogy
ofMorals,Anaphorism,properlystampedandpoured,hasnotyetbeendecipheredsimply

bybeingread(GMPreface8).

Biswas Mellamphy 10

TheSubjectasProsthesis:TheSubjectiveProblemofProduction

Draft Manuscript

ThetitleofthisbookTheThreeStigmataofFriedrichNietzsche4alludestoanovel,

TheThreeStigmataofPalmerEldritch,firstpublishedin1964bytheAmericanScienceFiction
authorPhilipK.Dick.Thenovel,Iwouldargue,isevocativeofnotonlyourcontemporary
culturalsituationbutalsoofthecriticalapplicabilityofaNietzscheanperspectivethe
perspectiveofpoliticalphysiologyIwouldargueforadiagnosisofourpresent.

DicksstoryissetintherecentfutureinwhichthescarcityofresourcesonEarthno

longermakesitpossibletosupporttheterrestrialpopulation,andsoalotterydraftsends

coloniststoMarstoliveinbleakundergroundhovels.Thecolonistscannolongerfeel
authentically(letssay,inaphenomenologicalsense)andsotheymustmanufactureaffectsby

literallyingestingthem.ThecolonistssurvivepsychologicallybytakingthedrugCanDwhich
allowsthemtocommunicatewitheachotherinasimulatedbutsharedvirtualreality(andwe
laterfindoutthatthedrugitselfisacommunicationtechnologylinkedtoinformationhubsthat
relaymessagestomanufacturerandmarketersofCanD).Dickdescribesthepsycho

technologicaleffectofCanDclearlyinbothpoliticalandpsychologicalterms:colonists
collectivelyprojecttheirconsciousnessontominiaturedolls;womenundergotranslationas
PerkyPatabuxom,BarbielikefabulousgalandmenbecomeWalt,thedebonairownerof

aJaguarXXBsportsshipandwearerofItalianshirtsandEnglishshoes(1975,41).Thedrugis
primarilyusedincouplesoringroupswherebyallthewomenareprojectedintoPerkyPatand
themenintoWalt.Basedonthedesireofthemajority,thedrugoperatesviaakindof
4

I am grateful to Dan Mellamphy for this title and for the suggestive correlation of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
and Philip Kindred Dick -- a correlation first articulated (after Mellamphy 1998) in an undergraduate course
he taught at Western: ENG 2071,Speculative Fiction I -- Science Fiction and the Modern Prometheus.

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 11
collectivemechanicswherebyiftwooutofthreepeopleoccupyingPerkyPatwanttogo
golfing,thenPatgoesgolfing.

Consumptionofthisdruginducesandeventuallyfunctionsakindofprostheticself,one

thatpermitstheconsumertoliveasimulatedexistence,butonethatnonethelesspreservesthe
essentialpropertiesofmodernsubjectivity:despiteitshallucinogenicproperties,theusersare
remindedbythemakersofCanDthattheyareinanillusoryworld,andthustheyretainthe
essenceoftheirrealindividualidentitiesatalltimes.Thisisaveryimportantdetail:itiscrucial
inthenarrativeunfoldingthattheusersofCanDcandistinguishwhentheyareandwhenthey

arenotwithinthesimulatedworldofPerkyPatandWalt.ThedemandforCanDonMars
dependsoncreatingdesireintheinhabitantstocontinuouslyreturntothePerkyPatworld.The

distinction,inotherwords,betweenarealandanillusoryworldispreciselyestablishedbythe

presenceofaselfthattravelsbetweentwobodilystates.Butwhiletheessentialselftoggles
betweenthesetwoworlds,thenarrativemakesclearthatthevirtualpromiseoftheCanDworld
andthebleakrealityofeverydaylifeonMarsarepartofthesameapparatusofproduction:

basedinlawsofconservationandcorrespondingsystemicinequalitiesthehighstandardof
livingonearthrequiresthecontinuationofdeprivationonMars;inthisway,thedraftthatforces
somepeopletomovetoMarsclearsupsurpluspopulationonEarthwhileassuringastrong
marketforcommoditiessuchasCanDonMars(Hayles,72).Thecontinuityoftheselfis

guaranteedbythenecessarygapbetweentheidealthedreamofthePerkyPatworldand

thedrearyrealityofeverydaylifeonMars.AsNietzscheremarks(particularlyinBGEandTI),this
faithinoppositesinthiscasetheontologicaldistinctionbetweentheillusoryandthetrue
worldsisanecessaryingredientforthecontinuedproductionofasubjectendowedwith

Biswas Mellamphy 12

Draft Manuscript

andexercisingagency.

EnterPalmerEldritch.Eldritch,anelusivetycoon,introducesanewrivaldrugonthe

MartianmarketChewZ.NoonereallyknowswhoPalmerEldritchis;allthatisknownabout
himisthat,duetohisdangerousdealingswithtradersoutsidethegalaxy,partsofhisbodyhave
becomereplacedbythreeprosthesesbywhichhecanbeidentified:aroboticarm,an

implantedsetofeyesandadistendedmetaljaw.DespitetherumoursthatPalmerEldritchhas
gonemad,theMartianpopulationwelcomestheopportunitygivenbytheinterstellarmarketto
tryanewdrug,whichischeaperandclaimstolastlonger.Whatusersdiscover,however,isthat

ChewZdiffersfromCanDinamajorwayinthesubjectiveexperienceproducedbythe
ingestionofthedrug,theusercannolongerdistinguishbetweeninsideandoutsidethedrug

experience;onecannolongerknowforsurewhenoneisintheillusoryworldorinthereal

world.Theonlyindications,astheprotagonistBarneyMayersondiscovers,arethethree
stigmataofPalmerEldritch.Justwhenusersthinkthateverythingisnormal,thattheyareback
intheireverydayreality,theybegintoseethethreestigmataappearonothersandsometimes
evenontheirownbodies:theroboticarm,theprostheticeyesandthemetaljawcharacteristic
ofPalmerEldritch:
PalmerEldritchhadoncemorethoughtringsaroundhim,demonstratedhis
powerovereveryonewhousedChewZ;Eldritchhaddonesomethingandhe
couldnoteventellwhat,butanyhowitwasnotwhathehadsaid.Notwhathad
beenpromised.Leavemesomething,Palmer,hethoughttohimself.
Please....No?ThenIllgoaheadwithlitigation,Barneysaidtohimself;Ill
spendtherestofmylifeintheinterplancourtsfightingyouandwinning.He
heard,then,alaugh.ItwasPalmerEldritchslaugh,butitwasemergingfrom

Himself.
Lookingdownathishands,hedistinguishedtheleftone,pink,pale,madeof
flesh,coveredwithskinandtiny,almostinvisiblehair,andthentherightone,
bright,glowing,spotlessinitsmechanicalperfection,ahandinfinitelysuperiorto

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 13
theoriginalone,longsincegone.Nowheknewwhathadbeendonetohim.
Agreattranslationfromhisstandpointanyhowhadbeenaccomplishedand
possiblyeverythinguptonowhadworkedwiththisendinmindNowIam
PalmerEldritch(Dick,1678).

AsDicksbookunfolds,theontologicalstabilitythatdependsonthecongruenceof

subjectiveexperienceandsequentialtimecannolongerbesustained.Whichworldisauthentic,
whichworldisasimulation?TheconsequencesoftheinfiltrationofPalmerEldritchsstigmata
intoBarneysworldstandsinstarkcontrasttothenarrativesearliercleandivisionbetween
idealandrealworlds(theworldsproducedbytheuseofCanD).Whatweareleftwithbythe
endisanontologicaldestabilizationthatenactsacompletebreakdownofthedistinctionsthat

enabledtheidealbutillusorydomainandeverydayrealitytobeexperiencedand
conceptualizedasdistinctdomains.

ThebreakdownitselfrevealswhatNietzschehadhypothesizedtowardtheendofhislife:

thatthesubjectisafiction:

Thesubjectisafictionthatmanysimilarstatesinusaretheeffectofone
substratum:butitiswewhofirstcreatedthe'similarity'ofthesestates;our
adjustingthemandmakingthemsimilaristhefact,nottheirsimilarity(which
oughtrathertobedenied)'(WP485).

WhatPhilipKDick(whoalsosufferedfrommentalillness)showsistheindividualisnot

aninviolablesubstratumbutanartificialextensionorprosthesisgovernedbyanunknown

forces,forcesthathavegenerativepowersbutthatcannotberecuperatedorrepresentedwithin

theconstructedapparatiofhumanvolition.Nietzschehadalreadyspeculatedabouttheseforces
andhehypothesizedthattheyformedawiderorganicprocessinwhichconsciousnessand

unconsciouselementsemergecorporeallyasbody:

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 14
Perhapstheentireevolutionofthespiritisaquestionofthebody;itisthehistoryof
thedevelopmentofahigherbodythatemergesintooursensibility.Theorganicisrising
toyethigherlevels.Ourlustforknowledgeofnatureisameansthroughwhichthebody
desirestoperfectitself.Orrather:hundredsofthousandsofexperimentsaremadeto
changethenourishment,themodeoflivingandthedwellingofthebody,allkindsof
pleasureanddispleasure,aresignsofthesechangesandexperiments(WP676).

Whathappenstothoughtwhenthebodyitselfbecomesaprosthesisofcommunication

betweenaleatoryandunknowninterlocutors?Whathappenswhenthepropertiesofbodiesare
seentobethestigmataofsomething,whichwhileconditioningbodilymatter,cannotitselfbe
representedasaconstitutivepropertyofthismatterbutonlyasaneffectofacertain
configurationofrelationsbetweenproperties?AfterthedeathofGod,thebodycannolonger

betheguarantorofidentity,anaturalphysicalpresenceinhabitedbyanessentialselfwithin.
Nietzschehadalreadyintuitedthis,perhapsbecauseofthephantasmshehadexperiencedasa
resultofhisownillness.Thebreakdownofsecureontologicaldivisionsbetweenrealand

illusoryworldsproducestheuntenabilityofastablebodyself.Ofallthepublishedinterpreters
ofNietzsche,noonehasdevelopedthepoliticalimplicationsofthisideabetterthanPierre
KlossowskiinhismonumentalworkNietzscheetlecerclevicieux.AsKlossowskiargues,
Nietzschewasbesiegedbyadoublepreoccupation:
first,tofindamodeofbehaviour,intheorganicandinorganicworld,thatwas
analogoustohisownvaletudinarystate;andsecond,basedonthismodeof
behaviour,tofindtheargumentsandresourcesthatwouldallowhimtorecreate
himself,beyondhisownself.Physiology,asheunderstoodit,wouldthusprovide
himwiththepremisesofaliberatoryconceptionoftheforcesthatlaysubjacent
notonlytohisowncondition,butalsotothevarioussituationshewasliving
throughinthecontextofhisepoch(Klossowski1997,32).

LiketheeventualinfiltrationofBarneyMayersonbyPalmerEldritchsstigmatainDicks

story,KlossowskishowshowNietzschesthoughtbecomespreoccupiedwiththeproblemof

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 15
productioninwhichtheSelfthatproducesisindistinguishablefromtheSelfthatis
produced.AllofNietzschesresearchesintoAesthetics,Geography,Politics,Physiology,Biology
stemfromthisproblematicofsubjectiveproduction.Thequestionofthepolitical,assuch,is
alwaysalsoapsychophysiologicalphenomenoninNietzschethoughtpreciselybydintofthe
fundamentalproblemofwhatIhavehereoutlinedastheprostheticproblemofsubjectivity.

ItistheargumentofthisbookthatNietzschespoliticalphysiologychartsthepathology

ofthesubjectasprosthesis.Wellbeforehehasbeguntotheorizethewidespreadcivilizational

problemofnihilisminthe1880s,Nietzschewastryingtounderstandindividualityasa
conjunctionofthespeculativeandthematerial.EveninNietzschesearlynotebooksof1868,he
waspreoccupiedwithhow,atthegenericlevelsoforganicprocesses,becominggeneratesform
butitselfcannotberepresentedwithintheorderofbeing.InfluencedofbyFriedrichLanges
HistoryofMaterialismandSchopenhauerscriticalidealism,NietzscheinTheBirthofTragedy

examinesthisproblematicasarelationbetweentheprincipiumindividuationis,theprincipleof
individuation(theApollonianfunction),andtheDionysianbordersofindividuationthatallow
fortheformationofindividualitybutwhich,inthemselves,arenotdefinable.Thisisthereal
problemofphilosophyNietzschesays,theunendingpurposivenessoforganismsandthe
unconsciousnessintheircomingtobe(Nietzsche,OntheOriginsofLanguage,quotedin

Toscano36).

Duringthisperiod,NietzschewasalsogivinghislecturesonthePrePlatonicphilosophers

attheUniversityofBasel.InwhathasbeenpublishedunderthetitleofThePrePlatonic

Philosophers(PP2001),Nietzschebringstogetherhisthoughtsontheorganicproblemof
individuationandhisphilosophicalandphilologicalstudyoftheGreeks.Nietzsches

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 16
interpretationcentersontheriddleofdefiningthephilosopher,whichheexploresinterms
ofapsychophysiologicalspectrumoftypologies.WeseeNietzschesfascinationfortheidea
thatintheancientGreekspeakingworldpriortoPlatothereappearsarchetypalfiguresthat
pursueselfinvestigationceaselessly,andwho,insodoing,createtheirverypersonaor
character(ethos)preciselyinaccordancewithwhatisdiscoveredasthevitalprinciplesofthe

naturalworld.ThehumanbeingsthemselveswhobecameprePlatonicphilosophersareformal

incarnationsofPhilosophiaandhervariousforms"(KSA,VII:14[28];Whitlock178).For

Nietzsche,thephilosopheristhephysiologicalprocessandgenerativeformationofan
unprecedentedkindofbeing,abeingthat,likeallmanifestationsofphysis5(growth),issubject
totheformativeforcesofemergence.

Itisinrelationtotheseearlyphysiologistsorphysiologoiwhereinliesanimportantbut

overlookedsourceforelucidatingNietzsche'sformulationofwilltopowerasaphysiological
process(e.g.BGE242),asapathologyandasignofhealth(BGE154).Nietzschesanalysis
oftheprePlatonicphilosopherphysiologistsalsogivesanimportantclueforinterpretingthe

statusthattheconceptofculturewillcometooccupyinNietzschesthoughtafterhisexplicit
theorizationoftheconceptofnihilisminthe1880s.WithPlato,philosophybecomesseparated

fromculture,andperceivedmoreandmoreasantitheticaltothegoalsofculture.ForNietzsche,
PlatoisnotanoriginaltypeofphilosopherlikePythagoras,HeraclitusorevenSocrates(the
threearchetypesoftheprePlatonicworld),butamixedtype;fromPlatoonwards,all
philosophyandallphilosophersarerecombinationsoftheseearlierincarnations(PP,5):

The word refers to what can loosely be called nature, also meaning origin and appearance. Greek Lexicon, LiddellScott, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3D%23112721

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 17
IamspeakingoftheprePlatonics,becauseopenhostilityto,thenegationof,culture
beginswithPlato.Iwanttoknow,though,howphilosophywhichisnotan
enemy,behavestowardacultureathandorindevelopment:here[Plato]isthe
poisonmixertoculture(KSA,VII:23[16]quotedinWhitlock168).

NietzschesawintheveryexistenceoftheprePlatonicphilosophertheincarnated

conjunctionofthespeculativeandthematerial,andthecultivationofthisconjunctionbythe
citystate.ThisearlydistinctionbetweentheprePlatonicandPlatonicsetsthestageforthe

antithesisbetweenmoderncultureandstatethatNietzschemakesinhislaterpublished
works6.AfterNietzschecomestoseenihilismasanormalcondition(propagatedasslave
morality),however,hecannolongermaintaintheneatdistinctionbetweencultureandstate
(orcultureandpolitics).Why?Becauseifnihilismisthegeneralconditionthataffectsthe
speciesbody,thencultureitselfbecomestheproductoftheslavetype.Again,itisKlossowskis
readingofNietzschethatismostinstructive:
Culture(thesumtotalofknowledge)thatis,theintentiontoteachandlearnis
theobverseofthesoul'stonality,itsintensity,whichcanbeneithertaughtnor
learnt.Themorecultureaccumulates,however,themoreitbecomesenslavedto
itselfandthemoreits
obverse,themuteintensityofthetonalityofthesoul,grows(Klossowski1997,
xix).

Thefactthatmodernsocietyhasmerelyformedaconceptofcultureistheproof
ofthedisappearanceofalivedculture(Klossowski1997,8).

CultureistheproductoftheSlave;andhavingproducedculture,heisnowits
consciousMasterthisiswhatHegeldemonstrated.Nietzscheistheincorrigible
beneficiaryofthisculture.ButforNietzsche,theslavewhohasbecomethe
masterofcultureisnothingotherthanChristianmorality.Andbecausethe
latterwillbeprolongedincertainformsofcommunality(firstintheformof
bourgeoisculture,andtheninthesocializingformofindustrialization)Nietzsche,

Marina Cominos takes this question up in The Question of Nietzsches Anti-Politics and Human Transfiguration in
Siemens and Roodt, 85-103.

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 18
outofhisownignorance,wouldattacktheHegeliandialecticatitsroots(Klossowski
1997,1112).

ForKlossowski,theconceptofculturebecomesimplicatedintheverytypeof

problematicinstabilitythattheselfundergoesinNietzschesthought:thecohesivenessofthe
culture/statedistinction,likethecohesivenessoftheself/otherdistinctiondisintegrateswith
theontologicalinstabilityproducedbytheannihilationoftherealasdistinguishablefromthe
illusory.Thoughhimselfdependentonthisconcept[ofculture],Nietzschewouldnonetheless

destroyit(Klossowski1997,9).
NihilismasaPathologicalCondition

Itis,therefore,inNietzschesanalysisofnihilismthatwecanstarttochartthepathology

ofthesubjectasprosthesis.Thisanalysisoccursrelativelylateinhisthought;hesetsitoutmost

fullyin1887and1888inthelastyearsbeforehiscompletementalbreakdown,buthehad

alreadybeguntothinkaboutitasearlyas1883(interestinglyenough,alsotheyearinwhichhe
coinsthetermderWillezurMachtorthewilltopower).AccordingtoNietzschesown
descriptionintheunpublishedworks(namelypartoneofKaufmannsredactionentitledWillto

Power),nihilism(thetypologyofwhichistripartite:passive,activeandtheoretical)isahistorical,
epistemologicalandpsychophysiologicalconditioninwhichtheintroductionofanexternality
intoasystemfirstfunctionstofortifyit,butthentriggersacannibalisticresponseagainstit.The
pathologyproceedsasfollows:whatisfirstintroducedintoasystemasanantidotepreserving
theunityofasystemturnsagainstitselfandresultsinthedissolutionofthatsystem(WP4,5).

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 19
Thisispreciselywhatmodernimmunologyhascharacterizedasdiseaseofautoimmunity.7
Theeffectandtheaffectofthisprocess?Nietzschesaysquitesuccinctly:Thehighestvalues
devaluatethemselves(WP1).AsTheThreeStigmataofPalmerEldritchillustrates,inasociety
inwhichconsumptionbecomesubiquitous,nihilismconsumesus,inallitsvoracity,untilthereis
nowaytodistinguishitfromus.Whatweeitherboastaboutorbemoantodaythe

destabilizationofmeaning,thetriumphofsecularismandtheglobalizationofpoliticalsystems
andmassconsumptioncultureNietzschewouldcharacterizepreciselyasnihilistic:everything
lacksmeaning(theuntenabilityofoneinterpretationoftheworld,uponwhichatremendous
amountofenergyhasbeenlavished,awakensthesuspicionthatallinterpretationsoftheworld
arefalse(WPPreface3).

ThethreestigmataofFriedrichNietzschethepathologyofthepolitical,antipolitical

andoverpoliticalstatementsinthelateworksarethesymptomsofabodilythoughtthatis

bothaproductofnihilismandatheatreofproductionthatseekstoovercomenihilismbyactively
thinkingthroughnihilism:
Nihilismrepresentsapathologicaltransitionalstage...:whethertheproductive
forcesarenotyetstrongenough,orwhetherdecadencestillhesitatesandhasnot
yetinventeditsremedies.Presuppositionofthishypothesis:thatthereisnot
truth,thatthereisnoabsolutenatureofthingsnorathinginitself.This,too,is
merelynihilismeventhemostextremenihilism.Itplacesthevalueofthings
preciselyinthelackofanyrealitycorrespondingtothesevaluesandintheirbeing
merelysymptomofstrengthonthepartofthevaluepositers,asimplificationfor
thesakeoflife(WP13).

Andagain:

Autoimmunity is the failure of an organism to recognize its own constituent parts as self, which results in an
immune response against its own cells and tissues. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoimmune

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 20
Nihilism:anidealofthehighestdegreeofpowerfulnessofthespirit,theover
richestlifepartlydestructive,partlyironic(WP14).

This,Ibelieve,istheactiveandoperativeprincipleofNietzschesconceptofGrossepolitik

(orgreatpoliticsasmentionedinBeyondGoodandEvil),itsreactivemanifestationbeing
pettypoliticswhichNietzscheequateswiththekneejerkimpulsetopreserveand

institutionalizeacertainconfigurationofforces(thisiswhytheHobbesianoriginsoftheliberal
subjectinevitablymakeitslavishandimpotent).AsNietzschedescribesit,pessimismisthe

handmaidofaffirmationinthesensethatpessimism,asananalyticofforces(WP10)can
manifestbothasstrengthandasdeclineactivelyaswellasreactivelyandinthiscritical
tensionextremesappearandbecomepredominant(WP10).Affirmationmustfirstwork
throughnegativity,throughnegations(WP11),intensifyingtheprocessofdevaluationthat

consistsinthesmashingofidolsbythehammerofphilosophy(TwilightoftheIdols).But
thistensionisproductivebecauseitisareticulationthatmayproduceactiveeffects.Itisinthis
senseoftheproductiveeffectofpessimismthatIinterpretsections55and56ofBeyondGood
andEvilinwhichNietzschedescribeshowcultivationofcrueltybyslavemorality(ourculture)

thatistosay,howtheintensificationofnihilismmaynonethelessleadtoitsovercoming:

Thereisagreatladderofreligiouscrueltywithmanyrungs;butthreeofthemare
themostimportant.Atonetimeonesacrificedhumanbeingstoonesgod,
perhapspreciselythosehumanbeingsonelovedbestThen,inthemoral
epochofmankind,onesacrificedtoonesgodthestrongestinstinctsone
possessed,onesnature;thejoyofthinfestivalglittersinthecruelglanceofthe
asceticFinally:whatwaslefttobesacrificed?Didonenothavetosacrifice
Godhimselfandoutofcrueltyagainstoneselfworshipstone,stupidity,gravity,
fate,nothingness?TosacrificeGodfornothingnessthisparadoxicalmysteryof
theultimateactofcrueltywasreservedforthegenerationwhichisevennow
arising:weallknowsomethingofitalready.

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 21
hewhohasreallygazedwithanAsiaticandmorethanAsiaticeyedownintothe
mostworlddenyingofallpossiblemodesofthoughtbeyondgoodandeviland
nolonger,likeBuddhaandSchopenhauer,underthespellandillusionofmorality
perhapsbythatveryact,andwithoutreallyintendingto,mayhavehadhiseyes
openedtotheoppositeideal:totheidealofthemostexuberant,mostlivingand
mostworldaffirmingman,whohasnotonlylearnedtogetonandtreatwithall
thatwasandisbutwhowantstohaveitagainasitwasandistoalleternity

Thisisthetrickiestandmostdisturbingaspectofthequestionofpoliticsinthe

pathologicalconditionofnihilism:thataffirmationarisesfromtheaffirmationofnihilism.AsI
willargue,thisispreciselywhatLeoStraussresistedanddeniedinhisanalysisofNietzsches

conceptsofwilltopowerandeternalreturn:fromthewillingofnothingnessemergesthe
possibilityofovercomingnothingnessbecauseitisonlyatthispointofcontractioninwhichthe

lastartifactofthehumanthewilldissolves,thatnihilismcantransformitselffrombeinga
productofreactivityornegation,tobecomingpurelyactiveandaffirmativebecauseitreturnsto
itsactivestateofbecoming.Intheabsenceofstasisthemechanismsofwhichimpose
limitations(IthinkthisispreciselywhereKantandNietzschepartways),theaffirmationof
nihilismbecomesthecurativeforceofthepoisonofnihilism.Thisistheoperativedifference

betweenpassiveandactivenihilism(WP22).Theforceofactivenihilismcanbenothing
otherthanpureviolence,thetransmutativeforcethatisalsothenecessarycatalystforcreation
(theforcethatthemedievalalchemistscalledmelanosisorputrefaction,acomposting8or

decompositionwhichcharacterizestheKaliyuga,orageofdestruction,accordingtoVedic
wisdom):Itreachesitsmaximumofrelativestrengthastheviolentforceofdestructionas

activenihilism(WP23).Activeforce,accordingtoGillesDeleuzesinterpretation,istheforce

See Dan Mellamphys designation of Nietzsche as a COMPOST-MODERNIST in The Compostmodern Condition:


T.S. Beckett, Samuel Beckett, and the Pre-Platonic Phusio-Logos, 2008 (unpublished manuscript).

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 22
ofdestruction/creationquatransformation.IfwerecallthatforNietzsche,reactivenihilismis
asituationinwhichasystembeginstoeatitselfbyturningitselfagainstitself,hangingontoitself

inorderpreserveevenaminutenessofitsdischarge,thenactivenihilismbecomesthe
transformativeactivityofforcethatnolongerturnsbackontoitself.Itistheforceof
metamorphosisinwhichnothingiscarriedover.Itaffirmsbydominating,bycommandinga
weakerforcetoobey(inthissenseforceisalwaysrelational),butitsdominationproceedsby
expenditurenotbyrecuperation(thisiswhytheovercomingofnihilismforNietzschecannot
ultimatelyproceedbydialecticsorbyFascism).Nietzscheevenhasanameforthisactive
process:theactiveandmostextremeformofnihilismtheprocessinwhichexistenceislived

andexpendedwithoutlimitationorrecuperation:Letusthinkthisthoughtinitsmostterrible

form:existenceasitis,withoutmeaningoraim,yetrecurringinevitablywithoutanyfinaleof
nothingness:theeternalrecurrence(WP55).

Whatkindofpoliticswouldbeadequatetothis?Whatistobedonepoliticallywhen

nihilismhasbecomeanormalcondition?Thepoliticalphysiologicalperspectiveisevervigilant
inrememberingthatwhatisacurecanalsobeapoison,andwhatisapoisoncanbeacure.The
boundaryseparatingvalueshigh/low,noble/base,good/evil,healthy/illcannolongerbe

securelydifferentiatedandNietzschehimselfpointstothisfact:
Itisthevalueofallmorbidstatesthattheyshowusunderamagnifyingglass
certainstatesthatarenormalbutnoteasilyvisiblewhennormal.Healthand
sicknessarenotessentiallydifferent,astheancientphysiciansandsome
practitionerseventodaysuppose.Onemustnotmakeofthemdistinctprinciples
orentitiesthatfightoverthelivingorganismandturnitintotheirarenaInfact,
thereareonlydifferencesindegreebetweenthesetwokindsofexistence:the
exaggeration,thedisproportion,thenonharmonyofthenormalphenomena
constitutethepathologicalstate(WP47).

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 23
AstheFrenchphilosopherBernardStieglerhasrecentlysaid ,thephilosophertoday
9

mustbeatoxicologist;andthisechoessomethingthatIhaverecentlyalsosaidinrelationto
Nietzschescallforaphilosopherthatisalsoaphysician:10inthepoliticsconditionedbynihilism

butwhichseekstoovercomenihilismbyactivatingthepotencyofnihilism,thephilosopher

physicianmustbeahomeopathictoxicologistgovernedandguidedbytheprincipleoflikecures

like(similisimilibuscurentor),theadministeringofthepoisonasthecurativeforceitself.This

kindofpoliticsisthere,truly,anyalternativetothis?isfraughtwithsomanymoral
dilemmaspreciselybecauseitsoperativeprincipleworkswithoutseekingtowithouthavingto
ontologizethedistinctionbetweentrueandfalse,goodandevil.Thisisalsowhyfor
Nietzsche,thequestionofpowerisnotmerelynorevenprimarilyaquestionofpropertyor
territoryandthenegotiatingofitsrepresentations;butrather,powerisaquestionof

production,ofmorphosisanditstransformations,theprocessofformationthatemergesasthe

resultofatensionofforces,theprocessthatimposesuponbecomingthecharacterofbeing
(WP617).FollowingBernardStiegler,thequestionofthepoliticalmustnecessarilyproceed

viaapharmacologicalperspective:wemustlookforthesignsofhealthintheveryillnessesof

thehumancondition,aswellasbeabletorecognizesignsofillnessinwhatmaybeconsidered
bythemajorityassignsofhealth.

ItisagainstthisbackdropthatthethreestigmataofFriedrichNietzscheareevokedonce

againeachstigmataisapoisonandacure;allthreemustbeinterpretedasforceswhose
collisionspeculativeandmaterialarenecessarytoNietzschesaccountofthecompletion

Questions About a General Pharmacology Keynote address, New French Thought, conference in the Department
of Philosophy, Villonova University, April 3, 2009.
10
Biswas Mellamphy, Corporealizing Thought: Retranslating the Eternal Return Back into Politics, Nietzsche,
Power and Politics, 760.

Draft Manuscript

Biswas Mellamphy 24
andovercomingofnihilism.Wecanstarttoseewhythepoliticsofnihilismissoconfounding,
butforNietzsche,thesecrettotherenewedhealthofoureverailingspeciesdependsonplaying
nihilismout,intensifyingitsforces.Nietzschesthoughtisthusthegreatestexampleofnihilism

notthepassiveandthusincompletenihilismoftheformsoflifeheattacks,butthevirulentand
curativenihilismthatunleashesthoseforcesoflifethatwillleadtotheorganismsself
destruction,onlyinordertomakewayforanewformoflife:
Atthispointnihilismisreached:allonehasarethevaluesthatpassjudgment
nothingelse.Heretheproblemofstrengthandweaknessoriginates:
1.Theweakperishofit;
2.thosewhoarestrongerdestroywhatdoesnotperish;
3.thosewhoarestrongestovercomethevaluesthatpassjudgment.

Insum,thisconstitutesthetragicage(WP37).