college, final semester:
G: Oh, I need to tell you this, this is one of the things running through my head. It’s not the number one thing, but it’s like number four. It’s up there.
G: So, I keep going back to Nietzsche. There are turns of phrase that I like and insights that I find to be funny and it’s enjoyable. I read all of the things I need to read for class. I read to prepare for grad school. And in my very precious moments of free time, I consider what I could read for myself and all I ever do is go back to Nietzsche. Fuck you, Hegel…finally, someone said it. Fuck you, Kant. I am fully in my comfort zone.
M: Do you just read his writing, or do you read books about him, like interpretation stuff?
G: I’m avoiding the late-comers.
M: That’s your career path.
G: Exactly, I know how the scam works. I read Twilight of the Idols, that’s probably my favorite. The writing and the joy and the jerkiness: perfect. The Gay Science: also perfect. But that’s my comfort food. I get caught up on Zarathustra because it’s kind of hard to decipher certain bits. I keep going back to it, re-reading it, like, what the fuck? His ideas are compressed down into these terse, bible-esque vignettes and some of it, I have no clue. Which theme does this even go with? What’s this part over here?
M: He thought he was writing for future people, maybe he was intentionally using coded language thinking, “There, it’ll take them a thousand years to figure this one out!”
G: That’s what he would like us to believe, but I don’t buy that. He can be full of shit. You are of your time, the end, we’re done. But I do think that idea shaped his writing, so it’s hard to differentiate between what is obscure, but meaningful and what is just that asshole side of Nietzsche making fun of all of us. He knew we would be reading this shit. Additionally, he was a dick. I am possibly on the verge of concluding that some of Zarathustra is a prank. I’m only telling you this. I’m not ready to straight up defend. I would probably tell Allison. She doesn’t really care about any of this.
M: Do you ever worry about her?
G: Oh, totally. She’s fucked. I forgot my point. Oh! So this worry that I’ve been developing: what I think is that I am reading Nietzsche because it’s comforting to me and what if that’s my way of avoiding more critical and/or unfamiliar kinds of thought?
M: Like, what if Nietzsche is just for fun and you’re not challenging yourself?
G: Sort of, but like one level above that. I’m worried that, at this early point in my thinking, I am already developing ruts. It’s concerning. Are my reading habits evidence of blind spots in my mental life? Am I prone to developing a fixed set of ideas that I kind of get lost in? Because I don’t want to be that! Like, I am seriously trying to open myself up to a lot of material at this point in my life, but in my free time, I go back to the same stuff over and over. It’s concerning. It signals to me where my heart is at, you know? And so, anyway, I’m back and forth, I don’t know. What do you think? Am I fucked?
M: You’re allowed to have a reading comfort zone where you just enjoy something purely for the fun of it.
G: Ew, no. You’re not, actually. I think that’s a bad habit. This makes me think you’re not getting it.
M: I think I get it and I think I’m right, but there’s also the subtext that I’m defending my own lazy reading habits. I want them to be fine, so I’m disagreeing with you.
G: Define lazy. What are you reading exactly? Let’s get our terms in place.
M: You know how I don’t have a palate and it’s hard to have food preferences and therefore I think everything basically tastes fine?
M: I’m kind of the same way with books. I read everything. I like all of it. Comic books, science fiction, philosophy, westerns, religion, cereal boxes, I don’t give care. I think you would define a lot of my reading as frivolous.
G: Jesus Christ, westerns. That’s fucked up. No, this brain is for analysis, M, that’s what these are for. If I go off and just waste time, that’s my brain dying. In the core of my being, I feel a sense of urgency about thought. I know so clearly that most recreation is just a big waste of time. When I see people doing shit like staring at movies and just passively sitting there for hours at a time: first, I scream inside. And then I get this really vivid image in my head of time burning.
M: Wow. I’m just curious, what is time in this scenario, a clock or something?
G: I always imagine it to be an ephemeral ribbon that loops into itself over and over, it’s like this elaborate shape made out of flattened light and anyway, it’s this beautiful thing and when people are wasting that precious gossamer of immortal time, M, it burns. There is a fire and it burns. You are not allowed to read westerns.
M: I wish I could see your imagined version of time.
G: My head goes extra visual about shit. Have I ever told you about my dreams?
M: You’ve described a few.
G: They’re like art nightmares. Not even good art, to be honest. It’s like a lot of the local stuff they have up at the coffee shop, you know? That general visual style created by artists of that particular talent strata and that’s the default vibe of my dreams.
M: Your dreams are garish.
G: My dreams are garish. As an experiment, I’m considering a full, one month Nietzsche break.