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View Diary: SNLC, Vol. CCCLXIV / SN@TO 16: Parsifal Edition (81 comments)

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  •  Nietzsche had a troubled relationship (1+ / 0-)
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    with his sister because of Foster.  That's an interesting situation.  At one point, as I recall, she left Germany with Foster to create some kind of Aryan utopia in South America, but that collapsed and they had to return to Germany.

    I'm not that impressed with Wagner's relationship with Levi.  "See, I'm not a racist!  I have a friend who's a Jew!"  Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, and Wagner's mind wasn't that small.  Apparently that relationship wasn't based on reaching out a loving hand to the Jews but on other matters.

    The history of Aryan racial pseudo-science (not anti-semitism) has deeper roots, going back to philology.  This might be something you know, but if not, it should be interesting.

    Philology, Racism and Aryanism

    The discipline of philology entered a new phase after Sir William Jones announced his discovery in 1786, of the ancient mother tongue that originated both the Indian and the European languages. This ancient mother tongue was later referred to as Proto-Indo-European. Jones’ discovery1 initiated the revaluation of all languages, both living and dead, to reassert their historical and prehistorical connections...
    The early philologists thought that they could trace the journey of the German race using the similarities of language in a trail leading back to India.  In this theory, an ancient race of people known as the Aryans were the forefathers of the Germanic people who migrated north and west.
    Inscriptions of a Sanskrit-type language found in Germany were deemed to be the oldest in Europe and led many German philologists to conclude that Proto-Indo-European had entered Europe via the German plane, which in turn was used to create the theory that the Teutonic peoples were direct descendents of the Aryans, otherwise known as Aryanism...
    Cool, eh?  This is one of the reasons Himmler became so focused on Asian antiquities.  He wanted to find evidence to support this and a snowballing pseudo-science that had grown around this Aryan connection.

    The way all this began to snowball together during the 19th century (and well before Wagner even knew what a Jew was) is fascinating stuff, in a kind of Da Vinci Code way.  Philology became serious academia.  By coincidence, maybe, Nietzsche's own phD was in classical philology and he was chair of the philology department at Basel before wandered off into his unique poetry headspace.

    Interesting, from Wiki, under the heading of Classics:

    Further information: Philology
    For the journal, see Classical Philology (journal).

    There is a surviving tradition of Latin philology in Western culture connecting the Roman Empire with the Early Modern period.[3] The philology of Greek survived in the Byzantine Empire until the fall of Constantinople, and was re-introduced in Western Europe in the Renaissance.

    Classical philology was a major preoccupation of the 19th-century German[clarification needed] education system, which became "the paradigm for higher education" throughout Western culture.[dubious – discuss]

    Although less dominant than it used to be, philology retains a central role in classical studies.[4]So the groundwork for the pseudo-science was already established and growing before Wagner started publishing his screeds.  What he brought new to it was a kind romantic spiritualism of a mythical German past.

    Politically, though, aside from his nationalism and racism, he was a democrat, small D, so we have to give him credit for that.

    •  don't know all the details of the Nietzsche..... (1+ / 0-)
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      Dumbo history, but my understanding is that Elisabeth, FN's sister, was responsible through her own racism of the taint that attached to her brother's philosophical writings, after his death.

      "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

      by chingchongchinaman on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 10:15:49 PM PST

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      •  Feh. I blame Nietzsche for that. (0+ / 0-)

        His language was over the top and macho sounding for stylistic reasons, and that created its own appeal to reinterpret it.  His sister wasn't the problem.  

        I'm not into Nietzsche.  I'm just kind of pleased and amused that my reading in all that ever became useful.

        The one good thing I took from Nietzsche was the idea that there was no correct moral system, and that all moral systems are just reflective of the culture they exist in.  Everything else he wrote about was pretty much bullshit.  He tried to apply Darwin's ideas of evolution, survival of the fittest, to the morality of cultures, the same way Marx was doing it with economics and the same way Schoenberg was clumsily trying to apply it to music.  

        Remember that old BBC show, Upstairs, Downstairs?  About the upper class family that lives upstairs, and all the domestic servants downstairs, and the two groups have totally different communal lives that rarely intersect?  Nietzsche proposed that the morals of the downstairs people, what he would call slave morality, tended to be different from the morality of the masters.  Aristocracies place value on things like pride, fulfilling social obligations, justice, mercy, etc.  Those in the lower strata, though, place value on humility, not rocking the boat, generosity and sharing.

        Now, how do you reconcile those to get some combo one-size-fits-all moral system?  You can't.  You can't reconcile the virtue of humility and the virtue of pride.  Western morailty, however, is an inconsistent mash-up of the two, and the inconsistencies cause problems.  

        So how is this useful?

        Well, consider for a moment, you were going to write a scifi novel where the only food you could eat was a sentient creature like you and me.  Say you're a vampire, for example, or an alien tiger species.  In that kind of situation, what kind of moral system would develop?  

        You and I might agree that it's horrid to think of eating sentient creatures on a regular basis to survive, but what if you grew up in a culture where that's the norm, where anytime anybody suggested it might be wrong, that somebody pointed out, yup, oh well, that's life?  The entire moral system that developed in such a situation would be very different from ours, and it might even be perfectly consistent, but just different in an abhorrent way.

        Likewise, think about somebody like Mitt Romney, addressing that room of donors, talking about the 47%.  He was speaking from the heart, dude, every bit as much as a world of vampires would be baffled by why humans wouldn't vote for vampires.  "47% of the planet is human, and we'll never get their vote.  They're so used to their not being eaten and getting free meals from corn and wheat that we'll never reach them!"

        •  no, actually, his sister was the problem..... (1+ / 0-)
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          .....or at least a problem.  The fact of her last name would seem to have lent credence by proxy to her racist ideas, and how she exploited her brother's writings.

          "It's only in books that the officers of the detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake." (Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone)

          by chingchongchinaman on Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 08:06:15 PM PST

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