Overman more like a Cesare Borgia than a Parsifal

I don’t know either of these guys so I’m wondering what exactly N was thinking of when he picked them as examples.

Nietzsche was disassociating himself from Wagner, I think; and Cesare Borgia makes a pretty dramatic contrast to Parsifal. Nietzsche was nothing if not dramatic, imo.

What I mean is what charactersitics was he thinking of. What kind of a person did N think of when he picked each of those two? What does each of them symbolize? What characteristics, what kind of a person?

Aha. I see it’s time for you to do a google search and find out.

FFS, what is the obsession with Nietzsche on this site?

The Wagnerian Parsifal is a ‘pure fool’. Compare the phrase “noble savage” and the following passage:

[size=95]The satyr and the idyllic shepherd of later times have both been products of a desire for naturalness and simplicity. But how firmly the Greek shaped his wood sprite, and how self-consciously and mawkishly the modern dallies with his tender, fluting shepherd! For the Greek the satyr expressed nature in a rude, uncultivated state: he did not, for that reason, confound him with the monkey. Quite the contrary, the satyr was man’s true prototype, an expression of his highest and strongest aspirations. […] Our tricked out, contrived shepherd would have offended him, but his eyes rested with sublime satisfaction on the open, undistorted limnings of nature. Here archetypal man was cleansed of the illusion of culture, and what revealed itself was authentic man, the bearded satyr jubilantly greeting his god. Before him cultured man dwindled to a false cartoon.
[Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, chapter 8.][/size]

Perhaps a Cesare Borgia and a Parsifal are to the Overman as the satyr and the idyllic shepherd of later times, respectively, are to Dionysus. But in a passage written in the same time as that remark about Borgia and Parsifal, Nietzsche is even more explicit:

[size=95][According to my critics,] a Cesare Borgia is by no means to be presented as a ‘higher man’, as a kind of Overman, as I present him.
[Twilight of the Idols, ‘Forays of an Untimely Man’, section 37.][/size]

So Nietzsche presented Borgia himself as an Overman!—The reason he says “a kind of” Overman, by the way, can be found in another passage from the same period:

[size=95][There is] a continuous succeeding of individual cases in the most diverse places on earth and in the most diverse cultures, with which cases a higher type does indeed come to light: something that in relation to mankind as a whole is a kind of Overman.
[The Antichrist, section 4.][/size]

In these passages from Twilight and The Antichrist, the Overman is mentioned for the first time in those books. Therefore, Nietzsche cannot just suppose that his readers know the term. Thus in the passage from The Antichrist, he makes clear that said higher type is only an Overman (Übermensch, lit. “superhuman being”) compared with mankind as a whole: compared with that, that type is, in a manner of speaking, an ‘Overman’; it is not literally superhuman:

[size=95]Not what shall replace mankind in the sequential order of living beings is the problem I […] pose (—man is an end—): but which type of man one shall breed, shall will, as the type that is more valuable, more deserving of life, more certain of a future.
[ibid., section 3.][/size]

In these two sections, sections 3 and 4, Nietzsche contrasts this higher type with “the converse type […]: the domestic animal, the herd animal, the sick animal man,—the Christian.” (section 3.) And Nietzsche’s main criticism of Wagner’s Parsifal is that he succumbed before the Cross. He is therefore a blond beast made sick (Twilight, ‘The ‘Improvers’ of Mankind’, section 2), whereas Borgia was a healthy blond beast (see Beyond Good and Evil, section 197).

Remster, Remster, Remster. Ah, you get used to it, after a while. Just tip-toe around the Nietzsche Fan Club Members based threads if you don’t like 'em.
They keep to themselves, mostly, so they are not too annoying.

Lol. Watch out there. I’m a Nietzsche fangirl. :unamused:

So the difference is one is a Christian and other is not? Are you sure that’s the extent of it?

And what does “blond beast” mean??? Why blond?

But I can’t really find out that way. I can find a biography but I won’t get a definitive sense of what people thought about him at the time, what he symbolized.

If I tell you someone is more like Bill Clinton than George Bush, someone reading the sentence a thousand years from now won’t be able to tell what I meant by reading Clinton and Bush’s bio.

But you know that what I mean is that he’s less of a dummy and more of a either smart man or the kind of guy who’s on the prowl.

Not so much that the one is a Christian, as that he is sick enough to be a Christian:

[size=95]Nobody is free to become a Christian: one is not ‘converted’ to Christianity,—one must be sick enough for it…
[The Antichrist, section 51.][/size]

Nietzsche uses the phrase “blond beast” (within quotation marks) in Twilight, ‘‘Improvers’’, 2. But a more elaborate account is given in On the Genealogy of Morals. Thus in the eleventh section of the first treatise, he says that the blond beast (without quotation marks there, and the italics are his) lies at the bottom or core of all noble races. As examples, he lists “Roman, Arabian, Germanic, Japanese nobility, Homeric heroes, Scandinavian Vikings”. Note the inclusion of Arabian and Japanese nobility. These were obviously not blond. All the other examples, however, are Aryan. This explains the racial derivation of the phrase. And as for the difference between these Aryans on the one hand, and those Semites and Mongoloids on the other: in section 145 of The Will to Power, Nietzsche implies that the Semitic race is no “master race” whereas the Aryan is. The above list suggests that Nietzsche did not think of the Mongoloid race as a master race, either.

What if I tell you that the Overman is more like an Alexander the Great than like a Jesus Christ?

[size=95]‘Malakos’ [“homosexual”] means first a soft grassy meadow then by application soft and gentle and finally around the time the bible was being written in Koine (common) Greek it was being used in a pejorative sense to refer to the weak soft effeminate men. Well so much for blessed are the meek. Wait a second wasn’t Christ kind of a Malakos? He was after all much like a soft and grassy meadow, a place for his flock to lie down in green pastures, metaphorically that is.

Christ was not a Greek, Paul was not a Greek, none of the apostles were Greeks. They spoke Koine Greek which is a bastard form of Attic Greek spoken by the peoples conquered by Alexander, who was by no means a Malakos in his own language. Alexander the first over the wall, Alexander the great was not soft and effeminate and even less like a meadow. Alexander was more like a battle field strewn with the rotting corpses of the weak and meek defeated. Contrasted with the green pastures of Christ the difference is clear.

[Collingsworth, ‘Re: Words and deeds’.][/size]

Blond beast is a reference to Pagan Germanic tribes who refused to be tamed by converting to Christianity. They were blond haired and physically larger than the Romans, and although some were absorbed into their Empire, the rest successfully held off advances into Germania all the way through to the end of the Roman Empire. Eventually they did convert in the face of subsequent Christian empires, bringing an end to their long warlike tribal history, but not without much resistance.

Cesare rejected Christianity, to rule in a military way without succumbing to any divine powers. He too could not be tamed. Parsifal was obviously tamed and committed to the Christian religion to the extent that he dedicated his life to finding the Holy Grail. This is a huge difference.

The Overman must be free of old gods and morals, so that his creative will is not bound and restricted - he must be able to see over and beyond these things. With this freedom of spirit, he can impose his own unrestrained love upon everything - allowing new rules and laws to be fashioned around his own ability to lead and command. He becomes the law giver because of himself - he does not operate by the rules of others: divine or otherwise.

Where is your evidence for this? From what I have read, Cesare Borgia was seeking power through the auspices of his father, Pope Alexander VI. It could be claimed that the Catholic hierarchy of the time was very corrupt and willing to use their military power for political and state purposes, but there was always a strong tie between their feudal power and religion through the papacy. However, Borgia’s militancy was always subservient to the protection and wishes of his father, which actually put him in a position of weakness when his father died and ultimately led to his early death.

I see Nietzsche’s allusion to Borgia as a metaphor for a type of man that he wished to envision and portray. But even though that man was a real person, in effect he was just as much a myth as Parsifal was.

Parsifal is a mythical or imaginary character. He never existed. His character serves again as a symbol or metaphor for a type of man Nietzsche wished to portray in order to make a point not only about Christianity but also about his break from Wagner. It looks as though he needed a cruel, ruthless, bloodyminded and petty tyrant like Borgia to serve his need to stomp out the toxic influence of both Wagner and his Christian relatives in his life.


Like her hero Kaufmann, jonquil inadvertently shows Nietzsche’s contempt for her here.

[size=95]Against my concept “beyond good and evil”, the whole ferocity of modern stupiditation […] has, as was to be expected, thrown its shoulder to the wheel […]. Above all one asked me to consider the ‘undeniable superiority’ of our time in moral judgment, the real progress we had made here: a Cesare Borgia was by no means to be presented as a ‘higher man’, as a kind of Overman, as I present him…
[Twilight, ‘Forays’, 37.][/size]

jonquil presents herself here as ‘undeniably’ morally superior!..

[size=95]Confusion went so far that one branded the very virtuosi of life (whose autonomy offered the sharpest antithesis to the vicious and unbridled) with the most opprobrious names. Even now one believes one must disapprove of a Cesare Borgia; that is simply laughable. The church has excommunicated German emperors on account of their vices: as if a monk or a priest had any right to join in a discussion about what a Frederick II may demand of himself.
[The Will to Power, section 871, trans. Kaufmann.]

Finally: woman! One-half of mankind is weak, typically sick, changeable, inconstant—woman needs strength in order to cleave to it; she needs a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and being humble as divine: or better, she makes the strong weak—she rules when she succeeds in overcoming the strong. Woman has always conspired with the types of decadence, the priests, against the ‘powerful’, the ‘strong’, the men—.
[ibid., section 864, titled ‘Why the weak conquer’, trans. Kaufmann.]

What an affirmative Semitic religion, the product of a ruling class, looks like: the law-book of Mohammed, the older parts of the Old Testament. (Mohammedanism, as a religion for men, is deeply contemptuous of the sentimentality and mendaciousness of Christianity—which it feels to be a woman’s religion.)
[ibid., section 145, trans. Kaufmann.][/size]

Sound advice!

Interesting that you, Sauwelios, say that Kaufmann is my hero, since I’ve never said that myself. If you think that you can read my mind and speak for me, you are sadly mistaken I’m afraid. I do appreciate Kaufmann’s love for Nietzsche though, which led him to read the entire works of Nietzsche, sift out his sister’s misrepresentations and those of the Nazis, and give us a perspective on Nietzsche based on the entire oeuvre and not just excerpted quotes selected for a Sauwelian agenda.

I don’t claim to be superior to anything, moral or not. If there is anything ‘undeniable,’ it’s your wrongheaded “interpretation” of Nietzsche. I would take Kaufmann’s views over yours any day, only because they come out of great love. I understand Nietzsche to the bone, and one thing I can say for sure is that it takes someone with a great deal of heart and compassion to see the real Nietzsche, to get through all the bullshit about anti-Semitism and racism enough to realize that Nietzsche was completely bastardized by the anti-Semites and the Nazis, and that most of the stuff he wrote about Ubermensches, Aryanism, and blond beasts was the product of a deranged psyche obsessed with power, due to the fact that he had been so completely shut down and disempowered by his very abusive and oppressive family members.

Cesare’s dad made him a cardinal in his late teens, but he renounced his spiritual role it in order to pursue a military career. He then went on to display ruthless unChristian acts of power in order to maintain his position. Clearly his intention was to gain power through military means rather than spiritual.

He did fail, and relied on papal support, but his godlessness is obvious through his actions - and that’s the important part. This is just consistent with Nietzsche’s philosophy, and so Cesare is one of the few historical characters who comes close to N’s overman. The break from Christianity is much more important towards the philosophy than Cesare’s actual position of just being a general, under a pope. Nietzsche’s strong-willed person uses power structures for his own gain, but avoids actually believing in anything that isn’t earthly to do so. Whether one succeeds in this has a great deal to do with chance, another central theme in N’s philosophy.

Nietzsche broke with Wagner because of his philosophy, he did not base his philosophy on this break. That is to say, he chose Cesare because he was appropriate, not just to get back at Wagner and Christianity. He formerly thought of pessimism and romanticism as Dionysian overflow due to excessive spiritual richness, but he later recognised his error in Wagner and others, and had to part ways with them. He was not simply being dramatic, just appropriate.

That’s some pretty poor Freudian psychobabble there. His dad died when he was 4, so to put his philosophy down to abusive and oppressive family members is pretty weak. Are you suggesting that his mother was a bit mean for the rest of his childhood? Many children have had abusive and oppressive living parents, and don’t come out of it with a philosophy based on power… think about it.

It’s not deranged to base a philosophy on power when it is such an apt basis. The word is so closely tied in with ability to act that it’s absurd to reject it in any other way than the fact that it’s a philosophy, and therefore supposed to be true for everything and everyone - which was something Nietzsche heavily criticised. Yet all this is consistent with his writings.

Again I quote:

[size=95]Finally: woman! One-half of mankind is weak, typically sick, changeable, inconstant—woman needs strength in order to cleave to it; she needs a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and being humble as divine: or better, she makes the strong weak—she rules when she succeeds in overcoming the strong. Woman has always conspired with the types of decadence, the priests, against the ‘powerful’, the ‘strong’, the men—.
[Nietzsche, The Will to Power, section 864, titled ‘Why the weak conquer’, trans. Kaufmann.][/size]

Here jonquil conspires with the Jew Kaufmann (Nietzsche calls the Jews a “priestly people” in GM I 7) to make Nietzsche seem weak. The passage immediately continues:

[size=95]Woman brings the children to the cult of piety, pity, love[.][/size]

Poor, pitiable Nietzsche!

I don’t know why the truth should make someone seem weak. In fact, I think the truth about Nietzsche makes him look very strong and admirable for fighting the good fight against his toxic social conditioning, as long as he could. His whole family, and much of the German society of the time, was rather pernicious. It’s amazing that he came out of it looking so beautiful in his passion for aesthetics and his natural mysticism that he found an outlet for through his vision of Dionysus.

It’s true he was flawed, who isn’t, and had some awful mysoginist views and an obsession with power, which is understandable in light of his abusive upbringing. But to be able to keep his human center, particularly in the face of the ugly anti-Semitism of the Wagners, was nothing but incredible. I can see all of this in Nietzsche’s writings, what I’ve read of his life, and through the great rendering of Kaufmann.

Can you?

I wasn’t implying that the only reason Nietzsche chose Cesare Borgia as his anti-Christian Overman was to reinforce his break with Wagner, but it was definitely a reason. Certainly it is a natural assumption to make, that Borgia was godless in his actions, especially since those actions were cruel, ruthless, and brutal, and he served in the manner of a petty tyrant over his properties and seemed inclined towards perpetual warfare.

Where we differ on this is that it’s clear at least to me that Borgia was operating within the Christian milieu, particularly since church and states were not separate. So even though he resigned his papally ordained position, he was still working for the pope, who also happened to be his father. The whole thing was pretty internecine and very corrupt. We also differ in calling Nietzsche’s views on power and the Ubermensch a philosophy. I consider them part of a psychology, one stemming from a very abusive and oppressive family dynamic.

Actually, it’s got nothing to do with Freud and everything to do with disempowerment, particularly the shut-down of self-expression from the source, which was essential to Nietzsche’s nature. Nietzsche, the romantic, aesthetic originalist was completely shut down within his family, first by his father, and then by his mother and aunts. It was pernicious, brutal, and something he could never get away from, as hard as he might have tried or wanted to. They were representatives of the Christianity he hated so much, that Protestant middle class kind full of moral and social virtue and empty of any sort of passionate religious awe or mysticism. In fact, I believe that that is what is so wrong with Protestantism, that it took the mysticism out of Christianity. This gave Nietzsche no theological or philosophical basis for expressing his own original mystical leanings, since it was clear that Schopenhauer and Kant wouldn’t serve his need. Thus, once he took up philology, he turned to the ancient Greeks as the great source for his aesthetic and mystical views and found self-expression in that venue.

In the middle ages, church and state worked together, but separately: the age was littered with squabbles between the two, perhaps even implying that there was more of a separation than a connection…
I have no doubt that using Parsifal as an excellent example of what the Overman isn’t re-inforced the break between N and W, but it would be a mistake to assume that N used Parsifal to cement his break with W - that’s far too petty for N: Parsifal would just have been too good and obvious an example to ignore. I don’t actually know what the connection is between Wagner and Cesare though - perhaps this is something you can educate me on.
The Overman is undoubtedly a philosophy - as long as you accept Nietzsche’s re-definition of the term. Undoubtedly his re-definition is very closely linked with psychology, but it is no more psychology than philosophy. Nietzsche specifically said that he was a psychologist, and that the Overman is the creating, law-giving, commanding philosopher. You only need to read Beyond Good and Evil to come across these statements, so you’ll have to concede on that one.

How much of an effect could N’s dad have had in his first 4 years of life exactly? Especially since he would have been dying of illness for much of that. And then perhaps his mum was particularly sad and shutting-out… but this is hardly an exceptional case - especially so the further back in history you go! And like I said, I say it again, many children have had abusive and oppressive parents, and don’t come out of it with a philosophy based on power… think about it.

I call it Freudian partly as a joke, because he was obsessed with putting things down to one’s childhood. And then you go on to say that his romanticism (which he heavily criticised) and aesthetical originalism was his nature, and not down to his childhood. Why is one one way and the other the other? No kid grows up to hate Christianity during their childhood, it takes a while to figure out why any institution could be hated - it seems that this point in one’s life marks the end of childhood pretty well. But it took him til he was 20 to abandon his Christian faith and take up Schopenhauer. You can’t lump these things together like you are, as if they all took place in his childhood, and because of this childhood he wrote and thought in the way he did… - it just doesn’t make sense.

It sounds to me like you’re trying to make this big tragic case out of Nietzsche to justify a few things you don’t like about him - to make a martyr out of him, putting his specialness down to the fact that through some ‘miracle’ he survived the many factors that were against him. He survived because his philosophy is inspirational. Being so concerned with power is simply seeing a bigger picture than his predecessors (and even this is nowhere near as deep as his philosophy goes) - this concern is only a pathology to those who are ingrained in modern values, who daren’t think in terms of power because the values demonise it.