Sunday, December 13, 2009

Roth and Nietzsche

I really liked reading the human stain, it reflected Nietzsche. It was a very at taking many of the existential ideas Nietzsche had and put it into an example that was easy to understand. Phillip Roth did a good job writing this story, I only wish that I could have read the whole story so I would hae gotten the full context of what was going on.
The idea that you should just keep dancing seems to be a theme from Nietzsche. It wasn’t in anything of Nietzsche that we actually read this semester, however Nietzsche once wrote that any day that is not spent dancing is a day wasted. I thought that this was really funny considering what was said in the human stain. The janitor woman keeps telling the man to keep dancing. She is trying to explain that we need to keep dancing, or we are wasting our lives, slowly but surely. The idea that we should only worry about the now, and create our own values is one that is central to Nietzsche philosophy. The idea of dancing is a perfect example for this story. In hindsight dancing seems like a meaningless activity, why do we dance, we don’t gain anything from it, it doesn’t help out society, its an activity that we do on a whim. Usually when we dance it comes from some small temporary impulse to move around and enjoy the moment. Dancing seems like a temporary joy that we pursue for our own pleasures, not for the pleasures of others. Dancing seems like an activity of the ubermensch. Nietzsche says that we should live a life that we would not mind repeating for eternity. A life spent dancing and celebrating does not seem like a bad life to repeat.
In addition I think this is obvious but the woman in the story is an obvious embodiment of the ubermensch. She does not care about the opinions of others, she makes her own values, and does what makes her happy not what other people tell her she should do. She is not only able to make her own values, and she is able to pull people away from the herd. In the story the janitor and the man she is with both realize their identity as value making beings, and they decide that they are going to live the life they want, not the life their spouse wants, or the life anyone else wants.


  1. I love the concept of dancing (I also very much enjoy dancing). It seems so meaningless, so pointless; it serves no productive function. Yet in the end, we are all going to die and this makes dancing just as meaningful as anything else we could do with our lives.

  2. That is only if you view dancing as enjoyable and thus give its meaning accordingly. But I wonder, can we ever actively refuse to give something a meaning, or are we doomed to come up with some sort of explanation for anything no matter how little we understand about it?


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