***KARL MARX – FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
GUILTY WITHOUT GUILT***
The European Idea Club
· Karl Marx – Friedrich Nietzsche · Guilty Without Guilt
“Marx should never be treated
like a dead dog”
Aura Christi: I represent the European Idea Publishing House, formed only one year ago, yet a period full of hard work, as it was, an year marked by a profound spiritual metamorphosis. Looking now over our shoulder, we proudly announce that we have edited and released over 20 book of a high intellectual level, valuable volumes that help us build the prestige of our little publishing house. We have gathered together – under the auspices of the European Idea Club – to assist the launching of a cultural challenge; please forgive my rough, violent introduction. We have two recently released volumes, fresh to the wider public: Karl Marx in 1234 Fragments (selected by Ion Ianosi) and Friedrich Nietzsche. Analyzed Maxims (commented by Nicolae Breban).
Why did we choose to focus on these particular topics, involving Marx and Nietzsche, two remarkable cultural spirits? We like to thing that because of their influence upon the second half of the 19th century and, especially on the entire 20th century. We put and assemble them together with certain doubts, of course, but always stressing out the many nuances of the comparison. Marx was perverted by the Communist touch, and his work was reinterpreted in a false manner. Once more, Nietzsche’s work and image have been widely perverted and abused by the Nazis. It is, with the risk of repeating myself, a real challenge in our post-revolutionary liberty context that did not show any interest in editing Marx, without one little exception: The Communist Manifest, released by Nemira Publishing House. Professor Ion Ianosi had the strength and courage to gather between two book covers, fragments from all Marxist lines of work, and had them explained for the wider public. The present volume entitled Karl Marx 1234 Fragments is the result of a noble and wonderful decision, yet a dangerous one, for it was placed within the context of prejudice, that is rejecting Marx without reading and studying it first. It is an almost explicable causality or at least a partially explicable one, that Romania has freshly changed its most inner structures from Communist to democratic ones. Unlike Romanians, the French or English people may count several Karl Marx editions, holding hundreds of titles published by famous publishing houses. It is a shame that this very important thinker is not honored the way he should be. Further more, he is blamed without being read or studied – which is totally unfair. Until the Romanian people would reconsider their position, we have decided to place the works of both, Marx and Nietzsche, into our cultural mainstream, such as it is. And this is just the start of it. Now, prof. Ianosi has the privilege of speaking first, after this brief introduction.
Ion Ianosi: My proposal is to transform this meeting’s debate into a colloquial one, without long speeches and tight atmosphere. Double-thanks. The first one is addressed to
The European Idea Cultural Foundation for accepting the “unusual” proposal to publish Marx. Not only they did not raise any objection whatsoever, but they even got caught in the heat of the moment and manifested a total and sincere opening. Secondly, I would like to thank Nicolae Breban, the true mentor of the whole team and foundation; I know him for quite a long time and I appreciate his work, but I was still taken by surprise by the serenity of approaching a politically difficult issue like Karl Marx, especially because the German thinker has been submitted to several abusive expropriations. I should say that I’m not quite sure that I was given the opportunity to speak first, because Marx is one generation older than Nietzsche or because I am simply older than Nicolae Breban. Anyway, I studied them both. A book of mine, published in 2002 and entitled Prejudice and Judgment, included a certain study called Nietzsche and Marx that tackled the very present theme. A character from Nicolae Breban’s latest novel – The Unseen Power – skeptically doubts the real existence of the “guilty without guilt”. It is disputable. The very expression of “the guilty without guilt” comes from a play written by the 19th century Russian playwright Aleksandr Ostrovski, a play entitled just like that: Guilty Without Guilt.
I used this expression in a certain study (that Aura Christi referred to) namely in relation with the several successive partisan expropriations barely leading to legitimate questions such as: how much involuntary, but real guilt is there, how much innocence, in relation with the fact that things occurred long after their first ignition? The point is that we are dealing with a complicated mixture of guilt and innocence. Obviously, the individual guilt is not identical nor equally distributed. Nietzsche is a poetical nature, a romantic, a thinker somehow detached from the contemporary social actuality, but still manipulated, pushed on a different path. Marx was manipulated even more than Nietzsche, as he was politically active and thus, an easy target. My basic question was whether we can judge a 19th century thinker, according to our 20th century experience, or not. Aura Christi said that, in a way, one followed naturally from the other, so that the disputed projection would seem to be a natural one. Only that this projection itself is very much disputable. It is again disputable even in relation with the Antiquity, as certain antique thinkers have also been charged with more or less provable accusations, for instance Plato. Then, there is much guilt to be charged against the Renaissance thinkers and all utopian thinkers. Just because their believes and texts have been misinterpreted. Campanella was paradoxically turned from victim into executioner and the truth is that he didn’t really deserve the title. Nietzsche was solely involved in his particular elaborations and always took it very personal, so it is hard to believe that his ghost could really carry the burden of some particular accusations he has been charged with. One example. He had a war to fight against Judeo-Christianity, yet he was not an anti-Semite. On the contrary. So, all these attributes stuck on him are, at least partially false. And that other part (of truthfulness) should also be carefully weighted. The general idea that I never stop defending in front of my students, is to dissociate the man from a tumultuous age. Marx lived in the 19th century. He had a romantic period before and while the 1848 Revolutions. We mentally have that image of his like an old man with beard. One of the most incriminated texts of his, that is The Manifest of the Communist Party, was initially called, according to the writers’ own will, simply, The Communist Manifest. So it wasn’t the manifest of a certain party but a manifest of ideas. At the time the manifest was elaborated, Marx was 30 years old, Engels only 28. It wasn’t by far the most radical text to appear within the 1848 Revolutions period. There were many more radical thinkers at that time, only they didn’t seem to have such an impact with future historical facts. The extraction from a certain contextual era, of a fragment or an idea is counter-productive, of course…
Aura Christi: …it is amoral, totally unfair…
Ion Ianosi: …and although it may catch a moment’s success, it is eventually non-scientific. My goal was to place Marx’s texts, nucleus of text and ideas within a minimum fresh circuit, nowadays. In Federal Germany the Mega edition (Marx and Engels – Gesamtausgabe) keeps editing its 100 volumes; in France the Pleiade series have been released. Moreover, two volumes from the prestigious edition Gallimard have recently appeared. In Italy, Marx has always been republished, in UK and USA, he has always been a study issue. Attention! This doesn’t mean that there aren’t or shouldn’t be any objections, criticism or bad diagnosis, no matter how rough, on various issues concerning some of his hypothesis or ideas. The point is that, at first, he should be read and only afterwards criticized. And as long as the criticism can and will be sustained, Marx should never be treated like a dead dog. The “dead dog” is an expression taken from the Bible, I and III Kings, in some translations and I and II Samuel from the Old Testament, an expression of infamy later applied to Spinoza – as Lessing reports; later on the expression passed to some of Hegel’s apprentices and followers. Marx seemed to end up among other “dead dogs”, as well as Nietzsche did for quite some time. Of course there is a legitimate question rising from here: who is easy to manipulate? It is an interesting question. Some seem to be easier to manipulate than others. It is also true that some may be easier to expropriate than others. Fichte was a better opportunity to be altered by German nationalist movements, than Kant. And this doesn’t diminish Fichte’s fame and glory, in any way. There are personalities with certain excessive formulations that seem easy to be trimmed, misinterpreted, even manipulated in one way or another. I am always amused when I meet within the written press young Marx’s saying: “religion is opium from people”. He did say that when he was 25 years old, in an early writing, in the heat of the moment. If we turned our attention to Nietzsche, we would easily find numerous incriminating mature texts referring to priests and/or dogma, especially within Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals (which represent the two major texts tackled by Nicolae Breban in his book). Of course this expression – “religion is opium for people” – is part of Marx’s thinking, but it was/is used outside the context of an introduction, dating from 1843, to Hegel’s Philosophy of Law. The issue of incriminating excerpts is far much more dangerous to Nietzsche as it can be proved. And…how can I put this?, Nietzsche’s dispute with Christianity as a Lutheran (like Marx, whose parents were Jews converted to Lutheranism) is one of the many tricks or coincidental facts between the two of them.
All things must be discussed, even reconsidered. Marx had many followers, more or less radical. The entire 2nd reformist International claims to have deep Marxist roots. After Engels’ death, Bernstain became Marx’s heir. Presenting him exclusively through the lens of future radicalism, reactivated is un-accurate, perhaps even false. We have to settle things straight: I don’t believe Marx to be untouchable or flawless, I don’t think that he shouldn’t be submitted to any criticism. And this is not an excuse for not reading his books. Assuming that he would not be printed in Romania (that a brand new edition was not supposed to appear) I elaborated the anthology (using the present editions) in three rounds and also performed a chronologically arrangement of the texts. I believe that between Marx and Nietzsche there is a huge resemblance, yet a very big difference. I’m not talking about a formal similitude like they are both German, both were or became Lutheran, they both left Germany (it is true that one of them was searching to escape from the big city, as Nietzsche preferred North Italy, the South of France or Sils-Maria, while Marx settled into the very core of industrial civilization, at London, due to his preference of dealing with the contemporary society); there are not solely coincidental facts regarding their response to the arguments of the century they lived in, although there was an important resemblance in their distrust concerning democracy and liberal movements of that time. Of course, one of them is pre-modern and post-modern, I mean Nietzsche, who is rather anti-modern; Marx is pro-modern, he stands for the urban industrial modernity of his time. Despite the general opinion, he is, in the first instance, pro-bourgeois, pro-capitalist, if you want, until he deciphers his very own negation, within the capitalist system (but this is just a hypothesis). It is exactly this that makes the two of them different after all, as Nietzsche is full of distrust for the United States and England and also full of a German criticism towards Germany. Marx is very much on the side of the 19th century industrial progress. Years in a row, he rhythmically sends articles to be published in the USA, as he identifies that land as the greatest model of industrial growth, of a well-balanced development, always free from the pressures that prevent the European market from joining in. On the contrary, Nietzsche is skeptical concerning all that has to do with progress, urbanization, production etc. In fact, they are both anti-capitalists, each one from his own different perspective. Nietzsche is a Romantic anti-capitalist, like quite a few Romantic Germans, while Marx is pro-capitalist as premises, but anti-capitalist regarding the actual development, hoping to achieve a certain socialism distrusted by Nietzsche. Nietzsche is an anti-socialist, anti-collectivist, an individualist and a Romantic, and it is precisely in this quality that he keeps diagnosing the world of his time. Actually, both types of diagnosis (belonging to Marx and Nietzsche) walk side by side. They are not similar, but can be compared. This is probably why one starts his analysis from Homer and the pre-Socratics, while the other one begins with Democritus and Epicurus, useless to say they both are very skillful when it comes to ancient Greek. Marx’s Ph. D. is about Democritus and Epicurus. But of course, one of them will show interest and passion in the pre-Socratics (that he will actually process). Marx will eventually believe in Aristotle. Aristotle is his role-model, as well as Hegel. So Marx is attached to Hegel; Nietzsche is lured by Heraclitus and, of all Germans, by Schopenhauer. They really do start very close to each other, but they end up providing different answers to the same questions. The only problem is what questions and what answers? What is common and what different between the two thinkers, in their ages? And a second question: what is similar and what is different between the way both have been inoculated, perverted, manipulated and expropriated? There are many differences. But also many connections. So, we have isolated two issues in pair, that is the resemblance-differences account in: 1) life and work and 2) posterity and reception. We must also include a presumption of innocence (in the particular sense of the impossibility to foresee and prevent future events). Question: how much did Marx and Nietzsche contribute to an actual line of events, they couldn’t have possibly envisioned? It is a difficult question. We cannot but approximate our answers.
are of no use”
Aura Christi: Thank you. Indeed, there are certain interesting nuances that ought to be taken in consideration. And the last question is, of course, the most difficult one. How much did they contribute to something they couldn’t have possibly foreseen or even, partially foreseeing things, why didn’t they recognize some of the possible consequences? A nearly impossible question. Did Dostoevsky while making Raskolnikov murder for an idea, did he envision the future hideous idealistic crimes of the 20th century?
The second book is, like I told you before, signed by novelist Nicolae Breban and entitled Friedrich Nietzsche. Commented Maxims. The book consists of 100 quotes translated from German by Nicolae Breban, and chosen from Nietzsche’s two great volumes On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil, though there are some exceptions, from instance, quotes taken from Thus Spoke Zarathrusta. Nietzsche (along with Feodor Mihailovici Dostoevsky) is Nicolae Breban’s master, who spoke of the author of The Birth of Tragedy within difficult times, when simply pronouncing Nietzsche’s name almost equaled a crime. Friedrich Nietzsche. Commented Maxims is a very dense book. It has been written within a couple of years and published by fragments in our magazine’s pages. What supports its development is a series of key-concepts such as: the Superhuman, the eternal return of the same, the Antichrist, the amorality (and this last obsessive concept proves Nietzsche to be a spiritual relative of Dostoevsky). Although we can actually feel Breban’s admiration (proven in time) for the German philosopher, there are many fragments in which he chooses to separate himself from the thinker. Anyway, Mr. Breban will be able to show us the big picture and provide the detailed information.
“Communist Romania is like
the guilty without guilt”
Nicolae Breban: Thank you very much for joining our little reunion, the confrontation between two friends: Ion Ianosi and Nicolae Breban. Especially because it is also a confrontation between two great thinkers that have preceded and formed our cultural and philosophical modernity (and when I say modernity, I mean it largely, because I am somehow annoyed by the excessive use of nuances). One of the Professor’s question was: how was it possible to use and manipulate a couple of texts taken from two major thinkers? I believe it was possible precisely because of their radical status. Obedient philosophers are of no use here, as well as the absolute philosophers, like Schopenhauer who is likely to become a role-model for, let’s say, our conational Cioran. Absolute skepticism is useless for politicians. But philosophers like Marx and Nietzsche, throughout their capacity of speaking integral truths, are possible victims. I use the expression “guilty without guilt” in my latest writings; I also have an entire book dictated by me in Paris, in 1988, recorded on several tapes, but not published yet, and it is called precisely Guilty Without Guilt. It links to the idea of the Communist Romania like the guilty without guilt. We find ourselves squeezed in the vice of a guilt, a burden that we carry without being directly responsible. Things will decrease when all political furry will slow down, as well as the opportunist furry (the will for power, but not like Nietzsche, more like an immediate, physical one), and only then, future thinkers will discover the truthfulness of the expression that sustains its inner contradiction. I will try to explain the meanings of this expression which I believe to be the 20th century symbol, worldwide. Although wrapped in guilt, crime and abuse, I perceive the 20th century like a colossal being, guilty without guilt, a candid criminal, if you allow me to approach Nietzsche’s amorality a little bit. And in order to perform my demonstration, I will use the image of a great character from a great book, that is Dmitri Karamazov from Dostoevsky’s The Karamazov Brothers, an enigmatic fascinating novel of my youth.
The mystery of this book is the Karamazov mystery. You do remember that, in the beginning, the old Karamazov reaches along with his three sons, Ivan, Mitea and Aliosa, the monastery to meet Zosima and introduce his three sons to him. He performs a splendid outrageous speech, exactly like his intelligence, and they are taken by surprise when Zosima falls at Mitea Karamazov’s feet. You can ask your friends the following question: why doesn’t Zosima fall at Aliosa’s feet – the candid future saint – and does fall at Mitea’s feet, this drunk, filthy officer. Zosima’s answer is his amazing intuition that Mitea will suffer more than the others and throughout all his suffering he will have a better redemption chance. Even this very simple idea contains Dostoevsky’s spirit. The religion of suffering that he brought in the new modern world, the suffering cult, suffering as a path, a way for salvation – the only possible way. I think (and I believe Dostoevsky thought is too) not only of the salvation beyond death, the religious soul salvation, but also of the self-salvation of spirit. And we all know that, eventually, Mitea Karamazov, unfairly accused of Smerdeakov’s muder, has not the intelligence, but the huge instinct of choosing to take upon himself a crime he didn’t commit. There is one person guilty without guilt, Mitea Karamazov, and I believe all of us, Romanians, are stuck in the same position. Even though we keep accusing each other of being more or less guilty… no, we are all guilty. First of all, we have been much more guilty than peoples that lived the same scenario we did, I’m talking about the Check Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, even the German Democratic Republic with their riots. We created a tiny and singular one, hardly sustained by us, writers, and by others; then, Paul Goma left, somehow willingly. We are more guilty than the Polish and the Hungarians that paid an enormous sacrifice to the ’56 rebellion; we are guilty even to our own history. The guilt started in the 40’s when we gave up Transylvania without a fight. Then, the politicians started to feel guilty and it seemed just for the Hungarians to despise us, because we didn’t move a finger to defend a blessed territory, that Romania cannot be pictured without. To be guilty without guilt, it takes character.
I am very glad that Aura Christi, this excellent poet and very good manager of The Contemporary cultural magazine, with a formidable, perhaps insane, courage (I hesitated years in a row, but she kept insisting on building a publishing house; I always thought a publishing house needs someone with money and distribution connections, because it is known that a publishing house is all about distribution; there are values that you entrust to a certain individual, without knowing whether he is coming back with your money or not, or perhaps after he spent half of it), anyway, as I was saying, Aura insisted; she had the know-how to build brick by brick this publishing house with such an ambitious mission. And I believe – I said it at the Gaudeamus Book Fair when I provided the actual idea of this meeting – that the Book Fair’s main event was the editing of these two volumes: Marx in 1234 Fragments (selected by Ion Ianosi) and Fr. Nietzsche. Commented Maxims. Of course Aura’s and Andrei Potlog’s, modest exhibit place was obscured by celebrated publishing houses like Paralela 45, Polirom and Humanitas – with its impetuous, sometimes arrogant, mask – all three good publishing houses, anyway. But to place in contact two major thinkers, responsible for having shaped modern thinking, as well as the 20th century culture, it takes awareness of the dynamite contained within the juxtaposition.
“These books, placed side by side,
tend to explode”
When put together, these books tend to explode. And the blast goes way beyond the limits of culture. It has already contaminated politics, making the whole 20th century capsize along with hundred millions other lives. It has defined ourselves who we are, with our mentality and prejudice. This is the real force of the two thinkers. Both of them poor, one of them depending on his close friend, Engels, the other living with a scholarship from The University of Basel, they both are constantly cursed, accused, offended and rejected throughout their entire lives. Of course that – in his insanity – Nietzsche proved to be more prudent, as he didn’t attempt to turn his theories into daily practice. Take a look at the power of thought, at the power of the thinker. You see, we are despised by politicians, by the newly enriched people, by all the people who have some power of control in Romania. (By the way, all these texts and events should have attracted many people, many writers and philosophers. It is the first book on Marx to appear in Romanian political liberty while it is true that, in Paris, hundreds of volumes are constantly being published, read and commented upon. It is very interesting to unfold Marx within a free society, objectively and unfeigned. With the risk of repeating myself, I say that the real event is the joining in pair of the two books – the best event of the Autumn Book Fair. All honor for Aura Christi and Andrei Potlog for editing the books.
My admiration for Nietzsche descends from a more profound source, than a simple role-model admiration. No mentor has ever indicated or advised me to read Nietzsche – and also Dostoevsky –, but especially Nietzsche. In my years in Lugoj, where I graduated from high-school and later on, in Bucharest, within the university environment and so on, Nietzsche was treated with indifference. My friend, Matei Calinescu covered me in sarcastic remarks, for years, because I read Nietzsche. And it was my good friend, Matei Calinescu! Now, for almost ten years, he has admitted that in America no serious studies are released without including a text on Nietzsche. Nichita accepted me with his warmth and charm. He sometimes said to me: “ Nicolae, he just says foolish things”. We were elaborating brief studies on the New Testament, we were particularly interested in this book – another topic that nobody cared about in the 50’s and 60’s. Within the Bible I paid interest in the figure of the scholar, the idea of models, and of course, I was also attracted by Nietzsche and Rilke. As a matter of fact, Nichita and others told me not to show up at the Literary Magazine with Nietzsche again. I was nearly insane, showing up and speaking about the enemy of communism and about the one who had the cult of individual, despised the masses and seemed to have indoctrinated the Nazis – which is false etc. etc. I don’t know why I was thrilled in front of Nietzsche’s early texts. I elaborated my book – Commented Maxims – according to a model that really impressed me – Titu Maiorescu, the great figure of Romanian Classicism, translator of Schopenhauer’s aphorisms. I read the aphorisms myself when I was very-very young, in high-school, and I enjoyed it very much, so I read them ten times, like I usually do when I grow to like something, that is trying to exhaust it. For instance, I listened to Beethoven’s piano sonatas 30 or 50 times in a row, just to see what is in there. I don’t want to inform myself, I’m just looking for exhausting, as much as I can, these forms which are not exhaustible at this level. I was so to say charmed by the aphorisms, by the figure of this skeptic, this almost wicked human being with a bad opinion about women, as Nietzsche has a line often quoted, but not necessarily by his enemies: “do not forget your whip, when you approach a woman”. On the other hand, within my book, I also operate several changes distancing myself from Nietzsche, regarding mainly his anti-Christianity that I do not agree with. I also maintain distance concerning the anti-Wagnerism and his late anti-Schopenhauer issue (he had two masters: Schopenhauer and Wagner and he betrayed them both, especially Wagner). As in Dostoevsky’s case also, there has been a deeper affinity involved, not only a literary one. More like an instinctual affinity. Even today I have some kind of hallucination; it’s like I wrote part of Nietzsche’s phrases. Like at Dostoevsky, I recognize certain pulses and the rush of blood to the head. I am just like the two of them. And that is showing in our style and in my style over-criticized by my fellow Romanian critics.
Ion Ianosi: I don’t know if you have any bumps… There was a Russian critic who said that when Dostoevsky got mad, he looked like he was growing bumps on his head…
Nicolae Breban: Speaking of style. In my youth, when my friends admired Tolstoy or Chekhov, mainly his plays or the great Frenchman Turgenev, I was very fond of Nietzsche and they were saying: “But this man writes untidy, unequal”. Sure, compared to Tolstoy who has a magnificent capacity of ruling his means and the projected volumes, Dostoevsky has only lows, jumps, ups and downs. It was already my second novel, in 1966, when I dared to attach a motto from Nietzsche, lacking translation which was anyway a big mistake. I asked the critics: “Don’t you have anything to say about the motto?”; I guess some never understood it, as it was reproduced in German: “The one who has character, also has a recurrent type-feeling in his life”. From 66 on, in Francisca I had the motto taken from a minor poet at that time – Bacovia – and Nietzsche in the second volume. You see, the young Breban’s reflexes were adolescently engaged in combat. Later on, I cut large fragments from Ecce Homo and used it in Annunciation (Bunavestire), about a page and a half each, that have eventually passed because of the battles I fought – as I didn’t enjoyed trimming texts. Once again passed unseen by the critics and uncommented; justified by fear, indolence or opportunism. I wanted to direct the attention of the Romanian literary society on Nietzsche, but that was not possible until the 90’s. Because it is known that Nietzsche could not be published in Romania. Before World War II, there have been some fragments published in a little book from a collection (BPT – trans. n.)… The only one that published a translation hidden in a book – The Birth of Tragedy – was Masek; it was released in an anthology with many other texts. Nietzsche was not shown on the cover.
Ion Ianosi: It was translated by Herdan and Dobrogeanu-Gherea’s son, and prefaced by Masek.
Nicolae Breban: The volume released by the publishing house named Meridiane?
Ion Ianosi: Yes, yes. From Appolo to Faust.
Nicolae Breban: I even congratulated Masek.
Ion Ianosi: No, he is responsible only for building up the anthology and writing the preface. He introduced the text translated by Ion Herdan and Alexandru Dobrogeanu Gherea.
Nicolae Breban: A very good translation. This is how a fundamental text written by Nietzsche – The Birth of Tragedy From the Spirit of Music – could appear, as I recall, in the mid 70’s. What a terrible situation to witness, having your access to Nietzsche’s writings cut by the Romanian Communism.
“The boldness of perceiving crime
under different clothing”
I will also end with an exemplification of the amorality. Nietzsche is tricky. He is also a writer with a very good phrase, as his master Schopenhauer was and Plato too, because there are some philosophers with a rough writing, like Kant or Heidegger. Rough. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche have talent and style, Nietzsche is very stylish. In certain German universities his language is a study object; he introduced many French and Latin words etc. Nietzsche definitely has a couple of issues. When it comes to my work, I call these personal issues “obsessive motives”, but I believe it would be fit for Nietzsche too, as he owns certain cryptic concepts. Therefore, he has a readable work, very pleasant sometimes and, although the hermit from Sils-Maria was called a “sententious philosopher”, in fact his interpreting keys are very cryptic and difficult to decipher. There are naïve lecturers who start reading Nietzsche with Thus Spoke Zarathustra which is practically unreadable and hard to understand – other than the short stories and the parabolic dimension – unless you are familiar with Nietzsche’s basic writings. You feel that Zarathustra escapes your understanding, he seems like a tiny wise man, passing through the world, spreading sarcasm, telling little stories and fables. But, mainly, his concepts… I defend him with my own powers; I am not a philosopher, I have no philosophical training. It would be interesting to ask the Romanian Academy to develop a project… No other fellow Romanian academicians, except for Ianosi, has shown any interest in participating to a Nietzsche debate. I believe the author of Beyong Good and Evil to have a clear systemic background and a systematically developed thinking; he is not a writer without system though he often carries this accusation. And his concepts, the few known concepts that he has, are sometimes cryptically locked. Mainly, concepts like “superhuman”, “eternal return” and “amorality”. I know these three are the important ones. I also know that, a long time ago, my friends – Nichita and others – and I spent a couple of nights trying to figure out what “amorality” was all about. Nowadays, only a few can do it. To make myself understood, I will use a couple of examples. I chose within this book – Fr. Nietzsche. Commented Maxims – (I end the volume with one of the most difficult, reactionary chapter from Nietzsche, What Is Noble and Aristocratic) a posthumous fragment in which he is tearing apart all our post-scientific, encyclopedia-related, progressive ideas that we came to grow after the French revolution. I did it trying to defend him and built a much more detailed and intrinsic exegesis. I have here three phrases, placed one after the other, to exemplify the amorality issue. What does Nietzsche’s amorality really stand for? The first one goes like this: “A perpetrator’s lawyers are hardly artistically inclined enough to dare turn the terrible beauty of his crime in his advantage”. This is a socking expression: “the terrible beauty of his crime”! So, the thinker makes this reproach to someone’s lawyers, that they aren’t enough artistically inclined… What a complicated reactionary thinking!
The second phrase is even better: “Sometimes the perpetrator doesn’t really live up to the level of his crime, therefore he calumniates and strongly diminishes it.” Isn’t it terrible? Our response is – what I regularly say it in my book – built on the mentality of the 19th and 20th century, founded within the cult of the French Revolution. And he seems like a person from the Antiquity, beyond good and evil, or even a pervert of human bestiality who dares to decorticate a crime of its appearance; he also says, once in a while, that usually bad people are good and the good people are bad. He has the boldness of perceiving crime under different clothing.
And the last essential phrase, reproducing the tone from Beyond Good and Evil: “There are no moral phenomena, only moral interpreting of the phenomena”. I must say that, after these relatively barbarian phrases, On the Genealogy of Morals continues with an argument between Nietzsche and certain English moralists and philosophers. Nietzsche’s position was in fact our own position from these days. He says that morality, to be more precisely the essence of morality it is not the preservation of the individual and his interests, and also the social interests. It isn’t the well-being, the good of men and of the society they live in. Nietzsche says the morals or what is good and what is bad comes from a deep social layering process, a stratum. The good were the deeds of those with power, and the bad were the deeds of the weakened ones. You see, this is where Nietzsche comes closer to Marx, like young Marx came closer to Hegel. Nietzsche has a very modern thinking, he doesn’t consider good and evil to be a priori categories, but results of a deep and aged structure of synthesis where the master figure was considered good, and the obliged equaled bad. We can also find many examples in the wisdom of words. For instance the word “misel” comes from the Latin “mise-lus” which means “the one from below”.
(untranslatable play on words – tr. n.). Therefore, speaking of amorality – and I shall put an end with this – it is one of the profound contradictions; Nietzsche, a humanist with a rough mask. He cannot be understood partially, separately taken. Again, there have been countless debates on the phrase that dominated the whole 20th century and continues to dominate the next one, that is the celebrated: “Der Gott ist tot”. Moreover, it is another approach to Dostoevsky and Karamozov’s line: “If God is dead, everything is permitted”. God’s death left the 20th century drained and dangling. In human society everything is possible, including fascism and communism. Not only there wasn’t any moral improvement of the individual, but the European (not the Asian or the African) was capable of all unimaginable atrocities. Behold Nietzsche’s cryptic key-concepts that can only be comprehensible by the repeated assimilation of his basic theoretical writings. I find it exciting that Nietzsche finally began to appear in Romania. I think Timisoara is where an entire collection is going to be published, but I find Romanian editors and commentators to be very shy. Nietzsche is often quoted because is trendy, everybody quotes Nietzsche no matter if it is fit or not. The more they invoke Nietzsche’s writings, the less they know about him. And I say it again, partially and fragmented, he’s quite an easy writer. Instead, it is very difficult to approach him because of his radical way of thinking. And it is unusual for us, Romanians, to deal with a radical thinking. We prefer the “middle” thinkers, the ones with common sense. Therefore, just for amusement, the up-down concept of Blaga, our only great systemic philosopher – and I believe no one has noticed this – is drawn out of Hippolyte Taine’s theoretical writings, borrowed from this great theoretician of French art and philosophy; I found several marks of explanation on the art of the Ancient Greeks. He sees it perfectly measured, quite in the middle of things, between extremities, thus possessing grace and harmony because the Greek landscape is also well-measured and very well-balanced. The mountains are not too tall, the oceans not too large, so they are almost like closed seas, thus the art – and this is a very interesting remark – the Greek art and literature (especially the art) are full of balance and harmony. I believe that, not necessarily desiring to borrow this equation, Blaga was deeply inspired by Taine’s theory, because this concept of the Romanian hill-valley alternation desires to communicate a similar thing. Romanian art is measured and harmonious, our poets and writers are relatively soft-spoken, so the reflexes of rejecting writers or thinkers like Dostoevsky and Nietzsche might come from here. It is true that somehow the same reaction also occurred in France. They couldn’t really digest Dostoevsky at all. After the Second World War, more and more young man began to read him – as young people usually give the measure of grabbing a great spirit. Working with a translator from French for one of my books – I had some Nietzsche fragments put inside – I noticed that one phrase was missing from the French version (because I knew that fragment from Ecce Homo by heart). And I told him: “There’s a phrase missing here”. He, then, confessed that he took the text from a three volume edition of Gallimard. And I shouted: “What, you French people have Nietzsche’s texts chopped too?” Mr. Pejou blushed and told me a complete edition was being in preparation. So, even the French, irritated or perhaps despising Nietzsche, even they dared to cut from Nietzsche’s texts. It was not really a phrase involved in my novel, it was more like a sentence. Still, the omission is blamable. We used to accuse the Communist censorship for eliminating the rough material. But, you see, an involuntary mistake is also possible. This is why I said that the French didn’t quite understand Dostoevsky and Nietzsche right away, but only much, much later.
Adrian Mihalache: It wouldn’t be such a terrible sin to understand Nietzsche filtered by Breban’s spirit. Raymond Aron already committed it, chaffing Marx; so it isn’t the worst thing to happen. I must confess that I wasn’t quite ready to deliver a speech today, nevertheless I was truly incited by the things said before. And instead of walking blindly, I wish to systemize my thinking a little bit.