SLOTERDIJK AND MORE

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sat Apr 15 22:16:50 MDT 1995


Well, today's visit to my local was not as inspiring as
yesterday's, but I did get through all but the last couple pages
of THINKER ON STAGE: NIETZSCHE'S MATERIALISM by Peter Sloterdijk.
What a writer.

Actually, another woman came in today and asked me what I was
reading.  Knowing her I knew she would be as complacently blase as
ever, but I handed her the book so she could see it for herself.
She turned it over and read the back cover, and then with that
characteristic facial expression and "you couldn't possibly be
interesting enough to make me think about something other than my
nails" sigh, she asked: "And what do you intend to apply this to?"
Caught somewhat offguard, I hesitated and said, "Well, me think
about that."  She asked, "Are you taking a course?"  I replied:
"No, I'm not taking a course."  She passed the book back to me and
resumed her characteristic self-satisfied blankness.

However, I was thinking: well, how am I going to apply this?  I
thought I knew why I picked it up, and what was on my mind when I
started, not that I would want to bore the first person I saw with
the esoteric, minute details.  I picked up the book because of the
e-mail interchange on _Critique of Cynical Reason_ and I needed
something short to read to fill some spare moments and I thought,
why not see what else Sloterdijk has to say.  When I started to
read the book, I was struck by Sloterdijk's remark on Nietzsche
and the division of labor.  And as I progressed in my reading,
just before she got on my nerves I was really getting into the
poetic brilliance of Nietzsche's expression of his ideas.  And I
realized that I was going to apply this book to myself as a
writer.  However crude, scatological, and autoerotic, my modus
operandi has been to combine strong emotion and even theater of
the absurd with the sober logical expression of concepts.  It's in
my nature.  My exuberance of pleasure and pain, of ecstatic
communion with the cosmos and snarling impatience with buttheads
who have the nerve not to be on my wavelength, it's all got to
come out.  Reading about Nietzsche again after a hiatus of 15
years reminded me of why I was so inspired by him in the first
place.  This afternoon he reminded me of my own identity as a
communicator.

For now just a few stylistic remarks on the book.  Once in a while
I become reminded of Sloterdijk's European landscape and neuroses
and his preciosity, but most of the time I am stricken by the
metaphorical and stylistic beauty and precision of his manner of
expression as well as his thoughts.  There are many memorable
passages.  Next time I will quote some of them.


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