Saturday, September 4, 2004

Friedrich Nietzsche was acutely sensitive to place

Nietzsche: The Problem of Autumn
by David Farrell Krell and Donald L. Bates

'Friedrich Nietzsche was acutely sensitive to place: to the taste of sea air, to the sweep of wind across the coast, to the narrow confines of medieval walls or the tumbling breadth of an Alpine vista framed by the window near his writing desk. He was convinced that the effects of environment, climate, and terrain on one's life and thought were both tangible and profound. The places where Nietzsche lived and worked include some of the most beautiful places in Europe. In The Good European, Krell and Bates explore for the first time Nietzsche's Epicurean appreciation of the beautiful cities and landscapes in which he worked and their effects on his thought.'

For example, in Human, All-Too-Human Nietzsche writes:

'Direct self-observation does not by any means suffice for self-knowledge. We need history, inasmuch as the past wells up in us in hundreds of ways. Indeed we ourselves are nothing other than what we sense at each instant of that onward flow. For even when we wish to go down to the stream of our apparently ownmost, most personal essence, Heraclitus's statement holds true: one does not step twice into the same river.—The maxim has by now grown stale; yet it is as nourishing and energizing as ever. So too is the maxim that in order to understand history one must search for the living remnants of historical epochs—and do so by traveling, as the venerable Herodotus traveled to sundry nations...'

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