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The Half-Assed Philosopher Pays the Wages of Hubris

If there’s one thing about myself that I wish I could change, it would be my tendency to expect my present circumstances to persist indefinitely.

This tendency takes a variety of different forms. Sometimes I find myself thinking that whatever misfortune I’m undergoing must last forever. I’ll feel glum for some reason or another, and get so preoccupied with my glumness that I’ll become convinced it’s now my new baseline. But of course, the following week, day, or hour, things change for the better.

Either I overcome whatever misfortune was weighing on me, or it resolves itself all on its own. The latter is more often the case—it’s amazing how many of life’s problems can be solved with a little patience.

Of course, the flip side of this is that I often get too comfortable in some happy set of circumstances. Maybe I’ve had a few productive writing days, and start expecting myself to churn out at least a thousand words a day for the rest of my life. Maybe I stop being attentive enough to a friend, because they’ve been such a mainstay that I’ve started taking them for granted. Maybe I assume that my financial stability will persist indefinitely because that’s what I’m used to.

It stings when one of these comfortable assumptions is dispelled, and all the more so because of the ease and good feelings that precede the inevitable reality check.

Change is the only constant in life, to invoke a tired cliché. And I should really have had this in mind when I was brazenly committing to produce an uninterrupted analysis of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil—a work of daunting complexity by one of modern philosophy’s heaviest hitters.

Enthusiasm is fickle. What is novel is irresistible, but only remains irresistible for as long as the novelty lasts. The more certain we are of something, the more reason we have to question that something.

These are all things that I should have considered when committing to my ongoing Nietzsche project. At the time, I was excited to delve into his work, and I really couldn’t wait to get reading, get thinking, and get writing.

But it was naïve of me to expect that my initial enthusiasm would last long enough to carry me through such a huge undertaking—especially one with such vague parameters and no set time limit.

Recently, my writing about Nietzsche has become a slog more than something I actually want to do. Not only that, but it’s made this blog feel like more of a chore than the creative and philosophical outlet that I was looking for when I started.

Now I’m not saying all of this in preparation to abandon my blog or my Nietzsche project—not exactly. I fully intend to keep blogging every week, and I fully intend to keep discussing Nietzsche.

But it’s obvious now that I can’t keep this thing running on Nietzsche alone. While the me of several months ago was certain he could immerse himself in BGaE for as long as it took to get to the end, current me sees a fast-approaching future in which I get bored, bitter, and call off the whole blog after a final string of half-hearted and sparse posts.

So, I think it’s time to shelve Nietzsche, at least for the moment.

I know I said that I would power through to the end of the book in a months-long marathon of blog posts, but it’s obvious that I won’t be able to do that. To put it bluntly, I’m not going to do the thing that I said I’d definitely do.

However—

I will finish Chapter One of BGaE. I’m currently on Part 19, and Chapter One ends with Part 23, so there’s a milestone within reach, and I intend to reach it. And I do still hope to make my way to the end of Beyond Good and Evil, and to keep posting as I go.

But I need a break.

I need to get back to what I originally intended this blog to be about, which was whatever I wanted it to be about. I’ve been shelving ideas, ignoring inspiration, and filing away interesting thoughts as I pump out posts about Nietzsche, and it’s time to go back and revisit those neglected musings.

So I’ll wrap up Chapter One of Beyond Good and Evil over the next two or three weeks, but after that I’ll be turning my attention to other topics. I will absolutely return to Nietzsche, and will continue to work my way through BGaE, but it won’t be the marathon that I originally predicted it would be.

In order to get the most out of this blog and maintain momentum, I need to change directions, so Nietzsche will be on the sidelines by the end of July. I’ll get back to him eventually, but not before I’ve racked up a few non-Nietzschean posts.

Until then, I do hope everyone here will stick around. Nietzsche or not, there’s plenty of half-assed philosophizing to come.


2 responses to “The Half-Assed Philosopher Pays the Wages of Hubris”

  1. “It is more work to follow through on honorable aims than it is to conceive of them. One must persevere and add strength by constant study, until excellent intentions become excellence of mind.” – Seneca, Letter 16.1

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hmmm, Seneca makes a good point here, and I do agree with the sentiment. Do you think that he’d encourage me to grind ahead to the end of BGaE? Or would he recognize the value of a pause, assuming that pause was itself put to a worthwhile purpose?

      Like

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