Delight Springs

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hyperborea

"We are Hyperboreans," proclaimed poor hyper-driven Nietzsche in the opening lines of The Antichrist. He was truly a man out of time, never at home with his contemporaries or at ease with the ("all too") human race. What did he mean? And what did he mean, "we"? Where is Hyperborea?

It's nowhere yet. When, then? 

Nietzsche often wrote of the philosophers of the future, with whom he identified. His prophet Zarathustra, laughed out of town, said he'd come too soon. Hyperborea is his dreamworld of free spirited Ubermenschen who've shucked their mere humanity and crossed the abyss ("man is a rope over an abyss"), having made their transition to a post-human world free of resentment, envy, and legalistic constraint. Their creative revaluative power is unbounded, except by their own wills.

The rest of us, who don't make the crossing, presumably will be the couch-potato left-behind leftovers whose liberal champions (in Nietzsche's slanted estimation) were people like J.S. Mill. "Man does not strive for pleasure; only the Englishman does." 

The preceding sentence in that Twilight of the Idols aphorism, by the way, profoundly inspired Viktor Frankl, in his Nazi captivity: "If we have our own why in life, we shall get along with almost any how."

Are Hyperboreans happy? You would think so:
HYPERBOREA was a fabulous realm of eternal spring located in the far north beyond the land of winter. Its people were a blessed, long-lived race free of war, hard toil, and the ravages of old age and disease.
But happiness in the "all-too-human" English sense, concerned to maximize the common flourishing of the greatest number, is not what Nietzschean Hyperboreans are seeking. Their happiness is a harder colder thing, something most of us might find difficult to distinguish from monomania, intolerance, and incivility.
Better to live among ice than among modern virtues and other south winds! ... We were brave enough, we spared neither ourselves nor others: but for long we did not know where to apply our courage. We became gloomy, we were called fatalists. Our fatality -- was the plenitude, the tension, the blocking-up of our forces. We thirsted for lightning and action, of all things we kept ourselves furthest from the happiness of the weaklings, from 'resignation'...
Nietzsche never shakes fatalism, so far as I can tell, but combined with his stoicism it becomes for him a great "gift" of affirmation and the source of "our happiness." Eternal recurrence in Hyperborea is not my idea of the good life, but Nietzsche's popularity endures with a small but assertive few for whom "a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal" is the road from here to there. Perhaps we can tolerate them.

Podcast-Nietzsche's Hyperboreans... CoPhi-Nietzschean happiness
5:40/7:02, 53/81

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