> about discotheque Zarathustra

‘Without music life would be an error’
Nietzsche, "Maxims and Arrows," Twilight of the Idols, §33

Discotheque Zarathustra is an attempt to capture up through pop music the sense, moment, and movement of each passage of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-5/91).

There may well be any number of objections to this procedure. Here are two:

Objection 1: from Nietzscheans who believe that Zarathustra should not be treated in such a way, that it has already received far better academic exegeses by those who have immersed themselves in the text for far longer than I…

Objection 2: from music purists who believe I have warped or twisted the sense of a song, that I have ignored the cultural specificity; or musicologists who see my technical (rather than practical) knowledge of music as somewhat lacking…

Both objections stand… So to you I say – purloining words given to Zarathustra by Nietzsche – ‘what could I have to give to you! But let me go quickly, that I might take nothing from you’ ("Prologue 2").

However, in response:

Response to Objection 1: In the words of Pierre Klossowski – this work ‘will exhibit an unusual ignorance. How can we speak solely of “Nietzsche’s thought” without taking into account everything that has subsequently been said of it? Will we not thereby run the risk of following paths that have already been travelled more than once, blazing trails that have been marked out many times - imprudently asking questions that have long ago been left behind? And will we not in this way reveal a negligence, a total lack of scruples with regard to the meticulous exegeses that recently have been written - in order to interpret, as so many signals, the flashes of summer lightning that a destiny continues to send our way from the horizon of our century? What then is our aim - if indeed we have one? Let us say that we have written a false study. Because we are reading Nietzsche's texts directly, because we are listening to him speak, can we perhaps make him speak to “us”?’ (Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle, xiii).

Response to Objection 2: In the words of Nietzsche, ‘let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a “pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject”… these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective “knowing”… to eliminate the will altogether, to suspend each and every affect, supposing we were capable of this - what would that mean but to castrate the intellect?’ (The Genealogy of Morals, § III.12; trans. Walter Kaufmann).

That out the way, here are my self-imposed rules, which I may from time-to-time break:

1: To read in depth and write on each passage of Thus Spoke Zarathustra as each passage demands: by chapter, or sub-section of a chapter…

2: Each reading of a passage to be aligned with a song. This song should somehow capture up elements of that passage. The aim is not to illustrate; but to bring together two disparate series: creating friction, sparks. Nietzsche versus…

3: Each of my blog posts should only have as many words in it as the passage of Zarathustra I am reading. Although I may rob Peter to pay Paul over sections of the text.

4: I want to say, I will only use one song by each artist or group. However, I know that there will be returns. So I will limit myself to this: to never repeat a song…

5: I must finish this! I must get to the end! No matter how difficult it will be to sustain this project…

6: I reserve the right to rewrite…

Those of you who can affirm such a project, I hope, will get some sense of the joy, frustration, compromise, desperation and excitement of the thinking through and the writing of Discotheque Zarathustra.

The translation I am using is the Graham Parkes (2005), Oxford University Press (2008):



DD, Mcr, 11/01/2015.