and 'purpose' are necessarily obscured or even obliterated" (GM II:12). Beyond a disclaimer regarding the dynamism of punishment, this section on "will to power" also suggests an implicit account (or defense) of writing. In it, we suggest, Nietzsche approaches a philosophical poetics, a theory of reading, and a response to positivist nightmare/fantasies of an infinite regress of interpretation. Here he contrasts will to power with "adaptation" as active against merely reactive:
Indeed, life itself has been defined as a more and more efficient inner adaptation to external conditions (Herbert Spencer). Thus the essence of life, its will to power , is ignored; one overlooks the essential priority of the spontaneous, aggressive, expansive, form-giving forces that give new interpretations and directions, although "adaptation" follows only after this; the dominant role of the highest functionaries within the organism itself in which the will to life appears active and form-giving is denied. One should recall what Huxley reproached Spencer with—his "administrative nihilism": but it is a question of rather more than mere "administration." (GM II:12)
Here, in one sense, we might construe will to power as the vital principle in life, an instinct for growth and durability; but in another, textual sense, will to power defends against a reduction to determined reactivity. In this sense, will to power is like style: not determined by (and therefore not reducible to) utility. It is not an "adaptation" to conception.
And here Nietzsche also distinguishes what is enduring in punishment (custom, act, drama, a sequence of procedures) from what is fluid (meaning, purpose, expectations) in a way that could be applied to the traditional fictions and tropes that he borrows, and the new meanings they acquire, in Zarathustra . "Punishment" is for us a crystallized synthesis of meanings; it is now impossible to say exactly why people are punished, since "all concepts in which an entire process is semiotically concentrated elude definition; only that which has no history is definable" (GM II:13). Overdetermined by utilities of all kinds, punishment cannot be specified as the origin of guilty conscience. No, Nietzsche argues, "bad conscience" actually originates as the "serious illness man was bound to contract under the stress of the most fundamental change he ever experienced . . . when he found himself enclosed within the walls of society and peace," when "instincts were disvalued and suspended" and his behavior could no longer be guided by his drives. Then, he had to seek "new and, as it were, subterranean gratifications" (GM II:16). Accordingly, he concludes: "All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly turn inward —this is what I call the internalization of man: thus it was that man first developed what was later called his 'soul' " (GM II:16). The inner world, "originally as thin as if it were stretched between two membranes," is enlarged and deepened by this inhibition and internalization (which can be read as commemorated and repeated in the inward turn of writing).
Deprived of an external theater of action and instinct, man "had to turn himself into an adventure, a torture chamber, an uncertain and dangerous wilderness." That man is now sick of himself is the result of this sundering from the animal instincts on which "his strength, joy, and terribleness had rested hitherto." The animal soul turned against itself. And this self-induced malady made humankind "among the most unexpected and exciting lucky throws in the dice game of Heraclitus's 'great child' " (GM II:16). In other words, "the human race" is a "throw" or hyperbole; "hyperbole," as we are using the term, names not just a trope or element of style but the mode of our existence, the shape of our project as well. Here is a striking advantage of the convergence of trope and world which is itself a trope for the whole of the Genealogy .
If then "the human race" is not a "goal" but a "great promise," it follows that the value of the inward turn (including Nietzsche's inward turn of writing) can be construed in this "arena of instincts." This radical change in our mode of existence was not gradual or organic. Like the discontinuity that typically begins a book, it was a break, a leap, a disaster. It was a hyperbole made possible by violence, by the "blow" of the tyrant subduing. The originary violence of these ruler/organizers is explicitly equated with ("exemplifies," not "is exemplified by") "that terrible artist's egoism that has the look of bronze and knows itself justified to all eternity in its 'work,' like a mother in her child" (GM II:17).
It was not in these archaic figures but because of them that bad conscience developed. The instinct to freedom was forced into latency; this turning-in-upon-itself of "will to power" Nietzsche calls" bad conscience " (GM II:17). But out of the "secret self-ravishment," which is the literary analogue of this internal dynamic, comes the violent hyperbole representing the human estate, and with it the imaginary construct of its opposite, namely, "beauty and affirmation, and perhaps beauty itself" (GM II:18). As we can see, Nietzsche here equates "bad conscience" with that original malady afflicting the human animal. As a writerly illness ("as pregnancy is an illness" [GM II:19]), ascetic self-torture involves a debt owed to ancestors, to parents, and to God. So the debt can never fully be requited, the guilt never fully expiated. The perfect text will never be finished. In Christianity, humanity's guilt before God—the creditor who sacrifices himself for his debt-ors—raises self-torture to its highest pitch. This God is the ultimate antithesis of instinct and his invention expresses a perversely hyperbolic will to be guilty beyond atonement: "What bestiality of thought erupts as soon as he is prevented just a little from being a beast in deed !" (GM II:22). Even here, Nietzsche imagines the danger of a resurgent nihilism—that "sickness , beyond any doubt, the most terrible sickness that has ever raged in man" (GM II:22).
What is "invincibly" horrifying here is the specter of the ultimate per-
version of love. What if it is simply too late for divine love to be naturalized or humanized as that sensation of being loved by life? But the real abyss lies in the possibility that love—of our kind, of life—is irredeemably perverted by ascetic ideals, and is so fraught with hidden conditions, so given over to compensating for self-hatred, as to be little more than the most seductive version of the ascetic desire to be somewhere else, to be someone else. From this possibility Nietzsche himself must draw back, lest he become frozen in place by an "unnerving sadness," reminiscent of Freud's account of melancholia. Indeed, Nietzsche suggests, nihilism is essentially a form of melancholia: humanity's unresolved grief at the loss of the primary object of its affection—the self.
And yet, he insists, none of this had to be. The Greeks did not use their gods for self-torture. They used their gods to absolve themselves of evil, to characterize themselves as foolish rather than sinful. And when one of their "foolish" number did something terrible, they argued that the sublimity of evil was beyond them, that it could only come from the gods. The ascetic ideal and culture are not necessarily one and the same. But if this is so, how are we to extricate ourselves from "bad conscience"? From our present position within the culture and emotional economy of the ascetic ideal, any attempt to erect a new "temple" necessarily appears to be wantonly, if not apocalyptically destructive. (" 'What are you really doing, erecting an ideal or knocking one down?' I may perhaps be asked. . .. If a temple is to be erected a temple must be destroyed " [GM II:24].) Nietzsche's self-directed question might almost be taken as a reply-in-advance to such later commentators on the "end of philosophy" as Heidegger and Derrida. Nietzsche's point is that from within a culture of millennial duration, any fundamental change assumes—for reasons having to do with our perspective—an apocalyptic aspect. We are no more able to judge the meaning (or "value") of such changes in advance than we are able to estimate the value of life. In the case of the ascetic ideal, we read:
Man has all too long had an "evil eye" for his natural inclinations, so that they have finally become inseparable from his "bad conscience." An attempt at the reverse would in itself be possible—but who is strong enough for it?—that is, to wed the bad conscience to all the unnatural inclinations, all those aspirations to the beyond, to that which runs counter to sense, instinct, nature, animal, in short all ideals hitherto, which are one and all hostile to life and ideals that slander the world. To whom should one turn today with such hopes and demands? (GM II:24)
Here Nietzsche amplifies the interrogative mode: Who indeed—when these hopes and demands look so much like the ascetic wish to be elsewhere, when the hyperbolic "what if?" so closely resembles the ascetic rejection of what we are—is strong enough? How are we to take such an
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