It has been a longstanding visceral, deepseated reflex of mine to abhor Nietzsche – no doubt largely thanks also to my protestant pietist background (and the rational-liberal present) to which this constant strutting, this ridiculous posturing is a total anathema. I hardly can read the bloody stuff: the feverish hysteria, the girlish exclamations... That is supposed to be good style? God is dead, most likely, but why should we have a collective tantrum about such a thing? And is it not ridiculous to aim to be “masters” of our own fate, when firstly we definitely are not, and secondly, are not even capable of defining what that mastery could really mean.
But, and there is so often a but with him, in later years there has grown some reluctant respect for his thinking. Or, more accurately, for his attitude towards the experience of being in the world. In this vehement insistance to think, to be for yourself, to make your own definitions, there is actually much to admire. Of course we must live like that – life would not be meaningfully lived otherwise. But (hmm, another one) apart from that I still have very little actual interest for him. He either says self-evident things or obviously silly and meaningless things. And not at all innocently: I can well see how the Nazi misreading grew out of his thought - if profound, theoretical strutting is aped, you will get nasty, brutal and primitive real life strutting. And worse. Himmler’s misreading for example was very chilling indeed. Nietzsche is not innocent in this as little “Nazi” as he actually so obviously was.
But the most striking image of all are of his later years: his lost sanity, his incoherent, mad, pitiful ravings - and the awful misuse of his philosophy by his poisonous sister. Not a master of his fate then, not a master at all. As none of us ever is and never will be.