Saturday, February 25, 2023

On the Proper Spelling of "Nietzsche"


Way back around 1990 or so, a debate on the philosophy of Nietzsche was held on the wall of the second stall in the men’s room, in the Cafe Roma on E Street, in Davis, California. Initially the discussion covered several topics, such as the precise meaning of the eternal return, whether Nietsche was indeed ripping off Stirner, and so on, but the argument quickly came to focus on the more urgent question of just how to spell “Nietszche.”

A vote was proposed: several of the expected variations were posted, each gaining between five and twenty votes in the form of tally-marks; some less common forms were also suggested (I voted for Nie Tzu). In the end, one entry far exceeded the others by at least fifty tally marks. And this is why, as a signatory of the E Street Roma Convention of 1990, I make occasional reference in this blog to the philosopher known as Nkee-chee, or Inky for short.

Fortunately, no one reads this blog, so confusion is minimal.

Note: The definitive discussion of the spelling of Nietzsche in bathroom graffiti is of course that included by Walter Kaufmann with his translation of the Gay Science (1974: 365n102), to which he adds that, if you ever come across that so-very-hackneyed graffito:

God is dead – Neitsche
Neitschze is dead – God

We Philosophers should of course append:

Some are born posthumously – Nkee-chee

Addendum: After the manner of Diogenes Laërtius, I have composed my own epitaph on Dead Fred, as follows:

Übermensch! Übermensch!
Denkt darüber sein Existenz.
Mann ist frei! Gott ist todt!
Übermensch lacht, denn er ist froh.
Pass auf! Hier kommt der Übermensch!

Übermensch! Übermensch!
Thinks about his own existence.
God is dead! Man is free!
Übermensch laughs happily.
Look out! Here comes the Übermensch!

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