Over at Slate Matt Feeney explores the connection, if any, between the Arizona shooter’s nihilism and admiration for Nietzsche. Along the way, Matt sparks the major works:
In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche’s first work, it’s the celebration of anarchic and sexually with-it Dionysus over boring Apollo, who’s like the Greek god of algebra or something. In Zarathustra, it’s the beckoning first-person narration, a crazy novel or memoir kind of thing, a heroic story of Zarathustra “going under,” gathering spiritual strength in hermetic solitude that reminds you of your own bedroom, and then “rising” to “shine” upon a people who don’t even understand or deserve him. In The Genealogy of Morals it’s Nietzsche examining the real history of that Bible stuff your lame pastor barks at you in church (which you understand as saying two main things: no sex, no touching yourself) and proving that morality originates not in God but in the will to power—ancient priests seizing power over ancient masters by guilt-tripping them about the suffering of slaves. (Christianity is just “slave morality.” So much for that dilemma.) In Ecce Homo it’s those excellent chapter headings (“Why I Am So Clever,” “Why I Write Such Good Books”). And in Beyond Good and Evil it is, well, the awesome title of the book itself, and that hilarious opening line (“Supposing truth is a woman—what then?”), and that first chapter where he mocks all those philosophers you don’t have to read anymore, now that Nietzsche has told you how lame they are.
Few things concerned Nietzsche more than the demise of world-ordering metaphysics, the result of which was nihilism. While Nietzsche rejected metaphysics (or at least he thinks he did), he was no nihilist. His affirmative project entailed the overcoming of this fatal condition.