Nietzsche, Kundera, and Shit

Powerful Essays
Friedrich Nietzsche saw himself surrounded by a world of human constructs. Humanity had become a herd, clinging to these concepts like cattle grazing at a favorite patch of grass. Individual identity struggled to exist. The morality of the mediocre reigned supreme. Nietzsche lived in a dead world.

Milan Kundera lives in the world today. His world is dead much like Nietzsche's. Denial is the focal point of society. Society assimilates difference and denies what cannot be assimilated. In his novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera relies on the word kitsch to describe the force of denial. "Kitsch is a absolute denial of shit" (Kundera 248). Kitsch is an inescapable part of the human condition.

Though Nietzsche was not aware of the word, much of his philosophy is a reaction to the concept of kitsch. He wanted to revitalize passion, raw sensation, in hopes that he and others could transcend kitsch and relate authentically to one another: to be masters. Yet as Nietzsche attacks kitsch he also understands its necessity. He does not seek to destroy kitsch (like Kundera); he merely wishes to place kitsch in a new context, to put it in perspective. Many years separate the worlds of Nietzsche and Kundera, but the fundamental questions of their existential struggle seems to be the same: can one oppose kitsch and succeed, or survive?

Before delving into the possibility of opposing kitsch it is necessary to derive a clear working definition of kitsch. This definition relies heavily upon Kundera's vision of kitsch, and, therefore, any argument presented to demonstrate authentic opposition to kitsch pertains solely to the following definition.

Kitsch claims to speak to some absolu...

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...ore his readers is to accept shit as part of his philosophical answer.

Works Cited

Brown, Norman O. "The Excremental Vision". Life Against Death. Wesleyan University Press, 1959. p.179-201. Rpt in Swift: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ernest Tuveson, Ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Inc., 1964. p. 31-54.

Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist,

Antichrist. New York: Meridian Books, 1956.

Kundera, Milan. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. New York: Harper and Row Inc., 1984.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil. Walter Kaufmann trans. New York: Random House Inc., 1989.

---. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Rpt. in The Portable Nietzsche. Walter Kaufmann trans. New York: Viking Press, 1956.

---. The Will to Power. Walter Kaufmann trans. and ed.

New York: Random House Inc., 1967.
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