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!FREE PDF ⚇ Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are ⚓ A Revelatory Alpine Journey In The Spirit Of The Great Romantic Thinker Friedrich Nietzsche Hiking With Nietzsche Becoming Who You Are Is A Tale Of Two Philosophical Journeys One Made By John Kaag As An Introspective Young Man Of Nineteen, The Other Seventeen Years Later, In Radically Different Circumstances He Is Now A Husband And Father, And His Wife And Small Child Are In Tow Kaag Sets Off For The Swiss Peaks Above Sils Maria Where Nietzsche Wrote His Landmark Work Thus Spoke Zarathustra Both Of Kaag S Journeys Are Made In Search Of The Wisdom At The Core Of Nietzsche S Philosophy, Yet They Deliver Him To Radically Different Interpretations And, Crucially, Revelations About The Human ConditionJust As Kaag S Acclaimed Debut, American Philosophy A Love Story, Seamlessly Wove Together His Philosophical Discoveries With His Search For Meaning,Hiking With Nietzsche Is A Fascinating Exploration Not Only Of Nietzsche S Ideals But Of How His Experience Of Living Relates To Us As Individuals In The Twenty First Century Bold, Intimate, And Rich With Insight, Hiking With Nietzsche Is About Defeating Complacency, Balancing Sanity And Madness, And Coming To Grips With The Unobtainable As Kaag Hikes, Alone Or With His Family, But Always With Nietzsche, He Recognizes That Even Slipping Can Be Instructive It Is In The Process Of Climbing, And Through The Inevitable Missteps, That One Has The Chance, In Nietzsche S Words, To Become Who You Are
This was a surprisingly pleasant read It is essentially a long personal essay on how the author, John Kaag, grappled with Nietzsche s thought and applied it to his own life during two separate trips to the trails and villages of the Swiss Alps where Nietzsche did most of his walking, writing, and ruminating On the first trip, Kaag was an angst filled nineteen year old the embodiment of the prototypical teenaged devotee of Nietzsche s independent and iconoclasticbermensch ideal The second trip, taken seventeen years later, found Kaag in much different circumstances a thirty six year old divorc on his second marriage, and the father of a young daughter With his wife and daughter in tow, he returns to the site of his original Nietzschean pilgrimage, reflecting on how the experiences of marriage, divorce, remarriage, and fatherhood have changed his understanding of Nietzsche, and how Nietzsche himself must have changed as he tried to live out his own philosophy This is not an in depth study of Nietzsche it casually treats with some familiar concepts from his writings, but it is not intended to be philosophically rigorous It is written for a general audience, who may or may not be at all familiar with Nietzsche It is far about Kaag s experiences with Nietzsche than it is about Nietzsche himself I d recommend it for those interested in readings about the intersection of philosophy and lived experience. While reading this book I had the very uncomfortable feeling that I was being taken on a ride by the author In his American Philosophy which I haven t read Mr Kaag seemed to have hit upon a winning formula that meshed autobiography with the lives and ideas of Transcendentalist philosophers Perhaps his agent thought this home run was worth repeating And so they zoomed in on Nietzsche, a thinker about whom Kaag had been writing a thesis as a student and on which he had been teaching to undergraduates But composing an autobiographical narrative that meaningfully echoes the very highs and lows of Nietzsche s life seemed to have been too much of a stretch At least that is my conclusion after reading this book Kaag s personal reminiscences in Hiking with Nietzsche center on three episodes of which I will only discuss two First there is a visit to the Swiss Alps when he was a rather naive student and got himself into trouble on a long hike from Spl gen to Sils Maria in the Engadin Impossible to figure out whether this ever really happened, but the cavalier way in which Kaag handles the geographical details makes this reader somewhat suspicious Indeed, when you take a map and draw a straight line between Spl gen and Sils then somewhere halfway down the line will cross the 3400m high summit of Piz Platta, where allegedly the young Kaag got into trouble But a hiker would have no reason at all to walk up this mountain Rather, it would be very natural to follow the trails through valleys and across mountain passes into the Engadin And neither is it very likely that this peak can be seen on a clear day from a plane two hundred miles away What Wikipedia mentions is that from the summit of Platta it is possible to see conspicuous and much higher Alpine summits about 150 kms away Maybe I m overdoing the forensic bit, but the story is emblematic for the highly strung and somewhat adolescent tone that pervades the whole book The second and most extensively documented episode is Kaag s recent visit to Sils Maria, where Nietzsche lived an extraordinarily creative episode, accompanied by his wife and daughter Avowedly, the point of the trip was to exorcise some personal demons Kaag confesses that he had misgivings about the state of marriage and about parenthood that are difficult to put to rest He had been married before His second marriage came with the blessing of a young daughter Nevertheless he kept harbouring doubts His second wife, Carol Hay, is a professional philosopher in her own right who is advancing an intriguing research agenda that links Kantian philosophy and political liberalism to a radical feminist agenda Easy to understand that she holds Nietzsche a rationalist and misogynist par excellence in very low esteem And yet she nudges her husband to travel back to Switzerland to pick up the thread of his life where he left it 16 years earlier Here the story modulates to a comical register The family checks into the famous Waldhaus hotel, pitched on a rock high above Sils Standard double rooms are sold for around 500 euro per night in the high season The irony of using this luxury hotel as a base camp for an alpine journey that seeks clarity in existential and marital questions, particularly from a Nietzschean frame of mind, is not lost on the author What follows is a comedy of errors in which misjudgements and misunderstandings, pent up frustrations, and willful risk taking propel the story forward And this is laid out in such a way that the anxieties and conflicts dovetail nicely with the key episodes, works and ideas in Nietzsche s biographical trajectory But, honestly, I m not really buying it Two observations sadden me First, I feel that Prof Kaag, maybe gratuitously, risks his status and standing as a husband and mentor in this book Either he is commendably courageous or vainly stupid to share his doubts about his ability to sustain a companionship marriage and a positive, empowering outlook on life with or without the aid of anti depressants In light of his confessions his wife, daughter, professional peers, employers and students may start to look askance at him And then I also regret that the Nietzsche that emerges from this book is not the one that I have come to love Agreed, there is no point in reading books if one merely seeks to reconfirm one s own ideas But this Nietzsche seems to hark back to an older stereotype, shrill and resentful, and misses the deep humanity that lies at the heart of his life and work There are interesting observations in the book I particularly appreciated the chapters on Nietzsche s middle period which shed an interesting light on his relationship with Wagner and with Lou Salom But as the book advances the pitch rises in sync with the alpine anxieties that are playing out around the Waldhaus and it all becomes a bit blurry A few final qualms with this book first, Kaag copiously cites from Nietzsche s work but there are no notes that refer to the original sources Also, apparently Kaag has to rely on the Kaufmann translations It would obviously have been better to consult the German critical edition As a result it is very hard to verify how close Kaag stays to the original text At one point it is obvious that he takes considerable liberties At the end of the book the author cites a letter written by Nietzsche, after his collapse, to Cosima Wagner I am Buddha The original would sound like this It is a mere prejudice that I am a human being Yet I have dwelled among human beings and I know the things human beings experience, from the lowest to the highest Among the Hindus I was Buddha, in Greece Dyonisus Alexander and Caesar were incarnations of me, as well as the poet of Shakespeare, Lord Bacon, etc The shortened quote to my mind does not do justice to the idea expressed in the letter Finally, there is one episode in the book that irritated me because of the juvenile sense of resentment that it expressed While visiting Sils Maria, the Kaag Hay family resided at the Waldhaus But Kaag had a backup room at the Nietzsche Haus nearby He had stayed at the house during his earlier sojourn and found it rather quaint and depressing During their stay, the author and his wife spend one night in the Red Room while the daughter is in the hands of a babysit at the hotel Rather than to be appreciative of the hospitality extended to an absent guest, Kaag sees a reason to lambaste the refurbished Nietzsche Haus as an abysmal hotel sterile and sedate that caters to a coterie of would be creatives A few years ago I stayed for a week in the very same room Kaag resided in and I must say that I appreciated the rustic charm of the house, the expansive library and the pleasures of meeting in the communal kitchen with the other residents I m going to cut short this review because I could go on for a while For me, neither the hiking nor the Nietzsche layer of the book strikes me as particularly authentic and incisive I think it would have been a much interesting book if John Kaag had co authored it with his wife, Carol Hay It would have been fascinating to have the story on Nietzsche told through their diametrically opposed perspectives. Set for yourself goals, high and noble goals, and perish in pursuit of them I know of no better life purpose than to perish in pursuing the great and the impossible animae magnae prodigus Friedrich Nietzsche, Notebook, 1873 I came to rest on a well worn slab of granite and appreciated how far I d come.Nietzsche was, for most of his life, in search of the highest, routinely bent on mastering the physical and philosophical landscape Behold, he gestures, I teach you the bermensch This Overman, a superhuman ideal, a great height to which an individual could aspire, remains an inspiration for an untold number of readers For many years I thought the message of the bermensch was clear become better, go higher than you presently are Free spirit, self conqueror, nonconformist Nietzsche s existential hero terrifies and inspires in equal measure The bermensch stands as a challenge to imagine ourselves otherwise, above the societal conventions and self imposed constraints that quietly govern modern life Above the steady, unstoppable march of the everyday Above the anxiety and depression that accompany our daily pursuits Above the fear and self doubt that keep our freedom in check Wagner was thirty years Nietzsche s senior, born in the same year as the philosopher s father, a devout Lutheran who had died of a softening of the brain when his son was five There was nothing soft or dead about the composer Wagner s middle works were expressions of Sturm und Drang storm and stress and Nietzsche adored them Wagner and Nietzsche shared a deep contempt for the rise of bourgeois culture, for the idea that life, at its best, was to be lived easily, blandly, punctually, by the book Making a living was, and still is, simple in Basel you go to school, get a job, make some money, buy some stuff, go on holiday, get married, have kids, and then you die Nietzsche and Wagner knew that there was something meaningless about this sort of life The history of philosophy is largely the history of thought in transit Of course, many philosophers came to rest in order to write, but this was, at most, a perching, a way to faintly mark the ground that had been covered The Buddha, Socrates, Aristotle, the Stoics, Jesus, Kant, Rousseau, Thoreau these thinkers were never still for very long And some of them, the truly obsessive walkers, realized that wandering can eventually lead elsewhere to the genuine hike This is the discovery that Nietzsche made in the Alps. Biographical sketches of both the author and his obsession Nietzsche Astute analysis of many of Nietzsche s works, and the information gained by learning about one of the misunderstood and misrepresented philosophers in history made this a worthy read I would recommend this to those interested in philosophy, the outdoors, and mental instability.Thank you to the publisher for providing me with this arc available through netgalley. I m drawn to philosophy but have been burnt by this weakness in the past After all, when philosophers get talking or writing , before you know it you feel like they re saying the same thing in different ways with different words Or perhaps they re not using clear English or fill in the native language here Or maybe they re thinking in circles or whatever The word it all comes down to Huh So it was refreshing to read a memoir ish exploration of a philosopher, in this case Nietzsche, by a professor of philosophy, in this case John Kaag Apparently a Nietzsche fanatic from wayback, Kaag first visited the Alps in search of N when he was only 19 years old and having suicidal thoughts oh, man, always avoid philosophy when you re having suicidal thoughts Here, in this book, he returns to trace his tracks as a middle aged man with wife and daughter in tow.Result We follow a man who s following a man We get Nietzsche s life and, to an extent, philosophy explained, but all that Thus Spake stuff is leavened liberally with Kaag s life and thoughts, which provides philosophic relief and clarity Meaning I get my cake and eat it, too I read about a heavyweight philosopher and actually understand most of what I m reading None of this I Kant figure a word of this stuff.Win win, I think they call it If you re a lowbrow slash middlebrow philosophy fan, jump in If you re highbrow, I leave it to you And Kaag And may the best expert win. Hiking with Nietzsche is, on the one hand, a creative way to present the ideas of Nietzsche to those less familiar with them, from an author that in many ways shares a similar pessimistic disposition John Kaag seems especially well suited to tell the story, and by telling it in the context of Nietzsche s original environment and travels, he makes Nietzsche s core ideas of eternal recurrence, the Overman, and master slave morality memorable and understandable On the other hand, Kaag is exceedingly pessimistic, which helps him to explain Nietzsche but also makes for some gloomy reading The author discusses suicide, self destruction, anxiety and depression, failed marriages, isolation, loneliness, nihilism, not wanting to be a parent, and fasting as a means of orienting the will to something higher or deeper I found much of his commentary to be likewise either overly nihilistic, dramatic, or sentimental.Personally, and by nature, I m not a pessimist, and in fact find most pessimists to be intolerably annoying Pessimism is self defeating in the most obvious way, is unproductive, comes across as sulky and immature, and takes for granted the best and most enjoyable parts of life To be fair, the author cannot be faulted for his own personality, and as far as I can tell, he s writing in an honest and authentic manner, but it s simply not a disposition or a philosophy that I can, or want, to relate to The same goes for Nietzsche himself while he was undeniably brilliant and creative, his philosophy is centered on the idea of goodness being synonymous with individual power He considers self actualization to be a process of trampling on others to achieve one s own goals in a zero sum competition for resources the master mentality as superior to the slave mentality He fails to recognize the third alternative, a means of achieving self actualization through cooperation or in helping others in positive sum relationships But, as an outcast himself, with a history of failed relationships and depression, the philosophy fits the personality I would have given the book less than three stars, but the author is a skilled writer and parts of the book were enjoyable and fascinating The idea of eternal recurrence the idea that you should live your life as if you will, for all eternity, have to live it over again is compelling Also, I imagine that if you are pessimistic and suffer from depression, this book might actually be inspirational to you If not, then I m not sure if you re going to find much value in it, especially since the author doesn t spend as much time on the actual philosophy as I would have liked. Hiking with Nietzsche was a fascinating look into both Nietzsche s and John Kaag s life John describes two different personal journeys to the alps where Nietzsche wrote Zarathustra The first was when John was an angsty teenager and the second was in his mid thirties with his wife and young daughter He interweaves biographical information and the basics of Nietzche s philosophy throughout the book as he examines Nietzsche philosophy through the lens of his personal experience I knew nothing about Nietzsche before reading this book, but the man was responsible for some cool philosophical concepts including the idea of the eternal return, decadence, and the overman He also had his issues He never found love, had multiple mental health challenges, and clearly saw the world differently than your typical 19th century man He also had a bizarre relationship with the composer Richard Wagner that eventually decayed into resentment that was fun to read about If you re interested in an accessible introduction to Nietzsche or are wondering how any of his philosophy can apply to your life, then this is the book for you. really wonderful book Very much enjoyed reading it Here are some notes lifted from the textAt nineteen, on the summit of Corvatsch, I had no idea how dull the world could sometimes be How easy it would be to remain in the valleys, to be satisfied with mediocrity Or how difficult it would be to stay alert to life The project of the bermensch is not to arrive at any fixed destination or to find some permanent room with a view Nietzsche insists, if thou gaze long into the abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee Life goes only one way, into ever steeper decline According to Nietszche, there are two forms of health the futile type that tries to keep death at bay as long as possible, and the affirming type that embraces life, even its deficiencies and excesses To be well adjusted, for Nietzsche, is to choose, wholeheartedly, what we think and where we find and create meaning In a post theological world, self over overcoming remains one of the few remaining goals It is an exciting, terrifying possibility that can place unsustainable weight on budding relationships As Nietzsche coursed these trails, he was in search of a philosophy that could have traction in life Our first question about the value of a book, of a human being, or a musical composition is Can they walk Can they stand up and straight, carry their own weight, cover ground, and make progress According to Nietzsche, most philosophers, most philosophies couldn t we are, at base, suffering creatures, and when this insight comes home to roost at last, the ascetic ideal is there to greet us at the doorway of our misery Quiet the one thing the herd cannot abide Silence, the sound of oneself, enables even necessitates thinking His late study of decadence taught him to be patient in investigating decline and self destruction It often takes longer than one thinks, and one is to remain especially clear eyed as something fully vanishes beneath the reasonable habits of our lives hides a little inexplicable something that has the ability to opt out, even against our better judgment life does not change, but the attitude you bring to it might And this is not a trivial adjustment In fact, it may be the only meaningful adjustment that is possible Becoming is the ongoing process of losing and finding yourself Things must suffer, go dark, perish before they live again An existentialist philosopher meets marriage and parenthood as he treks on a well trodden path that ze famous philosopher once used for isolation As he moves along, and sleeps by the late philosopher s fortress of solitude he reminisces on his studies he has made on existentialism.This book is part memoir, part intellectual biography, part musing on philosophy.The primary underlying theme is a memoir inter spliced with intellectual reflection in the light of the great man with the distinguishable mustache One can say, the last great mustache near the 20th c which did not indicate a certain evil As a book on philosophy, I found it tame and a bit boring As an intellectual biography it was much too superficial as a memoir, it was pretty good.Overall this is somewhat enjoyable in a cute kinda family friendly way Some of his reflections are a bit too personal in my eyes But I guess he is a large follower of the purported intellectual titan with the impossible to spell name.One could say this book was human all too human And I guess they would be right.Recommended for those who haven t put much time into nietzsche and particularly enjoy memoirs.