Experiences with Nietzsche
“Something said briefly can be the fruit of much long thought,” Nietzsche wrote in his Assorted Opinions and Maxims (HH, II:127).1 What is long thought, however, does not disappear into the brief remark as into a result. Rather, what is briefly said must always form the starting point of a long path of reflection. Nietzsche found ever more reason as he grew older to recommend that his texts be read “slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and after, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers” (D, Preface, 5). Caution and precaution must (also) be understood literally: in his aphoristic books, the aphorisms refer to one another in more or less hidden ways. “One thing is necessary above all…, something that has been unlearned most thoroughly nowadays—and therefore it will be some time before my writings are 'readable'—something for which one has almost to be a cow and in any case not a 'modern man': rumination” (GM, Preface, 8).
One must, therefore, establish a critical distance between oneself and the seductive immediacy of the impression Nietzsche's aphorisms make; an effect that he intends as a means of temptation, particularly in the early books. To extract particular sentences or passages and then lash them superficially together in order to produce Nietzsche's Weltan-