OF THE DANGER MARKET
Friedrich Nietzsche looked closely at the form human existence had taken in his time and offered the world this succinct recommendation: “Live dangerously!”1 His phrase has the classic quality of formulas that move from the realm of philosophical ideas to the popular canon. If we restrict ourselves to a single enthusiastic glance, we understand exactly what it says. But the longer we look at it, the vaguer its meaning becomes. The element that stirs our immediate reaction is its uncompromising eagerness. We embrace it by identifying, not by thinking. This is all about impatience, especially impatience with thinking.
The process, indeed, looks more like making a sale than expounding a philosophy. We feel drawn to identify with that bold, imprudent injunction, to see ourselves in the intense simplification of the subjective moment, and want nothing from the complexities of prudence.
Everyone understands the thrill of a present danger. How would we describe it? Are we crossing a precarious footbridge that might break beneath us at each step? Suddenly our senses focus with exclusive intensity in every movement we make. Our feet quiver under us; all our senses sharpen. Wakened and alert for the first hint of something giving way, we listen for the slightest warning crack, ready to react instantaneously.
Fear tells us to get out of a precarious situation, but we resent the power of fear as though it were an alien imposition. We feel the lure of going on, as though persisting against all that holds us back will reveal us to ourselves at last in our bold Nietzschean image, beyond all half measures and postponements. If we go back and end the fear by giving way to it, we give up the bodily immediacy of our enthralled senses. We resume an existence diffused