Postmodernism's self-nullifying reading of Nietzsche

Inquiry 44 (4):405 – 432 (2001)
Abstract
To the extent they have adopted a cafeteria-style approach to Nietzsche's trademark conceptions, kneading and molding his words into chimerical constructs, postmodernist philosophers inevitably remind us of Zarathustra's description of 'scholars': 'They work like mills and like stamps: throw down your seed-corn to them and they will know how to grind it small and reduce it to white dust' ( TSZ , II, 16). If so, how much significance might we attribute to any postmodernist's 'findings' of any textual nuances in Nietzsche's relativism and stylistic multiplicity - nuances which at one moment appear intimately to apply and at the next to be hopelessly impertinent to whatever point that postmodernist is straining to make? The answer ought to be clear: By maintaining that there exist no intrinsically privileged vantage platforms vis-à-vis any text whatever, postmodernists in effect subvert their own analyses, and thus leave every work they consider unaffected. In that sense, we should be on target to advance that postmodernists are, au fond , engaged in writing for the sake of writing; indeed, what delivers them from sheer irrelevance is nothing but their clamorous advocacy of universal egalitarianism. This, however, necessarily reaffirms the nature and hankerings of the 'race' of the last man, and thus perverts the teleological direction of Nietzsche's aesthetics. Those who regard postmodernism as a regressive movement must therefore attempt to set the record straight by arguing that Nietzsche's relativism is, in fact, only a means to the eventual (phenomenal) realization of his Übermensch idea.
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