“The Realm of Our Invention”: On the Role of Parody in Nietzsche’s Thought

Journal of Nietzsche Studies 55 (1):49-66 (2024)
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In the first edition of The Gay Science (GS), Nietzsche proposes that we treat knowledge as unconditionally valuable and life as a tragic quest for truth. In the second edition of GS, he seems to retract this proposal, suggesting that we substitute “incipit parodia” for “incipit tragœdia.” But Nietzsche does not say what he means by “parody,” or what role he believes it should play in our evaluative lives. This article proposes that by introducing parody into GS, Nietzsche intends not only to correct the original text by mocking his earlier treatment of science as tragic, but also to designate parody as a basis for new tasks, duties, and values beyond what science can offer. This article speculates that parodic value creation might consist in the imitation of behaviors and practices associated with preexisting values without the reproduction of the beliefs and feelings corresponding to those practices.



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Caroline B. Wall
Boston University

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