Very brief early notes after a very quick read through of Klossowski, P. (1997) Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle. Trans Daniel W Smith. London :  Athlone Press.

Dave Harris

[I found this exteremely difficult, partly because I find it almost impossible to take Nietzsche seriously,  and I regard his elevation by French writers as a kind of joke. That may be because of the peculiarities of the English reception of Nietzsche as Deleuze argues in his Two Regimes  -- we didn't have to struggle with structuralism. There is an obvious ontological similarity between Nietzsche and other French types, including Deleuze -- intensive forces go all the way down {for Lyotard too, so his Encyclopaedia entry suggests}. This book is very detailed and technical and to take proper notes would require months of work. As I am mostly interested in Deleuze's take on NIetzsche which he says relies on Klossowski, I have managed only a few brief comments. I have rearranged the topics a bit.]

The book draws on lots of letters and notes left unpublished by Nietzsche, which partly explains my puzzlement about Deleuze's emphasis on things like the Eternal Return when there is hardly any mention of it directly in the published pieces.

Nietzsche seems to have thought that the alternations between euphoria and depression were the results of certain intensities or intensive forces, existing in nature and fluctuating in his body. He came to develop a whole semiology on this basis, seeing the codes and signs of ordinary culture and its products including philosophical thoughts,  as particularly limited and frozen snapshots of these fluctuating intensities. The same goes for wills. This is why we could not accept the usual categories as self-sufficient — self, other, consciousness, the unconscious and nature for that matter. We use these only because science is useful if critiquing ordinary thought.  N's aphorism are supposed to indicate the inadequacies of ordinary formulations. Thoughts are not our own -- but we have a powerful sign that makes it look as if they are -- the 'I' { functionalism again?}. We had to have these highly restricted codes for good functional reasons, in order to permit orderly social life, but the function of the philosopher and thinker was to attempt to contact these intensities all over again. This will obviously be paradoxical since there was no way out from culture back into pure intensity. Nevertheless intensities provided unique tonalities of the soul which generated spectacular insights, and made Nietzsche think that he really was a revolutionary thinker ahead of his time and so on. What a prat!

As a result of one of these particular ecstatic tonalities, he came to think of the Eternal Return. I must say I think the whole discussion is haunted by guilt and regret on the one hand, and a view that he would live things quite differently if he had known about the eternal return in the first place. What a prat again! He was apparently haunted by the mood swings and,multiple selves [and NB events must also contain traces of earlier existences] revealed to him by the fluctuations in his health, and turned with great relief to the idea that all these multiple selves were earlier incarnations of himself in cycles of the Return. His grasp of that was a major self-justifying enlightenment for him and a promise that things would be better next turn of the cycle. Of course, it required some philosophical justification...

He tried to reason that the Return must exceed any individual imagination because it implied so many individual selves. He argued it must be right because it came from one of the most intense tonalities of his soul. He thought it might be provable using modern science ( and resolved to train himself as a scientist at one stage). He worried throughout that it might all just be the result of nervous exhaustion. His frequent sufferings seemed to contradict the whole idea of a higher purpose. Maybe it was ultimately better to live without any guarnatees.Somehow he was a hero who willed this contradictory and unjustifiabe event. He tried to express it all through the character Zarathustra and his stupid assertions and imagery, but finally came to reject Z's visions as bombast and buffoonery [as a failed attempt to mimic the high tonality of the visionary etc].

Is the Return the same as the will to power and if not, what is the relation [typical philosophical question!]. In subsequent discussions eg of mechanism, he saw the will to power as a will to violence or against violence rather than as self-preservation,that will radiates out in its effects,that this is grasped as the normal sorts of affect like happiness etc, that it is a dynamic active force ( no conservation of energy) a teleological 'primordial impulse'. The Return is the process underneath these impulses and their variation, beyond ordinary wills and desires ( and causes and effects). We then get to the notorious 'sociology' -- that regulation and organisation express weak impulse re the Return etc, that this should replace our interests in specific social ends or means etc -- hence his critiques of convention, of religion etc. It is all analagous to the psychology of impulses etc says K (110) -- all the stuff about the intensity of the soul is compatible with his general ramblings about energy as never conserved [and dubious stuff about healthy societies as those in constant struggle etc] -- the same power is found in individuals and societies [and nature]. It can all look like it leads to chaos and to the decline of spirituality,but we find in it a pure energy. Only a gifted [or 'fortuitous' as he described himself] individual can finds this truth within themselves, of course, as a massive euphoria. The actual courses of events, the domination of particular classes etc,  are only phases in the Return of course It follows that each social formation must relativise itself, foresee its own transcendence: humans are gregarious but not committed to particular forms of sociability (plebs make this mistake of course].

The whole notion of the Eternal Return seems to be riddled with paradox and ambiguity, as one might expect. For example it requires us to have forgotten earlier cycles, otherwise we would have learned from them and discovered the Return in the first place. Once we have discovered the Return, we are enlightened, but this still does not stop the cycle of the eternal return. There is some wacky stuff about the importance of the notion of a circular return to encapsulate the process of solidifying the notion of the I , and then losing it again, dissolving it in the flux of intensity.The normal exercise of the will operates only at the solidified moment, but it is possible to will another turn around the circle. This is also a way of overcoming by compensation the apparent incoherence and stupidity of normal life — nothing has much coherence or significance in the ordinary state of affairs, where it is all arbitrary.As usual, we seem to compensate for our own twisted ordinary lives by developing what seems like a great ecstatic philosophical insight.It is almost a way of overcoming the dreadful thought of chaos at the bottom of it all — this is a domesticated version of chaos.

Naturally, this is communicated in unusual ways, through fables like Zarathustra, who has to struggle to overcome the boring bits of human destiny, like the exteriority of time. If he can somehow will time to become a circle, this will solve the problem. This will only be a ruse however {a subjective story of the reality}. The whole thing is to be contrasted to the actions of the ordinary will that operates in ordinary time and can only therefore think of and will a return of the same. This is where we get a connection to the early stuff on semiology and intensities, since what we are rewilling is a properly heterogeneous self, a multiplicity of different intensities, not one frozen in a particular moment.We can properly understand that our passage through the cycles in the past has produced certain limited selves, but they are all part of us, and once we know that, the future can work with heterogeneous selves {guilt and apology riddle this}. We have to remember that none of this is confined to human intentions — the cycle works independently of us {so it is not our fault that we happen to be living in a rather nasty moment at the same time as syphilis}. This revelation which occurred to Nietzsche by chance opens the possibility for the appearance of the overman, who wants to live according to the progress of the virtuous circle, naturally beyond the banalities of good and evil.

So what political implications follow? How does the Return affect human action? Maybe we were ignorant of it before but should now change. Maybe it has been revealed but only to a few secret masters. How should N react specifically, -- pursuing ordinary goals he knows to be pointless [nihilism]? How could we create conditions that would permit properly creative individuals to (re) emerge? The latter question at least was seen as a matter of healthy physiology to create heroes in struggle with their own personal and social health [like him]. Philosophers must make social life insecure again, do violence to it, even if that involves a necessary imposture -- the 'positive notion of the false' (132). Buddhism could be admired for creating these positive phanstasms (once we have guarded against its passivity) [it's the old notion of building a theoretical ladder to escape commonsense then discarding it?]

We have to generalize the notion of falsity and mystification to extend to the whole of existence, and give the forces that produce it a major creative role. The seems to be a way of upping the stakes for scientific demystification — a re-mystification. All this is to be understood in terms of the general notion that apparent stability and concreteness is a representation of challenging impulsive forces, 'existence is sustained only through fabulation'. 'Nothing exists apart from impulses that are essentially generative of phantasms' (133). A simulacrum is not just the product of a phantasm but rather the reproduction of it in human terms: this reproduction is not entirely free, however because it must remain tied to the necessity of the phantasm, so that proper analysis will lead us to the phantasm and to impulsive forces. Art is the only practice that reproduces suitable simulacra. We only get there after 'a ludic suspension of the reality principle' (134).

Science by contrast relies on institutions and therefore on the gregarious relations, and is ultimately a product of 'the herd's "will to power"' (135). This goes for all conventional intellectual endeavour so that all knowledge is a will to power and must reinvent the real as particular simulacra. The gregarious impulse will impose a limit to knowledge. Science ultimately is tied to human purpose and this makes it socially conservative, intolerant of great individuals and groups. There is a constant drive to maintain unanimity, and this replaces earlier simple beliefs in reality. Science is also affected by instrumental goals to improve living conditions for the mass. We have reduced the apparently highest form of knowledge to a crude form of interest in persistence which works against individualization, except forms of the individual which are compatible. Proper individuals will soon discover that there is no is stable core to their tastes or identity, and this helps produce an incisive critique of science.

Science invents simulacra that conform to its own phantasms, aiming not so much at comprehension as at producing mimetic behaviour. It still partakes of a basic 'anthropomorphic superstition' that nature displays intentions and reasons. In fact these are supplied the level at which simulacra are constructed (138) [and there is a hint that a successful technology verifies scientific reason as much as delivering useful goods]. However science also encounters a contradiction because it cannot tolerate the notion of a fixity of the species. This is sometimes understood as a form of chaos which has to be dealt with by 'self fabulation'.

However, properly understood chaos has no intention, although somehow intentional beings are constructed. This arises from 'pure chance — in which the intensity of forces is inverted into intention: the work of morality' (140). Science does not recognise this process and lead us back to chaos, but compensates for it in efficacious activity [Nietzscbe offers a grandiose account of how human cultures have developed like this, all of which have prevented the emergence of a properly adequate morality].

The way forward for Nietzsche is to go beyond experimental science and question all institutions, opposing 'the worst kind of gregarious cretinism' (141). Even Klossowski sees this as a pretext to nourish Nietzsche's 'Malthusian rage' against gregariousness (142). He began by inverting everything previously good into everything evil; the connection between weakness and a tendency to posit everything as evil. He condemned the domestication of the passions, argued for great men following their own desires, saw education as 'essentially the means of ruining the exceptions for the good of the rule', and higher education as 'essentially the means of directing taste against the exceptions for the good of the mediocre' (143 – 4).

[Now we come on to a bit that excited accelerationists] if a culture has an excess of powers, it can begin to cultivate the exception and the experiment [Nietzsche immediately announces that this is what has happened in every aristocratic culture]. Civilisation is not the same as culture and may even oppose it. We need to go beyond the normal reality principles of science and morality and recognise that we must acknowledge 'the force that compels the appreciation of a given state' regardless of whether it helps gregariousness. We have seen that scientific practice simply manipulates and naïve reality principle and is easily bent to the purposes of the herd — recover its autonomy is how N puts it, and again this will involve cherishing idiosyncratic individual scientists [and artists]. A similarly autonomous art would inaugurate a new 'counter sociology', dominating social life instead of the institutions. Even Klossowski can see that this might be simply an imaginary 'conspiracy a philosopher – despots and artist – tyrants, of which he is, strictly speaking, the sole representative' (146).

There is even a possibility for the formation of 'international genetic associations whose task will be to rear a race of Masters... A new, tremendous aristocracy... In which the despotic will of philosophers and artist – tyrants will be made to endure for millennia'. This might be a fit of rage or a joke, K thinks. It will all depend on certain 'physiological and psychic conditions' which will permit rare individuals to emerge. N apparently argue that this would be a phantasm in his sense, that is something presupposed by humanity even though it does not yet exist, and which represents the real goals of human existence: in this sense, the proposal is a kind of love.

This is 'the postulate of the "overman", which is not an individual but a state'. The production of this state provides both meaning and a goal for humanity, and this clearly contradicts a crucial point of his thought which concerns the production of random events, implicit in the notion of the Eternal Return, irrespective of the will of human beings. It is a way of reintroducing some version of the reality principle, and some notion of human will to the Return.

[K manages to get a useful critique of industrial society out of all this]. He discusses the notion of Masters of the earth and their corresponding slaves, and this somehow leads to a critique of industrial society as functionality dominating everything else. It is the dependence on the economy that provides the real limits to knowledge. This cannot be the result of some genuinely creative impulse because it is 'highly gregarious' (149) [the whole thing looks circular to me — genuinely creative impulses cannot be social, so since the industrial society is heavily socialised, it cannot be based on a genuinely creative impulse]. N is not advocating a return to some past aristocracy. Nor does he have any faith in socialist systems which will also be hostile to the strongest impulses — although we can see that this might help 'accelerate the massive saturation of mediocre needs' which will inevitably bring about some an assimilated group. Whatever the wacky political oscillation involved, N has got it right to criticise 'the mercantilization of value judgements'(150), and ultimately the way in which the reality principle of science conforms to 'the reality principle of gregarious morality'.

K thinks that this conformity is no longer stable, that there is now a continual experimentation which challenges institutionalize norms, so there are variable notions of social health and sickness, although proper transgression is still rendered unintelligible.

Overall, though Nietzsche has no strategy or account of social processes. He seems to dabble with the idea of emergent castes. Nevertheless he does think that the perfection of the mechanism will end with some kind of resistance to it, following 'the progressive de-assimilation of "surplus forces"' (152). There will be some sort of catastrophe to accompany this resistance, including the disclosure of the doctrine of the eternal return. Advocates of the return might be agents. The whole thing is 'obscure and particularly incoherent'. Again contradictions emerge between the necessarily gregarious context for social change, and the hope that the rugged individual will be able to somehow connect with this context. The alternative will be the end of the human species, however.

Here, the Eternal Return is suggested as an alternative to mundane forms of social reproduction. There will arise a singular case to oppose de- valorisation of power at the species level. The singular case illustrates 'the image of chance' (154) — it opposes gregariousness but also possesses underlying power [based on these allegedly impulsive forces I assume].

We can proceed by stressing individuals and destroying their gregarious links, as well as wiping out the past history of the species as somehow tutelary. Instead we 'will to re-will life'(155), involving experiment even if this looks like violence to gregariousness. In practice, various initiates of the doctrine of the Return will be able to emerge and create the new type of overman. And this will be easier once we have all realized the crisis produced by universal levelling.

[Back to K apologetics for all this] Nietzsche got it right that industrial growth will suppress and control 'appetitive spontaneity of individuals on a vast scale' (157). A new aristocracy will emerge from the surpluses produced by this activity, although it will not be popular with the masses and will be seen as parasitical. This group must find its very strength in the hostility and indignation of the masses. Members of the mercantile class will not do this, and it is not just a matter of the higher castes somehow leading the lower [with Comte specifically mentioned] — they have their own tasks.

All will be revealed eventually when the Circle becomes apparent [still called the Vicious Circle at this point]. The experimenters will make it impossible to resist and revolt, in a kind of 'planetary planning or management' (160). Until then they must remain as a secret order until the surplus men have been constructed and the overman [defined here by Nietzsche himself as a concept or parable for a type] [a great deal of ranting about industrial society then ensues 161ff] For Nietzsche, the progressive dwarfing of man is what will bring about the obvious need for a 'stronger race'. To bring this about, we might even accelerate these tendencies until it is obvious that a homogenous species requires some higher sovereign species to reintroduce 'beauty, bravery, culture, manners'(163).

But how can all this be seen as necessary? We might be able to knowingly will such events. Society might itself already be in the grip of a powerful transformation with serious dysfunctions, but how all this is going to end in some superhuman types is unclear. Much faith is placed in policies 'to accelerate rather than fight the ever expanding process... Equalisation' (165). Homogenisation will lead to 'moral and affective numbing'. The impulse to transcend these developments comes from the Eternal Return itself — it is but one stage in the Circle and the movement will go on to produce a final intensity, a 'luminous achievement' (166).

But how can we see this as somehow produced by economic progress? The current economic system has indeed produced aristocratic groups, but the question is whether N's particular set of human tastes tastes is already implicit, and whether aristocracy is not already condemned as parasitic. We already know the discomfort felt by those who do not directly live in the realm of exchange, who do not contribute to general productivity — 'bad conscience'(167). Positive efforts have to be made to overcome this. The whole project is 'still too marked by the political aestheticism of his time', although he is on stronger ground by noting the unforeseeable nature of the future, and how 'the industrial spirit' is already under challenge. [I think K uses a bit  of dialectic to rescue N here] there.

N is a philosophical nihilist in the sense that he thinks that 'all that happens is meaningless and in vain; and that there ought not to be anything meaningless and in vain' (168). [Then a very strange self-serving argument] This noble sentiment rescues the philosopher from dissatisfaction and desperation at the sight of such a bleak existence, and this goes against their 'finer sensibility as philosophers'. K, or maybe it is N draws the obvious conclusion that this is an 'absurd valuation... The character of the existence would have to give the philosopher pleasure'. Luckily, nihilism does not have to be logical but is more a matter of 'strong spirits and wills'.

Again this seems to give thought alone some tremendous power to change society, based, no doubt, on a conviction that it has previously understood history as something premeditated. Darwin's evolution 'conspires with gregariousness' by valuing mediocre beings, but we want to focus on 'strong, rich and powerful beings'. Darwin represents the typical coincidence of science with bourgeois morality. It has to be countered by a deliberate conspiracy based on the vicious circle, and that in turn is validated by 'the lived experience of the singular and privileged case'. This somehow shows that experience itself possesses an 'unintelligible depth' that can never be restrained by gregariousness.

Now we have a conspiracy based on the experimental nature of the vicious circle. Current existences seen as meaningless which somehow seems to validate some philosophical intervention, but unfortunately, the project means that the return becomes a simulacrum, something more specific and actual, designed to meet a goal of producing the overman. Metaphysical justification might be gained by identifying the overman as necessarily connected with underlying phantasms of impulsive forces. Somehow the meaningless depth of existence has to be reasserted against all notions of reasonable progress, and this is in effect a strange expenditure of affectivity beyond what is useful.

Making it all positive depends entirely on various experiments that will validate singular cases. We can no longer just referred to notions of what is true and false — the reality principle disappears [very handy!]. This leaves only an arbitrary reality constituted allegedly by simulacra depending on underlying phantasms and impulses. Apart from anything else, meaning can always be revoked.

Nietzsche clearly thought that his revelation about the vicious circle was sufficient to 'break the history of humanity in two'(170). The vicious circle will lead to the superhuman, although 'Nietzsche should have said: the inhuman'(171). It is true that advanced industrialization can be understood as 'a concrete form of the most malicious caricaturization of his doctrine', but as the 'exact inverse of his postulate'. We have neither the mediocre nor the superhuman, but rather 'a new and totally amoral form of gregariousness'.

Some marvellous bullshit on page 172 attempts to defend Nietzsche by saying that he deliberately wrote in riddles: 'the will to interpret deliberately encloses itself and simulates a necessity in order to flee the vacuity of its arbitrariness'. I suppose it is clear that if you see culture and language as unfortunately frozen and gregarious versions of attempts to make meaning you will have a real problem in deciding how writing and interpretation can actually work. According to Klossowski, Nietzsche 'explicated himself by implicating himself in a preconceived interpretation of the "text"' (173) — in other words he posed as a deliberately naive or possibly even a mad philosopher?

Much then ensues on Nietzsche's dreams, and his increasing bipolarism, including a reworking of the Oedipal schema. Nietzsche clearly believe that during the worst times, he 'reached the lowest level of his existence and received as compensation an exuberance of the spirit' (174). In another inversion, he explored his own decadent instincts and was then led 'to reverse perspectives and thus to [discover] the Revaluation of Values'. Klossowski says that we should not overdo this psychoanalytic reading, although it is deeply tempting — she felt terrible guilt towards his father, and saw his mother in standard terms as 'the sign of his sickness, and not of the healthy life'. Other strange effects are listed: 'Mourning was turned into a voluptuous delight in sound, while libidinal images, which were beginning to haunt the adolescent, would eventually be expressed in the elaboration of a necrophiliac cynicism' (178) [more unpublished autobiographical material is cited, including his adoption of an imaginary persona so that he could give 'vent to his hatred for the human species' as well as demonstrating his skill.

Later on, the cycle of vitality and lethargy produces 'two fundamental utterances' (184). First, 'the relationship between Chaos and becoming, which implied a read becoming', second the death of God, which was a rejection not just of the divine but 'of an identical and once and for all individuality'. Other strange forms of reasoning are apparent — Nietzsche discovers that whatever he has previously been told about his inner life is a lie so therefore there must be some outside of myself which will be where his authentic persona lives. This will be located in the past, or wherever he might find an absence of himself in contemporary society. He prefers to think that 'my constitutive elements are dispersed in past time and in the future' (185). All this is combined with an obsessive observation of his own health and the need to explain away some pathologies — the migraines and threat of madness were attributed to possible heredity.

[More Freudian analysis of family dynamics ensues, 186ff. His relationship with Lou Salome complicated things in that he became proud of his own variability, but also had to condemn it as an example of a normalised Eros. He was also becoming much more secluded and could see the risk in that it might lead to an ultimate decline. At that point, something fortuitous arrived, something that led to the insight that we wore social masks, to present 'a false unity in relation to others' in order to simulate our own internal secret life. However, the reliance on chance also brought a nasty implication, that this secret life itself could 'only be dreadful chance, fragment, riddle' (192). He could only rely on a more positive result of chance, helped by a reconciliation with discontinuity — 'chance ceased to be dreadful and became a joyful fortuity' (193). Overall, 'Nietzsche loved himself only for his aim; he hated himself as a victim of the traps of life' (195). All this arose from seeing the relationship with Lou as somehow expressing his inner essence.

Overall, the failure with Lou led to a negative implication of his overall thought about phantasms — 'The phantasm was produced only as the result of a failure. A positive experience ran counter to the phantasm the condition this organisation' (196). Madmen might well choose their alienated states and express themselves through stereotypes of madness, but this changes the relations between phantasms and concrete actualizations — experience becomes a matter of exchange between vision of life and art, not life and thought.

Nietzsche was unable to think of himself as willing his own thought [maybe], and psychological dissolution was the result. The failure with Lou also blocked his virility and this 'constituted a profound wound, a hiatus in which Nietzsche's ego was deactualized and broken'. The moment was so profound that the whole of his past was interpreted in its terms. Again Klossowski warns us about adopting too 'coarse and easy' analysis, however [mostly because the key figures in the drama are not just a conventional Oedipal ones, but include, for example, the Minotaur and Ariadne].

Nietzsche struggled, to no one's surprise, to find a language which might express his symptoms, and suspected that the symptoms of strength or health looks the same as those of weakness and sickness. This became part of a more general contradiction, making it difficult for Nietzsche to allocate particular meanings to terms that would be massively misunderstood, including 'will to power'. Although this was addressed to singular cases, it seemed necessarily addressed to social intelligence.

The Eternal Return also referred to a single case [I think this was himself!] and then became a thought. In an attempt to avoid domesticating philosophical convention, Nietzsche thought it would be addressed to 'sensibility, email to the tea and affectivity, thus to the impulsive side of each and every person' (200). The same problems arise using terms such as health or sickness — these were 'caught up in the designations of institutional language and... Became subject to the reality principle'. Was there any mileage in considering the insane or the monstrous as exceptional cases? Apart from the banality about madness being close to genius, there would be much to explain. Klossowski admits that 'We have absolutely no criteria for determining when the sick, the insane, and the monstrous would be cases of [political] sterility, as opposed to exceptional cases, nor when the latter would be considered fecund'. Nor will it be enough to identify some sort of cultural surplus or excess, since this overabundance would be by definition 'something unexchangeable' (201).

Nietzsche opted in the end to exalt life 'even in its blindest forms'. Naturally, this had personal implications — he could talk about '"the most beautiful invention of the sick"— that is, to a sovereign malice, and thus to his own aggressiveness' [with all that ranting about how the weak are even more malicious, and including a rant about women: 'one half of mankind is weak, typically sick, changeable, in constant — woman need strength in order to cleave to it; she needs a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and being humble as divine. Or better, she makes the strong weak... Woman has always conspired with the types of decadence, the priests, against the powerful, the strong, the men' (202), and a condemnation of civilisation which only promotes criminals and neurotics, 'the refuse, the waste'. There is the attack on equal rights, 'the superstition of "equal men"', who bear ressentiment, slave instincts, and miscegenation — 'two, three generations later the race is no longer recognisable — everything has become a mob' (203).

Klossowski insists this is not all bad, that the sick, for example, are at least credited with having a compassion [apparently, Nietzsche was influenced here by Dostoevsky]. However, there seems to be an increasing role for 'aggressive and asocial forces' in the creation of simulacra, rather than sublimation. Klossowski comments that 'Certainty takes on the offensive characteristic of delirium' (204), exacerbated by the 'certainty of the irreducible depth' of reality. Nietzsche might have concealed these 'monstrous dispositions', citing a view that it was Bacon who pretended Shakespeare had written about them, but Nietzsche was certain that making a simulacrum required great strength, and hence that suffering was necessary for the artist or philosopher. The most general implication is that 'knowledge is an unacknowledged power of monstrosity' (205), which might mean that it is terribly tempting not to be courageous enough to argue for strength and aggression. Any philosopher who is so tempted will settle for 'histrionics' [pretending to be a philosopher].

Nietzsche remained uneasy about all of this. He deliberately produced caricatures of his thought so as to compensate for 'the silence or incomprehension of his Germanic public' (206). This involves a claim to great visionary power, far from the idea that his was a fortuitous case, discovering the Return through luck. Now he somehow came to stand for an historical moment. He came to generalise [as usual] by arguing that all mechanisms of thought involve deception, both behaviour and speech — reality is rejected, but what deception stands for is never made clear.

Overall, Nietzsche will always 'be able to find himself' in any particular occasion scandal or incident, and he interested himself in society gossip. He just expected that anyone else would understand him and tried to grasp his perspective — 'he had now become his own propagandist: somewhere in the contemporary world there exists an authority who will decide both the future and the moral and spiritual orientation of his generation' (207).

[It all ended in the final euphoria followed by catatonia. I've not summarised the story which occupies chapter 9. It is tempting to see all the previous thought leading up to this crisis, but even here Nietzsche's thoughts cannot be separated very thoroughly from his reason — reason and unreason were tightly connected for that thought. Even his friends were 'not quite sure if it was a mystification or a delirious idea' (213), and one sympathetic person — Overbeck -- attempted to apply an optimistic understanding even though Nietzsche himself had done 'his utmost to destroy [it]' (215). Nietzsche's commitment to the fundamental role played by chaos meant that he both invoked chaotic forces and 'feared their imminent irruption' (216).

Increasingly, the hidden roots of thought were seen in terms of 'Intensity, excitation, tonality: such is thoughts, independent of what it expresses could express, and its application in turn arouses other intensities, other excitations, other tonalities'. Nietzsche increasingly embraced 'the viewpoint of the emotional capacity, and no longer the conceptual capacity' [with an inevitable slide to fascism in my view].

Chaos itself was increasingly expressed in more manageable terms — 'first the ring; then the wheel of Fortune; and finally the circulus vitiosus deus'. Any individual seeking to establish a firm centre for their personality is bound to experience 'vehement oscillations' as he swept up in the circle. He has to realize that 'each [personality] corresponds to an individuality other than the one he believes himself to be'. Any stable identity can only be 'essentially fortuitous', as is the insight that all the past identities have been necessary. 'What the Eternal Return implies as a doctrine is neither more nor less than the insignificance of the once and for all of the principle of identity or non-contradiction, which lies at the base of the [usual form of] understanding' (217).

However the experience so vivid for Nietzsche, 'became obscure once Nietzsche tried to initiate his friends into it'. The effort bumped into the contradiction of trying to use conventional terms after all, and his friends also 'felt the delirium'. Nietzsche knew only too well the problem of the contradiction: 'a word, once it signifies an emotion, passes itself off as identical to the experienced emotion, which in turn had strength only when it had no word. A signified emotion is weaker than an insignificant emotion… [Any attempt at communication introduces] a discrepancy between what was experienced and what was expressed'  (217). [You can see the appeal for Deleuze, but I think he also runs into the same contradiction, as does Guattari — how to express those swirling intensive forces that underpin the actual? Borrowing bits of science like embryology is one solution, but I suspect the whole thing is really aimed only at critiquing reification or scientism, and cannot really produce any positive politics or analysis].

When Nietzsche attempted to get people to think with him, 'he was really inviting them to feel, and thus to feel his own prior emotion' (218). Nor could he do without presupposing some skilled agent who would maintain the continuity of links between emotions and words while holding both ends open. The contradictions involved led to Nietzsche's 'rise or fall (euphoria – depression)', unmaking and making the agent respectively.

In summary, Nietzsche argued that 'it is our needs that interpret the world', impulses; it follows that 'everything is an interpretation, but... the subject that interprets is itself interpretation', and 'the intelligibility of everything that can only be thought... Is derived from the gregarious morality of truthfulness', and that to talk of truth implies gregariousness [a social correspondence theory in modern terms]. It also implies a knowable and stable person.

Nietzsche never overcame ambiguity here. He 'ceaselessly oscillated' between seeing signs as clear constant and fixed, and a 'propensity to movement', a recognition that signs cannot signify what is beyond their fixity. He tried to come to terms with this using his 'theory of the fortuitous case': first he tried to find some new centre for his beliefs and personality, but realise this was impossible and that he should find some sort of strength in dissolution, that 'we have to be destroyers'. Some individual natures can perfect themselves in such dissolution becoming 'an image and isolated example... Of existence in general' (220). Such would be fortuitous cases, beings that can thrive, become 'strong, crafty, and creative' such fortuity of cases would in turn become active agents. In his case, the great activity conveyed by his travels in dissolution led to the eternal return, an active response to 'the paralysing sense of general dissolution and incompleteness'. Nietzsche 'would incarnate the fortuitous case' and attempt to reproduce the world in thought, going beyond convention to the unforeseeable.

These thoughts were present at the very start of Nietzsche's career, although they might have been made more apparent by his final collapse. You can see his career as a kind of exchange between health and insight. In order to fully see yourself as expressing the eternal return, you have to accept 'the destruction of the very organ that had disclosed [this insight]: namely, Nietzsche's brain, a fortuitous product realised by the randomness that constitutes the Law of all the possible (but limited) combinations of the Return of all things' (221). This is how Nietzsche himself understood. 'His authority was not that of an individual... But that of a fortuitous case, which is nothing other than the expression of a law — and thus of a justice'.

He was forced to speak in a monstrous way in order to break out of 'easy-going agnosticism' (221). We have to 'speak the language of an impostor – fool... And therefore we will say this absurd thing: everything returns!' (222).

[Then we get back to the necessity to engage in histrionics, connected to the critique of Wagner]. The ability to produce something false can be a guarantee of authenticity. We have to reject the traditional notion of the true and the false, and thinking of actors helps us do this. That's why he talks so much about masks, both in personal terms and as a powerful general metaphor. He came to see himself as possessing a necessary ego, but as a mask, and this would help to vindicate him

[and a lot more elaboration of this view which ended in a paranoid view of the world so that Nietzsche believed he was applying some programme — to convert people? The case is closely argued in terms of the correspondence he wrote in his last few years, especially letters to and from Strindberg. Strindberg seems to have encouraged his euphoria and high estimation of himself. This estimation of himself escalated to the point where 'what he was conscious of was the fact that he had ceased to be Nietzsche, that he had been, as it were, emptied of his person' and had become almost a divine figure. He saw himself as liberated from the reality principle, and increasingly affirming the fortuitous case 'and hence the arbitrary case [as] the only reality' (236). He began to sign himself variously as the crucified one, or as Dionysus, again representing particular strands in his philosophy. Increasingly, his philosophy came to represent the final stage of paranoia where the patient 'seeks to reconstitute the world in a manner that will allow him to live in it' (238). One development was a unified Nietzsche relating back to the strains of his childhood, but another was 'counter-Nietzsche... Experienced as a liberation'.]

In the final additional note on Nietzsche's semiotic, we revisit the problem of reconciling impulses with the intellect, the incoherence and arbitrary nature of these thoughts and the need to obey intellectual constraints. [It's very difficult to understand because of the absurd style that Klossowski develops]. For example, the notion of the will to power in his thought is a primordial impulse somehow beyond intellectual coherence, which distinguishes it from classical notions of the will to power. It is important not to adhere to intellectual rigour which would exclude impulses. The tension or competition is between the 'arbitrary constraint imposed by the freedom of the impulses, and the persuasive constraint of the intellect' (255), although the intellect itself can be seen as an impulse. Impulses are seen as an end in their own right, but Nietzsche still needed to make them into some sort of persuasive constraint. What is needed is a form that retains impulsive fluctuation and incoherence while producing some version of the coherence of the intellect, something which will interpret concepts — and this is the aphorism.

The aphorism represents the full nature of the fortuitous thoughts, something unpredictable, something which does not rely upon a whole set of intellectual conventions but which is [somehow] 'pushed to a limit where thought puts a stop to itself' (256). Thought here stands as 'the premeditation of an action... The representation of a possible event', something that happens to thought.

This notion of an outside, something that resists thought strengthens his view of the conventional nature of intellectual representations. Every meditation presupposes a premeditation. Representations can only reactualize these prior events. There is also something in conventional intellectual activity that resists this outside. The aphorism preserves this outside to conventional conceptualisation. One implication is that we should replace conventional concepts 'with what he called values'(257).

The intellect is seen as something which represses impulses, and breaks the connection between the impulse and the agent. We are used to interpreting this as a sense of threat. Repressing impulses is required before the intellect can be coherent and seen as connected consistently to agents. In this sense, 'the intellect is the obverse of the impulse' (259), and it coheres with the agent at the expense of seeing intellectual forms of identity as coherence, and the end of the agent as being to achieve coherence. If individuals connect with the impulses instead, intellectual identities become much more fragile. [Using earlier terms, this can be seen as a coherence with phantasms not simulacra].. Individuals can then become 'at ease with the impulsive movement' and want to express it. The problem arises when this expression has to be achieved in a conventional form, especially if it is to become an idea, something 'valuable for another intellect' (260). The impulse then becomes a kind of false idea, reduced to something intellectual.

If communication is successful, however, it must relate somehow to the coherence as an agent of the other. This substitutes and necessary coherence with another for a proper coherence between phantasm and self.

We can never get to the bottom of the connection between the phantasm and our impulses. We must necessarily interpret the connection using conventional signs. This turns the phantasm into a simulacrum — 'we simulate what it means' — but this means that we can never properly contact phantasms and work out what it is they are willing.

We can now understand conventional language as a simulacrum relating to 'the external resistance of others' (261), which might mean the need to treat them as human others not just as simple objects. Language provides us with 'a sphere of declarations', and within that sphere, we can be free to describe and manipulate the real. However language is also the home of the false and the simulated [I am not at all sure I have understood this extremely complicated section], given that false representations of our own phantasms can appear to be true for others. This can have the unfortunate consequence of making it extremely difficult to grasp the phantasm and the singular case, but it is a necessary fraudulent consequence 'because it is willed as such by both the generality and the singular case' (261).

[Maybe the argument is] proper singularity is doomed to disappear because it must engage in conventional significations, and then it appears just as 'a particular case of the species', a conventional individual. There is no way out of this. The singular case cannot think of itself or express itself except through conventional signs, and this immediately produces a subtraction from singularity — 'it cannot reconstitute itself through these signs without at the same time excluding from itself what has become intelligible or exchangeable in it'.

[And with that, I gratefully abandon any further attempt to grasp these ridiculous arguments. I do think they have implications for Deleuze though who encounters all the same contradictions trying to use ordinary {sort of} philosophical language to explain the 'phantasm' of the virtual and the singularity of the event or haecceity] ]