Monday, October 01, 2018

O’Sullivan Contra Carey

Dear Sir,

John Carey may be an authority on the metaphysical poets but he clearly knows little about philosophy or the significance of Nietzsche. In his review of Sue Prideaux’s I Am Dynamite: A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche (Sunday Times September 23) he describes a philosopher who influenced Freud, Camus and Sartre amongst many others as “scarcely a thinker at all”. In successive paragraphs he asserts that “what he had was a talent for aphorisms” and “he expressed himself mostly in aphorisms”. Has he never read The Birth of Tragedy, On the Genealogy of Morals, or Thus Spoke Zarathustra? There is little attempt to engage with Nietzsche’s original ideas such as: the Apollonian and the Dionysian, the relativity of morals, eternal recurrence, and the will to power. Instead we are told Nietzsche was short and stout, never had sex, was misogynistic, was mad, danced naked, and had a sister who was presented with roses by Hitler. It was a trite and superficial review that revealed little except Carey’s prejudices and ignorance and is unworthy of the Sunday Times.