The Gay Science

Nietzsche talked about what he called “the Gay Science.” Unfortunately that now has a new meaning. What Nietzsche meant was “a sense of joy at facing life’s absurdity or cruelty or viciousness.” “Facing the world, knowing all of its nastier points and smiling anyway,” was what Nietzsche wanted to see and do. Exercise is one way to do the, but there are others.

Nietzsche thought the body was very important. He thought dance was important. Physicality was important. The very same people who were disembodied and who were interested in an otherworldly life, an anemic life, a fleshless life, were also the people who denied the world. These other people said there was another place, a heaven. Nietzsche’s view is an embrace of the body and of our biology. “And,” according to one philosopher, who talked about running and Nietzsche, two of my favourite topics, “we are able to embrace a more joyous existence.”

“So the joy of running is not about anything, it is just a glimpse of what is to be alive,” Young said. It is to be happy for this glimpse.

Nietzsche also held the view there is something wonderful about feeling the power to do things. He called this “the will-to-power.” People often think he is talking about cruelty or vulgar domination. These people don’t understand Nietzsche. When he talks about the will-to-power he is talking about that profound joy you have when you are expressing yourself well.

When you are driving yourself hard, or in some way, living up to your fullest, then you feel power. It is power over self. The Overman, his hero, was the man who could overcome himself! Not some petty tyrant.



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