Lever yourself up

Chapter 31

Good Monday Morning to this week 30 of 2020

Ecclesiastes 4:10
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out!
Walter Winchell

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too?
I thought I was the only one.” C.S. Lewis

He who has a why to live can bear almost anyhow.
Friedrich Nietzsche

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with.
Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.
Thomas J. Watson

We all know Nietzsche the philosopher. Little do we know of the great
influence the theologian Franz Overbeck had through this friendship with Nietzsche.

Overbeck dissected the theology of the past and that of his professional contemporaries in a way that to this day has remained unparalleled in its acuity and range.

A few months after Nietzsche had settled in Basel, Franz Overbeck arrived from Jena to take up the chair of ‘critical theology’. Overbeck, who was born in 1837 and was thus seven years Nietzsche’s senior, became the one permanent friend Nietzsche had whose friendship was founded on a purely personal, instinctive basis. Although he became for a while a keen Wagnerian under Nietzsche’s influence, he was for most of his life quite at variance with Nietzsche in his opinions…But his closest friend for most of his life was Nietzsche. His account of his friendship is an unqualified expression of thanks for the experience. ‘Our friendship was without any shadows,’ he writes. At the same time, he is not sparing in his criticism, which he had certainly voiced while Nietzsche was still able to understand it; but in this instance, criticism did not constitute a ‘shadow’. As the years passed, Overbeck moved away from Nietzsche philosophically, and with Nietzsche’s last works he was quite unable to agree; at the same time, however, he moved closer as a friend, so that in the last years he and his wife were, apart from Gast, Nietzsche’s only real intimates.” (Hollingdale, page 53)

Franz Overbeck was the perfect complement to Fritz’s personality. He was an intellectual of high regard, appreciative of the arts – particularly music, broad-minded, honest, caring, reliable, genteel, and reserved yet steadfast in his opinions. Of him Nietzsche wrote: ‘Overbeck is the most serious, candid, personally lovable, and least complicated person and researcher one could have wished for in a friend. At the same time, he has this radicality I need to have in all people with whom I associate.’ Many years later he would confess to Overbeck that Overbeck’s loyalty and friendship had, in fact, saved his life: ‘In the midst of life I was ‘surrounded’ by my good Overbeck.

One can easily imagine the two discussing their respective works in progress over evening meals. It is not too conjectural to assume their mutual interest in the “zeitgeist” and the way their respective works were viewed by their shared friends was a fundamental basis for the solidification of their closeness.

Their relationship was often mundane and entirely ordinary. Therefore, surprisingly little evidence of the course of their daily associations exists. But Overbeck’s friendship affected Nietzsche as evidenced when Nietzsche surveyed the first ten years of their friendship in a letter to Overbeck in 1880: “You will be deep in your work, dear friend, but a few words from me will not disturb you. It always does me good to think of you at your work; it is as if a healthy natural force were blindly working through you, and yet it is a force of reason which operates in the subtlest and most tricky material, and which we have to tolerate whenever it behaves impatiently and doubtfully for letting me watch the spectacle of your life from so close at hand – indeed.

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. Albert Schweitzer

Wishing you good friendships even to people you wouldn’t expect to be friends with as
we learned from this extraordinary example of a theologian and philosopher.

Philemon

 

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