Hardback, 256 pages
$26.95 / £14.99 / $33.50CAN
"Why Anti-Nietzsche' now? What reactionary forces and groupings centered on Nietzsche are at work at present, and, more than this, concertedly working against the progressive forces of the Left? I know of none."
For a long time people have said that to really think with Nietzsche is to think against him. Yet, as it stands, so many of the writers, philosophers and critics who draw on him or self-identify as "Nietzscheans" rarely, if ever, seek to contest the rhetoric or dominant narratives of strength and superiority in his writings. Surely anyone who has read Nietzsche will be familiar with the seductiveness of his prose and the remarkable ease with which one can --- consciously or not --- identify with the powerful and the masterly. Nonetheless, in spite of this well-known aspect of reading him, it has not been until quite recently that writers on Nietzsche have begun to question the apparent failure to resist this temptation and what broader implications it has on understandings of his thought.
Over at The New Inquiry, David Winters has reviewed Malcolm Bull's new book Anti-Nietzsche, which takes this question centrally and, in an astonishing twist, exhorts us to try and "read Nietzsche like a loser." That is, he encourages us to read Nietzsche's texts through a process of consciously dis-identifying with its dominant perspective and, rather than simply reproducing the relations of dominance it posits, enter into a critical engagement against the grain of the work. For Bull, to do this is to seriously attend to the radical ideas under the surface of Nietzsche's writings, and, crucially, to open oneself up to the radical force and political salience of his thought today.
In his review, Winters notes that,
Costica Bradatan describes Malcolm Bull's new book, Anti-Nietzsche, as a work that is not "about" Nietzsche but one "with" Nietzsche. Writing in Times Higher Education, he praises Bull as an "excellent writer of philosophical prose" and admires his writing for the way that it
plays with Nietzschean topics andthemes...experiments with them by undermining, inflating or taking them to the extreme; in order either to validate or invalidate them, it systematically pushes them to a breaking point.
Bradatan identifies Bull as a disciple of Nietzsche, but only "in a profoundly Nietzschean sense, which means he is obliged to rebel against his master." This is something Bull openly acknowledges, suggesting that his project in this book is not to provide a "post-Nietzschean, view" (unlike other critics who he believes "appropriate Nietzsche for their own ends,") but to produce a, "post-Nietzschean anti-Nietzschean perspective" that is designed not "prevent" us from getting to Nietzsche, but to "enable us to get over him."