"Reading like a loser" — Costica Bradatan reviews Anti-Nietzsche
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."
Bull's "economic, efficient and witty" style keeps Bradatan's attention throughout, but it is Bull's "remarkable" and "sophisticated" art of reading that he most appreciates. He offers the following example;
[Bull] distinguishes between different approaches to reading Nietzsche. Say you come across Nietzsche's famous statement "I am not a man, I am dynamite." Faced with these words, you can adopt a "reading for victory" approach ("Reading these words, who has not felt the sudden thrill of something explosive within themselves...?"), but alternatively you can read it "like a loser". For Bull, "reading like a loser" is a distinct form of reading, if not an entire worldview. When we decide to read Nietzsche's statement "like a loser", we start to behave like one: we immediately think that "there may be an explosion; that we might get hurt; that we are too close to someone who could harm us. Reading like losers will make us feel powerless and vulnerable."
Bradatan closes his review by arguing that whether or not one agrees with everything that Bull writes, "it is hard to deny the boldness of his thinking or the seductive force of his writing."
Visit Times Higher Education to read the review in full.
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