The Digital Nietzsche: Download Nietzsche’s Major Works as Free eBooks

Nietzsche

In times of deep distress I’ve often found the brutal, unsparing candor of Friedrich Nietzsche a strange comfort. While wholly enamored of the aristocratic, Hellenistic past of literary invention, the often bilious German philosopher nonetheless had no illusions about the nature of power, which does as it will and is not held in check by what we take for common values. In Nietzsche's diagnosis, no set of values—or what he calls in The Genealogy of Morals “moral prejudices”—is ever disinterested, transcendent or “disconnected.” Instead, wrote Nietzsche, the language of traditional morality is generally synonymous with the language of power, thus:

The master’s right of giving names goes so far that it is permissible to look upon language itself as the expression of the power of the masters: they say “this is that, and that,” they seal finally every object and every event with a sound, and thereby at the same time take possession of it.

It is “because of this origin,” writes the contrarian Nietzsche, “that the word ‘good’ is far from having any necessary connection with altruistic acts, in accordance with the superstitious belief of these moral philosophers.” Nietzsche described Christianity as "hostile to life" and called for a "revaluation of all values," excoriating Judeo-Christian beliefs as "slave morality." The radical iconoclasm expressed in works like The Genealogy of Morals sits side by side with what can seem like the most reactionary valorizations of “nobility” and hierarchy. Nietzsche may have had nothing but contempt for liberal, bourgeois society, but he did not seek to replace it with egalitarian socialism or anything of the kind. It is this sometimes jarring contrast between his seemingly rightist politics and his unsystematic dismantling of the ideological mechanisms by which state power justifies itself that make Nietzsche such a confusing philosopher, one so easily misinterpreted and misread.

The most famous misreading of Nietzsche was a deliberate one, orchestrated by his anti-Semitic sister Elisabeth, friend and admirer of Hitler, who corrupted her brother's late work and adapted it to Nazi ideology. And yet, despite Nietzsche's seeming disdain for what he vaguely termed, among other things, an “under race” of common people, he also loathed anti-Semitism and nationalism and would have been infuriated to see his work used as it was by German and Italian fascists. Later readings of Nietzsche, like those of the late Walter Kaufmann or Nietzsche scholar and philosopher Babette Babich, place him in dialogue with Hegel, Kant, and Aristotle, and with the Existentialists. Nietzsche has been called an existentialist thinker himself, as well as a pragmatist, naturalist, and pre-postmodernist—all designations that get at important aspects of his thought, e.g. his stress on contingency, on the physical basis of thought, and on the relative, perspectival nature of truth.

This very broad overview doesn’t pretend to do justice to the depth and variety of Nietzschean thought. If you wish to understand his work, you should, of course, read it for yourself. And so you can, nearly all of it, online. Below, find links to almost all of the philosopher's major works, in Kindle, PDF, HTML, ePub, and other formats. For some excellent guides through Nietzsche’s thinking, consider listening to Walter Kaufmann’s 1960 lectures and watching the Nietzsche segment in Human, All Too Human, a 3-part documentary series that also profiles Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. Professor Babich’s site has links to many of her articles online and the site Nietzsche Circle has a large links section with many helpful resources. But of course, there’s no substitute for the original. Below, in chronological order, find most of the complete works of Friedrich Nietzsche. Ironic, pessimistic, joyous, creative, and scathing, they make for intriguing, frustrating, enlightening, and ultimately life-affirming reading.

All of these texts appear in our collection of Free Philosophy eBooks as well as in our larger collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2: A Striking Visualization

During the same week when House Republicans passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on its own research, NASA climate scientists (coincidentally but maybe inconveniently) released a video documenting A Year in the Life of Earth's CO2. According to NASA, "The visualization is a product of a simulation called 'Nature Run,'" which "ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates. The model is then left to run on its own and simulate the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere."  The video above visualizes how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traveled around the globe from January 2006 through December 2006. Hopefully the take-away isn't look at all the pretty colors. The video is in the public domain and can be downloaded here.

To learn more about climate change, see the University of Chicago's course, Global Warming. It's a free 23-lecture course presented by David Archer, a professor in the Department of The Geophysical Sciences.

Dostoyevsky Got a Reprieve from the Czar’s Firing Squad and Then Saved Charles Bukowski’s Life

Yesterday we featured Charles Bukowski's first-ever recorded readings. Perhaps you found them, in their way, inspirational, but for me the feeling of inspiration always leads to a question — who inspired my inspirer? In the case of Bukowski, the poet has, in his work, clearly named one of his main inspirations: the work of 19th-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The author of Crime and Punishment might at first seem to have little in common with the author of Ham on Rye, but often the most resonant inspirations don't involve much direct resemblance. And as Bukowski remembers in the poem he gave Dostoyevsky's name (albeit in one of the other standard spellings), his ancestor in the world of letters did more than just get him writing:

Dostoevsky

against the wall, the firing squad ready.
then he got a reprieve.
suppose they had shot Dostoevsky?
before he wrote all that?
I suppose it wouldn't have
mattered
not directly.
there are billions of people who have
never read him and never
will.
but as a young man I know that he
got me through the factories,
past the whores,
lifted me high through the night
and put me down
in a better
place.
even while in the bar
drinking with the other
derelicts,
I was glad they gave Dostoevsky a
reprieve,
it gave me one,
allowed me to look directly at those
rancid faces
in my world,
death pointing its finger,
I held fast,
an immaculate drunk
sharing the stinking dark with
my
brothers.

You can also listen to "Dostoevsky" read aloud at the top of the post. Those with a working knowledge of its namesake's life might think back to Dostoyevsky's time in prison, recounted briefly in the "Siberian exile (1849-1854)" section of his Wikipedia page. Arrested on trumped-up charges of conspiracy for simply reading the wrong books, he was sentenced to "eight years of exile with hard labour at a katorga prison camp in Omsk, Siberia, followed by a term of compulsory military service." Today, any of us can read Bukowski's rough-and-tumble verse to get us through hard times; we can also, as Bukowski did, read Dostoyevsky (see our collection of Free eBooks). But Dostoyevsky himself, considered particularly dangerous by his jailers, was "permitted to read nothing but his New Testament." Hard times indeed.

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Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Tim Burton Directs Ray Bradbury’s “The Jar” on Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1986)

How do you follow up on making a children’s movie classic? If you’re Tim Burton, you spin a tale of sex, murder and conceptual art.

On the heels of his feature debut Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Tim Burton adapted Ray Bradbury’s “The Jar” (1944) for an episode of the ‘80s reboot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. In Bradbury’s story, a failing farmer buys a jar with a curious thing floating in it. It is described as “one of those pale things drifting in alcohol plasma . . . with its peeled, dead eyes staring out at you and never seeing you." This thing, however, has a peculiar charisma. People come for miles to gawk at it, strangely captivated by its uncanny charm. Well, almost everyone. The farmer’s cheating wife, however, loathes it to the pit of her marrow and when she tries to get rid of it, things take a violent turn.

Burton gives the story a decidedly Reagan-era twist. Instead of being a down-and-out farmer, Knoll (played by Griffin Dunne) is a fading star of the New York art scene. The episode opens with a critic savaging Knoll’s new opening, which is filled with large, preposterous conceptual pieces. The artist flees the show and his belittling harpy of a wife in favor of the local junkyard. There, he pries the titular jar from the trunk of a 1938 Mercedes. Floating inside is what looks like a Dr. Seuss creature drown in Windex. Knoll is both fascinated and repulsed by it. So, naturally, he places it at the center of his show. The results are mixed. Sure, Knoll starts to sell art again but his wife also starts to get stabby with a kitchen knife.

The episode is delicious fun. From the eye-popping color palette to the crisp, graphic direction to the painfully ‘80s hairstyles, this work feels very much a part of the same world as Burton’s next movie, Beetlejuice. In fact, composer Danny Elfman and screenwriters Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson worked on both. You can watch it above.

You can watch a more faithful version of Bradbury’s story, which aired in 1964 during the original run of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, below.

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Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

The Wisdom of Alan Watts in Four Thought-Provoking Animations

Perhaps no single person did more to popularize Zen Buddhism in the West than Alan Watts. In a sense, Watts prepared U.S. culture for more traditionally Zen teachers like Soto priest Suzuki Roshi, whose lineage continues today, but Watts did not consider himself a Zen Buddhist. Or at least that's what he tells us in the talk above, animated by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. “I am not a Zen Buddhist,” he says, “I am not advocating Zen Buddhism, I am not trying to convert anyone to it. I have nothing to sell.” Instead, he calls himself “an entertainer.” Is he pulling our leg?

After all, Watts was the author of such books as The Spirit of Zen (1936—his first), The Way of Zen (1957), and ”This Is It” and Other Essays on Zen and Spiritual Experience (1960). Then again, he also wrote books on Christianity, on “Erotic Spirituality,” and on all manner of mysticism from nearly every major world religion.

And he was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1945 and served as such until 1950. Watts was a tricky character—a strict anti-dogmatist who found all rigid doctrine irritating at best, deeply oppressive and dehumanizing at worst.

While Watts may not have been any sort of doctrinaire Zen priest, he learned—and taught—a great deal from Japanese Buddhist concepts, which he distills in the video at the top. He gleaned very similar insights—about the unity and interconnectedness of all things—from Daoism. Just above, see a very short animation created by Eddie Rosas, from The Simpsons, in which Watts uses a simple parable to illustrate “Daoism in perfection.”

The concepts Watts elucidates from various traditions are instantly applicable to ecological concerns and to our relationship to the natural world. “The whole process of nature,” he says above in a parable animated by Steve Agnos, “is an integrated process of immense complexity.” In this case, however, rather than offering a lesson in unity, he suggests that nature, and reality, is ultimately unknowable, that “it is really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad.” The most reasonable attitude then, it seems, is to refrain from making judgments either way.

It’s that tendency of the human mind to make hasty, erroneous judgments based on misapprehensions that comes in for critique in the Watts talk above, animated by Tim McCourt and Wesley Louis of Westminster Arts & Film London. Here, he reaches even deeper, investigating ideas of personal identity and the existence of the ego as an entity separate from the rest of reality. Returning to his grand theme of interconnectedness, Watts assures us it’s “impossible to cut ourselves off from the social environment, and also furthermore from the natural environment. We are that; there’s no clear way of drawing the boundary between this organism and everything that surrounds it.” But in order to discover this essential truth, says Watts, we must become “deep listeners” and let go of embarrassment, shyness, and anxiety.

If you enjoy these excerpts from Alan Watts’ lectures, you can find many hours of his talks online. The official Alan Watts site, managed by his son Mark, has extensive collections of his talks and courses, though these are offered at considerable cost. What Watts would have thought of this, I do not know, but I’m certain he’d be glad that so much of his work—hours of lectures, in fact—is available free of charge on Youtube.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Read Online Key Documents from the Ferguson Grand Jury: Witness Testimony, Forensic Evidence & More

ferguson testimonyTonight, a St. Louis County grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot to death Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri this past summer. Following the controversial decision, St. Louis Public Radio started to upload key documents from the grand jury proceedings to its websiteThe documents include grand jury testimony, forensic evidence, medical reports, and law enforcement interviews. View it all here and be sure to check back for updates.

via Gawker

The Crazy, Iconic Life of Nico; Andy Warhol Muse, Velvet Underground Vocalist, Enigma in Amber

There’s no denying that train wrecks make great documentary subjects.

Not that Abraham Lincoln doesn’t, but watching someone come unglued is a whole 'nother sort of compelling. Upsetting, even.

Docs in this genre usually require the subject to have left the building in order to reach a satisfying conclusion. The final word belongs to an assortment of friends, colleagues, admirers, enemies…some of whom may be harboring ulterior motives.

Surely German chanteuse Nico’s appearance factored into Andy Warhol’s decision to elevate her to Factory superstar status. (See his video of her immediately above.) She was a model after all, arresting enough to have appeared as herself in La Dolce Vita. She romanced rock gods, film directors, and movie stars, many of whom have their say in Susanne Ofteringer’s documentary Nico-Icon, viewable in its entirety up top.

It’s a fascinating, cautionary portrait, but as the backseat psychoanalysis mounted, I found myself wanting to hear from the subject more.  With apologies to Neil Diamond fans, we decided  it was only fitting to show you Nico having her own say.

Maybe she was a nightmare. Former keyboardist, James Young, wrote a book about his time on tour with her. He’s in the documentary, of course. Aspiring icons, you’ve been forewarned:

When I worked with her her looks were gone and she wasn’t this Chelsea Girl creature, this peroxide blonde Marlene Dietrich moon goddess vamp. She was a middle aged junkie.

Nice. You reckon he might have gone easier on her, had she been one of John Waters’ superstars, the late Edith Massey or the still-thriving Mink Stole?

Forget sticks and stones. It takes a lot more heroin and hard living to kill the looks of anyone with her bone structure.

Did Nico really have such little use for anyone’s approval but her own? The art she made after her iconic work with the Velvet Underground convinces me that her embrace of ugly--what Chelsea Girls director referred to as her “stupid German perversity”--was sincere.

She’s still an enigma trapped in amber. She’ll be your mirror.

Find 200 free documentaries in our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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