Romantic Hitler: Hiking with Nietzsche, by John Kaag ★★★★★

Tue 4/09/2019 9:13 am. It’s like the Classic Comix version of modernism! All your favorite hits, from Wordsworth to Wagner to Adorno. But oddly, he leaves out Hitler, who obviously belongs with this star-crossed assemblage of lunatics. Or for that matter, the heroic Karl Marx, perfecter of scientific history!

I am ignorant, and when he told me Nietzsche was a romantic, I was stunned — I never knew! ... So that’s 5 stars already. But it made so much sense — or nonsense, as the tiny minority of normal people might put it. I mean, I knew Wagner was a romantic, ’cause he wrote romantic music, really quite lovely as long as one doesn’t have to put up with the screaming coloraturas for whom he wrote it. And I knew Wagner & Nietzsche were buds at one point. But I never “connected the dots”, their obvious place in the great wonderful parade of nineteenth & 20th century barking lunatics, starting with the compassionate know-it-alls of the french revolution and descending to the beloved omniscience of modern liberalism, which provides so much joy & laughter in current events.

The author is fully invested in the wild emotional turmoil that he knows is the essence of high-minded thought & life; his “dear Kantian” wife, perhaps not so much. And he brings along his beloved tiny child to his revisitation of various Swiss mountains he is obsessed-with. The book purports — I think — to be a popularization of Nietzsche’s thought & writing, and it certainly drove me to actually obtain a kindle copy of Thus Spake Zarathustra, in which I think I got up to 10%. And by golly, that Nietzsche fellow is barking; just like our author! Totally incoherent, the hallmark of modern progressive thought & practice.

Author Kaag, on the other hand, tries to communicate / amuse, and tells an engaging story of his & family’s adventures — and it has a happy ending! Although it seems to involve an unexplained return to some Basel winter dionysian festival (?) — or something. ... But definitely 5 stars....