Video Transcript

(music plays)

A caption reads "Weimar, Germany."

The BBC logo appears.

The caption changes to "Bettany Hughes."

Bettany is in her early forties, with long wavy brown hair and wears a brown sweater and a leather jacket.

She stands in a museum, next to a bust of Nietzsche.

Bettany says IN 1934, A
PHOTOGRAPH WAS TAKEN HERE WHICH
EPITOMIZED THE EXTRAORDINARY
INFLUENCE OF ONE OF THE MOST
PROVOCATIVE AND UNCOMPROMISING
THINKERS OF THE 19TH CENTURY.
IT'S AN IMAGE OF ADOLF HITLER
STANDING NEXT TO THE BUST OF
NIETZSCHE HERE IN WEIMAR, WHERE
THE PHILOSOPHER LIVED.
WITH CHILLING ELOQUENCE, THIS
TELLS US WHAT MANY NAZIS
BELIEVED, THAT NIETZSCHE WAS
THE BRILLIANT MIND, THE
INSPIRATION, BEHIND THE
TERRIFYING IDEOLOGIES OF THE
THIRD REICH.

Clips show images of Nazi soldiers.

Bettany says YET IF NIETZSCHE HAD BEEN ALIVE
TO SEE IT, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN
APPALLED.
HIS PHILOSOPHIES WERE BEING
DISTORTED BY A REGIME THAT
STOOD FOR SO MUCH THAT HE'D
HAVE LOATHED.
NIETZSCHE WAS ONE OF THE MOST
DANGEROUS MINDS OF THE 19TH
CENTURY.

Professor Ken Gemes is in his sixties, with short thinning gray hair and wears black trousers and a red sweatshirt.

He says NIETZSCHE
THINKS WE HAVE BLOOD ON OUR
HANDS.
BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T JUST KILLED
GOD; WE'VE KILLED THAT WHICH
GAVE OUR LIVES MEANING.

Bettany says NIETZSCHE LIVED IN
A CENTURY IN WHICH EUROPE WAS
WITNESSING UNPRECEDENTED
CHANGE.
WHERE THE AUTHORITY OF
CHRISTIANITY WAS BEING
CHALLENGED, RADICAL
BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE WERE
REDEFINING BELIEF.
AND THINKERS, LIKE FREUD, MARX,
AND NIETZSCHE, WERE SUDDENLY
FREE TO UNLEASH IDEAS THAT IN
PREVIOUS CENTURIES WOULD HAVE
SEEN THEM BURNT AT THE STAKE.

Pictures of the tree thinkers appear on screen.

Bettany says YET THEY HERALDED NOTHING LESS
THAN THE MODERN WORLD.

The name of the show reads "Genius of the Modern World."

[gate squeaking]

Bettany enters a cemetery and says IN 1882, ONE OF THE GREATEST
MINDS OF THE 19TH CENTURY
PREDICTED A CRISIS, ONE THAT HE
BELIEVED WOULD BE WITHOUT EQUAL
ON EARTH, AND WHICH WOULD BE
TRIGGERED BY NOTHING LESS THAN
THE MURDER OF GOD.
"GOD IS DEAD, AND GOD REMAINS
DEAD BECAUSE WE HAVE KILLED
HIM.
WHAT WAS HOLIEST AND MOST
POWERFUL OF ALL THAT THE WORLD
HAS YET OWNED HAS BLED TO DEATH
UNDER OUR EYES.
WHO WILL WIPE THE BLOOD FROM
OUR HANDS?"
THESE ARE THE VISCERAL,
CHALLENGING WORDS OF FRIEDRICH
NIETZSCHE.
THE CRISIS THAT HE PROCLAIMED
WAS A WAVE OF DISBELIEF IN
CHRISTIANITY, THAT HE PREDICTED
WOULD CRASH THROUGH EUROPE, AND
THE RAW, BRUTAL LANGUAGE THAT
HE CHOSE TO DESCRIBE THIS DEATH
OF GOD IS A MEASURE OF JUST HOW
TERRIFYING HE THOUGHT THE
CONSEQUENCE WOULD BE.
FOR WHAT NIETZSCHE SAW WITH
DISTURBING PROPHETIC CLARITY
WAS THAT WITHOUT A BELIEF IN
GOD, THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY FOR
THE MORAL VALUES THAT HAD
UNDERPINNED EUROPEAN SOCIETY
ACROSS 2,000 YEARS.
HE WAS DECLARING OUR FREEDOM
FROM GOD, OUR MASTERY OF OUR
OWN FAITHS.
NO LONGER CONTROLLED BY DIVINE
LAWS, WE WERE NOW LIBERATED, OR
CONDEMNED, TO CREATE OUR OWN
VALUES.
BUT WHAT HAUNTED AND TORMENTED
NIETZSCHE WAS HIS REALIZATION
THAT THIS WAS A FREEDOM THAT
CAME AT A TERRIBLE PRICE.
THE LOSS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF
WOULD BRING WITH IT NOTHING
LESS THAN A VACUUM OF MEANING
AND HUMAN EXISTENCE.
IT WAS A CRISIS THAT NIETZSCHE
WOULD WRESTLE WITH FOR THE REST
OF HIS LIFE.

[bell ringing]
[Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus"]

The caption changes to "Röcken, Germany."

Bettany says THE CHILDHOOD OF THE MAN WHO
WOULD COME TO CALL HIMSELF THE
ANTICHRIST WAS, WITH NO LITTLE
IRONY, ONE INFUSED WITH THE JOY
OF CHRISTIANITY.
WHEN NIETZSCHE WAS JUST NINE
YEARS OLD, HE HEARD HANDEL'S
MESSIAH
FOR THE FIRST TIME,
AND HE SAID HE FELT HE HAD TO
JOIN IN THE JOYFUL SINGING OF
THE ANGELS ON WHOSE BILLOWS
OF SOUND JESUS ASCENDED TO
HEAVEN.
THE MAN WHO WOULD SPEND HIS
LIFE AS AN ADULT WITH THE
MISSION TO ATTACK EVERYTHING
THAT CHRISTIANITY STOOD FOR
STARTED OFF IN LIFE AS THE SON
OF A LUTHERAN PASTOR, HERE IN
THE VERY CRADLE OF PROTESTANT
CHRISTIANITY.
FRIEDRICH WILHELM NIETZSCHE
GREW UP IN THE VILLAGE OF
ROCKEN IN PRUSSIA, NOW NORTHERN
GERMANY.
AND AS A BOY, HE WAS
PASSIONATELY PIOUS.
THIS IS THE PARSONAGE WHERE
NIETZSCHE WAS BORN.
HIS FATHER, CARL LUDWIG, HAD A
VERY SIMPLE FAITH, AND THE
HOUSEHOLD LIVED AND BREATHED
CHRISTIANITY.
NIETZSCHE'S EARLY YEARS WERE
SETTLED AND SHELTERED.
HIS PARENTS HAD TWO OTHER
CHILDREN.
WHEN HE WAS TWO, HIS SISTER
ELISABETH WAS BORN, FOLLOWED A
YEAR LATER BY A BROTHER,
JOSEPH.
BUT IN THE AUTUMN OF 1848, WHEN
FRIEDRICH WAS ONLY FOUR YEARS
OLD, HIS CHILDHOOD WAS RIPPED
APART.
HIS FATHER BECAME MENTALLY ILL,
AND WAS DIAGNOSED WITH A
TERMINAL BRAIN DISEASE.
IT WAS A TORTUROUS DECLINE.
HE WENT BLIND AND EVENTUALLY
WAS BEDRIDDEN.
ONE YEAR LATER, HE WAS DEAD.
AN AUTOPSY REVEALED THAT A
QUARTER OF HIS BRAIN WAS
MISSING.
THIS MUST HAVE BEEN A TRULY
HORRIFIC END.
THE SUFFERING OF HIS BELOVED
FATHER MARKED FRIEDRICH FOR
LIFE.

Bettany enters a church and says AS A TEENAGER, HE WROTE ABOUT
HIS FATHER'S FUNERAL IN THIS
CHURCH WHERE HE'D ONCE
PREACHED.
"OH, NEVER WILL THE
DEEP-THROATED SOUND OF THOSE
BELLS QUIT MY EAR."
[bell ringing]
THE ORGAN RESOUNDED THROUGH
THE EMPTY SPACES OF THE CHURCH.
FOR NIETZSCHE, THE DEATH OF HIS
FATHER POSED A PROFOUND
QUESTION: WHY HAD THIS GOD,
WHOM HIS FATHER HAD SO LOVED
AND TO WHOM HE DEDICATED HIS
LIFE, PUNISHED A GOOD MAN WITH
SUCH TORMENT?
IT WAS THE START OF A JOURNEY
INTO DOUBT THAT WOULD COME TO
DEFINE NIETZSCHE'S LIFE.

Bettany walks inside a library and says DESPITE THE LOSS OF HIS FATHER,
IN 1864, AT THE AGE OF 20,
NIETZSCHE ARRIVED IN BONN
TO STUDY THEOLOGY AT THE
UNIVERSITY, CONTEMPLATING A
FUTURE AS A LUTHERAN PASTOR.
BUT IT WAS DURING HIS TIME HERE
THAT HE CAME UNDER THE
INFLUENCE OF A CONTROVERSIAL
NEW METHOD OF STUDYING THE
BIBLE, KNOWN AS BIBLICAL
CRITICISM.
AND IT SCANDALOUSLY SUGGESTED
THAT THIS SACRED TEXT WASN'T A
CREDIBLE HISTORICAL WORK, BUT
LARGELY MYTH.
IT WAS RADICALLY UNDERMINING
THE AUTHENTICITY OF THE
SCRIPTURES, AND FOR NIETZSCHE,
IT HAD A DRAMATIC IMPACT.
IF HIS FATHER'S DEATH AND
SUFFERING HAD MADE HIM QUESTION
THE IDEA OF GOD EMOTIONALLY,
THEN THIS GAVE HIM THE
INTELLECTUAL GROUNDS ON WHICH
TO CONSTRUCT HIS DOUBT.
NIETZSCHE'S LOSS OF BELIEF
CAUSED AN IMMEDIATE RIFT WITH
HIS FAMILY.
AT EASTER HE REFUSED TO ATTEND
CHURCH, CRUSHING HIS MOTHER'S
DREAMS THAT HE WOULD FOLLOW HIS
FATHER TO THE PULPIT.
AND HIS SISTER, WHO'D ALWAYS
HERO-WORSHIPPED HER BROTHER,
FOUND HER OWN FAITH THROWN INTO
CHAOS.
BUT FOR NIETZSCHE, HIS JOURNEY
INTO DOUBT WASN'T JUST A SOURCE
OF HURT FOR THOSE CLOSE TO HIM.
IT WAS THE START OF AN
ALL-CONSUMING DISSECTION OF THE
MORAL AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
WITH WHICH HE'D GROWN UP.
HE BEGAN TO REGARD CHRISTIANITY
NOT JUST AS A FAITH REGRETFULLY
LOST, BUT AS A PERNICIOUS
INFLUENCE THAT ENCOURAGED AN
UNHEALTHY DISENGAGEMENT FROM
THE WORLD.
CHRISTIAN TEACHING, HE ARGUED,
FOCUSED ON THE NEXT LIFE, WITH
DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES.
EARTH BECAME A PLACE OF BLEAK
EXILE FROM GOD.
LIFE WAS A THING OF PAIN AND
SUFFERING - TO BE ENDURED, NOT
CELEBRATED.
AND THIS EMPHASIS ON THE LIFE
TO COME ROBBED THE HERE AND NOW
OF ITS SUBLIME MEANING.
THIS WAS A CONVICTION THAT
WOULD DOMINATE HIS LIFE AND HIS
WORK FOR THE NEXT TWO DECADES.
REJECTING CHRISTIANITY FORCED
NIETZSCHE TO FLEE HIS
THEOLOGICAL STUDIES AND TO SEEK
OUT A NEW DIRECTION.
RIGHT FROM THE START, NIETZSCHE
REALIZED THAT HIS LOSS OF FAITH
WASN'T THE PATH TO A LIFE OF
CONTENTMENT.
IN 1865, NIETZSCHE WROTE TO HIS
SISTER AND SAID, "IF YOU WISH
TO SEEK PEACE OF MIND AND
HAPPINESS, THEN BELIEVE.
IF YOU WISH TO BE A DISCIPLE OF
TRUTH, THEN INVESTIGATE."
NIETZSCHE WAS LIVING IN AN AGE
DOMINATED BY THE RISE OF
SCIENCE, WHERE THE SEARCH FOR
OBJECTIVE TRUTH WAS
ALL-CONSUMING.
BUT WHAT NIETZSCHE SAW WITH
SEARING CLARITY WAS THAT THE
TRIUMPH OF OBJECTIVITY DEPRIVED
HUMANITY OF SOMETHING
FUNDAMENTAL.
WITHOUT CHRISTIANITY, THERE WAS
NO SET OF BINDING MORAL RULES
BY WHICH WE COULD ALL LIVE.
THERE WAS NO SOLUTION TO MAN'S
FEAR OF DEATH.
AND PERHAPS MOST IMPORTANTLY,
WITH ETERNAL SALVATION NO
LONGER MANKIND'S PRIME GOAL,
LIFE ITSELF DIDN'T HAVE A
HIGHER SPIRITUAL PURPOSE.
IT WAS TO FINDING NEW MEANING
IN A GODLESS UNIVERSE THAT
NIETZSCHE NOW DEDICATED
HIMSELF.

(music plays)

Bettany walks into a book store and says AND HIS FIRST GLIMPSE AT AN
ANSWER CAME AT THE AGE OF 21.
HE DECIDED TO BECOME A STUDENT
OF PHILOLOGY, THE STUDY OF THE
ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS AND THE
PHILOSOPHIES OF GREECE AND
ROME.
AND HE WAS IN A BOOKSHOP WHEN
HE CAME ACROSS A WORK THAT
WOULD INFLUENCE THE WAY HE
THOUGHT AND ACTED FOR THE NEXT
DECADE.
IT WAS CALLED
THE WORLD AS WILL
A GERMAN PHILOSOPHER CALLED
SCHOPENHAUER.
AS HE READ IT, NIETZSCHE WAS
TRANSFIXED.
SCHOPENHAUER WAS AN ATHEIST
WHO'D ALSO GRAPPLED WITH THE
PURPOSE OF LIFE.
BUT HIS CONCLUSIONS WERE BEYOND
PESSIMISTIC.
FACED WITH THE PROBLEM OF
LIFE'S ENDLESS SUFFERINGS,
SCHOPENHAUER'S BLEAK CONCLUSION
WAS THAT IT WAS BEST NEVER TO
BE BORN AT ALL.
HE ARGUED THAT HUMAN BEINGS
WERE IN A STATE OF CONSTANT
DESIRE.
IF WE DIDN'T ACHIEVE THESE
DESIRES, THEN THERE WAS
DISCONTENT.
AND EVEN IF WE DID, THEN
DISCONTENT WOULD SET IN ANYWAY.
HIS SOLUTION WAS TO FACE UP TO
THE FACT THAT FULFILLMENT IS
IMPOSSIBLE.
HE ENCOURAGED US NOT TO STRIVE
FOR HAPPINESS IN ORDER TO AVOID
THE ANXIETY AND TROUBLE IN
TRYING TO ACHIEVE IT.
THE HAPPIEST MAN, HE SAID, IS
THE ONE WHO GETS THROUGH LIFE
WITH THE MINIMUM OF PAIN.
NIETZSCHE SAID IT WAS LIKE
LOOKING INTO A MIRROR THAT
REFLECTED THE WORLD, LIFE, AND
HIS OWN MIND WITH HIDEOUS
MAGNIFICENCE.
BUT WHILST HE ACCEPTED
SCHOPENHAUER'S DIAGNOSIS THAT
LIFE WAS JUST A CYCLE OF
SUFFERING, HE PASSIONATELY
DISAGREED WITH HIS
LIFE-DENYING, NIHILISTIC
CONCLUSIONS, THE IDEA OF GIVING
UP ON LIFE AND THE PURSUIT OF
ONE'S DESIRES.
INSTEAD, HE WAS DETERMINED TO
FIND A WAY OF AFFIRMING
EXISTENCE IN SPITE OF ITS PAIN.

(music plays)

The caption changes to "Basel, Switzerland."

Bettany says IN 1869, THE BRILLIANT
FRIEDRICH BECAME A PROFESSOR OF
PHILOLOGY HERE AT BASEL
UNIVERSITY AT THE AGE OF ONLY
24, THE YOUNGEST IN ITS
HISTORY.
WITH HIS FIRST BOOK, WHICH HE
WROTE WHILE HE WAS HERE, HE
BEGAN TO GAIN A REPUTATION AS A
RADICAL AND SUBVERSIVE THINKER.
IN HIS WORK, WHICH HE CALLED
THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY,
HE
STARTED TO GRAPPLE WITH THE
ISSUE OF HOW TO DEAL WITH
SUFFERING IN A WORLD DEVOID OF
GOD.
AND FOR INSPIRATION, HE TURNED
TO THE IDEAS OF THE GREEKS AND
A NEW FOCUS OF HIS DEVOTIONS:
THE GERMAN COMPOSER RICHARD
WAGNER.

The caption changes to "Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Bayreuth Festival Theatre."

Bettany says ON THE 22ND OF MAY 1872, THE
FOUNDATION STONE WAS LAID FOR
WAGNER'S FESTIVAL THEATRE.
ONE OF THE GUESTS AT THE
CEREMONY WAS NIETZSCHE.
THE TWO MEN HAD MET SIX YEARS
BEFORE WHEN NIETZSCHE WAS JUST
A STUDENT, AND IMMEDIATELY HE
WAS SMITTEN.
WAGNER BECAME BOTH AN OBSESSION
AND AN INSPIRATION.
NIETZSCHE WOULD COME TO BELIEVE
THAT IN WAGNER'S WORK, HE
GLIMPSED WHAT IT WAS THAT MADE
LIFE ITSELF WORTHWHILE - ART -
AND THAT THE GREATEST ART FORM
OF ALL WAS MUSIC.
[Wagner's "Entrance Of
The Gods Into Valhalla"]

Bettany enters a theatre and says NIETZSCHE BELIEVED WAGNER TO BE
AN ARTISTIC GENIUS WHOSE MUSIC
WAS GOING TO BRING ABOUT A
CULTURAL REBIRTH BASED ON THE
CLASSICAL GREEK MODEL OF
TRAGEDY.
IT WAS AN ART FORM THAT
NIETZSCHE WAS CONVINCED COULD
TRANSFORM A WORLD FULL OF
SUFFERING INTO SOMETHING
BEAUTIFUL AND MEANINGFUL.
HOW DID NIETZSCHE COME TO WRITE
THE
BIRTH OF TRAGEDY?
WHAT WAS HE TRYING TO DO WITH
THIS BOOK, DO YOU THINK?

The caption changes to "Professor Simon Goldhill. King’s College, University of Cambridge."

Professor Goldhill is in his late fifties, with short wavy red hair and a beard. He wears a denim shirt.

Professor Goldhill says NIETZSCHE
WROTE
THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY
AFTER A SERIES OF INCREDIBLY
INTENSE CONVERSATIONS
WITH WAGNER.
WAGNER WAS DEVELOPING A
REVOLUTIONARY THEORY OF ART,
WHERE ART COULD TRANSFORM
SOCIETY.
NIETZSCHE WANTED TO PROVIDE THE
PHILOSOPHY FOR THAT.
HE FOUND IN GREEK TRAGEDY A
MODEL FOR THAT THINKING.
GREEK TRAGEDY TELLS THESE
EXTREMELY VISCERAL STORIES OF
HUMAN BEINGS IN CONFLICT,
SUFFERING, DESTRUCTIVE.
YET IT WAS THE DOMINANT GENRE
OF THINKING ABOUT THE GLORY OF
GREECE.
CONSEQUENTLY, HE FOUND IN GREEK
TRAGEDY A WAY OF TALKING ABOUT
THE HUMAN BEING TODAY, THE
HUMAN BEING'S SUFFERING,
FINDING MEANING IN LIFE,
FINDING THE TRUTH,

Bettany says SO, WHAT IS SO
EXPLOSIVE ABOUT WHAT HE IS
PUTTING DOWN ON THE PAGE?

Professor Goldhill says NIETZSCHE
STRUCTURED HIS BOOK AROUND AN
OPPOSITION BETWEEN TWO GREEK
GODS, APOLLO AND DIONYSUS.
APOLLO STOOD FOR LIGHT, FOR THE
TRUTH OF LOGIC, FOR CONTROL.
AND SINCE THE BEGINNING OF
GERMANS' LOVE OF GREEK, THEY
ASSOCIATED GREECE WITH
RATIONALITY, THE BEGINNINGS OF
PHILOSOPHY.
BUT NIETZSCHE DECIDED HE WANTED
TO FOCUS MORE ON DIONYSUS, THE
FIGURE WHO CONFUSES BOUNDARIES,
WHO DISCOVERS ECSTATIC GROUP
ACTIVITY, DANCING, WILDNESS,
THE VISCERAL FEELINGS.
AND HE MADE THAT THE CENTRE OF
HIS TRAGEDY.
SO, HE WAS STANDING AGAINST
PHILOSOPHY, AGAINST HIS OWN
SUBJECT, AGAINST THAT SENSE
THAT LOGIC IS THE WAY TO TRUTH.
HE WANTED TO FIND ANOTHER SORT
OF TRUTH, ANOTHER
TRANSFORMATIVE POWER.

Bettany says BUT HOW DOES HE
THINK THAT DIONYSUS, WITH ALL
HIS DARKNESS AND, AS YOU SAY,
CHAOS SOMETIMES AND LOSS OF
CONTROL, HOW IS THAT GOING TO
HELP MANKIND?

Professor Goldhill says NIETZSCHE
WAS REACTING AGAINST THE
DOMINANT GERMAN INTELLECTUAL
TRADITION, WHICH FOCUSED ON THE
INDIVIDUAL HERO - THE
OEDIPUSES, IF YOU LIKE.
AND THEY SAW THAT THE
INDIVIDUAL WHO SUFFERED COULD
SOMEHOW TRANSCEND THEMSELVES
THROUGH SUFFERING, A VERY
CHRISTIAN MESSAGE.
NIETZSCHE REVERSED THAT AND SAW
INSTEAD THAT THE INDIVIDUAL
SOMEHOW LOST THEMSELVES IN THE
COLLECTIVE, AND FOUND IN A
GROUP EXPERIENCE AN ECSTATIC
TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCE.
AND THAT'S WHAT HE SAW IN
WAGNER'S MUSIC, AND THAT'S WHAT
HE SAW IN TRAGEDY, SO THAT
SOMEHOW THE SUFFERING THAT WAS
EVERYBODY'S CONDITION WAS
TRANSFORMED THROUGH THIS
ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE INTO AN
AFFIRMATION OF LIFE - THIS
LIFE, HERE AND NOW.
IT'S A BIT LIKE THAT SENSE OF A
ROCK CONCERT, THE IDEA THAT
SOMEHOW YOU LOSE YOURSELF IN
THIS GREAT, ECSTATIC,
COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCE.
AND ONE SHOULD NEVER FORGET
THAT OPERA IN THE 19TH CENTURY
WAS THE ROCK MUSIC OF ITS TIME,
AND WAGNER WAS THE ROCK ICON OF
HIS DAY.
AND NIETZSCHE BELIEVED THAT'S
A WAY THAT SOCIETY COULD BE
TRANSFORMED, THROUGH A SENSE OF
THE COLLECTIVE EXPERIENCE, FROM
WHICH YOU COULD GO OUT AND
CHANGE THE WORLD.

[Wagner's "The Ride
Of The Valkyries" plays]

Bettany says WAGNER'S THEATRE
WAS A TEMPLE TO HIS BRILLIANCE,
BUT IT WAS ALSO THE PLACE WHERE
NIETZSCHE FELL VIOLENTLY OUT OF
LOVE WITH HIS HERO.
WHEN NIETZSCHE CAME HERE TO
WATCH A PERFORMANCE OF WAGNER'S
OPERA
THE RING,
HE HATED WHAT
HE FOUND.
RATHER THAN A PLACE OF
REVOLUTION, THE THEATRE WAS
STUFFED WITH THE GREAT AND THE
GOOD OF EUROPE.
AND THE MAN THAT HE'D REVERED
AS A RADICAL, WHO HE THOUGHT
WOULD CATALYZE THE BIRTH OF A
BRAVE NEW WORLD, WAS JUST THE
HERO OF A SELF-SATISFIED
FESTIVAL OF OPERA, REVELLING
IN HIS OWN GLORY.
[music and applause]
NIETZSCHE STORMED OUT OF THE
THEATRE MID-PERFORMANCE.
IT MARKED THE BEGINNING OF THE
END OF THEIR FRIENDSHIP, AND A
NEW PHASE IN NIETZSCHE'S
PHILOSOPHICAL QUEST.

The caption changes to "Basel, Switzerland."

Bettany says NIETZSCHE'S REJECTION OF WAGNER
COINCIDED WITH A SIMILARLY
RADICAL CHANGE IN HIS OWN LIFE
AND WORK.
WHILST HE CONTINUED TO TEACH IN
BASEL, HE BEGAN TO HAVE SEVERE
DOUBTS AS TO WHETHER IT WAS
HERE THAT HIS FUTURE LAY.
HE STILL BELIEVED THAT IT WAS
THROUGH LIBERATING THE CREATIVE
DIONYSIAN SPIRIT THAT GREATNESS
COULD BE ACHIEVED.
BUT HE BEGAN TO DOUBT THAT THE
ANSWER LAY WITH THE
TRANSFORMATION OF THE MASSES.
INSTEAD, IT WAS THE FLOURISHING
OF GREAT VISIONARY INDIVIDUALS
THAT WOULD HOLD THE KEY TO THE
FUTURE.
AND HE WAS CONVINCED THAT THE
PETTY RESPONSIBILITIES OF
ACADEMIC LIFE WERE SUFFOCATING
HIS OWN CREATIVE GENIUS.
HE CONCEIVED A DEEP DREAD OF
COMING BACK HERE TO LECTURE, TO
WHAT HE CALLED THE GREATEST
CURSE OF HIS LIFE.
DEPRESSED AND ANXIOUS, HE
DEVELOPED WHAT HE CALLED
BASELOPHOBIA.
NIETZSCHE LONGED TO BREAK FREE.
THE KEY TO LIFE, HE WROTE, WAS
TO LIVE DANGEROUSLY.
ON THE 2ND OF MAY 1879, HE
RESIGNED HIS PROFESSORSHIP.
AS NIETZSCHE LEFT BASEL, HE
WAS GRIPPED BY DEBILITATING
ILL-HEALTH.
SINCE CHILDHOOD HE'D BEEN
PLAGUED BY VIOLENT STOMACH
PAINS AND BLINDING HEADACHES,
AND HAUNTED BY THE FEAR THAT
HE, TOO, WOULD BE STRUCK DOWN
BY THE DISEASE THAT KILLED HIS
FATHER.
NIETZSCHE'S PHYSICAL CHALLENGES
HAD BEEN THE FINAL TRIGGER FOR
HIS RESIGNATION.
ALTHOUGH HIS DOCTORS WARNED
THAT EXCESSIVE READING AND
WRITING WOULD CAUSE HIM TO GO
BLIND, NOTHING WAS GOING TO
STOP HIS PURSUIT OF A LIFE OF
PHILOSOPHY.

Bettany gets on a train and says NIETZSCHE BEGAN TO CRISSCROSS
EUROPE, STAYING IN HOTELS AND
GUESTHOUSES, AND CLIMATES THAT
ALLEVIATED HIS MEDICAL
SYMPTOMS.
HE WOULD SPEND THE REST OF HIS
SANE ADULT LIFE IN A STATE OF
NOMADIC SOLITUDE.
YOU CAN JUST IMAGINE HIM, ILL,
TROUBLED, INCREASINGLY
ISOLATED, AND YET WITH THIS
EXTRAORDINARY MIND FOR COMPANY.
OVER THE NEXT DECADE, THE IDEAS
AND THOUGHTS THAT POURED ONTO
THE PAGE WERE SIMPLY
ASTONISHING.
HIS ILL-HEALTH WOULD MEAN THAT
HE COULD ONLY WRITE IN BURSTS
OF 20 MINUTES AT A TIME, SO HIS
BOOKS WERE FULL OF INCISIVE
APHORISMS, PITHY STATEMENTS,
RATHER THAN LONG PHILOSOPHICAL
TREATISES.
AND IT WAS ON A TRAIN IN 1881
THAT HE WAS TOLD ABOUT
SOMEWHERE THAT WOULD PROVIDE
THE INSPIRATION FOR MANY OF
THESE GREAT WORKS.
A FELLOW TRAVELLER RECOMMENDED
THAT HE VISIT A PLACE CALLED
SILS MARIA, JUST A TINY LITTLE
FARMING VILLAGE IN THE SWISS
MOUNTAINS.
HE FOLLOWED THEIR ADVICE AND
DISCOVERED THE PLACE THAT WOULD
BECOME HIS SPIRITUAL HOMELAND.
[wind howling]

A clip shows a range of snow covered mountains with the caption "Sils Maria, Switzerland."

Bettany says ON MONDAY, THE 4TH OF JULY
1881, NIETZSCHE FELL IN LOVE AT
FIRST SIGHT WITH SILS MARIA.
ITS MOUNTAINS AND FORESTS
INSPIRED HIS MOST
LIFE-AFFIRMING IDEAS.
ITS BEAUTY REINFORCED FOR HIM
THE SHEER MAGNIFICENCE OF
EXISTENCE.
AND IT WAS ON ONE OF HIS WALKS
HERE, A MONTH AFTER HE'D
ARRIVED, THAT NIETZSCHE HAD
WHAT HE BELIEVED WAS THE MOST
IMPORTANT THOUGHT HE'D EVER
CONCEIVED.
HE WAS WALKING BY THIS LAKE
WHEN HE STOPPED NEXT TO THIS
ROCK AND SUDDENLY HAD A VISION.
THIS WAS A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT
THAT NIETZSCHE BELIEVED WOULD
HELP US ALL TO ANALYZE EVERY
ACTION, EVERY DECISION OF OUR
LIVES, SO THAT WE COULD LIVE
THOSE TO THE FULL.
THIS WAS HIS QUESTION: IF A
DEMON WERE TO WHISPER IN YOUR
EAR THAT YOU HAD TO LIVE YOUR
LIFE AS LIVED TIME AND TIME
AGAIN THROUGHOUT ETERNITY, WITH
ALL THE PAIN AND WITH ALL THE
GREATNESS, WOULD YOU FALL TO
THE GROUND AND GNASH YOUR TEETH
AND CURSE THAT DEMON, OR WOULD
YOU SAY THAT HE WAS A GOD AND
THAT HIS UTTERANCES WERE
DIVINE?
IT WAS AN IDEA THAT BECAME
KNOWN AS THE ETERNAL RECURRENCE
OF THE SAME, AND IT FORMED THE
VERY ESSENCE OF NIETZSCHE'S
ATTITUDE TO LIFE - TO BOTH ITS
JOYS AND ITS HARDSHIPS.
NIETZSCHE BELIEVED THAT EVEN
THOUGH WE ALL HAVE THINGS THAT
WE MIGHT CONSIDER FAILURES -
THE BREAKUP OF A RELATIONSHIP
OR THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE -
WE SHOULD BE HAPPY TO RELIVE
THOSE EVENTS, TOO.
JUST AS A PIANIST LEARNS TO
MASTER IMPROVISATIONS, SO WE
SHOULD LEARN TO INCORPORATE
MISTAKES AND IMPERFECTIONS AND
SORROWS INTO THE BEAUTY OF THE
WHOLE.
WE SHOULD CONSTRUCT OUR LIVES
SO WE ARE OUR OWN HEROES.
BASICALLY, WE SHOULD DECIDE WHO
WE WANT TO BE, HOW WE WANT TO
LIVE OUR LIFE, AND THEN LOVE
THE CHOICES THAT WE'VE MADE, SO
THAT THE THOUGHT OF RELIVING
OUR EXISTENCE, FOR GOOD AND FOR
BAD, CAN BE GREETED WITH A
LIFE-AFFIRMING YES.

(music plays)

Bettany says THE ETERNAL RETURN WAS AN
EXUBERANT AND OPTIMISTIC
EMBRACE OF LIFE.
SUFFERING WASN'T SOMETHING THAT
YOU HAD TO BE REDEEMED FROM, AS
CHRISTIANITY TAUGHT, OR AVOIDED
AT ALL COSTS, AS SCHOPENHAUER
ARGUED.
INSTEAD, IT WAS TO BE EMBRACED,
MASTERED.
TO LIVE LIFE MOST FULLY, ONE
HAD TO RISK SUFFERING AND
OVERCOME IT.
WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU MAKES YOU
STRONGER IS ONE OF NIETZSCHE'S
MOST ICONIC PHRASES, AND IT WAS
ONE THAT HE HIMSELF WAS JUST
ABOUT TO HAVE TO PUT TO THE
TEST.
THE PHILOSOPHER WAS ABOUT TO
FACE ONE OF THE GREATEST
DISAPPOINTMENTS OF HIS LIFE.

[church bells ringing]

The caption changes to "Lucerne, Switzerland."

Bettany says IT WAS IN THE BEAUTIFUL TOWN
OF LUCERNE THAT, IN THE SPRING
OF 1882, NIETZSCHE CONTEMPLATED
ABANDONING HIS LIFE OF
SECLUSION FOR A LIFE OF LOVE
WITH A WOMAN HE WAS ENTRANCED
BY.
HER NAME WAS LOU SALOME.
SHE WAS 21, RUSSIAN-BORN,
CLEVER, BEAUTIFUL, AND
FASCINATED BY HIS IDEAS.
NIETZSCHE WAS LOST.
NIETZSCHE AND LOU SPENT HOURS
WALKING TOGETHER, DISCUSSING
PHILOSOPHY, ABSORBED IN THEIR
OWN WORLD.

Betanny stands next to a giant rock with a lion carved in it.

She says AND NIETZSCHE BROUGHT HER
HERE, TO WHAT WAS KNOWN AS THE
LION GARDEN, IN THE CENTRE OF
LUCERNE, TO PROPOSE.
HE'D ALREADY ASKED FOR HER HAND
IN MARRIAGE ONCE BEFORE,
THROUGH HIS FRIEND PAUL REE,
AND SHE'D REFUSED.

A picture of him with Lou and Paul appears.

Bettany says CONVINCED THAT REE HADN'T DONE
THE JOB PROPERLY, NIETZSCHE WAS
DETERMINED TO TRY AGAIN.
BUT SALOME JUST WASN'T
INTERESTED IN A CONVENTIONAL
RELATIONSHIP.
SHE WAS FEISTY AND ORIGINAL,
AND HAD NO INTENTION WHATSOEVER
OF BEING TRAPPED IN A LIFE OF
VICTORIAN DOMESTICITY, AND SO
SHE'D PLEDGED NEVER TO GIVE
HERSELF TO A MAN.
SO, WHEN NIETZSCHE PROPOSED FOR
A SECOND TIME, THE ANSWER WAS
STILL NO.
HE WAS DEVASTATED BY THE
REJECTION, MADE WORSE BY THE
FACT THAT HIS MEDDLING SISTER
ELISABETH WAS JEALOUS OF LOU'S
YOUTH AND WILD CHARM, AND
DETERMINED TO DISRUPT ANY
POTENTIAL ROMANCE.
ELISABETH REPORTED DETAILS OF
NIETZSCHE'S PASSION FOR LOU TO
THEIR MOTHER, WHO RESPONDED BY
SPITTING OUT THAT HER SON WAS A
DISGRACE TO HIS FATHER'S GRAVE.
THEIR RELATIONSHIP WAS
SHATTERED, AND NIETZSCHE WAS
UTTERLY DESPONDENT.
WHAT FOLLOWED WAS ONE OF THE
MOST MISERABLE PERIODS IN HIS
LIFE, BUT ONE IN WHICH HE HAD
THE CHANCE TO TEST HIS OWN
PHILOSOPHY OF SUFFERING.

[thunder rumbling]

The caption changes to "Sils Maria, Switzerland."

Bettany says NIETZSCHE FLED IN BLEAK MOOD.
HIS BOOKS WEREN'T SELLING.
HE WAS IN BAD HEALTH, AND OFTEN
SUICIDAL.
IN MARCH 1883, NIETZSCHE
WROTE, "IN THE DEEPEST PART OF
ME, AN IMMOVABLE BLACK
MELANCHOLY HOLDS SWAY.
I CANNOT SEE EVEN A REASON TO
LIVE BEYOND SIX MONTHS."
HE REALIZED THAT THIS WAS A
TRUE TEST OF HIS OWN ABILITY TO
FACE SUFFERING AND TO OVERCOME
IT.
"I AM EXERTING EVERY OUNCE OF
SELF-MASTERY," HE WROTE.
"UNLESS I CAN DISCOVER AN
ALCHEMICAL TRICK TO TURN THIS
MUCK INTO GOLD, I AM LOST."
BUT IN THE DEPTHS OF HIS
MISERY, HE POURED HIMSELF INTO
WRITING A NEW BOOK, ONE WHICH
WOULD PROVE HIM TO BE JUST SUCH
AN ALCHEMIST.
IT WAS THE WORK THAT HE
CONSIDERED TO BE HIS GREATEST.

[Strauss's "Also
sprach Zarathustra" plays]

Bettany says THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA.
[Strauss's "Also
sprach Zarathustra"]

Bettany says ZARATHUSTRA
HAD HUGE IMPACT.
IT INSPIRED COMPOSERS LIKE
RICHARD STRAUSS AND WRITERS
FROM JOYCE AND KAFKA TO YEATS
AND CAMUS.
A PARODY OF THE BIBLE, THAT
NIETZSCHE REFERRED TO AS THE
FIFTH GOSPEL, IT CENTRED AROUND
THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF A
MYSTERIOUS, MYSTICAL CHARACTER
CALLED ZARATHUSTRA, AND IN IT,
THE PHILOSOPHER INTRODUCED ONE
OF HIS MOST NOTORIOUS CONCEPTS
THE UBERMENSCH, OR SUPERMAN.
THE BOOK IS A PARABLE ON THE
IMPORTANCE OF SELF-OVERCOMING.
THE IMAGERY IS OF THE
MOUNTAINS, AND THE FIGURE OF
ZARATHUSTRA ECHOES NIETZSCHE
HIMSELF.
TWO OF ITS FOUR BOOKS WERE
WRITTEN HERE, IN THE GUESTHOUSE
WHERE NIETZSCHE OFTEN STAYED.
IT IS REMARKABLE BEING HERE,
ISN'T IT, BECAUSE IT'S IN THIS
ROOM THAT NIETZSCHE WROTE ONE
OF HIS MOST GROUNDBREAKING AND
INFLUENTIAL WORKS.

The caption changes to "Doctor Manuel Dries. The Open University."

Doctor Dries is in his early forties, clean-shaven and with shirt curly light brown hair. He wears a black suit and a white shirt.

He says THIS IS
THE PLACE WHERE HE FIRST HAD
THE IDEAS ABOUT
THUS SPOKE
ZARATHUSTRA.
ZARATHUSTRA IS A PROPHET WHO
COMES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN, AND HE
WANTS TO TALK TO PEOPLE IN A
TOWN ABOUT THIS GREAT EVENT,
THAT GOD IS DEAD, THAT
CHRISTIANITY, WITH ALL ITS
CERTAIN, UNIVERSAL, ABSOLUTE
MORAL VALUES, IS NO LONGER
BELIEVED IN, AND THAT THE
QUESTION OF WHAT IT IS TO BE
HUMAN AND HOW ONE IS TO LIVE AS
A HUMAN NEEDS TO BE ANSWERED
ANEW.
BUT NOBODY LISTENS TO
ZARATHUSTRA.

Bettany says AND ONE OF THE
MECHANISMS TO DELIVER THAT IS
THIS DIFFICULT CONCEPT, THE
UBERMENSCH, THE OVERMAN OR THE
SUPERMAN.
WHO OR WHAT EXACTLY IS THAT?

Doctor Dries says IT'S
EASIER TO SAY WHAT IT IS NOT.
IT'S NOT A BIOLOGICAL CONCEPT.
IT'S NOT SOME KIND OF SUPERIOR
HUMAN RACE.
AN UBERMENSCH IS SOMEONE WHO IS
NO LONGER RELIANT ON
INAUTHENTIC EXTERNAL GOALS
SOCIETY GIVES HIM OR HER -
PARENTS, RELIGIONS.
IT'S SOMEONE WHO IS ABLE TO
COMMIT TO GOALS THAT YOU SET
YOURSELF.
YOU OFFER HUMANITY GOALS, AND
NIETZSCHE THINKS IT'S A
TERRIFYINGLY DIFFICULT TASK,
BECAUSE THE GUIDELINES ARE
MISSING.
THERE ARE NO BLUEPRINTS.
AND WHILST YOU FULL WELL KNOW
THAT WHATEVER TASK YOU SET
YOURSELF ISN'T UNIVERSAL, ISN'T
GOOD FOR ALL, IT'S NEVERTHELESS
ONE YOU COMMIT YOURSELF TO.
IT'S ONE YOU STRIVE TOWARDS.
THE UBERMENSCH IS SOMEONE WHO
CAN SHIFT AND SEE THAT THE
RESPONSIBILITY AND THE JOY OF
CREATING LIFE LIES NOT WITH
SOME TRANSCENDENT GOD, BUT LIES
WITHIN ONESELF.

Bettany says IN POURING HIMSELF
INTO WRITING ZARATHUSTRA,
NIETZSCHE NOT ONLY GAVE HIS OWN
LIFE MEANING IN THE FACE OF
SUFFERING, BUT HE ALSO BEGAN TO
SEE THAT SUFFERING ITSELF WAS
THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE
ELUSIVE SECRET OF HAPPINESS.
SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPINESS
IS FOR NIETZSCHE?

Doctor Dries says WE
TRADITIONALLY SEE HAPPINESS IN
OPPOSITION TO PAIN, EXERTION,
SUFFERING, ET CETERA.
FOR HIM, THAT IS NOT THE CASE.
IT'S STRIVING TOWARDS
SOMETHING; IT'S SUFFERING
THROUGH THAT GREAT TASK YOU'VE
SET YOURSELF.
SO, JUST FLYING UP ONTO THE
SUMMIT OF A HIGH MOUNTAIN IN A
HELICOPTER WILL NOT GIVE YOU
THE KIND OF FEELING OF
HAPPINESS THAT YOU EXPERIENCE
WHEN YOU HAVE SPENT 15 DAYS
WALKING TOWARDS THE SUMMIT.
IT'S OVERCOMING OBSTACLES THAT
RESIST YOU ACHIEVING THAT GOAL
THAT IS PART OF THE EXPERIENCE
OF HAPPINESS.

Bettany says SO, IT'S NOT JUST
PLEASURE, BUT PAIN THAT COMES
WITH HAPPINESS.

Doctor Dries says PAIN IS
ALMOST AN ENABLING CONDITION
FOR HAPPINESS.

(music plays)

Bettany says NIETZSCHE NEVER
FOUND LOVE AGAIN, BUT HE'D
SUCCEEDED IN TRANSFORMING HIS
DESPAIR INTO A WORK WHOSE
VISION WOULD GO ON TO RESONATE
WITH GENERATIONS OF ARTISTS AND
THINKERS.
HE'D BECOME A LIVING TESTAMENT
TO HIS IDEA OF THE ETERNAL
RETURN.
AND HE NOW TURNED HIS ATTENTION
AWAY FROM THE LOSS OF MEANING
CREATED BY THE MURDER OF GOD TO
THE CRISIS OF VALUES LEFT IN
ITS WAKE.
NIETZSCHE CONTINUED HIS
RESTLESS JOURNEY AROUND EUROPE.
ALTHOUGH HIS HEALTH WAS
DETERIORATING, IT DIDN'T STOP
HIM FROM WRITING A SUBVERSIVE
WORK CALLED "BEYOND GOOD AND
EVIL."
NIETZSCHE HIMSELF THOUGHT THE
BOOK WAS TERRIFYING, A
SQUID-LIKE WORK THAT CONFRONTED
ALL THE DARK REALITIES THAT
19TH CENTURY SCIENCE HAD LAID
BARE.
HE COULDN'T FIND ANYBODY TO
PUBLISH IT, SO HE PAID FOR IT
TO BE PRINTED HIMSELF.
AND WHEN IT WAS RELEASED IN
1886, THE REVIEWERS HATED IT.
THEY DESCRIBED IT AS DANGEROUS
DYNAMITE.
BOTH THIS BOOK AND HIS NEXT,
"THE GENEALOGY OF MORALITY,"
WERE FIRED BY NIETZSCHE'S UTTER
DISMAY AT THE PERSISTENCE OF
CHRISTIANITY'S MORAL VALUES.
WHILST MANY 19TH CENTURY
INTELLECTUALS HAD REJECTED THE
FAITH, THEY MAINTAINED ITS
VALUES.
FOR NIETZSCHE, THIS WAS A
CATASTROPHE.
FOR HIM, THEY NO LONGER JUST
LACKED DIVINE AUTHORITY; THEY
WERE A THREAT TO THE FUTURE OF
HUMANITY ITSELF.

She enters a church and meets Professor Ken Gemes there.

She says WHY SHOULD WE TRY TO
UNDERSTAND THIS BOOK OF HIS,
BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL,
IF WE'RE
GOING TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND
NIETZSCHE?

The caption changes to "Professor Ken Gemes. Birkbeck College, University of London."

Professor Gemes says THIS IS A
BOOK WHERE HE REALLY BEGINS HIS
INCREDIBLY INTENSE CAMPAIGN
AGAINST CHRISTIANITY.
AND HE SAYS, THE REAL LOGIC OF
CHRISTIANITY IS A HATRED OF OUR
OWN HUMAN, ALL-TOO-HUMAN
NATURE.
THAT IS, WE HAVE VARIOUS
DRIVES, ACCORDING TO NIETZSCHE
SEXUAL DRIVES, AGGRESSIVE
DRIVES, DRIVES TO DOMINATE.
AND CHRISTIANITY SAYS THOSE
DRIVES ARE AN AFFRONT TO GOD.
WE NEED TO PUSH THOSE DRIVES
DOWN.
BUT FOR NIETZSCHE, THAT MEANS
WE NEED TO PUSH OURSELVES DOWN.
SO, HE THINKS THAT CHRISTIANITY
TEACHES US KIND OF A
SELF-EVISCERATION, A
SELF-HATRED.
THAT IS HIS CRITIQUE OF
CHRISTIANITY.

Bettany says AND WHAT DOES HE
THINK IS WRONG WITH A
FUNDAMENTAL CHRISTIAN MORAL
VALUE?

Professor Gemes says HE LOOKS AT
CHRISTIANITY AND HE VERY
DISPARAGINGLY CALLS IT SLAVE
MORALITY.
AND HE CALLS IT SLAVE MORALITY
BECAUSE HE THINKS IT'S A
MORALITY THAT IS FOCUSED ON THE
WORST OFF - THAT IS, THE SLAVES
OF ANCIENT ROME, WHO WERE THE
WEAK ONES, AND NEEDED A
RELIGION THAT GAVE THEM A SENSE
OF MEANING, A SENSE OF POWER.
BUT THEY HAD NO POWER IN THIS
WORLD, SO THEY TRIED TO, HE
SAYS - AND HE PUTS IT SO
POWERFULLY - THEY LIE THEIR
WEAKNESS INTO A STRENGTH.
SO, HE THINKS THESE CHRISTIAN
VALUES - HUMILITY, POVERTY,
MEEKNESS - HE THINKS THESE ARE
VALUES THAT MAKE IT SAFE FOR
THE WEAKEST IN SOCIETY.
BUT HE THINKS EVENTUALLY, WHEN
THESE VALUES TRIUMPH AND BECOME
EVERYONE'S VALUES, THEY
INEVITABLY MAKE FOR MEDIOCRITY.

Bettany says BUT HIS CRITICISM
OF THE WEAK REALLY TROUBLES ME,
BECAUSE THESE ARE WORKS THAT
HAVE NO TIME, IT SEEMS TO ME,
FOR THE WEAK, FOR COMPASSION.

Professor Gemes says YEAH, IT'S
NOT THAT NIETZSCHE THOUGHT WE
SHOULD STEP ON THE WEAK.
WHAT HE THOUGHT IS WE SHOULDN'T
BE OBSESSED WITH THE WEAK.
AND THAT'S SO STRANGE TO US,
BECAUSE WE THINK, AND WHAT'S
WRONG WITH COMPASSION?
BUT HE DID HAVE A PROBLEM WITH
COMPASSION.

Bettany says IS THIS ONE OF THE
REASONS THAT HE'S SO ANTI THE
EMERGING ISMS OF THE DAY?
SO, SOCIALISM, COMMUNISM...

Professor Gemes says A LOT OF
COMMUNISTS, A LOT SOCIALISTS,
MAY NO LONGER BELIEVE IN GOD,
BUT THEY STILL HAVE THIS CORE
CHRISTIAN VALUE OF COMPASSION.
AND NIETZSCHE SAYS, WHEN YOU'RE
OBSESSED WITH COMPASSION, WHEN
YOU'RE OBSESSED WITH HOW THE
WORST OFF ARE DOING, THAT GETS
YOU INTO A MENTALITY WHERE WHAT
IS VALUED IS CONTENTMENT.
HE CALLS THAT HERD HAPPINESS,
AND HE SAYS THAT IS ONLY WORTHY
OF ANIMALS.
WE ARE WORTHY OF SO MUCH MORE.
HE SAYS, IF YOU GEAR EVERYTHING
TO MAKING THE WORST OFF AS WELL
AS POSSIBLE, YOU TAKE YOUR EYES
OFF THE IDEA OF THE GREAT
INDIVIDUALS WHO OFTEN ARE
EXTREMELY EGOTISTICAL - WE
WOULD SAY SELFISH.
BUT HE SAYS, THEY NEED THAT
SELFISHNESS TO MAKE THEIR
ACHIEVEMENTS, BECAUSE IT'S
THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS THAT REALLY
DRIVE CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE
AT ITS HIGHEST PEAKS.

Bettany says CHRISTIAN MORALITY
WAS SOMETHING THAT NIETZSCHE
BELIEVED WAS POSITIVELY
DANGEROUS FOR THE FUTURE OF
MANKIND.
IF HUMANITY WAS TO SURVIVE, IT
NEEDED THE GREAT INDIVIDUALS,
THE VERY GENIUSES THAT HE
THOUGHT THE SLAVE MORALITY OF
CHRISTIAN CULTURE WAS HOLDING
DOWN.
BUT THERE WAS A SYSTEM OF
VALUES THAT HE DID ADMIRE.
HE ALSO TALKS ABOUT MASTER
MORALITY.
WHAT'S GOING ON THERE?

Professor Gemes says HE'S
HARKENING BACK TO THE WORLD OF
THE ANCIENT ROMANS AND THE
ANCIENT GREEKS.
THEY WERE BOTH MASSIVE
SLAVE-OWNING SOCIETIES.
HE SAID, THESE PEOPLE WERE
MASTERFUL IN A WAY THAT, WITH
THEIR GODS, THEY CELEBRATED
THEMSELVES.
LIKE, SOMEONE LIKE ACHILLES,
THE GREAT WARRIOR - HE COULD
WORSHIP ARES, THE GOD OF WAR.
BUT IN DOING THAT, HE WAS
WORSHIPPING HIMSELF.
SO, HE SAYS, THE MASTERS HAVE A
RELIGION THAT AFFIRMS
THEMSELVES, WHEREAS THE SLAVES
HAVE A RELIGION OF
CHRISTIANITY, WHICH ACTUALLY
DISAVOWS THEIR NATURE.

A series of religious paintings and statues appear on screen.

Bettany says THE MASTER MORALITY
OF THE GREEKS, AS NIETZSCHE SAW
IT, GLORIFIED AMBITION,
STRENGTH, AND POWER, AND
DESPISED COMPASSION.
NIETZSCHE WAS CONVINCED THAT A
REVISION OF MORAL VALUES WAS
NEEDED FOR A POST-CHRISTIAN
FUTURE, AND THAT SUCH A
MORALITY NEEDED MORAL
LEGISLATORS.
IN HIS LETTERS, HE ANNOUNCED
THAT HIS NEXT TASK WAS A MAGNUM
OPUS, IN WHICH HE WOULD LAY OUT
A NEW VALUE SYSTEM TO FILL THE
VOID.
BUT IT WASN'T TO BE.
IN APRIL 1888, NIETZSCHE MOVED
TO TURIN.

(music plays)

The caption changes to "Turin, Italy."

Bettany says THIS WOULD BE HIS HOME FOR THE
REST OF HIS SANE LIFE.
WHEN HE ARRIVED HERE, HE WAS AT
HIS MOST BRILLIANTLY
PRODUCTIVE.
IN AN ALMOST CONSTANT STATE OF
EUPHORIA, HE PRODUCED FOUR
BOOKS IN A YEAR.
AND AS HE WALKED THROUGH THE
CITY, HE SAID HE FELT LIKE A
GOD.
BUT IT WAS IN THE BEAUTY OF
THIS ITALIAN CITY THAT
NIETZSCHE'S MIND BEGAN TO
DECAY.
AND IT'S IN THE LETTERS HE
WROTE AT THE START OF 1888 THAT
THE VERY FIRST SIGNS OF HIS
MADNESS CAN BE GLIMPSED.
THESE LETTERS GIVE US A
TROUBLING INSIGHT INTO
NIETZSCHE'S STATE OF MIND AT
THE TIME.
RATHER THAN THE BRILLIANCE THAT
ONCE POURED ONTO THE PAGE,
THESE ARE BIZARRE AND DERANGED.
HERE HE IS WRITING TO BISMARCK,
ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL
STATESMEN IN PRUSSIA, BUT HE
SIGNS HIMSELF THE ANTICHRIST.
ON OTHERS, HE CALLS HIMSELF
DIONYSUS, THE GREEK GOD.
AND HERE, HE SIMPLY ENDS "THE
CRUCIFIED ONE."
NIETZSCHE HAD MEGALOMANIAC
TENDENCIES, CLAIMING THAT HE
WAS PREPARING AN EVENT WHICH
HAD THE POTENTIAL TO SPLIT THE
HISTORY OF HUMANITY INTO TWO
HALVES.
THE OWNERS OF THE HOUSE WHERE
HE WAS STAYING WERE ALARMED BY
HIS ECSTATIC PIANO PLAYING.
AND SOMETIMES THEY COULD JUST
ABOUT MAKE OUT THAT HE WAS
LEAPING ABOUT HIS ROOM STARK
NAKED, YELLING AS IF HE WAS
RECREATING A DIONYSIAN ORGY.
EVENTS CAME TO A CLIMAX IN ONE
OF TURIN'S PIAZZAS.
NIETZSCHE SAW A COACHMAN
THRASHING HIS HORSE WITH A
WHIP.
HE FLUNG HIS ARMS AROUND THE
ANIMAL'S NECK, AND WITH TEARS
STREAMING COLLAPSED TO THE
GROUND.
THE FINAL SANE ACT OF A MAN
WHO'D SPENT HIS LIFE
CRITICIZING THE WEAKNESS OF
HUMAN COMPASSION WAS ONE OF
PROFOUND PITY.
SEVEN DAYS LATER, HE WAS
INCARCERATED IN AN ASYLUM IN
BASEL.
NIETZSCHE NEVER REGAINED HIS
SANITY.
AT THE AGE OF 44, ONE OF THE
MOST SEARING PHILOSOPHICAL
MINDS IN HUMAN HISTORY HAD
DISINTEGRATED.
FOR THE NEXT DECADE, UNTIL HIS
DEATH IN 1900, HE'D WRITE
NOTHING.
WHEN HE ARRIVED AT THE CLINIC,
THE FRIEND WHO BROUGHT HIM
WROTE, "HE SUFFERS FROM
DELUSIONS OF INFINITE GRANDEUR.
IT'S HOPELESS.
I'VE NEVER SEEN SUCH A HORRIFIC
PICTURE OF DESTRUCTION."
NO ONE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT
CAUSED NIETZSCHE'S DESCENT INTO
MADNESS.
BUT WHILE NIETZSCHE'S MIND
COLLAPSED, HIS WORK STARTED TO
TAKE ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN.

(music plays)

Bettany says IN 1897, NIETZSCHE WAS BROUGHT
HERE, TO HIS SISTER ELISABETH'S
HOUSE, TO LIVE OUT HIS
REMAINING YEARS.
DECLARED CLINICALLY INSANE,
UNTIL HIS DEATH, ELISABETH
WOULD BE HIS SOLE CARER.
WHILE NIETZSCHE LIVED HERE,
ELISABETH TREATED HER BROTHER
LIKE AN ATTRACTION IN A
SIDESHOW.
SHE INVITED VISITORS IN TO
STARE AT HIM, AND SHE HELD
SOIREES FOR HIS DISCIPLES,
WHILE HIS DISTURBED GROANING
COULD BE HEARD FROM UPSTAIRS.
TODAY, THE HOUSE IS A SHRINE
TO NIETZSCHE, CREATED BY HIS
YOUNGER SISTER, WHO DRESSED HIM
IN WHITE AS IF A PROPHET.
YET ITS PRISTINE ROOMS ARE
CHILLINGLY DEVOID OF ANY TRACE
OF HIS PERSONALITY.
ELISABETH COLLECTED TOGETHER
NIETZSCHE'S WRITINGS, INCLUDING
NOTEBOOKS FROM AN UNPUBLISHED
MASTERWORK THAT NIETZSCHE HAD
PLANNED BEFORE HIS MIND SHUT
DOWN.
NOTEBOOKS HE'D NEVER INTENDED
THE WORLD TO SEE.

Bettany meets Professor Simon May at a library.

Professor May is in his late forties, clean-shaven and with short wavy brown hair. He wears glasses, a blue suit and a pale blue shirt.

Bettany says WHAT EXACTLY IS IT THAT WE'RE
LOOKING AT HERE?

The caption changes to "Professor Simon May. King’s College, London."

Professor May says SO HERE,
WE'RE LOOKING AT TWO NOTEBOOKS
OF NIETZSCHE'S, IN WHICH HE'S
WORKING UP TO THIS GREAT WORK
CALLED
THE WILL TO POWER,
A
WORK OF TREMENDOUS AMBITION,
BECAUSE WHAT HE'S ATTEMPTING,
YOU CAN SEE FROM THIS NOTEBOOK
HERE, IS A REVALUATION OF ALL
VALUES.
I MEAN, IT'S EXTRAORDINARILY
EXCITING TO SEE THIS, BECAUSE
HERE HE IS TRYING TO OVERTURN
THE WHOLE OF WESTERN MORALITY.
BECAUSE PEOPLE DEEP DOWN NO
LONGER BELIEVE IN IT, THOUGH
THEY'RE GOING ON LIKE THE HERD,
AS HE CALLS MOST OF US, LIVING
THEIR LIVES BY IT, BUT THERE IS
NO LONGER A GOD TO BACK IT UP.
SO, HE'S SAYING, WE NEED TO
FIND A NEW MORALITY, AND THAT'S
HIS FUNDAMENTAL TASK.

Bettany says IS IT AS SIMPLE AS
IT SOUNDS, THE WILL TO POWER?
IS HE SAYING THAT POWER IS THE
IDENTIFYING, ORGANIZING
PRINCIPLE FOR HUMANITY?

Professor May says HE IS
SAYING, ACTUALLY, IF WE LOOK AT
HOW PEOPLE LIVE AND BEHAVE AND
STRIVE, REALLY WHAT THEY'RE
AFTER IN LIFE, FROM INFANCY
ONWARDS, IS POWER.
AND THEREFORE, ANY MORALITY
THAT'S GOING TO FIT WITH HUMAN
NATURE NEEDS TO BE A MORALITY
THAT SEES POWER AS THE GOAL
THAT WE ALL SEEK, ALBEIT IN
VERY DIFFERENT WAYS.

Bettany says SO, IT'S MORE THAN
JUST SOMETHING BECAUSE WE'VE
GOT DARWIN AT THIS TIME, WITH
HIS SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.
BUT NIETZSCHE IS TAKING THAT
IDEA WAY BEYOND WHAT DARWIN'S
SAYING.

Professor May says HE IS.
SUPERFICIALLY THEY SOUND
SIMILAR, BUT, IN FACT, THEY'RE
PROFOUNDLY DIFFERENT.
AND NIETZSCHE DESPISED DARWIN,
AND HE HAS CONTEMPT FOR ANY WAY
OF LIVING LIFE THAT SIMPLY
SEEKS TO PRESERVE YOURSELF AND
YOUR PROGENY.
AND THE REAL DIFFERENCE IS THAT
THE WILL TO POWER IS CONCERNED
THAT HUMAN BEINGS SHOULD DO
MORE THAN MERELY PRESERVE
THEMSELVES.
THEY SHOULD AIM FOR GREAT
THINGS.
THEY SHOULD AIM TO BE GREAT
STATESMEN, OR TO BE GREAT
PHILOSOPHERS AND DESIGN NEW
WORLDS, AS IT WERE.
AND THAT MIGHT INVOLVE
SACRIFICING PRESERVATION.
THAT MIGHT INVOLVE AN EARLY
DEATH; IT MIGHT INVOLVE LEAVING
NO CHILDREN.
FOR HIM, THE WILL TO POWER IS
ABOUT SEEKING THE EXCEPTIONAL.

(music plays)

Bettany says BUT NIETZSCHE SEEMS
TO HAVE RECOGNIZED THE FLAW IN
HIS OWN IDEA.
PERHAPS HIS LAST SANE ACT WAS
THE DECISION NOT TO PUBLISH
WHAT HE'D WRITTEN.

Professor May says NIETZSCHE
WAS HIMSELF AGAINST ALL
PHILOSOPHIES THAT ATTEMPTED TO
REDUCE THE WORLD TO ONE
PRINCIPLE, WHATEVER THAT
PRINCIPLE MIGHT BE.
AND, IN A SENSE, HIS ATTEMPT TO
REDUCE THE WORLD TO THE WILL TO
POWER WAS, AS HE WOULD PUT IT,
INTELLECTUALLY UNCLEAN.
AND I THINK THAT'S WHY THIS
WORK ULTIMATELY FAILED.
BECAUSE HE REALIZED THAT HE WAS
BEING UNTRUE TO HIMSELF.

Bettany says AND WHAT CLUES ARE
IN THESE NOTEBOOKS THEMSELVES
THAT HE HAS GIVEN UP?

Professor May says I MEAN,
THERE ARE SMALL SIGNS.
FOR EXAMPLE, HERE, IN THIS
VERSION, HE'S WRITTEN A
SHOPPING LIST OVER THESE
PROFOUND THOUGHTS.
AND HERE WE HAVE THE WORD
TOOTHBRUSH, ZAHNBURSTE.
SO, I THINK IF YOU START
WRITING SHOPPING LISTS OVER
YOUR GREAT MASTERWORKS, THAT
SUGGESTS THAT YOU NO LONGER
HAVE RESPECT FOR THEM.

(music plays)

Bettany says BUT THE WORK HE
ABANDONED WAS PUBLISHED, WITH
DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES.
NIETZSCHE DIED HERE OF A STROKE
IN 1900.
BUT HIS DEATH GAVE ELISABETH
THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPROPRIATE
NOT JUST THE DOG DAYS OF HIS
LIFE, BUT HIS LIFE'S WORK.
ELISABETH HAD HERO-WORSHIPPED
HER BROTHER, AND LIVED HER LIFE
IN HIS SHADOW.
NOW, AS LITERARY EXECUTOR, SHE
SET ABOUT PUBLISHING
NIETZSCHE'S NOTEBOOKS IN A
COLLECTION ENTITLED "WILL
TO POWER."
ALTHOUGH SHE WORKED WITH
VARIOUS EDITORS, SHE SIMPLY
DISMISSED THEM IF THEY
DISAGREED WITH HER.
NIETZSCHE'S WORK WAS EDITED AND
MANIPULATED TO SUIT HER OWN
POLITICAL ENDS.
ELISABETH WAS A SUPPORTER OF
THE NAZIS AND BEGAN TO COURT
THE PARTY'S LEADERS.
IN 1934, ADOLPH HITLER VISITED
THIS HOUSE, AND SHE EVEN GAVE
HIM HER BROTHER'S WALKING
STICK.

A picture shows Hitler and Elisabeth’s meeting.

Bettany says ELISABETH WAS SO
EXTRAORDINARILY SUCCESSFUL IN
PROMOTING HER BROTHER AND HIS
WORKS THAT BY THE END OF THE
1930s, NIETZSCHEAN THOUGHT AND
THEMES PERVADED GERMAN SOCIETY.
AND THIS WAS DISTURBINGLY
REFLECTED IN ONE OF THE MOST
COMPELLING PROPAGANDA FILMS OF
ALL TIME.

The caption changes to "Nazi Party Rally Ground, Nuremberg."

Bettany says IN 1934, NAZI SUPPORTERS
GATHERED IN NUREMBERG TO HEAR
THEIR LEADER SPEAK.
IT WAS A MOMENT CAPTURED IN A
FILM COMMISSIONED BY HITLER
HIMSELF.
TERRIFYING, ELECTRIFYING, THE
WORDS AND RITUALS OF THE NAZIS
ECHO NIETZSCHEAN THOUGHT.
IT WAS CALLED "TRIUMPH OF THE
WILL."
THE FILM BEGINS WITH HITLER
DESCENDING FROM THE CLOUDS,
ECHOING ZARATHUSTRA, AN
UBERMENSCH COMING DOWN FROM THE
MOUNTAINS WITH HIS NEW MORALITY
TO BE GREETED BY THE HERD.
AN UBERMENSCH OFFERING A
SYSTEM OF MORALITY, IN WHICH
TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN VALUES
ARE TO BE INVERTED.

A clip shows Hitler giving a speech.

Subtitles read "We want this people not to become soft but hard."

Bettany says WHERE THE STATE
WILL EXERT THE WILL OF THE MOST
POWERFUL, AND THE WEAK AND THE
HELPLESS WILL BE DESTROYED TO
GENERATE A GREATER HUMANITY.
[applause]

Subtitles read "Our party wanted to be the one and only power in Germany, without compromise."

[drums beating]
[roar of cheering]

Bettany says SO CLOSELY
ASSOCIATED HAD NIETZSCHE'S
IDEAS BECOME WITH THE AIMS OF
THE NATIONAL SOCIALISTS THAT
ONE OF ITS MOST INFLUENTIAL
THINKERS, ALFRED BAEUMLER,
SAID, "WHEN WE CALL OUT HEIL
HITLER, WE GREET WITH THE SAME
CRY FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE."
AND YET, HAD HE LIVED TO SEE
THIS, NIETZSCHE WOULD HAVE BEEN
HORRIFIED.

A crowd cheers HEIL HITLER!

Bettany says HIS UBERMENSCH
WASN'T A MASTER OF EUGENICS; HE
WAS A SYMBOL OF MAN'S
POTENTIAL.
HIS WILL TO POWER WAS NOT A
CALL TO NATIONALISM, WHICH HE
DESPISED, BUT A RECOGNITION OF
OUR DRIVE TO OVERCOME OUR
LIMITATIONS.
AND HE WAS VOCALLY OPPOSED TO
ANTI-SEMITISM.
THE NIETZSCHE OF THE NAZIS WAS
A HIDEOUS PARODY.
JUST MONTHS BEFORE HIS FINAL
COLLAPSE, NIETZSCHE WROTE, "I
CONFESS THAT THE DEEPEST
OBJECTION TO THE ETERNAL
RECURRENCE, MY TRULY MOST
ABYSMAL THOUGHT, IS ALWAYS
MOTHER AND SISTER."
HOW PROPHETIC HIS WORDS TURNED
OUT TO BE.
AND YET, PERHAPS THE BLAME FOR
HIS MISUSE IS NOT ENTIRELY
ELISABETH'S.
NIETZSCHE WOULD NEVER HAVE
ADVOCATED HITLER'S FINAL
SOLUTION, BUT HE WAS NAIVE IF
HE THOUGHT THAT HIS WORK WOULD
NOT BE MISUNDERSTOOD.
EVIL LOVES NOTHING BETTER THAN
A VOID, AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S
CLEVER, AMBIGUOUS APHORISMS
COULD EASILY BE PUT TO THE
SERVICE OF EVIL.
EVEN WHEN HE WAS ENTIRELY SANE,
NIETZSCHE SAID THAT BAD WOULD
BE DONE IN HIS NAME.
THE SISTER AND THE BROTHER MUST
SHARE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE
LIFE THAT HIS WORK TOOK ON
AFTER HIS DEATH.
A CENTURY AFTER NIETZSCHE'S
DEATH, THE CRISIS CREATED BY
THE MURDER OF GOD MAY SEEM
EXAGGERATED TO US TODAY.
THE MODERN WORLD HASN'T
COLLAPSED.
GOD AS THE UNCHALLENGEABLE
SOURCE OF MORAL VALUES SEEMS TO
HAVE STEPPED ASIDE RELATIVELY
QUIETLY.
BUT MAYBE THAT'S BECAUSE WE
LACK NIETZSCHE'S UNSETTLING
PROPHETIC VISION, HIS WILD
IMAGINATION.
IF WE CHOOSE TO WEAR THE
BLINKERS OF THE HERD, COULD IT
BE THAT WE'RE STARING WITH
UNSEEING EYES INTO THE VERY
ABYSS THAT HE PREDICTED?
HE BELIEVED THAT WHAT WOULD
FILL THE VOID WAS A CHAOS OF
CULTURAL PREFERENCES.
A MESS, AN OVERLOAD OF PERSONAL
CHOICES - PERNICIOUS, IN
NIETZSCHE'S EYES, BECAUSE THEY
PERPETUATED THE EMPTY VALUES OF
THE HERD THAT HE SO DESPISED.
AND PERHAPS NIETZSCHE'S MOST
CHILLING VISION WAS OF THE
HUMANITY THAT WOULD POPULATE
THIS POST-CHRISTIAN WORLD.
THESE PEOPLE HE CALLED THE
LAST MEN, AND FOR THEM, HE
RESERVED HIS MOST FERVENT FURY.
THESE WERE MEN AND WOMEN WHO
TURNED THEIR BACKS ON
CHALLENGING IDEALS, BUT FELT
THEY WERE CONTENT.
THEY HAD A BANAL EXISTENCE;
THEY DID EVERYTHING IN THEIR
POWERS TO LIMIT EXCESSES OF JOY
OR SORROW.
THEIR CONCERN WAS THE TRIVIAL
AND THE NARCISSISTIC, AND SO
THEY LIVED LIVES OF TIMID
MEDIOCRITY, FOOLING THEMSELVES
THAT THEY WERE HAPPY.
THEY BOUGHT INTO WHAT
NIETZSCHE DESCRIBED AS THE
RELIGION OF COMFORTABLENESS.
COULD THIS BE A DEVASTATING
DESCRIPTION OF THE MODERN
WORLD, A WORLD THAT SHIES FROM
THE RISK OF STRIVING FOR
GREATNESS, A WORLD THAT SHUNS
HIGHER VALUES AND CELEBRATES
THE MUNDANE?
THE LAST MEN ARE NIETZSCHE'S
GREATEST FEAR.
THEY LOOK AT A STAR, BY WHICH
HE MEANS THE FIERY POTENTIAL OF
BEAUTIFUL LIVES FULLY LIVED,
THE MEANING OF ALL EXISTENCE,
AND THEY HAVE NO DESIRE EVEN TO
PURSUE IT.
THEY MERELY BLINK.
BEFORE NIETZSCHE FELL INTO
MADNESS HE WROTE, "IF YOU STARE
LONG ENOUGH INTO THE ABYSS, THE
ABYSS WILL STARE BACK INTO
YOU."
THE CHAOS THAT CONFRONTED
NIETZSCHE IN HIS FINAL MOMENTS
OF SANITY IS ARGUABLY OUR OWN.
THE QUESTION OF NOT JUST HOW WE
SHOULD LIVE, BUT THE POINT OF
OUR LIVES, IS STILL ONE OF THE
GREATEST CHALLENGES OF THE
MODERN WORLD.

Music plays as the end credits roll.

Presented by Bettany Hughes.

Executive producer, David Upshal.

Produced and directed by Anna Cox.

A BBC Open University Partnership.

BBC Religion and Ethics Production. Salford.

Copyright 2016, BBC.

www.bbc.co.uk/religion