The Shortest Shadow
Nietzsche's Philosophy of the Two
202 pp., 5 x 8 in,
- Published: September 26, 2003
- Publisher: The MIT Press
Restoring Nietzsche to a Nietzschean context—examining the definitive element that animates his work.
What is it that makes Nietzsche Nietzsche? In The Shortest Shadow, Alenka Zupančič counters the currently fashionable appropriation of Nietzsche as a philosopher who was "ahead of his time" but whose time has finally come—the rather patronizing reduction of his often extraordinary statements to mere opinions that we can "share." Zupančič argues that the definitive Nietzschean quality is his very unfashionableness, his being out of the mainstream of his or any time.
To restore Nietzsche to a context in which the thought "lives on its own credit," Zupančič examines two aspects of his philosophy. First, in "Nietzsche as Metapsychologist," she revisits the principal Nietzschean themes—his declaration of the death of God (which had a twofold meaning, "God is dead" and "Christianity survived the death of God"), the ascetic ideal, and nihilism—as ideas that are very much present in our hedonist postmodern condition. Then, in the second part of the book, she considers Nietzsche's figure of the Noon and its consequences for his notion of the truth. Nietzsche describes the Noon not as the moment when all shadows disappear but as the moment of "the shortest shadow"—not the unity of all things embraced by the sun, but the moment of splitting, when "one turns into two." Zupančič argues that this notion of the Two as the minimal and irreducible difference within the same animates all of Nietzsche's work, generating its permanent and inherent tension.
Alenka Zupančič has given us a strikingly new reading of Nietzsche. Against the postmodernist domestication of Nietzsche's philosophy, Zupančič restores the shock of Nietzsche's style and thought, reading him alongside Jacques Lacan and Alain Badiou as a revolutionary 'philosopher of the event.
Christoph Cox, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Hampshire College
You have heard it said that 'we are not yet thinking.' Alenka Zupančič gives us proof to the contrary in this exhilarating book. By pulling from Nietzsche's texts a powerful new concept—that of Noon—she decisively vacates the claim that Nietszche was the champion of a relativism necessitated by the death of God. Arguing, rather, that skeptical relativism resurrects God for the modern world, she reevaluates completely Nietzsche's contribution to thought. It is impossible to overstate the significance of The Shortest Shadow's philosophical achievement.
Joan Copjec, author of Imagine There's No Woman
Alenka Zupančič is one of those rare writers whose capacity for decision is equal to her intelligence...Read these essays and you will see what kind of a spiritual explosion a writing bomb can produce in the hands of a true pyrotechnist.