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Love of Fate: a Nietzschean Guide to Isolation

Love of Fate: a Nietzschean Guide to Isolation

Guest contributor Henrik Due muses on the applicability of Nietzschean principles in combatting isolation during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Throughout the ages philosophers have been regarded as lone wolves, isolated from society. Now that our own day-to-day lives have been thrust into the same isolated reality, we are able to properly appreciate the words of the philosopher who described himself as ‘loneliness incarnate’: Friedrich Nietzsche. Most people will probably recognise Nietzsche from quotes such as ‘God is dead’, ‘What does not kill us makes us stronger’, and the idea of the eternally topical übermensch.

The man behind these words, however, lived a life characterized by loneliness and disease. Nietzsche suffered terribly from migraines his entire life which almost rendered him blind. He cut off almost all communication with his family due to their disagreement about his family’s antisemitic views. For years he wandered alone through Europe until he went mad after a mental breakdown in Italy, protecting a horse being whipped by its owner. Nietzsche died alone and abandoned by everyone except his sister, who presented him as a circus animal to all who wished to see the ‘mad philosopher’.

Say “yes” to life

Even though Nietzsche lived a tragic life, he conquered tragedy by creating a philosophy
which confronted and ultimately tackled adversity and loneliness. Nietzsche’s advice on how to handle this loneliness, and by extension life, is amor fati: ‘love of fate’. To love your fate means, in other words, to embrace everything life throws on your lap. This does not necessarily mean one must always have a positive attitude. Rather than pretending that something is something positive, we should embrace the negative as what it is.

Our perspective of life is what forms our personal realities, and according to Nietzsche and the concept of amor fati, the best way to get through the adversities of life is to have a ‘yes’-perspective. In order to follow amor fati one must whole-heartedly accept the fact that life is both wonderful and terrible. As Nietzsche’s own life shows us, this radical embrace of life’s brutality is what truly gives life meaning. Although Nietzsche was sceptical regarding the possibility of any human ever reaching this level of self-awareness, he probably would have seen this pandemic as a golden opportunity to try. When facing a pandemic, the common man is left powerless. Therefore, it is better to embrace our isolation and see this time alone as an opportunity for personal introspection and reflection upon life.

Take a walk on your own

Nietzsche’s second piece of advice regards something that we have all come to love in recent times: Taking a walk. This isolation has become an opportunity not just for some exercise, but also to reconnect with oneself. Nietzsche claimed that ‘all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking’. A Nietzschean walk is a walk within yourself. Here, you can find
someone you rarely have a proper conversation with. A Nietzschean walk can turn loneliness and isolation into freedom. And who knows… Maybe you will reconnect with your most loyal companion?

Laugh alone

In order to thrive in our own company, we turn to Nietzsche’s third piece of advice: be able
to laugh alone. Laughter is most commonly something shared with others; However, it can be just as comforting to laugh on your own. This will truly make you your own
favourite companion. By viewing loneliness as an opportunity for laughter, Nietzschean thinking turns the traditional connotations of isolation upside down. Loneliness can be lively – filled with laughter – instead of something sad and taboo. It only requires you to break with your own personal taboos and make your laughter your own.

We are all alone in our own minds, so why not use this time to dance with our own
thoughts? Let us rejoice in ourselves with laughter. Let us embrace our loneliness
with a genuine and resounding ‘yes’.

Henrik Due

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