Studying the Rorschach-test cover, I found it hard to wish Nietzsche down the memory hole. No doubt he has done real harm, though the extent is impossible to quantify, particularly when he shifts so fluidly between diagnosis of the modern condition, prescription, and prediction. Sometimes his ideas seem to push people to dark places, but is he planting a bad harvest or just describing the growing weeds? Among conservatives, Nietzsche tends to be valued not as a fellow traveler but as a worthy interlocutor who saw and articulated the real implications of entering a post-Christian world. If one malevolent and destructive group of people had enshrined Nietzsche as its prophet, that might seem like strong grounds for condemning him. When many groups want to claim him, that does seem to exonerate him somewhat. Whatever Nietzsche himself is contributing to each, it doesn’t appear to be the central creed. His fans are too diverse for that.

Perhaps, then, Nietzsche functions as a kind of mystical mirror of modernity. People peer into his texts and see themselves, with particular features sharpened. For egoists and tyrants, this is not curative. But more virtuous people may benefit from the experience, drawing on his trenchant insights to deepen their understanding of the modern condition. Where Nietzsche seems broken or depraved, he may just be reflecting the brokenness and depravity of modern life. He encourages decadent men like Foucault in their decadence but helps disciplined, rational men like Montinari to apply their gifts more fruitfully.

— Rachel Lu, “The Man Who Saved Nietzsche


What he seeks is to live nameless and lightly mocked at, too humble to awaken envy or hostility, with a head free of fever, equipped with a handful of knowledge and a bagful of experience, as it were a poor-doctor of the spirit aiding those whose head is confused by opinions without their being really aware who has aided them! Not desiring to maintain his own opinion or celebrate a victory over them, but to address them in such a way that, after the slightest of imperceptible hints or contradictions, they themselves arrive at the truth and go away proud of the fact! To be like a little inn which rejects no one who is in need but which is afterwards forgotten or ridiculed! To possess no advantage, neither better food nor purer air nor a more joyful spirit — but to give away, to give back, to communicate, to grow poorer! To be able to be humble, so as to be accessible to many and humiliating to none!

— Nietzsche, Daybreak