04/29/2014 05:08 pm ET Updated Jun 29, 2014

Nietzsche for Idiots


Nietzsche has always been as hard to spell as he is to swallow. You type out Nietsche or Nietzche and finally you get the added letter, but Nietzsche, like one says about some complicated people, is work. An evening correcting the misspellings of his name can leave you feeling empty and emotionally exhausted. If you're having trouble with your Nietzsche, you might want to point the finger at someone other than yourself. What were Nietzsche's ancestors thinking when they decided to place an s after a z? No one is saying that there is anything wrong with the name. It's Beyond Good and Evil. However Robert Heilbroner once wrote a book called The Worldly Philosophers, which totally bypassed Nietzsche in favor of thinkers like Karl Marx and Adam Smith. And the question is, why not make Nietzsche more worldly by coming up with some shorthand that makes his name and hopefully his ideas more user friendly. How's about Nichi? It's simpler and something kids will like too. Instead of being some hard to spell philosopher, his name will make him sound like a legendary martial artist. Nichi and Bruce Lee. Nichi is such a catchy name that it might be turned into a computer game that would be a challenge to Grand Theft Auto. Heidegger comes bearing a lot of freight, not the least of which are tongue twisters like Unheimlichkeit. But there isn't too much leeway. Heidegger is a hard word to misspell, although Americans put off by his fascist leanings might warm up to him if his name were changed to Hy Digger.

Photo of Friedrich Nietzsche by F. Hartmann

This was originally posted to Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.

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