First I found this bit from The Gay Science, an aphorism that would change how I saw myself and others I admired:

Whoever knows he is deep, strives for clarity; whoever would like to appear deep to the crowd, strives for obscurity. For the crowd considers anything deep if only it cannot see to the bottom: the crowd is so timid and afraid of going into the water. (173)

GUILTY, I think, and am thus chastised. I vow to mend my ways.

But then as I absorb more, skipping around his books, jotting down my favorite quotes, I find this, from Mixed Opinions and Maxims (1879):

The worse readers are those who proceed like plundering soldiers: they pick up a few things they can use, soil and confuse the rest, and blaspheme the whole. (137)

BUSTED! Oh, that man. The funny thing about 137 is that it serves to explain anyone who might being Nietzsche down. The all-purpose excuse, “Well, they misquoted me! They didn’t read the whole thing!”

I felt the same, in my primitive and sophomoric way, when I got the judging results to my novel Helena the Muse. The critique said, “If the entire manuscript is told from Helena’s POV, I think it will become hard to want to stay with the story.” And, “Helena is about as well-developed as she can be, considering her circumstances.”

The judge had ten pages and a synopsis. I thought most people could make the leap from the summary that Helena was not going to be drugged the whole book, but the judging comments make it seem as though that is the impression.

FOUL! I want to cry. She’s not drugged much at all in the book! But the first few pages, well, they do sort of involve her shift from incoherence to lucidity.

And so I change it. I listen. And adjust.

I owe you one, Nietzsche, my dear Friedrich, my love. I’ll try not to muck you up too badly, but I am, unfortunately Human, All to Human.

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