Nietzsche’s Bovine Reading

I don’t read or quote a lot of Nietzsche, but as I am preparing for teaching an ethics course, I decided to re-read his Genealogy of Morals, and this bit at the end of his preface caught my attention: it is about how at that time – in 1887 – he is complaining about how people don’t slow down when they read. They just want a quick glance or review rather than a serious, close reading. Would he be surprised by today’s kind of reading or have an I-told-you-so attitude? How should one read? Like a cow!

To be sure, one thing is necessary above all if one is to practice reading as an art in this way, something that has been unlearned most thoroughly nowadays – and, therefore it will be some time before my writings are “readable” – something for which one has almost to be a cow and in any case not a “modern man”: rumination.

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, Preface.8; trans. Kaufmann; emphasis original.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: