John Fante is one of my favorite authors and I have read every book he has written and at least one book about him. From his works I was first intrigued by Nietzsche. This is a piece from his book ask the dust
“I pulled the huge door open and it gave a little cry like weeping. Above the altar sputtered the blood-red eternal light, illuminating in crimson shadow the quiet of almost two thousand years. It was like death, but I could remember screaming infants at baptism too. I knelt. This was habit, this kneeling. I sat down. Better to kneel, for the sharp bite at the knees was a distraction from the awful quiet. A prayer. Sure, one prayer: for sentimental reasons. Almighty God, I am sorry I am now an atheist, but have you read Nietzsche? Ah, such a book! Almighty God, I will play fair in this. I will make You a proposition. Make a great writer out of me, and I will return to the Church. And please, dear God, one more favor: make my mother happy. I don’t care about the Old Man …”
I know it is more user friendly to have less text but I love this story so much and I can’t stand to cut out more of it.
The road to Los Angeles
They went to bed. I had the divan and they had the bedroom. When their door closed I got out the magazines and piled into bed. I was glad to be able to look at the girls under the lights of the big room. It was a lot better than that smelly closet. I talked to them about an hour, went into the mountains with Elaine, and to the South Seas with Rosa, and finally in a group meeting with all of them spread around me, I told them I played no favorites and that each in her turn would get her chance. But after a while I got awfully tired of it, for I got to feeling more and more like an idiot until I began to hate the idea that they were only pictures, flat and single-faced and so alike in color and smile. And they all smiled like whores. It all got very hateful and I thought, Look at yourself! Sitting here and talking to a lot of prostitutes. A fine superman you turned out to be! What if Nietzsche could see you now? And Schopenhauer what would he think? And Spengler! Oh, would Spengler roar at you! You fool, you idiot, you swine, you beast, you rat, you filthy, contemptible, disgusting little swine! Suddenly I grabbed the pictures up in a batch and tore them to pieces and threw them down the bowl in the bathroom. Then I crawled back to bed and kicked the covers off. I hated myself so much that I sat up in bed thinking the worst possible things about myself. Finally I was so despicable there was nothing left to do but sleep. It was hours before I dozed off. The fog was thinning in the east and the west was black and grey. It must have been three o’clock. From the bedroom I heard my mother’s soft snores. By then I was ready to commit suicide, and so thinking I fell asleep.
They wouldn’t give me a ride. He killed crabs, that fellow up there ahead. Why give him a ride? He loves paper ladies in clothes closets. Think of it! So don’t give him a ride, that Frankenstein, that toad in the road, that black spider, snake, dog, rat, fool, monster, idiot. They wouldn’t give me a ride; all right so what! And see if I care! To hell with all of you! It suits me fine. I love to walk on these God-given legs, and by God I’ll walk. Like Nietzsche. Like Kant. Immanuel Kant. What do you know about Immanuel Kant? You fools in your V-8s and Chevrolets!
It was always the park. I read a hundred books. There was Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and Kant and Spengler and Strachey and others. Oh Spengler! What a book! What weight! Like the Los Angeles Telephone Directory. Day after day I read it, never understanding it, never caring either, but reading it because I liked one growling word after another marching across pages with somber mysterious rumblings. And Schopenhauer! What a writer! For days I read him and read him, remembering a bit here and a bit there. And such things about women! I agreed. Exactly my own feelings on the matter. Ah man, what a writer!
I am currently reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra. I love it. I thought that Nietzsche would be masculine, aggressive and verbose but this book is simple and sweet. It is gentle and feels like an old, maybe slightly odd, man telling a story to a little girl. I don’t know if I am “getting it” though because everything I read about him paints him is another light, like WTF is this (besides some christian dude throwing up all over Nietzsche’s work). True, I am less than 100 pages in but so far I want to pour tea for him as he eats a cracker and I tell him, I like what he has to say and I also like his mustache.
and here is an exciting educational journey