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Nietzsche is pietzsche

Having overslept this morning and missed Divine Service — a ten-hour work day yesterday preceded by two twelve-hour days is a little more than I have been used to lately — I am on my own for theological reflection.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon the Nietzsche Family Circus site yesterday, on which panels of the sappy cartoon are paired with random quotations from the works of Nietzsche. Mind you, I don’t dispute anyone’s right to the treacly sentimentalized Christianity the comic celebrates. If Buddhism can accommodate the austerities of Theravada and the anything-goes practices of Mahayana, Christians shouldn’t feel limited.

But Family Circus is just odd. That vision of the grandparents as ghostly outlines staring down from the ramparts of Heaven evokes the strange vision of St. John the Divine less than that of Homer or Vergil, whose dead are pale bloodless shades gazing up wistfully at mortal life from Hades. Creepy.

The comics, Family Circus aside, are part of my daily routine (almost said “devotionals”) and have been since I was introduced to them in my grandparents’ subscription to the Lexington Herald-Leader.* Maggie and Jiggs, the Katzenjammer kids, and the others are long gone, and Little Orphan Annie has just succumbed at the age of eighty-five. But a day without Dilbert, Get Fuzzy, and Zits would seem barren. Dilbert in particular is a useful corrective whenever people start to yammer about how much more efficient private industry is than government. Uh-huh.

Coffee, news, comics. That’s the ritual to give strength to face the day.

And today is Sunday, one of the days the Lord made. I did the laundry yesterday, and the grass isn’t long enough yet to cut, so let’s have another cup of coffee.
Alice is coming over to join us for dinner this evening, so I will make spaghetti sauce this afternoon, and I’ll have an actual meal, with plates, on a table, instead of a sandwich at a desk. And wine.

The latest quotation on Nietzsche Family Circus is “Shared joys make a friend, not shared sufferings.” With all respects to Bill Keane, I’ll go with that.

*I heard that it set some Herald-Leader people’s teeth on edge when I recollected that at the ACES conference in Louisville — “Yeah, he read the Courier-Journal for the news and us for the comics.” But two things should be kept in mind. The first is that my intention was merely to indicate that I got the newspaper habit very early on, when I first began to read. The second is that I was talking about the Herald-Leader when it was really a dreadful little paper, before Knight-Ridder bought it and made it respectable.

Posted by John McIntyre at 11:41 AM | | Comments (9)


I got the newspaper habit early on, too (morning and evening editions). Fifty some years later continue to enjoy papers and cartoons. Though I've lived through the entire "Peanuts" saga I read it religously each morning. Love technology and all its' benefits but opening that paper in the morning is still a thrill.

Adding Nietzsche to almost anything makes it more interesting. His one-liners are priceless - both as true philosophic insight and for a good chuckle when you put them in fun context. (Aphorism doesn't sound quite as fun as one-liner or 'zinger').

Meanwhile, teaching Nietzsche is always a joy for me - he is the epitome of challenging everything you want to believe. In fact, he says it no better for a history classroom: there are no facts, only interpretations.

PS - Welcome back, John.

Nietzsche was an idiot.

4th paragraph: how much "more" efficient, perhaps?

One of my favorite books is Gary Larson's "Prehistory of the Far Side." It includes lots of commentary about his cartoons. It also has several instances where newspapers accidentally swapped captions with other comics, including I think one with the Family Circus. Some of these are hysterical.

Meaning to write "on my own," you wrote "own my own." The uncaught typo proves what you frequently say: editors are necessary. Even copy editors need copy editors. It is impossible for a writer to properly edit himself, because the writer has in his head what he meant to say. What he sees on the page is not what's there but what he meant to put there.

Incidentally, "are" in your lead should be "is." The verb's subject is "day."

Quite. Thanks.

Damn, you're fast.

I just discovered your blog & find it entertaining. (I hope you don't think I am damning with faint praise.) I was directed to it by a discussion on a forum for Nikon digital camera users! The topic was the propriety of the phrase "nude photographs", which one writer thought should refer only to photographs which were not covered in some way. (No mention was made of "nude photography", a practice in which I think only a few photographers engage.)

In any case, I found it interesting that you started reading "the funny papers" in the Lexington Herald-Leader. I also started with that paper, in the mid-1960's. But for many decades now, I have lived near Washington, D.C., and have read the Post every day. It has declined in so many ways of late, but at least it still carries a good number of comic strips. The Washington City Paper, however, has dropped almost all the strips it once carried, so now I must read Red Meat on line. (Truly a priceless treat, though not for its artistic value.) Reading it on line does have its merits--I almost always start clicking on the links next to the current week's strip & re-reading older ones, which would be difficult to do with actual newspapers.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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