Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Some Quaker Overview

Ever since Walter Kaufmann translated Nietzsche's "Übermensch" to "Overman" instead of "Superman", there's been discomfort among Quaker Overseers, who are caught in the hard place of remaining vigilant against undermining / subverting influences (cosmetics, music...) that might distract Friends from expectant waiting on the spirit.

Quakers don't believe in titles or, more accurately, different ranks or classes of human. Fox was popular among infantry and officers for his direct egalitarian manner and plainspokenness, direct speech, an asset in war time. Quakers wouldn't treat some as uber-entitled and others as trash, which got them in trouble (an understatement).

However, Kaufmann's whole schtick (or a big part of it) was to put distance between "Übermensch" and any stupid Nazi ideas of Arayan supremacy, the ultimate classism or sense of entitlement.

Friends tried hard to put the brakes on WW2 (see Human Smoke) by seeing Germans as humans too (like Americans, far from perfect); they resisted imposition of the food blockade, the siege Churchill had mounted and needed FDR to support, and they pushed to open borders to fleeing / desperate refugees from Nazi oppression, Jews chief among them.

DC Comics might have had the better translation after all, in that ordinary powers we have, as humans further along the timeline, are "super" compared to what they were until recently. We fly places. We Google stuff. We see the Earth from space.

Compared to humans just a short time ago, in terms of environmental impact at the terraforming level, for better or for worse (or neither or both), we're now "super" or "uber" or "on steroids" if you will ("over the top", "hyper", "amped up").

Nietzsche was right: humanity was about to go into overdrive and into orbit and now we have "overview" (Über-view) from space. We see the fragility of our situation. That's what our new superpowers (powers of oversight) help us realize: that we're uber-vulnerable, as a ball-shaped ecosystem in the middle of nowhere.