Wry Amusing Observations by Nietzsche

Nietzsche's Quotes

The dark piercing humor of Nietzsche:   observing people and the future of mankind.

Nietzsche in 1875

Photo of Nietzsche in 1875, probably before he contracted or showed symptoms of syphilis - suffering the fate of insanity at the end of his life in 1900.
Photo of Nietzsche in 1875, probably before he contracted or showed symptoms of syphilis - suffering the fate of insanity at the end of his life in 1900.

Since when are philosophers funny?

OK, who among us has ever thought of Nietzsche as, well, funny? Not many I expect. He was a German philosopher who often contradicted himself and got in trouble by critiquing culture. After his zealously religious Lutheran pastor father died insane, Friedrich Nietzsche soared to new heights as a famous rebel against Christianity.

That must have been one psychologically confusing atmosphere growing up as a child with a double dose: heavy religion AND insanity. It’s a true feat of courage and personal discipline the man never ended up a serial killer. This combination of early upbringing is usually a disaster. Zealously strict religion tends to produce aberrant and destructive behavior.

Labyrinth of Love

Artwork and photo by FelipeArte @ flickr
Artwork and photo by FelipeArte @ flickr

Labyrinth of Love and Life

As someone who grew up badly abused, it is easy for me to know what motivated Nietzsche, understanding the road he took to balance and purge himself of others’ insanity. I just came to different conclusions and finished the process. Most people, like him, get stuck and don’t find the exit sign in the testing zone life labyrinth. On a soul level, I often wonder if those who are meant to be the deep thinkers in life choose families that will either break them or make them.

Nietzsche’s emotional and spiritual flailing about is a fine example of the throes of spiritual and personal development. In all that seriousness, most people don’t realize how frequently incredible and funny life observations occur along the way! That, dear friends, is why you keep a journal!

Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) as a pastor’s kid says it all. Even his two grandfathers were pious pastors. I know all about pastor’s kids; I went to a school almost exclusively populated by them. When my father accepted an overseas intelligence assignment in Taiwan, my little sister and I ended up in an American Protestant missionary boarding school where they harangued us 24/7 to bend to their will. We got a taste of Nietzsche’s oppressive psychological life.

That religious school operated like a paranoid cult using brainwashing techniques, social isolation and physical lock-down to break the spirit. My little sister succumbed as a young child has few psychological defenses. As for me, it turned out my personality was immune to their torture. Years later I found a military document online that talked about those who are resistant to torture. It was interesting to read a study by people who had never met me that described my experience and how I solved the problem by psychologically breaking down the torturers. The local Taoists taught me their mirroring technique and I just took it to a new level.

It’s amazing I actually love, like and interact with God as a result. However, I was successful in separating God from the destructive fools who claimed to represent Him. I could easily have ended up on Nietzsche’s destructive path to inner nowhere but not for the Chinese local spiritual adepts, some Buddhist, and, another highly revered Taoist elusive mystic. They talked about God too. It was from a completely different perspective, complementing what I really knew about the true Christianity. That experience was an exercise in the freedom of joy and discovery, not ego rules and manipulation.


Piano as Archetype of Life's Song

Photo by Mourner @ flickr
Photo by Mourner @ flickr

Nietzsche's Core Life Study and Philosophy


For his time period, Nietzsche was a provocative thinker. He pushed and pushed back the limits of severely hobbled imaginations. Let’s say it plain; the man was often odiously offensive to all around him, yet many times justified. It might have helped his cause to learn some diplomacy, though there are those times when plain spoken is all that remains available. He did find solace as a musician, learning the piano at an early age, composing as he grew older. The other part of his irritability was he suffered from migraine headaches.

I suspect his physical ailments and emotional pain contributed to his grumpiness that, in turn, colored his writings. Nietzsche really believed that European man was standing on the precipice of a critical turning point. He was concerned that mankind was in the early stages of beginning to develop past the old cultural views of God, namely Judeo-Christian views. Nietzsche believed mankind would fall into an abyss of despair from no longer being able to find meaning in a meaningless world. In short, his emotional and physical pain colored his world view to the point he thought everyone would experience the same.

How do you filter what you see in your world?

Photo by canfood @ flickr
Photo by canfood @ flickr

Nietzsche's Thoughts on Mankind


Nietzsche’s better work often discussed the idea of mankind with “a will to power” – the need to dominate and master his world. He observed that among all the animals on earth only mankind could actually turn this “will to power” back upon himself for self-mastery and self-overcoming as he called it. He said this was the ideal man, a superman, “will achieve a fierce joy in mastering his own existence, ordering his passions, and giving style to his character.” Strangely, Nietzsche came full circle for that is the basic concept straight out of The Book of Proverbs.

“The sublimation of passion and of life's circumstances that the ideal man achieves in his self-overcoming will release in him a flood of creative energy. The lives of such men will be the justification of reality; their preferences will constitute the standard of value.”

Forgiveness and Big Egos: Kiss and make up!

Photo by chadh @ flickr
Photo by chadh @ flickr

Future generations interpret writers - for what will you be known?


In his own way, Nietzsche came full circle from what he learned as a child, achieving much of his spiritual development from another angle. He just forgot or never succeeded in purging the rage from having been wronged by abusive people, transforming it into forgiveness. Forgiveness is the spiritual gate that releases previously caged creative energy so a person can realize and enjoy their full potential.

Why do I write about this tortured man? Because no matter how bad life can get it is the mark of both a person of high intelligence and caged creativity that can see the humor in the weirdness of life. Along his path through life, with all the strange twists and turns, peeking through that mental torment were astute and humorous observations. Nietzsche will be remembered for a lot of things, some good, and some bad. Why not stop for a moment and just enjoy his wry observations about mankind and society?

Nietzsche's Dark Humor

Quotes by Nietzsche


A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called 'Ego'.

Not by wrath does one kill, but by laughter.

Insanity in individuals is something rare -- but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.

Is man one of God's blunders or is God one of man's blunders?

The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.

The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.

The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy.

In Heaven all the interesting people are missing.

Love is a state in which a man sees things most decidedly as they are not.

Laughter is the BEST Medicine!

Photo by BjǿrnGiesenbauer @ flickr
Photo by BjǿrnGiesenbauer @ flickr

Thank You for Your Visit!

Best medicine? Laugh your way through difficult times. Improve your life within and the life without changes and transforms. Thanks for visiting!

Feel free to leave a comment. Tell us your favorite Nietzsche quote!

I'm a Social Issues Poet (SIP). Pay a visit to my poetry, news, humor and political blog: The Social Poets. Posting is every day.

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Comments are always welcome! 20 comments

Ande Moore profile image

Ande Moore 7 years ago from Austin, Texas

Very nice hub. 'Heavy religion mixed with insanity' I enjoyed that. To me, that goes hand in hand. Keep up the great writing.

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Hi, Ande, thanks for the visit!

goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

great piece, I read enough of ol Fred to have screwed up my mind just a little. And they said drugs was bad for me, but drugs got nothing on nietzche

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Thanks, goldentoad, for stopping by for a visit! You are right; Nietzsche could confuse profoundly.

Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

I read "Thus Spake Zarathustra" and I loved it. Thank you, Denny for reminding us on that great philosopher.

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Hi, Tatjana, for visiting! He really did have a wide ranging intellect!

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

I enjoyed how you introduced your observations on Nietzsche with a little personal history of your own. This was great to read, after years of hearing undergraduates mangle Nietzschean philosophy in literature classes. Thank you.

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Hi, Teresa, thanks for visiting!  I can only imagine how many bad reads you endured as an educator by students who cared more about doing "the minimum acceptable" than the subject taught.

Tortured or tormented people are usually not easy to write about unless you've BTDT (Been There Done That) and can get inside their heads. 

Your asture observations are always most welcome.  I figured just about everything had already been written on Nietzsche - most of it to argue with him over who was right or wrong.  In my world:  Know the person from the inside out; understand their life. THEN you can better comprehend what they are trying to teach the world. Can you tell I've always been a player for biographies? :)

Jodi Hoeksel profile image

Jodi Hoeksel 7 years ago

Hey Denny,

Love this piece. Your writing really moved me with your personal reflections, along with Nietzshe's history. I truly believe that if we can be true to our consciousness, we can experience true happiness. I feel Nietzshe could have came off so abrasive to some due to his detaching from the whole of his surroundings...

I've just read, A new Earth, by Echart Tolle. He makes many references to Nietzshe, and his forward thinking of abandoning our egoic state of being. You have inspired me to study Nietzshe further..Thank you

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Hi, Jodi, thanks for visiting!  Echart Tolle has some interesting thoughts as well!  He is correct about taking it to the next level of personal development and dissolving the ego state. 

Over time I figured out from direct experience that the ego is really a result of cultural teaching and can only serve us well in a structured environment of limited expectations.  The problem arises, as I was tested again and again, that cultural teaching was useless.  I deferred to my spirit which is a lot smarter, nimble and wiser to solve the unusual problems for which I had no training. 

In short, my spirit leads and my ego gets in line to learn a better way! In time, the ego calms down, learns to trust the spiritual level, then learns to team with it and then eventually merges with it, dissolving it as a separate entitity. Learning to allow my spirit to lead is what has kept me alive all these years as, frankly, I should never have survived all the bizarre situations I've encountered, especially without training.  Spirit rules! :)

Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Off to read up on this interesting man. Thanks for the great introduction and the thought promoting hub.

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Hi, Gypsy, thanks for your visit! So many interesting people out there in the annals of history but only two tired eyes to try and read it all...

readabook profile image

readabook 7 years ago from Texas

I love your "one minute biographies." They are so great to read. I also enjoy your insights into life. You manage to provide a tremendous amount of mental stimulation in so few words.

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Hi, readabook, thanks for visiting! WOW! Can I use your comment on my tombstone? What a great bio it would make! Well said in few words yourself. See, you are a gifted writer who can condense thought into meaningful communication!

As to the few words, hmmm... guess that comes from 2 places: being a conceptual thinker and having lived in Asia. They think so differently than the West it was a treat to get inside their heads. What was funniest is they welcomed the company!

Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

I for one love his mustache. I think it's marvelous. I've always loved Nietzsche. Very contemplative. I actually loved his contradictions because life is contradictory. There is confusion in everyone, yet it all makes sense (if that makes sense). I have to say I really haven't read that much of his, there really is so much to get into! His poetry I find especially clever and wish I could read them in his native tongue, so I hope the tranlations have done them justice. That can get tricky with poetry. Great topic, and yes, he is quite funny. Wonderful quotes.

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Hi, Frieda, thanks for dropping by!  I agree, poetry is especially tricky for translation - if only there was a universal translator we all could use - wouldn't that be something!  (Then I could read obscure ancient languages while secretly hidden away in The Secret Archives of The Vatican Library, eating cheese like a quiet naughty mouse, nibbling on hidden secrets...)

Béla Mongyi 7 years ago

Some of them are rather wry amusing comments than observations I think. Like "a true man wants two things:..." That's not what he said elsewhere. :)

Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 7 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Touche! Thanks for visiting!

blue parrot profile image

blue parrot 6 years ago from Madrid, Spain

This was a surprise, because mostly, everywhere, what they really love about Nietzsche is "his staring into an abyss and the abyss stares back" quote.

Here is another beautiful and witty Nietzsche quote which I was lucky to find instantly online. It is from a letter he wrote early in his madness to his Basle university friend:

Turin, January 5, 1889: Letter to Jacob Burckhardt

"Dear Professor, when it comes right down to it I'd much rather have been a Basel Professor than God; but I didn't dare be selfish enough to forgo the creation of the world. You see, one must make sacrifices, no matter how and where one lives.—"


Denny Lyon profile image

Denny Lyon 6 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA Author

Wonderful quote to contribute, thank you! I've never been completely convinced that a lot of brilliant minds were insane but rather troubled and not always in perfect balance.

Like a lot of brilliant people - and I grew up around a huge number of them - they are often "declared" something by others who are unable to understand their line of thinking. In short, if you stray from the current societal norm, and act emotionally or irrationally then, therefore, a person must be insane.

I've just never bought into that progression of logic. As to Nietzsche, a lot of people just never realized the guy had a dark biting sense of humor which is often the case of the brilliant.

The more intelligent you are the more difficult it is to discipline the emotions. With high intelligence a person is intensely aware of literally everything and it can be a lot to process without some kind of personal discipline in place.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit, much appreciated your comment!

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    Photo Credits

    Sunday Stroll Photo by BjǿrnGiesenbauer @ flickr

    Labyrinth of Love Artwork and Photo by FelipeArte @ flickr

    Piano as Archetype of Life Photo by Mourner @ flickr

    Big Egos Kissing Tigers Photo by chadh @ flickr

    Our World From Space Photo by canfood @ flickr

    What's Going On Inside Your Head Photo by I’m Your Pusher @ flickr

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