Last week in our Theories in Modernity class we looked at Nietzsche’s essay “On the Disadvantages of History For Life”. It was a really interesting piece because it brought up loads of interesting questions around our relationship to history. Nietzsche explores the effect history has on human beings. In this essay he is acknowledging the need for history in order to live an active life but he is also making the point that history can become a problem if we dwell on the past too much and forget to live.
He goes on to explain that for some people the past is something they cling onto so tight that it becomes a chain they cannot break free from. Its like a ghost that haunts the present and so there is no escape or peace from it. Nietzsche explains how children are not yet haunted by this ghost because they have not lived long enough to be concerned with the past. He describes how children “blissfully play between the hedges” of the past and the future for a little while however this blissful existence cannot last forever. Soon this forgetful stage fades away and they begin to learn about the past. This can be a source of great suffering and conflict for some.