The Experiment of the Future
Deleuzoguattarian Nietzsche: Overcoming as Capitalism.
The aim of this essay is to extrapolate on the claim that accelerating capitalism would act as inherently beneficial for Nietzschean man’s overcoming of himself into Overman. I plan to do this firstly by defining what man and amor fati mean for Nietzsche, alongside defining both that which man shall become, namely the Overman and its counterpart of Eternal Recurrence, alongside their inherent connection. Primarily focusing on the possibility and actuality of man’s overcoming, what it means to overcome and that which man is against during his process of overcoming e.g. the herd. From here I plan to explain why in the current day or epoch what it means to be ‘man’ has been drastically altered, largely due to capitalism being western man’s political horizon. I plan to briefly attend to a common description of capitalism, then utilize the writing of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari as a means for extrapolating what it is capitalism does to man, and what man is under or within capitalism, with extrapolations on both man as desiring-machine and the Civilized Capitalist Machine itself. In the final section I plan to achieve 3 things in a linear fashion, yet assimilated into one another. Firstly a basic overview of Nietzschean man’s overcoming, secondly the process of overcoming for Deleuzoguattarian man, and thirdly the process of overcoming for Nietzschean man subsumed into Deleuzoguattarian capitalism, expanding on the idea that not only is capitalism beneficial for man’s overcoming but due to its inherent qualities it is in fact the greatest vessel for overcoming.
Man, Overman and Recurrence
To begin with Nietzsche’s fate of man, for where else could one begin except with man’s becoming, the fatal amor fati. That proclamation of purpose amidst schematic metaphysics and the passing of value; for Nietzsche the macro-pursuit or task of humanity, of man in its grandest sense is a thorough “going-across and a down-going”. (Nietzsche, 1961: p44), a personal and herd-external recognition of that rope so “fastened between animal and Superman” (Nietzsche, 1961: p43) and so within Nietzsche’s call for a “down-going” is an – often unheard – cry for man to act as Socrates once did and “descend from the plane of his intellectual understanding” (Pappas, 1995: p17-21), man baring all for the future, to accept what comes – as we shall too – and [justify] “men of the future” (Nietzsche, 1961: p44), those Overmen, greater than man, those who’ve overcome humanity. For the task of man is to overcome himself (Nietzsche, 1961: p41). For aid and direction in such a feat one and man must turn to Zarathustra, aloud at the marketplace: “The hour when you say: what good is happiness” (Nietzsche, 1961: p43) he proclaims to the herd “your very meanness…” he concludes. Within 19 short lines Zarathustra brings to the fore the decadence and degeneracy of man, a man subsumed into the herd, of the herd; the stasis of the marketplace dances confidently upon the corpse of God, confident of their apathy. Arrogance and ignorance in a new world deprived of God’s light, searching for pity and sympathy, a world bereft of creation. Confronted with the herd’s apathetic nature Zarathustra in haste defends “What is great in man” (Nietzsche, 1961: p45) a list the likes of the herd and the last man find at once burdensome and heavy. Yet those who are to overcome, those who for Zarathustra “prophesy the coming of the lightning…” (Nietzsche, 1961: p45), those men who under darkened clouds continue planting seeds for trees they shall not see, those men who carry and own their fate. The becoming towards Overman true, a love of creation even when it is destruction; a simultaneous innovation, growth, creation and longing for life, all of life. These men who become are those who wish to “perish by the man of the present.” (Nietzsche, 1961: p45). Men so utterly subsumed into their amor fati that they question a positive roll of the dice; a man who feels indebted to the future and understands it is he who must pave the way against the belly laughs of the herd, this is what it means for Nietzschean man to become.
What of this ‘becoming’ of which man must attend, wherein must man begin? The process prior to those who have overcame, what will and does overcoming look like in actuality? For these questions we turn to the abstraction of the Nietzschean rope of animal, man and Overman. The rope of overcoming as a guide for transcendence. Beginning with the former coupling of animal and man or nature and man, and so one turns to Section V, Dawn, (Nietzsche, 1911: A434 and A464) wherein lies a critique of man’s reaction to nature: “the great things of nature and humanity must intercede.” (Nietzsche, 1911: p274) For there should be no return, for fear of clawing at old animalistic rope, there in fact should be a cultivation, an active improvement of nature wherein the duality of man and nature – expanded upon later – becomes a symmetrical improvement for both sides’ inefficiency: Man as he who improves upon nature’s shortcomings and nature as reminder of origin, of how far man can fall. Within Dawn’s critique and Zarathustra’s proclamations we find man’s perpetual opposition to that which he creates, as Kaufmann comments (Kaufmann, 2013: p248), that much akin to Wilde’s smelt of bronze (Wilde, 1894) man must melt, form and re-melt his bronze ad infinitum, each reforming a Heraclitean improvement of his creation and his being. This albeit ‘practical’ form of becoming is at its heart the private ownership of one’s own amor fati; a “down-going” into fate, however light, however bleak. I shall return to becoming in abstraction later, for now, that which man shall become: the Overman.
If one is to speak of man as a rope: from animal, to man, to Overman, then one may ask what difference lies between man and Overman. The difference presents itself in the way each influences and is influenced, for “Man is a polluted river.” (Nietzsche, 1961: p42) and though he could recast his bronze a new, or bare the future’s weight, both acts, along with his present agency are prey to the external influence of herd-entities: state, religion and society, all of which act as forms of ‘pollution’ for weak, fearful man; those men who are not as of yet themselves. His thoughts, his ideas, his morals, his structures even, are perceived via a gauze of epoch-centric stimuli altering the original and authentic into the lulls and whines of the herd; and thus what is his, is not his. Whereas “the Superman: he is the sea” (Nietzsche, 1961: p42) and thus can receive the pollution of the river, of many rivers, of all rivers without losing his original form, without losing who it is he is. The Overman therefore, is he who can withstand external pressured perspectives en masse whilst retaining authenticity and origin. Indeed if one is to turn to the literal (published) origin of the Overman, to The Gay Science, they shall find him within a reverent triptych “of gods, heroes and overmen.” (Nietzsche, 1974: A143), it is here in origination we find not only is the Overman he who withstands the rabble’s infectious strains of decadence, but it is he who – in the future, once born – will be able to create structures and systems akin to those of gods and heroes. It is of course no mistake that the Overman finds his literary birth in an aphorism focused on the problematic nature of restriction, specifically the restrictions of monotheism in comparison to polytheism; why worship the singular, suffocative ideology of a long since murdered God, when one can overcome restrictive pollutions and help the future bare witness to the birth of the Overman. To lure “him who justifies the man of the future.” (Nietzsche, 1961: p44) forward so, away from all sources of pollution, man, in plural, may glimpse at a future bearable, recurrence bearable…
For why write of a Nietzschean future if one doesn’t address the only future: Eternal Recurrence. For Nietzsche the doctrine of eternal recurrence is the impenetrable metaphysical horizon: “Eternal recurrence – that is to say of the absolute and eternal repetition of all things, in periodical cycles.” (Nietzsche, 1911: p73). The finite number of atomic configurations within the infinity of time recurring over and over, a perpetual reorganization of chaos again and again. A succinct description of the atheistic horror, the atheistic universe. For not only has God been murdered (Nietzsche, 1961: p41) and thus been made mortal by man, but the act of murder shall recur. Recur out of sight and out of cycle (Nietzsche, 1961: p234), and so it becomes an impossible act for any mortal man to comprehend…the recurrence of all his pain and loss, strife and suffering, let alone wish once more than he act out his mortality. Yet this is the ‘heaviest weight’ which the Overman must bare, not to “curse the demon who spoke thus.” (Nietzsche, 1974: A341) but in fact, to embrace his announcement, the great amor fati, to want no difference of fate, nothing ever changing for all of eternity, this fate only the Overman can embrace and it is this virtue that make him thus. Recurrence of such is here prior to any ‘arrival’ or birth or the Overman, and thus we exist in an anti-anthropocentric universe that cares not for our wallowing in chaos, for our lack of atomic organization or baring of tragedy, the justification of the future is in the arrival of he who will bare the horizon of recurrence. For recurrence without the Overman, without he who can accept it…own it, truly, would result in a death of possibility, of potential, a repetition of the finite forever, without hope for value, transcendence or hierarchy. The Overman without recurrence however, would act as a fatalistic tyrant, leaping into the unknown whilst dragging humanity behind him. In their connection the present belongs to no one, it is the end-result of a past configuration and the future is only that which is to be overcome. “For greatness in man is amor fati: the fact that man wishes nothing to be different, either in front of him or behind him, for all eternity.” (Nietzsche, 1911: p45) For the Overman, the wish for non-difference is their a priori connection to recurrence. Yet this relationship is asymmetrical, for it is inconsequential to the universe whether or not chaos is organized; yet to those who benefit from a reorganization it is not. “After the vision of the overman…recurrence now bearable!” (Kaufmann, 2013: p327)
A Deleuzoguattarian Epoch
The horizon for man, specifically contemporary western man, has changed, the epoch altered: that which man creates, destroys and lives from, has itself altered in such a fundamental way that which ‘man’ is has too changed, at least in relation to the ‘man’ of which Nietzsche referred. Man for Nietzsche as he whose potential for overcoming would have directly conflicted with strict ideological value adherence, the Utopian dream and modernity, all of which act in opposition to the epoch of contemporary western man, who pushes to and fro, from and with…capitalism.
Capitalism: A free market economy wherein the means of production – and product – are privately owned by an individual and are operated primarily for profit. A dynamic of recurrent success and the dissolving of failure. Man as controller or controlled, employer or employed; strength and weakness appropriated as economic status and authority. From a Nietzschean perspective it is true that all forms of economy, state and ideology are themselves hindrances of authenticity or pollution for the mind of man, for man’s overcoming. Yet capitalism’s unique machinic nature with relation to man’s unconscious desire allows not only for the possibility of overcoming, but for the ‘acceleration’ of such a process, the nature of capitalism as such is expounded by the philosophy of Deleuze & Guattari.
One, in fact, must turn to Deleuze & Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus for a full understanding of the socio-philosophical consequences of man’s subsumption into capitalism. For that ‘man’, that humanity, first spoke of as he who is to justify the future’s existence has since been altered by the eventuality of capitalism, which mutates man’s nature into that of a desiring-machine (Deleuze & Guattari, 2013: p12), integrated into the societal meshwork of desiring-production (Ibid, p19). Desiring-production: The perpetual loop of production and consumption along with their inherent bind: “Hence everything is production: production of productions, of actions and passions…Everything is production.” (Ibid, p14) within this machinic capitalist process “the human essence of nature and the natural essence of man becomes one within nature in the form of production and industry.” (Ibid, p15) That ‘nature’ which the ‘man’ of Nietzsche is to cultivate and improve, has since, in its duality with man been subsumed into the form of production and industry. The rope of becoming ground from its animalistic beginnings into man by the process of production, both moving forward into a process larger than themselves, of which shall accelerate the motion of man towards Overman. This duality of man and nature, this “Production as process” (Ibid, p15) as that which subsumes all: desire, ideals, identity and categories, and thus is not itself a means to an end (Ibid, p15), nor infinite perpetuation, but is the essential productive reality of man and nature entwined as process for the refinement of both. Man as a “producing/product identity” (Ibid, p18) process amidst a process of momentary cyclical lapses of production, wherein the whole process starts again, a non-means to an end, a “continual birth and rebirth.” (Ibid, p18), a continuous melting and sculpting of Kaufmann’s Nietzschean bronze (Kaufmann, 2013: p248); man reassembles himself again and again from the remnants of his singular past bronze creation into a new original form, a glimpse thereof for a moment, before the product is consumed and melted back into the process of production along with man: a process of the continual lapsed process of micro-productive overcoming. Man as desiring-machine amidst the capitalist landscape, wherein the distinctions of: production, distribution and consumption are immediately flattened onto a single immanent plane (Deleuze & Guattari, 2013: p15), alongside industry, man and nature all acting as a means for the process of production, as such man becomes a process…a process of production. As a furnace produces the heat to smelt, man produces sweat to cool, both acts interlinked under the horizontal process of capitalism as that which emancipates becoming from the suffocative pollution of utopias into the perpetual “decoding of flows.” (Deleuze & Guattari, 2013: p257), into a non-linear, fragmented Nietzschean explosion! (Nietzsche, 1990: p108)
What of these men, these desiring-machines whom are of the capitalist socius, what does it do and what does it alter of their agency? These men who, in accordance with Deleuzoguattarian philosophy, becoming desiring-machines. Wherein that latter machinic nature is not metaphoric (Deleuze & Guattari, 2013: p12), but actual, man assimilated as machine into “only a process” (Ibid, p12) driven by an unconscious desire of “fragmentary and fragmented” (Ibid, p12) ‘objects’ and ‘flows’. “Desiring-machines work only when they break down, and by continually breaking down.” (Ibid, p19) and so, as this “identity of production” (Ibid, p19) acting simultaneously alongside the naturally decoding and fragmentary processes of capitalism, with desire as the underlying catalyst for the ‘current’ and ‘break’ of capitalism’s decoded flows, we find man as he who now exists within a continual machinic birth and rebirth, product and production; fragmented man as process removed from archaic independent spheres into a political project of immediacy and divergence.
What of these men within and of capitalist process(Ibid, p257), of The Civilized Capitalist Machine, a construction of semantic parts of which each must be swiftly deconstructed as a means for understanding the horizon of man: ‘The Civilized’ as in the singular capitalist machine which in its unification acts as a vessel for and of decoding and deterritorialization, which via the proclamation of its ‘civilized’ nature has been brought, or brought itself to a correct developmental stage: So via a deconstruction herein we understand that of a singular accepted capitalist machine, the process of which – production, process, man – acts as both its civility and machinations. Internally holding the emancipative process of the decoding of flows and deterritorialization, a process which subsumes man as desiring-machine into as a means for man’s accelerated overcoming.
Towards the emancipative process itself: “That is why capitalism and its break are defined not solely by decoded flows, but by the generalized decoding of flows, the new massive deterritorialization, the conjunction of deterritorialized flows.” (Ibid, p259). The Deleuzoguattarian primacy of capitalism as that which decodes; a removal of structure, a reversal of apparent limitational natures; ‘coding’ as linearities wherein growth has an ‘end’ or a blink (Nietzsche, 1961: p46). And what of the flow that is to be decoded: “What is it that moves over the body of society? It is always flows, and a person is always cutting off a flow. A person is always a point of departure for the production of a flow, a point of destination for the reception of a flow, a flow of any kind; or better yet, an interception of many flows.” (Deleuze, 1971) This Deleuzoguattarian ‘person’ taken as man, humanity, a multitude of persons, is man within capitalist process as desiring-machine, entirely subsumed into decoded and perpetually decoding flows, man fragmented into the process of production (of production) of capitalism itself. These “decoded flows that makes of capital the new social full body.” (Deleuze & Guattari, 2013: p261) become capitalism itself, assembly of the capitalist machine as the “production of productions.” – the great creation – with man taking his place in and within and of the machine, no longer a capitalism which “installed itself in the pores of the old socius”(Ibid, p261) but a capitalism entirely deterritorialized into a civilized production machine, with subsumed man as desiring-machine, flattened onto the semantically reductionist plane ‘capitalism’ from which one can begin a trajectory towards an isolation of desire and of overcoming, using capitalism as its natural propellant.
Man’s Transcendence As Capitalist Process
This isolated trajectory towards overcoming…of overcoming, this possibility of transcendence via the utilization of capitalism’s inherent emancipative processes benefits from a return to the Overman/Recurrence duality. Such an Overman is he who is beyond capitalism, beyond the pollution of any -ism or -logy, those so transcendentally emancipated they can lure humanity from the decadent present with their call for ‘man to justify himself’, that which makes great men act, thus: build the future from the future. The inherently problematic yet beneficial nature of capitalist process if that the alterations it has performed on man of course change that which he is to overcome, namely himself, for it is man to be overcome and man has changed. Yet these processes too – as we shall see – allow for an accelerated reassembly of the recurring finite. First: overcoming as Nietzsche’s man, secondly: overcoming as Deleuzoguattarian man, thirdly: utilization of both forms as a means for accelerated overcoming as process.
“Great men…in whom tremendous energy has been accumulated…there has been no explosion for a long time.” (Nietzsche, 1990:p108) What of these ‘explosions’ and why have there been so few? For they are held back by the Nietzschean pollutions: state, religion and epoch. So of the former ‘great men’ we find a symmetrical characteristic with the Overman, both care not for their epoch’s chaos and both ‘become who they are’(Nietzsche, 1974: A270). However, those great men of present, taken henceforth by capitalism’s all consuming process, acting as a vessel for the “overwhelming pressure of the energies.” (Nietzsche, 1990:p109) as such that the unhinged, free market capitalist state allows these men to become that process towards which there is the Nietzschean explosion.
To grasp the Will to Power both as text and as actual will in consideration with the contemporary socio-political organ is to invite an abstractive haste titled under the principle of more! (Kaufmann, 2013: p185), guided into the future, attempting to justify the future via posthumous fragmented jottings, decoded from author into flows alien to their temporal origin seems fitting: To guide us, bluntly towards the perspective of the non-end, the forever-end of man prior to the coming of the Overman: “To invite disease and madness, to promote symptoms of derangement, meant to grow stronger, more superhuman, more terrible and more wise. (Nietzsche, 2017: A48) Invitation, promotion, growth and more, more, more, the perpetual decoding of flows is that which we must invite; acting as a contemporary deification wherein one actively allows and invites the process of capitalism further into his desire. Wherein man attempts an assertion of his place within the authoritative triptych(Nietzsche, 1974: A143), utilizing the naturally creative powers of capitalism as a means for future – God & hero-esque – value creation.
“If we remove the idea of purpose from the process, can we still affirm the process? We could if something were accomplished at every moment of the process.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A55) What purpose does capitalism hold and promote except that of continued deterritorialization and the decoding of flows, each decoding, intersection and multiplicity of flows is at once and “every moment” a creation, a deterritorialized creation without root of purpose, unconscious creation from and of man! A miraculous creation amongst [modernities’] “breaking up of traditions and schools.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A74) This fragmented disintegration via capitalism’s decoding of modernity, of all which could have possibly coded, caged and polluted man, is at once subsumed into the unconscious process of production and forthwith a flow of production, of creation. – “As a matter of fact, great growth is always accompanied by tremendous fragmentation and destruction;” (Nietzsche, 2017: A112) thus from the ashes of decoded schools and relics of tradition arises “the transition to new conditions of existence.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A112). Utilizing capitalism’s inherent unchecked growth and mechanisms of decoding the Nietzschean pot of smelted bronze meets its greatest furnace; for the Overman as transcended is he who creates!
For “Consciousness only extends so far as it is useful.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A505) not only must the process of overcoming accept pollution as a physical limitation, but to overcome, man must accept the nature of consciousness as anchored to the herd, to the state, to those and that which hinder and impede the process of overcoming: For man’s conscious intentionality is always drawn to pollution and decadence prior. To be and to allow and own the unconscious is to begin to overcome. Such a process of overcoming finding itself inherently within the socio-ideological organ of The Civilized Capitalist Machine: “An organ of what controls us.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A524) the organ Nietzsche speaks of in relation to commerce acts symmetrically to that of the desiring-machine, taken into and in control of an organ. It is from said organ that the limitations of consciousness’ usefulness are left behind in favour of desire, wherein man’s overcoming he shall “trace something new to something old.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A552) as flows decode, and parts are deterritorialized, micro-justifications for the future fragment and decode into process, perpetually, a constant ‘tracing’ of new to old. Such a temporal tracing within capitalist process can be allowed to expand and diverge due to its inherent decoding of flows and form of ownership: “great men…” acting as employers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, visionaries and inventors are “shaping and commanding forces – extending the sphere of their power – the demand increasing.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A644) via appropriation of the traditional ‘strong and weak’ onto the asymmetrical replacement of employer and employed, the capitalist and the capitalized or “Being useful for accelerating – and being useful for [stability]” (Nietzsche, 2017: A648). Thus it is from capitalism that great men are born once more and allowed full reign within their sphere of power, utilizing the multitude of weak marketplace energies to construct, build and create a justification for the future, for the men of the future, for “The herd is a means and nothing more!” (Nietzsche, 2017: A766)
Accelerative processes, no: “NB. Processes considered as ‘beings’.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A655) and asymmetrically beings as processes, a recurrent subsuming of one into the other as a means for overcoming themselves; weak and strong, humanity and capitalism. “NB. Hitherto, man has been man of the future so to speak.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A686) that is, what is man but an effort towards not a better future, but a greater future, capitalism allows man his “Subsumption into the larger whole in order to satisfy its will to power.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A774, 2), man into capitalism as to satisfy desire via unconscious decoding and power by application of practical free market economies, both as a means towards overcoming and to benefit the Overman, to pave route to the birthplace of the Overman.
And so in utilization of contemporary capitalism, with man as desiring-machine, the Nietzschean dream has begun: “He must be endowed with the virtues of a machine.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A888) and so he has been endowed, with the virtues of the desiring-machine, who acts in such a way to acquire little pollution, the unconscious machinic process of capitalism, the unchecked, accelerative virtues of desiring-machine are indeed “The strong who are to come – investing not in society, but in the future – That great process, the levelling of European man, is not to be retarded; it should be accelerated.” (Nietzsche, 2017: A898)
And here in the late, maddeningly fragmented jottings of The Will to Power do we find the origin of Deleuzoguattarian acceleration, acting as the form of ‘end’, the continuous birth and rebirth, the only conclusion man can muster to the civilized capitalist machine:
“For perhaps the flows are not yet deterritorialized enough – Not to withdraw from the process, but to go further, to “accelerate the process””(Deleuze & Guattari, 2013: p276)
Herein lies the fatal bridge between Nietzsche’s late – decoded – attempts at offering a solution for man’s potential becoming and Deleuzoguattarian capitalism; for man has become and is always becoming a desiring-machine of unconscious desire, such a machine acting as a part of and as the process of capitalism itself, driving his desire ever forward, yet remnants of recurrent stability remain. His attachments are still to the old as a means of pleasing the strong, he must relieve himself of familiarity and accelerate himself, overcome himself as a process towards the future. Deleuze & Guattari’s call to “accelerate the process” (Deleuze & Guattari, 2013: p276) is a call of acceptance towards the emancipative powers of capitalism in relation to man’s overcoming of himself. And so this production of process and its reverse, the process of production, both acting as capitalism itself and as man, should not be lapsed or halted, but in fact should be accelerated pushing man ever further towards his limit, towards the future, towards his birth as Overman.
Man as he whom will always – a la Nietzsche – be indebted to his fate and to his future, is as such always burdened with the task of preparing/actualising the existence of the Overman. Against the whines of the herd, man must take up the abstract process of overcoming and cultivate a symmetrical relationship with nature wherein the inefficiency of both is improved, this interceding of both man and nature via a Deleuzoguattarian capitalist framework allows man to utilize the inherent present capitalist process capabilities: decoding of flows, excess fragmentation and the assimilation of independent spheres into a unified process, as a means to accelerate the process of man’s overcoming. Deleuzoguattarian Nietzsche therefor is the interceding of man as desiring-machine with his amor fati, which to the desiring-machine is the unchecked acceleration, fragmentation, decodification and divergence of flows. An amor fati which in conjunction with the emancipative powers of capitalism with regards to product, production and process is accelerated due to its natural inclusion within the Civilized Capitalist Machine. And so: Desiring-machine as humanity within the Civilized Capitalist Machine, are still eternally indebted to the future to their amor fati, as such man must accelerate the inherent capabilities of capitalism as a means towards the emancipation of man, as a means towards overcoming and the creation/birth of the Overman.
Text originally submitted to M.A. course.
Note on Bibliography: Preceding a number: p=page and A=aphorism.
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Pappas, N (1995) Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Plato and the Republic. Routledge, London.
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Kaufmann, W (2013) Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. The Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Wilde, O (1894) The Artist [online] Available at: http://www.online-literature.com/wilde/2315/ Accessed: 07/01/2018.
Nietzsche, F (1974) The Gay Science Trans. Kaufmann, W, New York, Random House Inc.
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Nietzsche, F (2017) The Will to Power Trans. Hill K, R. Scarpitti, M, A. Penguin Books, UK