‘The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two’ by Alenka Zupančič

Published by The MIT Press in 2003. Download link updated on 29. June 2021.

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The Shortest Shadow counters the currently fashionable appropriation of Nietzsche as a philosopher who was “ahead of his time” but whose time has finally come — the rather patronizing reduction of his often extraordinary statements to mere opinions that we can “share.” Zupančič argues that the definitive Nietzschean quality is his very unfashionableness, his being out of the mainstream of his or any time.

To restore Nietzsche to a context in which the thought “lives on its own credit,” Zupančič examines two aspects of his philosophy. First, in “Nietzsche as Metapsychologist,” she revisits the principal Nietzschean themes — his declaration of the death of God (which had a twofold meaning, “God is dead” and “Christianity survived the death of God”), the ascetic ideal, and nihilism — as ideas that are very much present in our hedonist postmodern condition.

Then, in the second part of the book, she considers Nietzsche’s figure of the Noon and its consequences for his notion of the truth. Nietzsche describes the Noon not as the moment when all shadows disappear but as the moment of “the shortest shadow” — not the unity of all things embraced by the sun, but the moment of splitting, when “one turns into two.”

Zupančič argues that this notion of the Two as the minimal and irreducible difference within the same animates all of Nietzsche’s work, generating its permanent and inherent tension.


Alenka Zupančič is a Slovene philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. She works as Senior Researcher at the Graduate School of Philosophy, Scientific Research Center for the Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciences (ZRC SAZU) in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is also Professor of Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. She is the author of numerous articles and books on psychoanalysis and philosophy, including What is Sex?Why Psychoanalysis?, The Odd One In: On Comedy and Ethics of the Real: Kant and Lacan. Her books have been translated into many languages.

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