Nietzsche and ‘Gay’ (Eglinton, 1917)

1.405, 727-28. John Eglinton, Anglo-Irish Essays, (Dublin: the Talbot Press; London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1917), p. 94. BL

An extract from John Eglinton, ‘A Way of Understanding Nietzsche’ (1904).

Mulligan may be called gay in ‘Telemachus’, but this has nothing to do with his sexuality: it is rather an index of his Nietzscheanism (as in ‘fröhliche Wissenschaft’ or ‘gai savoir’). So much is made clear by John Eglinton:

In the pessimist’s affirmation of the ideal, Nietzsche mockingly detects the last resource of hypocritical weakness. He resolves, then, at the point where all the hopes and illusions of chagrined egoism find themselves foiled, to declare himself optimist — a lover of fate, or a “yea-saying man.” He denies “the ideal.” More courageous and more honest than Schopenhauer, he returns from the dread region of ultimate self-questioning with no deceptive doctrine of resignation, or altruism, or contemplation — seed-grounds of hypocrisy and illusion — but with the frank and “gay” denial of God, freedom, immortality, and, at the same time, with the equally frank and gay avowal of the will-to-live, the desire of power, strength, and activity.