What Doesn’t Kill you Makes you Stronger?

I’ve always wondered at this aphorism. Sound advice for living a life worth living, or an injunction for the masochist upheld by the sadist (or the other way round, doesn’t matter): its partner and accomplice ? This aphorism is taken way too seriously and not, it seems, as Nietzsche intended it.

Of course, it can’t constitute an advice, for this overly used saying can only be uttered after great danger has been averted, a rite of passage, and only to oneself,  lest the boast shows quite unpalatable, not to say ridiculous to anyone present at the time of the conversation it was uttered. Moreover one person’s ordeal is another’s routine. So nothing to boast about really.

Really, would anyone in his/her right mind voluntarily opt for a life of hardship or even a learning experience to become stronger, a hero. Survival of the fittest? Give me a brake! It’s crazy and sometimes not repeatable: see the Icarus lessons and my strong emphasis on getting a proper education (out-path) as guidance, especially if you don’t enjoy the comforts of religious rituals/processes, whatever the reason, like communion or Bar/bat Mitzva; or other secular rites for growing up (world tour), even if no zero casualty: yes, Sh*t happens. Another translation I’ve encountered for this utterance is the ” at least I’ve learnt from my mistakes/ the lesson” type of cant. Have you? Sounds more like a justification to remain an eternal student and shun participation in life by successive unsuccessful repetitions, if that thou live. Learn.

While no one is entitled to tell you what you have to do with your life– at least in the Western world to parents’ disarray and as you come of age and within the framework of the law if you care for such things– this aphorism, by a strange roundabout way, within the spiritual heritage of a Nietzsche, can be taken as a warning to begin to ask yourself what really brings real joy in life: having a go at parents/caretakers/authorities whatever the price; or “following your bliss”, as Campbell puts it? Spite: a life by default barely outgrowing adolescence; or a life by design, fulfilling, on your own terms.

Modern Rite of Passage

Today’s Fool’s Message

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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6 thoughts on “What Doesn’t Kill you Makes you Stronger?

  1. “Moreover one person’s ordeal is another’s routine.” –> so true.

    “Spite: a life by default barely outgrowing adolescence; or a life by design, fulfilling, on your own terms.” –> When I look around at my friends, and I read others on the blogoshphere, I can’t help but think that we (perhaps as a generation) understand this well. An intentional life seems to be the key to a happy one. Obviously people have figured this out in years past, but perhaps the scale of the internet, and scale of the millennial generation, will usher in a day where default paths simply do not exist.

    Ben

    • Yes, we have more choices nowadays and what’s happening on the blogosphere is very exciting. “An intentional life seems to be the key to a happy one. Obviously people have figured this out in years past, but perhaps the scale of the internet, and scale of the millennial generation, will usher in a day where default paths simply do not exist.” I would like to say amen but “plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose” paradox: will this be sustained or even sustainable (problems with overpopulation, Internet police, over pragmatism (mercantilism pushed to its limits), moral relativism, for just a few)? It’s up to the “millennial generation” and her courage to make the right (as ethical) choices.
      Glad you’re back, Ben, on the beam and, hopefully, the bar 😉
      Michal

  2. Excelent reflections.
    Comment tu traduis cela? J’en aurai besoin dans les prochains jours…”Spite: a life by default barely outgrowing adolescence; or a life by design, fulfilling, on your own terms.” Je n’arrive pas a trouver le mot juste.

    • Merci pour ton commentaire. C’est une colle que tu me poses la…
      Bon une proposition, dis-moi ce que tu en penses:
      En vouloir ou en vouloir
      La rancoeur: c’est encore choisir le bon vouloir de ceux auxquels vous en voulez encore: relents rances d’adolescence. En vouloir ou ambition: choisir une vie de plenitude penchant du cote de la realisation de vos desirs profonds, selon votre coeur, selon votre bon vouloir.

      • ha ha ha
        fignolage peut etre que je peux ameliorer avec ta traduction? je voulais ajouter a la mienne :
        apres rancoeur, joie malsaine etc…
        apres ambition preciser avec l’adjectif saine
        bon ca me rappelle le tps ou je faisais de la localization : il fallait s’adapter a la demande du client 😉

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