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Friedrich Nietzsche

"When my creative energy flowed most freely, my muscular activity was always the greatest. . . . I might might often have been seen dancing; I used to walk through the hills for seven or eight hours on end without a hint of fatigue; I slept well, laughed a good deal—I was perfectly vigorous and patient."

— Friedrich Nietzsche

German Philosopher, Poet, Composer

1844 - 1900


What is the connection between movement and creative energy?  When sitting at my desk writing, I often have the urge to stand up and walk around.  Sometimes I am able to control this urge while on occasion my subconscious takes over and I suddenly find myself walking around.  I also find that some of my most creative thoughts come when I am taking a walk in the early morning.

For the past 25 years I have been teaching a 2 - 3 day workshop in which students sing and dance 4 to 5 times.  Now the dance is not really dance but more physical movement.  The impact on the classes has been amazing.  During the course of workshop people become bonded and connected.  The normal barriers between people fall away and people willingly share about their lives. 

A few years ago I took a class that combined movement, journey and creativity.  We were encouraged to move about an open room with no chairs and find our place in that room — our home.  Then we were asked to find some destination — some place we wanted to go.  And we were to create a path around the room to that point.  We were to move along that path multiple times until it became very familiar to us.  We were also to express our feelings through writing while on this journey.  I found the workshop fascinating.

Years ago when I was only writing haiku, I would take walks during which I would write one or two haiku in my head.  When I reached home, I would write a narrative about my walk and include the haiku.  This type of writing is called haibun and was first written in 17th century Japan by Matsuo Basho.

Creative Practice:

Take a fifteen minute walk and sit down and write for 15 minutes about anything that comes to mind.  Don't stop.  Keep writing.  Don't worry about grammar or spelling.  Repeat this process multiple times during the week.

About the Philosopher:

Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche

Edvard Munch


Friedrich Nietzsche was born 168 years ago on October 15, 1844 to Carl Nietzsche and Franziska Oehler in Rocken, a small town near Leipzig.  He was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia who turned 49 on the day of Nietsche's birth.  Nietzsche's father died when he was five.

In 1864, Nietzsche began studying theology and philology at the University of Bonn.  Within a year, he lost his faith and stopped his theological studies.  He wrote his deeply religious sister: "Hence the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire. . ."  He focused his attention on philology.

In 1868, Nietzsche became a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland.  Before leaving Prussia, he renounced his Prussian citizenship and remained officially stateless for the rest of his life.  Nietzsche published his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, in 1872.  The book was poorly received by his colleagues in the philological field.  He resigned his position as professor in 1879 because of health issues.

In 1889, Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse.  In 1898 and 1899, Nietzsche suffered two strokes and was partially paralyzed and unable to speak.  He had another stroke on August 24 and died on August 25, 1900.

Nietzsche is known for his use of poetry and prose in his writings.  Nietzsche was not widely read in his lifetime.  Because of his evocative style, people either love or hate his philosophy and his work even today is very controversial.  Nietzsche's best known writings include: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, and The Will to Power.


Without a Home

Swift horses carry me
Without fear and trembling
Through the distant land.
And whoever sees me, knows me,
And whoever knows me, calls me:
The homeless man ...

No one would dare
To ask me about
Where my home is:
I have never been bound
To space and fleeting time,
Am as free as an eagle! ...

Biography Source:

Quote Source: 

Anne Dillard, The Writing Life, p. 33 - 34.

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