Sneak Preview: Nietzsche, Francis Ford Coppola, and the Greeks

Thanks to all of you who made last week the biggest one yet in the brief life of The History of Literature podcast. I’m not sure if Burt Reynolds or Aristotle deserves more credit. (Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve written a sentence that no one has ever, ever written? I just had that feeling.)

This week looks like a good one as well! Tomorrow, we’ll continue our journey through Greek tragedy by looking more closely at the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles (again), and Euripides. This time we’ll use the lens of the young Friedrich Nietzsche, writing his first book in his burgeoning philosopher/poet/madman way.

The trip through Nietzsche, Wagner, and the tragedians made me think of this unbelievably good sequence from Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now:

I don’t think Nietzsche would think much of most of our culture – but for what it’s worth, I do think he would have admired that sequence.

Onward and upward!

Quick Links:


Embrace Your Inner Homer (and Publish Your Book!)

Okay, before we begin, please watch this video. It’s by far the best use of 24 seconds you’ll spend today:

What does this have to do with self-publishing? Well, I could point to the dignity of the little robot with his little tennis racket arm, and the moving way he pulls himself down the road even as his stern father refuses to let him in. No, I don’t view the self-publisher as the robot, with the gatekeepers as Homer. And I don’t see the robot as the book in the drawer, never to see the light of day. Those are the obvious metaphors.

But here’s the one that’s most difficult: what if you’re Homer! What if you put all this time following your dream, pursuing your passion… and the thing turns out to be terrible! Except you don’t know it! How embarrassing! How horrible! Maybe the Gatekeepers were right after all! They were… gulp… saving us from ourselves.


But watch this one. Trust me, it’s worth the five-second investment:

Yes, Homer’s a fool. We all are, at one time or another. So the question is, do you want to fail like the mean Homer, kicking your creation to the curb? Or do you want to be the Woo-Hoo Homer, turning every lemon into lemonade and every termination into a four-day weekend? Sure, he’s not reality-based. So what? Aren’t you a fiction writer for a reason?

And aren’t you tired of the stern shake of the head, keeping you down?

Isn’t it time to pump your fist in the air and take a Homerlike leap?