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Friedrich Nietzsche (4) vs. Alan Bennett

William Shakespeare had the most support yesterday; for example, from David: “I vote for Shakespeare just to see who actually shows up.” The best argument of the serious variety came from Babar, who wrote, “I would vote for WS. Very little is known about the man. I care very little about Marx’s mannerisms but I’d like to know if WS had modern day actor mannerisms. I’d like to see how he moved – is he a physical actor, or just a writer?” That’s an excellent point. Of all the seminar speaker candidates we’ve considered, Shakespeare’s the only one with a physical dimension in that way. It would be great to see the movements of an old-time actor.

But the funniest argument came from Jonathan:

As near as I can figure, Shakespeare was nothing more than a guy who could string a bunch of famous phrases together and make a play out of them. It’s a talent, to be sure, but a fairly minor one. Plus, if he’s in love with Gwyneth Paltrow, I’m out.

Ouch! Willie got zinged, so Karl’s in.

And, today it’s “God is dead” vs. the ultimate cozy comedian. Amazingly enough, it’s been more than 40 years since the first performance of “Forty Years On.”

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. jonathan says:

    At least Bennett can talk about purple pee.

  2. God says:

    Nietzsche. When I smite him with a thunderbolt 20 minutes into his talk, there’ll be hell to pay.

  3. Xi'an says:

    (+1) except that You cannot, since he stated that You are dead.

  4. Xi'an says:

    Nietzsche, by all means: an hour expanding what he meant by

    “It is perhaps just dawning on five or six minds that physics, too, is only an interpretation and exegesis of the world (to suit us, if I may say so!) and not a world-explanation; but insofar as it is based on belief in the senses, it is regarded as more, and for a long time to come must be regarded as more—namely, as an explanation. Eyes and fingers speak in its favor, visual evidence and palpableness do, too: this strikes an age with fundamentally plebeian tastes as fascinating, persuasive, and convincing—after all, it follows instinctively the canon of truth of eternally popular sensualism. What is clear, what is “explained”? Only what can be seen and felt—every problem has to be pursued to that point.” [Beyond Good and Evil]

    would be terrific, especially if Popper is around with Wittgenstein’s poker…

    Alan Bennett: what if he started reading Winnie-the-Pooh…?!

  5. Jonathan (another one) says:

    If Jesus hadn’t been a surprise loser in the first round, I would have just kept voting for the ultimate showdown: Jesus vs. Nietzsche, Superstar vs. Superman. But without a genuine representative of the eschaton in the tournament anymore, I think Nietzsche is Dead.

    That said, I loathed History Boys, so I’d hate to see Bennett earn any more money, even an honorarium. So I’ll keep the old syphilitic in for one more round. (Wikipedia tells me that his syphilis is now in doubt. Sorta like God, I guess.)

  6. jrc says:

    Wait for real? I googled this Alan Bennett guy – you would really consider British Forest Gump over the most interesting thinking of the late 19th Century?

  7. Billy Buchanan says:

    Nietzsche said “Without music, life would be a mistake.” It would also be interesting to hear his opinions about morality in the modern day compared to when he was alive and the implications that has for his statement about g-d being dead.

  8. Bill Jefferys says:

    I thought that the famous phrases that Willie (whoever he was) strung together were ones he invented. So I am puzzled, Andrew.

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