28 November 2007

I guess Nietzsche isn't cool anymore

Disturbing Letter Causes Concern at Lower Merion High:

Police have now identified and questioned a seriously disturbed student at Lower Merion High School believed responsible for the letters.... According to officials, the letter was written by someone who appeared to want to harm him/herself or others. While there was no language that specifically targeted the school community, the letter and a knife were found taped to an entrance at school. Other copies of the letter were found in girls and boys bathrooms during the school day.... School officials said the letter made specific references to the controversial German philosopher Martin Heidegger. He was at one time a member of Adolph Hitler's Nazi party.... "The student, though disturbed, had done some research or was a member of some group that supplied a certain amount of information," said Mike Bogad, a parent in the district.... "Obviously, he put time into it. He looked into it. He researched this philosopher. So I'm glad someone was taken into custody and hopefully, it is resolved."

Forcing strangers to read Heidegger is criminal, and the idea that there are organized groups reading Heidegger is troubling. I guess that's about right.

I'm curious what the specific Heidegger references were. I guess "being-towards-death" sounds pretty hardcore, and it'd fit with the random knife. Sounds like it wasn't the "inner truth and greatness of National Socialism" passages based on the rest of the article. Or maybe it was just some spiel about "authenticity".

edit: Update
Daly said that the student is a juvenile and he would not release her name or age. Nor would he disclose the full contents of the letter the girl taped to the door along with the knife and left copies in several places throughout the school.

He did say that it "was full of philosophical mumbo jumbo," quoting the philosopher Martin Heidegger. It contained no direct threats or racial or ethnic slurs, he said, but "had information that would lead you to believe that something was about to happen today," at the school. It included the phrase "Tomorrow it will fall apart," the police superintendent said.

The remark could have many meanings like a cry for help or a threat of suicide or violence, Daly said, but "you have to take it seriously."

Presumably it was the letter, and not Daly, who was quoting Heidegger.


Thomas Bridges said...

In 'Little Miss Sunshine' the disturbed teenage boy is inspired by Nietzsche. But somehow I think American youth would not be worse off if they read more Nietzsche and Heidegger.

Daniel said...

I just liked how worried the article was that somehow a teenage girl had gotten access to Heidegger. And that for once the daaaangerous "Nazi/philosopher" an emo-kid was reading was Heidegger, not Nietzsche.

I suppose the snark might've been unclear, since I don't think I've ever had cause to mention Nietzsche here, and only mention Heidegger off-handedly. I'm mildly friendly to both of them, but haven't devoted a great amount of time to reading either. "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense" was pretty keen, though. And I liked "The Question Concerning Technology". (I also liked "Little Miss Sunshine." Though the jet-loving mute doesn't really have more than an external relation to Nietzsche, that I can see. LMS was good at having jokes that worked well on the surface, but they seem to ring hollow if you prod at them.)

N. N. said...

One wonders how worried they would have been if she had quoted the Phaedo on "preparation for death." Granted, Plato wasn't a Nazi, not even an unwilling one, but he did think the Spartans were pretty cool. Surely there's enough of a parallel between the Nazis and the Spartans for school administrators to be mildly worried about Plato.