The Philosopher of the Firework

Skye C. Cleary and John Kaag in the Paris Review:

Fireworks, hypnotic and sublime, are used to celebrate national independence around the globe, as signs of sovereignty or political autonomy. They are the window dressing of the modern state. The exploding rainbows are a tribute to the bloody wars that made the celebration possible. They are a reminder that—under that same sky and upon that same land to which the ashes float—we are kinfolk.

There is exactly one European thinker who could be considered the “philosopher of the firework”: Friedrich Nietzsche. “I am dynamite!” Nietzsche wrote in Ecce Homo. Dynamite, from dunamis, meaning power. Nietzsche, more than any other contemporary thinker, grappled with the draw and the danger of a fiery blaze.

Born into a nineteenth-century culture that throbbed with German nationalism, Nietzsche was well aware of how such a spectacle—beautiful and potentially disastrous—could influence people.

More here.