Sunday, January 16, 2011

Even Supermodels Suffer

Christie Brinkley, the famous former SI swimsuit model, and Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous renegade classicist and would-be anti-Christ, are two names that one would not normally associate with each other.

Brinkley recently used one of Nietzsche’s maxims, however, to sum up her attitude toward a painful time in her life. Though she did not quote Nietzsche directly, she had this to say in an interview in Prevention magazine about her divorce from a man named Peter Cook. "I really believe in the old expression that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It's through adversity that you find the strength you never knew you had."

Considering that the Nietzschean Ur-source dates to 1888, I suppose one could call the expression “old.” For it was in that year, in Twilight of the Idols, that the 44-year-old Nietzsche wrote (in English translation): “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

How odd that Nietzsche, the fierce, solitary critic of traditional Christian values, should — indirectly through his aphorisms — end up offering words of consolation to an aging American pin-up idol.

Yet the thought about pain, perseverance, and the ubiquity of suffering is universal enough that it rings true. Indeed, it provides evidence that the French man of letters Alain de Botton was on the right track when he vulgarized Nietzsche’s insights down to a single slogan: no pain, no gain.

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