Abstract

This article argues that Nietzsche advanced a rhetorical theory that enacted an attitude of creative destruction by subverting the norms of traditional, yet effective, Greco-Roman rhetoric with a dizzying, distasteful, untimely, unteachable, and impractical mad eloquence. The argument draws particular attention to two aphorisms from The Gay Science. Nietzsche partially described what I call mad eloquence in the obscure aphorism “Two Speakers” (Zwei Redner) and exemplified it with the performance of the madman in the infamous aphorism of the same name (Der tolle Mensch). The first speaker affirmed and then questioned the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition, but the second blew it up. After establishing how and why Nietzsche confirmed the utility of traditional rhetorical theory, this article demonstrates how he redefined rhetoric as the art of discovering the available means to cultivate confusion and alienate audiences with reconceived parrhēsia, obnoxious delivery and ethos, impropriety, uncommonplaces, logical irrationality, unteachable inimitability, a very delayed persuasive effect, and an insufferable style.

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