Humour chracterises much of Nietzsche’s writing, always allowing himself to laugh rather than grow angry at anything. One can see him prancing around, smashing lilies underfoot, uncaring of what sacred cows he throws dirt on. But there is always a reason behind everything he says in this tone, even though it might not be explicitly stated around the infringing statement, and must instead be figured out by the audience from the afterthoughts of the context as a whole.
Humour prevents one from falling into the stagnation that comes about as a result of unyielding emotional obsession with issues under discussion; light feet allow the un-German germanic thinker1 to always move on as if without greater consequence. Some have considered Nietzsche to be a “thoroughly irresponsible thinker”, because the norm of the (superficially) sanitised West is to tip-toe around everything hypocritically while sacrificing those around in order to feel better. Nietzsche says what needs to be said, by transmitting the bare truth as he sees it, divested from personal desires and simply as it presents itself.
Humour also allows for an easy way through honesty, avoiding being chocked with the grave seriousness that his statements are bound to instill in whoever hears or read or heard him. That is not to say that Nietzsche detracts from their importance, but that he can by applying to a humourous mood treat them efficiently, with an agile mind and without reservations.
§ Pride and Earnestness
Nietzsche has always embraced a healthy, flexible pride which has been misrepresented more often than not, and perhaps by those who judge others by their own limitations. This is a pride that is sure of the individual’s worth, not as a mantra, but as a plain recognition of proficient abilities, thus of worth and reach. It is also a pride which may appear to fall into the trap of ego-bloating, but the latter is soon understood as device rather than as the shield and justification of weaker fatalist minds of today.
In contrast with the Socratic method of covert insubordination and dishonest double-facing, Nietzsche chooses the way of open dissent. This dissent is, moreover, wielded as a weapon rather than becoming an all-consuming end in itself —In this lies the greatest difference between prophets with a mission, like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, and the rebels without a transcendent cause which plague a modernist landscape onto which they project all manner of self-justifications.
Nietzsche never concedes to having to justifying himself; he presents, he elaborates, and the burden of going beyond prejudices is left to the reader, who has to learn of the point of view of the thinker. This has actually proven to be too much for most people, and where he is not outright rejected as heretic against everything, he is wrongfully appropriated into camps where he does not belong.
At the very bottom of it all, under all his witty prose and rhythmic expression, lies the hard content —the actual proposition. Most people, even professionals, seem to get stuck in the outer layers, trapped in whatever their own ego cannot let go, or whatever makes it feel larger —the trap of Nietzschean literature. The essence of Nietzsche’s thought is highly impersonal, though stated unapologetically in a very personal tone and idiosyncratic expression.
1 While Nietzsche’s allusions to a Polish nobility descent can be taken as his exemplification of an illustration of freedom from morality through appropriation, contrary to what he despised in contemporary German culture; however, Nietzsche was thoroughly German. Nietzsche detested German idealism, and probably ran in the contrary direction to find in the lack of accountability of the Polish nobility —and probably self-interested individualism— an extreme symbol for his utter rejection of idealism.