The Waves Rise Around Your Mountain

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The paper explores aspects of Nietzsche’s writings which are embodied in the practice of surfing. Nietzsche’s references to nature, which give analogical furnishing to some of his most important ideas, are illuminated through surfing: reciprocally, a value of surfing can be better discerned through reference to Nietzsche’s thought. Specifically, the paper explores references to the sea in Nietzsche’s writing which refer to the dualistic relationship between the Apollonian and Dionysian forces. The paper argues that consideration of a surfer’s attunement to the sea is representative of Nietzsche’s understanding of tragedy. Furthermore, the paper explores the metaphorical significance of caves in Nietzsche’s writing to analyse the phenomenon of ‘barrel riding’ in surfing. The paper makes the case the surfer, positioned in the cavern of water towards the opening of the wave, is similar in their orientation to, that Nietzsche propounds as the outlook of the Overman. Where Nietzsche employs terms like darkness, depth and elevation to describe the striving for transformation that occurs in his metaphorical caves, this paper suggests that a surfer riding in a barrel embodies the essence of such wisdom and effort. The final section of the paper explores the analogical significance of mountains in Nietzsche’s thoughts, comparing them with surfing big waves. The focus on overcoming in Nietzsche’s thought, illustrated through reference to mountain climbing, can be further explained by reference to surfing very large waves.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Agonist
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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