On the Doctrine of the Feeling of Power
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher whose work has greatly influenced Western modern philosophy. This passage discusses Nietzsche's concept of the “will to power” (German: der Wille zur Macht), the main desire and driving force in humans.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have read the short story “Brownies,” in order for them to examine the theme of power and how it exists as both a micro and macro idea amongst Laurel (Snot) and the other girls in her Brownie Troop. Pair “On the Doctrine Of The Feeling Of Power” with “Brownies” and ask students to use Nietzsche’s doctrine to identify how power functions in the relationships within Laurel’s Brownies group, and then between Laurel’s Brownies Troop and Troop 909. How does power, through the lens of race, function as a subtext within the story. What “sacrifices” do the likes of Octavia and Arnetta make in order to benefit or hurt others? What do they, to quote Nietzsche, “throw overboard” in order to stay on top within their group? How do the likes of Troop 909 prove to be easy prey at Camp Crescendo? How are the girls in Laurel’s Brownies Troop easy prey to the larger racial power structures that exist in society?