James Luchte: Philosophy

 

 

Zarathustra’s Nietzsche

A rough sketch

 

 

James Luchte

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

Zarathustra’s Nietzsche: From Guilt to Innocence

Zarathustra and Abraham: The Destination of the One

The Death of God: The Seeds of Its Own Destruction

Novelty under the Sun: Two Notions of the Will and Will to Power

Overman: Beyond Dionysus and Apollo in Tragedy and Comedy

Eternal Recurrence of the Same: The Affirmation of the Overman

Revaluation of All Values: The Lifeworld of the Overman

Zarathustra’s Children

 

 

Zarathustra’s Nietzsche: From Guilt to Innocence

Despite the fact that Nietzsche and his family considered his magnum opus to be blasphemous, and feared a backlash from the religious establishment, Thus Spoke Zarathustra was not banned.[1]  Indeed, not much notice was taken of it until well after Nietzsche’s collapse.[2]  In our era, this idiosyncratic work seems to stand in a paradoxical place, all its own.  On the one hand, it is a work that is very well known and referenced with respect to some of its most famous phrases and words, such as ‘God is dead’, the ‘Last Man’, ‘Overman’ and ‘eternal recurrence of the same.’  On the other hand, it is a work that is little studied, either in literary, theological or philosophical contexts.  The present essay seeks to redress this neglect by building on the efforts of those, such as Lampert, Higgins, and others, who have sought to engage Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a serious philosophical work.[3]  In the present context, I will pursue this engagement through an examination of the relationship between Nietzsche and the religions which trace their genealogy to Abraham in the Torah.  Such a focus will allow an intersection of literary, theological and philosophical perspectives in a broader interpretation of the significance of Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a challenge to traditional religious orthodoxy.  

It could be suggested that Nietzsche appropriates the name of Zarathustra in a vain attempt to subvert and go beyond Zoroaster, the inventor of good and evil.[4]  This meta-historical attempt at self-overcoming is vain, in a mocking challenge to the philosopher of Ecclesiastes, as it asserts that there is something new under the sun, or at least that this something novelty - is at least possible – beyond a metaphysics of an eschaton.  For Nietzsche, the eschaton unfolds as a self-same suppression of Life, as the latest eradication of the moment of becoming.  In this way, Nietzsche will not only risk this vanity in an attempt to think differently,[5] but will also affirm the possibility of a transfigured existence of radical innocence.  It is an affirmation of innocence which displaces a disciplinary regime of radical guilt.  Across the following pages, I would like to lay out the intimations in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra of a pathway from a regime of guilt to a topos[6] for an innocence of becoming.          

As an example of a novel transgression of the monotheistic orthodoxy, and as a guide for our interpretation, Zarathustra evokes a new truth (given in his dream by Apollo) that a deeper, hidden bind ties life together (the Dionysian).  In response to the common currency of ‘truth’ as either the mere systemization, of clarity and distinctness, or the truth of the revealed religions, Zarathustra sings in ‘The Other Dancing Song”,

One!

Oh man, take care!

Two!

What does the deep midnight declare!

Three!

I was asleep ---

Four!

From a deep dream I woke and swear:

Five!

The world is deep,

Six!

Deeper than day had been aware.

Seven!

Deep is its woe;

Eight!

Joy --- deeper yet than agony:

Nine!

Woe implores: Go!

Ten!

But all joy wants eternity ---

Eleven!

Wants deep, wants deep eternity.

Twelve![7]

 

This is an instance of one of Zarathustra’s many evocations and gestures of reversal and revaluation: that the ‘unity’ of existence – if there is to be such a ‘unity’ – must be intimated in the hidden recesses of life.  Such an excavation and conjuring of the depths is not greatly served by either a systematic interrogation and logical analysis, or the dogmas of revealed monotheism.  The depths when brought to the surface become disfigured by the procedure of disclosure, by the production of the theoretical object of analysis.  In other words, the intimacy of the singular and its self-interpretation and expression is displaced by the regime of subsumption of the particular by the universal.  And, we find this logical procedure mirrored in the theistic devaluation not only of the depths as obscure, evil, but also of life and embodied existence.  Or, for those with “listening eyes”[8], the inventor of new values or the revolution which comes on the wings of a dove is effectively silenced by the hegemonic discourses of Reason (science) and Faith (revealed religion), due to the very grammar of their expression.  Intimate, indigenous, expression is displaced, crowded out by “realist” information, constructed facts, propositions, noise.  For Nietzsche, on the contrary, the most difficult task is the attempt to go under into the depths.  If truth loves to hide, we would destroy her if we forced her to stand naked in the panopticon[9] of our inspection regime.  If we do indeed love the truth, we must travel into the hidden – forbidden - so as to find her there – in her truth.  She must speak for herself. 

For Nietzsche, and later for Bataille[10] and Iriguray,[11] it is poetry, music and ‘detours’ which facilitate a descent into the depths, giving glimpses of truth in her own domain.[12]  It is poetry which can go under into the depths, and it is thus poetry which will be the hidden tie that binds together the ‘unity’ of Nietzsche’s attempt to go under, into the depths.  Poetry attempts to bring truth into the Open without turning her into ashes, or as a lacerated corpse.  With the implosion of the antithetical regime of consciousness and existence, of subject and object, of concept and intuition (and of God and Creation), we find that poetry, even if conceived as a type of conceptuality, is, for Nietzsche, a self-expression of the phenomenon of life.[13]  It is an evocation from the depths, from the nether realms into the marriage of light and darkness.  It is the in-between and root of a radical imagination, of language, of a surreal temporality.  Poetry intimates, for Nietzsche, chaos at this heart of existence, its expression seeks to give birth to a dancing star – it is this giving birth.  The poets were removed from the Light of the polis in that they implored the people to remember the song of the earth resonating below the regimentation of the polis.  Plato charged that poets lie too much – that they spoke in ways which made the true false and the false true – that poetry itself was merely the idle chatter of the ephemeral realm, a logos of untruth.  However, Nietzsche reminds Plato in the Preface to Beyond Good and Evil that his attempt to create a ‘Good in itself’ would be a self-negating attempt to deny perspective, to refuse Life – in other words, that his lust for an Otherworld is a weary attempt of escape, of nihilism.  Zarathustra laughs, agreeing that the poets do lie too much – but he tells the troubled youth on the mountainside, “Zarathustra too is a poet.”[14]  It is perhaps in his use of poetry, of an art, a lie, which is uniquely suited to tell the truth, that Nietzsche’s challenge to philosophy and theology is at its most subversive.  For, not only does he throw off the protocols of science and logic, but writing in a style that resembles each of the three monotheistic texts, Nietzsche not only intimates the all-too-human creative root of each of the texts, but also sets forth an alternative teaching of its own, a doctrine which seeks, by returning to the roots of the trajectory of our own era in Zarathustra and Abraham, to counsel human being in their self-overcoming of the monotheistic genealogy.

Taking seriously Nietzsche’s “choice” of Zarathustra, the following pages will be oriented by the tapestry of Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a poetic topos for Nietzsche’s philosophy.  I will begin in section one, Zarathustra and Abraham: The Destination of the One, with an exploration of the originary event and milieu of the regime of guilt, of nihilism and the Last Man.  I will disclose the relationship of the Zoroastrian telos of the One and the assertion, in Genesis, of the one god by Abraham.  Continuing this discussion, I will show, in The Death of God: The Seeds of Its Own Destruction that the violent origin of monotheism and later of the Christian virtue of ‘truth” will disseminate a repetition of a violent origin to which one is held hostage, condemned to surrender to this serial logic of self-destruction.  Amidst this impasse and apocalypse, I will lay out, in Novelty under the Sun: Two Notions of the Will and Will to Power a scenario of creation and affirmation of novelty divested of nostalgia and nihilism, of a will to power oriented toward the future and toward the transfigured possibilities of life.  The One God dies in that he is exposed as one will to power among many, his claim to ultimate truth is an eradication of all novelty under the sun, of any new truth and new value erupting amidst this play of Life.  I will next attempt to sketch the event of such a will to power in Overman: Beyond Dionysus and Apollo in Tragedy and Comedy in which I will contend not only that the poetic topoi of Ancient Greek tragedy and comedy are only a beginning in an understanding of Dionysian existence and but also that Nietzsche’s vision of the Overman transcends the pessimistic individualism of the tragic age of the Greeks.  In Eternal Recurrence of the Same: The Affirmation of the Overman, I will explore the meaning of the eternal return and of the affirmation of amor fati in the context of a singular affirmation of existence.  In light of the affirmation of the eternal return, I will consider the morphos of the Overman amidst his event of creation in Revaluation of All Values: The Lifeworld of the Overman.  I will close with an exploration of the radical implications of the sacred affirmation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra in Zarathustra’s Children. 

 

 

Zarathustra and Abraham: The Destination of the One

The historical Zarathustra, or that personage of whom we attempt to catch a glimpse as a historical figure, stands at the beginning of a long line of quite familiar religious assertions.  Zarathustra is reputed to be the “first” to not only posit the distinction betwixt good and evil, but also to describe the creation, cosmogony, of the world as a moral event.  The specific horizons of his assertion, and of his remembrance of an originary unity, describe a world constituted not only by an “ethical”, but also a “metaphysical” opposition of differing principles of existence.  It is the regime of good and evil that constitutes the ultimate reality and raison d’etre of the world.  However, such an assertion is not merely an endless Heraclitean opposition – or a happy marriage.  For Zarathustra, or Zoroaster as he is likewise known (and still finds hundreds of thousands of supporters to this day), the specific metaphysical opposition is not stagnant.  It is a war of attrition, but, with a difference.  This battle between good and evil is not the battleground of Metaphysics, conceived by Kant as the queen of the sciences in his Critique of Pure Reason.  For Zoroaster, on the contrary, amid the heat of battle, ground, territory, is gained and lost.[15]  Yet, this war comprised of many battles must exhibit a singular destiny.  This ethical battle possesses a trajectory which seeks to, and necessarily so, transcend any metaphysical entanglement.  The destiny of his war exhibits an irreversible trajectory, which is an eschatological overcoming of evil by good – but a purely ethical good would have no need any longer with the ladder of metaphysics.  In this manner, the ultimate destiny of the world, made manifest by Zoroaster, is a mystical transcendence of the world as such, and of the metaphysical antithesis of which it was constituted.  This antithesis, and the world it inhabits, must, moreover, be overcome by man himself as he affirms the necessary trajectory of his destiny.  For Zoroaster, this destiny achieves its eschatological and post-historical fulfillment by means of an explicit affirmation of one principle over another, good over evil, as counseled in the Avesta[16] in the prescription of “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”.  For Zoroaster, the meaning and destining of the world is accomplished by a retrieval of the original state of Ahura Mazda. 

Islamic thinkers have questioned Zoroaster ostensibly over the number of ultimate principles of the world.  As is affirmed repeatedly throughout the Qurān, there is only one ultimate principle in the world and that principle is Allah, a god who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent (merciful).  From this perspective, the dichotomist schema posited by Zoroaster, even though this state is not originary, not only constitutes a blasphemy against the power and singularity of God, as is the case with the Christian trinity (a monstrous blasphemy), but also raises the implicit possibility that an alternative principle of ultimate “reality” is at least possible, that is evil.  Zoroaster may rejoin that while he begins with such a metaphysical opposition on the level of aesthetic or phenomenal existence, the eschatology of this conflict would be similar to that of the standard monotheistic equation.  And this very conflict has arisen in an original diremption of an originary archic deity, Ahura Mazda into Vohu Manō and Angrō Mainyush.  Amidst this discord of the self, Zoroaster seeks a mystical transcendence of the world as a retrieval of an originary no-thingness of the Good, of the One.  Indeed, considered from the perspective of the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus, for a moment, it could be argued that evil is such a state of indeterminacy that it can never properly be designated a principle, and can never therefore be an alternative to the Good or the One.  Zoroaster himself would be shoulder to shoulder with the Islamists, especially in the context of the question of evil, an assessment, in the context of the fundamental decision of one principle over the other, of the remembrance of the one over the other.  Zoroaster seeks the re-integration of Ahura Mazda in a transcendence of the world.  All things will return to Allah. 

For the Islamist, however, Zoroaster gives too much metaphysical significance/independence to evil in the constitution of the world, and to created, temporal beings in the fulfillment of the eschatological destiny and fulfillment of the world.  Why should this fulfillment be conceived as a war, for instance?  Indeed, one gains the surreal impression, in the Qurān (and in the Hebrew testament), that Allah (or God) has not only created evil - or is deploying something created even before him - as a weapon and a test, and as a dissimulation.  The angels of Allah (or God), who refer to themselves as ‘We’, close the ears and seal the eyes of the unbelievers – hardening their hearts, thus assuring their doom.  In their response to the one who does not believe, who does not obey, evil, hardly an independent or threatening force, simply a temporal worldly phenomenon, is deployed against the unbeliever and even encouraged for those who are beyond hope and mercy.  The angels taunt the unbeliever – go ahead and enjoy your unbelief – run riot in this time you have left, in ignorance and blindness – for, in the end, everything and everyone, shall return to Allah/God – and then be consigned to the fires. 

In the end, Zoroaster shares with the Muslim the belief in the end of the world, the logos of judgment, of apocalypse, and the envelopment of the visible by the invisible.  In this way, Zoroaster, as the father of the vision and riddle, of the conquest of evil by the good, of the world of many by the eternal return to God, stands in a remarkable situation of resemblance to Abraham, who remains the official patron of faith of the One God by each of the monotheistic assertions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, each portrayed by Nietzsche as typologies of nihilism.  Indeed, he shares much ambiguity with Abraham in that each is a transitional figure who had to enact violence in order to create a place for his new assertion.  And, while other spiritual formations such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and modern day Zorostrianism do not regard Abraham as their point of departure, from the perspective of Nietzsche’s genealogy of religious nihilism, there is a deep metaphysical kinship between these assertions, one which constitutes more than a family resemblance.  Indeed, it is Abraham who may serve as an archetype for any metaphysics of nihilism. 

Abraham, as the name given to Abram in the wake of his unambiguous demonstration of faith, stands or could stand implicitly, as I have suggested, as the exemplar of faith for any eschatology that sees its fulfillment in the overcoming and annihilation of the world and earth.  Indeed, this trajectory is exhibited in the practical metaphysics of Abram in his unquestioning submission and commitment to the will of the One God.  As the narrative of Genesis unfolds, one that is explicitly shared by each of the monotheist assertions (and implicitly by the other nihilist positions), Abram is exposed as having a longstanding and direct relationship with the divine.  A significant encounter occurs when he is told that his aged wife would bear him a son, a claim that arouses an incredulous laughter in Abram and his wife Sarah.  However, the seemingly impossible happens through the logos of god, amid an event which plants the seed of faith in Abram.  Such a faith is sufficient even in its incipience for Abram to deny the traditional polytheistic faith of his ancestors.  Abram is willing to confront his father and mother and deny his religion - indeed, to break with all that has come before and to begin a new genealogy.  Yet, such an advocacy, although important for the latter day adherents of monotheism, does not in itself constitute the act which is sufficient to merit the change of name to not only found a new genealogy, but also to enact a new covenant for the progeny of the initiator of this genealogy.  The act which serves as the exemplar of faith for the monotheistic assertions is thus not spiritual patricide, but the willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar of his god.  Kierkegaard speculates in his Fear and Trembling on the various scenarios which could explicate the meaning of such a divine command for Abram, but the latter himself does not say a word in response to the demand for a holocaust of the son he loves.  He simply hears and seeks to obey.  Abram makes ready for the sacrifice and sleeps one last night in the knowledge, pre-monition, that with the daybreak he will sacrifice his only son to his god.  With the return of the dawn, he departs with Isaac to the altar on the mountaintop without a word to his son or to his wife Sarah.  In response to a question from Isaac as to the location of the sacrificial lamb, Abram responds reticently that god will provide.  As the narrative is fulfilled, Abram places Isaac on the altar and raises his knife above his son – Isaac witnesses the terrible truth - but at this moment beyond decision, the angel Gabriel intercedes telling Abram that he need not act – he is let off the hook, a comedy.  Abram has passed the test of faith, and with his new name, Abraham, is promised progeny who will outnumber even the stars.  Through his demonstration of faith, Abraham has allowed a new world destiny to be born.  The same story is retold, but at a higher level, when God sends his own son into the world as a sacrificial lamb.  Through the death of Jesus, God undertakes that which he does not even demand of Abraham. 

But, what is the metaphysical significance of such an eschatology, this destiny?  As diagnosed by Nietzsche, such a destiny is that of nihilism, or in other words, a destiny of the world, which seeks at once the annihilation of the world, an eschatology toward nothingness.  Amid the certain knowledge of the existence of God, and with the relative valuation of the ephemerality of temporal existence, Abraham would willingly sacrifice his only son for this god – none of this is sufficiently real to matter, Abraham would perhaps whisper.  In that God exists, we should gladly give up our lives of suffering and torment to join the perfection of the Father.  Yet, for Nietzsche, God is dead – he dies with Abraham’s whisper - God is stillborn, in not only his admission that the creation itself is meaningless – it is nothing at all – but also in the violent implications such inescapably earthly speech.  In a similarly unsuccessful scenario in Ancient Greek mythos, the presumptive One God Saturn attempts to swallow his children, but, with a trick from his wife Rhea, coughs them all up.  Zarathustra jests in “On Apostates” that the old gods died a long time ago, not in a twilight (as with the liar Wagner), but in a good godlike way:

…one day they laughed themselves to death.  That happened when the most godless word issued from one of the gods themselves – the word: “There is one god.  Thou shalt have no other god before me!... then all the gods laughed and rocked on their chairs and cried, “Is not just this godlike that there are gods but no God?”[17]

 

Such a transference of the seat of value into the negation of the teeming myriadity of the world of temporal existence is, for Zarathustra, a flight into the Otherworld, but a denial of the earth that still seeks to hang around – it is a will to power that pretends not to see the world and earth as the only topos of affirmation, as the place of the artwork and of lived existence, of Life…  It denies perspective as to command and control all perspectives. 

But, the adherent of such a destiny and eschatology of the world will question Nietzsche’s diagnosis of nihilism.  He will respond to Nietzsche, this physician of culture, with the demand for a second opinion.  How, he will ask, is such a reversal possible by which our exemplar of faith is turned into its opposite, into the very annihilation of all affirmations of value, by which a faith in the invisible, in the transcendent, in God, is transformed into nihilism, an inner void of mere nothing?  Or, on the contrary, was not Abram’s seminal submission and commitment to god not in fact the extreme opposite of nihilism or any seduction to the powers of nothingness?  Indeed, is not the divine itself the fount of all being, value, of all meaning, radically other to this fallen world of fragmentation and decay?  Who could suggest otherwise?  Why is the hope for a Kingdom of God on earth a symptom of nihilism?  These are difficult questions.  But, with the apparent dis-unity and obvious dis-functionality between the dominant monotheistic faiths, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra may suggest, “Is not the sacred – eternity – even the divine - something else besides?”  Did not the gods themselves say, “Is not just this godlike that there are gods but no God?”[18]  

 

 

The Death of God: The Seeds of His Own Destruction

 

If we consider the obverse perspective of Abram as the archetype of faith amidst a logic of the One, we are struck by another Abraham, one who is a radical exemplar of the annihilation of a longstanding terrestrial expression and effusion of a sense and intimacy with the sacred.  Indeed, the use of the term historical to describe the mosaic of Pagan religious practice would not only nullify this phenomena of the sacred amidst the mythological tapestry of the holy, of affirmation, in the Pagan world, but would also erase the inauguration of history itself in the destruction of the heritage of polytheistic apprehensions of the Sacred by an incipient monotheistic cultural insurgency.  From this perspective, Abram is the great destroyer, similar in a sense to the description by Plotinus of the violent and disruptive methods of the early Christian activists throughout the Roman domain, or, perhaps, Mendelssohn’s horror in the facelessness of Kant.  But Abraham is the first, or, a first – he is an initiator of a discursive formation,[19] a beginner, an Adam.  He abides in-between, holding this undecidability within himself - even in his decision for the One.  This openness of ambiguity, ambivalence of a truth event remains traced in his decision.  Abraham is privy to the mystical foundations of authority, his declaration of independence[20] from the Pagan world is simultaneously an unambiguous assault on the world and religion of his father and mother.  He destroys so as to found a new beginning, a new world order.  However, just as he looks into the abyss, amidst his decision, he covers over and supplants, with his artwork and seizure of the origin, of the principle amidst the undecidable,[21] this Openness amid temporal possibility.  His mystical foundation for authority[22] is orchestrated as an event of retrospective and prospective transfiguration in the guise of spectacles, events, and histories.  He, as with both Zarathustras, enters into the agon of a re-valuation of values.        

If a beginning in violence cannot completely and intensively eradicate this trace of violence in its genealogy of hegemony, such an attempt at complete and intensive eradication will merely legislate a repetition of this trace.  This trace, as with the shadow, is inescapable - the irrepressible repetition of the project of eradication does not serve the ostensible program of erasure, but of a repetition of this situation of conflict, through which this program and project are reproduced and augmented.  The trace becomes an alibi, one that is cultivated for its own sake.  The ostensible program for legitimacy is a mask for, as Zarathustra suggests in “The Pale Criminal”, a desire for blood - the killer fresh with blood on his hands steals from the corpse in order to serve his conscience and his pride.  He becomes a robber who has killed.[23]  It is not at the foremost significant that a cycle of violence becomes repeated and maintained for the good, but that a repetition of violence is itself this metabolism of a violent ‘good’.  A beginning in violence must live violently if it is to live at all - it must ceaselessly repeat this ‘event’ of its catastrophic [origin]. 

This trauma of the violent destruction by Abraham of the gods of his ancestors, the idols of his father and mother, becomes repeated not only in his own willingness to sacrifice his late-born son Isaac, but also in the trajectory of his offspring, who in this covenant, countless as the stars, exist in the repetition and perverse fulfillment of that original trauma.  More deeply considered, this event of trauma in the midst of Abraham is itself only a repetition of that more original trauma of the expulsion of Adam [and Eve] from the garden of immortality and delight.  Miranda has suggested that the creation myth of Adam and Eve was a redaction which served as the founding myth and genealogy for Abraham himself.[24]  In this sense, Abraham symbolizes his experience of transgression and power as a founding myth.  Indeed, this pattern of trauma and repetition intimates a deep structural logic not only for the entire narrative of Genesis, and on throughout the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Old Testament, the Christian New Testament and the Muslim Qūran.  But, it is the triune of transgression, punishment, and atonement, established in Genesis, which lays out the modus operandi of the fragmented monotheistic dispensations.  In this way, the transgression by Abraham against the gods of his family is provided a mythical alibi and re-inscription in the narrative of the Fall.  This event of transgression by the Adam and Eve inaugurates the passage from innocence to guilt, from grace to punitive expulsion, and thus, erects an archetype, which serves to define the essential character of ‘human nature’.  How could Abraham have acted otherwise?

  Amid the perspective of this reversal, the polytheistic religion of the father and mother of Abraham is re-branded as a condition of idolatry and transgression against the one true God of Abraham.  Moreover, the seed of transgression, although facing the onslaught of Divine wrath, remains alive as the trace or taint of original sin.  One has sinned and has been punished, but due to the basic existential character of the human being after the Fall, one will sin again in the fulfillment of human nature.  History is composed of the anecdotes of sin.  Indeed, this feature of the divine ordination of sin emerged with an erotic twist with the Heresy of the Free Spirit who incorporated sexual acts into their remembrance of the Last Supper, their symposium, a celebration of the God of Love.  Of course, in keeping with the strategy of trauma, these heretics were burned at the stake.  It is the Fall and its inexorable repetition, which implicates a naive self-interpretation of the phenomenon of human existence within a regime of guilt.  Before the Fall, there were no humans. 

There was no before

The taint of original sin, this seed of transgression, plays itself out throughout Genesis in myriad ways.  There is the overwhelming question, in the first instance, of incest in the augmentation and perpetuation of the line of Adam.  While some would productively wish to give deeper esoteric meanings to the fables in Genesis – or to de-mythologize these texts – it is instructive to read off the implications of a text in situ – which, we will recall, still serves as a fundamental source in the very constitution of world-time, world history, political history.  While there is explicit reference to incest in the case of Lot’s daughters after the destruction of Sodom and the death of Lot’s wife, there is an implicit indication of incest with the question of the identity of the wife of Cain.  Who was she… but Eve herself?  A daughter is born to Adam, but very late.  While this itself would not escape the labyrinth of incest, the basic implication of Genesis is an incestuous relationship between Cain and his mother Eve.  In light of the irresistible resemblance to Oedipus in the play by Sophocles, the subsequent humiliating fate of Cain intimates the tragic destiny and terrible truth of human existence – as creatures of the Fall.  This trajectory of sin plays itself out in the subsequent trajectory of the genealogy of Adam in its eventual corruption in the time of Noah.  In this case, the One God decides to destroy all humanity and every living creature except for the family of Noah and the animal and seed stock that Noah is instructed to preserve on the Arc(he).  Once again, we are left with no alternative than to recognize the incestuous implications of this narrative.  The state of wickedness of human beings is given a more specific content with the punishment and annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah and in the divine strikes at and implosion of the Tower of Babel.  In the former case, that which offends is the subversion of the sexual archetype of Adam and Eve as the progenitors of humanity.  The latter case demonstrates the impossible desire of the One God to maintain his hegemony in the face of his creation at any cost.  Lucifer, his prize creation, has already revolted against Him, a rebellion that not only sets a precedent for the assertion of alterity to the logic of the One within the biblical narrative itself, but also harbors the trace of the terrestrial suppression and erasure of the Pagan ethos, the religion of the older gods.  However, this trace of the terrestrial usurpation of the idea of the Holy remains submerged within and without the narrative of guilt – of transgression, punishment and atonement. 

The supplantation of polytheism by Abraham et al. is suppressed within and by the genealogy of Adam, through a displacement of the hubristic act in an act of concealment.  Terrorism dwells in a narrative of original Fallenness.  One can blame oneself, one can detect in oneself an original sin and capacity for transgression, but the root of this original evil, after Abraham, is located not in the supplantation of the gods, but in the narrative of disobedience to the One God.  In other words, the act of supplantation of the holy, of the gods does not touch, implicate the One God - the guilt of transgression is instead projected upon his enemy, upon creation, but in a way that falsifies and shreds this founding act.  From the perspective of the ancestors of Abraham, this event is the death of the gods.  Abraham has committed religious patricide, matricide, fratricide, deicide.  Abraham gives birth to evil.  But, simultaneous with this child of evil, is the distortion and re-presentation of its origin – it is re-branded as its opposite – it is hidden in the counter-offensive of accusations of primordial guilt, original sin.  God becomes the good.  From this perspective, Abraham’s God is an event of truth, beauty, and good. 

One will recall the diatribe of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra that the old gods laughed themselves to death in the face of this God who claimed that he was the only god.  However, with all bad comedy, it has initiated a historicity of bad tragedy.  It is this pathos that is the destination of the monotheistic assertions, which still persist as hegemonic and conflictual narratives of the sacred amidst this terrestrial opening.  For Nietzsche, it is laughter that will free us from the unlimited bondage of a “sacred” which is an imposture and mask for nihilism, a barbaric will to power, will to nothingness.  Yet, such laughter is most difficult amidst the lacerations of the whip, shackle and the stake.  One will remain a convalescent or aspire to exist in such a state of convalescence.  These wounds run deep, the scars of the surface remain burned upon this soul.  Psyche[25] sits in her own excrement in a dark cavern, amid the tunnels and chambers of an old, dark castle and dungeon – her visitors decipher tattooed narratives and symbols sliced across her skin.  We are condemned to read these inscriptions as well – but, upon our own souls, to decipher not only our own inscription by the logic of the One, but also to fathom the trace, genealogy, of the other beginning that hovers menacingly as that destruction of not only the Pagan ethos, but also, especially with phenomena such as the Inquisition, of which even Giordano Bruno was another victim, of the ongoing (though tragically flawed) attempts to erase any remembrance of the intimacy of Life. 

In the face of the All stands an imposture, a mask, the One God who is other.  The sins of the father become replayed, re-activated -- repeated -- in the children as they seek to carry out, on, this regime of discipline and surveillance – purification, cleansing, power - which is the heritage and legacy of their ancestors.  Abraham supplants his own ancestors, his mother and father, but with his displacement and re-presentation, he re-appropriates the Law of the Ancestors - however, with the proviso that he himself is the First of a New Covenant.  One must learn from the Sin of Adam, the father, but one must also understand that through this artwork, and these labor pains of Abraham, humanity is born again.  While this supplantation resembles in a superficial way the recurrence of overthrow in the Mycenean tapestry, with the overthrow of Ouranos by Kronos, and the latter by Zeus, the destruction of Abraham stands at a radical distance from the threads of kinship of dynastic succession exhibited in the mythological genealogy of the Pagan gods.  This radical distance is constituted by the assertion of Truth by Abraham in his dispute and eventual destruction of the gods of his father and mother.  This assertion of truth supplants any indigenous criteria or scenario of transfiguration of an existing muqoV.  “Truth” brings Abraham and his monotheistic genealogy onto the tenuous ground of historicity.  “God” resembles Saturn.  Yet, it is not clear if he will vomit up the other gods and goddesses.

History begins amid a radical breach with traditional mythological narrative.  This breach need not however imply that such a position escapes from the domain of muthos but will and must, from the standpoint of its own rhetorical assertion, proclaim the death and irrelevance of myth.  As Bataille suggests in his collection of essays on surrealism, The Absence of Myth,[26] such a historicity, which feeds on the death of myth is indeed the greatest myth.  At the same time, while history may be merely muthos in drag, the logic of the One and rhetoric of Truth that abide in its origin and genealogy, disrupt the evolving tapestry of traditional mythology and inaugurate a strategy of displacement and substitution.  Even if the breach has for its raison d’etre the establishment of another mythical principle and narrative, it deploys a strategy and rhetoric of Truth which ostensibly defines itself as non-mythical or even anti-mythical.  Such a radical positioning is often touted as the intellectual advance of an “ethical monotheism”.  However, such a denial and suppression of the play of mythical existence abides in a metaphysics of nothingness, of a desire to transcend the double bind of the world and earth[27]  – the noumenon dies as it is cut off from its life in the phenomena.  One could extend, it this light, Nietzsche’s contention that Christianity is platonism for the people to the entire Abrahamic genealogy in its ultimate valuation of a domain that is other than the visible and fallen existence of the All.  With Plato and Augustine, Abraham seeks via his New Covenant, to establish his own polis, a City of God.  In this sense, Abraham becomes another Philosopher King, the legislator of the respective status of the visible and invisible realms.  Abraham does not wish to merely allow that Otherworld to remain apart, There, but wishes to build a Kingdom of God Here upon the earth.  He seeks to build a world.  Moreover, in the midst of this destin-ing of a theological and political eschatology, Abraham is not merely Judge and King, but also, with Al Farrabi, a Priest.  That which binds his respective roles together is faithfulness to the One God.

However, despite the relative success of the genealogies of Abraham, from a terrestrial-political perspective, it is the very strategy and rhetoric of the One Truth, which, simultaneous to the founding Act of the monotheistic conjectures, plants the seeds of its own destruction.  Indeed, the mere possibility of its success would at once sound its own death knell.  This Will to Truth that had been inaugurated, abiding deep within its foundations a primordial will to power, will be, in its victory, compelled to turn this will to Truth onto its own existence.  In times of peace, the warlike man turns against himself.  Not only has the death of the old gods set a precedent for the death of that which has been esteemed as immortal, but also the very logic of supplantation as a will to Truth already and inescapably sets out the primal scenario for the death of God.  From this perspective, Abraham himself becomes the ugliest man.  His very assertion of the primacy and exclusivity of his God was at once the murderous blow against divinity.  If you wish to destroy a cause, become its most excessive advocate.  The monotheistic assertion, in its objectification - of God and in its proclamation that God is Truth, provokes the flood of oblivion that will return this god to its own primal fate, into the sacred well, back amidst the gods who laughed themselves to death.  Not only is the trace of this original breach disseminated as the ceaseless and inexorable fragmentation of the tragic assertion of the One, in the narrative and congregational differance of the progeny, but also as the very tools of the trade associated with this Will to Truth become targeted on this assertion of the One, but only in the auspicious Moment of its triumph.  That which is exposed in light of the execution of Socrates’ maxim that the unexamined life is not worth living is that the assertion of the One itself rests upon a muthos, one which stands, as Nietzsche contends, opposed to life.  The razor of historical criticism begins the self-lacerating project of digging for and unearthing its own roots in its enactment of its inherited Will to Truth… a god of tragic death… another Dionysian tragic hero departs from the Apollonian dreamworld into the primal oneness of being.

Reiner Schürmann suggested that the death of an idea always seems to take much longer than its birth.[28]  It took almost two millennia for the God of History to be subjected to the procedures of historicism, methodologies, which were born alongside itself as its spear and shield.  We have killed God.  We are the Ugliest Man.  But, we have killed him with the gifts that he himself has given us.  The triumph of the essence of this God of Truth is at once his fulfillment and death.  The Will to Truth that destroyed the old gods, honed and refined over eons, turns upon itself in a project of examination.  But seeing nothing but itself and its ubiquitous historical actuality, it is unable to examine itself with the intention of overcoming itself.  Indeed, it is always already elsewhere.  In keeping with this otherworldly disorientation, it decides that this life is not worth living, and thus, it seeks its own annihilation - it seeks to fulfill the implications of its own exposed untruth.  The God of History dies because He is exposed as merely historical.  The God of Truth dies in that His will to violence pales in the face of the impossible task of constituting Himself as the only Truth, as the totality of existence, as I am that which is.  The world and earth is always His shameful, embarrassing remainder, terrestrial remembrance, always His poison chalice.  God is the latest celebrity suicide – we already always cover over our crimes.  We give him rolling coverage, a eulogy, and a purple heart.    

 

 

Novelty under the Sun: Two Notions of the Will and Will to Power

 

          The Preacher of Ecclesiastes would have us believe that a creative life is lived in vain, that there is nothing new under the sun.  Indeed, any assertion of novelty in this world of finitude is vanity in light of the homeless fate of such expression and exertion.  Both the Master and Slave are fated to Death -- the one is no more significant than the other -- each meets this Other in his End.  All works perish or are appropriated by the latecomers.  All is vanity.  There is nothing left to do but drink a little wine and pass the time with one’s fellows as this is one’s God-given portion.  Amidst this double bind of finitude and hope, one need, and can only wait - for Death… for God.  As Heidegger himself eventually sighed, “Only a god can save us now”,[29] and in his own turn toward piousness, re-inaugurates the metaphysics of the preacher, another ass festival.

          At the end of the day, the ‘metaphysics’ of this Preacher are the same as that of Abraham.  That same dichotomy persists between this visible world of decay and fragmentation and that eternal, invisible Otherworld.  For both of these figures, it is the latter, which holds all value and abides all hope.  The willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his late-born son Isaac is, as I have suggested, merely a repetition of his own fateful supplantation of these earthly gods of his father and mother.  His faith is given to a god that is out of this world, in the facelessness of which this world is without value, the only significance of which is its own insignificance.  Yet, even as this world is, with Zarathustra, something that is to be overcome, it remains, as with the barren island of Delos, birthplace of Apollo, the point of departure and negative image of the destination of the invisible.  This faithful willingness of Abraham finds a kindred will in the willingness of the Preacher to forsake any earthly project or destination as vanity.  There is nothing to be done but to enjoy one’s portion and wait for the end, like Beckett, in a merely absurd world, waiting for God.  All else is vanity.  Both Abraham and the Preacher forsake the task of disclosing or even saving the phenomena: each abandons the vanity of earthly things, gods and works – each harbors a will that seeks its own ultimate reason and purpose – its highest value – in a insubstantial world beyond or behind things themselves – in the transcendental, in the No-thing.  This Will to Nothing, as it  finds no ultimate meaning in this world and thus does not resist the Nothing that stalks at the perimeter, is itself the soil for a ‘metaphysics’ of antithesis and hierarchy, the a-topos of possibility for a ‘logic’ or logos of ultimate Reality.  Indeed, for Abraham and the Preacher, this Will to Nothing is but one overwhelming Will - that of God - a Will that is expressed in the inscriptions of a revealed logos, in the old law tablets. 

          This Will of God that is the a-topos for the expression of a logos, however, explicitly asserts that it is the only True Will.  It further asserts that It is not only Truth, but also Good, Beauty, Sublime, and Moral.  It is further asserted that these virtues reside elsewhere, beyond this fallen world, there in that No-thing.  In light of his resistance to a trajectory of the One, the One God, Nietzsche proclaims that this other world is a laughable and a nihilistic falsification of Life.  He juxtaposes another narrative in the Birth of Tragedy, that of the Will in Schopenhauer, as an incessant primal power, which while it is singular and alone, is explicitly conceived as the raging heart of the world, as the non-conscious striving of Life.  For his  Schopenhauer, it was not the clarity of the concept or the light of another world, but in music and poetry that the Will could be intimated, disclosed.  In its insatiable emanations, this Will seeks to express itself – to hear and see itself - to satisfy its futile desire for self knowing and repose.  While Schopenhauer will, in his tragic pessimism, expose himself as a nihilist, closely aligned with Abraham and the Preacher as to the ultimate value of an earthly Will, he has disclosed the existence of an alternative conception of Will, as a will to existence, as a liberating will to expression and self-understanding.  Even if Schopenhauer prescribes a pessimistic negation of this Will, and therefore, to existence, this Will, or that which is indicated with this nomos, exhibits a will none the less, even is as a Will to Nothing.  Just as the persistence of the trace, memory, of the subjugations of the Pagan ethos and gods by Abraham and the other monotheist auto-genitors germinates the seeds of the destruction of the upstart God, the antithesis to Nothingness and mere Existence explodes the pretension that there is only One Will.  Kant seems to have been aware of these gods when he contrasted unconditional duty and self-love in his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. 

          Each of these notions of the Will projects a great longing, one as a will for that which is beyond itself, a desire for the nouminous.  The other, an insatiable desire for self-comprehension, communication, existence in an all too fleeting temporal opening.   In the former case, the Nothing that is sought is beyond where the horizon lies, but such a withdrawal is meant to simultaneously be the ground for all things.  In the latter case, the longing consists in the impossibility, in the finite emanation, of self-subsistent compact repose.  All will return to the source, but that source is inside, in an eternal willing.  Yet, even in their apparent opposition with respect to the seat of all meaning and reference, both of these positions imply a radical rejection of the possibility of an affirmation of Life – despite the insurmountable horizons of finitude and mortality.  For Abraham, this world is not properly Real - its actuality, he would emphasize, discloses that everything solid melts into air.  One can be clear and certain only in God and his New Covenant.  For Schopenhauer, the very futility of the bad infinite disclosed in the Will to Survival and Expression, while an adequate description of existence in specific respects, serves to refute life and the world.  The system of needs and the radical absence of satisfaction of the needs of a striving Will (certainly no omnipotent and omniscient God), the pointless exertion and expression seeking only the persistence of this selfsame state of inexorable striving, always unsatisfied, always seeking more of the same – the futility of life might be better served in the self-negation of the Will.  But, even this reprieve is forbidden.   

The world of the ego, as with Buddhism, is a world that is not properly Real, it persists as a house of cards of borrowed thoughts and vague self-awareness.  The ego, which is the mask of the Will, must be broken apart in order for the Will to be silenced.  The striving and suffering of the Will must be denied, if there is to be oneness and repose.  Both of these doctrines, each in its own way, set out a temporary metaphysic of duality, as with Zoroaster, that, in its strategic polarity, reveals an eschatology of the One, and in both cases the eschaton lies elsewhere from the World, this topos of illusion, futility, and an impossible insurrection against nothingness.  The One need only acknowledge the Other as long as the creation remains alienated as Other.  In and of itself, the World has no meaning, it is as the skin shed by a snake, of no consequence, not left behind – but, secretly assimilated, eaten as forbidden fruit. 

          However, a voice of distress calls out in the Night about the Earth, our fair Sister.   This voice declares, in opposition to the previous assertions of will, that We must remain true to the earth.  The voice of yet another Other, of this impossible insurrection against not only the regime and aroma of Nothingness, but also against mere Survival, insatiable, frustrated expression, indicates a [will] that is alterior to the incestuous wills of negation and repetition.  In the face of this will to annihilation sounds the voice of impossible striving, which although subjected and suppressed, still ceaselessly exists, inexorably creates beyond itself, playing out this dice game of chance.  Yet, with this consideration, we sense that we must step back from this notion of [will] as it is itself merely a veil that has been cast over all things, it is a fiction that dances over myriad events, tying, suturing them together, in order to fashion a single Reality, Actuality, Existence - this world.  It has chased the poets away with its edifice of truth, but it is itself exposed as ‘only a fool, only a poet’.[30]  If these wills collapse into the same, it is the striving amidst the earth that remains for Nietzsche,  that which exceeds and explodes the bridges and fences stretched across her skin and her rivers.  The persistence of the trace of resistance to the grand narrative of either conception of the will shatters the aura of a substantial and monocratic explanation of Ultimate Reality.  Indeed, an ultimate reality may be another construction – that which exists is an earthly actuality that always trails off into perspective and is appropriated and transfigured amid this situation of personal being.  With this utter fragmentation and deconstruction of the nomenclature of the Will as a substantial Unity – whether God, primal surge or ding an sich – there emerges the other event(s) that indicate an alterity, an impossible insurrection against Nothingness and Survival, a willing that is Other than Will.  Or, in other words, the genealogy of the Will, and its re-presented phantasmogorical triumph, that Great Lie that almost fooled everyone, becomes traced to a deeper origin in a more primal event of willing, a will to power, of creation and transfiguration.  Zarathustra exclaims in On Self-Overcoming,

Indeed, the truth was not hit by him who shot at the word of the ‘will to existence’: that does not exist.  For, what does not exist cannot will; but what is in existence, how could that still want existence?  Only where there is life is there also will: not will to life but – thus I teach you – will to power.[31]

 

This will to power, as a phrase, differs from the hard and fast nomenclature of a metaphysics of substance, of permanence.  In this way, Schopenhauer’s emphasis on changes of states in his early writings, which after all are makeshifts  for the rest, discloses a continual flux of creativity which must resist to survive and grow another place to build its own will to creation, even if it is born out of the birth canal of the totalistic hegemony of a single God or arce.  And it is reminded ceaselessly that it is not alone.  Yet, doctrines of the One break down in that they are not able to suppress the trace of their own will to power, of their own ‘origin’ in the exceptional amidst this play of chance.  The irrepressible affirmation of this event of Life resists Not only the otherworldly stratagems which seek to contain, harness and discipline this predicament of unfathomable chance amid a telos of the otherworldly.  It also resists the Will to Survival, which is subverted by an awakening to its own uncertain emergence in Chance, amidst the uncertain flux, this will to power/creation.  The Will was yesterday’s art, insatiable, seeking, but without ultimate success - to be Art itself, and in this way, to abolish all art and all future artists.  Amid the will to power, any question of a One becomes deferred into an impossible future as it is concerned with the temporary eruption of many ones and twos. 

Nietzsche poses the question in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Who will be the one who will grasp hold of chance, in the moment, and exclaim, ‘Thus I willed it’?  If this is not to be the faceless repetition of the arce that we have already excavated, and if it is to be an opening which gives, makes or takes space for new creation, it must be the creator, the Child, who is that one who grasps hold of this legacy of accidents and witnesses these amid an innocence of becoming.  With the event of lightning, light that shatters the old law tablets, the creator erupts into the aura of this creative event.  With this Opening amidst this No-where of freedom, in the destructive resistance to the Laws and destination of the One, in the inauguration of this play-space of chance, novelty erupts under the sun.  That which is new is to be understood amid the contours of that place of [origin], inextricably tied up amidst the regional jurisdictions of the arche, whether that be religion, the state, or the marketplace.  That which has characterized the operation of this religious assertion is, in tandem with the state and the market, the suppression of all that is Other.  For the former, it is the other gods, specifically female goddesses, its violent exclusion and repression of nature, body, sex, life, joy.  Monotheism, in other words, has attained the aspirations of its will to power, a will that is couched in the rhetoric of Otherworldly desires, in an ultimacy that is elsewhere.  It has fulfilled its longing at the cost of sacrifice – of life, and of affirmation of all gathers together as World and Earth.  It denies new creation in its lust to be the last of all creations – it is the black snake in your throat.  It even denies its own responsibility and capacity for creation as its laws and its very historicity are attributed to Revelation.  It camouflages its own will to power as the negation of all will to power, and thus, forbids all will to creation.  Yet, its hatred for the world and flesh reveals its desire for the Same (although it always awaits the End, in one form of the other).  It substitutes Repetition for Creation.  The monotheist assertion seeks to maintain its hegemony via the destruction and suppression of all that is Other than itself.  It seeks to put a halt to the possibility of new creation as any novelty would stand as a question mark over its claims to ultimacy.  Novelty screams as an exception to its privileged status.

          The truth of the monotheist assertion is dragged within the final sentences of Nietzsche’s posthumously edited and published fragments, The Will to Power, “This world is will to power -- and nothing else besides? And you yourselves are also this will to power – and nothing else besides.”[32]  In its nihilistic hypocrisy, the monotheist will to power postures as being a will to no-thingness, a will which seeks to transcend power, to annihilate will, to return to a God who is beyond the world and earth.  Yet, as it does not act quickly to vacate itself from the face of the earth, or let a new world be born,  to die at the right time, it becomes clear that this rhetoric of beneficence is merely a masque for a specific type of will to power that seeks merely to perpetuate itself as long as it can.  However, as intimated, the cost of such a perpetuation of its own will to power, especially in its bad faith, is the sacrifice of any new will to creation, of any differing will to power, and more specifically that which is an eruption of this innocence of becoming, this Dionysian power of life, death and rebirth.  The power of life is the power of creation, a power of creative effervescence that gives forth novelty under the sun.  Zarathustra exhorts the crowd in the marketplace - he is a madman shouting:

I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.  I say unto you: you still have that chaos in yourselves.

 

Alas, the time is coming when man will no longer give birth to a star.  Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself.  Behold, I show you the last man.[33]

 

It is precisely this chaos that the monological assertion seeks to suppress, to eradicate, annihilate – the rattle of this dice throw of chance must be silenced, the very possibility of creation in this realm must be destroyed.  But, as every act of destruction is also one of creation, that which is created via the destruction of the Dionysian power of life is the Last Man, the nihilist, the impotent consumer incapable of new creation or self-overcoming, much less self-sufficiency – this last man is suppressed, contained, and anonymous amid its belonging in the herd – he forgets just as soon as he thinks, chewing his cud in blissful ignorance.  But, this is ignorance, sculpted via burned flesh - not simply a tabula rasa, but a complex construction of a simulacrum – via the fire the Last Man learned to say ‘I will’ – but not as a will that is an affirmation of will to power, to new creation, but as a submission to a will that is other, to a stratagem of torture, indoctrination and regimentation – he wills in that he is willed, in that he should, in his obligation – for after all, he is woman, he is guilty.  That which in a previous epoch was worshipped as the irrepressible power of the fertility of life in a ceaseless dance of novelty is given a new status, a new value, devalued, destroyed via the violence of a radically other repository of significance.  The Otherworld is the latest fashionable delicacy of the Last Man.  New creation becomes at best a mere vanity amid an expendable world of (f)utility - at its worst, new creation is heresy, evil… New creation is a threat to the regime of monocratic assertion.  New creation, and the very physiological possibility of such new creation, must be annihilated.  Possible creators of the future must be made sick, so that they will be able only to serve these legacies of the past.  Their innocence must be turned to guilt, their health to disease, their strength to weakness.  Order and form suppress the Dionysian power of life and inaugurate the conditions of weakness, which will be expressed as a will to nothingness, as a will that has been made weary by its own regime of suppression.  The suppression of this chaos in one’s soul in the monotheist assertion sings the same tune as the excess of order and of morality not only Plato’s Otherworldly hypothesis, but also, as a microcosm, via the discipline, regimentation and surveillance in The Republic.  It is bad enough that those who sought to articulate this power of life, the poets, were excluded from the city – on the grounds that they lied too much – but it is worse that this entire arrangement of the polis rests upon the precipice of a Noble Lie --- the Big Lie.  The order of the polis is to be maintained at all costs, the unity of the One is to be pre-eminent to any of its many parts or of anything that should be excluded in the limit situation of its founding arch.  Music and song become suspect – poiesis is only cultural, never having the status of praxis. 

          Nietzsche claims that it is precisely this obsession upon ‘unity’ – or what could be described as an attempted annihilation of the Dionysian by the Apollonian – that sets the stage for the incessant weakening and eventual self-annihilation of the so-called Greek world – and of the Christian world, as the latter is merely ‘Platonism for “the people”’.[34]  For Nietzsche, this obsession is itself already a symptom of weakness, a weariness of life.  It longs for that which is radically other as it cannot stand this life.  Yet, even its will to no-thing is still an expression of its will to power - its perverse and repressed ‘affirmation’ of this life.  The Dionysian power of chaos that tears through life, shattering the household in the tragic event, will no longer be allowed to run amok amid the polis.  It will be rooted out in a realm of a pure Good in itself, one in which this perspectival character of life, innocent, before good and evil, will be annihilated.  From the enforced, and thus universalized, perspective, tied inside the panopsis of the Good - the Dionysian power of life, the chaos at the heart of the creative act, is renamed “Evil”.  But with Schelling, Nietzsche warns that such an uprooting will serve ironically as the death-knell of such a project of purification and unification.  Zarathustra awakens the youth on the mountainside,

But it is with man as it is with the tree.  The more he aspires to the height and light, the more strongly do his roots strive earthward, downward, into the dark, the deep – into evil.[35]

 

In the masquerade, the weak soul denies its will to power, it suppresses its Dionysian power, it represses and erases the truth of itself in a regime of forgetfulness, of disciplinary containment amid this cheerfulness of its own nihilistic solipsism.  Life itself is poisoned, postponed - any trace of this power of life slowly suffocates under the weight of Repetition, this ceaseless re-assertion of that logic of the One.  It is the Overman who will bite the head off the snake which eats its own tail.   

 

 

Overman: Beyond Dionysus and Apollo in Tragedy and Comedy

 

          If it is the last man, the spectator who consents to the Euripidean denial of the Dionysian power of life, of the terrible truth of existence, it is the Overman (Übermensch) who is that one that can affirm this chaos of being in the world and give birth to novelty under the sun.  Yet, the Overman is not the Tragic Hero in the sense of Euripides.  It is even doubtful that Nietzsche’s Overman is tragic at all, much less in the sense of Sophocles or Aeschylus.  We have forgotten that devastating myriadity of this power of life in the wake of the suppression of the Dionysian in Late Tragedy.  The ‘tragic’ becomes an epochal indifference and unwillingness to confront and master the rage and chaos of the Dionysian power of life.  Indeed, this power is erased and conscientiously ignored, suppressed in Late Tragedy.  In the early tragedies of Sophocles and Aeschylus, narratives that preserve an explicit reference to Homer, the tragic hero, emerging from the Dionysian musical ecstasy of the Chorus, is transported into a rapture of self-annihilation.  In the context of this Festival of the power of life, it is the Apollonian dream image that makes manifest the power that loves to hide.  The devastating tension and chaos of the Dionysian apotheosis, while made manifest in the dream image, is not suppressed or even sublimated, but is allowed to play itself out in the destruction of the tragic sacrifice.  In the dramatic identification and implication into the topos of the Greek amphitheatre, in which the audience becomes the symmetrical complement to the Chorus, the partition of the audience and performer is effaced, and thus, unmasqued, the audience becomes part of the gathering of the Chorus - the power of life and the annihilation of death is witnessed and imbibed as an event of disclosure of the terrible truth.  Oedipus senses his destiny, but inexorably seeks to flee in the face of his own truth.  He does not love his truth.  Orestes thinks that he knows the truth, but in his matricide, unleashes his own destinal flight from the truth.  He kills truth.  Antigone seeks to retrieve and affirm this truth in her wish to bury her brother in her earth.  Yet, she is banished from the polis.  Her act uncovers and retrieves an attempt at the truth.  The riddle of the Sphinx, Apollo in drag, mistakenly assumed to be answered by the Tragic Hero, will play itself out in the final destruction of the household of Oedipus.  Apollo allows his half-brother Dionysus to be annihilated amidst his excessiveness  for he knows he will be inexorably reborn. 

          Euripides, a friend of Plato, that failed tragic dramatist turned dialogist, takes a different tact with respect to the ‘tragic’.  He no longer wishes to celebrate this self-annihilating and self-creating power of life - he parts company with Dionysus, who is thrown into humiliation and ridicule, as for instance, in The Bacchantes.  Apollo, in his filial isolation, forced to strip naked in the wilderness, becomes mere form, eidos, nomos, over against will.  The frenzy of the bacchantes, which leads them to tear apart Pentheus-Dionysus, is re-valued as evil, excess, from the arche of eradication of the Dionysian from the polis.  In that Dionysus incites his own annihilation, which is the destruction of the household, he becomes the personification of “Evil”.  The tension of the bow, this rage of the power of life, is suppressed, quarantined, and dispersed in a directive and destiny of the polis.  Euripides is, at best, a moralist.  At worst, he is a propagandist.  He seeks to let the audience off the hook, seduce these to forget this terrible truth of existence.  He utilizes the situation and structure of the drama in order to disseminate his own moral agenda, his own deus ex machina.  This struggle for the birth of a new idol, a polis of God, Jehovah, Allah is waged at the cost of sacrifice of this power of life, of that suppression, and thus, fulfillment of the Dionysian.  The madman seethes in the marketplace of eidos: God is dead. Yet, as a madman, he will eventually realize that he must go voluntarily into the madhouse.   

          The Overman is not the tragic hero, in any of its possible variations.  The Dionysian annihilates himself and destroys the household which contains his destiny.  The Christian seeks to destroy this power of life in a routine operation which conserves his local despotism.  However, this suppression eradicates the Dionysian aspects of these teachings of the Nazarene prophet Jesus, who, to a great extent, is the latest exemplar of the half-mortal god Dionysus.  The Christian cannot handle, much less affirm, the Dionysian implications of Jesus, this man who sought to do that which is most difficult, the camel that attempted what he feared most, to become a lion.  The Grand Inquisitor, in The Brothers Karamozov of Dostoevesky, will seek to root out and re-crucify any trace of the Dionysian power of life.  He returns, but is again put to death, a repetition of the trauma which conserves the Realm.  In order to preserve the integrity of the herd, this Motley City of the Good and the Just, Jesus must once again travel Calvary to the Cross, to the Stake.  Yet, if Jesus is the Dionysian, and the Christian trajectory is that of a repression and suppression of their mystical founder, we can readily see that this antithesis, this circle of excession and suppression, indicates a situation that abides an incestuous ‘system’ of extremes.  These extremes play off of the other to the tragic effect that the middle, the in-between is erased, swallowed by Kronos, Saturn, time, the castrator of Uranus, the god of eternity.  Yet, time itself must be destroyed if the unhistorical topos of creation is to be set free. 

The Overman  is to be an alternative existence, alterity, to that faceless ‘system of extremes’ - that are, is, in the end, the Same, each a seeking after the nothing, nihilism.  The death of Jesus, as told by the Christian, is the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic eschatology in that the Son of God becomes the sacrificial lamb.  The son, unlike Isaac, is sacrificed.  Jesus is killed.  No angel saves Jesus in the end.  The metaphysics of the invisible is re-affirmed and completed, as the Father willingly sacrifices His son.  The death of Jesus, as told by a Bacchante, is that of the Dionysian dismemberment of the power of life in the dramatic exposition of these excessive desires of the god of wine, song and dance.  It is a sacrifice that will be repaid as this gift of the rebirth.  This will to destruction is creative in the sense of a first-born attempt – this affirmation, participation amid these overwhelming powers of life, which, with Origen, are independent of meaning.  These first attempts of an affirmation of the extraordinary powers of life lay the ground, clear the space, for the birth of the creator, for the Overman.  Yet, the Overman, with such an imposing designation is simply the Child.  The Child affirms the play of Life without sacrifice, as a gift. 

          Since the tragic hero is articulated as the Apollonian sublimation, this emergence of the dream image, of the Dionysian power of life, of the surge of musical existence, the Holy Trinity of excession, suppression and sublimation is exposed as a playspace of nihilism. It is the Higher Man who merely sublimates his passions amid a will to creation.  He can bear much, as the camel who can sublimate his passions for a utilitarian end, i.e., the catharsis of the people.  The Christian, this politician of the soul, seeks to suppress these passions and affirmations amidst mortal existence. The Dionysian is built up as a straw man – he is that tragic one who is annihilated by these passions – he no longer laughs.  He becomes a devil who has been trained as a camel.  It is no wonder that the Priests destroyed the second book of Aristotle’s Poetics on Comedy.  Yet, the Comic Hero, the laughing lion, as the second metamorphosis of the Spirit, cannot be the Overman in that he still shoots arrows at princes. The Overman is not the Comic Hero, although he is this voice in the wilderness who prepares the ground for the birth of the Child.  He is the Child who gives birth to himself in each moment.  The Comedian, the great redeemer, who can suddenly turn Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonatas into cartoon Farce, evades this Holy Trinity, he laughs and plays amidst this eruption of Chance.  He plays with Diogenes, but he is not yet a Child.  Lysistrata castrates the old values, but merely in an attempt to achieve mere peace, neither to affirm the raging power of life, nor to create new values.  Socrates is a fool who seduces rich families to surrender their young boys to his terrorist training camp.  Pisistratas merely repeats the traumas of the world and earth in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.  Aristophanes stands laughing, but his destruction does not give a meaning to existence, it does not create novelty under the sun - he merely laughs, scoffs at ‘the new’.   

The Overman is the one who finds joy, overcomes himself, creates himself as an affirmation of life, irrespective of project.  That Goal which is set by the Overman is the love of fate, an affirmation of situation without purpose, a situation that is given purpose, meaning, in the act of creation itself.  The Overman is the child, the creator.  Creation is joy, an affirmation of the power of life amid this powerful existence - purpose, meaning, without project.  The Overman apprehends this singular chance, is this chance, he plays this fate.  The Overman is not the Janus-faced god of tragedy or comedy.  He is neither the camel, who can bear much, nor the lion who laughs as he destroys.  The Overman transcends any dramatic or “religious representation” of the Sacred in the polis amid the singularity of his own creation.  He neither suppresses the Dionysian outright as Apollo, nor does he merely sublimate this power into tragedy or comedy, as a scenario of reconciliation of that which is merely the Same.  He is an affirmation of this paradoxical power of life in innocence, irrespective of these late-born half-gods.  There is no need of transgression, suppression, or sublimation as this excession of innocence creates novelty under the sun.  The Overman, as the creator, is indeed that which is newZarathustra’s children[36].

         

Eternal Recurrence of the Same: The Affirmation of the Overman

          If the willingness of Abram to sacrifice his son Isaac indicates a metaphysics of nothingness, nihilism, the innocent creation of the Dionysian power of life, of the Overman, intimates an affirmation of the eternal recurrence of the Same.  The Child is the one who can be laughed at without any provocation of shame.  It spurs him or her on.  Laughter is the echo of an excessive affirmation.  It is alleged to be important to take the monotheistic allegory seriously – and this seriousness is enforced throughout the terrestrial hegemony of the cults of the One God.  Yet, the Overman, the children of Zarathustra, can be a fool – idiots amidst this event of affirmation.  He provokes laughter without intention. This is the No-where, [where] his excessive power seethes, this un-self-conscious creator innocently destroys that which is amidst his creation, in that it persists as a hegemonic annihilation of his own creativity.  [God] no longer has a patent on creativity.  Although He was a variant of an eternal Sameness, a version, he, as with Saturn, is killed by his spawn.  Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions emphasize truth as the criterion for their overthrow of the polytheism of their fathers and mothers.  Yet, truth becomes a hydra, its many mouths biting into the supplanter.  Not only does “science” subvert and displace its myths, but its own methods, such as hermeneutics, are turned on the creator – upon religion and its historicity.  It is not that belief in one god – or many gods for that matter – becomes impossible, but that we come to see this representation as a myth, as untrue, in a positivist sense.  A sterile realism reigns.  Myth becomes forbidden.  Yet, the myth holds an august fascination for us.  But, there is not merely one myth, there are many.  With the displacement of the hegemony of the One, there opens a topos for a self-expression of many voices.  If truth is no longer to be conceived in a positivist, but in a symbolic, phenomenological sense, the meaning of affirmation after the death of [God] exhibits its specificity in the letting be of this Dionysian power of life.  It is this power of life that is eternal recurrence of the Same, and this is the umwelt of the affirmation of the Overman. 

            While Nietzsche attempts, in the posthumous fragments, The Will to Power, to lay out a cosmological, even physicalistic, possibility of eternal recurrence, there is the necessity to interpret this notion from the perspective of distinction between the exoteric and the esoteric.  Indeed, the cosmological defense, while of interest in terms of the incessant re-writing of cosmology, remains an exoteric articulation of the eternal recurrence.  The esoteric meaning of the eternal recurrence, on the other hand, a meaning which remained unsaid in Nietzsche’s writings (perhaps it was whispered to the woman Life in “The Other Dancing Song” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra) implodes the entire edifice of the exoteric interpretation of a temporality of the return.  Such an emphasis upon the esoteric dimension of the eternal return plays out as a counterpoise to such higher men as Blanchot,[37] who remain fixated upon a thought, one that is inexorably repeated in his language.  As if death, through him, distracted itself.”[38]  Eternal recurrence as the unhistorical opens as a playspace for the singularity of the free, very free spirit.  The notion of eternal recurrence, in its exoteric interpretation, is another of Nietzsche’s jokes.  Zarathustra is the spider who has woven an exquisite web, a game, his cave, to ensnare the Higher Man.  Yet, once they are there in his cave, Zarathustra wishes nothing better than to get some good air.  He steps beyond the cave – outside - among his animals and the earth and sky -- into the open air of a starry night, to become what he is.  Time itself is imploded in this affirmation of a singularity of be-ing here, of an innocence of becoming – becoming this dice throw of chance.  Zarathustra is not yet the Overman - he is the voice in the wilderness who beckons the Coming.  We must first traverse the pathway to this event, to this final act of affirmation.  We must descend through the exoteric masque into the abyss of esoteric singularity. 

Nietzsche makes much of the physical, cosmological possibility of eternal recurrence.  If there is a finite Kosmos, and if an eternity of time has already elapsed, and if there is another eternity beckoning from the future, and if the gateway of the Moment indicates a mere Circle, a gathering into a Same of bad infinities, then how could this specific event of my life not have been repeated eternally?  On the face of it, this story presents a seduction to the lonely one in that it gives a cosmological raison d’etre for its destiny in the framework of a purposive auto-teleology.  However absurd, the lonely one is given meaning in the enigmatic, though seemingly logical, proposition of eternal return. If we think along with this conditional, syllogistic, reasoning, and if we accept its premises, then, perhaps, we could regard this proposition, this conjecture, as a real possibility.  It is entirely possible that even the most intimate and intricate simplicities of our lives have been eternally repeated.  Yet, such a logical, physicalistic system, as with the clock on the wall, is merely one interpretation, variant of the eternal recurrence, an assertion of a specific will to power.  The question still hovers as to that which is absent, erased via this purposive teleology of eternal repetition.  Indeed, following Otto, we can affirm eternal recurrence as a possibility of dysteleology, ‘in’ the moment.

Nietzsche seems to have given quite a bit of time to this “scientific” theory, and wished to couch it as such.  Yet, it may be possible that the scientific rhetoric of some of Nietzsche’s formulations masque that which may be pointed to as philosophical questions.  Zarathustra is lost in a Will to Repetition.  Indeed, such a metaphysical-physical proposition denies the possibility of a metamorphosis of the spirit from the camel, through the Lion, to the Child.  The metamorphosis of the spirit feeds itself upon the singularity of existence, of the possibility of decision amidst this topology of chance operations.  The Camel bears its all - she is the masochist of accidents.  The Lion rebels against this situation of chance in that it is a creature of chance.  Amidst the effervescence of a myriad will to power, the Lion declares that Nothing has meaning, that which has been is futile, radically false – the goddess truth is gagged, bound, raped and tortured - humiliated - via that metaphysics of the One.  Contrary to this scenario of tragic resignation, of sacrifice, there is posited by the Lion the possibility of a transfiguration of existence into laughter, into the good fight of rebellion.  There is projected the possibility of a merely happy ending, or in the case of the historical Zarathustra, Zoroaster, an eschatological overcoming of Evil by Good.  But, this latter is merely One Will to power, and the Lion knows this fact as it subsists in its facticity.  There are myriad wills to power.  There are other Lions.  The Lion affirms its own will to power via the destruction of that which has been, of that which, beyond the grave, seeks to suppress and contain the spirits of novel creation.  Yet, the Lion cannot exist in innocence as it seeks to destroy that which is – without a vision of new creation.  The destruction of the Lion merely creates this space for new creation.  Yet, its destructive creation is implicated in a metaphysics of return, in an “against”, which discloses its limitations and specific status as a redeemer of values.  The Lion still exists amid the immanent battles of liberation.  Its version of eternal recurrence is advocated merely in juxtaposition to other conjectures of ultimacy.  Indeed, it understands itself as the negative of those various doctrines of escape.  The Lion cannot see its liberation beyond the parameters of its strategic destruction.

          Yet, for Nietzsche, this moment of destruction is after all necessary if there is to be opened a topos for new creation.  If the Lion did not erupt, the Camel would have become a Cow, and if the Lion does not become a Child, it will itself become Zarathustra’s Ape.  The destruction of the infrastructure of nihilism via the Lion clears the ground for the Child who will create novelty under the sun, a self-propelled wheel, a dice throw that is eternal.  The Camel bears the burden of eternal recurrence without question.  It is the unexamined life.  The Lion rages to destroy the complacency of the Camel in its eternal repetition of escape, its myriad wills to nothingness.  Socrates posed as the Lion amid his incessant questioning, but, in the end, he surrenders himself to the Law and becomes a Camel with his first sip of Hemlock.  He becomes the pack animal, the ass that bears the burden of nomos.  He protects the laws as if they were his city walls.  Zarathustra exhorts us to smash the old law tablets.  The new tablets are half-written, and cannot be completed without the destruction of the old tablets.  For the Lion, the possibility of recurrence erupts as the negative affirmation of this impossible possibility, against the various doctrines of Otherworldly escapes.  The Lion seeks to celebrate this Dionysian power of life, irrespective of any consequences.  He fights for this playspace of a cultivation of that power of creation - against those who would merely suppress or annihilate new creation.  The assertion of the Lion is that of negative freedom, and thus, although he clears the space for novelty, he himself remains in a metaphysical predicament - he remains a nihilist, though active.  It is the Child in its singularity who affirms the Dionysian general economy of life as it ‘is’.  Ostensibly, this is the meaning of the eternal recurrence of the Same. 

          Yet, as alluded, the teaching of the eternal recurrence of the same exhibits not a Janus face, but a continuum of layers and threads.  It is in this way where we distinguish the exoteric expression from the esoteric meaning of the teaching.  Indeed, with the fulfillment of the esoteric singularity of existence, the exoteric snakeskin will be shed, left behind as an artifact of a self-overcoming or as food for the birth of this innocence of becoming of the Child.  Amid the surface of the teaching, and beyond the merely cosmological formulation, the eternal recurrence places great demands upon Zarathustra.  The great weight of the idea shatters Zarathustra, crushes him in his own attempt to make the greatest affirmation of existence.  He sits as a convalescent, waiting for the sign which will beckon him to not merely articulate, but effectuate, the teaching of the eternal recurrence.  Zarathustra laughs and calls his animals fools as they chatter on about his destiny as the Teacher of the eternal recurrence of the Same.  Zarathustra laughs as he knows that his fate is not to be a mere teacher of an exoteric doctrine, but must seek to be the birth of novelty under the sun, that he must become the Child.  He must attempt that which is most difficult.  His great longing will become a funeral pyre.  He will give birth to himself.

          The exoteric formulation or doctrine of the eternal recurrence of the same, if considered detached from any question of its cosmological significance, discloses for the singular mortal being a topos of decision – it stands as the Gateway of the Moment.  Everything will return, each in its singularity, exactly as it is and has been eternally.  Beyond the cosmological aspect of this possibility, there is revealed a perspective which suggests that a new look and a new feeling must be given to existence, even if that novelty remains forbidden.  The dis-eschatology of eternal recurrence does not repeat the suppression, annihilation of the monotheistic conjecture, but in its affirmation of the Dionysian power of life, it sets forth an ordeal which must be confronted and fulfilled by Zarathustra.  The implication of the exoteric doctrine, when considered from the perspective of the one who is still alive, is that a situation, topos, of decision erupts, one which is best characterized by Kierkegaard’s either/or.  This moment erupts at the crossroads, when we can still glimpse each possibility.  Yet, contrary to the leap into the absurdity of Christianity (and not Christendom), Zarathustra seeks the leap which will be the flying from the peak of high mountains, to give birth to the star which is the Overman.  The moment of decision of the exoteric doctrine is the gateway to the possibility of a deeper affirmation of existence.  It provides the singular mortal being the possibility and actuality of free choice, a situation of an aesthetic and ethical decision that seeks to overcome the historical malady via a conjuring of the possibility of an unhistorical transfiguration of life.  This is the moment of anticipatory resoluteness in Heidegger’s Being and Time,[39] the revolution of the heart, in Kant’s Religion, a decision is made for the authenticity of existence - over against the inauthentic homogeneity of everydayness.  Authenticity, in this interpretation of Heidegger, remains juxtaposed to its negative – authentic dasein is merely the Lion in repetition.  Yet, for Nietzsche, such a moment of vision is a necessary prelude to the deeper esoteric effectuation of an articulation of eternal recurrence.  The Augenblick, and the decision that it provokes, however, is not sufficient for this affirmation of the Child.

          If that which is has occurred eternally, and if it will recur eternally, then we will seek to read off, listen for, a meaning.  Perhaps we have heard the call too late - but as we are still alive, we will seek to give a meaning to existence, to resist the hegemony of nihilism and tyranny throughout our own intimate ‘actuality’.  But, we are still haunted by ghosts of bygone-ness.  We dread the repetition of the Same in all of its specificity as we are burdened by that which has been, and by that which is.  Yet, Zarathustra calls us to affirm all of this, each – otherwise, there will only be nothingness, nihilism.  If a single thing is chanced, or if there is a wish for any single thing to be different, then all is cast into question.  Conversely, if you ever affirmed any single thing, then you must affirm everything – as All is caught in the Stoic web of continuum.  But, where is Ariadne’s thread which will lead us from this labyrinth of repetition?  For we must, in the exoteric scenario, affirm all that which is, seeking to complete, to give meaning, to take responsibility for, all that which has been, is, and will be.  Yet, this negation of the will - or of the suppression and punishment of the sinner, deviant, terrorist - annihilates the possibility of an affirmation of the Child.  That which is is to be affirmed in all of its minutae.  No escape, no exit, will be permitted, no nirvana, no outside, no repetition of the same.  The actively nihilistic intentionality of this exoteric assertion plays itself out as a mockery of eschatological doctrines of escape, sleep, death, The One.  This redemption by the comedian clears the space for the affirmation of an innocence of becoming.

          Yet, the comic, exoteric shell, skin, of eternal return falls away as one ascertains that the scenario of eternal repetition is absurd.  Of course, one is exhorted to affirm the absurd, but, implicit in this affirmation is the question of the esoteric significance, meaning, of the possibility of eternal recurrence.  Far from the farce of eternal repetition, and the unexamined assertion of this repetition, is the disclosure that such a fatalistic scenario of repetition implodes amid an topos of silence, into this instant of chance.  From a purely logical perspective one could question an eternal Repetition in that, after the death of God, there would be no external vantage point that could determine the discrete identity of repeated lives.  Indeed, this is the gist of the farce.  The Sisyphian gesture of the exoteric interpretation of the eternal recurrence serves as a litmus test for any metaphysical doctrine of transcendence.  Despite this absurdity of his destiny, Sisyphus does not paralyse himself in otherworldly hopes.  He is guilty.  However, with the implosion of a placeless center of presencing, of the metaphysical arce of existence, there is disclosed an esoteric significance to this doctrine of repetition.  If it is impossible to distinguish one life from another via the illusory vantage point of an abstract observer, then, it is necessary to assert that there is only one life.  While its is theoretically and mathematically possible that there is an eternal repetition of the Same, and perhaps this physical simulacrum may be detected in experiences of déjà vu – for us, from this perspective of mortal singularity, we ascertain the eternity of the moment.  The most difficult thought is not that of eternal repetition, but of the singularity of chance.  The exoteric form of the doctrine is merely an electuary, a spoonful of sugar, but one which turns bitter with the disclosure of the terrible truth.  Sisyphus does not escape, he does not leap down the other side of the mountain to freedom.  He merely colors and sweetens his style.  He does not rebel.  But it is only the narrator who says that he is unhappy, unjoyous.      

          The possibility of an eternal recurrence, of singular existence, has been prescribed as the medicine for the malady of nihilism, for the metaphysics of nothingness diagnosed as an array of symptoms.  The Overman, who has undergone convalescence from this malady, is prepared to affirm that most difficult thought.  As with the other metaphysical doctrines of escape, eternal repetition removes the singular mortal from the hook – it gives meaning to existence in a meaningless scenario of Repetition.  Such a possibility removes the singular mortal from this moment of risk, from the tenuous space of self understanding.  The evocation of eternal recurrence, understood esoterically, however, is neither merely a thought experiment, nor a new criteria for ethics – it is not an enigmatic categorical - or anti-categorical - imperative.  The evocation is a call to the singular mortal to become what one is, to fathom itself out of its own genealogy and life, and to liberate itself from its topos of origin amidst the ecstatic innocence of new creation.  The call invokes the singular mortal to return to this truth of life, and to attempt the unhistorical, to become untimely, to be a creator.  With the dawn of an awakening to this singular chance, the mortal begins to understand the urgency of a life on death row.  This is not a detached speculation of a sculptor who hammers out his piece and then goes to sleep for the night.  The sculptor is able to walk away.  The task of self-overcoming, an affirmation of all the which is, is a situation of violent intimacy – affirmation is a task of wakefulness.  This singular chance of existence erupts amidst the not-yet of demise – we exist as free, very free spirits, awake to the terrible truth of existence.  Yet, while we can bear this burden, we can laugh amidst its terror, we can affirm our fate with the cry: ‘Thus I Willed It.’ Such an affirmation celebrates a festival of free existence which, amidst an imperative of death, is awake to its own dangerous possibilities.  Zarathustra exhorts us to follow only ourselves - while we are not compelled to accept every thing that is or will be, we must affirm that which has made us what we are.  As very free spirits, one task is necessary - to overcome ourselves as mere convalescents of nihilism in an excessive affirmation of life that creates novelty under the sun.     

 

 

Revaluation of All Values: The Lifeworld of the Overman

          Zarathustra’s children are not destined to be hermits or apes.  The Overman is to be a creator amidst this world.  His creation is a work which will conjure into existence novelty under the sun.  In the playful intimacy of the Child, there will awaken an innocence of becoming.  Yet, this innocence will be confronted by the empty shell, the enduring mask of anarchy[40] - of the Good, Just and True.  As the event of destruction is simultaneously this moment of creation, the task of the Overman, as an event of self-creation, is a topos for and praxis of a revaluation of values.  It is this creative event of the Child that invokes and disseminates new values amidst the world.  Yet, as this is to be an event of self-overcoming, that which is to be created in the moment of destruction is this self in metamorphosis.  It is this great wheel of the body and the All  that is to be affirmed amidst its transfigured world – not the higher soul of the Platonist in his suppression of the body and the sensuous world.  It is neither that sub-ject of Descartes of which I am most clear and certain – not an unexamined self, shining in the goodness of monotonotheism, which has purged itself of sensuous error and uncertainty.  In this event of transfiguration, Nietzsche suggests a dangerous perhaps - a radical reversal of this trajectory of nihilism, that destination of the One… A revaluation of values indicates this specific engagement of this Overman - amidst his singular fate in the Lifeworld.  This love of fate plays itself out amidst that destination of the One – awakened inside the matrix of a metaphysics of nothingness.

          The transfiguration of the world indicates the simultaneity of destruction and creation amidst this intimate temporality of life. This unhistorical will to power – a “will” that destroys amidst its creation - affirms, in this event, an eternal recurrence of the Same.  In this way, the metamorphoses of the spirit shed new light upon the three perspectives upon History in the Untimely Meditations.  The Antiquarian is the Camel, that one who bears the burden of the past, the bygone, in a repetition of durable values, enduring images, idylls of the world no longer.  The Lion is the critical historical who seeks the radix, that root of Repetition - an engagement with the disciplinary burden of received narrative.  Monumental history intimates this eruption of the innocence of the Child, but as it orients itself to the past, even a higher past, it stands outside of innocence.  The Child is creation amidst this awestruck innocence of blind playfulness.  None of these perspectives upon History, in light of a juxtaposition to this metamorphosis of the Spirit, exist independent of the other modalities of historical perspective.  These perspectives play with each other  in a similar way as the three ecstasies of temporality in Heidegger’s The Concept of Time, Being and Time, and in the later lecture on Time and Being.  The three perspectives find their root in the unhistorical, the Child - just as Heidegger (and Kant) discloses the radix in the moment of vision (Augenblick) of an anticipatory resoluteness.  The metamorphoses of the Spirit play with their fate amidst this singular life of a mortal being in the world.  Amidst this predicament of finitude, there is the affirmation of this fate of a great longing.  There is a decision amidst this world of that which will beZarathusta’s Children.

            The Antiquarian, the camel, wishes only to preserve the values of that which is in so far as it has been – the situation of life is mystified by preservation – life is suppressed to fit the mold of a domesticated, routine bygone.  The Lion, the critical historian seeks to destroy this array of received values in an event of expenditure.  Its destruction erupts as the destroying of monuments.  Yet, this destruction builds its own monuments, legacies, curses.  It is the Child, on the contrary, who transcends each of these three perspectives – the Child, the transfigured fourth, creates new values in this event of affirmation – this event of the unhistorical situates these three projections, perspectives, amid this Lifeworld of an eternal recurrence of the same.  Although the Child, in its innocent affirmation, does preserve the awesome wonder of life, this is not a burden, but a situation of opening amidst this moment and the joy in the intimation of mystery.  The Child also destroys innocently, not from the motive of an “against” but accidentally in a “for” – the Child exists in freedom and innocence, and while he is given a topos by the Lion, if he is to be the Child, he must, at the limit of his creation, leave the Lion behind – the Child acts intuitively in her  preservation, destruction, creation  – but, does so in an untimely – unhistorical - way.       

Zarathustra intimates the innocence of the Child in his awakening to new truths and values that come to him throughout this play of fate.  He himself does not consciously create these truths and values – they seem to come to him as gifts, artifacts of his own engagement in a lifeworld in becoming, found and erected as totems and tables of overcoming.  Yet, as these are gifts and artifacts, he has not willed these new truths and values from the origin, as a conscious execution of an a priori - but, neither does the Child, who in the persuasive novelty of existence, is inexorably there in a state of ceaseless discovery.  The mood of the child is that of wonder and awe.  The difference between Zarathustra and the Child consists for the most part in the facticity of the severance of the former from childhood.  Zarathustra can only be becoming a child – he is not yet, and may never be a Child.  In this light, Zarathustra, in much of the narrative of his fate, a camel and lion.  Even though destruction is creation, for the Lion, such a creation is never innocent of the spirit of revenge.  Zarathustra is aware of his own distance from the being of the Child as betrayed in his great longing for his own Children.  Perhaps these Children for which he longs are his own greater selves, his own becoming Children. 

The Child does not know the conditions for his own awakening into the Open.  For the Child the past is not a concept of absence, but is his received world.  The Child appropriates being in the event of awakening amidst the Open.  As Brentano expresses, the primordial associations of the past, present and future allow for the ceaseless bleeding into the present and future of that which has been - but is.  The engagement of Zarathustra, on the contrary, in and out of his own lifeworld, implies an awareness of the labyrinth of existence.  As he is on his way, Zarathustra descends into the world with a message to those with ears to hear.  He is compelled to express the possibility of that which is farthest, just as the Sun overflows in the morning to give light and warmth to the Earth.  And, as with the Sun, he would be nothing without for those for whom he shines.  He needs to communicate, he needs to engage the world with his call for an affirmation of the Earth which not only gives the future meaning, but also to all that which has been.  At this moment, he is a camel and lion who creates without an explicit understanding of the fate of the artwork.  His triumph is retrospective – his task is to prepare the ground, build the dwelling for the Child.  He is to prepare a topos for the Child.  Only a Child, amidst his unhistorical gaze upon this random facticity of existence, can innocently cry out “Thus I willed it”.  The transfiguration will be a vision of the meaning of existence from the innocent perspective of the Child.  But, the story does not end until after the last lines of Zarathustra, whereupon one ab-breviates the text into a picture of history. 

Zarathustra awakens to his first truth after a long sleep – he understands that his clichéd mimicry of a camel, a Preacher for mobs, corpses and flies, does not and cannot serve the chaos in his heart and his great longing for affirmation and creation.  He seeks companions.  Zarathustra seeks to be the honey that does not attract flies, but this one who will follow her own great longing.  Zarathustra takes great pains to attract such followers in his Speeches.  He, as a Lion, visciously attacks the pedestals of nihilism – complacent virtue and authority, doctrines of sleep, death, or the otherworldly.  Zarathustra attacks the state, this destroyer of peoples, calling it the coldest of all cold monsters.  It is an Idol, and the less of it the better.  Yet, just as the exiles from The Birds of Aristophanes find that Cloud Cuckoo Land is infiltrated - merely repeats – this all-too-human simulacrum of power and façade - Zarathustra is afflicted by the shackles of discipleship, implicated in this disciplinary regime of containment, surveillance, and training.  He is a teacher.  Zarathustra revolts against his new truth in his repeated desire to remove himself from those for whom he shines – he returns to his cave, travels to the Blessed Isles, or covertly wanders the Motley City – he comes back to his animals as a convalescent.  Yet, he seeks company for one last time in his cave with the higher men.  But, he repeatedly needs to remove himself from the cave, from his engagement, to get some good air… Zarathustra wishes simply to speak to the stars.  

Zarathustra is not capable of the creation of new values as long as he is of this timely circumstance.  He lays the ground for an affirmation free of a situation in which past hegemonic truths, worlds, wounds were not only prime in their lives, but were also questioned and broken, healed.  He conjures an innocence of becoming.  Yet, Zarathustra cannot partake of this festival, as he must descend again, go under, if he is to hope for a transfiguration of existence as this innocence of becoming, the Child.  Yet, perhaps death itself will become a festival, that destruction will be simultaneously a creation.  A mountain has been ascended, but there is a higher mountain still to climb.  Such a fate on the part of Zarathustra is already intimated in his early speeches which were attempts to draw away companions from the mob, from the mass.  Within the horizon of his injunction that we should remain true to the Earth, the Lion, Zarathustra, attacks several prominent edifices of religious, economic and political power.  These verbal attacks, diatribes, as they are not opposed by a vocal antagonist, clear a topos, a playspace for that which came nearest to the creation of a new value.  Yet, many of the “ideas” of these diatribes are nothing new. 

They are reflections of the margins and centers of current opinion.  Even the most extreme formulations, such as those concerning women, intimated in the Old Woman and her recommendation of the Whip, can be found in previous texts, one of the most notable being Justine by the Marquis de Sade.[41]  Where Zarathustra comes closest to the creation of a new value is his advocacy of Free Death.  Zarathustra seeks in this advocacy to overcome the prevailing juri-political status and administration of the body and of the so-called individual, administered by the Last Man at the End of History.  That which we do not legally own, and thus, control is our own bodies, our own lives and destinies.  It is in this place of life where our true sub-jection is exposed – we do not have sovereignty over our own bodies, hearts and minds, but, effectively speaking, rent or lease them from the State, this great Idol.  However, this is a rent which in a quite specific sense need not be paid.  The singular mortal, fated to death, can bring this destiny to a close immediately.  The implicit text of suicide is a sacred sovereignty of the self in its singular Fate.  Though one would hope to live a free, very free life. 

The Child must transcend and affirm the spirit of its own topos of creation.  The suicide, at best, hopes for a better world, while the Child lives in innocence.  A corpse, even of a martyr imbued with the spirit of revolt, is not the appropriate monument to the innocent act of the Child in creation.  Such an ultimate gesture and gift is enacted by the Lion – it is the nearest the Lion will ever come to true creation – it remains remote from the scenes of pregnancy and birth, he lies low behind a mask.  However, it is a radical freedom behind the mask of ritual self-sacrifice, of the Lion, which is the topos, the dwelling for an infant creator.  Zarathustra must again descend, go under.  He must still become a Child, a creator amidst an innocence of becoming.  He is not to be merely dead bark floating upon the waters of distress – he will grow wings and fly to that higher mountain. 

 

 

 Zarathustra’s Children

          Zarathustra confronts his last temptation when he hears the cry of distress of the higher man.  He is tempted to pity, a “dwarf” which masquerades as the higher man – in many ways, the nothing new which was the content of Zarathustra’s speeches are the words of these higher men - the philosophers, poets, mystics, magicians and priests, remembered as the official history of that which we are.  Zarathustra laments that none of these Lions became a Child – he is seduced to pity.  He is tempted with the idea that if none of these could have individually achieve the innocence of the Child, then perhaps bringing these each together inside his cave, or his philosophy, as suggested by Brandes, could bring about a situation in which free creation could emerge.  Yet, once again Zarathustra is tempted to become the camel and the shepherd for a flock – he is the great artist bringing these variants together into volatile mixtures.  Yet, as each of these mortals is an existential singularity, Zarathustra is tempted to prescribe a virtue of inauthenticity  his pity flies in the face of the truth of the freedom of mortal singularity – even a freedom to be foolish, ignorant, or willfully blind.  Only a fool, only a poet.  The Soothsayer, another agonal drive, tempts Zarathustra to become merely a Higher Man – to be an ass that will bear the latest festive bandwagon of the Mob – even a Mob of Higher Men.  Zarathustra frequently exits his cave, inhabited by these Higher Men, to get some good air under these myriad Stars.  Zarathustra does not seek to become a Higher Man, as it seems to be physiologically impossible.  Nor does he seek vulgarly to Repeat that hier-archial hegemony of Authority and Power in a mon-arche of a Superman over the Higher Men et al.  Zarathustra beckons these Higher Men to come out of the Cave into the Open of Midnight amidst these Stars – to witness Eternity – to become Infants, Children - to fly.

          Yet, the prerequisite for an Infant, a Child, is, after all, the Mother – truth, sophe, a-lethea, is a Woman.  Suppose truth be Woman, what then?  Zarathustra never finds, or has not yet found a Woman with whom he wishes to have Children.  Yet, he loves Eternity, a cosmic woman of great power.  He longs for his Children, but laments his inability to find the Woman with whom he could create the creator.  Woman is an enigma, a riddle – she is also Loyalty, Truth, Life, Virtue… She is Creation - the Source of the Milk of the Stars of the Sky. 

But, it seems for Zarathustra, Woman is also an Island of Delos from which he seeks to fly.  Zarathustra, while setting forth the possibility of an innocence of becoming, contains in himself Dionysus and Apollo, amidst a trajectory of tragedy and comedy.  Zarathustra laments his self-destruction and desire for escape which has kept him from the Truth, from Woman, from Life.  Zarathustra is spent – he is sterile, a mere voice in the wilderness – he merely articulates the great longing the Land of his Children.  These are not his physiological progeny but that specific being who has ears to hear.  It is a cry of desperation to the future. 

Yet, in the moment of vision in the Open of the Midnight amid the Stars, Zarathustra forgets his great longing, his last temptation, and seeks to become what he is, to stand amidst the singularity of eternity.  He is not concerned with physiological reproduction, but with the creation of his own transfigured self amidst its world.  Woman in the sense of a pot of dirt for the de-positing of the Seed is merely a pathway to inauthenticity, of the niche that merely defers creation to the future, to the next generation.  Zarathustra laments that Woman, this power of creation, has only been betrayed as Birds, Cats, and Cows.  These Goddesses cannot marry Zarathustra in order to produce a progeny of children, nor can they do his work for him in his project of becoming a Child.  As a creator, he must cultivate this womb of being in himself – Zarathustra, like Dionysus and Apollo, must learn and interpret these signs and crafts of Woman - Truth - of this utter enigma of Fertility and Creation - of the Goddesses – as indications of this event of transfiguration that is betrayed in this phenomenology of his own existence.

          Zarathustra says that women are birds and cats, or at best cows.  As this pertains to the theme of truth as a woman, and as this statement has been read by some as a repetition of Schopenhouser’s misogeny, it is necessary to examine the topoi to which these references point.  Indeed, Zarathustra’s characterization suggests a genealogy of these types.  For instance, Isis and Maat, depicted as birds were Ancient Egyptian Goddesses of Life, Justice and Thought – Woman as Harmony.  Moon, their Sister, is the great practitioner of Balance for Life on the Earth.  The Sphinx is Woman as Riddle – she is a Cat, a question.  She is the Questioner, the Lion.  Hathor, and Nut – the Cows – are Woman as Surface – Givers of All that which is.  Zarathustra wishes to become a Child.  He sees in himself the Bird – Isis or Maat – the mother of Horus or Maat, the goddess of philosophy… Minerva is also a Woman - the camel that would bear much –– to the Lion, this Sphinx, who will place a Question – the cat, the Sphinx, Apollo in Drag, a Riddle, over these protocols of existence.  Woman at her best is the Cow, the Giver of All that which is – as She intimates the Child.  Her breasts give the milk for the stars in the sky, for the mouths of the Children.  Yet, even at her best, as the Cow which chews its cud and pretends to instantly forget, modest in her awesome creation, she is merely portrayed as that which serves – she is not credited with the creation of the child.  She is seen, tasted, touched many-one-sided, held aloft on a pedestal, her legs in stirrups, away from her untruth and ugliness – from existent interactions with men, from sex, menstruation, the pain and filth of birth - a woman should be pretty. 

Zarathustra would suggest that compared to this, men, as they are, are insufficient enough to dismiss as potential peers with whom to become equal.  These men are Last Men.  The happy, blinking last man nods his head at the latest slaughter, genocide, omnicide - hidden beneath the skin of a pale criminal, there is no blood.  He needs blood to live, this everlasting sacrifice at the Temple of the Last Man – Robbery, Oil, Gold, Gems, Drugs, Whores – these are only his alibis.  The Last Man is a Vampire, a cannibal – he consumes the Blood and Flesh of Life - wishing that his consumption could eternally remain the same - each blink affirms his own narcissistic solipsism.  He laments his inexorable demise and drowns himself in narcotics, prisons, production and wars.  However, in this dispersion, Woman, however suppressed, distorted, exhibits only traces of that creative act.  We seek truth… we seek Woman.  But, we must, therefore, seek the Overwoman.

          The Overwoman is that which transcends Woman as servile, one-sided, surface, flower-pot, pretty.  Zarathustra has never found a Woman with whom he loved enough to have children – he loves Eternity.  Zarathustra will never give birth to the Overman in any kind of biological manner.  He does not have the parts.  Nor is he of the “normal” age.  He seeks the Child, but they want to lock him up in an old folks home.  Zarathustra has a long gray beard – he is an old man of the mountain, alarmed by the rising waters of despair which threaten his domain.  He is afflicted by the creeping nausea and suffocation from the bad air of the Higher Men.  Zarathustra, in the absence of a final act, could become an old man upon the sea who consumes his highest desire, his great fish, to return to dry land with only a broken skeleton to show for it.  Yet, it is not mere survival which Zarathustra attempts - he is not a creature of lament , nostalgia, despair - of suicide.  Zarathustra will cross over the bridge in his attempt at the most difficult.  He (if he found a She) may never give birth to an Overman at all. 

Zarathustra is not a midwife as was Socrates.  The latter wished to allow the traveler to overcome the sickness of this Life - death being the antidote.  Sacrifice a cock before the dawn.  One must choose death in the face of the Laws – these are the repositories of the Divine in this Life, they are our city walls.  Life itself is of no value.  It is merely a detour, an insurrection against nothingness – a revolt that has failed. For Socrates, the insurrection has failed in that Life itself has been exposed as untruth. [Jesus] and Mohammed, even Siddhartha, concur with Socrates as the ultimate value of Life.  Yet, Zarathustra resists these Teachers.  He instead attempts the most difficult in his affirmation of Life – and calls the bluff of the great Sages, these Higher Men by laughing at their scenarios of escape and denial.  Zarathustra will live it all again – eternally to recur as the Same, but he seeks to complete the ending.  An affirmation, though tainted by his own genealogy, involves a final act – an event of affirmation which retrieves – discovers and invents a meaning for the haphazard and chance operations of his own earthly – mortal – life.  As he stands beneath the firmament of stars, standing as his self amidst Eternity, the bad air of the Higher Men, who have also been called, is blown away by the Winds of the Open.  The final act of Zarathustra is a being lifted up and shown by eternity the abyss which surges underneath.  The goddess Alethea infiltrates the soul of Zarathustra, inscribing the primal incantations for Childbirth.  Zarathustra dreads that which he glimpses, he chokes with nausea upon the snake which eats its own tail.  He is not to be swept up in a scenario of return which gives him a ready-made meaning of life.  Truth is not to serve, to be servile.  The truth, as with the goddess of Childbirth, Alethea, must be dis-covered, earthed – it is a painful process, a struggle to get out into the Open, into the Light.  This moment of affirmation is intimated in the final sentences of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  He has left the cave and stands amidst those whom he called into the Open – yet, he stands alone amidst Eternity.  He has castigated the Higher man and his face has turned to bronze.  The time of pity for the Higher Man has ended.  Zarathustra is not concerned with happiness, with the long life of the Last Man – he is neither, therefore concerned with suffering.  He declares that he is concerned only with his work, with his creation.  He affirms all, without saying, “Yea!”

Well then!  The lion came, my children are near.  Zarathustra has ripened, my hour has come: this is my morning, my day is breaking: rise now, rise, thou great  noon![42]

 

 In his dream at Noon, the world becomes perfect - just now - Zarathustra  is a grape, golden, bronze – ripe for the festival of his strange soul. She – eternity - spins the web that will tie together his great affirmation – Penelope’s Web which brings Odysseus back home.  She beckons his soul to lie amid leaves of grass, overflowing with happiness, but chastened not to sing and laugh at this Stillest Hour.  The world has become perfect.  She drinks from the ripe golden wine, Zarathustra becomes drunk, ensnared in the web of Sleep, the goddess who put Zeus to sleep at the bidding of Hera during the Trojan War.  The last temptation of Zarathustra is not his pity for the Higher Men, but of - his own falling asleep amidst this event of affirmation.  Zarathustra resists drinking from the waters of Lethe.  He invites the pain of his task of wakefulness.  But, he is tempted to sleep. 

Nietzsche exalts the dice throw of Chance.  It is the Overman, the Child, who can affirm this Chance, this intricate enigma of Life, beyond God and gods – towards that which we all share.  This Child is born through the birth traumas of a Revaluation of All Values.  Amidst the metamorphoses of the Camel into the Lion, and the Lion into the Child, there is myriad unclarity and indistinctness.  The camel is cast aside as the ring-bearer of tradition, of the old law tablets.  The Lion, amidst the revaluation, destroys, but is not yet aware of his own inadvertent creations, he will never be aware.  It is the Child who is born into the topos which is the last gift of the Lion.  The Child picks up the blind creations of the Lion and meets these as found objects, beings of wonder, of innocence.  The Child affirms new values in innocence, finally free of the “against” of the Lion.  Zarathustra is inseminated by Eternity, by the Overwoman - he abides, struggles, endures with this goddess of childbirth, alethea, his midwife, in his final act of self-overcoming, giving birth to his Children.  In an alchemical sense, Zarathustra, through his affirmation, gives birth to himself.      

          Eternity rends this dread curtain, inaugurates this marriage of light and darkness.  Zarathustra mates with Eternity.  She shoots lightning out from a dark cloud - flying off this edge of that precipice, off that cliff of the mountain.  Zarathustra receives this lightning, he is inseminated by it as a tree on the mountainside.  She disseminates her truth into him, and, with chaos in his heart, he gives birth to dancing stars.  Zarathustra gives birth to himself.  Eternity – Overwoman - is the Semen for this new creation.  She flashes herself – her lightning casts this existence into relief – beckons this pregnancy and childbirth of Zarathustra.  Children grow and dance amidst this All - laughter, sorrow, anguish, joy, and more laughter…  Zarathustra plays with his Children…

 

 



[1] German Conservatives launched an unsuccessful campaign in 1894-95 to ban the works of Nietzssche as subversive. 

[2] Since its publication, the work itself has traveled a rather crooked path, being a cult classic for the likes of Stephen George, the ‘Nietzscheans’ of the Dreyfus Affair, a companion to German soldiers, a manifesto for post-structuralist philosophy, and a text of the death of god movement in theology.  To this day, the work is still homeless as it sets in an uneasy relation to not only the dominant philosophy of our era, but also to religious,  theological, and literary studies.  Indeed, it could be suggested that its style and content exhibits an ambiguity that challenges our clear and distinct divisions of intellectual labor.   

[3] For a detailed investigation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a serious philosophy work, please see Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Before Sunrise, Ed. by James Luchte, New York and London: Continuum International Publishing, 2008.

[4] It is well-known that Nietzsche chose Zarathustra, in one instance, since, as a historical and mythological figure, the latter is attributed with the original articulation of the severance of good and evil.  For even though we can retrospectively witness the ossification and nihility of his progeny, his act was that of a creator – even if only a creator of nothingness.  We can begin to understand the significance of his choice if we consider, for instance, Beyond Good and Evil[4] or of the ranting of the madman, in the Gay Science,[4] that “God is dead!” – these texts seek neither a mere repetition of the teachings of the “Old Wise Man”,[4]  nor a project to resurrect or retrieve an originary oneness or unity prior to the beginning of duality. 

[5] Nietzsche, Friedrich. Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is, translated by R.J. Hollingdale, Penguin, 1979.  The old sin against the regime of guilt is pride, self-love – vanity.  Yet, such brings light, it discloses the terrible truth of innocence. “God is a crude answer, a piece of indelicacy against us thinkers – fundamentally even a crude prohibition to us: you shall not think!”

[6] This indication of topos is indebted to Reiner Schürmann’s statement, “[My philosophy of] Anarchic Praxis: this is the topos where the man Martin Heidegger undoubtedly would not so much have liked to see himself led.”  Heidegger: On Being and Acting, From Principles to Anarchy, Indiana University Press, 1990, p. 293.

[7]  Zarathustra, Part Three, ‘The Other Dancing Song.”

[8] Levinas, Emmanuel.  Otherwise Than Being, or Beyond Essence, translated by Alphonso Lingus, Duquesne University Press, 1998.

[9] Foucault, Michel.  Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, translated by Alan Sheridan, Vintage Books, 1979.

[10] Bataille, Georges.  On Nietzsche, Paragon House, 1994.

[11] Iriguray, Luce.  Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Gillian C. Gill, Columbia University Press, 1993.

[12] For an extended exploration of the philosophical context for Nietzsche’s use of poetry, see Luchte, J. (2007) ‘Wreckage of Stars: Nietzsche and the Ecstasy of Poetry’, Hyperion, Nietzsche Circle,  http://www.nietzschecircle.com/essayArchive8.html

[13] There is a long development from Nietzsche’s earliest writing to his latest which traces a poetic and artistic thread, that is, from his earliest poems to his last “mad” (is it as mad as Hugo Ball?) scribbling – and including all that emerged in-between.  We can trace this thread from one of his first poems (1858) “Birthday”, through to “On Truth and Lying in the Extra-Moral Sense,” again through The Birth of Tragedy, and in light of the period of reflection and experimentation in Human all too human, Daybreak and the Gay Science, the emergence of Zarathustra as a work of philosophical (and historiographical) creativity in Zarathustra.  Of course, our thread continues into his subsequent works, but never in a similar manner as Zarathustra, except, of course, in his poetry, but indeed, on a lesser scale. 

[14]  Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated by Walter Kaufman, Penguin, p. 127.   It is well known that Nietzsche also – or primarily, as some may contend – wrote poetry – and composed music.  Indeed, with a reading of his poetry, we find that it is indeed a hidden garden, mountains and desert, of his entire work.  While one could describe his aphoristic writings, as they were etched into notebooks in the Alps during walking trips, as a typology of poetic writing, Nietzsche has left a labial body of poetic work which lies far beyond the domain of philosophy, both Ancient and Modern – or, at least since Philolaus and Plato.   Never abandoning the original kinship of poetry and philosophy as offspring of poiesis, Nietzsche includes poetry in most of his major works – never however disclosing the wellspring of his hidden poetic enterprise.  Indeed, it is his poetry which may provide the clues to his broader thematic directions and pre-occupations – his work is not organized according to logical and analytical criteria – but, as indicated, by a poetic topology. 

It is noteworthy that Nietzsche to some extent seeks to hide the lowly origins of his work – his selection procedure is well known – as is the constructed character of his works. Nietzsche hides his own depth via a strategy of limited revelation.  He does include poetry in his works – but not all of his poetry, some of which stands as a counterpoise to Nietzsche’s self-portraiture as a hard man – a Radical Aristocrat.  For instance, there are many instances of grief and sadness, of tears and anguish, of suicidal despair, which rarely surface in the published works – or at least, only in Zarathustra.  His poem about his father’s death, The Homecoming, while intimating the death of God, is far from the laughter and dancing of a festival celebrating a marriage of light and darkness.  It resembles more closely the rantings of the Madman or the Soothsayer, of a passionate, anguished soul.  At the same time, however, not all is hidden – even Nietzsche’s musical composition and song writing have always been well known – though seldom heard.  Despite Nietzsche’s secretiveness, it is simple to apprehend that his poems, such as the Dionysian Dithyrambs and Wit, Tricks, and Revenge, provide the lost horizons and contours – indeed - the birthplace, of Nietzsche’s philosophy.  For a complete English translation of Nietzsche’s poetry, cf. The Peacock and the Buffalo: the Poetry of Nietzsche.

[15] Cf. Mao Tse-Tung, On Protracted War, Foreign Language Press, Peking, 1967.

[16]  Vendîdâd. (The Zend-Avesta, vol. 1 of 3), translated by James Darmesteter, Sacred Books of the East, volume 4, Clarendon Press, 1880.

[17]  Zarathustra, “On Apostates”, p. 290.

[18]  Zarathustra, “On Apostates”, p. 290.

[19] Foucault, M. The Archeology of Knowledge, Routledge, 1989.

[20] Derrida, J. “Declarations of Independence,” New Political Science, 15, 1986, pp. 7-15.

[21] Janicaud, Dominique, “Metamorphosis of the Undecidable”, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal,  Vol. 13, No. 1.  

[22]  Derrida, J. “Force of Law: ‘The Mystical Foundation of Authority.’” Cardozo Law Review: Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice, 11:5-6, 1990, pp. 920-1045.

[23] Zarathustra, “The Pale Criminal”.

[24] Miranda, José Porfirio.  Marx and the Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression, translated by John Eagleson, Orbis Books, 1974.  

[25] Savinio, Alberto.  “Psyche”, The Lives of the Gods, Atlas Books, 1995.  

[26] Bataille, Georges.  The Absence of Myth: Writings on Surrealism, edited by Michael Richardson, Verso, 1994.    

[27] Heidegger, Martin. “The Origin of the Work of Art,” Poetry, Language, Thought, Harper & Row, 1975.

[28] Schürmann, Reiner.  Heidegger on Being and Acting: From Principles to Anarchy, Indiana University Press, 1987.  He writes: “When questions are raised about principles, the network of exchange that they have opened becomes confused, and the order that they have founded declines. A principle has its rise, a period of reign, and its ruin. Its death usually takes disproportionately more time than its reign.”

[29] Heidegger, Martin. Basic Writings, revised edition, edited by David. Krell, Harper, 1993.

[30] Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated by Walter Kaufman, Penguin, p. 300.

[31] Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated by Walter Kaufman, Penguin, p. 115.

[32] Nietzsche, Friedrich.  The Will to Power, translated by Walter Kaufman, Vintage Books, 1967.

[33]  Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated by Walter Kaufman, Penguin, p. 17.

[34]  Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, translated by R. J. Hollingdale, Penguin, 1988, p. 14.

[35]  Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated by Walter Kaufman, Penguin, p. 42.

[36]  This refers to my conclusion to this essay.

[37]  Wagner is not the Overman.  Nor are any of his creatures.  Wagner may have promised the possibility of a higher man, or even of a Lion, in his extravagant rebellions throughout the 1848 struggles and amid the cultural war that was inaugurated by these events.  Yet, in the end, he becomes, with Parsifal, the camel, or perhaps, an ass who had once been a man, but who is bewitched – in any case, a mere beast of burden in the project of nihilism.  Wagner fails to be a laughing lion.  He merely simulates this primal trauma and repetition, only bears witness to that “catastrophic event”.  Wagner bears the burden of the trauma.  Wagner, in addition to his official status as a musician, is also a practitioner of sound effects, a soothsayer of the emotive soul, a king of sound scenarios, a magician of the noise of the everyday, and a pope of the aesthetics of power.  Yet, the Overman is a creator.  His music is not a composition, representation – it is not dramatic – it is a self-expression of life, an opening of possibility, a song and dance upon the earth.  It exhibits the intimacy and innocence of a child at play.  It is in this sense that the Overman is not a dramatic hero, whether it be of tragedy or comedy.  Neither the camel, nor the laughing lion can affirm the Dionysian power of life with the innocence of the child.  In each of these dramatic expressions, we find traces of the timely, of either a suppression of the will under the duty of obligatory self-immolation, or of a sublimation of the power of life under the agenda of historical and cultural destruction, i.e. “progress”, “enlightenment”, “New World Order”.  In both cases, the creative act becomes entangled within the strategic directives of the timely.  The unhistorical, this playspace (spielraum) of creation, is dragged down, back into the abyss of nihilism.  For the past is not just any past, not merely any historicity, but a specific history characterized by the dual trajectory of the One, of either a will to nothingness or a will to mere existence.  The past bleeds into the present, the future is our only hope.  Nietzsche is intimating a possibility, which is not merely a precursor to a Heideggerian retrieval of an authentic historicity, but one which seeks to diagnose a malady, which afflicts the will to power, this Dionysian power of life, which dissipates the possibility of new creation oriented to the future.  Unlike Heidegger, who Nietzsche might call a Preacher of Death, this future is that of the birth of Zarathustra’s children.  Nietzsche, by the writing of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, has already jettisoned his own earlier fixation upon the unique status of the Greeks as a counterpoise to the monotheistic assertion of what Kierkegaard condemned as ‘Christendom’.  Yet, the Dionysian persists as Nietzsche’s chosen metaphor for the power of life – but the totalitarian Apollo has been jettisoned - there is no longer the necessity of project, in Bataille’s sense, of a harnessing or immolation of life for a terrestrial or divine purpose.  Zarathustra preaches that humanity is in need of a goal, but this is not a goal of a world infatuated with the Otherworld.  In such a world, the farthest becomes a simple affirmation of that which truly is, of this earth. The farthest becomes the nearest.

[38] Blanchot, Maurice, The Step Not Beyond, translated by Lycette Nelson, SUNY, 1992. There is much muddy water in The Step Not Beyond which clouds a rough sketch of the esoteric dimension of eternal recurrence as affirmation.  It is precisely such a ‘temporality of return’, of repetition, that is unmasqued as a mere parody, simulacrum, ape, of the dominant narratives of the eschaton.  

[39] Heidegger, Martin.  Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson, Harper & Row, 1962.

[40]  Shelley, Percy Bysshe.  Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, W.W. Norton & Company, 2nd edition, 2002.

[41]  De Sade, Marquis.  Justine, or Good Conduct Well Chastised, translated by Richard Seaver & Austryn Wainhouse, Grove Weidenfeld, 1965.

[42]  Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Zarathustra: A Book for All and None, translated by Walter Kaufman, Penguin, p. 327.