Thursday, May 31, 2012

Transcendence In A New Key

Julian Young’s analysis of Thus Spoke Zarathustra provides several useful insights on what Nietzsche intended with his metaphorical work. Much of the book’s teaching is based on Nietzsche’s prior thinking about being a free spirit within common society. The town in which the tightrope walker has his encounter with the jester, for example, is called The Motley Cow.

“The Motley Cow ('motley' is the word Plato's Republic uses to describe and condemn the democratic state) is just Western modernity. 'Motley' signifies the semi-'barbarism' we have repeatedly seen ascribed to modernity by Nietzsche's cultural criticism. 'Cow', obviously, signifies that the town is inhabited by 'the herd'. That modernity is herd-like might seem inconsistent with motleyness, but I think that what Nietzsche has in mind is the capacity of politicians and the press to whip up mass hysteria...” (page 368)

“...the failure to produce creative free spirits will lead to the literal end of humanity - in the face, for example, of global warming. Free-spiritedness often ends in 'martyrdom' - which suggests that the jester may represent conventional opinion, surer of foot than the free spirit because it follows a path (a 'neutral pathway') it has trodden a thousand times before. The beginning of Zarathustra's ministry to the world thus begins in total disaster. But, it is, nonetheless, a learning experience for him.” (page 369)

Young stresses that much contained in the book is autobiographical, which – of course – is what makes it a philosophical work more than just a story.

'At one time Zarathustra too cast his delusion beyond the human, like all believers into a world behind (the veil of appearances). The work of a suffering and tortured god seemed to me then. A dream it seemed to me, and a fable of a god, colored smoke before the eyes of one divinely discontented.' But this other world is a 'heavenly nothing'. This accurate summary of The Birth of Tragedy makes clear how closely Zarathustra's spiritual development is modeled on Nietzsche's own. One major function of Zarathustra is, under the guise of fiction, to present Nietzsche's path of spiritual development as exemplary, to present his idealized self as an 'educator'. To be noted in this passage is the rejection of metaphysical idealism, showing, should there be any doubt, that Nietzsche still endorses the naturalistic presuppositions of the positivist period. 'Materialist' presuppositions indeed: 'soul', pronounces Zarathustra, 'is merely a word for something about the body'.” (pp. 370 - 371)

As autobiography, the work is marked by all of Nietzsche’s prejudices. There is no better example of this than the passages pertaining to women throughout the book. As I have said before, Nietzsche never understood women and this was a source of trouble for him all his life, even though he remained near women of higher education and quality, as we shall continue to see. While he was more “enlightened” and “progressive” than most Europeans during his lifetime, on the subject of women he remained impoverished and even spiteful.

Zarathustra addresses a 'little old woman'. Everything about women, he tells her, has pregnancy as a solution. A man should be brought up for war and the woman for the recreation of the warrior. The woman's task is to bring out the child in the man. The happiness of the man is 'I will', of a woman 'he wills'. Her world becomes 'perfect' when she obeys out of total love. The old woman replies with 'a little truth': 'You are going to woman? Then don't forget your whip'.

“This, of course, is the infamous 'whip' remark. There are two ways of interpreting the remark: one might take it that Nietzsche is encouraging sadistic behavior towards women or alternatively - particularly if one connects the remark with the 'whip' photograph taken in Basel - take it as a warning that, given half a chance, women will seek to gain the whip hand in any relationship, thereby upsetting the natural order of things. In either case, the message of the passage is a radical denial of the movement for female emancipation that was gathering force around him, a reactionary reaffirmation of the traditional repression of women.

“This is a very marked contrast between Nietzsche's empathetic stance towards the plight of women in nineteenth-century Europe in the pre-Lou period and this rising male chauvinism to the point, even by nineteenth-century standards, of caricature, this insulting slapping down of everything Lou (and Malwida) aspired to.

“Women attract Nietzsche because the erotic represents transcendence of the suffering individual (a la Tristan und Isolde), the 'intoxicated' absorption into a 'higher community' as described in The Birth of Tragedy.“ (page 373) 

“Part III, however, Nietzsche remains opposed to female emancipation: 'woman are becoming mannish,' he claims, because there is so little ‘manfulness’ in men - only a properly mannish man will 'redeem the woman in woman'. This still sounds pretty awful to modern ears. But it is embedded in an important and seriously philosophical thesis, the thesis we have already confronted that people are by nature different, so that the proper and most satisfying kind of life varies radically from one kind of individual to another, and possibly from one gender to the other.” (page 374)

Young correctly points out the subtle change in style between the first two parts of the work. This is an excellent example of how Nietzsche conceived of Zarathustra as being simultaneously philosophical prose and lyrical poetry.

“The most salient aspect of the 'new speech' which is said to distinguish Part II from Part I is the introduction of the 'songs' Zarathustra 'sings' as distinct from the speeches which he 'speaks'. These, it seems to me (remembering that Nietzsche sometimes thinks of Zarathustra as a musical work) can be taken as 'arias' which, rather than advancing the narrative or the matter of discussion, express Zarathustra's feelings as he proceeds along his path of spiritual development.” (page 378)

Once again, Nietzsche drives home the point that all the world’s religions, and particularly Christianity, serve to direct the focus of the human being in the wrong direction, leading to an incorrect attitude toward life on this Earth. Life is for affirmation not for looking outside of oneself for answers to pointless questions of meaning and guilt.

“Christianity, as well as most other world religions, think of 'salvation', whether of the individual or the world, as a blissful state which brings history, in at least the ordinary sense, to an end. But suppose that we can find salvation in life. Suppose we can 'redeem', turn to 'gold', everything painful and problematic that has happened? Then our world is already 'perfect', 'salvation' has been achieved, and we have no need for any other kind of salvation. The kingdom of heaven is here and now, so that we have no need of a kingdom somewhere else and in the future.” (page 380 - 381)

“Zarathustra offers us, as it were, transcendence in a new key. Lou Salomé described this as Nietzsche's 'unequivocal plunge into the eternal riddle of mysticism'. But though on the right lines, the implication that Dionysian transcendence takes us beyond, or even against, reason is, I think, mistaken. For Nietzsche's soberly rational philosophizing, too, tells us that, from an ultimate point of view, individuality is an illusion. If, as we have seen on numerous occasions, the everyday 'self' thinks that it acts and is 'responsible' for those actions, then it is deluded. What is really responsible for 'my' actions, in a world completely 'knotted together' by cause and effect, is the total casual history of the world, and from this it follows that the enlightenment use of the 'I' is to apply it to that total history.” (page 381 - 382)

“If I am the passionate life-affirmer Nietzsche wants me to be then the last thing I want to do is die. (No one wants to abandon a terrific party that is still in full swing.) For the healthy life-affirmer, one's own death can never turnout 'for the best'. For the unhappy life-denier, of course, death may well be the best, but for him there are a myriad of other obstacles to affirming the circle. Death, then, is the fly in the ointment: because of the omnipresent 'shadow' of death the circle cannot be affirmed from the ordinary perspective but demands the extra-ordinary: transcendence to identification with the totality. From that point of view the situation is transformed: the death of that individual I once thought I was appears, now, as a triviality. And a necessity, too, since I see that the death of the old is a prerequisite for the birth of the new.” (page 382)

As I have previously posted, Nietzsche conceived Part Four as an afterthought. But, more than that, he was hesitant about even publishing it with the rest of the work.

“By 1886, however, his letters make clear that he genuinely did not want to publish Part IV: on account of its extremely blasphemous nature, he feared 'the police' and the possible loss of his pension. As well as gratuitously offending people like his mother, Part IV, he feared, might result in banning the whole of Zarathustra.” (page 383)

Nevertheless, Young argues that Part Four truly rounds out and properly completes the overall work. Once again, this is a metaphorical expression of Nietzsche’s personal spiritual and philosophical development.

“There is a pleasing symmetry to the work. Wandering around in the vicinity of his cave the by now white-haired Zarathustra meets eight 'higher men' – presumably candidates for the status of being the 'the free spirits' for whom Nietzsche's books have been written - and invites all of them to a feast in his cave. Though they turn out to fall short of his high expectations, they are, nonetheless, all genuinely 'higher' than the flea-sized rabble of modernity's 'last men'.

“Fairly clearly, these are all aspects of Nietzsche's own personality and history. To the extent Zarathustra finds the higher man 'not high enough', they represent aspects of his life and personality Nietzsche now regards himself as having 'overcome': he was Schopenhauerian, he ranted and raved against modernity, he was a scholar of meaningless philological minutia, he was a Wagnerian, he was forced to give up God by Christian truthfulness. He lived a life of voluntary poverty, he has many 'ugly' parts to his soul, manifested especially in the Salomé affair, and he was, in his positivist period, a Wanderer and a shadow of his former self.” (page 384)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rules that Serve the Art of Life

Lest we think that Nietzsche was so caught up with Becoming in the Now that he left himself ungrounded, Rudiger Safranski, as usual, offers an insightful but less considered influence during this period.  Nietzsche teaches "be truthful to the earth".  By this he means that metaphysics has its basis in tangible biology.

“The metaphorical style of presentation in Zarathustra only hints at its biological contents.  In his notebooks from the period of Zarathustra, Nietzsche was more forthright.  He wrote that the 'goal' was the ‘evolution of the entire body and not just the brain’.  Overt references to the specifics of the physical evolution of man would have been ill-suited to the pathos of Zarathustra's speeches.  Ought Zarathustra to have said something about, for instance, the quantity of hair, musculature, arm length, or head size of the Übermensch?  This would have been unintentionally comical.  In matters concerning the physical appearance of the Übermensch, Zarathustra confined himself to this advice for those contemplating marriage: ‘Do not reproduce yourself, but rather produce upward!  May the garden of marriage help you do this.’" (page 261)

“Nietzsche retained two basic Darwinian ideas: the theory of development in the specific arena of the theory of evolution, and the idea of the struggle for existence as a driving force of evolutionary development.  Of course, he interpreted the struggle for existence not as a fight to survive but as a fight to overpower.” (page 266)
The will to power, as the central energy at work in the world, affords the Übermensch a incomparable degree of human freedom, one that is inevitably frowned upon (if it is known) by the herd culture of human commonality.  “The Übermensch himself furnishes the law of action, which is therefore an individual law beyond traditional morality.  Traditional morality serves to keep the ordinary person in check, but can only stand in the way of an Übermensch.

“Hence the Übermensch also becomes a great player who abides only by the rules he has set for himself.  He will not, however, keep on playing to the point of exhaustion or boredom.  One feature of the sovereignty of an Übermensch is the strength to break off the game.  Those who decide when to break off the game are the ones who wield the power.  The Übermensch is this sort of powerful player.  Although he may join in the game we call morality for a specific period of time, he does so with loose restrictions.  For him there is no categorical imperatives, which strike a weak subject's conscience like lightning, but only rules that serve the art of life.  An Übermensch is also able powerfully to play out the urges and goes that are normally called 'evil'.  But they cannot be crude; they must be refined.  The Übermensch should appropriate the entire spectrum of human vitality in a formative way.” (pp 265-266)
“The Übermensch represents a higher biological type and could be the product of deliberate breeding.  However, he can also function as an ideal for anyone who wishes to gain power over himself and cultivate his 'virtues,' anyone who is creative and knows the whole spectrum of the human capacity for thought, fantasy, and imagination.  Nietzsche's Übermensch is the consummate realization of human potential and, in this sense, is also a response to the 'death of God.'” (page 271)

But, according to Safranski, this wielding of intimate power is not dictatorial in nature.  On the contrary, a better understanding of it would involve becoming more child-like. “His Zarathustra wishes to be like the sun, radiating light and pleasure.  He comes across as a benevolent man.  A doctrine of joie de vivre might sound effortless in the abstract, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in reality.  It would entail restoring childlike spontaneity or, to put it in philosophical terms, mediated immediacy. 

"Zarathustra uses graphic imagery to convey the idea in the speech 'On the Three Metamorphoses'.  The initial stage of this process takes the form of a 'camel,' burdened with a plethora of "Thou shalts".  The camel turned into a 'lion,' who fights the whole world of "Thou shalts" once he has discovered his 'I want,' but, because he fights, he is bound to the 'Thou shalt' in the negative sense.  His ability to exist is consumed in an urgent need to rebel.  There is too much spite and tension in this 'I want,' and the true leisure of creative volition is still lacking.  A sense of self and fullness of life have yet to be achieved.  These attributes are possible only when one becomes a child again and regains one's initial childlike spontaneity toward life on a new level: 'The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a wheel that moves on its own, a first movement, a holy pronouncement of 'yes'.”(page 277)
“The 'Übermensch,' 'eternal recurrence,' and the 'will to power' form the triad of doctrines in Zarathustra.  The 'will to power' is first mentioned in Zarathustra's speech on self-transcendence.  The ideas developed in this speech are introduced by three songs immediately preceding it: 'The Night Song,' 'The Dancing Song,' and 'The Tomb Song'. These songs explore the relationship between life and love, and point up the dire aspects of self-referentiality in loving.  'The Night Song' includes a graphic illustration: 'But I live in my own light; I drink the flames back into me as they break out of me'.  In 'The Dancing Song,' Zarathustra comes across a bevy of dancing girls.  He wants to dance with them, even though the 'spirit of gravity' holds him back, but the 'little god' stirs within him as well.  This 'little god' is a satyr, a Pan who wants to move and is on the hunt for 'butterflies.'  Zarathustra does want to dance, but in his self-referentiality he muses about dancing instead of simply dancing." (page 279)

“As the progression from night song to dancing song to tomb song demonstrates, there is a rebirth from the grave of suffocating depression, induced by the memory of creative power that is inherent in us but manages to slip away and must therefore be seized deliberately and boldly.  There is obviously no endeavor that could or should be activated without the 'will to...'” (page 281)
“The will to power inheres not only in the inorganic and organic world but also in the process of knowledge itself.  Knowledge is an expression of the will to power.  'You want to bring all being to be point of being thinkable: because you doubt, with good reason for your doubts, whether it is already thinkable'.  Hence there is a hermeneutical circle of the knowledge of power: the will to power in knowledge discovers the will to power in the world as we know it.” (pp. 282-283)

Curtis Cate reminds us that Nietzsche’s idea of the will to power is actually a refinement of something Arthur Schopenhauer taught.  "At the center of Schopenhauer's conception of the world was the notion that in all forms of organic life a kind of cosmic life-force of Will is at work, primarily intended to assure (through procreation) the survival of the species.  Giving this basic concept a new, fateful twist, Nietzsche now substituted 'the struggle for mastery' for the 'struggle for survival'.  Even in the act of procreation there is an element of domination and an element of submission.  (When unwilling and resisted, the act is known as 'rape'.). And what is true of the sexual act is, no matter what the 'moralists' might claim, true of all human relations.  Human beings do not approach each other in a purely passive or neutral spirit.  Instinctively, and most of the time unconsciously, each individual, whether male or female, nitrites to size up 'the other' in an effort to determine if and in what way he or she might be superior or inferior.”  (page 421)
Though Zarathustra’s proclamations are always authoritative, Cate points out that Nietzsche developed the central ideas of the work with difficulty and uncertainty. “As a holy subjective confession of Nietzsche's philosophical doubts, torments and aspirations, the third volume was in many places as eloquent as the second part.  But towards the end the tragic Pathos clearly got the better of sober Reason.  To the extent that there is something inescapably pathetic about all forms of Dionysian exuberance - not for nothing in ancient Greek mythology was Dionysus a suffering god who was torn to pieces (before being reconstituted by his earth-goddess of a grandmother), as we're his devotees, the maenads - it can be said that the 'grand finale' of the Zarathustra 'symphony' was quintessentially Dionysian, rather Apollonian, even though it was intended to be a powerful affirmation of Nietzsche's positive, anti-Schopenhauerian, ja-sagend attitude to life and the cosmos.  The result, in any case, was something unique in the history of modern philosophy: a prose poem rising and descending to lyrical heights and depths, full of anger and sweetness, light and somber darkness, joyful gaiety and sadness.

“Almost all of Nietzsche's favorite themes were at one point or another reiterated, sometimes in trenchant phrases calmly stolen from the Bible and refashioned.  Thus, for example, as Zarathustra in the opening chapter ('The Wanderer') climbs the mountain from which he wants to view the sea and the ship that is to carry him to the 'blessed isles' (of philosophical serenity) - this being in the deeper sense his 'road to greatness' - he reflects: 'He who had always spared himself much will in the end grow sickly from too much self-sparing.  Praised be that which hardens!  I do not praise the land where butter and honey flow!'  This was a restatement, in more poetic form, of Nietzsche's 'resistentialist' conviction that where everything is easy, where there are no obstacles, where there is no resistance, nothing but mediocrity can result." (pp.437-438)
Nietzsche reacted to much of Schopenhauer’s influence from various Hindu traditions recently made known to European society.  “This conception of the world as an unending cycle was no invention of Nietzsche's, even if the 'abysmal' inexorably of this thought had occurred to him one day as he was walking along the edge of the Sils lake near Sils-Maria.  It was a reiteration in his own words of the age-old wisdom of Hindu India - according to which no living being dies, but through a process of karma is doomed to be reborn in a never-ending cycle of reincarnation.  For, from in the inexorably turning Wheel of Life there is no escape, save for those - the Brahmans, the supremely wise and righteous - whose souls are at long last blissfully dissolved into the all-embracing Spirit-of-the-Universe of Brahma.  This was the pessimistic view of life which his old Pforta schoolmate Paul Deussen seemed to have adopted and justified in his book on the Vedanta teachings; and it was precisely this kind of Schopenhauer pessimism - for Schopenhauer too had felt a weakness for Hinduism - that Nietzsche was most determined to combat.

“This explains Zarathustra's 'smiling anger' and his rebuke to his will-meaning animals, likened to 'joking fools and barrel-organs' grinding out the same old hackneyed themes and refrains.  The truths that his animals were mouthing we're no more than half-truths, and it was what was not said that was deeper, more disturbing, more 'abysmal'.  For the hideous truth that Zarathustra had so far stifled, which he had been unwilling to pronounce when coaxed and challenged by his voiceless 'it' in the 'Stillest hour' conclusion of the second volume, the ghastly truth that had crawled into his mouth and throat like a black serpent, and which, like the tormented Shepherd of his nightmarish vision, he had with difficulty bitten and spat out, was not simply the depressing notion that Life is an eternal repetition, and eternal recurrence of what had happened before, but that this repetition brings with it the eternal recurrence and reappearance on earth of those whom, in Zarathustra I, the poet-prophet had called the 'superfluous ones' (a term Nietzsche had prudently avoided in the next two books):  which is to say - mediocre human beings.  Man, St. Augustine had proclaimed, was born with a stigma, the stigma of original sin, for which he must atone and strive to overcome for all his life on earth.  Rousseau had brashly tried to claim the opposite: that Man, uncontaminated by the evils of social coexistence, is born free and good.  Both of them were wrong, for Man in the collective aggregate was above all born - mediocre.  (pp. 443 - 444)
This growing sense of the mediocrity of ‘the herd’ apparently began to feel like a uninspiring weight upon Fritz in his daily life.  It was during these years of writing Zarathustra and working on more extensive ideas in his notebooks that Fritz began to feel increasingly isolated from and grew less-tolerant of mundane society.  “He sought refuge in self-discovery and self-invention and now felt open to attack from all sides.  He was always friendly, but vulnerable to any indications of chumminess on the part of others.  He was offended when people saw him as one of them.  Hatred festered toward everything that had dragged him down: the milieu of Naumburg, his family, his sister, his mother, ultimately his friends as well - and, of course, Wagner.  All of them had failed to understand him, but felt they had a right to his friendliness and compassion.  No one treated him in a manner befitting his station in life.  During his Zarathustra period, he was exquisitely sensitive to remarks he considered insulting.” (Safranski, page 270)

The self-absorbed isolation and sensitivity would become much more pronounced in the final sane years of Nietzsche's life.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Reality is 'becoming' and never is..."

Even though, in my opinion, the Ubermensch and self-overcoming take center stage in Zarathustra, R. J. Hollingdale stresses the underlying importance of will to power and eternal recurrence throughout the work. “Between The Gay Science and Thus Spoke Zarathustra Nietzsche arrived at the hypothesis that all actions are motivated by the desire for power. Employing Schopenhauer's terminology he called this principle the 'will to power', and by means of it he now tried to give a picture of a possible reality deprived of all metaphysical support.

“The will to power is introduced in the chapter called 'Of the Thousand and One Goals': hitherto there have been many peoples, consequently many 'goals' - i.e. moralities; the reason each people has had its own morality is that morality is will to power - not only power over others but more essentially power over oneself.” (
Hollingdale, page 158)

This is echoed by
Walter Kaufmann: “Nietzsche first speaks of the 'will to power' in the chapter 'On the Thousand and One Goals.' The chapter begins with moral relativism. Different nations have - this is the meaning of the title - different goals and moral codes. All of these, however, have one thing in common: they are creations of the will to power.

“Nietzsche's difference with those who would rationalize the valuations of their own society is apparent. Against them he urges moral relativism, and - lacking any revelation - he cannot a priori assert the superiority of the values of his own society; nor can he judge, or even compare, the values of different societies unless they have something in common. Against relativists, however, Nietzsche urges that there is a common element that makes possible comparative judgments of value about the moral codes of various societies.

“'A table of virtues hangs over every people. Behold, it is a table of its overcomings; behold, it is the voice of its will to power. Praiseworthy is whatever seems difficult to a people; whatever seems indisputable and difficult is called good; and...the rarest, the most difficult - that they call holy.'

“The will to power is thus introduced as the will to overcome oneself. That this is no accident is certain. The will to power is not mentioned again until much later - and then at length - in the chapter 'On Self-Overcoming.' After that it is mentioned only once more in Zarathustra. The will to power is conceived of as the will to overcome oneself.” (Kaufmann, page 200)

Once again, Nietzsche is bold and outlandish with much that he proclaims. His intent is often to shock his readers. He prefers ‘evil’ over ‘weakness’, for example, in a theme that he will develop further in his later philosophy. “Great wickedness, even, is preferable to weakness, because it gives ground for hope: where there is great crime there is also great energy, great will to power, consequently the possibility of 'self-overcoming'. One has misunderstood Nietzsche completely unless one realizes that he visualized the over-coming of self as the most difficult of all tasks, as well as the most desirable; that he considered the will to power to be the only drive alive in man; that a strong but ungoverned will to power was needed for the hardest task; and that therefore the man of strong but ungoverned will to power was preferable to the man whose power was weak, although the former is certainly more 'dangerous'." (Hollingdale, page 162)

It should be stressed, however, that even though Nietzsche takes this position, this does not make him an advocate for ‘evil’. Kaufmann clarifies: “Nietzsche was not primarily a moral philosopher at all. He called himself an 'immoralist' - but did not praise 'immoral' deeds. He was concerned with the artist, the philosopher, and those who achieve self-perfection - the last having taken the place of the saint. Particular actions seemed much less important to Nietzsche than the state of being of the whole man - and those who achieve self-perfection and affirm their own being and all eternity, backward and forward, have no thought of the morrow. They want an eternal recurrence out of the fullness of their delight in the moment. They do not deliberate how they should act to avoid unpleasant consequences - knowing all the while that whatever they are about to do has already been done an infinite number of times in the past.” (page 322)

“All creatures desire power but only man is able to desire power over himself; only man has the requisite amount of power to achieve self-mastery. The distinction between man and animal, obliterated by Darwin, is restored - and without recourse to the supernatural; moral values, deprived of divine sanction, now received a new, naturalistic sanction: quanta of power; human psychology is now understood in terms of power; 'good' is now understood as sublimated 'evil', the evil and the good passions being essentially the same, i.e. will to power. All men desire happiness because all desire the feeling of increased power; the greatest increase of power brings the greatest happiness; that which demands the greatest power in the overcoming of oneself; the happiest man is the man who has overcome himself - the superman.” (Hollingdale, pp. 162-163)

Perhaps Kaufmann gives us the best definitions of what Nietzsche actually meant by ‘will to power.’ “...the will to power is a thriving that cannot be accurately described either as a will to affect others or as a will to 'realize' oneself; it is essentially a striving to transcend and perfect oneself. Nietzsche's opposition to the conception of a will to live or of a desire for self-preservation is due to this insistence that nothing that is alive is sufficient unto itself.” (page 248)

“...the will to power is essentially a creative force. The powerful man is the creative man; but the creator is not likely to abide by previously established laws. A genuinely creative act contains its own norms, and every creation is a creation of new norms. The great artist does not stick to any established code; yet his work is not lawless but has structure and form.” (page 250)

So, Nietzsche is concerned with “the state of being of the whole man” and with the “creative” and “self-overcoming” qualities of the will to power. This is the basis for Nietzsche’s “new religion.” “...he came to see in his thirties that the 'death of God' meant that a new description of reality was called for in which the metaphysical world could find no place. In his forties he put forward three hypotheses which, whether he intended it or not, offered naturalistic substitutes for God, divine grace and eternal life: instead of God, the superman; instead of divine grace, the will to power; and instead of eternal life - the eternal recurrence.” (Hollingdale, page 164)

"The premise behind the eternal recurrence is that the metaphysical world is an 'idea' belonging to the phenomenal world; i.e. does not exist: appearance is reality; when we deduct everything that can be called appearance we have nothing left over; consequently there can be no 'breakthrough' to another 'level' of reality - such expressions have no meaning, for however 'deep' we go we cannot get out of the world of phenomena.

“From this thought to the thought that everything is repetition is a short step. To speak of a 'timeless world' is merely to use the characteristically negative language of metaphysics: the 'metaphysical world' is simply the negation of the actual world; the actual world exists in time, therefore one of the attributes of the metaphysical world must be timelessness (just as it is 'disembodied', i.e. spaceless). If we can never break out of the reality we perceive, then we are bound to a reality one of whose attributes is time; i.e. time is not an 'illusion' masking a 'timeless reality'. Another of the attributes of the reality to which we are bound is 'becoming', reality is 'becoming' and never is. Since reality 'becomes' in time, if a final state were possible it would have been achieved a long time ago; but empirically this is not so.” (Hollingdale, pp. 165-166)

Kaufmann makes an important distinction that eternal recurrence should be related to as more existential than rational. “...the eternal recurrence was to Nietzsche less an idea than an experience - the supreme experience of a life unusually rich in suffering, pain, and agony. He made much of the moment when he first had this experience because to him it was the moment that redeemed his life. Beginning with The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche had inquired how life might be 'justified.' His first answer, proposed several times in his first book, had been: 'Only as an aesthetic phenomenon is the world justified.' It was not until August 1881, near Sils Maria, '6,000 feet beyond man and time' that the thought came to Nietzsche that the man who perfects himself and transfigured his physis achieves ultimate happiness and experiences such an overwhelming joy that he no longer feels concerned about the 'justification' of the world: he affirms it forward, backward, and 'in all eternity.' 'Not merely bear what is necessary, still less to conceal it...but to love it.'

“It is noteworthy that Nietzsche also says that this feeling of joy, this 'amor fati', is his 'formula for the greatness of a human being.' Power is still the standard of value - but this joy is the conscious feeling that is inextricably connected with a man's possession of power. Conversely, the man who experiences this joy is the powerful man - and instead of relying on heavenly powers to redeem him, to give meaning to his life, and to justify the world, he gives meaning to his own life by achieving perfection and exhausting every moment.” (pp. 323 - 324)

What the overman (and ‘higher culture’ for that matter) embraces as a scheme or practicality is the love of change in habits, customs, traditions, and establishing new goals. “'Becoming' is for Nietzsche utterly random change: this is the ultimate consequence of the 'death of God' which others had refused to draw, the inevitable result of the disappearance of the 'regulating finger of God' from the world; and it is to this that he alludes when he says that mankind must fix its own goal, for unless men make a purpose for themselves they will continue to live as they have lived hitherto - in chaos.

“But time is infinite, so the present state of the universe must be a repetition of a previous state, as must the state which preceded it and the state which succeeds it: all events must recur an infinite number of times.

“The consequence for the life of anyone who realizes this, says Nietzsche, is that the knowledge crushes him, unless he can attain to a supreme moment of existence for the sake of which he would be content to relive his whole life. The evil and pain in his life then become a positive good, since they were necessary for the achievement of this one supreme moment: if one event were subtracted, everything following would be different. The life to aim for is the life containing the greatest amount of joy - and joy is the feeling that power increases, that an obstacle is overcome. The superman, therefore, as the man whose will to power has increased the most by overcoming the most, is the most joyful man and the justification of existence. Such a man will affirm life, love life and say Yes even to misery and pain, because he realizes that the joy of his life will be repeated endlessly, neither will he flinch from the knowledge that it's pain must be repeated too. (Hollingdale, pp. 166-167)

It cannot be stressed strongly enough, however, that Nietzsche does not offer his readers specific steps or a “program” toward self-realization. This is not about “following” Nietzsche or “changing the world” or “worshiping” anything. It is, rather, striving to master the “self” in the Perpetual Moment. Distinctive among philosophers I know, Nietzsche advocates each person must discover the will to power in their own unique way. Further, this is a continuum. “...Nietzsche has little thought of power over others, and mankind as a whole does not represent to his mind an advance over other animals, any more than reptiles seem to him 'superior' to fish. He has in mind the 'fortunate accidents' - Socrates or Caesar, Leonardo or Goethe: men whose 'power' gives them no advantage in any 'struggle for existence' - men who, even if they outlive Mozart, Keats, or Shelley, either leave no children, or in any case no heirs. Yet these men represent the 'power' for which all beings strive - for the basic drive, says Nietzsche, is not the will to preserve life but the will to power - and it should be clear how remote Nietzsche's 'power' is from
Darwin's 'fitness'. Moreover, the sharp antithesis of these notes underline the fact that Nietzsche's dual vision of overman and recurrence glorifies the moment - 'all simultaneously' - and not progress.” (Kaufmann, page 329)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Walking the Tightrope

Note: As the heading of this post implies, this is the inspiration for the title of this blog. I had the tightrope walker of Zarathustra in mind when this attempt at philosophic biography began in 2008. For me, this singular metaphor represents, as much as any other possiblity, the essence of Nietzsche’s life and philosophy.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra is different from most of Nietzsche’s previous philosophic works. For one thing it is presented in chapters, not in aphorisms. For another, like his series of lectures entitled On the Future of Our Educational Institutions back in 1872, it is a kind of parable, a story with fictitious characters used to metaphorically express his philosophy. It is not a detailed style of philosophic inquiry, as much of his earlier work. Nevertheless, various rational concepts are advocated, and contemporary European culture is critiqued and found irrelevant due to the “god is dead!” proclamation.

It is noteworthy that Zarathustra himself is first mentioned in the final aphorism (as of 1883, he would write another section in 1886) of The Gay Science. It was in the former work Nietzsche first contended god is dead. The two works are undeniably stitched together. To what extent Nietzsche may have conceived of the present work in the former is mildly debatable. But, I think, Zarathustra is an inspired work and, therefore, writing it was a bit surprising to Nietzsche. I do not believe he contemplated his next book when completing his last. The Lou Salomé affair consumed him as The Gay Science first emerged. Nietzsche did not think of further writing philosophic works, as I have already indicated. What follows is my highlight tour of the work in its entirety, all four parts.

After years of solitude on a mountaintop, Zarathustra decides to go down into the human world to profess his beliefs. He proclaims several things, but most obviously he proclaims and examines the Übermensch, or “overman” as translated by Walter Kaufmann.

“When Zarathustra came into the next town, which lies on the edge of the forest, he found many people gathered together in the market place; for it had promised that there would be a tightrope walker. And Zarathustra spoke thus to the people: ‘I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome.’

“’All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do what you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughing-stock and a painful embarrassment. (Part I, page 124)

“The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes!’” (I, page 125)

“’Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman – a rope over an abyss. A dangerous across, a dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping. (I, page 126) Here Nietzsche metaphorically introduces the connection between the pre-overman and the tightrope walker soon to come. The journey from man to overman is a tightrope walk.

Many times this work is a parody of the Christian Bible. One example of this is found in a couple of Zarathustra’s longer speeches, which read somewhat in the style of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”.

“’What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under.

“’I love those who do not know how to live, except by going under, for they are those who cross over. I love the great despisers because they are the great reverers and arrows of longing for the other shore. I love those who do not first seek behind the stars for a reason to go under and be a sacrifice, but who sacrifice themselves for the earth, that the earth may someday become the overman’s. I love him who lives to know, and who wants to know so that the overman may live some day. And thus he wants to go under.’” (I, page 127)

“For meanwhile the tight-rope walker had begun his performance: he had stepped out of a small door and was walking over the rope, stretched between two towers and suspended over the market place and the people. When he had reached the exact middle of the course the small door opened once more and a fellow in motley clothes, looking like a jester, jumped out and followed the first one with quick steps….he uttered a devilish cry and jumped over the man who stood in his way. This man, however, seeing his rival win, lost his head and the rope, tossed away his pole, and plunged into the depth even faster, a whirlpool of arms and legs.

“Zarathustra, however, did not move; and it was right next to him that the body fell, badly maimed and disfigured, but not yet dead. After a while the shattered man recovered consciousness and saw Zarathustra kneeling beside him. ‘What are you doing here?’ he asked at last. ‘I have long known that the devil would trip me. Now he will drag me to hell. Would you prevent him?’

“’By my honor friend,’ answered Zarathustra, ‘all that of which you speak does not exist: there is no devil and no hell. Your soul will be dead even before your body: fear nothing further.’

“The man looked up suspiciously. ‘If you speak the truth,’ he said. ‘I lose nothing when I lose my life. I am not much more than a beast that has been taught to dance by blows and a few meager morsels.’

‘By no means,’ said Zarathustra. ‘You have made danger your vocation; there is nothing contemptible in that. Now perish of your vocation: for that I will bury you with my own hands.’” (I, pp.131-132) Thus, interestingly, the metaphor for the pre-overman is to be buried by Zarathustra himself. But, Zarathustra does not bury him in a strict sense.

“So he laid the dead man into a hollow tree – for he wanted to protect him from the wolves – and he himself lay down on the ground and the moss, his head under the tree.

“For a long time Zarathustra slept, and not only dawn passed over his face but morning too. At last, however, his eyes opened: amazed, Zarathustra looked into the woods and the silence; amazed, he looked into himself.

“’To lure many away from the herd, for that have I come. The people and the herd shall be angry with me: Zarathustra wants to be called a robber by the shepherds.’” (I, page 135) Zarathustra’s revelation is for a social bond with other overmen. Very specifically, Nietzsche makes clear Zarathustra does not seek worshipers but fellow creators.

“’Companions, the creator seeks, not corpses, not herds and believers. Fellow creators, the creator seeks – those who write new values on new tablets. Companions, the creator seeks, and fellow harvesters; for everything about him is ripe for the harvest.” (I, page 136)

“When your heart flows broad and full like a river, a blessing and a danger to those living near: there is the origin of your virtue. When you are above praise and blame, and your will wants to command all things, like a lover’s will: there is the origin of your virtue. When you despise the agreeable and the soft bed and cannot bed yourself far enough from the soft: there is the origin of your virtue. When you will with a single will and you call this cessation of all need ‘necessity’: there is the origin of your virtue.” (I, page 188)

“God is a conjecture; but I desire that your conjectures should not reach beyond your creative will. Could you create a god? Then do not speak to me of any gods. But you could well create the overman. Perhaps not you yourselves, my brothers. But into fathers and forefathers of the overman you could re-create yourselves: and let this be your best creation.

“God is a conjecture, but I desire that your conjectures should be limited by what is thinkable. Could you think of a god? But this is what the will to truth should mean to you: that everything be changed into what is thinkable for man, visible for man, feelable by man. You should think through your own senses to their consequences.” (Part II, pp.197-198) Nietzsche grounds the overman firmly in the physical, animal realm. In this way he is very existentialist and you can see his influence on that philosophy which came after him.

“And life itself confided this secret to me: ‘Behold,’ it said. ‘I am that which must always overcome itself. Indeed, you call it a will to procreate or a drive to an end, to something higher, farther, more manifold: but this is one, and one secret.” (II, page 227) Self-overcoming, literally facing your intimate challenges and mastering them rather than allowing life to control you, is a fundamental characteristic of the overman.

Part of self-overcoming is to grasp the larger aspects beyond your intimate existence. “One must learn to look away from oneself in order to see much: this hardness is necessary to every climber of mountains.” (Part III, page 265) Nietzsche gives a great example of what he means by “hard” here. It is a technique for clarity of perspective. It is forcing yourself to do something which allows you do something more, the ability to create your own values and experience a guiltless, superior existence.

“Courage also slays dizziness at the edge of the abysses: and where does man not stand at the edge of abysses? Is not seeing always – seeing abysses? (page 269) The abyss is more prominently mentioned by Nietzsche here than in his previous works. The tightrope walker is in a precarious place. The overman succeeds in tight roping and, moreover, he creates.

“But this is my blessing: to stand over every single thing as its own heaven, as its round roof, its azure bell, and eternal security; and blessed is he who blesses thus. For all things have been baptized in the well of eternity and are beyond good and evil; and good and evil themselves are but intervening shadows and damp depressions and drifting clouds.” (III, pp. 277-278) Nietzsche opens up a vast expanse with his “well of eternity” that is either a void or a freedom. Perhaps both.


Regardless, the freedom/void is enormous, far beyond the abilities of any human being’s experience, but nevertheless without lessening the experience of the overman. The overman is comfortable with the vast freedom and, in fact, thrives within it. That is the tightrope to be balanced here. Creators over an abyss.

“…what is good and evil no one knows yet, unless it be he who creates. He, however, creates man’s goal and gives the earth its meaning and its future. That anything at all is good and evil – that is his creation.” (III, page 308)

“The most comprehensive soul, which can run and stray and roam farthest within itself; the most necessary soul, which out of sheer joy plunges itself into chance; the soul which, having being, dives into becoming.” (III, page 320)

“And if your hardness does not wish to flash and cut and cut through, how can you one day create with me? For creators are hard. And it must seem blessedness to you to impress your hand upon millennia as on wax. Blessedness to write on the will of millennia as on bronze – harder than bronze, nobler than bronze. Only the noblest is altogether hard. This new tablet, O my brothers, I place over you: become hard!” (III, page 326)

“Whether it be a god’s pity or man’s – pity offends the sense of shame. And to be unwilling to help can be nobler than the virtue which jumps to help.” (Part IV, page 377) The twisted nature of morality, how some traditionally “evil” qualities are actually healthy, is a theme Nietzsche develops in much more detail in future works. The overman is clearly not tied to any traditional cultural morals.

“All creators are hard” (IV, page 378) The Lou Salome affair had this particular accentuating effect on Fritz - life is emotionally brutal. It hardened his already instinctually Prussian character and demeanor. But, this hardness led to the strength of becoming the creator of a new world of values in a godless universe.

“Brave is he who knows fear but conquers fear, who sees the abyss, but with pride. Who sees the abyss with the talons of an eagle – that man has courage.” (IV, page 400) The courage of the tightrope walker that Zarathustra buried in a hollow tree.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The New Religion of a Lonely Man

Fritz continued his nomadic lifestyle while completing Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In February 1883 he moved to Genoa where he stayed until May when he moved to Rome. This was followed by stays at Bellagio, Italy then at Sils-Maria in June. There he wrote Zarathustra Part II before going to Naumburg in September followed by Basel then back to Genoa by October. He wrote Part III in Genoa in January 1884. It was published in March. From April to June, Fritz lived in Nice for the first time. After a six-month circular 1884 journey that took him to Sils-Maria, Zurich, and Menton, France, Fritz returned to Nice at the beginning of 1885. He wrote Part IV at that time.

The writing of Zarathustra obsessively consumed his life and, with each successive part, Nietzsche thought he had a completed the whole work. But, he kept adding new material from numerous journal entries he kept beginning in 1883, at one time considering a total work of half a dozen sections, but he ended with four. Part III concludes climatically, however, indicating that ultimately Part IV was an afterthought. By March 1884 “…he had corrected the final page proofs of Zarathustra III and ended his ‘symphony’ with a finale linking it to the start of the trilogy – to form a circle…” (Cate, page 446)



Thanks to Elizabeth, there was no shortage of drama in Nietzsche’s life during this time. Initially, she renewed her attacks on Lou Salomé in a series of letters that created angst for everyone concerned. Then, she fell in love with and became engaged to a renowned anti-Semite, Bernhard Forster. This latter relationship was opposed by both Nietzsche and his mother, but the more they expressed their opposition, the more firmly Elizabeth resolved to marry Forster. The family tension did serve to bring Fritz somewhat closer to his mother again.

“On January 25, 1884, he informed Overbeck of the work’s completion, adding that ‘the whole work has come into being in the course of precisely one year; strictly, in the course of 3 x 2 weeks: I have never sailed such a journey over such a sea’. The ‘3 x 2 weeks’ exhibits a persistent tendency on Nietzsche’s part to exaggerate the inspirational nature of Zarathustra, to represent it as a gift of the gods. In reality, a glance at the notebooks reveals literally hundreds of pages of preparatory work for sections of Zarathustra and plans for its overall structure.

“Nietzsche described Zarathustra as a great ‘bloodletting’ in which the stirrings of the blood by the torments of the Salomé affair found their ‘retrospective justification’. But he found it hard to decide what kind of book he had written. Sometimes the notebooks refer to its parts as ‘acts’, which suggest a kind of theatre piece, while at other times he calls it a ‘symphony’. Sometimes he insists it is ‘nothing literary’ but rather a ‘great synthesis’ of his philosophy to date. But at other times he calls it ‘poetry’, poetry which goes beyond everything he has written as a ‘philosopher’ and expressing for the first time his ‘most essential thoughts’.

“What he is clear about, and correct to insist upon, is that, above all, the book is conceived as a religious work. In the first place, the eponymous hero whose ‘speeches’ make up the great bulk of the work is a religious figure – Zarathustra is Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism. Second, the style of his speech is overwhelmingly that of the Bible – he seems to have thought of its author as Luther leavened with elements of Goethe. Third, Nietzsche actually calls it a religious work, referring to it variously as ‘a fifth Gospel’ and a ‘new “holy book”’ which ‘challenges all existing religions’, especially, of course, Christianity. Zarathustra is, in a word, intended to be the central, sacred text of the new religion that is to replace the now-‘dead’ Christianity.

“Zarathustra is intended, then, to be the Bible of a new religion – a religion, Nietzsche would add, ‘of life’ rather than of ‘after-life’. As the New Testament narrates Jesus’s exemplary life and spiritual journey, so Nietzsche’s text narrates Zarathustra’s. Among other things, that is, it is a Bildungsroman, a story of its hero’s spiritual development, his progress towards the ultimate ‘greatness’ of soul that consists in embracing the eternal return, a story that is supposed to inspire us to follow in his footsteps. In Nietzsche’s earlier language, Zarathustra is the great ‘educator’.” (Young, pp. 366 – 367)

But, Walter Kaufmann reminds us that, for all its lofty intent in Nietzsche’s mind, Zarathustra is an intimate work of a man reeling from the effects of his failure to find a place in “the society of men” in 1882. For the most, the rest of his life he lived as a recluse. “…the most important single clue to Zarathustra is that it is the work of an utterly lonely man.” (page 103)

Kaufmann quotes an earlier Nietzsche scholar describing Fritz’s working habits and lifestyle during the many months the four-part work was conceived and written. “’Carefully the myopic man sits down to a table; carefully, the man with the sensitive stomach considers every item on the menu; whether the tea is not too strong, the food not spiced too much, for every mistake in his diet upsets his sensitive digestion, and every transgression in his nourishment wreaks havoc with his quivering nerves for days. No glass of wine, no glass of beer, no alcohol, no coffee at his place, no cigar or cigarette after his meal, nothing that stimulates, refreshes, or rests him: only the short meager meal and a little urbane, unprofound conversation in a soft voice with an occasional neighbor (as a man speaks who for years has been used to talking and is afraid of being asked too much).

“’And up again into the small, narrow, modest, coldly furnished chamber garnie, where innumerable notes, pages, writings, and proofs are piled up on the table, but no flower, no decoration…Back in the corner, a heavy and graceless wooden trunk, his only possession, with the two shirts and the other worn suit. Otherwise, only books and manuscripts, and on a tray innumerable bottles and jars and potions: against the migraines, which often render him all but senseless four hours, against his stomach cramps, and above all the dreadful sedatives against his insomnia, chloral hydrate and Veronal. A frightful arsenal of poisons and drugs, yet the only helpers in the empty silence in this strange room in which he never rests except in brief and artificially conquered sleep. Wrapped in his overcoat and a woolen scarf (for the wretched stove smokes only and does not give warmth), his fingers freezing, his double glasses pressed close to the paper, his hurried hand writes for hours – words the dim eyes can hardly decipher. For hours he sits like this and writes until his eyes burn.’ (page 104)

Kaufmann continues with his own insights: “That is the framework, which changes little wherever he is. But his letters seem to reveal another dimension, for at times they are shrill and strange and remind us of his vitriolic remark about Jesus: it is regrettable that no Dostoevski lived near him. Who else could do justice to this weird, paradoxical personality? Yet the clue to these letters, as also to Zarathustra and some of the last books, is that they are the work of a thoroughly lonely man. Sometimes they are really less letters than fantastic fragments out of a soul’s dialogue with itself. Now pleasant and polite, now such that arrogance is far too mild a word – and yet his feeling of his own importance, painfully pronounced even in some very early letters, was of course not as insane as it must have appeared at times to those to whom he wrote. Resigned that those surrounding him had no idea who he was, and invariably kind to his social and intellectual inferiors, he sometimes felt doubly hurt that those who ought to have understood him really had less respect for him than his most casual acquaintances. Book after book – and either no response, or some kind words, which were far more unkind than any serious criticism, or even good advice, or pity, worst of all.

“In his letters these dramatic outbursts are relatively exceptional. But the histrionics of Zarathustra should be seen in the same light. For impulses that others vent upon their wives or friends, or at a party, perhaps over drinks, Nietzsche had no other outlet. In Nizza, where he wrote Part Three of Zarathustra, he met a young man, Dr. Paneth, who had read the published portion and was eager to talk with the author. On December 26, 1883, Paneth wrote home: ‘There is not a trace of false pathos or the prophet’s pose in him, as I had rather feared after his last work. Instead, his manner is completely unoffensive and natural. We began a very banal conversation about climate, living accommodations, and the like. The he told me, but without the least affectation or conceit, that he always felt himself to have a task and that now, as far as his eyes would permit it, he wanted to get out of himself and work up whatever might be in him.’

“We may wish he had taken out his histrionics on Paneth and spared us some of the melodrama in Zarathustra. In places, of course, the writing is superb and only a pedant could prefer a drabber style. But often painfully adolescent emotions distract our attention from ideas that cannot be dismissed as immature at all.

“After all has been said, Zarathustra still cries out to be blue-penciled; and if it were more compact, it would be more lucid too. Even so, there are few works to match its wealth of ideas, the abundance of profound suggestions, the epigrams, the wit. What distinguishes Zarathustra is the profusion of ‘sapphires of the mind.’ But what the book loses artistically and philosophically by never having been critically edited by its author, it gains as a uniquely personal record.” (pp. 105-107)

The work is as light-hearted and filled with clever play on words as it is serious in an attempt to lay out the groundwork of Nietzsche’s mature philosophy. But, as Kaufmann indicates in his introduction to the work, Nietzsche is so clever and often elegant with his use of the German language that much of his meaning in structuring of words together as he does in Zarathustra is lost in translation into English. So, in addition to the fact the work would have been better served with a more polished rewrite rather than each part being so “spontaneously” and hastily submitted, there is a deeper layer buried within his use of language itself which communicates much, but only if read and understood in German. Therefore, the Zarathustra I have always read, despite its renown and moments of brilliance, suffers from a definitive murkiness with which Nietzsche’s previous works were not so heavily saddled.

“Much of what is most untranslatable is an expression of that Übermut which Nietzsche associates with the Übermensch: a lightness of mind, a prankish exuberance – though the term can also designate that overbearing which the Greeks called hybris. In any case, such play on words must be kept in translation: how else is the reader to know which remarks are inspired primarily by the possibility of a pun or a daring rhyme? And robbed of its rapidly shifting style, clothed in archaic solemnity, Zarathustra would become a different work – like Faulkner done into the King’s English. Nietzsche’s writing, too, is occasionally downright bad, but at its best – superb.” (page 110)

Fritz had survived the Lou Salomé affair. He survived by what he termed in his book as “self-overcoming.” Self-overcoming was an early Nietzsche idea, but only in Zarathustra is it articulated fully, along with the Ubermensch, the Will to Power, and the Eternal Recurrence of the Same, the primary columns supporting Nietzsche’s mature philosophy. Somewhere between Young’s perspective of Nietzsche’s intent to found a “new religion” and Kaufmann’s “histrionics of a lonely man” lies the splendid height and the despairing depth – and, yes, the brave, error-prone brilliance – of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra.