Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 232

of "the spirit of gravity." This creature
half-dwarf, half-mole, whom he bears with him a certain distance on his
climb and finally defies, and whom he calls his devil and arch-enemy, is
nothing more than the heavy millstone "guilty conscience," together with
the concept of sin which at present hangs round the neck of men. To rise
above it--to soar--is the most difficult of all things to-day. Nietzsche
is able to think cheerfully and optimistically of the possibility of
life in this world recurring again and again, when he has once cast the
dwarf from his shoulders, and he announces his doctrine of the Eternal
Recurrence of all things great and small to his arch-enemy and in
defiance of him.

That there is much to be said for Nietzsche's hypothesis of the Eternal
Recurrence of all things great and small, nobody who has read the
literature on the subject will doubt for an instant; but it remains a
very daring conjecture notwithstanding and even in its ultimate effect,
as a dogma, on the minds of men, I venture to doubt whether Nietzsche
ever properly estimated its worth (see Note on Chapter LVII.).

What follows is clear enough. Zarathustra sees a young shepherd
struggling on the ground with a snake holding fast to the back of his
throat. The sage, assuming that the snake must have crawled into the
young man's mouth while he lay sleeping, runs to his help and pulls
at the loathsome reptile with all his might, but in vain. At last, in
despair, Zarathustra appeals to the young man's will. Knowing full well
what a ghastly operation he is recommending, he nevertheless cries,
"Bite! Bite! Its head off! Bite!" as the only possible solution of the
difficulty. The young shepherd bites, and far away he spits the
snake's head, whereupon he rises, "No longer shepherd, no longer man--a
transfigured being, a light-surrounded being, that LAUGHED! Never on
earth laughed a man as he laughed!"

In this parable the young shepherd is obviously the man of to-day; the
snake that chokes him represents the stultifying and paralysing social
values that threaten to shatter humanity, and the advice "Bite! Bite!"
is but Nietzsche's exasperated cry to mankind to alter their values
before it is too late.

Chapter XLVII. Involuntary Bliss.

This, like "The Wanderer", is one of the many introspective passages
in the work, and is full of innuendos and hints as to the Nietzschean
outlook on life.

Chapter XLVIII. Before Sunrise.

Here we have a record of Zarathustra's avowal of optimism, as also the
important statement concerning "Chance" or "Accident" (verse 27). Those
who are familiar with Nietzsche's philosophy

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