File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_1998/nietzsche.9809, message 11

Date: Wed, 9 Sep 1998 01:42:35 EDT
Subject: Re: At Noon

In a message captioned "Zarathustra's Dream," Dan writes:

>  At Noon
>  [snip, snip]
>          This passage is so confusing any ideas out there.

It may be helpful to put the passage into context.  "At Noon" in Z follows
directly upon a passage entitled "The Shadow" in which Zarathustra is annoyed
by his loss of solitude as he is addressed by his shadow.  Five years before
he wrote Part IV of Z, Nietzsche had written another aphorism titled "At
Noon," section 308 of The Wanderer and His Shadow, which is obviously recalled
by the Zarathustra episode.  Section 308 of WS concerns Pan's sacred hour of
noon and describes the sleeping Pan:  

"He who has been granted an active and storm-filled morning of life is
overcome at the noontide of life by a strange longing for repose that can last
for months or years.  It grows still around him, voices recede into the
distance; the sun shines down upon him from high overhead.  Upon a concealed
woodland meadow he sees great Pan sleeping; all things of nature have fallen
asleep with him, an expression of eternity on their face - that is how it
seems to him.  He wants nothing, he is troubled by nothing, his heart stands
still, only his eyes are alive - it is a death with open eyes.  Then the man
sees many things he never saw before, and for as far as he can see everything
is enmeshed in a net of light and as it were buried in it.  He feels happy as
he ga\zes, but it is a heavy, heavy happiness - Then at length the wind rises
in the trees, noon has gone by, life again draws him to it, life with unseeing
eyes, its train of followers sweeping along behind it: desire, deception,
forgetfulness, destruction, transience.  And thus evening rises up, more
active and more storm-filled even than the morning. - To truly active men the
more long enduring states of knowledge seem almost uncanny and morbid, but not
unpleasant."  [WS 308]

>  Z is sitting down at the bottom of a fruit bearing tree (he does this in
>  first book).  

Actually, it is an old and gnarled tree that is in the grip (or embrace) of
the "rich love" of the grapevine, which hides it from itself.  At the end of
the passage Zarathustra gets up from his resting place with "the sun still  .
. . straight over his head."  Despite the sense of passage of "half an
eternity," in fact no time has passed, and the "well of eternity" has been
compressed into a single instant.  Has it not been an epiphanic instant which
has brought about the happy-sad moment of inspiration and transformation?


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