File spoon-archives/nietzsche.archive/nietzsche_2000/nietzsche.0006, message 13


Subject: Re: Zarathrustra Revisited or The Eternal Recurrence
Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 20:35:56 +0100



----- Original Message -----
From: Michal Klincewicz <michal-AT-priest.com>
To: <nietzsche-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu>
Sent: Monday, June 12, 2000 4:25 PM
Subject: Question..


 I always had the feeling that the eternal recurrence constituted a
Nietzschean cosmology/ethic. Please, bear with me on this.



Zarathrustra Revisited or The Eternal Recurrence
In the Wettersteingebirge.

He looks out from the comfort of his bundle of twigs and excrement perched
9,718-feet high up on the Zugspitze in part of the Wettersteingebirge in the
Bavarian Alps, lying on the Austrian border.  It is the last time I visit
him; I journey to the mountain by means of a railway from the town of
Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The Zugspitze's peak is noted for its scenic beauty
and for its winter skiing and summer climbing activities and I am much
bothered by hordes of vulgar untermenschen and their ugly wives.  There is a
meteorological observatory on the mountain not far from Zarathrustra's nest,
where the kindly scientists make me welcome with hot coffee and
aepfeltortenstck.

Although Zarathrustra's welcome is genuine, I can see that he is uneasy.
His eyes are moving from side to side in rapid movements that remind me of
some old news footage of Kerensky on the steps of the Tauride Palace in
1917.
There is obviously something 'big' building up inside him that I feel will
shortly erupt in a starburst of prophetic devastation and ultimate doom.

Later he stands near the edge of the abyss and sullenly kicks a stone over
the edge - 'It's the robots that are and will be the problem you see.'
He winces as the hurtling rock hits a clambering untermensch on the temple
sending him screaming into the bottomless gulf,
'they're going to take over eventually'
'You mean the Christians don't give a damn - they're on their knees most of
the time praying to their cruel Jehovah. The Jews a too busy making money
and the Muslims are fully occupied in cutting off the hands of perceived
miscreants,' I say. 'We'll be trapped up to our necks in plutonium and empty
coca cola bottles.'

'No says Zarathrustra, don't put words into my mouth, I didn't say anything
of the sort!  You can fantasize and write what the hell you like, but don't
put any words into my mouth that could compromise me or make me look silly.'
'Anything that I write about you will be in the affectionate spirit of
philosophical exploration,' I say, 'I realise that you are highly skilled in
the use of words anyway, and you don't need guys like me to give you a leg
up - my account of our meeting today is to be handled in the medium I feel
most at home in - the medium of fantasy.'

Suddenly we hear the sweet song of a lark and see it as it rises from the
grass to soar in swooping aerial steps, until it becomes a scarcely
discernible pinpoint in the blue. Occasionally the bellowing of far off
cattle floats up from the valley bottom.  The lark reappears still unwinding
its chain of liquid melody.  It drops to a tussock not many yards away from
us and watches from behind a cloud of campion and cowslips with one beady
eye.

 'Awwwha Shit!' screams Zarathrustra into the void.
For a moment we listen to the echoes of his voice rolling faintly back over
the dim purpled, wooded ridges. A bevy of startled woodpigeons flutters up
protestingly from the leaves; curve around in slow-motion flight, then
return to the somnolence of the branches.
Zarathrustra is unrepentant. 'How can they expect us to engage with the god
question when there is no god?  It's all too one sided.  I mean the original
premise is rotten  - as soon as you place an intellectual foot on it, it
crumbles to powder.   All this.' he waves an arm at the panorama of beauty,
'all this will be destroyed - all this beauteous nature will be bulldozed,
trampled down, polluted by the cybermenschen and their cross-carrying human
slaves'.
He produces a large, somewhat bruised peach from the pocket of his
lederhosen and bites into the luscious fruit.  It is the first time that I
notice his lapel badge - it is about the size of a fifty-pence piece with
the unmistakable face of Nietzsche.  The words say: 'He who dies with the
least toys wins.'
'I blame the Heideggerians,' he says as he wipes the juice that dribbles
down his chin.  'They just waste time chunnering away about nonsensicals
while the sand of hope trickles from the glass.'

He points to a pink villa that is nestled under the overhang of a giant crag
about half a mile away,  'See that', he whispers.' that's the 'Villa Comte
de Gobineau,' Heidegger's summer retreat.  'I was invited over for dinner
two nights ago -splendid man - rather dull podgy wife - food quite plain and
unimaginative.  The place is fitted out with every kind of high tech
gadgetry you could think of, automatically operating garage doors, microwave
cooking, programmable timers for all the household appliances, the windows
slide up and down on their own, controlled by light and temperature etc.  I
was quite appalled by the techno atmosphere of the place.'
'Over an underdone Sauerbraten,' continues Zarathrustra, ' I indicated to
Heidegger that these mechanical aids could be viewed as primitive robotic
proto-golems, and that by buying these excrescences he and his wife were
innocently supporting the industry that would one day produce advanced
versions of these automata, which would take over the world and us at the
same time. I added that we should treat all gismos with extreme suspicion.'

A black cloud of sparrows come in a flock; they accumulate in a twittering
stipple and watching for their opportunity, drop quietly onto the wheat
which Zarathrustra is growing in a small cultivated patch of earth scratched
from the mountainside.  First one, then another and soon the whole flock are
feeding on the ripening corn. He picks up a smooth stone and hurls the
projectile neatly into the middle of the flock of birds.
'Piss off you winged parasites!' he screams.  The harpies rise up in a
twittering cloud and disappear round the face of a bluff.

Zarathrustra presses on with his narrative, 'Heidegger didn't want to
listen, he just smiled and heaved another log onto the fire, "another cognac
Zarathrustra?" he grunted indulgently. He sat in an oaken chair decorated
with a magnificent pair of antlers and allowed his kneeling wife to ease off
his tight fitting jackboots.

No Zarathrustra,' Heidegger said, " I'm not playing a worlding game filled
only with a fat happy mundanity while I usher in the new tech players. It's
simply that Gretchen suffers from a bad back after falling off a horse
whilst taking part in the annual 'Ride of the Valkyrie' re-construction
during the Garmisch-Partenkirchen town festival.  We really need these
conveniences to make life easier.'
'I munched away on my Nach-Acht Mints and pointed out that EVERYBODY could
make that excuse,' sighs Zarathrustra, 'but Heidegger had already lost
interest and left the table to leaf through some old 78-s of the Nuremberg
Rallies to play while we enjoyed our coffee and Kirsch.


Zarathrustra and I leave the edge of the cliff face and stroll up a narrow
path, which leads to the summit.  To our left the splashing water of a
mountain stream overwhelms the sound of the buzzing insects and the bird
song.
' In this remote place I am inviolable,' says Zarathrustra, his voice
labouring with the exertion of the climb.
He turns his leonine head towards me, 'Have you ever considered the
extremely powerful racing ahead of cybernetic force in digital technology
with its increasing miniaturization, smaller and smaller units producing
larger and larger effects, miniature replicating robots and such, could
potentially not only destroy just the earth but Valhalla as well?'
'You mean that Valhalla exists now in the world?  I respond. 'I thought that
the Garmisch-Partenkirchen festival with its re-enactment of the Valkyrie
ride and the burning of Viking boats and all that stuff were simply mystical
representations of a lost paradise?' 'I was speaking metaphorically,'
answers Zarathrustra, but I could see that his eyes were filled with tears.
'The universe that has created itself, has driven Life force, into a
passionless cold machine,' Zarathrustra mutters after a pause.
'You mean that the universe created itself?  I say. Surely it 'just
happened,' for the very word 'creation' that you employ has nuances of
anthropomorphism - a kind of animalistic intervention or desire?
'It was due to the inattention of its passionate desire,' responds
Zarathrustra wistfully.
I take the bull by the horns. ' I'll be honest - you do come across as being
something of a mystic - don't get me wrong, I like it - but this thing about
the Life Force having passion, or lacking passion, surely again you are
bestowing human cacoetheses on an unfeeling, unknowing, uncaring, un-entity
with no intelligence and no concept of mechanisation or temperature?' Surely
by your choice of language you are consciously or unconsciously conferring a
metaphysical entablature, suggesting human characteristics, anthropomorphic
dimensions to the universe and its origins?' Isn't this mountain way of life
just another kind of ivory towerism?'   I say - 'aren't you in your own way
a motivated nihilist?   I also detect a lot of metaphysics in your writing
Zarathrustra.'
Zarathrustra falls silent. ' Please point any out if and when you see it
there again.'  He says finally.

We sit for a while to rest our legs.   The steep bank on our right appears
primal, with its bare earth and innumerable rabbit warrens, stubby hawthorns
and mountain junipers.
'What do you think when somebody attacks your comments about
`professional/academic philosophers' and the ends of PhD. Research,' I say
slowly.  'Some would say that it sounds like the cry of one who feels he has
not been understood because of the `system,' and therefore attacks it
(whatever `it' is) and all who sail in it.'
'Well,' I answer, "Never kick a cow chip on a hot day." As old Frederick
Nietzsche used to say.'

We sit on a low bank and I continue my diatribe.
'What you've got to understand Zarathrustra is that with them it's a
profession.
Yeah, OK, many of them did start out with a love for the ' philosophy,' but
as the years have passed and the pressures of kids and a mortgage have borne
down on them, for many of them it's become bloody boring.  They don't like
ideas that upset the academic applecart and set off flashing lights - they
don't like ideas that can't be extinguished by the simple expedient of
running for help to the nearest verificatory textbook, and they don't like
any ideas that will jeopardise their slow climb up the greasy pole to the
higher floors of the ivory tower block.  It's OK for us non-professionals -
we can say what we wish and to hell with it.  For them, it IS a lunchbucket
and they have to watch every word they say just in case some rival picks up
on their words and puts it about the campus that he's becoming unstable and
wild - which would militate against their less than edifying scramble for
academic position. In fairness to them - it's the way they put bread on the
table.' Like you Zarathrustra, I often wonder if my communicative power,
style, or content is far too insipid for the professional philosophic ear,
but like Rhet Butler, I say:  "Frankly my dear  - I don't give a damn"'

Zarathrustra glances at me, his left eye milky and glaucous from an eagle
attack in the early spring - a disagreement over territory.  ' I thought I
was the one who drones on a bit,' he jokes, 'leave me to think about that,'

It was time to part.  I had decided not to accompany him on the final part
of the climb.  He salutes me amicably with outstretched arm Roman style as I
turn to go.
I stand and watch him as he makes his way up the winding way that leads up
to the summit and his lonely eyrie. There in the distance I see him stop and
walk out onto the narrow ledge that fronts his crude habitation of woven
branches and grass. He ducks his head as he walks beneath the hanging thatch
of mountain pine crafted into a rough topiary of Nietzsche's beetling
eyebrows, and that provides a crude shelter from the icy rain.
He presents a lonely powerful tragic figure.  I am reminded of King Lear or
Abraham. I think of the similarity with Nietzsche's paradox  - the will to
power incarnate, in a gentle bourgeois romantic - a strange irony.

My last glimpse of Zarathrustra is just as the sun is setting. He is
standing motionless; his long blonde hair is waving in the breeze.  His chin
sticks out defiantly.   The enormous red orb is sinking slowly beneath the
black mountains.  The recorded sounds of Wagner's Götterdämmerung float down
to me, (thanks to Zarathrustra's powerful amplifiers,) it is his final
farewell.  I fall in with a small party of untermenschen as we walk to the
waiting bus.
'What a fantastic place!' splutters one small backpacker through broken
teeth, dropping his empty cola can on a clump of star shaped Leontopodium
alpinum that have somehow survived the diesel fumes of the tourist
transport.  ' The breathtaking scenery,' he continues - ' It broadens the
mind and makes you think about eternity - about how small us humans really
are - it makes you think about the great scheme of things.' 'Yeah,' I
answer, 'it's great - but only in small doses - and remember -
Don't squat with your spurs on!'




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