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Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 30, 1961
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, also translated as Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Treatise by Friedrich Nietzsche, written in four parts and published in German between 1883 and 1885 as Also sprach Zarathustra. The work is incomplete, but it is the first thorough statement of Nietzsche's mature philosophy and the masterpiece of his career. It received little attention during his lifetime but its influence since his death has been considerable, in the arts as well as philosophy. Written in the form of a prose narrative, Thus Spake Zarathustra offers the philosophy of its author through the voice of Zarathustra (based on the Persian prophet Zoroaster) who, after years of meditation, has come down from a mountain to offer his wisdom to the world. It is this work in which Nietzsche made his famous (and much misconstrued) statement that "God is dead" and in which he presented some of the most influential and well-known (and likewise misunderstood) ideas of his philosophy, including those of the Ubermensch ("overman" or "superman") and the "will to power." Though this is essentially a work of philosophy, it is also a masterpiece of literature. The book is a combination of prose and poetry, including epigrams, dithyrambs, and parodies as well as sections of pure poetry. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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This work has the ability to present in a very new-age fashion, per philosophically its primary goal is transcendental, to go beyond man's current state, to shed the chains of our egos, to experience the world sensually without intense derisive judgment and to laugh at our situations of gravity. It is fantastic in that because it's a book `for all and none', anyone spiritually inclined can sense the weightiness as Nietzsche points out all the flaws of humanity and casts his wish for the recognition of the Superman, for something better than what we are, even if we shall never achieve his ends.
As a social commentary of the people of the times, what he sees and experiences around himself. Astute observations of the workings of mankind, essentially stating that we've turned away from the true meaning of `God', and that far too many people place value erroneously in inane and mistakenly virtuous things. When what is lacking, both secular and non, is the true essence of `love'. This is the closest to `God' man can get; the Superman is meant to surpass humanity. However, having such an appetite for war, self-destruction / deception, clinging to idols, self-loathing, and `shame, shame, shame - that is the history of man' (1267) motif, the success rate is unlikely at best. In fact, the Superman has never been seen by Zarathustra. There is both Aeschylus-ian warning of man's poorer qualities and his wisdom in this work. Nietzsche was a big fan of the Greek play-writes.
Zoroaster, as a historical being is relevant in the espoused philosophy as the goal is to sustain the truth through constructive thought, words and deeds. This ties to Nietzsche's `Superman' - a man of higher values than today's common man, and as a most basic principle - all that stems from power is good (master-morality); all from weakness is bad, but there is no lasting good nor bad, and good and bad are based relatively. The pinnacle though is the `Will to Power', which encompassing the `Will to Truth', is essentially man commanding himself and the desire to command others, recognizing that everything is done for power, that even those commanded want to command - part of the human condition. Doing this in egoless fashion opens the world of experience, truth, and sets man out only to experience his sensory world with what little rationality is found in anything. The `Will to Power' is also where redemption is best found but never to be - `to transform every "it was" into "thus would I have it!" (1952), for no amount of Willing can change the past, our wills greatest weakness - desiring a disposition more toward the import of the now.
Zarathustra finds no greater power on earth than `good' and `bad'. And to this he adds that nothing is universally good or bad between differing people, but posits that this valuation of things was meant only to give a human meaning to the world, and the herd has always existed before the ego, thusly do people somewhat unwittingly follow their cultural bonds.
In the first book we encounter Zarathustra who wishes to leave man and sink to his abyss, for he realizes that he is nothing like them, and they scorn him as we see him enter a town and attempt to explain his philosophy of the `Superman' - `I want to teach men the sense of their existence, which is the Superman' (446). In this section it appears despite being a pariah, Zarathustra is both cynical and hopeful in man's ascension - `It is time for man to fix his goal. It is time for man to plant the germ of his highest hope.' (400) Zarathustra then decides he needs companions and begins delivery of his discourses upon a variety of topics, the primary focus is the creation of the Superman: `Let your love to life be love to your highest hope; and let your highest hope be the highest thought of life! Your highest thought... and it is this: man is something that is to be surpassed.' (797) This is related to the `Will to Truth' in that it is `the thinkableness of all being' (1599) and this is a direct step in surpassing man.
Man can't create God, or Nietzsche's Will to Truth, a being who has experienced all human sensory experiences. Creating is the great salvation from suffering, however suffering is necessary for the creative facet to appear, as is a great transformation.
Zarathustra speaks of finding his soul through loneliness and metamorphosis of the soul (camel, lion, child). Once a man's soul resembles that of a child he may will his own world sans the artifice of socialized structure. He advocates the `Backworlds' where men create in their loneliness. However, there are also many superfluous men, `marred is life by the many-too-many.' (754) and his hope is they're quickly suckered out of this life by those that preach the eternal afterlife.
Zarathustra recognizes the struggle against the ego, generally in vain as it guides us through our feeling states in this life. He also states his disposition of those whom despise the body as those who would make each man marginal, and these sorts are often of the non-secular variety, the preachers of death and those that wish away with the corporeal life. As a reaction against the typical herd mentality Zarathustra also attacks the organization known as `the state', or that establishment which perpetuates values and virtues unto it's all too superfluous populous. Smaller than the state is the city, which essentially serves the same purpose.
To Zarathustra virtues create a battle ground where the conflict is often too much for man to persevere against. `... one thing is the thought, another thing is the deed, and another thing is the idea of the deed. The wheel of causality doth not roll between them.' (670) The essence is to do good work.
The end of the work surmises with a litany of characters dining with Zarathustra in his cave. Here Zarathustra suffers the philosophical attacks these men were prone to deliver. He defends himself, the philosophy of his Superman, Will to Power and his estimation of the social conditions he sees himself living in. Ultimately all joy is deeper than grief and all joys want eternity, the noontide arrives, man must be surpassed!
Meister Eckhardt: `The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering.' (214)
`Life is hard to bear: but do not affect to be so delicate! We are all of us fine sumpter asses and assesses.' (705)
`It is true we love life; not because we are wont to live, but because we are wont to love. There is always some madness in love. But there is always, also, some method in madness.' (706)
`when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn:... Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay.' (710)
`... the worst enemy thou canst meet, wilt thou thyself always be... Thou lonesome one, thou goest the way to thyself!... thou goest the way of the creating one: a God wilt thou create for thyself out of thy seven devils!' (1009)
`But let this be your honour: always to love more than ye are loved, and never be the second.' (1030)
`Devise me, then, the love which not only beareth all punishment, but also all guilt! Devise me, then, the justice which acquitteth every one except the judge!' (1058)
`Bitterness is in the cup even of the best love: thus doth it cause longing for the Superman' (1089)
`Thus spake the devil unto me, once on a time: `Even God hath his hell: it is his love for man." (1296)
`That YOUR very Self be in your action, as the mother is in the child: let that be YOUR formula of virtue!' (1374)
`do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!' (1433)
`Where one can no longer love, there should one - pass by!' (2422)
`This-is now MY way, - where is yours? ... For THE way - it doth not exist!' (2643)
`What dot it matter that ye have failed! How many things are still possible! So LEARN to laugh beyond yourselves!' (3878)
"Society tames the wolf into a dog. And man is the most domesticated animal of all."
People have spent decades writing long explanations and commentary on the book, so I'll simply say that much of it I could relate to my own challenges and experiences in life and that its message resonated with me.