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Thus Spoke Zarathustra
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on February 5, 2013
"Thus Spoke Adolf Hitler". It was because of this book and Mein Kampf, the Nazis came into power, the nazi superman, ubermensch. Adolf Hitler, influenced by this book, created his idea for the Aryan superman. It is a known fact this book was widely distributed to Nazi soldiers, especially officers. His teachings were also taught in the Hitlerjugend institutions. "Triumph of the Will", "Will to Power", all Neitschze, all nazism. This book is all nazi propaganda. Another book recommendation to read in combination with studies of Neitschze philosophy: "NIETZSCHE, PROPHET OF NAZISM : THE CULT OF THE SUPERMAN; Unveiling the Nazi Secret Doctrine", by Abir Taha
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on November 4, 2000
There seem to be plenty of reviews debating the philosophical principles of Nietszche and the statements he makes, so, for the non-philosophy students present (i.e. ME) I'll rate it for the layman.
`TSZ' is very longwinded, and as the introduction states, filled with `excess', but that does not make it a bad book. Every sentence is imbued with its own iconic poetry, and, philosophy aside, the metaphors and similes alone make this book worth reading. It is clear that Nietszche, or perhaps his translator, had a mind better suited to creative expression than most philosophers, or indeed today's authors, and it is in this that lies the book's real strength. Through its use of imagery it not only makes an interesting, inspirational, conjectural read (apart from a few really boring parts that seemed written only to slow down the pace), it makes its message easy to understand and backs it up with surrealistic examples. Whereas sometimes in philosophy, the use of allegory can confuse the issue (More's `Utopia' - mockery of idealism, framework for perfect society, or rambling tale?), in `Zarathustra' the reader, no matter whether they are new to the field or not, cannot fail to discern the message that Man is not a goal but a bridge, a rope over an abyss. As philosophy, and as literature, it succeeds in conveying its point, setting up a platform for discussion or merely to digest individually. Admittedly, some refuse to read Nietszche because of his view of women (`shallow waters'), and because of how his ideas for the Superman allegedly inspired Hitler's Aryan vision for the world, but such people deprive themselves of an interesting viewpoint that defines the meaning of life in human rather than spiritual terms.
One potential problem for the newcomer to philosophy is the storyline. For a man remembered for the statement `God is dead', Nietszche obviously drew inspiration from the Bible, for Zarathustra is strongly reminiscent of Jesus, recruiting disciples and disappearing into the wilderness with a frequency that Bigfoot would be proud of. The problem with an allegorical tale is the reader's propensity for bringing western narrative expectations to it - `Zarathustra' is a text-book, not a story, but sometimes you do find yourself waiting for the climax, the big show-down, the cinematic denouement. So long as you remember that it is philosophy, not a novel, and so long as you appreciate each segment as an expressive point and not part of a conventional plot, there should be no troubles. I'll leave you with a sample of Nietzsche's verbal wizardry:
`It is the stillest words which bring the storm. Thoughts that come on doves' feet guide the world.'
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on July 25, 2011
When Friedrich Nietzsche published THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA in 1883, his readers did not know exactly what to make of it. It seemed to be a hybrid of philosophy and literature, both of which were presented in a further hybrid of prose fiction, biblical parody, and even poetry. It did not sell well--at least at first, but before too many years had passed his readers acknowledged it as his masterpiece. Its influence on future writers and intellectuals--like Shaw, Mencken, Dreiser, London, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Derrida and others--has been unmistakable. Its basic plot--if one may call it that--relates to a man called Zarathustra who has spent the last ten years in seclusion meditating atop a mountain. He descends so that he may impart his accumulated wisdom to the world of ordinary folk. It is the content and mode of his interactions with his listeners that form the structure of the book.

In the book's four sections, Nietzsche through Zarathustra discusses, relates, and enlarges upon such diverse topics as the death of God, the Will to Power, the Ubermensch ("Superman" or Overman), the revaluation of values, and the doctrine of eternal recurrence. In Nietzsche's mind, these topics are not so divergent at all. At various points they merge, overlap, and interweave into a tapestry that forms the basis of Nietzsche's essential world view that for far too long the human species has been running downhill since the classical Greeks and Romans. Humanity as he saw it then was badly in the need to regenerate itself into a higher order of being--the Ubermensch. THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA is the working out of this transition between homo sapiens and homo superior.

When Zarathustra descends from the mountain top to begin Part I, he declares that God is dead. But he does not mean that he is expressing some new form of atheism. Rather, he suggests that whatever God may have been in the past or what kind of support He may have once provided, man now must not rely on any hope of divine intervention. Thus, the only salvation that man can expect must be from within himself. Man himself is presented as a species in progress. The future man which Zarathustra calls the Overman is one that must purposefully be bred into existence. The Overman is the hope of present day man: "I teach you the overman," Zarathustra exclaims. "Man is something that shall be overcome."

In Part II, Nietzsche elaborates on the will to power. This "will" is a direct result of man's realization that with the death of God and the resulting requirement that man must look only within himself for support that man must exercise his will over himself. There is an unfortunate current belief that Nietzsche meant "will" only in the context of dominion over others, but for him, the ability of the Overman to control his own base passions was the key distinction between the exalted self of the future Ubermensch and the lowly rabble that he despised.

The third part introduces a full explanation of eternal recurrence. Nietzsche believed that this universe was one marked by an inbuilt lack of order, structure, and design, thus positing that man himself is neither good nor evil. In fact man is doomed or fated to relive each moment of existence in a cycle with no beginning or ending. And what keeps getting repeated is everything--matters of the highest import, of the lowest and all else in between. It then becomes incumbent for all human beings to act as if they are worthy to relive each moment of repeated life. It follows that this entire theory implies that humanity thereby affirms the worth of its collective existence.

The fourth and final part emphasizes Nietzsche's belief in the wholeness of his entire philosophy. One cannot accept this part or that part and reject some other part. For man even to hope to make the transition from his current lowly state of bovine existence to the higher realm of the Overman, he must prove worthy by acknowledging that the death of God is a brutal necessity to spur him on to bravery, independence, and unyielding will. The very end of the book is a stark reminder that in the symbol of the donkey god man no longer needs the falsely comforting illusion that he needs an omnipotent deity to control his destiny. The Nietzsche of popular culture may believe in the need for a dominant and superior mind as charged, but the Nietzsche as a proto-Nazi is simply unwarranted.
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on April 25, 2011
I got this version and the german version together at the same time. While reading the "english" version I came across absolute nonsense. Several times I had to look back on the german text to figure out what was going on. This is one of the worst translations I have seen. Several parts are incomprehensible or completely miss the point of the original text. Go out and buy a better version. This work is too important to be wasted on poor english.
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on December 19, 2006
Be careful not to read this too directly. Doing so can make you misunderstand too much. This book operates by association, or more specifically, the associative, and this is the reason it is so powerful. It is reflexive in so far as this operation becomes its subject. If one bears in mind Nietzsche's influential training as a philologist and the burgeoning field of linguistics in the 19thc, as well as an aesthetics of 'performativity' tied to the 'force' of artistic subjectivity in amongst some of those of Nietzsche's circle, such as Richard Wagner, then the allegory he employs can be argued as a kind of acute armature for exploring the obliquity of thought tied to symbols, statements, metaphores, etc, but it is that act of exploration that constitutes the work, not the facts of allegory. This is his persuasiveness, and it comes from Nietszche's study of rhetoric, classics, etc. It is a book about forces, not power, discipline, history, or even subjectivity. The forces or valency of allegory and concept - an immanence within thought - the book does nothing else. The catchy phrases that make it so memorable serve this function. This is not his best work though, as much as it is a step above the 'Birth of Tragedy' which rightly got him ridiculed. A lot of fun and great for broody teenagers.
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on June 15, 2014
A review for all, and for none.

I make no differentiation between authors and artists. To me a skilled author is an artist. Their words capture our minds, then force us to pay the ransom with our hearts.

However, what art is is not the subject of this post, if you’re interested in my thoughts on how art is defined please visit this post - [...]

Art, is amazing in how it impacts us. Equally amazing is the arrogance of some artists. Have you ever encountered one who alludes, directly or indirectly, that if you don’t understand their work you must be an idiot?

I have, entirely too many times.

In this instance, the artist I am referring to is Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche has an impressive ability to wrap ugly thoughts and superficial truths in stunningly beautiful words. Don’t be fooled by the glory of the garments when the concepts they cover are reprehensible.

And thus we arrive at my thoughts on Nietzsche’s work, “Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None”. In this example of his work, Nietzsche takes the firm view that his readers are stupid. In fact, he blatantly states this in as many words with the challenge, “whoever is able to grasp me may grasp me! Your crutch, however, I am not.” I do not consider my readers to be idiots, so I won’t presume to simplify Nietzsche’s words. As written, they speak loud and plain.

The artistic tactic utilized, that if you need an explanation you’re obviously not capable of true understanding, is clearly illustrated in the tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen.

Since none of us likes thinking we lack the intelligence to grasp some arcane concept, we dig deep into the work in question in order to see what everyone else allegedly sees. And when we dig deep enough into anything, be it a piece of dung or a work of philosophy, we uncover new things, new understandings, new thoughts, and new revelations.

Don’t be fooled.

What we’ve just uncovered isn’t in the thing being examined, it is from somewhere deep within ourself. We are all extraordinarily complex beings, capable of thoughts far beyond our wildest dreams. All we need do is look, and we will see.

“Thus Spake Zarathustra” is just such a work. Yes, “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is full of really beautiful words, artistically combined into eloquent, memorable sentences. However, the thoughts these so memorable sentences express are often repugnant. Examples of errant philosophy? “All that proceeds from power is good”, “The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering”, “All thy passions in the end become virtue, and thy devils angels”, along with innumerable others.

Repugnant as such sentiments are, the one I personally find utterly abhorrent is this, “Every one being allowed to learn to read, ruineth in the long run not only good writing but also thinking.” Of those two elements, Nietzsche has completely mastered the art of good writing. Sadly, in regarding the second element, that of good thinking, “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is an utter failure.

A further failure is in how often these memorable little sound bite sentences don’t have context with the other memorable little sounds bites so closely packed around them. At times this is so predominant as to render the work virtually incomprehensible. Naturally when this happens we find ourselves re-reading in order to find context that just isn’t there. The result of this re-reading is our learning much of it by rote. We can quote it, but we don’t actually understand it. {Of course, pretending to understand makes us appear smarter than the person who blurts out, “The Emperor is naked!” Or does it?}

Throughout the work Nietzsche looks down his nose at humanity, and he makes no excuse for doing so. Nietzsche’s arrogance is illustrated in this line, “Ye look aloft when ye long for exaltation; and I look downward because I am exalted.”

Perhaps if you look deep enough into this work you’ll find Nietzsche is really saying the opposite of the things he writes. After all, Nietzsche isn’t directly portraying himself as Zarathustra is he? Unfortunately, you’re now looking so deep what you are actually seeing is the Emperor’s new clothes, not the sickly, diseased flesh of the thoughts they conceal.

My opinion of this work, like many of my thoughts, is conflicted. “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is unquestionably a work of literature. The composition of individual thoughts is so elegant as to be breathtaking. The writing style is bold, powerful, and eloquent. For those reasons, every author can learn from this work.

And then there is my conflicted view…

Please don’t read “Thus Spake Zarathustra” with eyes, heart, and mind wide open as you seek deep, hidden truths. Save such mental and emotional energy for philosophical works that warrant it. Considered as a work of philosophy, “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is simply not worth your time.

I believe we all search for truth, and we all have an unquenchable thirst for meaning. But know this… that meaning does not dwell in arcane works. No, that meaning dwells within your own heart, and it is there that you should seek it.
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on November 25, 2016
I cannot think of one book that has more influence on me than Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It is a book that I once read at least once a year and it never failed to fill my mind with hope and ideas. I totally disagree with those who consider Nietzsche to be hard, stern, and without hope. I find nothing but hope in the works of Nietzsche. He deepest desire was to see humans remove the yoke of any oppressive ideologies which hindered thoughts and imagination. My initial reading of Zarathustra was very disappointing. I was not ready for the very stylized language he used but subsequent reading made me look beyond the style and see the thoughts behind them and then yielded the wisdom beneath. I make no claims to entirely understand Nietzsche but someone who dropped out before reaching high school I believe I have a fairly good grasp of his overall principles. His ideas are not so abstract that only scholars can understand them. I have now read most of his major works and consider him the single greatest influence on my own life and the perceptions of various institutions. As an atheist I was naturally drawn to his hostility towards most forms of organized religions---the exception for Nietzsche being Buddhism--but he was not grim or dour about this and always championed the "yay-saying" and discouraged the "nay-saing". His words can come across as a bit hard and cold but he felt he was in a desperate battle with a force that was robbing humanity of it's humanity and there was no sense mincing words about the consequences. He would have hated the Nazis. They were everything he despised about the regressive nature of humanity. The were devoid of all hope and their perverse use of the philosophy would have sickened him. This is a book that is still very valid and vital to the health of humanity. It should be read and reread.
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on January 12, 2012
This is the Thomas Common translation of the text. I was redirected here from the much more widely acclaimed Parkes translation. I don't know if this was a mistake or deliberate subterfuge. But FYI, here is what Wikipedia has to say about the various translations available (this entry accords with common scholarly opinion on the translations):

English translations of Zarathustra differ according to the sentiments of each translators. The Thomas Common translation favors a classic English approach, in the style of Shakespeare or the King James Version of the Bible. Common's poetic interpretation of the text, which renders the title Thus Spake Zarathustra, received wide acclaim for its lambent portrayal. Common reasoned that because the original German was written in a pseudo-Luther-Biblical style, a pseudo-King-James-Biblical style would be fitting in the English translation.

The Common translation, which improved on Alexander Tille's earlier attempt,[10] remained widely accepted until the more critical translations, titled Thus Spoke Zarathustra, separately by R.J. Hollingdale and Walter Kaufmann, which are considered to convey more accurately the German text than the Common version. Kaufmann's introduction to his own translation included a blistering critique of Common's version; he notes that in one instance, Common has taken the German "most evil" and rendered it "baddest", a particularly unfortunate error not merely for his having coined the term "baddest", but also because Nietzsche dedicated a third of The Genealogy of Morals to the difference between "bad" and "evil".[10] This and other errors led Kaufmann to wonder whether Common "had little German and less English".[10] The translations of Kaufmann and Hollingdale render the text in a far more familiar, less archaic, style of language, than that of Common.

Clancy Martin's 2005 translation opens with criticism and praise for these three seminal translators, Common, Hollingdale, and Kaufmann. He notes that the German text available to Common was considerably flawed, and that the German text from which Hollingdale and Kaufmann worked was itself untrue to Nietzsche's own work in some ways. Martin criticizes Kaufmann for changing punctuation, altering literal and philosophical meanings, and dampening some of Nietzsche's more controversial metaphors.[11] Kaufmann's version, which has become the most widely available, features a translator's note suggesting that Nietzsche's text would have benefited from an editor; Martin suggests that Kaufmann "took it upon himself to become his [Nietzsche's] editor".[11]

Graham Parkes describes his own 2005 translation as trying "above all to convey the musicality of the text (which was not a priority for Walter Kaufmann or R.J. Hollingdale, authors of the best English translations so far)."[12]
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on October 1, 2010
"Thus spoke Zarathustra" is Friedrich Nietzsche's incomprehensible magnum opus. Everyone's heard of it, few have read it. I readily admit that I haven't read all of it myself either!

The work is a celebration of individualism, atheism, the zest for life, but also transformation through suffering. Zarathustra, acting as Nietzsche's mouthpiece, believes that man must be overcome in favour of the Superman. Soon, the Great Noontide will break upon the world, bringing the Superman with it.

What struck me when I tried to read "Also sprach Zarathustra", was the strongly religious tenor of this supposedly atheist work. Is it really a co-incidence that Nietzsche chose an ancient prophet as his mouthpiece? The Superman is a superhuman creator of new values, morals and law-tablets. A god, perhaps? Christians would see him as the Anti-Christ. And yet, it seems as if Nietzsche, somewhere deep inside, was longing for something divine. What is the "eternal return" if not re-incarnation, new heavens and a new Earth? Interestingly, the new religious movement of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky is to some extent inspired by both Nietzsche and Buddhism, although they seem to have lost the former's desperate enthusiasm for life.

And what are we to make of this dramatic poem, the high point of the entire work: "O Man! Attend! What does deep midnight's voice contend? I slept my sleep and now I awake at dreaming's end: the world is deep, deeper than day can comprehend. Deep is its woe, Joy - deeper than heart's agony: Woe says: Fade! Go! But all joy wants eternity, wants deep, deep, deep eternity!"

Nietzsche may have been the Anti-Christ, but he was an anti-christ crying for God.
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on November 17, 2016

After reading about 12,000 books in my life I decided to read this one next. Winter started today at our Ranch in the remote Sangre de Cristo mountain range of Colorado.

I used to snow ski with men who were direct reports to Adolph Hitler....... They seemed like nice people.

Google my name to Learn more......

Arthur Gerard Michael Baron von Boennighausen
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