Thus Spake Zarathustra: Redemption

redemptionPrevious Post: The Soothsayer

One day when Zarathustra crossed over the great bridge, cripples and beggars surrounded him.

“Look here, Zarathustra!” a hunchback said to him. “Even the people learn from you, and acquire faith in your teaching. But for them to believe in you fully, one thing is still needed. You must first of all convince us cripples! You have here a fine selection, and truly, a golden opportunity! You can heal the blind,and make the lame run. From he who has too much on his back, you could also take away a little. That, I think, would be the right way to make the cripples believe in Zarathustra!”

Zarathustra answered him like this:

When one takes his hump from a hunchback, then one takes his spirit from him; so the people teach. And when one gives the blind man eyes, then he sees too many bad things on earth, so that he curses the one who healed him. He who makes the lame man run, inflicts the greatest injury on him. For he can hardly run when his vices run away with him. So the people teach concerning cripples. Why shouldn’t Zarathustra learn from the people, when the people learn from Zarathustra?

It is the smallest thing to me since I have been among men to see a person lacking an eye, or an ear, or a leg, and others who have lost their tongues, or noses, or even their heads.

I see and have seen worse things, and many things so hideous that I would neither like to talk about all of them, nor keep silent about some of them. I have seen men who lack everything except that they have too much of one thing: men who are nothing more than a big eye, or a big mouth, or a big belly—reversed cripples, I call such men.

When I came out of my solitude, and for the first time crossed this bridge, I could not believe my eyes, but looked again and again. “That is an ear! An ear as big as a man!” I said at last. I looked more carefully, and actually something moved under the ear, something pitiably small, poor, and thin. This immense ear was perched on a small thin stalk, and then I realized that the stalk was a man! A person with a magnifying glass could even recognize a small envious face, and also that a bloated soul dangled at the stalk. The people told me that the big ear was not only a man, but a great man, a genius. I never believed in the people when they sppke of great men, and I hold to my belief that he was a reversed cripple, who had too little of everything, and too much of one thing.

When Zarathustra had said this to the hunchback, and to those of whom the hunchback was the mouthpiece and advocate, then he turned to his disciples in profound sadness, and said:

Truly, my friends, I walk among men as if among the fragments and limbs of human beings! It is a terrible thing to my eye that I find men broken up, and scattered about, as on a battlefield. When my eye flees from the present to the past, it finds everything the same: fragments, limbs, and fearful chances, but no men!

The present and the bygone upon earth. Ah, my friends, this is my most unbearable trouble. I would not know how to live, if I were not a seer of what is to come. A seer, a giver of purpose, a creator, a future itself, and a bridge to the future, and alas, even a cripple on this bridge: all that is Zarathustra.

You’ve often asked yourselves “Who is Zarathustra to us? What should he be called by us?” And like me, did you gave yourselves questions for answers.

Am I a promiser? A fulfiller? A conqueror? An inheritor? A harvest? A ploughshare? A physician? Or a healed one?

Am I a poet? A genuine one? An emancipator? A subjugator? A good one? Or an evil one?

I walk among men as the fragments of the future embodied, the future that I contemplate. All my poetry and aspiration is to compose and collect into unity what is fragmentary, puzzling, and fearfully random. How could I endure being a man if man were not also the composer, and riddle solver, and the beneficiary of chance!

To redeem the past and transform every “it was” into “so I would have it!”; only that do I call redemption! Will is the emancipator and joy bringer. I have taught you this, my friends! But now learn this too: the Will itself is still a prisoner. Willing emancipates: but what is it that that puts the emancipator in chains?

“It was” sets the Will’s teeth gnashing and is its loneliest tribulation. It is impotent to what has been done, a malicious spectator of all that is past. The Will cannot will backward. It can’t break time and time’s desire. That is the Will’s greatest tribulation. Willing emancipates, but what can Willing itself do in order to get free itself from its tribulation and mock its prison? Every prisoner becomes a fool! The imprisoned Will also foolishly delivers itself.

That time does not run backward, that is what it hates. “That which was” is the stone which it cannot roll. Because of this, it roll stones out of animosity and ill humour, and takes revenge on whatever does not, like it, feel rage and ill humour. This is how the Will, the emancipator, become a torturer. It takes revenge on everything that is capable of suffering because it cannot go backward.

This alone is revenge itself: the Will’s antipathy to time, and what was. Truly, great folly dwells in our Will, and it became a curse to all humanity that this folly acquired spirit! The spirit of revenge, my friends, has until now been man’s best contemplation. Where there was suffering, it was claimed there was always a price to be paid.

“A penalty.” So revenge calls itself. With a lying word it pretends to have a clear conscience. Because the willer himself suffers, because he cannot will backwards, he claims Willing itself, and all life, claimed to be an act of revenge! Then cloud after cloud rolls over the spirit, until at last madness preaches.

“Everything dies, therefore everything deserves to die! This itself is justice, the law of time: that he must devour his children,” madness preaches. “Morally things this ordered according to justice and punishment. Where is there deliverance from the flux of things and from the ‘existence’ of punishment? Can there be deliverance when there is eternal justice? Alas, the stone is unrollable because it is in the past. All penalties must also be eternal must! No deed can be annihilated. How could it be undone by a punishment! This is what is eternal in the ‘existence’ of punishment: that existence must be eternally recurring deed and guilt! Unless the Will can at last deliver itself, and Willing become non-Willing.”

You know, my brothers, this fabulous song of madness! I lead you away from those fabulous songs when I taught you that the Will is a creator. All “It was” is a fragment, a riddle, a fearful randomness, until the creating Will says to it “so I would I have it.” Until the creating Will says “So I will it! So I shall will it!”

Does it ever say this? And when does this take place? Has the Will been unharnessed from its own folly? Has the Will become its own deliverer and joy bringer? Has it unlearned the spirit of revenge and stopped gnashing its teeth? Who has taught it to reconcile with time? Something higher than all reconciliation?

The Will must will something higher than all reconciliation: the Will to Power. But how does that take place? Who has taught it to will backwards?

At this point in his discourse, Zarathustra suddenly paused in the greatest alarm. With terror in his eyes, he gazed on his disciples. His glances pierced their thoughts like arrows and afterthoughts. But after a moment, he laughed again.

“It is difficult to live among men, because silence is so difficult,” he said soothingly. “Especially for a babbler.”

The hunchback had listened to the conversation and had covered his face the whole time, but when he heard Zarathustra laugh, he looked up with curiosity.

“Why does Zarathustra speak differently to us than to his disciples?” he asked.

“What is there to be wondered at?” Zarathustra answered. “With hunchbacks one may well speak in a hunchbacked way!”

“Very good,” said the hunchback. “And with students, one may well tell tales out of school. But why does Zarathustra speak differently to his pupils than he does to himself?”

Next Post: Manly Discipline

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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2 Responses to Thus Spake Zarathustra: Redemption

  1. Pingback: Thus Spake Zarathustra: The Soothsayer | Jim's Jumbler

  2. Pingback: Thus Spake Zarathustra: Manly Discipline | Jim's Jumbler

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