The Return of the Zarathustra

Artist Unknown; Credit to Penguin Random House Publishing LLC.

Artist Unknown; Credit to Penguin Random House Publishing LLC.

"Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves." - (Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche, pg. 120)

When the Parable of the Madman was written in the year 1882, it was, indeed, far too soon for such utterances. The blood of God was still warm, and our frenzy still blinding. What we had killed had not yet made it's way into our memories, and yet we still were, and still are, responsible. We have not washed the blood from our hands. 

But in the year 2018, can one say it is the time? Perhaps, it is a perfect time for the return of Zarathustra, for the coming of that madman. His utterances reflect a reality that we know too well. We not only remember what we have done, we have decided to bathe in the blood. ‘God is dead’ is now not a miserable whisper, but the marked cheer of the modern atheist. We chant it as a battle cry, and perhaps have forgotten the horror that comes with such words.

But if one is so bold, as I am, to imagine the return of Zarathustra, one would note that the world he comes to has understood his declarations, but has raised upon its shoulders its own prophet. The name of that prophet is justice, and we have submitted to its words. We wish not to see the future, so like justice we blind ourselves. Like justice, we have come to see punishment on the same level as mercy, and we give it unto ourselves the power to determine which is which. We, like justice, hold in our hands the weight, the scale. Guilt and innocence are what have enveloped us. It is not at the hands of nihilism that Truth has found itself wounded, but by the hands of justice. We have taken it upon ourselves to sit upon the throne once reserved for God, and like any succession, we have since then been at each other's throats, trying to kill for the sake of our claim.

If Zarathustra came down from his mountain, to try once more and share the honey of his wisdom, what he would see is a world that heard him, that could handle his words, but not what he would ask of us because of them. We are very aware of the death of God. He would find, however, an envious world; one that aspires to being God themselves. They desire to pass judgement, and to impose "their truth" onto those they do not agree with. He would see a world that has come to the gasping ends of slave morality, and the small but rising resistance of the priest caste he has such distaste for, itself split by the prospect of justice.  He would come upon a world with ears to hear, but who are blinded, guilt ridden, and constantly proclaiming judgement, even in the most ironic sense of abstaining judgement. 

What would Zarathustra, preacher of the Overman, see in this world? The falseness of which the Overman has become, to those who even heard of him, would be bitter in his mouth. Will to Power, he would see, has been twisted into both a Will to Justice and a Will to Injustice. But firstly, he would watch at the barbarity of which we treat all those who we deem "unjust" and mutter his old words:

"Revenge sounds out of all their complaints, a malevolence is in all their praise; and to be judge seems bliss to them. But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!" - (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche, pg. 88)

Zarathustra has come too late, I say. The world can hear his words, in so far that they could ring irritatingly in a church on a bad Sunday. But the world can not approve of he, the breaker of laws. The sadness he would feel is that only some, only parts, of his doctrines, of his proclamations, have been considered, have been given the life of a deed. We hungrily took up the call to be Gods, to overcome our humanity. The words that would haunt him most, would echo as such:

"Man is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?"
- (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, pg. 9)

We have overcome something, but I know that it is not our humanity, for we know not what humanity is! We cannot overcome what we do not know. Instead, we overcame our disgust for barbarous acts, for envy, for revenge, and have wrapped it in the ideal of Justice. We are now all Gods, or so we seem to act. We are vengeful, disgusting, jealous Gods. We have not moved forwards but backwards towards the paganism of the past. Our deification is a multiplicity, and to us there is but one throne.

I know I have said Zarathustra has come too late, but I say paradoxically that we need him more than ever. Not to save us. A figment, of which he is, can perhaps inspire but can also be twisted and broken to the world we live. We need him, I think, to teach us just what it is we are to overcome. His figment is not without words, and with words one may learn, and perhaps may become the seeker of knowledge one ought to be.

Perhaps the gravest irony of all, is that we may need Zarathustra, the presence of his figment, to teach us, to help us explore, or perhaps to be the last obstacle, so that we may finally answer: what is humanity?