Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Something to think about

  Lo! I show you the last man.
"What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a
star?"- so asketh the last man and blinketh.
The earth hath then become small, and on it there hoppeth the last
man who maketh everything small. His species is ineradicable like that
of the ground-flea; the last man liveth longest.
"We have discovered happiness"- say the last men, and blink thereby.
They have left the regions where it is hard to live; for they need
warmth. One still loveth one's neighbour and rubbeth against him;
for one needeth warmth.
Turning ill and being distrustful, they consider sinful: they walk
warily. He is a fool who still stumbleth over stones or men!
A little poison now and then: that maketh pleasant dreams. And
much poison at last for a pleasant death.
One still worketh, for work is a pastime. But one is careful lest
the pastime should hurt one.
One no longer becometh poor or rich; both are too burdensome. Who
still wanteth to rule? Who still wanteth to obey? Both are too
burdensome.
No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wanteth the same; everyone is
equal: he who hath other sentiments goeth voluntarily into the
madhouse.
"Formerly all the world was insane,"- say the subtlest of them,
and blink thereby.
They are clever and know all that hath happened: so there is no
end to their raillery. People still fall out, but are soon reconciled-
otherwise it spoileth their stomachs.
They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little
pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health.
"We have discovered happiness,"- say the last men, and blink
thereby.-
-Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Chapter 5

3 comments:

Br. Thomas said...

Read the first part of Heidegger's "What is called Thinking" (Was Heisst Denken) for his analysis of this section of Nietzsche.

Rolheiser, also, is fascinated by a similar Nietzschean theme in his book, "The Shattered Lantern." Good reads, both of them.

The last man is the one whom the over-man over-comes when he again becomes 'thoughtful.' Those last men, the ones who blink even at the most amazing realities, carry the wasteland within. For them there are no pains, and as masters over all creation they can no longer respond to any other Master.

Yet, do they not carry within them the secret of mystery, though repressed and hidden? How to explode them? Priest, you have your commission.

Jeff said...

The ability of one person to 'explode the secret of mystery' 'repressed' in the Last Man, though--it seems we must make some proper distinctions.

On the one hand, Hitler's 'gift' for oratory certainly stimulated the dark recesses of the human spirit; but it enslaved the masses, making his following both sheep and 'willing executioners'.

Is there something common to frenzy and freedom? Excitement and passion can accompany a death wish as much as it does the glory of God. Perhaps this relates back to the fact that the value of the passions relates to their object, the terminus ad quem, rather than their efficient cause.

In the first few pages of Jose Escriva's "The Way", he tells the reader, "You were born to be a leader!" Brainwashing or theological truth? The Church triumphant judges angels. Somehow in the universal Christian vocation there is the absolute coincidence of free servitude and commanding lordship. So also in Christ, in whom there is both total subordination to the Father, and total equality.

To freely obey, to authoritatively command; these belong to the path of freedom and life. To do neither is to have one more thing in common with the cow that eats grass. And blinks.

Br. Thomas said...

I think I need to give up on this Derrida book I've been reading...

Indeed, mania and zealotry have no moral conscience. What, then, inspired the martyrs? They responded, in the absolute conscientiousness, to the ultimate, unknown Other, and still did not open their mouths.

Something Christian has less to do with mania or repression than with listening, of which both extremes are a denial.