Thus Came the Truth
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
As far as humanity will rise, man will fall— like a great tree that grows as tall as a mountain yet hides roots as deep as the sea. Man is only a rope: one side an animal (worm) and on the other side, a superman (God). As dangerous as we cross this tight rope, every man is in a different position on the journey pertaining to how dangerously they seek to live or how many risks they are willing to take. To think of this visually, it helps to imagine the rope as becoming thinner as it nears the superman side and as thick as a plank on the animal side. Though one may come drastically closer to becoming a superman than a worm, they also run the risk of slipping from the rope entirely. In Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” Zarathustra praises the man that takes risks to become the Ubermench, superman, or higher man, while denouncing and warning those around him of their worm-like traits. Self-proclaimed in his autobiography, Ecce Homo, Nietzsche labels Zarathustra’s story as the greatest gift mankind has ever been given.
Western culture has been (predictably) declining to a disability of values that has brought about the Last Man. The Last Man is the quintessential mediocre man— a simple man with a variety of traits deriving from Nietzsche’s slave morality in Beyond Good and Evil. This unimpressive being specializes not in creating but in consumption and comfort. Instead of focusing on the grandeur of man, he is concerned wholly with using modern science and technology to enhance the pleasure and comfort of man. He claims superficially to have discovered happiness through consistent use of advanced technologies, but as much as he loves his comfort, inner dissonance festers within him, as he is without goals or self and brimming with violent impotence in the face of an external reality felt to be overpowering.
This may have been useful to many worldviews adopted by the west, such as Christianity. The practice of church is hostile with life and considered an anti-natural morality by Nietzsche, referred to as the ‘danger of dangers,’ and it is adopted well by the slave’s herd. Christianity, and many other Christ based religions, value the weakness, selfishness, and peasantry of people rather than their superior qualities, aggression, and distinctive traits. As this religion does with individuality, Christianity seeks to rid one of their shadow.
Carl Jung’s notion of a ‘shadow’ is the demonic negative of man’s existence or consciousness. It encompasses, though it is not limited to, hostility, violence, aggression, selfishness, and greed. Though Christianity may seek to destroy our shadow, their efforts may be doing more harm than good. “Good does not become better by being exaggerated, but worse, and a small evil becomes a big one through being disregarded and repressed,” (Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion). All of these traits and feelings can all be molded in a way that may be tremendously useful to our everyday lives. To truly reach Nietzsche’s master morality, one must adapt the aggressive traits of Carl Jung’s shadow. The efforts to become a greater character, and ultimately reach superman status, lie in the integration and mastering of these repressed traits into our lives.
Annoyed over mankind’s tendency to attribute deification and ideals of perfection to an external and unseen cosmic being, Zarathustra sought to lure many away from the herd and discover their meaning without the herd’s aid by recognizing themselves as the creators of these values and therefore, their own God. Aware of the difficulty of such a task, Nietzsche claimed that we must act as bridges to the superman and participate in life as a higher being so that the superman may come to an eventual, future fruition. This would grant mankind an open sea to form our own meanings and embody our own justifications, attaining independence from the herd instincts of humanity and becoming the Ubermench.
Historically, man’s meaning has been provided to him by ‘the Sacred’ which is an unseen reality that is esteemed to be a great source of power. The Christian places their God in the form of the sacred and lives in communion with him in the hopes of ascending to a wonderful afterlife in Heaven upon their death. Nietzsche, knowing Christianity’s destiny to fall as a result of their own morality in its reverence to truth, proclaimed that the west would subsequently be forced to view the cosmos through the lens of a worldview devoid of ‘the Sacred,’ thus bringing about the death of God. This brought a new disposition to mankind, as it had never been without its external meaning found in ‘the Sacred.’ Mircea Eliade, 20th century Romanian historian, spoke of this in his work The Sacred and The Profane. “It should be said that the completely profane world, the wholly desacralized cosmos is a recent discovery in the history of the human spirit… for the nonreligious men of the modern age, the cosmos has become opaque, inert, mute; it transmits no message, it holds no cipher,” (Eliade). By killing the God(s) above us and wielding our shadow as a powerful weapon born within us, we may reach our full potential as humans and allow Supermen to live.