Mon 30 Nov, 2009 10:51 pm
One of the passages that is rather cryptic and could lead someone to think that the eternal recurrence is a form of metaphysical fatalism can found in Thus Spoke Zarathustra in the second part of the parable "On the Vision and the Riddle" when the dwarf springs from Zarathustra's shoulder. But upon examination, it is clear that Nietzsche is trying to make a distinction about the nature of time and life, rather than a fatalistic attitude towards life. Zarathustra tells the dwarf to look at the gateway and says: "'It has two faces. Two roads come together here: no one has yet followed either to its end. This long lane backwards: it continues for an eternity. And that long lane forward-that is another eternity'" (136). This seems to suggest the idea of an eternal life as posited by Christian doctrine. There is a past that lasts for an eternity and there is a future that lasts for eternity.
Then Nietzsche goes on to write that "'They are opposed to one another, these roads; they offend each other face to face-and it is here, at this gateway, that they come together. The name of the gateway is inscribed above: 'Moment'" (136). And this part makes the distinction that there is a past and a future that meets here in present. The past and the future is opposed because the only connection between the two in Christian doctrine is the present. Once a life enters into the "gateway," there is no returning back to the present so the past and future are necessarily opposed.
Then Nietzsche writes, "'But should one follow the further-and ever further and further on, do you think, dwarf, that these roads would be eternally opposed?'-'Everything straight lies,' murmured the dwarf, contemptuously. 'All truth is crooked, time itself is a circle' (136). Here Nietzsche asks if the past and present are necessarily opposed and a life cannot go back through the gates, and the dwarf makes the claim that even though time, and thus, life may appear to be a straight path in the past and the future for eternity, this appearance is deceiving because time is a circle which comes back on itself.
Then Nietzsche goes on to argue that everything has already happened and it will again by saying asking the dwarf "'Must not all things that can run already have run along that lane? Must not all things that can happen already have happened, been done, and passed by?'" Thus everything has already been done in the past. Then Nietzsche makes the realization that even this moment necessarily has happen considering what was written previously. Nietzsche writes: "'And if everything has been here before: what do you think, dwarf, of this moment? Must not this gateway already also-have been? And are not all things closely bound together in such a way that this moment draws all coming things after it? Therefore-itself too?'" (136). This signifies that the present and the past are necessarily wound together and that the future is decided in this moment by what has come before it.
Then finally Zarathustra comes to the conclusion that life eternally reoccurs. Nietzsche writes "'So, for all things that can run: also in this long lane forward-it must once more run!'-(Thus Spoke Zarathustra 136). Thus life is an infinite loop that repeats over and over again because everything has been done and will through eternity.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. 2005.