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"What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence-even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and with it, speck of dust!'"
"Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ' You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.' If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question is each and every thing, 'Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?' would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more feverently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal? (The Gay Science 273-274)
Not to be difficult, as I respect you both, but Victor said something slightly different. He offered a definition of the good life. And it's a good definition. I just wanted to stress that one must affirm the life one is thrown into, in all its ragged and lonely particularity. Man must find his heaven on the dirt of planet Earth. Indeed indeed.
It is, though, if one was to hold the Christian ideal of being rewarded for this life in an after life in heaven. To these people the eternal recurrence would send them in despair that their lives were pointless and meaningless. Thus, the doctrine the ultimate revaluation of values that overcomes the nihilism caused by the fact that God is dead.
As a result, Victor is right that the idea is to make this the best life possible this time. I can also see how Nietzsche's sister would be a hindrance in N's life affirmation through the eternal recurrence.
and of course in popular culture, we shouldn't overlook the hilarious but perceptive depiction of the eternal return provided in Bill Murray's film Groundhog Day.
Well, that is not really the same idea that Nietzsche was talking about when you consider the cosmological or theoretical formulation of the eternal recurrence. For Bill Murray's character, he experiences the same day over and over again, not a life time over and over again.
By carrot I did not mean to symbolize any sort of heavenly reward. The carrot is equivalent to a Jungian Archetype.
It's a psychological theory that man is compulsively an heroic being. Intellectuals, artists, the man on the street. All of them, I suggest, are role-playing (or incarnating) an heroic ideal, or if you like, an ego-ideal.
The carrot would be the non-contingent energy of this compulsion. The ideal as it is experienced can take many forms.
To act righteously without the certainty of Heavenly reward is a grander way to play the hero. In the same way must of existentialism is quasi-Satanic.
What an aesthetic notion: man alone in the void, creating himself. Or man against the world, him and his chosen essence. Or Sartre with his Marxism cape on, trying to reconcile a quasi-Satanic with a quasi-Christian sort of hero-myth.
But I thought that one of the messages of the Book of Job was that dreadful suffering can befall those who do not seem to have done anything to deserve it. (Of course, in the East, this is not so difficult to explain, because one can always attribute it to 'past bad karma'. But the Judeo Christian tradition does not appear to have this.)
How does eternal recurrence compare with Keirkegaard's idea of repetition? The idea there is that there is a melancholy that goes with the idea that there is nothing new. He wasn't saying that there's nothing new, just that there's two ways to look at things:
1. You're unique, this event in front of you is unique and will never come again... there's drama and anxiety with this outlook.
2. You're just another human, this is another morning, on another day, in another year... it's the same year over and over.. it can be a balm on an strife-ridden psyche to know this... that no matter how bad it may seem, we drink the same stream, see the same sun, and run the same course our father's have run....(William Knox)
"Repetition and recollection are the same movement, only in opposite directions; for what is recollected is repeated backwards, whereas geniune repetiton is recollected forwards. Recollection makes us unhappy, but repetition, will make us happy, provided we give ourselves time to live and do not immediately at birth, try to find some lame excuse (that we forgot something for example) for creeping out of life again."
uh...am i nuts or has the capability of editing posts been removed? i know there was no 'big band', though that would have been a nice concept. i meant to say 'big bang' of course...