[Your Own Title] A Critic Paper for Zarathustra’s Prologue
The prologue has two main ideas in which is the declaration of God is dead and the declaration of the overman. The declaration of God’s death in the prologue doesn’t mean that God really don’t exist but the author wanted to tell us that God is not universally accepted to give meaning in our lives nowadays. He wanted to tell us that our idea about GOD is not strong enough to serve as our source of strength, truth, and morality.
The figure of the last man in the prologue tells us what could happen if man tried to strive for more things. The last man also symbolizes the lack of man in having positive goals in life. He wanted us to see that man in the end is selfish being in which man will eliminate the things that can make him/her worry to be happy.
The concept of the overman that the author wanted the readers to see was that the overman is the man who acts on his own and doesn’t believe in GOD. The overman struggles in this world with out the dependency to GOD and in this way the overman is rejected by the believers and those who is good and just.
Zarathustra preaches that humans are the linkers (bridges) between the animal and overman. Humans are still governed with their own animal instincts that lead them to be prejudice and be dependent to faith. In order to overcome these characteristics, we should be cruel to ourselves and carve away these characteristics. He speaks about the victorious moments of man that man overcome or conquered these animal instincts where man evaluates their human qualities that they once valued. It signifies the victory of man over their shallow nature (human nature) and our progress toward being independent from GOD (being an overman).
The portrait of humanity that acts as a bridge is present in the story of the tightrope walker. The tightrope walker makes a slow and dangerous paces or steps in the progress of being an animal and an overman. The jester shows the role of Zarathustra because the jester can cross the rope toward the overman like Zarathustra. The way the jester acted to the tightrope man in order to get ahead of him (tightrope man) is similar to the way of preaching of Zarathustra about the overman in which it can upset and ruin other people’s lives that are not yet ready to accept the truth that Zarathustra was saying.
A good comparison that I can give with the character Zarathustra is the known savior of mankind named JESUS CHRIST. Zarathustra was a failure for fishing followers while Jesus made his disciples “fisher’s of man” in which we can consider that Jesus was victorious over Zarathustra. Jesus is a good shepherd in where he searches the missing sheep in his flock of sheep in order to ensure the missing sheep’s safety, in the other hand; Zarathustra wants to teach the flock of sheep individually for Zarathustra’s reason is for this individual to be free from the group.
Nietzsche, the author, always talks about the sufferings, struggles and self-overcoming for a human to be called an overman. He says that the technical aspects that we’ve learned came from learning and understanding the rules and the ways how the people from the past do things. It requires a lot of courage and presence of mind to question these rules and to be not dependent on the teachings of your own teacher. In order to be the overman a constant struggle is needed and one should overcome himself to have a new self.
In the chapter “On the Three Metamorphoses”, Nietzsche wanted us to see some overview about the meaning of the overman that Zarathustra was talking about. This chapter revealed to us that an overman is in the process of creating his/her new self in order to be independent to GOD. The man who wants to become an overman needs to undergo changes that will allow him to have a new set value which is not known to other people and in this case the man is said to be reborn.
In the chapter “On the Despisers of the Body”, Zarathustra’s claim about the “body” is like the body is a container for the soul and the body is the representation of the physical world that we live in. The importance of Supreme Being or should I say GOD and spirits was countered by Zarathustra by illustrating the idea that the earth is composed of physical things and the emotion that we feel, the things that we thought, the value and faith we had is primarily the responses of our body to its needs. Zarathustra suggests that the concept of afterlife or the belief in the Supreme Being, GOD, is actually the response of a sick body who wanted some liberation from pain in real life. A body which is healthy doesn’t need gods or even other worlds: the body itself is sufficient enough to sustain itself. A healthy body doesn’t mean a body who eat healthy foods but a body that is contented on what it has and the person who owns this body is enjoying his/her life, contented in his/her achievements (life) and contented to the world he/she was staying.
In the chapter “On the Gift-Giving Virtue”, Zarathustra told his disciples to decide on their own free will the path they (disciples) will be taking. For Zarathustra doesn’t want to lead them but to inspire them on what they should do. The image that Zarathustra maybe wanted us to see that he already reached the peak of the mountain that he climbed with many hindrances that he faced but still conquered it all and we should also find our own mountain, face the hindrances that may come when reaching its peak. An overman should know what mountain he should climb and must reach the peak of the said mountain. Zarathustra can’t guide other people while climbing their own mountain because Zarathustra only knows his own mountain. Zarathustra can only tell the difficulties or the hindrances and the rewards at the peak of the mountain that may come to the person who is climbing on his own mountain.
In the chapter “On Self-Overcoming”, Zarathustra claims that every creature in the world that lives obeys and if that creature can’t obey himself/herself , as a result some other creatures may command on him/her in a way this creature who can’t obey himself/herself will obey this creature who commanded him/her. Zarathustra says that commanding is seemed to be more risky and complicated than obeying these commands because humans are driven by their own will to power or will to be ahead to other people. Zarathustra stated that power can be gained if a person will obey a more superior person than him/her.
Power can be achieved by a person if this person can overcome himself/herself because the concept of self-overcoming is primarily the central idea to the “will to power”. A person can achieve great power if that person has self-mastery and self-overcoming. This includes the way he/she act on his/her struggles in life and the way he/she seek freedom for himself/herself. This freedom can take many forms. An example could be is the freedom from bodily needs and desires in which this freedom was seek by the ascetic. In this chapter, Nietzsche views the overman as a man who set his/her idea of total freedom. There exist no constrains or boundary to what he/she (overman) does and the only being who controlled this overman is the overman himself. Therefore the overman is the creator or simply the “god” of his/her own universe (this includes the people who surrounds him/her).
The effort that was put into this will to power requires changes: this statement clearly says that one should change in order to overcome himself/herself. This statement also leads me to generalization that change is the fundamental characteristic of all life in this world.
In the chapter “On Redemption”, Zarathustra wanted to see a complete human being. He only sees the inverse cripple who have one great attribute but this cripple is weak in other aspects. Zarathustra can’t weigh the present and the past if he could not foresee / to look forward to a future of whole human beings that redeem this past. Zarathustra stated the problem that no one is capable to change his/her past. In this effect we experience pain and sufferings from our doings or should I say from the consequences of our actions. Zarathustra says that if we experienced pain and sufferings, we can find redemption from it.
In this chapter Zarathustra wanted us to realize that in this world of imperfections the only thing that is constant is change but change can’t affect the past and the time that this change can affect now is the present and the future. An example could be is that in the past I’ve got low grades in my exams that resulted a failing grade in my report card and when I retake this subject I’ve studied hard and gain an excellent grade but still in the transcript of record the failing grade was still present.
In this chapter the “will” suffers because the “will” itself can’t overcome the hindrance that arrives. The hindrance that being talk about was the past. The past became the hindrance because the past is the only that can’t be changed by man and can’t be touch or even can’t be altered by other people. The only way that “will” can stop from suffering is to meditate. This meditation can help the will to eliminate the worldly desires and eventually can stop thinking the past. In this way one can solve the problem from its core but the result will only be seen in the present and in the future.
Zarathustra wanted us to see that “will” should take responsibilities for the past and this “will” should not see the past as an obstacle. In this point of I view I could humbly say that this statement reflects on us today that we should accept the past as a part of ourselves and not just simply an obstacle that can’t make us advance forward. This saying seems to strike me most simply because past is not a thing should be afraid of or should I say should not a thing that can make you grow smaller.
In the concept of the overman the author wanted to tell us that humans are deficient in the full-bodied individuality and creativity of an overman because humans tend to excel in one aspect of his/her abilities and this ability is the only ability he/she would most likely to enhance more. In this manner, it shows that we are not completely the one who control of our destiny and this conclude that we are also not in complete control of our past. This led me to generalization that claiming responsibility of the past can’t ensure the redeeming of it.
Zarathustra wanted to tell us that the key to redemption is through eternal recurrence. The event of eternal recurrence is the event that happened not only once in a life time but an event that happened infinitely at no definite time.
In the chapter “On the Vision and the Riddle”, Zarathustra wanted to tell us that courage can overcome everything. The word everything in this statement is literally means everything in the sense that even death can be overcome by courage.
The terminology eternal recurrence is discussed in this chapter. The said chapter says that eternal recurrence is possible because if it is not possible a person could achieve its final state. Base from my understanding the eternal recurrence can be associated with the evolution of man in where man continues to evolve even though it took years. The said eternal recurrence is a continuous process in which it can be helpful to one self or it can also lead to one self’s destruction based on the purpose of this person to use this process.
In the author’s point of view the change that was happening unto us is in eternal recurrence. It means that change is an endless process that it still continues without turning back or without hesitations. The conception of the author about the universe is there exist no GOD and the only thing that is constant that exist in the universe is change.
In my own perspective, the overman would simply means the perfect man. Because a man who change constantly can lessen his/her imperfections. It simply shows that if an overman really exists nowadays his/her qualities should be great and his/her imperfections must be lessened in a way that his/her way of living in accordance by himself/herself.
In life, the thing that is hard to accept is death but in order to defy death we must be courageous enough to fight against it and still cling on life. This act of bravery can lead us to success if we can apply it in everything that we do. Death is not the thing to be afraid of but the people around us who is scarier than death itself. Death is a distraction of one’s will to survive or to cling on life, thus if death arrives and a person doesn’t want to experience death he/she has an option to fight against it and still cling to life.
I would say that selfishness is not taught in the Zarathustra’s Prologue. This literary piece wanted to tell us a point of view that is different from our culture. I can compare this prologue to the Holy Bible, because both of this book told stories that a person can get something either in moral judgment or can acquire new values to live with.
Nietzsche, Friedrich.The Portable Nietzsche.
United State of America: Penguin Books,1976.