Metamorphosis of Spirit

Sources for the Metamorphosis: the Ages of Man and the three metamorphoses of spirit

Zarathustra tells how it is that the human spirit, overcoming morality, becomes a sumpter, a predator, and a quasihuman redeemer, a culminating jester representing our second child-hood. The human spirit loses its innocence. Morality brings man to embarrassment, shame, and guilt. Imposing moral world-order onto existence, man loses contact with the Dionysian innocence of becoming. At length, the newest and most unrelenting of all moral imperatives voices its commandments to mankind, the unconditional will to truth. Like Oedipus, whose heroic drive to knowledge drew him into unspeakable crimes against nature, parricide and maternal incest, we, too, must be brought, by our stern unwillingness to deceive ourselves, to an involuntary murderous assault on the resentment fathering our passionate and unbridled lust to uncover, penetrate, and know the truth as well as to an incestuous assault on the artistic illusions mothering it. Knowledge turns us into animals. As camels, we gladly assume the gravest and most demanding burdens, burdens which might easily crush others lacking our strength and reverence. We patiently, lovingly, obediently submit ourselves to trying labors, testing our loyalty and disciplining our characters into wholeness. As true ascetics, we deny ourselves any indulgence in independent cognitions, volitions, or actions, and we bind ourselves as tightly as possible to our servitude. We accept our moral responsibility to do the truth, and, doing so, we regain our innocence. As lions we rise up in violent rebellion against our absolute master, one we knelt down to in love as perfect servants. Renouncing any power to create, we strike out in destructive frenzy, declaring autonomous, arbitrary independence. We struggle against our moral obligations, refusing to believe in their sacred inviolability, hence summoning their ultimate origins and values into question. We even dare to be honest about what honesty actually means, insisting on knowing the ugly, unseemly truth about truth, and, as a result, we finally overthrow our draconic master and assert our freedom. As children, we rediscover our ability to be and to become the truth, will-ing our own wills and giving ourselves the right to act in an innocent style, playing as children play, without expecting unity, reality, absolute veracity, or any other moral attribute to rule our lives. Hence, our creative energy returns, the strength and the force that makes us gods, the power to create new values, superhuman meanings. At this stage, our ludic virtues are complete. We are as innocent, as independent, and as strong as children at play. We have lived as consummate animals as a means to overcoming, integrating, and elevating ourselves as consummate men—as supermen.


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