Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nietzsche's 'Ode to Eternity'

Nietzsche's 'Ode to Eternity': At two distinct points in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883), Nietzsche offered an ode to express his love of eternity. It went as follows: "O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare? I was asleep - From a deep dream I woke and swear: The world is deep, Deeper than day had been aware. Deep is its woe; Joy - deeper yet than agony: Woe implores: Go! But all joy wants eternity- Wants deep, wants deep eternity." For Nietzsche, eternity was the only 'woman' he ever loved. And through Zarathustra's futile attempts to find the Overman (Der Übermensch), Nietzsche conveyed his philosophical doctrine of eternal recurrence. Rooted in the idea that science had already determined time to be cyclical, eternal recurrence was a wholly Romantic doctrine. It longed for simpler times when both lies and truths were obvious to the common man. And likewise, when relativism served no legitimate purpose in the development of national cultures. But as German-American existentialist philosopher Walter Kaufmann discovered, Nietzsche's 'Ode to Eternity' was eerily similar to Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy" (Ode an die Freude), which placed man's earthly sufferings and God's eternal rewards at the center of its poetic thrust.

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