10 Apr 2009

"Before Sunrise": Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part 3, Sect. 48

by Corry Shores
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[The following is summary. The original text is placed after.]

Friedrich Nietzsche

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Third Part

Before Sunrise

Zarathustra praises the heavens. Their height is his depth. Their purity his innocence. Like the gods, they are beautiful, wise, silent, and shy.

Zarathustra and the heavens know each other well, like old close friends or siblings.
Together we have learned everything; together we have learned to ascend over ourselves to ourselves and to smile cloudlessly – to smile down coudlessly from bright eyes and from a vast distance when constraint and contrivance and guilt steam beneath us like rain. (164c)
At night when he wanders, for sky does he hunger. Up to the heavens he strives when mountains he climbs: "what I want with all my will is to fly, to fly up into you." (164d)

The clouds stain the sky. Zarathustra hates them. For they
prey on what you and I have in common – the uncanny, unbounded Yes and Amen. We loathe these mediators and mixers, the drifting clouds that are half-and-half and have learned neither to bless nor to curse from the heart. (165a)
So much do the clouds rob Zarathustra of the sky's Yes and Amen that
I had the desire to tie them fast with the jagged golden wires of the lightning, that, like thunder, I might beat the big drums on their kettle-belly – an angry kettle drummer. (165b)
The sky once taught him that if you cannot bless, you should learn to curse. (165c)

But Zarathustra can bless and say Yes, so long as he blesses the sky's abyss of pure light.
this is my blessing: to stand over every single thing as its own heaven, as its round roof, its azure bell, and eternal security. (165d)
Our greatest blessing is Chance.
Over all things stand the heaven Accident, the heaven Innocence, the heaven Chance, the heaven Prankishness. (166a, emphasis mine)
Chance delivers us from Purpose. There is no rational order.
'By Chance' – that is the most ancient nobility of the world, and this I restored to all things: I delivered from their bondage under Purpose. This freedom and heavenly cheer I have placed over all things like an azure bell when I taught that over them and through them no "eternal will" wills. This prankish folly I have put in the place of that will when I taught: "In everything one thing is impossible: rationality." (166b, emphasis mine)
Yet some reason may be found in the world. But it is folly. So it affirms chance.
A little reason, to be sure, a seed of wisdom scattered from star to star – this leaven is mixed in with all things: for folly's sake, wisdom is mixed in with all things. A little wisdom is possible indeed; but this blessed certainty I found in all things: that they would rather dance on the feet of Chance. (166c, some emphasis mine)
The sky is the home to chance. It is the table where men throw dice.
O heaven over me, pure and high! That is what your purity is to me now, that there is no eternal spider or spider web of reason; that you are to me a dance floor for divine accidents, that you are to me a divine table for divine dice and dice players. (166cd, emphasis mine)
Zarathustra says this to the night sky. Dawn nears. He bids farewell.

From the original text:


O heaven above me, thou pure, thou deep heaven! Thou abyss of light! Gazing on thee, I tremble with divine desires.

Up to thy height to toss myself—that is MY depth! In thy purity to hide myself—that is MINE innocence!

The God veileth his beauty: thus hidest thou thy stars. Thou speakest not: THUS proclaimest thou thy wisdom unto me.

Mute o'er the raging sea hast thou risen for me to-day; thy love and thy modesty make a revelation unto my raging soul.

In that thou camest unto me beautiful, veiled in thy beauty, in that thou spakest unto me mutely, obvious in thy wisdom:

Oh, how could I fail to divine all the modesty of thy soul! BEFORE the sun didst thou come unto me—the lonesomest one.

We have been friends from the beginning: to us are grief, gruesomeness, and ground common; even the sun is common to us.

We do not speak to each other, because we know too much—: we keep silent to each other, we smile our knowledge to each other.

Art thou not the light of my fire? Hast thou not the sister-soul of mine insight?

Together did we learn everything; together did we learn to ascend beyond ourselves to ourselves, and to smile uncloudedly:—

—Uncloudedly to smile down out of luminous eyes and out of miles of distance, when under us constraint and purpose and guilt steam like rain.

And wandered I alone, for WHAT did my soul hunger by night and in labyrinthine paths? And climbed I mountains, WHOM did I ever seek, if not thee, upon mountains?

And all my wandering and mountain-climbing: a necessity was it merely, and a makeshift of the unhandy one:—to FLY only, wanteth mine entire will, to fly into THEE!

And what have I hated more than passing clouds, and whatever tainteth thee? And mine own hatred have I even hated, because it tainted thee!

The passing clouds I detest—those stealthy cats of prey: they take from thee and me what is common to us—the vast unbounded Yea- and Amen-saying.

These mediators and mixers we detest—the passing clouds: those half-and-half ones, that have neither learned to bless nor to curse from the heart.

Rather will I sit in a tub under a closed heaven, rather will I sit in the abyss without heaven, than see thee, thou luminous heaven, tainted with passing clouds!

And oft have I longed to pin them fast with the jagged gold-wires of lightning, that I might, like the thunder, beat the drum upon their kettle-bellies:—

—An angry drummer, because they rob me of thy Yea and Amen!—thou heaven above me, thou pure, thou luminous heaven! Thou abyss of light!—because they rob thee of MY Yea and Amen.

For rather will I have noise and thunders and tempest-blasts, than this discreet, doubting cat-repose; and also amongst men do I hate most of all the soft-treaders, and half-and-half ones, and the doubting, hesitating, passing clouds.

And "he who cannot bless shall LEARN to curse!"—this clear teaching dropt unto me from the clear heaven; this star standeth in my heaven even in dark nights.

I, however, am a blesser and a Yea-sayer, if thou be but around me, thou pure, thou luminous heaven! Thou abyss of light!—into all abysses do I then carry my beneficent Yea-saying.

A blesser have I become and a Yea-sayer: and therefore strove I long and was a striver, that I might one day get my hands free for blessing.

This, however, is my blessing: to stand above everything as its own heaven, its round roof, its azure bell and eternal security: and blessed is he who thus blesseth!

For all things are baptized at the font of eternity, and beyond good and evil; good and evil themselves, however, are but fugitive shadows and damp afflictions and passing clouds.

Verily, it is a blessing and not a blasphemy when I teach that "above all things there standeth the heaven of chance, the heaven of innocence, the heaven of hazard, the heaven of wantonness."

"Of Hazard"—that is the oldest nobility in the world; that gave I back to all things; I emancipated them from bondage under purpose.

This freedom and celestial serenity did I put like an azure bell above all things, when I taught that over them and through them, no "eternal Will"—willeth.

This wantonness and folly did I put in place of that Will, when I taught that "In everything there is one thing impossible—rationality!"

A LITTLE reason, to be sure, a germ of wisdom scattered from star to star—this leaven is mixed in all things: for the sake of folly, wisdom is mixed in all things!

A little wisdom is indeed possible; but this blessed security have I found in all things, that they prefer—to DANCE on the feet of chance.

O heaven above me! thou pure, thou lofty heaven! This is now thy purity unto me, that there is no eternal reason-spider and reason-cobweb:—

—That thou art to me a dancing-floor for divine chances, that thou art to me a table of the Gods, for divine dice and dice-players!—

But thou blushest? Have I spoken unspeakable things? Have I abused, when I meant to bless thee?

Or is it the shame of being two of us that maketh thee blush!—Dost thou bid me go and be silent, because now—DAY cometh?

The world is deep:—and deeper than e'er the day could read. Not everything may be uttered in presence of day. But day cometh: so let us part!

O heaven above me, thou modest one! thou glowing one! O thou, my happiness before sunrise! The day cometh: so let us part!—

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Quotations from:
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Transl. Walter Kaufmann. New York: The Modern Library, 1995.

Text reproduction from:
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spake Zarathustra. Transl. Thomas
Common. London: T.N. Foulis, 1911.

Online text available at:


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