onsdag 5 augusti 2020

How to Be a Nietzschean Superman

Today we give you a course in Supermanism.




How to be superman? It’s easy; just will it.


Nietzsche coined the very term “superman”. In Thus Spake Zarathustra he says that man is something to be overcome; man shall strive to be more than he is. He shall elevate himself into virtual godhead and become a dancing Dionysos, a man possessed by Odin.


Nietzsche intimated the presence of Odin in the poem “To the Unknown God” from 1863-64. And the spiritual side of his Zarathustra book I covered in Borderline.


In a letter to a friend (Meta von Salis) Nietzsche wrote: “Fraulein von Salis. The world is transfigured, for God is on the earth. Do not you see how all the heavens rejoice?”


This he wrote shortly before going mad but these lines aren’t mad as such. If a god walks the earth it would indeed be transfigured and the heavens would rejoice. Nietzsche’s letter nails the state of “god incarnated as a man”. The madness can also be seen as “divine madness”. 


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To be a superman in Nietzsche’s conception wasn’t only about divine elevation, Dionysian dance and all that jazz. It could also mean human perfection. He meant that figures like Goethe, Montaigne, Voltaire and Napoleon were good examples of this kind of perfection. They fulfilled the dictum, “be all that you can be”.


So, you superman aspirants out there, to be superman isn’t so very hard. Just perfect your talents and shine.


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Above we saw how Nietzsche mentioned “transfiguration,” and now some more of it... 

In The Will to Power Nietzsche says this which is divine supermanism in nuce: “[M]an becomes the transfigurer of existence when he learns to transfigure himself.” (The Will to Power, p. 434)


From the same book, very apt, very holistic: “If we affirm one single moment, we thus affirm not only ourselves but all existence. For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event—and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed.” (ibid,p. 532–533)


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Two more quotes from Will to Power... about being strong.


1. “I teach the No to all that makes weak—that exhausts. I teach the Yes to all that strengthens, that stores up strength, that justifies the feeling of strength.”  (p. 33)


2. “It is only a question of strength: to have all the morbid traits of the century, but to balance them through a superabundant, recuperative strength. The strong man.” (p. 524)


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Thus Spake Zarathustra shows us the superman brimming of energy. The last lines of the book should suffice to illustrate the power exuding from it in its best parts, the aura of vital energy virtually dripping off the page:

"Do I then strive after happiness? I strive after my work!... This is my morning, my day beginneth: arise now, arise, thou great noontide!” – Thus spake Zarathustra and left his cave, glowing and strong, like a morning sun coming out of gloomy mountains." [p. 368, Thomas Common translation]

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As I said in the beginning: be superman, it’s easy... you just will it.



Jack Steelnack

Illustration: Robert Svensson

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