On the Way of the Creator
This speech begins with the presentation of a dichotomy, a polarity between herdism on the one hand, and true individuality on the other. The individual, the creator, knows what it means to be alone, to be lonely–so lonely, in fact, that he or she knows what it means to “murder” his/her own feelings of depression and lost hope. The creator is above all free–but not only free from something, but free for something. This something involves the creation of a new moral conscience. But this new morality is not the way to commit murder of a real human being, as Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov decided, for Zarathustra notes that “It is terrible to be alone with the judge and avenger of one’s own law”, and he asks “Can you give yourself your own evil and good and hang your will above yourself like a law?” Similarly, he notes that no everyone has the “right” to be free from a “yoke” (presumably meaning an out-dated moral system).
Those who have attacked Nietzsche for Zarathustra’s presentation of a new morality as being synonymous with immorality and anarchism have missed the “turn the other cheek” message that Nietzsche’s Zarathustra wishes to share with his audience: to be a creator is to be despised and rejected–the others, the ordinary members of the heard, will throw “injustice and filth”, but the creator will simply have to “shine” like a star all the harder for them. The creator must say “I choose your injustice as my fair share”. As for the identity of the herd, they are the members and clergy of the church. They play with fire–the stake, Zarathustra says, a reference to over a millennia of church brutality. Unlike the church, the creator must be “heretic and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy man and villain” to his/her “own self”. The creator must, in fact, be “burned up in flames” in order to be reborn “from the ashes”. The creator’s way is the way of the Buddha, the self-turning wheel which turns “of itself” and which can “compel even the stars to revolve around” the creative one.
Several paradoxes end the speech. The creator is also the lover, but the “lover wants to create because he despises”. “I”, Zarathustra says in Jesus-like fashion, “love him who wants to create over and beyond himself and thus perishes”. It seems to me that one way of looking at the whole idea of “perishing” is to see it as the hook upon which to catch those who struggle with depression, just as Zarathustra had placed a message on a hook intended for soldiers.
Unfortunately, there are several very discordant notes in this passage that lack a solid gripping on reality. The creator is told to beware not only of the herd, not only of himself, but of his propensity to love; this is the tie in to the next, and very unfortunate speech.
On Little Women Old and Young
The next speech is both dated and jaded, and completely out to lunch. “On Little Women Old and Young” resembles several previous speeches when Nietzsche reveals his own inability to get beyond his personal feelings of anger and hatred for some of the women in his life. Just as the previous speech warned the creator against his feelings of love, this speech reveals an appalling understanding of not only women, but children, too. Zarathustra the man practices the “manly” virtue of dispassion when he calls one who would taunt him “my friend”, but he is afraid of toddlers and babies. The simile that opens the chapter is that there is a secret, which is “like a young child, and if I do not hold its mouth shut then it cries out too loudly”.
The secret is the fact that Zarathustra was met by an old woman who pressed him to share his mind about them. They are a “riddle” for whom there is only one solution, Zarathustra says: pregnancy. Every man wants “danger and play” with a woman, and a woman wants only one end, a child. The job of the woman, then, is to be the “plaything” of the man. Woman must “discover” the child concealed in the man. She must love him more than she is loved; for her man, she must make every sacrifice, but man is not so enjoined to act thus to his woman. The man should say “I will”, but the woman should say “he wills”. The little old woman whom Zarathustra talked with put her seal of approval on everything he said, adding, “do not forget the whip!”
Nietzsche has just pulled the oldest trick in the book. There isn’t a male-dominated religion in the world that hasn’t had some old woman say that women are fickle, less intelligent, and less worthy than men. Frankly, it’s disgusting, and Nietzsche is not redeemed by the footnote in my edition explaining that there is a photograph of him, his friend, and a female friend that has her on a cart with a toy whip and he and his friend in harness in the position of the horses. That photograph was taken before he fell out with her, and his subsequent feelings of anger and bitterness were in part what gave rise to the misogyny of certain passages in Part 1. It’s easy to see how, by universalizing his bad experiences with women to the entire gender, and by fearing the normalcy of the cries and utterances of toddlers, Nietzsche was setting himself up for madness. And yet this is the way of “isolation” that his prophet would recommend for us.
C.S. Lewis once said that we should read old books rather than books from our own time because the old books would not make the same mistakes as the spirit of our own age. I think in calling for a new and more humane morality not dependent on religion, Nietzsche was indeed a truly prophetic voice. His mistake, though, was in his paranoia of normal family relationships: the ties of marriage and the joys of parenthood. It’s a great pity.