discusses this concept in narrative
with Thus Spake Zarathustra
(annotated below as Z
) as well as presenting the idea
in more detail in Beyond Good and Evil
Amor fati, "Love of fate"; the formula for man's greatness.
Freedom consists in desiring what is and what has been, in choosing it and loving it as if nothing better could be desired. We must become "masters of our accidents".
The time is gone when mere accident could still happen to me; and what could still come to me now that was not mine already? What returns, what finally comes home to me, is my own self and what of myself has long been in strange lands and scattered among all things and accidents. (Z 264)
Only with the leap of faith that the "mystery" of amor fati demands does the paradox of eternal return(eternal recurrence) become complete. In amor fati we are prepared to affirm every aspect of life, even its most "horrific" events, instead of assigning morality to incidents that we may otherwise discern as mere accidents.
Tension in the idea of the eternal return can be located in the clash between the conceptually antithetical ideas of amor fati and the overman (superman). They are each divergent responses to the thought of eternal return. At one end of the axis, the world of the overman, the staking-out of rich ground for a free and creative life. With the assertion that the present world is the only world, and that we stand in the gateway of every moment, amor fati seems to contradict the future teaching of the overman. In amor fati the will to power is presented as the will of the eternal return of every event, whatever (good, bad, indifferent) it might be. Along these poles we slide in The Moment: the junction of Nietzsche's poetic map, the place where descent and ascent, going under and flying, belong together as the two poles of Zarathustra's mastery of his lot.
If the eternal return is Nietzsche's most elusive concept, amor fati is perhaps Nietzsche's most original alternative to the pervasive idealism of post-Kantian German philosophy, because in it the will to truth becomes a will to power.
This is your whole will, you who are wisest: a will to power...
You still want to create the world before which you can kneel: that is your ultimate hope and intoxication. (Z 225)
With amor fati, the will is no longer encumbered by any morality, law, God, or any "truth", nihilistic or otherwise.
Peak and abyss - they are now joined together. (Z 264)
It is difficult for an individual
to face this terrible freedom
, as Nietzsche demonstrates via his marionette
, the sage Zarathustra
. After 30 years of solitary meditation
's final wholehearted acceptance
of eternal return
does not occur until Part III, when he reveals his knowledge
in an offstage lover's whisper
"O Zarathustra, I know of it, of how you want to leave me soon."
"Yes," I answered hesitantly, "but you also know...."
and I whispered something into her ear, right through her tangled yellow foolish tresses.
"You know that, O Zarathustra? Nobody knows that."
"I have turned my ultimate depth inside out into the light" (Z 328): this inverse Platonism is much more than Socrates stood upon his head. Myth is the medium for the soul's development, and poets spell out that myth. The eternal return represents a conceptual space where we may set ourselves free in the writings of our own myths. With Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche crafts new myths: in his idea of the overman, he creates a world before which he can kneel. It is at the gateway of the Moment where a thinker may enter, take off their coat and start to create their own truths, as Heidegger does with his Sein und Zeit (Being and Time).
In proclaiming the death of the old (Platonic-Christian) God, Nietzsche appears to deny that there is anything divine, even though he thinks about divinity (divine love) constantly and in great detail. Zarathustra appears as if in a love story, his "Other Dancing Song" a declaration of amor fati and a veritable betrothal to eternity: "Never yet have I found the woman from whom I wanted children, unless it be this woman whom I love: for I love you, O eternity" (Z 340). In the geometry of the "terrible", lawless freedom of the Moment, the only divine thing is amor fati.