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The Realisation of Man

In a world in a state of decomposition, gradually congealing into nothing but the contemplation and foresight of its own end, whose actions, the moment they come about, destroy everything they had extracted that was conducive to living, the voice of Nietzsche rises up, full of incitement and provocation, heavy with all the pain and all the joy that Zarathustra bears within him. For us, everything that is condemned to die a miserable death, our whole civilisation, thus seems to offer certain new possibilities — the human and cosmic wave that carries us along withdraws, like the sea, so that it may return. Nietzsche’s presence is sufficient to change this difficult demise into the dawn of a new birth.

By peeling back the padded layers one at a time from the wound he suffered in his being to the point of madness, Nietzsche snatched from existence the mask which made it unworthy. “Our greatest grievance against existence was the existence of God.” A necessary pessimism finds its outlet in this discovery. It becomes a tragic affirmation of life.

For Nietzsche, the death of God was not so much a discovery of the mind as a revelation and an affirmation of life stripped bare, of the chaotic, glacial and irritating world with which he was in contact. If the consequences are extreme, they are so for man, the locus for metamorphoses also known as a world in flux. At last the circle is broken of which God was the perfect expression. There is no need now to seek the reasons why this circle was ineluctably closed around existence. “It cannot amount to a perfect adequacy but only a useful one”. It is no longer a matter of interpretation, nor explanation, or contemplation.

The question Nietzsche asked with increasing insistence concerns the realisation of man.

Living is all about discovery! Accepting, that is, that existence – as assumed at birth amidst the play of forces that make, unmake and remake the world during every moment of time – is neither a redemption nor a humanisation, but, in relation to the world which forms it and only in so far as it resists it, a painful childbirth, a creation. The life we strive in vain to enclose in explanatory formulas or to paralyse with doctrines bursts out, and we must find our place right in the heart of its ceaseless and incoherent boiling so as to extract its power and be done with having to believe or hope.

Only Marx before Nietzsche and Freud afterwards have helped (by other means) this fulfilment of man which, although we cannot allow ourselves to see it as inevitable, nevertheless vindicates the monstrous gestations of the world around us — a fulfilment that goes from pain and anguish, and through pain and anguish, to joy, “the eternal joy of becoming, the joy that carries within itself the joy of annihilation” – but no other human voice has ever spoken to us “as clearly” as Nietzsche’s. Just as with vision, where the object becomes defined and stands out until it ends up being completely integrated and lost, the superman brings us closer to ourselves and our demise. The void of existence is not filled, but we are at least given the option of the act that simultaneously kills it and creates it.

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