PAUL DE MAN: NIETZSCHE'S TEACHER
Good teachers yearn to be obliterated. Time
NIETZSCHE'S TEACHER, really, is Zarathustra, his own creation. This is the case in several senses of the word "teacher." Zarathustra is a new law-giver (as well as an old lawbreaker, as suits the Messianic type). "Can you give yourself your own good and evil and hang your own will over yourself as a law," 1 Zarathustra asks in "Of the Way of the Creator" from part 1 of his book. (Prophetic figures always seem to propose laws via rhetorical questions declaimed in an imperative tone, don't they?) In addition, Zarathustra as the hero of this work, which Nietzsche deemed his most instructive, cannot help but become instructive in turn to his readers, if only, at times, in a way not intended by his author. For we wonder, at times, why Nietzsche felt so positive that this text was his masterpiece. "'Are you visiting woman,'" a little old crone asks Zarathustra, and then answers her own question with a "wise" Nietzsche exclamation: "Do not forget your whip!" 2 It is clear, however, that Zarathustra is also a "teacher" in the common sense of the term. He announces the new trinity of doctrines: that the übermensch or over-man will be the meaning of the earth, that the eternal recurrence of all things will be seen as the underlying principle of the cosmos, and that the will to power, the ceaseless process of self- overcoming by all living things will inspire a new nobility of select thinkers and writers in the coming centuries to produce
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Publication information: Book title: The Romance of Interpretation:Visionary Criticism from Pater to de Man. Contributors: Daniel T. O'Hara - Author. Publisher: Columbia University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1985. Page number: 205.
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