Sunday, 21 January 2007


‘History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awaken,’ says Stephen. Which, I suppose, speaks to some buried human presentist belief that we awake in the morning once and for all, the dawn that gleams around us will never depart. Nietzsche might say: ‘wake from history’s nightmare, if you like; have a day in which you banish it from your mind; but you’ll go to sleep again, and the nightmare will recommence, and again the night after, and after that, until you begin to understand that it’s not a nightmare, or more precisely that nightmare and pleasant dream are both to be joyously willed, as the necessary and eternal return.

The whole eternal return thing is the acid test for readers of Nietzsche, of course. If you come across somebody who says ‘well, of course he can’t have meant that doctrine literally’, then you know you’re dealing with somebody who hasn’t understood what Nietzsche meant at all…

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