Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Even the Godless Need a Consoler

Monroe County
As we continue to read the many books set before us we pick up bits and pieces of information that seem significant.So it is that, while reading Peter Watson's The Age of Atheists today, I came upon this:

"Though the claims— both for and against Nietzsche’s influence— may have been overblown, they were not without foundation . In Germany, together with Goethe’s Faust and the New Testament, Thus Spake Zarathustra was the most popular work that literate soldiers took into battle, “for inspiration and consolation.” More than that, according to Steven Aschheim, 150,000 copies of a specially durable wartime edition were distributed to the troops. Even one or two literate non-German soldiers took the book with them, notably Robert Graves and Gabriele d’Annunzio." (Peter Watson, The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God, p. 188)

How to respond to this?

1. How sad that, sans God, one is left with a book like this. Especially since Zarathustra is "astonishingly opaque." 

2. How explicable it is that, even sans God, one needs the transcendent. A transcendent anything, even Zarathustra. Godlessness needs a Consoler.

(The translation of Zarathustra I prefer is Graham Parkes.)