Zarathustra Laughs. – The Mob Blinks while Zarathustra Laughs

For Zarathustra, laughter has a legion of faces. The wisdom of Comedy, to be manifest as wisdom, must pierce the frigid demeanor of the mob, in whom “there is ice in their laughter.” Despite their cold happiness, Nietzsche assures us, life is a well of joy—but “where the rabble drinks all wells are poisoned.” Therefore, for the comic to become wise it must also learn to climb over the double sorrow of the rabble, on the one hand, and the poisoned well, on the other. At this, the mob blinks. But at this, Zarathustra cries. Being surrounded by toxic laughter “tears my entrails,” Zarathustra confesses, “and slits open my heart!” Onward, press onward: one must overcome even one’s own nausea. Because in order to affirm life one must also affirm the rabble: we must learn to “laugh and laugh while our feet still tremble, as well as our hearts no less.” What it means to be a creator is also what it means to have faith in a children’s land. The wisdom of Comedy is the innocent wisdom of the child—that is, it is wild wisdom, wherein willing and creating involves forgetting and destroying. Innocence: there is no God; there are no gods: here the field of opportunity now widens itself, opening the plain of creativity.

The obvious posturing in the form of a motto:

­“No Gods! No Masters!

Of course we’ve heard that, of course.

And so…is that it?

Ought we raise our voices—mold our laughter—to affirm

an atheism that carries the self-assured satisfaction of ‘being right’?

Does being right engender laughter?

No. Being right is the target laughter has the power to erase.

     No. Being right involves the terms that innocent laughter forgets.

Oh, the arrogance—the pride in mediocrity—such a motto secretes. This thought is like a wound, an open boil on the face of the last man who frets that he cannot will backwards. Of course, there must be a laughter that thinks a thought beyond God’s thought. But please, please let comedic affirmation not be located in the hands of those who self-criticize in order to self-aggrandize. That cannot be it…a hackneyed cry could never live in the laughter of a child. For in what way can a child express something, will something, so stale? From the point of view of the aged, the child can only speak in cliché: what the child laughs at, the grown has already seen and heard; in foolishness a child wisely clears space for innovation, but maturity crystalizes the imagination, rendering only dead-ends where there was once a surplus of potentialities in the fluid of thought. That is why, in the face of a child’s creative disruptive spirit, the mob blinks their eyes, amused by their own numbness to the possibility of the new.

Oh – but from the point of a child, all has been forgotten, all can be laughed at, and all is up for play. Brilliant laughter erupts only from such light-footed thought: not knowing what lies around the corner…not respecting our benefactors…accepting offense as a mode of originality…refusing to think the gendered thought…remembering that death means beginning anew…forgetting to blink. But: Who-What-When-Where-Why? Perhaps before we can laugh as a child, we must learn the question-words anew.

Oh, how impossible this task seems. Among the first thing children learn is how to lose their childhood: the tragedy of learning to constrain the options concerning both when and where question-thought applies. The first instance involves learning to blink. But herein lies the problem. There is a redoubling: we are taught not to laugh. That is, thinking, knowing, and mastering reality for ourselves means something solemn. “For most people, the intellect is an awkward, gloomy, creaking machine that is hard to start…and the lovely human beast seems to lose its good mood when it thinks well; it becomes serious!” The prejudice is that laughter and gaiety are absent whenever real thought is being engaged in. The struggle of proving such an idea to be a prejudice—it is no wonder Zarathustra’s laughter so quickly turns to weeping: What does it take to be a creator? What does it take to become such laughter? Is it possible to remain a child, to permanently dwell in a state of innocence? Or, must we always only will a continual return to such splendid purity?

A conjecture: wisdom is a farce.


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