The greatest weight-
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your live will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence--even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!' Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.' If this thought gained possession of you, it would change, you as you are or perhaps crush you.

~Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science 341
trans. Walter Kaufmann

This is not my favorite translation, and I have a very long commentary about this passage and its relation to the eternal recurrence, but it's perhaps the best place to start. The "greatest weight" is the thought of the eternal recurrence, and it seems to suggest something along the lines of determinism combined with a circular notion of time. (I think both are slightly mistaken. The important part--in a much-too-small nutshell--is the affirmation of the whole cosmos, despite all the things we might like to change.)

[Speaking of things we might like to change, this post's readability was labelled "elementary school." I concur with B'Yo!'s assessment: I don't understand their heuristic.]


Elementary School?

After taking the "blog readability test," I've decided to post the opening paragraph of the second chapter of my forthcoming book to see if that raises the readability at all.
If not, you'll be seeing more.

Nietzsche proudly proclaims himself teacher of the eternal recurrence, yet the few references to the doctrine of eternal recurrence in his writings have resulted in decades-long debates on the proper understanding of this obscure idea. If the eternal recurrence is a coherent idea, it has serious implications for his positive ethical theory. A variety of tacks have been taken on this issue, but they tend to coalesce around two poles: either the eternal recurrence is a statement of determinism, or it serves as a test akin to Kant’s Categorical Imperative. If we follow the former interpretation, all of our actions (as well as our attitude towards those actions) would be unalterable, making the question of responsibility moot and effectively eliminating anything that could pass for “ethics.” The latter interpretation recognizes the inevitability of all actions implied by the apparently circularity of time, but nevertheless suggests we have the ability to alter our attitudes towards our lives and the universe as a whole. In either case, the significance of the eternal recurrence is central to the understanding of Nietzsche's ethical views; however, both tacks fail to recognize that, throughout his writings, Nietzsche attempts to dispense with the traditional free will/determinism dichotomy altogether. Using the traditional framework to interpret the eternal recurrence is thus mistaken.


Wiped out

I'm tired and have miles to go before I sleep, but it occurred to me that I haven't posted any cartoons in over two weeks.
Given the latest brouhaha over here in Wonderland, this seems appropriate.