The lesson of the eternal return is that there is no return of the negative. The eternal return means that being is selection. Only that which affirms or is affirmed returns. The eternal return is the reproduction of becoming but the reproduction of becoming is also the production of becoming active: child of Dionysus and Ariadne. In the eternal return being ought to belong to becoming, but the being of becoming ought to belong to a single becoming-active. Nietzsche's speculative teaching is as follows: becoming, multiplicity and chance do not contain any negation; difference is pure affirmation; return is the being of difference excluding the whole of the negative. And this teaching would perhaps remain obscure without the practical clarity in which it is steeped. Nietzsche exposes all the mystifications which disfigure philosophy: the apparatus of bad conscience, the false marvels of the negative which turn multiplicity, becoming, chance and difference itself into so many misfortunes of consciousness itself and turn misfortunes of consciousness into so many moments of formation, reflection or development. Nietzsche's practical teaching is that difference is happy; that multiplicity, becoming and chance are adequate objects of joy by themselves and that only joy returns. Multiplicity, becoming and chance are the properly philosophical joy in which unity rejoices in itself and also in being and necessity. Not since Lucretius has the critical enterprise which characterises philosophy been taken so far (with the exception of Spinoza). Lucretius exposes the trouble of the soul and those who need it to establish their powerSpinoza exposes sorrow, all the causes of sorrow and all those who found their power at the heart of this sorrow. — Nietzsche exposes ressentiment, bad conscience and the power of the negative which serves as their principle: the "untimeliness" of a philosophy which has liberation as its object. There is no unhappy consciousness which is not also man's enslavement, a trap for the will and an opportunity for all basenesses of thought. The reign of the negative is the reign of powerful beasts, Churches and States, which fetter us to their own ends. The murderer of God committed a sad crime because his motivation was sad: he wanted to take God's place, he killed in order to "steal", he remained in the negative whilst taking on the attributes of divinity. The death of God needs time finally to find its essence and become a joyful event. Time to expel the negative, to exorcise the reactive - the time of a becoming-active. This time is the cycle of the eternal return.
The negative expires at the gates of being. Opposition ceases its labour and difference begins its play. But is there any being which does not belong to another world and how is the selection made? Nietzsche calls the point of conversion of the negative transmutation. The negative loses its power and quality. Negation ceases to be an autonomous power, that is to say a quality of the will to power. Transmutation relates the negative to affirmation in the will to power, it is turned into a simple mode of being of the powers of affirming. Instead of the labour of opposition or the suffering of the negative we have the warlike play of difference, affirmation and the joy of destruction. The no stripped of its power, transformed into the opposite quality, turned affirmative and creative: such is transmutation. This transmutation of values is what essentially defines Zarathustra. If Zarathustra passes through the negative as his disgusts and temptations show, it is not in order to make use of it as a motor, nor to take on its burden or product, but to reach the point where the motor is changed, the product surmounted and the whole of the negative vanquished or transmuted.
Zarathustra's whole story is contained in his relationship with nihilism, that is to say with the demon. The demon is the spirit of the negative, the power of denying which plays several, apparently opposed roles. Sometimes he gets man to cany him, suggesting to him that the weight he is burdened with is positivity itself. Sometimes, on the contrary, he jumps over man, taking all forces and will from him.37 The contradiction is only apparent: in the first case man is the reactive being who wants to seize power, to substitute his own strength for the power which dominates him. But in fact the demon finds the opportunity here to get himself carried, to get himself taken on, to pursue his task, disguised by a false positivity. In the second case, man is the last man: still a reactive being, he no longer has the strength to take possession of willing, the demon takes all man's strength and leaves him without strength or will. In both cases the demon appears as the spirit of the negative which, through all the avatars of man, preserves his power and keeps his quality. He stands for the will to nothingness which makes use of man as a reactive being which gets itself carried by him but which, at the same time, does not fuse with him and "jumps over". From all these points of view transmutation differs from the will to nothingness, just as Zarathustra differs from his demon. With Zarathustra negation loses its power and quality: beyond the reactive man, there is the destroyer of known values; beyond the last man there is the man who wants to perish or to be overcome. Zarathustra stands for affirmation, the spirit of affirmation as the power which turns the negative into a mode and man into an active being who wants to be overcome (not "jumped-over"). Zarathustra's sign is the sign of the lion: the first book of Zarathustra opens with the lion and the last closes with it. But the lion is precisely the "holy no" become creative and affirmative, this no which only affirmation knows how to say, in which the whole of the negative is converted, transmuted in power and quality. With transmutation, the will to power ceases to be fettered to the negative as the ratio by which it is known to us, it reveals its unknown face, the unknown raison d'etre which makes the negative a simple mode of being.
Zarathustra has, moreover, a complex relation to Dionysus, as transmutation does to the eternal return. In a certain way Zarathustra is cause of the eternal return and father of the Overman. The man who wants to perish, the man who wants to be overcome, is the ancestor and father of the Overman. The destroyer of all known values, the lion of the holy no prepares its final metamorphosis: it becomes a child. And, with his hands thrust into the lion's fleece, Zarathustra feels that his children are near or that the Overman is approaching. But in what sense is Zarathustra father of the overman and cause of the eternal return? In the sense of a precondition. In another way the eternal return has an unconditioned principle to which Zarathustra himself is subject. From the perspective of the principle which conditions it, the eternal return depends on transmutation but, from the perspective of its unconditioned principle, transmutation depends more profoundly on the eternal return. Zarathustra is subject to Dionysus: "Who and /? I await one who is more worthy; I am not worthy even to break myself against him" (ZII "The Stillest Hour", p. 167*). In the trinity of the Antichrist - Dionysus, Ariadne and Zarathustra - Zarathustra is Ariadne's conditional fiance, but Ariadne is Dionysus' unconditioned fiancee. This is why Zarathustra is always in an inferior position in relation to the eternal return and the Overman. He is the cause of the eternal return, but a cause which delays producing its effect. A prophet who hesitates to deliver his message, who knows the vertigo and the temptation of the negative, who must be encouraged by his animals. Father of the Overman, but a father whose products are ripe before he is ripe for his products, a lion who still lacks a final metamorphosis.38 In fact the eternal return and the Overman are at the crossing of two genealogies, of two unequal genetic lines.
On the one hand they relate to Zarathustra as to the conditioning principle which "posits" them in merely hypothetical manner. On the other hand, they relate to Dionysus as the unconditioned principle which is the basis of their apodictic and absolute character. Thus in Zarathustra's exposition it is always the entanglement of causes or the connection of moments, the synthetic relation of moments to each other, which determines the hypothesis of the return of the same moment. But, from Dionysus' perspective by contrast, it is the synthetic relation of the moment to itself, as past, present and to come, which absolutely determines its relations with all other moments. The return is not the passion of one moment pushed by others, but the activity of the moment which determined the others in being itself determined through what it affirms. Zarathustra's constellation is the constellation of the lion, but that of Dionysus is the constellation of being: the yes of the child-player is more profound than the holy no of the lion. The whole of Zarathustra is affirmative: even when he who knows how to say no, says no. But Zarathustra is not the whole of affirmation, nor what is most profound in it.
Zarathustra relates the negative to affirmation in the will to power. It is still necessary for the will to power to be related to affirmation as its raison d'etre, and for affirmation to be related to the will to power as the element which produces, reflects and develops its own ratio. This is the task of Dionysus. All affirmation finds its condition in Zarathustra but its unconditioned principle in Dionysus. Zarathustra determines the eternal return, moreover he determines it to produce its effect, the Overman. But this determination is the same as the series of conditions which finds its final term in the lion, in the man who wants to be overcome, in the destroyer of all known values. Dionysus' determination is of another kind, identical to the absolute principle without which the conditions would themselves remain powerless. And this is Dionysus' supreme disguise - to subject his products to conditions which are themselves subject to him, conditions that these products themselves surpass. The lion becomes a child, the destruction of known values makes possible a creation of new values. But the creation of values, the yes of the child-player, would not be formed under these conditions if they were not, at the same time, subject to a deeper genealogy. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that every Nietzschean concept lies at the crossing of two unequal genetic lines. Not only the eternal return and the Overman, but laughter, play and dance. In relation to Zarathustra laughter, play and dance are affirmative powers of transmutation: dance transmutes heavy into light, laughter transmutes suffering into joy and the play of throwing (the dice) transmutes low into high. But in relation to Dionysus dance, laughter and play are affirmative powers of reflection and development. Dance affirms becoming and the being of becoming; laughter, roars of laughter, affirm multiplicity and the unity of multiplicity; play affirms chance and the necessity of chance.
excerpt from the book: Nietzsche and Philosophy/ Dionysus and Zarathustra by Gilles Deleuze
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