I’ve been slacking off on the Nietzsche blogging—so much so, in fact, that I missed all of Part Three of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Though perhaps that’s for the best, since Part Three lost some of the aphoristic style that has thus far defined Nietzsche’s work and instead added in a narrative arc. This arc begins when Zarathustra realizes that if time and the universe are infinite, then all things will recur infinitely, even the “small man” who he holds in such contempt and hopes would one day be obliterated by the overman. This throws him into deep despair, although by the end of Part Three he has come to terms with this revelation and decided to embrace the infinite and, by extension, all its constituent elements.
I’ve already written all I really have to say on the subject of eternal recurrence, so we might as well move on to Part Four; which begins, for me at least, with a different kind of revelation: I think the boys in Radiohead might be Nietzsche fans.
Consider the evidence: Much of the prologue to Part Four of Thus Spoke Zarathustra consists of Zarathustra elaborating on a metaphor for how he views mankind. In the Walter Kaufmann translation, Zarathustra sees man as “queer fish”—but another way of translating that might be “weird fishes.”
Zarathustra says that he wants to go fishing for these queer fish, baiting his lure with his own laughter and humor and then reeling them in to bring them up to the height of his wisdom.
Now listen to the song “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” embedded above. In typical post-OK Computer Radiohead fashion, the lyrics are pretty cryptic, so there’s a lot of room for interpretation; but one interpretation I’m finding increasingly plausible is that the song is being sung from the perspective of someone who lives “in the deepest ocean” among all the other unenlightened “weird fishes” and knows he would be “crazy not to follow” Zarathustra, yet is too scared.
I don’t know, maybe that’s a little far-fetched. But I wouldn’t put it past those guys.