Thus Spoke Ezechiel

“I, Ezechiel, hereby predict the power of the fishermen. Indeed did I fish out the remains of Zarathustra from the deep waters of Kasaoiya. It was then when the sadness overwhelmed me. For mighty Zarathustra used to teach, his eyes sank in madness,  that the One  is merely a tempting illusion. And he spread the story of his own –  the story of  his own ashes brought to the highlands to make them shine as a dancing star … Oh Zarathustra! And what happened at the end? The ashes remained as there are in my hands, no transfiguration followed, and  so I stand, back on the steep slope, where the pagan Sun has burned out your eyes and inflicted a sign on your heart: its shape was like alpha and omega, a stigmata of the prophet prophesizing nothing more than himself. This is why you perished. Here I scatter these ashes – amidst the peaks, beyond which the unreachable glory did not cease to reside;  a visible proof you burned together with the  poisoned ones – – who were poisoned by your message of weakness. God has not used to die too often, as you now know, after eternal farewell was uttered to you (…)”

Nietzsche! When we think of the name “Zarathustra”, Nietzsche’s bushy moustache immediately starts to surface in our mind . Not without reason. Friedrich Nietzsche had a profound impact on the Western consciousness in 20th century. The philosophical postulate of tracing the genealogy of ideas was definitely among his most important contributions to the postmodern philosophy. Foucault, Strauss and many others undertook this challenge an started to ‘philosophize with the hammer’.

As the archeologists of knowledge, Nietzsche’s successors spent years on the intellectual excavation sites, carefully reconstructing the history of great Truths. Having done this, they decided to conduct the ultimate deconstruction: the archeology was not needed anymore, they claimed, as the new theory of knowledge was created; the theory that does not need excavation sites.

Then they said to their disciples: “if every idea is historical and has evolved throughout ages, then it is malleable; its malleability  in turn proves that there are no truths at the bottom of life, there are only interpretations done by the perky blacksmiths”.

Strong and convincing. But is the historical, dynamic nature of ideas really an indirect proof of their lack of relation to the Truth?  Or maybe we can reverse this current of thought and ask whether the history of ideas brings us back to the primary Truth?

Let us undertake the latter challenge. Let us treat it seriously and try to look <<historically>> at ideas. Let’s analyze the life of Zarathustra as seen by Nietzsche and check whether Nietzschean and historical Zarathustra have much in common.  The  Persian prophet and a historical character  is the good guinea pig for our experiment, as his very name constitutes a powerful symbol of the Nietzschean philosophy.

What can we find out, when thinking <<historically>> about Zarathustra? Well, it seems that when we reconstruct the life of the real Zarathustra, he occurs  to be completely different a character from the one pictured by our German philosopher of Polish ancestry. The “Songs of Zarathustra” and numerous other literary and historical sources of Antiquity picture Zarathustra as a man, who carried within himself the ardent spark of monotheistic intuitions, with the clear, sharp distinction between good and evil visible in his teachings.

Stunning? One might ask: why Nietzsche’s narrative is completely different? Was it merely a result of  licentia poetica? The issue yearns for research.

To conduct the research which would be interesting not only for a philosopher, but for the lay reader as well, we can take refuge in literary form. Having this in mind, I decided to tell the story of both the Nietzschean and the historical Zarathustra in light of the  parallel story of the prophet Ezekiel, who is known from the Old Testament as a messenger of  the upcoming incarnation of Transcendence (as understood by existentialist Karl Jaspers).

According to the proposed narrative, the reader enters the pulsing ancient world, some time before the Achesenzeit  – the time when the great ethical systems were formed in many parts of the world, independently from one another (Jaspers).

Let us assume that in this ancient world, just like in ours, Zarathustra’s teachings (as interpreted by Nietzsche) are widely known. One of the most faithful among his followers is young Ezechiel, who is born after Zarathustra’s death and through time becomes acquainted with his teachings. In his pilgrimages aimed at finding the spiritual enlightenment, Ezechiel visits the same villages as the Nietzschean Zarathustra did, only to find out that there is in fact an air of mystery related to Zarathustra’s life. He discovers that truth about his Master is much more complicated than he previously thought…

As the reader already figured out, in the proposed story the biographies of the historical Zarathustra and the Zarathustra interpreted by Nietzsche intermingle with the history of the Biblical Ezechiel, an inquisitive young detective, who takes the issue of “the genealogy of Truth” very seriously.