Thus spake Zarathustra, the manga (Herder)


Thus spake Zarathustra, the manga, edited by Herder.

Score: Any resemblance with Nietzsche’s work is purely coincidental.

I couldn’t find an author for this and maybe it’s for the best: I wouldn’t want my name paired with this either. I don’t even know if it has been published anywhere outside Spain and Japan, where the Spanish editor claims it was originally penned. I read it because it was really short and I was curious. The result is much worse than I expected, in the sense that it takes the most common misconceptions about Nietzsche’s ideas and presents them like they want you to dislike Nietzsche even more.

This bunch of doodled pages pretends to be a popular approximation to Nietzsche’s best known book, Thus spake Zarathustra; instead it uses up most of its extension in developing an appalling story that has no relation whatsoever with the events depicted in the originalZarathustra, and the rest is still a very loosely summarised exposition of Nietzsche’s ideas.

First of all, Zarathustra wasn’t a pastor’s son, even if Nietzsche was. No, as far as we know, Nietzsche wasn’t adopted. Zarathustra is a preacher or prophet and was intended by Nietzsche as an inversion of the real life religious leader and founder of one of the earliest known faiths. He wasn’t a bully or beat poor and weak people, and neither did Nietzsche (I’m still surprised I have to emphasize this). Nietzsche and his author avatar Zarathustra might be sassy and belicous in their arguments, but Nietzsche never advocated the destruction of the weak, he wanted their empowerment by the use of reason and artistic creation.

Most of the storyline is a silly soap opera that bears no significance in relation to Nietzsche’s body of work except for the fact that they spend their time doubting the existence of God, wondering if they’re actually scamming villagers through organised religion and screaming at each other that God is dead. And even at this point it’s a very shallow reading of the original author, since Nietzsche did attack organised religion but his true target was nihilism, as in giving more importance to an afterlife we know nothing about than to a life that’s painfully real, and dogmatic thought, as in shifting blind faith from religion to science or political parties.

There is no such character as Salome in the original Zarathustra, but I’m guessing they named her after Lou Andreas Salome. Go figure. The thing is, they got eternal recurrence wrong as well, but that’s all right, almost everyone does. There’s even quite a debate in scholar circles about what it means, but here’s what I think. Even though the idea is not new, what makes it different in his work is, and I know this for a fact, its relationship with the concept of amor fati (love of your fate). Eternal recurrence is not a fact, but a thought experiment: imagine you were going to live your life over and over eternally. Every happy and miserable moment, every orgasm and sleepless night, every love story and your illness and eventual death. The implications are twofold: do you love life enough to accept this deal? And would you live your life the same way you’ve been living it up to now? That’s the simplest way I can explain it and it has nothing to do with a woman prancing around in a miniskirt and a cape and Zarathustra seeing himself as an old man.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, there are no murderous clowns inZarathustra either.

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