Saturday, September 15, 2007


From an essay by Tom Wolfe called ‘Sorry, but Your Soul Just Died’:

“The story I have to tell,” wrote Nietzsche, “is the history of the next two centuries.” He predicted (in Ecce Homo) that the 20th century would be a century of “wars such as have never happened on earth”, wars catastrophic beyond imagining. And why? Because human beings would no longer have a god to turn to, to absolve them of their guilt… The blind and re-assuring faith they formerly poured into their belief in God, said Nietzsche, they would now pour into a belief in barbaric nationalistic brotherhoods: “If the doctrines… of the lack of any cardinal distinction between man and animal, doctrines I consider true but deadly” – he says in an allusion to Darwinism in Untimely Meditations – “are hurled into the people for another generation... then nobody should be surprised when… brotherhoods with the aim of the robbery and exploitation of the non-brothers… will appear in the arena of the future.”

Nietzsche said that mankind would limp on through the 20th century “on the mere pittance” of the old decaying God-based moral codes. But then, in the twenty-first, would come a period more dreadful than the great wars, a time of the “total eclipse of all values” (in The Will to Power). This would also be a frantic period of “revaluation”, in which people would try to find new systems of values to replace the osteoporotic skeletons of the old. But you will fail, he warned, because you cannot believe in moral codes without simultaneously believing in a god who points at you with his fearsome forefinger and says “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not.”

Why should we bother ourselves with a dire prediction that seems so far-fetched as “the total eclipse of all values”? Because of man’s track record, I should think. After all, in Europe, in the peaceful decade of the 1880s, it must have seemed even more far-fetched to predict the world wars of the 20th century and the barbaric brotherhoods of Nazism and Communism. Ecce vates! Ecce vates! Behold the prophet! How much more proof can one demand of a man’s powers of prediction?"


Nietzsche was born Oct 15 1844. He had Moon in Sag, which is philosophically inclined, and said to be found in many teachers. He had Sun in Libra opposite to Pluto in Aries. Oppositions often engage us with the world, we find one end of it ‘out there’; in Nietzsche’s case, it was a new vision (Aries) that would transform the collective (Pluto). He also had Mercury in Libra conjunct Mars, opposite Uranus in Aries, so again we have the new vision after the death of God, expressed with force (Mars) and original insight (Uranus).

One qualification on Mr Wolfe’s analysis: he suggests we can’t have a moral code without an external authority, without a god who points the finger. I think this is actually true on a collective level, for people by and large inherit their values and ethics from their families and from the society around them, their sense of authority is external. We can see this in the vulnerability of the collective to fashion, to advertising, to cries of war from the government, to witch-hunts created by the popular press. But it is not true for the minority who claw their way out of the received wisdoms and find it within themselves to stand alone, who can live without the unconscious sense of solidarity with the herd-mind. This sounds terribly patronising, but I don’t mean it to be, it’s just how things are.

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