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In this essay, I examine the conversation between Zarathustra and his soul in the concluding chapters of Part 3 of Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Building on my study’s claim that Zarathustra dies at the end of Part 3, I argue that this conversation is taking place between two of his person-stages: the person-stage who has grown old and is now ending his own life, and the person-stage who has been reborn and is now entering childhood.

This conversation shows how Zarathustra’s older self has awakened his own childhood consciousness and is now using all of his wisdom to shape and educate it—a wisdom that then informs and propels his many journeys and teachings throughout the narrative. This conversation also shows that Zarathustra’s most important dying gift to his own childhood soul is his newly recovered knowledge of eternal recurrence. This knowledge lies dormant in Zarathustra’s soul until he gains the lion’s strength needed to summon it up and then perishes as a result. Nietzsche thus invents a parthenogenetic protagonist whose life illustrates what is perhaps the first time-travel paradox ever written.

We simply cannot conceal from ourselves what is really expressed by all that willing that has received its direction from the ascetic ideal: this hatred of the human, still more of the animal, even more of the material, this abhorrence of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and of beauty, this longing for the beyond away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, desire, longing itself—all of this means, let us dare to grasp this, a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental preconditions of life … (GM III: 28).

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