Jesus and Nietzsche as Western Cultural Syzygy (2/10)

Jesus’ personally catastrophic but culturally redemptive sacrifice and renunciation of the separate (egoic) self enacted the archetypal crisis that ensues when the higher self thoroughly subordinates (but does not destroy) the lower personality—in order to transform it into an obliging vessel for impersonal love and superior wisdom.

Nietzsche’s reductive ‘reading’ of Jesus’ voluntary martyrdom—namely, that it sprang from his crushing disappointment in others’ inability to love him as fully and unreservedly as he needed them to—tells us a good deal more about Nietzsche, I would suggest, than it tells us about Jesus.[1]   Nietzsche’s personally tragic but culturally invaluable rejection and repudiation of every ‘selfless’ (i.e., non-egoistic) means of transcending the bounds of ego-consciousness is, in many respects, a perfect inversion and counter-image of Jesus’ career. These two world-historical figures are infinitely more instructive as a pair—as a kind of Castor and Pollux—than when taken singly. If there is anything to transcend now, it is not so much ‘the apparent world’ or the metaphysical ‘afterworld,’ but the duality, ‘Christ vs. Anti-Christ.’ With this, we have our work cut out for ourselves, say, for the next six or seven hundred years—or, so Jung thought.

[1] This applies to some extent to Nietzsche’s famous critique of Paul in Daybreak, as well.


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