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From The Madman.—

Have you not heard of that madman who lit
a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and
cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!” —As many of those
who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he
provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his
way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us?
Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? —Thus they yelled and
laughed.
The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with
his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed
him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do
this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to
wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we
unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now?
Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging
continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there
still any up or down? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of
empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we need to light
lanterns in the morning? So we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying
God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead.
God remains dead. And we have killed him.
“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of
all murderers? What was the holiest and mightiest of all that
the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives:
who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to
clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred
games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this
deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods
simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater
deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed
he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his
listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in
astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and
it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come to early,” he
said then; “my time is not yet. The tremendous event is still
on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of
men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the
stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to
be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them
than the most distant stars—and yet they have done it
themselves.” (The Gay Science § 125).
Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Press, 1974).

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