Re: Quoting Nietzsche is a perilous business

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Sun Jan 06 2002 - 00:29:03 MST

From: "Jacques Du Pasquier" <>, Sun, 6 Jan 2002:

>Amara Graps wrote (5.1.2002/15:47) :
>> "If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into
>> you." - -Nietzsche
>What do you think he meant ?

Spike and I had discussion of that quote some time back on this list.
I'm somewhat sure I know what Nietzsche meant, although I use that quote
differently than how Nietzsche uses it.

Date Wed, 18 Apr 2001 21:42:56 +0200 (MET DST)
>From Amara Graps <>
Subject Re: CHAT: What statement? abyss staring

(going back in time.. off the list, presently)

From: Spike Jones (, Sat Apr 07 2001

>Followed to its logical extreme, one concludes if the universe is
>closed, we have been here before, having this exact
>discussion. Furthermore we have been here an *infinite* number of
>times before. Still further, we will be here again, having this exact
>discussion and an unimaginably large number of similar but slightly
>different versions thereof. Thinking about it causes one to zone
>out. Amara has so aptly described the feeling as staring into the
>abyss until it stares back.

I borrowed the expression from Nietzche, although our context was
likely different.

"He who fights monsters should be careful lest he thereby becomes a
monster. And if thou gaze long into the abyss, the abyss will also
gaze into thee" _Beyond Good and Evil_ Nietzsche

I didn't read _Beyond Good and Evil_, but he uses the abyss often in
his writings, and he has a fondness for this particular state of
mind. See _Thus Spake Zarathustra_

Nietzsche was also a little bit insane, but then ...

"I prefer to be only slightly insane. (Don't we all?)"
 --Characters Captain Sheridan and Garabaldi on Babylon 5
(see my special quotes

My context for the abyss is close to the Zen practices and their use
of the deep abyss. The deep abyss is that psychological place where
there's no support, no nothing, a complete free-fall, and you realize
that no one is going to save you but yourself. It can be a terrifying
realization, and it might require sitting there for a while and not
run away from yourself, in other words: 'having a tea with yourself'
(my context of staring into the abyss). However, once one realizes
that they are all they have, then the abyss is a very rich place to
plant seeds of yourself to grow. Then what comes of that abyss is
someone/something genuine and an integrated whole.

Actually everyone has that psychological place of the deep abyss, but
I would guess that many people don't notice because their lives have
many kinds of supports and distractions.



Amara Graps, PhD email:
Computational Physics vita:
Multiplex Answers URL:
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." --Anais Nin

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