Eternal Recurrence is the idea that time is a flat circle. History is not linear, rather it is cyclical, meaning that it repeats itself exactly again and again. Imagine a wheel that is constantly turning. The wheel is time. It will eventually repeat itself f- over and over and over again. There is no beginning and no end. Our universe and existence is not the first, and it is not the last. For those of you familiar with the Hindu concepts of reincarnation, Eternal Recurrence is pretty much the same the cycles of Samsara – except there is no ‘liberation’, you’re stuck in this loop forever.
Let’s say that you have an iPod with 200 songs, and you press the shuffle button and put it on repeat. For a long time the songs will appear random, and their order will surprise you. But eventually, if you leave it on long enough, the songs will repeat in a particular order. That is because there is only a finite number of songs and a finite number of combinations. Eventually, the randomness will end and it shall repeat. This is what cyclical time means. That eventually, everything will repeat in an exact order because there are only so many different combinations.
The Eternal Recurrence is basically the theory that there is infinite time and a finite number of events, and eventually the events will recur again and again infinitely, hence the name ‘Eternal Recurrence’.
If Eternal Recurrence is true, then that would mean this isn’t the first tie you’ve read this post. You’ve read this post numerous times in your past lives. And this isn’t the last you’ll read this post either. Eventually, time will repeat, and you will read this same post again, and again, and again – for all eternity. The same thoughts occurring to you right now, the same physical movements, the same confusion or fascination with this subject – all of this has already happened before and will happen again – forever and ever. I have been condemned to write this essay again and again – for all eternity, and you have been condemned to read it again and again – for all eternity.
Eternal Recurrence is nothing new. The Hindu’s and Egyptians believed that time was a flat circle too – always going through cycles, eventually repeating itself. The Ancient Greek philosophers were also fascinated with the idea of reincarnation an eternal universe; this they question how they might be condemned to repeat their lives again and again. Nietzsche, who was an avid reader of Ancient Greek and Easter mythologies, soon brought the topic of Eternal Recurrence to a modern-day audience. He didn’t necessarily believe in it, but he was fascinated with the topic.
So, how does the Eternal Recurrence relate to the Ubermensch? Well, as you may recall, an Ubermensch must be willing to accept suffering, to accept pain and displeasure. But what if the pain you suffer will forever happen to you. What if every struggle, heartbreak, loss, depression – what if all of these pains are condemned to happen to you again and again, in the same way, at the same time – for all eternity? Does this thought scare you, or please you?
For Nietzsche, Eternal Recurrence was a test. It was a test of a man’s character, and of his strength. If you truly fear and despise life, then the thought of Eternal Recurrence will frighten you. It will seem like a form of torture, an endless cycle of suffering and torment. However, if you truly love life, then Eternal Recurrence will not be a curse – it will be a joyous gift. You will rejoice knowing that this life will repeat – again and again for all eternity.
As I mentioned in my last post, an Ubermensch must love life. They must be willing to accept this life and live it to the fullest. An Ubermensch loves life because it is full of suffering and pain – and this suffering is what gives us our strength. So, an Ubermensch should rejoice at the idea of Eternal Recurrence – because this means that their life will never end. It shall repeat, and with its repetition will come the same struggles and obstacles.