‘Turn Us into these Last Men’
In the chapter of his insightful book, Shows about Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture titled “Nietzsche and Democratic Nihilism,” Thomas Hibbs wrote:
In Thus Spake Zarathustra, the eponymous hero predicts the coming of the last man: “Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man. What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star? Thus asks the last man and blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man who makes everything small.” The last man is timid, enervated, self-enclosed, and self-satisfied, an industrious economic animal who always finds it in his best interest to go with the flow, to conform to the dictates of common opinion. Yet he does not regard this conformity and passivity as slavish because there is no one person to whom he submits. In following the majority, he does but follow his own will. Zarathustra expatiates, “No shepherd and one herd. Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse…. One has one’s little pleasure for the day and one’s little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.” When Zarathustra speaks these words to ordinary citizens, instead of being insulted by his images of their shallow and petty souls, they clamor, “Turn us into these last men.”
“The Academy Awards Come Out of the Closet,” Roger L. Simon wrote last night. Or to put it another way, “The Full Fusion of Media Power and Government Power? What Could Go Wrong?”
(For my audio interview last year with Hibbs, click here.)
Update: Nifty visual juxtaposition by Rush Limbaugh's art department added above.