This essay was originally written as my final paper for my Advanced Topics Media Theory class, taught by Eugene Thacker, in Spring 2015 at The New School.

The world now laughs, rent are the drapes of fright,
The wedding is at hand of dark and light—

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good & Evil, “From High Mountains: Aftersong”

“We’ve all been used!” “And re-used!” “And abused!” “And amused!”
-Friend (John Alderton)/Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy), Zardoz


            If I discover an interpretation of a complicated work and then realize that this interpretation is a perfect explanation of this work, is this just a self-fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps the interpretation is well-founded, but my new reading will inevitably be colored by my knowledge of this theory. But maybe its rightness or wrongness is beside the point, at least in absolute terms. I do not have to agree exactly for my eyes to see anew. It could be the ramblings of a madman, but it may still be a message that is worthwhile. Discovering that Zardoz, a film I have cherished many years for its singular qualities, had been declared the epitome of a Nietzschean movie, I was irrevocably changed. “The Lord is risen!” “God is dead!” Zed is the Übermensch! So speak to me, Muse of Surprisingly Useful Amazon User Reviews, and keep me on a steady path in this endeavor.


            My first contact with Mr. Nietzsche was diffuse. He is one of those towering figures of philosophy that permeates academia and bleeds into the culture at large. He never came up in any comparative philosophy class I took, and without a philosophy background, any influence he had on me came secondhand. I was vaguely aware of his influence on any entertainment that established itself as nihilist, and the Übermensch concept was familiar enough to stand as a Big Idea of modern thought. From what I could gather, the Übermensch was some sort of German version of Superman. I sensed that this was not quite right, but I chalked whatever I was missing up to the nuances of translation and the subtlety of the actual literature.