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PART I

still knew nothing of world wars, when faith in "progress" was virtually the religion of the civilized peoples and nations, Nietzsche screamed out into the world: "'The wasteland grows ..." He thus put the question to his fellowmen and above all to himself: "Must one smash their ears before they learn to listen with their eyes? Must one clatter like kettledrums and preachers of repentance?"* But riddle upon riddle! What was once the scream "The wasteland grows ...," now threatens to turn into chatter. The threat of this perversion is part of what gives us food for thought. The threat is that perhaps this most thoughtful thought will today, and still more tomorrow, become suddenly no more than a platitude, and as platitude spread and circulate. This fashion of talking platitudes is at work in that endless profusion of books describing the state of the world today. They describe what by its nature is indescribable, because it lends itself to being thought about only in a thinking that is a kind of appeal, a call-and therefore must at times become a scream. Script easily smothers the scream, especially if the script exhausts itself in description, and aims to keep men's imagination busy by supplying it constantly with new matter. The burden of thought is swallowed up in the written script, unless the writing is capable of remaining, even in the script itself, a progress of thinking, a way. About the time when the words "The wasteland grows ... " were born, Nietzsche wrote in his notebook (GW XIV, p. 229, Aphorism 464 of 1885) : "A man for whom nearly all books have become superficial, who has kept faith in only a few people of the past that they have had depth enough—not to write what they knew." But Nietzsche had to scream. For him, there was no other way to do it than by writing. That written scream of Nietzsche's thought is the book which he entitled Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Its first three parts were written


* Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue, 5.


Martin Heidegger (GA 8) What Is Called Thinking?