The Madman.—Have you heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the marketplace calling out unceasingly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why! is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea voyage? Has he emigrated?—the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub. The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. “Where is God gone?” he called out. “I mean to tell you! We have killed him—you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon?What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction?—for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife,—who will wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event,—and an account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history then any history hitherto!”—Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they were also silent and looked at him in surprise. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in pieces and was extinguished. “I came too early,” he said then, “I am not yet at the right time. This prodigious even it still on its way, and is traveling,—it has not yet reached men’s ears. Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star,—and yet they have done it!”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, The Joyful Wisdom
Friends, I wanted so much to finish and post this painting on this strange and somber day, and I have done it. My little offering. It is coyote, you know, the great Trickster, in a world of edges—the edge of night and day, the edge of water and earth, river and land. Fireflies hang like miniature lanterns. His one paw touches the luminous water and it is lit with the fire of his eyes, the power of his vision.
He makes no promises, this Old Man Coyote, supreme trickster of North America, but he is here to serve life and humankind. He is here to shake things up, to tear down old programs and rewrite the world. The world needs this, desperately. Clearly the leadership of our nation is not up to the task. But we are.
It is time. There is still an above and below. We can walk the In-Between. We are up to the task that Nietzsche wrote of so long ago. What sacred games shall we play, friends? What marvelous tricks will we wrought? What strange fire will erupt from our eyes and transform the world? It is time!