Are You A Poison-Fly Or A Truth-Lover?
Comparison between two types of tendencies from Nietzsche’s book.
The Flies in the marketplace is my favorite chapter from Thus Spake Zarathustra. While primarily a critique of Christianity, I find it relevant beyond that, as it can be applied to look into any prevalent structures and values.
When Nietzsche writes things like this:
Where solitude ends, there begins the market-place; and where the market-place begins, there also begins the noise of great actors and the buzzing of the poison-flies.
Flee, my friends, into your solitude, I see you have been stung all over by the poisonous flies. Flee there, where a rough strong breeze blows. Flee, into your solitude! You have lived too close to the small and the pitiable. Flee from their invisible vengeance! Towards you they have nothing but vengeance.
Raise no longer an arm against them! Innumerable they are and you are not a fly-flap.
I feel energized and start thinking that rather than the fly, I am the type of person he calls a friend.
A: Because Nietzsche addresses me, the reader as ‘you’ and calls me his friend!
In addition, let’s look at what flies and friends are in order to know why else I believe that way and what you might be from Zarathustra’s viewpoint.
They dwell in the market-place. In other words, they are firmly rooted in social standards. The modern terms for market-place could be ‘mainstream’ or ‘trend’. That is where the great actors live too — the ones who are powerful and popular, the ones people look upto with reverence. And that is where the poison-flies buzz. They sing the hymns of the great actors and the values those doers stand for.
The so-called great actors, however, are merely representers. General people have no clue on who the actual creating agency is, therefore they worship the great men. In reality, however, the world invisibly revolves around the devisers of new values. The so-called great actors on the other hand, revolve around people and glory.
The flies, then, sting those who criticize the established values because the life of the fly is driven by superficial reverence towards what is popular and relevant. They are the ones who kneel-down or bend-over in front of the great actors. The great actors are their gods, that’s why they react against things that challenge the status-quo and sting the challengers. They prefer living in a world where deception and manipulation reigns, because its easier that way — that’s why they don’t like those who speak the truth. The flies are shallow and innumerable.
They love competition and look to pull the truth seekers into it too. They want such true ones to choose sides. To enter the game. To enter their politics. But the true ones are beyond sides!
The flies are opportunists. While they sting, they are also canny enough to be around the lovers of truth for they never know who the next king will be. They praise as they want to be around the skin and blood of such truth seeker. They flatter and whimper. That’s why they are flatterers and whimperers, nothing more. They know how to seem friendly but that characteristic has always been that of the cowardly. The flies concern themselves way too much about the truth-lovers, they suspect too much. They punish the wise ones for their virtues and pardon them for their errors. They consider all existence to be blamable.
The flies are insecure and feel despised, that’s why they pay for someone’s beneficence with secret maleficence. Silent pride is counter to their taste and they rejoice if one is humble enough to be a joke. They feel small in the presence of the real ones and their baseness gleams and glows in invisible vengeance.
You neighbors are poisonous flies who become more poisonous and fly-like due to the greatness of the true one.
Someone who is deafened by the noise of the great men and is stung all over with the sting of the little ones. Such a person knows how to be silent and resembles a broad-branched tree which silently and attentively hangs over the sea. They are the creating agencies of new values — around which the world revolves.
Such people are deep and their experiences are slow as all deep fountains are. Such people are the devisers of new values who live away from fame and the market-place, for all that is great has never taken place in a market-place!
Such people are stung all over by the poisonous flies. That is, the norm and the opinions of the established system have attacked and wounded them. They are not made of stone so are at the fear of becoming hollow by the numerous drops of poison from the flies.
The truth lovers are profound and suffer even from the smallest of wounds. Yet, they are gentle and of upright character who say, ‘Blameless are the flies for their petty existence.’
Around the truth lovers, the flies become dumb and energies leave their bodies like the smoke of an exitinguishing fire.
The truth lovers are bad conscience to their neighbors because the latter are unworthy of the former. That’s why they hate them and suck their blood.
The truth lovers and not fly-flaps. They have to dwell in their solitude where a rough strong breeze blows.
As I mentioned at the beginning, while the chapter maybe attacking a specific religious system, yet, the fact that we still see many who fit the descriptions of the poison flies on modern platforms like Medium, Twitter, Reddit etc. , makes the chapter relevant and talk worthy.
Personal judgments aside, it provides a view of entire human history as a struggle between the preservers and bearers of the status quo and the ones who look to challenge and even destroy it; Between those who live and sell lies for their advantage and those who stick to the truth no matter what. This way, it provides an effective way to look at ourselves and those around us.
Are you too opportunistic and feeble to try out new things and hence, like to do that which is safe or are you creative and bold to not only question the existing gods and kings, but also topple them from their heavens and thrones?
Do you worship the popular heroes just because they are successful or do you think strong and deep enough to question their intentions, paths, ethics and morals?
Eg. Do you follow someone on Medium just because they are popular and have numerous followers or do you have enough guts and capacity to judge the credibility of each writer?