This quote from Part 3 of Zarathustra has always at the same time dazzled and perplexed me. Nietzsche in the passage calls on those “who are glad of riddles” to interpret this “vision of the loneliest.” Any Nietzscheans brave enough to put forward their interpretations of this passage?
“Among wild cliffs I stood suddenly alone, bleak, in the bleakest moonlight. But there lay a man. And there–the dog, jumping, bristling, whining–now he saw me coming; then he howled again, he cried. Had I ever heard a dog cry like this for help? And verily, what I saw – I had never seen the like. A young shepherd I saw, writhing, gagging, in spasms, his face distorted, and a heavy black snake hung out of his mouth. Had I ever seen so much nausea and pale dread on one face? He seemed to have been asleep when the snake crawled into his throat, and there bit itself fast. My hand tore at the snake and tore in vain; it did not tear the snake out of his throat. Then it cried out of me: ‘Bite! Bite its head off! Bite!’ Thus it cried out of me – my dread, my hatred, my nausea, my pity, all that is good and wicked in me cried out of me with a single cry….
The shepherd…bit as my cry counseled him; he bit with a good bite. Far away he spewed the head of the snake – and he jumped up. No longer shepherd, no longer human – one changed, radiant, laughing! Never yet on earth has a human being laughed as he laughed! O my brothers, I heard a laughter that was no human laughter; and now a thirst gnaws at me, a longing that never grows still. My longing for this laughter gnaws at me; oh, how do I bear to go on living! And how could I bear to die now!”
– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “On the Vision and the Riddle”