Great comedians and poisons flies. Nietzsche and the marketplace

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When Zarathustra arrives in town, men are all gathered in its square. But, Nietzsche uses a shade which makes his reflection even more interesting and rich: people are not simply crowded “in the square”, but it's «gathered in the market place». A really concrete imagery, quite recurring in Nietzsche's works, surely not accidental: the episode of the «madman» announcing God's death is also set in the same urban scenery, at the «marketplace». Along with the town's depictions, the marketplace represents a typical city place, a theatre of collectivity and human daily coexistence. Located in the square, it's a symbol for public life, one of the places in which the citizens have always gathered and spent life moments. It's precisely in this place of incubation for Western philosophy, that the symbolic values of town and coexistence per se summarise for Nietzsche. In his original observation, the marketplace doesn't depict money and economy only, but real daily life: private life “becomes a market”, turning public thanks to the men who display their life experience. Zarathustra has the chance to become fully human on this social stage only. The marketplace is the daily coexistence's resonating chamber: its public dimension is necessary to him, to meet men and announce his message. It's exactly here that the plebeian rationale comes out and can be uncovered: it's not fortuitous that, to «learn what plebs is and its noise», Nietzsche and Zarathustra put themselves precisely «on the market». The marketplace, a human place which can only be negative for that Nietzsche disdaining the collective rationale. It's the plebeian place, symbol of a depersonalised life: its noisy social living is synonym for pettiness and mediocrity, insincerity and hypocrisy. In short, a milieu to be kept as far as possible. In Nietzsche's lexicon, “marketplace” becomes a true human category: it even changes the common language, inflecting into a verbal predicate which is a sign of a small and degenerated humanity, able to give value only to material reality. Men of modernity «offered for sale the spirit itself, they poisoned their blood in trading»: unable to appreciate all isn't negotiable, and handling everything in a commercial, utilitarian and profitable way. It's clear that Nietzsche doesn't appreciate the marketplace from a chapter in the first book of Also sprach Zarathustra – Von den Fliegen des Marktes –, entirely about this location. Already in the first lines, Nietzsche begins with a peremptory affirmation: «Where solitude ends, there begins the market place». A judgment which, with its concision's strength, suddenly opens two totally opposite ways to view life: alone, or with the others. The marketplace so depicts a way of living, opposing its daily life noises to silence and quietness of the forest and mountains. If these locations, with their peace, represent the places of solitude, the market is, instead, the expression of co-existence: actually, saying “marketplace” is saying “solitude's ending”, “human relationships”, “town”. But, in its fragmented nature, this judgment reveals a disturbing setting, projecting the common living on a background of duplicity. The marketplace loses its neutrality as harmless figure of speech to turn totally negative: it is indeed a symbol of coexistence, but a degenerated one by now. To confirm it, with a full pathos crescendo, Nietzsche closes the same judgment: «and where the market place begins, there begins too the noise of the great actors and the buzzing of poisonous flies». The marketplace represents the middle term of this odd syllogism, which seems to condemn man to an impasse and no alternatives at all. If the human being leaves solitude, he is thrown into a coexistence made of «great actors» and «poison-flies»: a daily living together whose protagonists are on one side the «great men», with their ru
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)27-32
Numero di pagine6
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017


  • Great comedians
  • Marketplace
  • Nietzsche
  • Zarathustra
  • poisons flies


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