Tellurian Nietzsche and the (Un)inhabitable Eternal Return


This essay engages Nietzsche as a traveler who, by regularly sojourning in precariously inhabitable volcanic areas of Italy as he sought some relief for his health in propitious climes, pursued a philosophy of becoming. The firehound his Zarathustra encountered on an island reminiscent of Southern Italian landscapes that Nietzsche traveled to, famously declared that “the Earth has a skin, and that skin has diseases; one of its diseases is called man”—a claim that Zarathustra scoffed at. And yet, the demonic animal’s claim provokes us today: as Gaia is running a fever, the question of (un)inhabitability is not just a question of space but also of time—of eternity and ephemerality posed so well by Nietzsche’s concept of eternal return. I suggest that a “Nietzschean ecology” would force us to fatefully dance with the radical reckoning that the only time we can inhabit is the moment, collapsing means and ends for a new eco-ethics.

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