None of Zarathustra's companions can be overmen because they all carry too much of the old world with them. For instance, the pope is weighed down by his love for God, and the ugliest man is weighed down by his resentment of pity. Zarathustra (and Nietzsche elsewhere) claims several times that the overman is something that must be bred, which explains his interest in marriage and breeding. These men are potential breeders: they have the right goal in mind, and the right intentions. Unlike them, perhaps their children may be born free of the prejudices that they themselves have worked so hard to shake off.

Zarathustra reassures his companions, urging them to dance and laugh. Above all, they should avoid the unconditional: anything that claims to be absolute, such as God, truth, or morality. This is equivalent to the claim made in the commentary on the second half of Part III, that all Nietzsche's criticisms are aimed fundamentally at the "spirit of gravity," which fails to see that nothing is permanent. The chapter "On the Higher Man" contains something of a summary of Nietzsche's thought (like "On Old and New Tablets" in Part III), and ends with a long exhortation to dance and laughter.

Immediately following this exhortation, however, we have the magician's "Song of Melancholy," in which he wonders whether this dance and laughter is merely an escape from the truth that makes them only fools or only poets. This is a moment of self-criticism and self-doubt by Nietzsche, and this song, as with all the other poems in Part four, was published elsewhere in a slightly altered version under Nietzsche's own name. Perhaps, he wonders, in all my efforts to free myself from dogmatism and absolutism, I've freed myself from everything substantial. Like a fool or a poet, perhaps I deal only with frivolous and pleasing subjects, and that's why I laugh. These doubts are immediately dismissed, and are followed by a discussion of science that is a bit out of place in this part of the book.

The final moment of self-doubt comes when the company begins praying to an ass, in an allusion to Exodus: 32 in the Bible, where the people of Israel build a golden calf just before Moses descends from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. Similarly, the Last Supper, which is alluded to in the title of chapter twelve, is the moment of the Holy Eucharist, which is central to Christian worship. These moments of solemn law giving, however, become moments of laughter for Zarathustra. By alluding to these biblical passages, Nietzsche is signaling that he is about to lay down his own "commandments" in the penultimate chapter, but that these are not law-like commandments that must be obeyed by all. Rather, he lays out an exhortation to laugh and to seek joy, to mock anything serious, including ourselves, and, of course, including the scriptures that are being alluded to.

The Drunken Song contains a joyous affirmation of the eternal recurrence:

"Have you ever said Yes to a single joy? O my friends, then you said Yes to all woe. All things are entangled, ensnared, enamored; if ever you wanted one thing twice, if ever you said, "You please me, happiness! Abide, moment!" then you wanted all back. All anew, all eternally, all entangled, ensnared, enamored—oh, then you loved the world. Eternal ones, love it eternally and evermore; and to woe too, you say: go, but return! For all joy wants—eternity."

The universe is not made up of static, separate moments that can be identified and isolated. Rather, it is in constant flux, and everything in every moment is a part of this fundamental process of becoming. Thus, no moment of joy can be singled out from this flux and held on to as if it were separate from the rest. If one can accept the eternal recurrence and what Deleuze calls "the being of becoming," one can accept that one's joys are not distinct from one's miseries. You can either take all or nothing, and if you take all, you must be willing to have it for all eternity.

The appearance of the lion in the final chapter is an allusion to the first chapter, "On the Three Metamorphoses," where the lion is represented as the second stage on the way to becoming an overman. The lion will be followed by the child, the innocent creator. On seeing the lion, Zarathustra says, "my children are near, my children."

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