Originally Published April 18, 2013
Considering the events of the last week, this song seems both appropriate and inappropriate: “God Is Dead?” by Black Sabbath—the first single released from their album called 13.
The art for the single depicts a mushroom cloud and a portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche. Where else have we seen a mushroom cloud today?
That’s right: the recent devastating explosion in Waco Texas. (the whole Waco Explosion/Waco Branch Davidian 20th anniversary/Patriot’s Day/Boston thing has to be a separate post, as it gets quite complex)
But there is another significant connection today to the Black Sabbath single: it’s Superman’s 75th anniversary. And Nietzsche originated the term Übermensch—translated as “overman”, “super-human” or “superman.”
Nietzsche taught that after God dies, the Übermensch will take over:
“I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?… All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to overman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape… The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth… Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss … what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.”
In the upcoming movie Man of Steel, Superman is clearly presented as a secular God/Jesus type figure—here to replace the “God” that seems to be nowhere, unable to stop the many tragedies that have befallen humanity.