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Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

On-line version ISSN 1445-7377
Print version ISSN 2079-7222


CYBULSKA, Eva. Nietzsche's Eternal Return: Unriddling the vision, a psychodynamic approach. Indo-Pac. j. phenomenol. (Online) [online]. 2013, vol.13, n.1, pp.1-13. ISSN 1445-7377.

This essay is an interpretation of Nietzsche's enigmatic idea of the Eternal Return of the Same in the context of his life rather than of his philosophy. Nietzsche never explained his 'abysmal thought' and referred to it directly only in a few passages of his published writings, but numerous interpretations have been made in secondary literature. None of these, however, has examined the significance of this thought for Nietzsche, the man. The idea belongs to a moment of ecstasy which Nietzsche experienced during the summer of 1881 in Sils-Maria, in the Swiss Alps. Like Dante, in 'the middle of life', he walked down the wooded Alpine slope and entered his own Inferno. On the anniversary of long-buried loss and pain, his psyche was temporarily flooded by archetypal imagery. This event is interpreted in the light of Freud's theory of repetition compulsion, the uncanny, and the oedipal confrontation with the unconscious. From the turbulent and frightful experience, a symbol of transfiguration emerged in the shape of Eternal Return. Its likeness to Mandala, a Jungian archetype of wholeness and the self, is striking. In the years that followed, Nietzsche produced his greatest works that assured him an unassailable place in Western philosophy. And yet, there was something disturbing about this dream-thought, and Nietzsche shuddered at any mention of the thought. Linking it with the head of Medusa in his unpublished notes, he hinted at its petrifying quality. The beguiling beauty of Medusa makes her an ambiguous symbol of exhilaration, as well as terror. Under her captivating gaze, a hero's journey towards selfhood becomes a journey into the night of madness.

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