Zarathustra vs Happy Mondays

Thus Spoke Zarathustra – First Part – Chapter 5: ‘On Enjoying and Suffering the Passions’
vs “Loose Fit”, Happy Mondays (Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, 1990)

Joy and suffering are indistinguishable from the perspective of passion. Affirming your passion, making it your own, allowing it to permeate your body, define the self, overwhelm your consciousness, discipline your behaviours, enslave your drives and master your desires – this renders joy and suffering meaningless. In the sense of a turning toward, and a turning away. The writer writes; the runner runs; the gambler gambles; and the lover loves – through both joy and suffering, where suffering becomes joy, and joy suffering. This is Zarathustra’s teaching on passion in Chapter 5.

On the one hand, ‘On Enjoying and Suffering the Passions’ completes a triptych that began with ‘On Believers in a World behind’ and continued through ‘On the Despisers of the Body’. These chapters, the first three teachings delivered by Zarathustra in the market place of the Motley Cow, not only advance a logical trajectory, but also grow Zarathustra’s audience. In the first place, these chapters explore the meaning of the death of god and the rejection of a transcendent soul for a belief in the earth and the body, culminating in Chapter 5 and this affirmation of passion. And, in the second place, you can imagine people quickly passing by, some pausing and moving on, some remaining, until a coterie forms. In this way, and on the other hand, ‘On Enjoying and Suffering the Passions’ is also the central chapter in a series of five teaching where Zarathustra – over several days – secures some nascent disciples, listeners who will now stay to hear more (Chapters 6 and 7).

Chapter 5 argues for the creation of values through the affirmation of passion as meaning. ‘At one time you had passions and called them evil’ – such a statement is at the heart of Zarathustra’s philosophy. Passion is often seen as a denigrated concept. It associated with the body, as something from the body which overwhelms the rational mind. It is also associated with the torture of martyrs, Joan and Jesus. Yet Nietzsche realises – reciprocally – these martyrs were affirmed through such suffering; and that the rational mind in turn rationalises bodily passions. Follow your passion. As Happy Mondays have it: ‘Do what you're doing, say what you're saying /  Go where you're going, think what you're thinking / Sounds good to me’.

There are three moments to the teaching, each of which is echoed in the lyrics accompanying the lazy beats, pulsing bass and psychedelic guitar of ‘Loose Fit’:

The first aspect: that of allowing and sustaining the ascension of an all-encompassing passion: ‘many a one went into the desert and killed himself because he was weary of being a battle and battleground of virtues.’ You must – as Happy Monday’s Shaun Ryder sings – ‘take your pick’, it doesn’t matter if your way is ‘small’ or ‘big’ – seen as being unimportant or important by others – these terms are meaningless from the perspective of passion.

Nor does it matter if it is ‘legit’. ‘Don't know what you saw, but you know it's against the law / And you know that you want some more’. The second aspect: passion becomes the meaning for an individuated body, as well as the means of that individuation. ‘I do not will it as a law of a God, I do not will it a human statute and need’. Rather – ‘if you have a virtue, and it is your virtue, then you have her in common with no one else’. The mistake is to give it a name: ‘you have her name in common with people, and have yourself become one of the people and the herd with your virtue!’ Thus, according to Zarathustra ‘You do better if you say: “Inexpressible and nameless is that which is torment and delight”’. Ryder never defines passion – just its condition: ‘Sing if you're singing, speak if you're speaking / Sounds good to me’.

Finally, the third aspect: (once again) the denial of God and gods, and the refusal to believe in a transcendent spirit allows for the affirmation of the material world and the body. In other words, overcoming human nature – which is defined by a herd mentality, ‘The human is something that must be overcome: and therefore shall you love your virtues – for by them will you finally perish’.  As Ryder concludes ‘kill who you're killing’.

First Part: Chapter 6 - Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot

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