Zapffe in translation

In his vast magnum opus OM DET TRAGISKE Zapffe describes man’s being as structurally and indissolubly tragic. In spite of this, man is capable of revolting against what nature and life have forced upon him. Here, Zapffe expresses this in poetic language:

‘You got me. But my son you will not get. You were committing a fateful mistake when assigning even procreation to my will. And you did not do this out of love…, but rather to burden me with the heaviest of all responsibilities…: Am I to perpetuate this species or not? And from now on I will ask no longer what you want; rather you shall ask what I want. And I will no longer offer further sacrifices to the God of life. I will punish you with the ability you bequeathed to me in order to torment me; I will turn my clairvoyance against you and thus bereaving you of your victims. And the abused millions will stand behind me like a plough… And evermore will two people create one human being… Thus you will feel your powerlessness begging me on your bloody knees.’

The existential dilemma of a self-conscious being that has been released from nature – equipped with a deeply felt need for meaning – can only be solved by the abstention from procreation:

‘I will have to desist from the creation of new holders of interest. This decision would initialise a terminal epoch in the development of humankind; […] This renouncement, this refusal of a continuation represents the utmost cultural possibility of mankind.’

[Translator’s note: As you may have noticed English is not my first language, and I may improve my translation eventually. I read Zapffe’s book OM DET TRAGISKE in the Norwegian original when writing my ANTINATALISMUS. There are quite a few people in the antanatalist community suggesting an English translation of Zapffe’s large book. With the above translated excerpts I try to make accessible for English readers what are –according to my reading experience – the most explicit antinatalist passages in Zapffe’s book]

Advertisements

One thought on “Zapffe in translation

Comments are closed.