Friedrich Nietzsche, Aphorism 125, ‘The Madman’, The Gay Science :
Haven’t you heard of that madman who in the bright morning lit a lantern and ran around the marketplace crying incessantly, ‘I’m looking for God! I’m looking for God!’ Since many of those who did not believe in God were standing around together just then, he caused great laughter. Has he been lost, then? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone to sea? Emigrated? - Thus they shouted and laughed, one interrupting the other. The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. ‘Where is God?’ he cried; ‘I'll tell you! We have killed him - you and I! We are all his murderers. But how did we do this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Where is it moving to now? Where are we moving to? Away from all suns? Are we not continually falling? And backwards, sidewards, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an up and a down? Aren't we straying as though through an infinite nothing? Isn't empty space breathing at us? Hasn’t it got colder? Isn't night and more night coming again and again? Don't lanterns have to be lit in the morning? Do we still hear nothing of the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we still smell nothing of the divine decomposi tion? - Gods, too, decompose! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How can we console ourselves, the murderers of all murderers! The holiest and the mightiest thing the world has ever possessed has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood from us? With what water could we clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what holy games will we have to invent for ourselves? Is the magnitude of this deed not too great for us? Do we not ourselves have to become gods merely to appear worthy of it? There was never a greater deed - and whoever is born after us will on account of this deed belong to a higher history than all history up to now!’ Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; they too were silent and looked at him disconcertedly. Finally he threw his lantern on the ground so that it broke into pieces and went out. ‘I come too early’, he then said; ‘my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder need time; the light of the stars needs time; deeds need time, even after they are done, in order to be seen and heard. This deed is still more remote to them than the remotest stars - and yet they have done it themselves!’
Hermann Broch, The Sleepwalkers, Part 3, Chapter XLIV, ‘Disintegration of Values (6)’ [1931-32]:
in this fashion, in this absolute devotion to logical rigour, the Western world has won its achievements,—and with the same thoroughness, the absolute thoroughness that abrogates itself, must it eventually advance ad absurdum:
war is war, l’art pour l’art, in politics there’s no room for compunction, business is business,—all these signify the same thing, all these appertain to the same aggressive and radical spirit, informed by that uncanny, I might almost say that metaphysical, lack of consideration for consequences, that ruthless logic directed on the object and on the object alone, which looks neither to the right nor to the left; and this, all this, is the style of thinking that characterizes our age.
…the abstract ruthlessly invaded the logic of every single value-making activity, stripping its content bare, and not only forbade it to deviate at all from the form determined by its function, insisting on purely functional structure whether in architecture or in any other constructive activity, but has also radicalized so thoroughly the single value-systems that these, being thrown back on themselves and referred to the Absolute, have separated from one another, now run parallel to each other, and, since they can no longer combine in the service of a supreme value, claim equality one with the other: like strangers they exist side by side, an economic value-system of “good business” next to an aesthetic one of l’art pour l’art, a military code of values side by side with a technical or an athletic, each autonomous, each “in and for itself,” each “unfettered” in its autonomy, each resolved to push home with radical thoroughness the final conclusions of its logic and to break its own record. And woe to the others, if in this conflict of systems that precariously maintain an equilibrium one should gain the preponderance and overtop all the rest, as the military system does in war, or as the economic system is now doing, a system to which even war is subordinate,—woe to the others! For the triumphant system will embrace the whole of the world, it will overwhelm all other values and exterminate them as a cloud of locusts lays waste a field.
Ezra Pound, ‘Canto CXIII’ :
The hells move in cycles,
No man can see his own end.
The Gods have not returned. “They have never left us.”
They have not returned.