“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” – Friedrich Nietzsche | The Gay Science
Man stands atop the ruins of the world, the Nietzschean prophecy of man become a god unto himself seemingly complete. Wherever modern man looks he sees only himself. Reflected everywhere in the animated corpses of his dead creations living only on the power of his dream-magic. The gods no longer find a place suitable to dwell within the great panoplies of mechanical monstrosities. All around the gods seem to have withdrawn, and the manifold masks of the ineffable torn from the skulls of the gods, their naked bodies dissected and discarded. Everywhere in great pools of blood man sees only his own reflection, and is happy. The vast pantheon, the million faces of the earth laid to waste in the ascension of one arrogant ape. It is true, one could perhaps be forgiven in believing that men have succeeded in defeating the gods and taking the throne of creation for themselves.
But the gods were and are not dead, and they do not rest in idleness. They persist within the dark places. They ready themselves, they lurk, they hunt, and they haunt from the shadows of the world. They no longer dwell on the earth, and we cannot speak of the gods in the old ways. The great and noble lands which they once presided over have been abandoned, left in ruin as the houses of the gods were ravaged for the self-serving ape. Thus we can no longer think of the gods as the old bringers of life, their only task now much more terrible. The vengeful destruction of a great chaos which has spread under heaven. The great pantheon of the gods become a pantheon of world-eaters. Noble and monstrous. Glorious and terrible. They ready themselves in the darkness, striking from out of the shadows of the world. While the masses of men continue to kneel blindly before their fickle, petty, and self-made idols the gods continue to ready themselves, and wage their endless war. Every earthquake which splits the gray concrete strangling the soft earth, every sea-front town swallowed by the rising seas reminding men of the power of water, every tornado which rips apart the decadent dwellings of the arrogant ape with the fury of air, every sinkhole that opens the jaws of the earth to swallow up the world of men is a victory for the ever-wild gods of the earth.
Civilized man’s very existence has set him against the gods. His idols, his projects, acts of open war against the gods of the earth. Civilization itself is a state of unending war against the earth. It is a pyrrhic war, no doubt. The gods have existed long before the emergence of man, and will continue to do so long after he has been wiped from the earth by the gods for his arrogance. Man cannot and will not outlast the gods, for the ways of the gods are older than the ways of men, and have been shaped through the eons in blood, stone, fire, air, and water. Despite his perceptions from his position atop the ruins of the world, he remains yet a plaything before the great and cosmic forces of the gods. Men of the past have understood their position before the gods. They knew that their existence was granted by the grace of the gods. Their existence constituted a balance set by the relations between mortals, and the gods, and between the earth and sky.
I do not suspect that the gods will have us back. We have done too much. Wrought too much madness upon the earth. It seems to me that the wrath of the gods which we have wrought by our foolishness will spare no one. The great violence to befall man is his reckoning for thousands of years of transgressions against the gods. The great catastrophes, the chaos, the violent angels of wild gods are our bloody purification. Do not lament it. Do not pity it. You will not come out alive, but it may help to open ourselves from the arrogance of our modern solipsism and out onto the grand beauty of the world, as some of those before us were able to. To see with old eyes and to recognize our place among the ten thousand things. It is not a vision of hope or comfort. Both are for fools. But there is perhaps a certain salvation in recognizing our own place in this grand theology of the earth. Perhaps the only salvation.