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Is Durance inspired by Zarathustra?

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note: I am from germany and I read Nietsche in german. My translations are just guesses.


Nietsche wrote "God is dead, god stays dead and we killed it." (This is not from Zarathustra.)



Zarathustra leaves his home at the age of 30 and lives alone in a cave on top of a mountain for 10 years. There he invents his "theory" that can be summarized as "transformation through challange". He likes those who seek change and danger. He hates those who want to live a peaceful life where things stay as they are. He says" Man is not a goal but a bride. It is something you must pass. Man has evolved from worm to ape to man. As man now looks down at the ape as something primitive, the übermensch will look down at man in the future. I tell you, you still got too much worm within you."


He travels the world, meets lots of people and gives comments about it. Which means he insults half of the universe.


At the end he find several people (one after the other, not all at once) he consideres worthy ( which means most normal people would call them insane). He sends them to his home while he continues his search for the übermensch. When he comes home, they pray to a donkey because the animal is happy and does not desire anything. Zarathustra is shocked, he beats them and sends them away (with the worst insults you can imagine). Then he continues to travel alone.


It think this is very similar to Durance. A strange hermit who follows the principle "transformation through challange" and who beats and insults lots of people all the time. However, Zarathustra did not kill people nor did he build a bomb.

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While there are definitely shades of Zarathustra to Durance, and they're probably intentional, I don't think he's meant to be a direct envisioning of Nietzsche's author avatar. It bears remembering that Durance is a religious man who believes he is justified by faith, and to a lesser extent by nationalistic impulses. Zarathustra is a very pointedly anti-religious figure, and Nietzsche thought very poorly of nationalism. Both bear an individualist streak, and Durance sees the individual as shaped by and challenged by the divine; Nietzsche, however, articulated very generally that individuals are born from the struggle between internal forces (the passions, the Will to Power) and the necessities of a universe beholden to nothing and no one. both characters are grounded in scorn for a religious community that they see as faithless, cowardly, and deeply hypocritical, but to different ends - Durance wants a return to old-school, trial-by-fire faith, while Zarathustra is frustrated by civilization's superficial attachment to faith's trappings where no faith remains.


Durance was written by Chris Avellone, whose work has generally been full of both Nietzschean themes and very pointed questioning of those themes. For Pillars, he also wrote Grieving Mother, a character whose arc revolves around her attempts to escape from the trauma of her past, and the harm that denying her own history has done to others and to herself. Generally, transformation through pain features prominently in Avellone's characters, but he has never flinched from exploring the way pain can just as easily trap people and prevent them from growing when they lack the means or the will to confront it. I believe that Durance is just such a character - a man clinging desperately to faith when it seems that faith has abandoned him. He has suffered, he has survived, but he has failed to grow.


He might even be seen as a caricature of Zarathustra: as his name suggests, he endures, but his trials have only weakened him because enduring is all he does. Durance understands that pain is a necessary part of growth, but has decieved himself into believing that pain and growth are the same. It is a worthy end to walk over hot coals in search of transformation; just standing around on the coals as if transformation gallops to the aid of anyone in pain is vanity.


But all that said, I don't think he's meant to actually be Zarathustra. In the same tradition? Sure - like Zarathustra, he's clearly a spin on Moses (what with the staff and the miracles and the burning bush), but he's less an atheist version, and more a take on Moses-as-a-monstrous-prick trying to excuse himself and his god for the monstrosity of his miracles. The Nietzschean themes are recurring ones in Avellone's work, and Durance doesn't seem to embody the struggle against religious and cultural nihilism that lies at the heart of Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Edited by gkathellar
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If I'm typing in red, it means I'm being sarcastic. But not this time.

Dark green, on the other hand, is for jokes and irony in general.

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I do not see a connection between Moses and Durance. Moses was successful. His god talks to him, he beats the pharao and he leads his people to the promised land. After the godhammer, all that Durance did was to kill, beat and insult people. Maybe Durance is more like the "volunteer beggar" (I hope you know who is meant) from Zarathustra. He gives away away all of his posessions and he tortures himself alone in the wilderness. He tries to life "if it does not kill you, it makes you stronger", but it does not work.


So Durance is the "spiritual successor" of Dakkon. He endures suffering, but the only result is more suffering.

Dakkon is an example for "lawful stupid". He keeps his promise even though it makes him a slave, the whole thing is based on a lie and the person he gave the promise does not remember him or his promise.


Grieving mother is the spiritual successor of Kreia. Physically weak, mentally strong, manipulating others. Kreia is my favourite character of all computer games. In the star wars universe (created around the conflict between good and evil) she identifies the struggle between good and evil as mayor source of suffering and goes literally beyond good and evil (to stay with Nietsche). Of course, her point of view is strongly biased by her desire for vengeance.


I hope Chris will continue to make good games. His characters are the best ones (though I never want to meet such people in my real life).


By the way: "Beyond good and Evil" is also a very good game, but it has nothing to do with this topic or Nietsche.

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