The more I try to set aside my pre-pubescent Jedi theology, the more it seems to follow me. This happened again recently when I picked up the book In Search of Zarathustra: Across Iran and Central Asia to find the world’s first prophet by Paul Kriwaczek, an Austrian dentist turned BBC journalist. Surprisingly going back into history would propel me out into space not once, but twice.
Here's what happened: Kriwacek starts his journey in the 1950s, describing his introduction to Zarathustra through Nietzsche’s book from the late 1800s entitled Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra). If that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, one of its sentences might: “Gott ist tot” (God is Dead).
I had somehow escaped college without reading Nietzsche, so I best knew Thus Spoke Zarathustra for its cinematic notoriety. In 1896, composer Richard Strauss was inspired by Nietzsche’s book to write a musical piece of the same name. Then in 1968, director Stanley Kubrick snagged it to use in his film 2001: A Space Odyssey. You know… bom… bom.. bom… DA DA… as the sun appears from behind the planet? Well, that’s part of Also Sprach Zarathustra.
So just who is this Zarathustra? ...