Eternal return (also known as "eternal recurrence") is a concept that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space.
- Time Prophet: Time begins, and then time ends,
and then time begins once again
It is happening now, it has happened before,
it will surely happen again.
- Paul Donovan & Lex Gigeroff, Lexx, "Brigadoom", (April 9, 1999).
- What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
- Ecclesiastes 1:9
- Even if there were exceedingly few things in a finite space in an infinite time, they would not have to repeat in the same configurations. Suppose there were three wheels of equal size, rotating on the same axis, one point marked on the circumference of each wheel, and these three points lined up in one straight line. If the second wheel rotated twice as fast as the first, and if the speed of the third wheel was 1/π of the speed of the first, the initial line-up would never recur.
- Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist p. 327
- 208. [...] If one now goes on to consider that, not only a book, but every action performed by a human being becomes in some way the cause of other actions, decisions, thoughts, that everything that happens is inextricably knotted to everything that will happen, one comes to recognize the existence of an actual immortality, that of motion: what has once moved is enclosed and eternalized in the total union of all being like an insect in amber.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (translated by R. J. Hollingdale)
- 341. The heaviest weight. - What if some day or night a demon were to steal into your loneliest loneliness and say to you : 'This life as you now live it and have lived it you will have to live once again and innumerable times again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!' Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine. ' If this thought gained power over you, as you are it would transform and possibly crush you; the question in each and every thing, 'Do you want this again and innumerable times again?' would lie on your actions as the heaviest weight! Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to long for no thing more fervently than for this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, translated by Josefine Nauckhoff
- Must not what ever can already have passed this way before? Must not what ever can happen, already have happened, been done, passed by before? And if everything has already been here before, what do you think of this moment, dwarf? Must this gateway too not already – have been here? And are not all things firmly knotted together in such a way that this moment draws after it all things to come? Therefore – itself as well? For,whatever can run, even in this long lane outward–must run it once more! – And this slow spider that creeps in the moonlight, and this moonlight itself, and I and you in the gateway whispering together, whispering of eternal things – must not all of us have been here before? –And return and run in that other lane, outward, before us, in this long, eerie lane – must we not return eternally? –”
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Vision and the Riddle, translated by Adrian del Caro
- I, Zarathustra, the advocate of life, the advocate of suffering, the advocate of the circle – you I summon, my most abysmal thought!
Hail to me! You are coming – I hear you! My abyss speaks,I have unfolded my ultimate depth to the light!
Hail to me! Here now! Give me your hand – ha! Let go! Haha! – Nausea, nausea, nausea – oh no!
- 56. Anyone like me, who has tried for a long time and with some enigmatic desire, to think pessimism through to its depths and to deliver it from the half-Christian, half-German narrowness and naivete with which it has finally presented itself to this century, namely in the form of the Schopenhauerian philosophy; anyone who has ever really looked with an Asiatic and supra-Asiatic eye into and down at the most world-negating of all possible ways of thinking – beyond good and evil, and no longer, like Schopenhauer and the Buddha, under the spell and delusion of morality –; anyone who has done these things (and perhaps precisely by doing these things) will have inadvertently opened his eyes to the inverse ideal: to the ideal of the most high-spirited, vital, world-affirming individual, who has learned not just to accept and go along with what was and what is, but who wants it again just as it was and is through all eternity, insatiably shouting da capo not just to himself but to the whole play and performance, and not just to a performance, but rather, fundamentally, to the one who needs precisely this performance – and makes it necessary: because again and again he needs himself – and makes himself necessary. – – What? and that wouldn’t be –circulus vitiosus deus?
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, translated by Julian Norman
- Supreme star of being!
Tablet of eternal forms!
You come towards me? —
Why hasn't anyone beheld
Your mute beauty —
Why doesn't it escape my gaze?
Sign of necessity!
Tablet of eternal forms!
— But of course you know it:
What everyone hates,
What I alone love,
That you are eternal!
That you are necessary!
My love is ever ignited
Only through necessity.
Sign of necessity!
Supreme star of being! —
That no desire attains,
That no No desecrates,
Eternal Yes of being,
Eternally I am your Yes:
For I love you, O eternity! — —
- Rust Cohle: In eternity, where there is no time, nothing can grow. Nothing can become. Nothing changes. So Death created time to grow the things that it would kill. And you are reborn, but into the same life that you've always been born into. I mean, how many times have we had this conversation, detectives? Well, who knows? When you can't remember your lives, you can't change your lives, and that is the terrible and the secret fate of all life. You're trapped by that nightmare you keep waking up into.
- Rust Cohle: Someone once told me, 'Time is a flat circle.' Everything we've ever done or will do, we're gonna do over and over and over again. And that little boy and that little girl, they're gonna be in that room again and again and again forever.
- Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective (TV series), "The Secret Fate of All Life", (February 16, 2014).