by Gilles Deleuze
The game has two moments which are those of a dicethrow - the dice that is thrown and the dice that falls back. Nietzsche presents the dicethrow as taking place on two distinct tables, the earth and the sky. The earth where the dice are thrown and the sky where the dice fall back: "if ever I have played dice with the gods at their table, the earth, so that the earth trembled and broke open and streams of fire snorted forth; for the earth is a table of the gods, and trembling with creative new words and the dice throws of the gods" (Z III "The Seven Seals" 3 p. 245). "O sky above me, you pure and lofty sky! This is now your purity to me, that there is no eternal reason-spider and spider's web in you; that you are to me a dance floor for divine chances, that you are to me a god's table for divine dice and dicers" (Z III "Before Sunrise" p. 186). But these two tables are not two worlds. They are the two hours of a single world, the two moments of a single world, midnight and midday, the hour when the dice are thrown, the hour when the dice fall back. Nietzsche insists on the two tables of life which are also the two moments of the player or the artist; "We temporarily abandon life, in order to then temporarily fix our gaze upon it." The dicethrow affirms becoming and it affirms the being of becoming.
It is not a matter of several dicethrows which, because of their number, finally reproduce the same combination. On the contrary, it is a matter of a single dicethrow which, due to the number of the combination produced, comes to reproduce itself as such. It is not that a large number of throws produce the repetition of a combination but rather the number of the combination which produces the repetition of the dicethrow. The dice which are thrown once are the affirmation of chance, the combination which they form on falling is the affirmation of necessity. Necessity is affirmed of chance in exactly the sense that being is affirmed of becoming and unity is affirmed of multiplicity. It will be replied, in vain, that thrown to chance, the dice do not necessarily produce the winning combination, the double six which brings back the dicethrow. This is true, but only insofar as the player did not know how to affirm chance from the outset. For, just as unity does not suppress or deny multiplicity, necessity does not suppress or abolish chance. Nietzsche identifies chance with multiplicity, with fragments, with parts, with chaos: the chaos of the dice that are shaken and then thrown. Nietzsche turns chance into an affirmation. The sky itself is called "chance-sky", "innocence-sky" (Z III "Before Sunrise"); the reign of Zarathustra is called "great chance" (Z IV "The Honey Offering" and III "Of Old and New Law Tables"; Zarathustra calls himself the "redeemer of chance"). "By chance, he is the world's oldest nobility, which I have given back to all things; I have released them from their servitude under purpose ... I have found this happy certainty in all things: that they prefer to dance on the feet of chance" (Z III "Before Sunrise" p. 186); "My doctrine is 'Let chance come to me: it is as innocent as a little child!' " (Z III "On the Mount of Olives" p. 194). What Nietzsche calls necessity (destiny) is thus never the abolition but rather the combination of chance itself. Necessity is affirmed of chance in as much as chance itself affirmed. For there is only a single combination of chance as such, a single way of combining all the parts of chance, a way which is like the unity of multiplicity, that is to say number or necessity. There are many numbers with increasing or decreasing probabilities, but only one number of chance as such, one fatal number which reunites all the fragments of chance, like midday gathers together the scattered parts of midnight. This is why it is sufficient for the player to affirm chance once in order to produce the number which brings back the dicethrow.
To know how to affirm chance is to know how to play. But we do not know how to play, "Timid, ashamed, awkward, like a tiger whose leap has failed. But what of that you dicethrowers! You have not learned to play and mock as a man ought to play and mock!" (Z IV "Of the Higher Man" 14 p. 303). The bad player counts on several throws of the dice, on a great number of throws. In this way he makes use of causality and probability to produce a combination that he sees as desirable. He posits this combination itself as an end to be obtained, hidden behind causality. This is what Nietzsche means when he speaks of the eternal spider, of the spider's web of reason, "A kind of spider of imperative and finality hidden behind the great web, the great net of causality - we could say, with Charles the Bold when he opposed Louis XI, "I fight the universal spider" (GM III 9). To abolish chance by holding it in the grip of causality and finality, to count on the repetition of throws rather than affirming chance, to anticipate a result instead of affirming necessity - these are all the operations of a bad player. They have their root in reason, but what is the root of reason? The spirit of revenge, nothing but the spirit of revenge, the spider (Z II "Of the Tarantulas"). Ressentiment in the repetition of throws, bad conscience in the belief in a purpose. But, in this way, all that will ever be obtained are more or less probable relative numbers. That the universe has no purpose, that it has no end to hope for any more than it has causes to be known - this is the certainty necessary to play well (VP III 465). The dicethrow fails because chance has not been affirmed enough in one throw. It has not been affirmed enough in order to produce the fatal number which necessarily reunites all the fragments and brings back the dicethrow. We must therefore attach the greatest importance to the following conclusion: for the couple causality-finality, probability-finality, for the opposition and the synthesis of these terms, for the web of these terms, Nietzsche substitutes the Dionysian correlation of chancenecessity, the Dionysian couple chance-destiny. Not a probability distributed over several throws but all chance at once; not a final, desired, willed combination, but the fatal combination, fatal and loved, amor fati; not the return of a combination by the number of throws, but the repetition of a dicethrow by the nature of the fatally obtained number.
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