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Meaning of 'look into the abyss' phrase

Posted by ESC on May 25, 2004

In Reply to: Meaning of 'look into the abyss' phrase posted by Smokey Stover on May 25, 2004

: : I think it was Nietsche, but there is a phrase that goes something like "why you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back a you". Trying to explain it so someone... Can you help with an explanation/definition I can offer?

: You are correct, the phrase is from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (Jenseits von Gut und Boese): "And when you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks back at you." As for what it means, I hope someone smarter than I can give you an answer. SS

A book about people who study serial killers had that quote. I took it to mean that if you look at evil long enough it will become a part of you.