"'We invented happiness' say the last human beings, and they blink.”

  • I always figured he meant giphy.com/gifs/ycagKBYEmaili
    – CriglCragl
    May 28, 2021 at 7:19
  • 3
    I take it as a 'tell' for their lie. Shutting your eyes is symbolic of ignoring the evidence. So blinking in unusual ways, or at unusual times appears in stories as a marker of deceit or purposeful self-delusion. May 28, 2021 at 15:36

3 Answers 3


The object of Zarathustra's contempt is the Last Man. 'The earth has become small and upon it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His race is inexterminable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest. "We have discovered happiness", say the Last Men and blink.' For 'blink' read incomprehension. "'What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?", thus asks the Last Man and blinks.'

Sam Whimster, Max Weber and the Culture of Anarchy (1999), intro., p.1

  • Good answer. I would like to say that the original says "blinzeln" which should rather be understood in the sense of squint than in the sense of closing the eyes here. This supports the conclusion of the author, because it expresses "And how could it be otherwise?" That is in perfect accordance with the gist of the section, which is about how the Last Man lost the chaos and ability enabling anything new or change, being stuck in and content with the ordinary.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Sep 1, 2021 at 16:47

Obviously this masterpiece contains many esoteric truths which can only be perceived by the spirit or the conscious observer. This means that academic reasoning is not the path that leads to "understanding". But with that said, at face value it is refering to the disposition of the the crowd, who don't understand what Zarathusta is talking about, so start mocking him. This is why he (Zarathusta) gets discouraged, because he doesn't have sufficient means to convey his truths. "...and they blink" is another whay of saying "they are not interested" or "they gave a blank stare" or "they are mindless automatons" etc, etc.....

  • '... or the conscious observer': do you mean 'of the conscious observer'?
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Sep 6, 2021 at 17:41

The context makes it a bit clearer:

Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man.

“What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?” the last man asks, and he blinks....

“We have invented happiness,” say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One loves one’s neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth...

No shepherd and one herd! Everyone wants the same, everyone is the same; whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse...

One has one’s little pleasures for the day and one’s little pleasures for the night, but one has a regard for health.

“We have invented happiness,” say the last men, and they blink.

To blink is to stop looking at something. They may parrot that they "invented happiness" but they do not stop to think it through. They do not despise themselves because they do not realize that they have not found real happiness, they just follow the crowd, but they do not look at what they are doing long enough to realize it.

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