Alien Bible: The Cosmic Horror of Eternal Return


Did you know the repetitive beats of the Alien movies and books are all intentional?

These repeating motifs are part of the cosmic horror of ‘Eternal Return’ also known as ‘Eternal Recurrence,’ and this premise is part of the ‘Alien Bible’ which dictates the structure of the franchise.

Such beliefs were held in Indian Philosophy and Ancient Egypt. Which has been linked to design elements of the Winged Sun logo and the Green Stone in the headroom in the Prometheus movie.

Here are two passages from Alien Covenant: Origins and two from Alien: Resurrection,  which I will use for this example:

Alien Covenant: Origins
Alien Covenant: Origins
Alien: Resurrection
Alien: Resurrection


A similar quote was muttered to Sir Weyland by his daughter Meredith Vickers in the Prometheus Movie

“A King has his reign, and then he dies. Its inevitable” – Meredith Vickers

Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy on Eternal Recurrence appears in his books, The Gay Science and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

 “What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you 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 more and innumerable times more’ … 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.'” – Friedrich Nietzsche – The Gay Science, §341

Friedrich Nietzsche believed the only one capable of overcoming this ‘Eternal Return’ was the Übermensch, which roughly translated means Overman or Superman.

Zarathustra first announces the Übermensch as a goal humanity can set for itself. All human life would be given meaning by how it advanced a new generation of human beings. The aspiration of a woman would be to give birth to an Übermensch, for example; her relationships with men would be judged by this standard – Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I.18; Lampert,Nietzsche’s; Rosen, Mask of Enlightenment, 118.

Which is fitting, because the Xenomorph could only be defeated finally by an Overman, or in this case, an Over woman, such as Ripley 8.

This theme is hinted to, in Weyland’s TED speech, he even can be heard uttering lines from Friedrich Nietzsche’s book Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

“I am a law only for my kindnot for all” – Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Here’s a summary of the book if you aren’t familiar.

Zarathustra starts with him descending from a cave in the mountains after ten years of solitude.

Much like David with being marooned on Planet 4 for 10 years.

He is brimming with wisdom and love and wants to teach humanity about the Overman who can overcome the cycle humanity is doomed to repeat. Arriving in the town of the Motley Cow, he announces that the Overman must be the meaning of the Earth and that mankind is just a bridge between animal and Overman, an in-between state before Godliness. And a leader with the right qualities (who is free from all the prejudices and moralities of human society, and who creates his own values and purpose) can overcome their humanity, becoming an Overman to lead mankind into a new and enlightened future.

What we learn from the Alien movies is that there are good Overwoman like Ripley and evil Overmen like Sir Weyland or David.

Ripley is constantly pulled into what seems like a never-ending battle, time and time again she has to suffer the loss of loved ones, family and friends. No one but her seems to survive this recurring nightmare.

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

— Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Section 125

Unlike Nietzsche, Lovecraft doesn’t make the fatal mistake of inferring the lack of presence of God or that God is dead. In his universe God simply does not exist, there is no need to meet him or avoid his presence, Lovecraft’s universe is an eternal cosmic fury full of emotionless creatures void of emotion. In his cosmic-centric vision, men do not matter any more than ants, he has no interest in the human aspect of the psychological analysis of his human characters. His cosmic terror is in the supernatural.

You can clearly see the influence of Nietzsche in Lovecraft’s work:

There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest Mountain to find the lurking fear. I was not alone, for foolhardiness was not then mixed with that love of the grotesque and the terrible which has made my career a series of quests for strange horrors in literature and in life. With me were two faithful and muscular men for whom I had sent when the time came; men long associated with me in my ghastly explorations because of their peculiar fitness.
We had started quietly from the village because of the reporters who still lingered about after the eldritch panic of a month before—the nightmare creeping death. Later, I thought, they might aid me; but I did not want them then. Would to God I had let them share the search, that I might not have had to bear the secret alone so long; to bear it alone for fear the world would call me mad or go mad itself at the daemon implications of the thing. Now that I am telling it anyway, lest the brooding make me a maniac, I wish I had never concealed it. For I, and I only, know what manner of fear lurked on that spectral and desolate mountain. – The Lurking Fear
By H. P. Lovecraft, I. The Shadow on the Chimney

The first two paragraphs of the book read like Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Indubitably Alien: Covenant hints to the theme of recurrence as the crew end up encountering a signal, find a derelict ship and slowly but surely the monsters find them and take them away. Only three characters survive, exceptional humans, and one non-human. In the philosophical scope, they can be named Overmen.

And with David’s immortal God-like status, Ripley 8 is the perfect balance to this theory of Eternal Recurrence, because in Alien: Resurrection she transcends her human form and becomes a creature who is free from all the prejudices and moralities of human society, and who creates her own values and purpose through the film.

Her final transformation could be seen as ending the curse of Eternal Return, at least with the horrors of the Xenomorph.


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