In Nietzsche’s book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, he talks about a type of person he saw as both poisonous and destructive.
“Lo! I teach you the Superman! The Superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the Superman shall be the meaning of the earth! I conjure you, my brethren, remain true to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poisoners are they, whether they know it or not.”
Rather than the contemporary idea of kryptonite which is Superman’s notable poison, Nietzsche uses the metaphor of a tarantula to critique the common false morality and values of his time and to warn against the danger of conforming to societal norms without questioning their true value.
He writes: “These tarantulas cling to the walls of their houses and love their cold, dark nooks. What is the greatest thing you can experience? It is the hour of the great contempt. The hour when your happiness, too, arouses your disgust, and even your reason and your virtue.”
He’s criticizing those who cling to the comfort of their homes and refuse to venture out into the unknown. Often he would refer to this Tarantula metaphor in his writing, especially when other philosophers would twist and turn their words to be seen as “accepted” in society. He would argue that the tarantulas themselves are able to twist and turn the truth, why should they be afraid to speak their truth?
One of his more interesting comparisons about tarantulas are that to a higher spirit or a superman concept. That tarantulas tend to have poison throughout their spine, thus can be seen as carrying their poison within. But a higher spirit or superman have poison in their heads which from time to time breaks forth as their greatest danger.
He’s suggesting that those who are truly great and innovative may also pose a great danger to themselves and others. He still sees tarantulas as easily being overcome with the poison they are constantly carrying.
Kryptonite to me has many similarities to tarantulas and the poison they carry. In the Superman comics, the only thing that can weaken Superman to the point of being susceptible to mortality is Kryptonite.
It can easily be avoided given its bright green glow and the idea that it is a physical substance. Tarantulas on the other hand are more-so a cultural or societal poison that is more insidious and difficult to avoid.
For anyone who seeks to live authentically and embrace their own individuality, one must learn to put up with tarantulas or teach them. If you cannot do either, they you must avoid them at all costs. For they will strip you of your true potential.