My novel TABLE 41 is now available in physical form

Dear friends,

Many of you have asked me to publish my novel TABLE 41 in physical form.  It is now available:

purchase TABLE 41 here

Excerpts from the book are readable here (Table One, Table Two, Table Three, and Table Four): table41thenovel.com

Wishing you the best,

Joseph Suglia

Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia: Table of Contents

 

SELECTED ESSAYS AND SQUIBS by Joseph Suglia

My novel TABLE 41

My Guide to English Usage

My YouTube Channel

Table of Contents

SQUIBS

A Wonderful Video for Wonderful People

I Renounce All My Early Books and Writings

Aphorisms on Art

Aphorisms on Consumerism and Genius

Aphorisms on Racism, Cultural Studies, and Kim Jong-un

Aphorisms on Libertarianism, Criticism, and Psychoanalysis

My Favorite Writers, My Favorite Music, My Favorite Films

The Most Important Video You Will Ever Watch

Three Aperçus: On DEADPOOL (2016), David Foster Wallace, and Beauty

Three Aperçus: THE NEON DEMON (2016) and Envy

Bob Dylan Is Overrated: On Bob Dylan Being Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016

The Red Pig Asian Kitchen: BANNED by Yelp

Happy Father’s Day: Or, Chopo Chicken: BANNED by Yelp

Analogy Blindness: I Invented a Linguistic Term

Polyptoton: Greg Gutfeld

Two Haiku

David Foster Wallace and Macaulay Culkin: Two Aperçus

On the Distinction between the flâneur and the boulevardier

Ordering a Pizza at the Standard Market Grill in Lincoln Park: BANNED by Yelp

Jimmy Carter

Emo Island

THE NIETZSCHE COMMENTARIES

HUMAN, ALL-TOO-HUMAN / MENSCHLICHES, ALLZUMENSCHLICHES

DAYBREAK / MORGENRÖTHE: GEDANKEN ÜBER DIE MORALISCHEN VORURTHEILE

THE GAY SCIENCE / DIE FRÖHLICHES WISSENSCHAFT

THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA / ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA

Was Nietzsche an Atheist?  Was Nietzsche a Misogynist?  Sam Harris’s Unspoken Indebtedness to Nietzsche

What  Does This Mean?: “God is dead”

What Does This Mean?: “What does not kill me makes me stronger”

What Is the Eternal Recurrence of the Same?

What Is the Will-to-Power?

Was Nietzsche a Sexist?

Was Nietzsche a Fascist?

Was Nietzsche a Proto-Nazi?

Schopenhauer and Nietzsche

Jordan Peterson Does Not Understand Nietzsche

A Readable English Translation of Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche: Translated by Joseph Suglia

OVERESTIMATING / UNDERESTIMATING SHAKESPEARE

VOLUME ONE: THE COMEDIES AND PROBLEM PLAYS

THE TEMPEST

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

AS YOU LIKE IT

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL

TWELFTH NIGHT, OR, WHAT YOU WILL

THE WINTER’S TALE

VOLUME TWO: THE TRAGEDIES

THE TRAGEDY OF OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE

THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR

THE TRAGEDY OF HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK

THE UNREADABILITY OF HAMLET

THE TRAGEDY OF CORIOLANUS

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA

THE MOST LAMENTABLE ROMAN TRAGEDY OF TITUS ANDRONICUS

THE MOST EXCELLENT AND LAMENTABLE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET

TIMON OF ATHENS

CAESAR ANTI-TRUMP

KING LEAR

Racism and Shakespeare: Was Shakespeare a Racist?

What, If Anything, Does Donald Trump Have in Common with Julius Caesar?

Was Shakespeare a Sexist?

Transgenderism in Shakespeare

PHILIPPICS

Jordan Peterson Is Overrated

Mark Z. Danielewski Is a Bad Writer: Part One: When Did Writing Stop Having to Do with Writing?: Mark Z. Danielewski’s THE HOUSE OF LEAVES

Mark Z. Danielewski Is a Bad Writer: Part Two: On ONLY REVOLUTIONS by Mark Z. Danielewski

Mark Z. Danielewski Is a Bad Writer: Part Three: On THE FIFTY-YEAR SWORD by Mark Z. Danielewski

Quentin Tarantino Is an Anti-Black Racist

California Über Alles: Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009)

Against “Bizarro” Fiction

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part One: On FIGHT CLUB by “Chuck” Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part Two: On STRANGER THAN FICTION by “Chuck” Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part Three: On RANT by “Chuck” Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part Four: On SNUFF by “Chuck” Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part Five: On TELL-ALL by “Chuck” Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part Six: On DAMNED by “Chuck” Palahniuk

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part Seven: Fifty Shades of Error: “Chuck” Palahniuk’s BEAUTIFUL YOU

Chuck Palahniuk Is a Bad Writer: Part Eight: Slap Something Together: “Chuck” Palahniuk’s MAKE SOMETHING UP: STORIES YOU CAN’T UNREAD

On THE HISTORY OF LOVE by Nicole Krauss

On THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST by Mel Gibson

On THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

On EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED by Jonathan Safran Foer: Jonathan Safran Foer Is a Bad Writer, Part One

On EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer: Jonathan Safran Foer Is a Bad Writer, Part Two

On EATING ANIMALS by Jonathan Safran Foer: Jonathan Safran Foer Is a Bad Writer, Part Three

Writing with Scissors: Jonathan Safran Foer’s TREE OF CODES: Jonathan Safran Foer Is a Bad Writer, Part Four

On CHRONIC CITY by Jonathan Lethem

Malcolm Gladwell Is a Bad Writer: Part One: On BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell Is a Bad Writer: Part Two: On OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell

Dave Eggers Is a Bad Writer: Part One: On A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING by Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers Is a Bad Writer: Part Two: On YOUR FATHERS, WHERE ARE THEY? AND YOUR PROPHETS, DO THEY LIVE FOREVER? by Dave Eggers

Karl Ove Knausgaard Is a Bad Writer: On MIN KAMP / MY STRUGGLE, Volume One by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard Is a Bad Writer: On MIN KAMP / MY STRUGGLE, Volume Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard

David Foster Wallace Is a Bad Writer: Part One: OBLIVION

David Foster Wallace Is a Bad Writer: Part Two: A SUPPOSEDLY FUN THING THAT I WILL NEVER DO AGAIN

David Foster Wallace Is a Bad Writer: Part Three: BOTH FLESH AND NOT

David Foster Wallace Is a Bad Writer: Part Four: CONSIDER THE LOBSTER

David Foster Wallace Is a Bad Writer: Part Five: INFINITE JEST

Jonathan Franzen Is a Bad Writer: On FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen

On WHY YOU SHOULD READ KAFKA BEFORE YOU WASTE YOUR LIFE by James Hawes

On THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold

Craig Clevenger Is a Bad Writer: Part One: On DERMAPHORIA by Craig Clevenger

HOW NOT TO WRITE A SENTENCE: Craig Clevenger Is a Bad Writer: Part Two: On THE CONTORTIONIST’S HANDBOOK by Craig Clevenger

Girl Gone Rogue: Concerning Sarah Palin

MORE LITERARY AND CINEMATIC CRITICISM

Corregidora / Corrigenda

I Prefer Not to Misinterpret: Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street”

So Long, Planet Earth!: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”

Keats and the Power of the Negative: On “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

On “Eveline” by James Joyce

On “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” by D.H. Lawrence

Why I Can’t Stand Georges Bataille

On WOMEN by Charles Bukowski

On FAT GIRL / A MA SOEUR by Catherine Breillat

On NOSFERATU by Werner Herzog

On CORREGIDORA by Gayl Jones

On ROBERTE CE SOIR and THE REVOCATION OF THE EDICT OF NANTES by Pierre Klossowski

Escape from Utopia: Bret Easton Ellis

On GILES GOAT-BOY by John Barth

On LIPSTICK JUNGLE by Candace Bushnell

On IRREVERSIBLE by Gaspar Noe

On IN MEMORIAM TO IDENTITY by Kathy Acker

On O, DEMOCRACY! by Kathleen Rooney

On STUCK by Steve Balderson

On THE CASSEROLE CLUB by Steve Balderson

On THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Trace of the Father

On VICTOR/VICTORIA by Blake Edwards

On STEPS by Jerzy Kosinski

On EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES by Tom Robbins

On V. by Thomas Pynchon

On A SPY IN THE HOUSE OF LOVE by Anaïs Nin

On MAO II by Don DeLillo

On ROBINSON ALONE by Kathleen Rooney

Dennis Cooper and the Demystification of Love

On THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson

On AUCH ZWERGE HABEN KLEIN ANGEFANGEN by Werner Herzog

On CRASH by J.G. Ballard

On A YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion

 

The Unreadability of Hamlet

 

THE UNREADABILITY OF HAMLET

by Joseph Suglia

 

“No wavering mind, infected with Hamletism, was ever pernicious: the principle of evil lies in the will’s tension, in the incapacity for quietism, in the Promethean megalomania of a race that bursts with ideals, that explodes with convictions…”

—Emil Cioran, A Short History of Decay

 

“O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag—
It’s so elegant
So intelligent”

—T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”

 

Hamlet is not killed by Laertes, nor is he killed by Claudius; he is killed again and again by consumer culture, which is incrementally becoming the only culture on the Planet Earth.  That is to say: The text entitled The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, which is attributed to a person named William Shakespeare, has been distilled to a compound of popular-cultural clichés.  The text has been zombified.  I do not mean that the language of the text is obsolete or irrelevant.  I mean that the play “lives on” in the deathful form of clichés, for clichés are dead language.

Nearly every line of the play has become a platitude, a slogan, a title of a song or a film, a song lyric.  Most have an at least sedimentary understanding of the play—in the form of the clichés that the play has generated.  You might not have read Hamlet, The Prince of Denmark, but Hamlet, The Prince of Denmark has read you.

It is nearly impossible to read the words of the text in their original context, since the text now appears porous to any culturally literate person.  It is not an open-source text; it is an open-sore text.  It is leachy, pervious, permeable to the outside.  That is to say, the text constantly refers to popular-cultural detritus, to bastardized commercializations of the play that Shakespeare was fortunate enough never to have seen or to have heard.  Or, proleptically, to other works of literature; I have read about half of these lines in other works of literature.  When I read “sweets to the sweet,” “ay, very like a whale,” or “beetles over his base into the sea,” I think not of Hamlet (or of the play of which he is the eponym), but of Joyce’s Ulysses, wherein these same phrases reappear.  I am forcibly extricated from the initial text and redirected to another, much later work of literature.

It is not that my mobile telephone is pulling me out of the text.  Staying alone with the text, without the buzzing and shrilling of our telephones, without the compulsive need to check one’s e-mail is a persistent challenge for most, it is true.  Yet this argument is not so much incorrect as it is banal.  It is an argument has been too easily and too often made before (most notably, by Nicolas Carr in “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”).  My argument is not that the webware of our minds has been redesigned and redrawn—something that I have accepted as an immovable fact long ago.  Yes, I know that most are distractible.  I have known this for years.  My argument is different.

What is pulling me out of the text is a set of exophoric references that has come long after the fact of the text’s composition.

I am arguing that the play is unreadable independently of its multiple references to consumerist culture.  I do not mean that the text cannot be read (it is as compulsively readable as any text in the Shakespearean canon).  Again, this is not my argument.  I am suggesting something else.  I mean that the text cannot be read as a text, so englutted is it with post-date media clichés and references to other works of literature.  The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a multiply linked polytext.

In an age in which Google is the New God, it is even less probable that one could read a text in its nudity.  We have reached the point at which many of us cannot read a text as text, assuming that such a thing were even ever possible.  As Nietzsche writes in the late notebooks, “To able to read off a text as text, without interposing an interpretation between the lines, is the latest form of ‘inner experience’—perhaps one that is scarcely possible,” einen Text als Text ablesen können, ohne eine Interpretation dazwischen zu mengen, ist die späteste Form der “inneren Erfahrung,”— vielleicht eine kaum mögliche…  One would require an innocent mind to be able to read a text that is unalloyed.

And yet there are no innocent minds any longer—if there ever were!  So supersaturated is the play with after-the-fact media clichés, so embedded is the play with alluvial deposits, so thoroughly is the play encrusted with post-date media messages that it is pre-contaminated.  It is pre-inscribed, paradoxically, by cultural references that were superimposed on the text 400 years after the fact.  Cultural references that have been superimposed to the extent that they are have become part of the text “itself.”  The clichés are not extricable from the text “itself.”

The play cannot be ensiled, protected from the intrusion of clichés.  To ensile means to prepare and store fodder (such as hay or corn) so that it is conduced into silage (succulent feed for livestock).

The lines of the play have taken on lives of their own outside of the play.  Many of them have fallen into the flabbiness of ordinary language.  Popular culture has engulfed the text and debased it.

 

* * * * *

 

Here is a partial list of popular-cultural vandalizations and vulgarizations of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.  I will be citing the Second Quarto (1604-1605) exclusively, for it is the most expansive version of the play:

“’Tis bitter cold / And I am sick at heart” [I:i] is now the language of the weather report.  Squalls and flurries are routinely described by meteorologists as “bitter cold.”  Supporters of politicians are said to wait for their candidates in the “bitter cold.”  “Bitter cold” is said to be the climate of beautiful Rochester, New York.  Poeticism has been deflated, fallen into the stupidity of ordinary language.

“Not a mouse stirring” is now a verse in “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore.  Moore defamiliarized and rescrambled the cliché: It has now become “Not a creature was stirring / not even a mouse.”  And yet that itself has become a cliché.  Readers and spectators of the play will call the Christmas favorite to mind—and digress from the text of the play into yuletide musings.

The stage direction Exit Ghost is now the title of a 2007 novel by Philip Roth.

“Stay, Illusion” is now the title of the book of poetry by Lucie Brock-Broido.

“A little more than kin, and less than kind” [I:ii]: Hamlet’s reproving words to his adulterous, fratricidal stepfather is now a Canadian television series called Less Than Kind (2008-2013).

“I shall not look upon his like again”: Whenever someone dies and the eulogist at the obsequy wants to sound literate, s/he will say, “We’ll not see his/her like again.”  In their eulogies to David Bowie and John McCain, Will Self and Joe Biden, respectively, change the “I” to “we”—a common misremembrance, a common misrecollection of the line.  It is originally Hamlet’s manner of saying that his father—his only father, his real father, his bio-dad—is irreplaceable and certainly may never be replaced by an incestuous, fratricidal drunkard and idiot.

“This above all, to thine own self be true” [I:iii]: These words no longer are counsel given by the unbrilliant Polonius to his son Laertes before the latter is dispatched to France to study at university.  They now form an inscription tattooed on the faceless arms of hundreds of thousands of “social-media” mystics and cybernetic insta-priests (the words before the colon are usually deleted).

I place “social media” in quotation marks because there is nothing social about “social media.”

I suspect that the tattoo exists in order to be photographed and “shared” for the benefit of “Likes.”  I wonder how many carve, chisel, these words into their flesh in order to display the insignia / imprint to their shadowy internet “friends” and “followers.”  This is a good example of denaturing the body in order to receive approval from hollow cybernetic effigies.

In the twenty-first century: We do not experience and then represent; we represent and then experience.

But to my mind, though I am native here / And to the manner born, it is a custom / More honoured in the breach than the observance” [I:iv]: As Philip B. Corbett illuminates in his The New York Times article “Mangled Shakespeare,” “to the manner born” is often misheard and misremembered as “to the manor born.”

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” [I:iv]: Once Marcellus’s baleful diagnosis of his country upon seeing the ghost of the dead king, the statement is now a cliché that can be found almost everywhere.

No longer the admonition of Claudius to his son to leave the boy’s mother unpunished by worldly vengeance, “leave her to heaven” [I:v] is now a 1945 film noir directed by John M. Stahl.

Once Horatio’s words of astonishment upon seeing the ghost of his friend’s father, “wondrous strange” is now the title of a young-adult fantasy novel by Lesley Livingston.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”: This was originally Hamlet’s gentle rebuke to Horatio for his Epicureanism (Epicurus denied the supernatural) after both characters see the ghost of Hamlet’s father.  The “your” is often changed to “our,” Horatio’s name is almost always deleted, and this is now the favorite weasel sentence of agnostics who condescendingly allow the probabilism of the supreme deity.

“The time is out of joint”: This is now the resaying of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who uses the quotation to explain what Kant means by the universal form of sensibility, which is time.  Deleuze is unaware that “[t]he time” refers to the unspecified age in which the play is set, not to temporality itself.  Though he is no marketer, Deleuze belongs on this list.

“Doubt thou the stars are fire” [II:ii] has been curdled into a line that can be heard in the films Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Letters to Juliet (2010).

“Thou this be madness yet there is method in’t”: The original context (Polonius’s interlude of lucidity) has been forgotten, since it is now a thought-annihilating platitude, with neither method nor madness therein.  It is also the 2019 cinematic comedy Madness in the Method, directed by Jason Mewes.

“What a piece of work is man!” is no longer Hamlet’s ejaculatory paean to the intricate elegance and elegant intricacy of humanity.  It is now “You’re a real piece of work!” which is a favorite insult of the insecure, one which is sometimes applied to a person who steps too far outside of the herd.  Urban Dictionary makes the interesting point that a “piece of work” is someone who is needlessly difficult.

“The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”  One of the most stupid lines in the whole of Shakespeare has become an episode of the seventh season of SpongeBob SquarePants, “The Play’s the Thing.”

“To be, or not to be—that is the question” [III:i] has been transmuted into a 1983 film by Mel Brooks entitled To Be or Not to Be (superseding an earlier film with the same title which has been largely forgotten).  It is also a 1965 song by the Bee Gees.

“Slings and arrows” is now a Canadian television series (2003-2006).

“Outrageous fortune” has been transformed into a 1987 film comedy starring Bette Midler and Shelley Long.

“Perchance to dream” is the twenty-sixth episode of the animated series Batman (1992).

“What dreams may come” has become a 1998 film drama starring Robin Williams.  Few seem to remember that the film is based on a novel by the great Richard Matheson that was published two decades earlier.

“The undiscovered country” is no longer Hamlet’s metaphor for death.  It is now the 1991 film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

“Get thee to a nunnery”: Hamlet’s vicious insult to Ophelia, after he declares his non-love for her (and perhaps his lovelessness in general, his possible inability to love anyone), has been reduced to a meme, to an ironic, internet cliché.  “Nunnery” might signify “brothel,” but it more probably signifies “convent,” since, in tandem with his To-Be-Or-Not-To-Be soliloquy, Hamlet seems to be pursuing the antinatalist argument that it is better for humankind to stop breeding, that it is better never to have been born (following Sophocles and anticipating the philosophies of Schopenhauer and Cioran).  What thwarts Hamlet’s suicide is his fear of the afterworld, of afterwordliness—this fear is the “conscience [that] does make cowards of us all.”  There is no reason to breed, then.  It is better never to give birth, for suicide is too dicey.

“[T]he mirror [held] up to Nature to show Virtue her feature” [III:ii] is now an infantile short story by David Foster Wallace called “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature” (which, in turn, was based on a work of philosophy by Richard Rorty).

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”: Hamlet’s mother Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark, means that the Player Queen is affirming too much, she is over-emphatic in her declarations of love for her second husband.  Protesting does not mean, here, negating.  It is not an instance of Freudian Verneinung, as if a husband were to say to his wife, unprompted, “I am not saying that I’m attracted to the waitress.”  Nor does it mean “to disagree with someone vehemently, in a suspiciously egregious manner.”  In Shakespeare’s England, “to protest” meant to give repeated affirmations, “to over-assert,” “to pronounce a statement vigorously and forcefully.”  In an interesting example of the Mandela Effect, there has been a collective misremembrance of the line as “Methinks you protest too much.”

“I must be cruel only to be kind” [III:iv] are no longer the self-exculpatory words of Hamlet, defending the very cruel words that he says to his mother, Queen Gertrude.  It is now the advice of Nick Lowe, given in his 1979 hit song “Cruel to Be Kind,” a song that is sometimes cited by cruel people who claim to be honest.

“Hoist with his own petard” doesn’t mean lifting oneself by one’s own crane, despite what a number of political cartoons and political commentators suggest.  “To hoist with one’s own petard” means “to blow oneself up with one’s own bomb.”

“This man shall set me packing” means “This man will provoke me into action.”  It has nothing to do with eviction, with kicking someone out of an apartment, which is what it has come to mean colloquially.

“Goodnight, ladies, goodnight.  Sweet ladies, goodnight, goodnight” [IV:v] has been demoted to the final song on Transformer (1972), Lou Reed’s worst album, which is really a bad David Bowie album (Bowie was its producer).  The line does also reappear in intentionally, floridly bastardized form in “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot—a poem that concerns the cheapening, the coarsening, of literary values in the mass culture of the European twentieth century.

“A fellow of infinite jest” [V:i] is no longer a phrase that Hamlet uses to praise his father’s jester Yorick, who is now dead and whose skull Hamlet is holding.  It is now the title of one of the most execrably written books ever published, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

“[T]he quick and dead” is now the 1995 film The Quick and the Dead, directed by Sam Raimi.

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead” [V:ii] is now the title of Tom Stoppard’s not always bracing postmodernist, auto-reflexive play.  It has also been resurrected as the 2009 American independent film Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead.

 

* * * * *

 

As the snapshots of popular culture above demonstrate, popular culture has vulgarized and continues to vulgarize the play, for popular culture vulgarizes all art, degrading it until it becomes something other than art, something baser than art.

Each popular-cultural citation leaves a residue.  Of course, there would be no “pure” text beneath the accrual of sedimentation.  However, I am arguing something else: The text is even less pure than it would be otherwise, so buried is it under a mountain of kitsch, a garbage mountain of clichés in an ever-compounding media landfill.

We deviate from the text at hand.  We are force-fed bowls of fuzz-word salad.

If I were able to approach the text in its “nudity”: My own approach to the text would be to examine it through the speculum of the question of the free will.  Multiple essays have already discussed the question of free will in Hamlet, but none, as far as I know, have argued that the play is suggesting that free will is a delusion from which we would do well to disabuse ourselves.  If the play is about anything at all, it is about the impossibility of anything like a free will.

The crux of the play, its pivotal question, is why does Hamlet delay?  Why is Laertes a swift avenger whereas Hamlet is a sluggardly avenger?  Whereas Laertes is undiscouraged and rushes headlong toward vengeance—Laertes, who all but breaks down the door to slaughter Hamlet, whom he blames for his father Polonius’ death—Hamlet is unnimble and delays the exaction of revenge for the murder of his father.  Hamlet’s hesitancy, his hesitantism, has nothing to do with will, for Hamlet is consciously committed to exacting revenge for his father’s death “with wings as swift / As meditation or the thoughts of love” [I:v].

The answer is that Hamlet’s will is not his own, as Laertes himself says in the third scene of the first act to Laertes’ sister Ophelia.  He has no free will for no one has freedom of will.  Our decisions emerge from the abysses of the unconscious mind.  The source of decisions is not consciousness; we are only free to choose what our unconscious minds have chosen for us.

We see that Hamlet believes in the mirage of the free will when he commands, “About, my brains!” in the all-important soliloquy of Act Two: Scene Two, a soliloquy that is far more significant than the To-Be-Or-Not-To-Be soliloquy.  “About, my brains!” means “Get to work, my mind!”  Or: “Activate, my mind!  Impel me into action!”  Hamlet (his consciousness and the Ego which is the nucleus of his consciousness) is commanding his brain (his unconscious mind, the hinterbrain) to prompt him to action.  And yet Hamlet’s “I” (the Ego, the idealized and self-preserving representation of the Self) remains unprovokable.  The “I” commands the brain to act—Hamlet apostrophizes his brains.  It is a dialogue or a duologue between consciousness and the unconscious mind.  Hamlet is both talking-to-himself and listening-to-himself-speak.  The play is suggesting that action does not issue directly from the “I” but from the unconscious sources of human cognition and activity.  Hence, it is a critique, in dramatic form, of the misbegotten concept of the free will.

It is only within the final scene of the play that Hamlet learns that all human thinking and acting is necessary, involuntary, inadvertent, unwitting: “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, / Rough-hew them how we will” [V:ii].  He learns to leave things as they are, in a manner similar to stoicism or Heideggerean Gelassenheit: “Let be,” Hamlet says.  “Let be”: Let things be in their being.  Accept things as they are, instead of tyrannizing nature and expecting life to follow according to one’s subjective volition.  Adjust to the swirl of experience, which is beyond anyone’s conscious control.

None of this will appear to readers and spectators of the play, so dumbed down has the text become by ordinary language and the stupiditarians of the entertainment industry.  Language does change over time, as the descriptivists repeatedly claim to justify their unreflective assertion that language speakers do not need to be told what the rules of that language are.  It is as if the descriptivists were calling out: “Let chaos reign!” and “All hail disorder!”  I would say, in rejoinder: Language becomes more and more stupid over time.

Ultimately, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark has become a cliché-manufacturing factory—generative of clichés that are more enduring than the Prince of Denmark’s sweaty vacillations and testy temporizations.

Joseph Suglia

 

A Readable English Translation of BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL by Friedrich Nietzsche / An English Translation of Jenseits von Gut und Böse (1886) / Translated by Joseph Suglia

A Readable English Translation of Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

An English Translation of Jenseits von Gut und Böse (1886)

Translated by Joseph Suglia

 

Preface

Let us assume that truth is a woman—what then?  Is the suspicion not well-grounded that all philosophers, insofar as they were dogmatists, had a very poor understanding of women?  That the terrible earnestness, the awkward importunacy, with which they have hitherto went at the truth, were unsuitable and unskilled means of winning a lady?  One thing is certain: She has not accepted their suits—and every kind of dogmatism today stands there in a sad and sodden and discouraged posture.  If it is still standing at all!  For there are mockers who claim that dogmatism has fallen down, that every form of dogmatism is lying on the ground, or even worse, that all of the dogmatisms are exhaling their last gasp.  Seriously, though, there are good reasons for the hope that all dogmatizing in philosophy was nothing more than a sort of noble childishness and amateurishness—that it was as solemn, as definitive, and as conclusive as its gestures were.  And the time is perhaps quite near in which we will comprehend, time and time again, just what served as the bedrock for such sublime and unconditional philosophical edifices as the dogmatists built up—some kind of folk superstition (such as the subject and “I” superstition, which even today causes trouble), some kind of word play, perhaps, a grammatical seduction, or a presumptuous generalization of facts that are quite narrow, quite personal, quite human-all-too-human.  One hopes that the philosophy of the dogmatists was only a promise extending over millennia, as was, in early times, astrology, in whose service, perhaps, was squandered more labor, money, cunning, and patience than for any actual science.  We owe the great architectural style of Asia and Egypt to “meta-earthly” claims.  It seems that all great things, in order to inscribe humanity with their eternal demands, must first wander over the Earth as monstrous and fear-inspiring caricatures.  One such caricature was dogmatic philosophy—for instance, the Vedanta philosophy in Asia, Platonism in Europe.  Let us not be ungrateful toward them, while, at the same time, acknowledging that the worst, most protracted, and most pernicious of all errors hitherto was the error of dogmatism, namely Plato’s invention of the Pure Spirit and the Good in itself.  However, now that this error has been overcome, Europe sighs in relief and at least enjoyed a healthier—sleep, we, whose task is wakefulness itself, are the inheritors of all the force gathered from the struggle against this error.  Of course, talking about the Spirit and the Good means standing the truth on its head and denying the perspectival, the fundamental condition of all life.  One may, as if one were a doctor, ask: “How could such a sickness come from Plato, the loveliest growth of antiquity?  Had the bad Socrates corrupted him, after all?  Was Socrates actually the corrupter of youth, after all?  And did he perhaps deserve his hemlock?”  But the struggle against Plato, or to put it in a more comprehensible language for the “people,” the struggle against the Christian-ecclesiastical pressure of millennia—for Christendom is Platonism for the “people”—has created in Europe a magnificent tension of the spirit the likes of which the Earth has never seen: With such a tense bow can one now shoot the remotest targets.  Indeed, the European human experiences this tension as a necessity, and there have already been two attempts to slacken the bow.  The first was through Jesuitism, and the second was through the democratic Enlightenment—thanks to the freedom of the press and the reading of newspapers, the goal might be reached that the intellect will not so easily see itself as a “need”!  (The Germans have invented gun powder—all respect to them for that!  However, they ruined it—they invented the press.)  But we, we who are neither Jesuits nor democrats, nor even German enough, we are good Europeans and free, quite free spirits—we still have them, the total need of the intellect and the total tension of the bow!  And perhaps also the arrow, the task, and—who knows?—perhaps also the goal

Sils-Maria, Oberengadin, June 1885

 

FIRST SECTION: ON THE PREJUDICES OF PHILOSOPHERS

 

1. The will to truth still entices us to so many risks! That famed truthfulness, of which all philosophers hiherto have spoken with reverence! How many questions has this “will to truth” laid before us!  What wondrous, terrible, questionable questions!  That is already a long story—and yet does it not seem to us that this story has scarcely begun?  What wonder, then, that we have already grown mistrustful, what wonder that we have already lost patience, what wonder that we have already turned impatiently away from the truth?  For that reason, we should, on our side, learn questioning from this Sphinx?  Who is it, actually, who here poses questions to us?  What is it actually in us that wills “the truth”?—In fact, we have hesitated for a long time before the question of the origin of this will—until we, ultimately, stood frozen before an even more fundamental question.  What asked about the value of this will.  Granted, we want the truth: Why not rather untruth?  And uncertainty?  Even ignorance?—The problem of the value of truth comes before us—or was it us who came before this problem?  Who among us here is Oedipus?  Who is the Sphinx?  It is a rendezvous, so it seems, of questions and question marks.—And would one ever believe that we were the first who raised this question, that we were the first to see this question, the first to fasten it in our gaze, the first to risk it?  For there is a risk inherent to this question, and perhaps there is no greater one.

 

2. “How could something originate from its opposite? For instance, truth from error? Or the will to truth from the will to deception?  Or selfless action from selfishness?  Or the pure sunny view of essences from lustfulness?  Such origination is impossible.  Who would ever dream of such a thing is a fool—no, even worse.  Things of the highest worth must have another origin, their own origin—they must not have come from this ephemeral, seductive, deceptive, paltry world; they cannot be derivable from this chaos of delusion and desire!  No, rather from the womb of being, from the impermanent, from the concealed god, from the ‘thing in itself’—from there they must have come, and from nowhere else!”—This kind of judging constitutes the typical prejudice that allows us to recognize metaphysicians of every epoch; this kind of evaluation stands in the background of all logical procedures; from this “belief” comes all of their efforts at “knowledge,” from this belief comes all of their efforts to solemnly christen something as the “truth.”  The fundamental belief of metaphysicians is the faith in oppositions of value.  It has never dawned on even the most careful among them to start doubting right at the threshold, right where it is needed the most, even though they have praised one another for their “de omnibus dubitandum.”  To be precise, one should doubt, first of all, if oppositions exist at all, and, secondly, one should wonder if such folkish evaluations and oppositions of value, upon which metaphysicians have imprinted their seal of approval, might not only be foreground appraisals.  They are, perhaps, merely provisional perspectives.  Perhaps they have only been looked at “from around the corner,” or from below, from the perspective of a frog, to borrow an expression with which painters are familiar.  Whatever value one might attribute to the truth, to truthfulness, to selflessness, perhaps it would be possible to grant an even more fundamental value to appearance, to the will to deception, to selfishness, and to desire.  It might even be possible that what constitutes the value of those good and honorable things is an insidious connection to those bad things to which they seem opposed—perhaps they are related, knotted together, hooked, perhaps even essentially the same.  Perhaps!—But who today is willing to concern oneself with such a dangerous Perhaps?  One is already waiting for the arrival of a new species of philosophers, such who have an entirely different taste and tendency as the previous philosophers—philosophers of the dangerous Perhaps in every respect.—And to speak in all seriousness: I see such new philosophers coming up.

 

3. After I observe philosophers long enough, reading between the lines, I say to myself: One must ascribe the majority of conscious thinking to instinctive activity, and even in the case of philosophical thinking. One has to relearn the concept [of conscious thinking], as one relearned the concepts of hereditary and “the congenital.” In the same way as birth has little to do with the entire proto-process and procedure of hereditary, just as little is “consciousness” opposed to the instinctive, in any decisive sense.  The majority of conscious thinking is secretly led by the instincts and forced down determinate pathways.  Even behind all logic and its ostensible self-mastery of movement lie evaluations—spoken more clearly, physiological demands for the preservation of a determinate form of life.  For example, the idea that the determinate is worth more than the indeterminate, that appearance is worth less than the “truth”: Such evaluations, for all of their regulative importance for us, could be mere foreground evaluations, a specific kind of niaiserie, which necessitates the preservation of beings.  This presupposes, of course, that human beings are not the “measure of all things”…

 

4. The falsity of a judgment is, for us, no objection to a judgment; this is the place in which our new language perhaps sounds the strangest. The question is: To what extent is it life-promoting, life-sustaining, species-sustaining, perhaps even species-breeding? And we are fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest judgments (to which synthetic a priori judgments belong) are the most indispensable, that without the validation of logical fictions, without measuring reality against the wholly invented world of the unconditioned and self-identical, without the constant falsification of the world through numbers, people could not live—the renunciation of false judgments would be a renunciation of life, a negation of life.  To admit untruth as a condition of life: This clearly means resisting the usual value-feelings in a dangerous manner.  And a philosophy which takes such a risk thereby goes beyond Good and Evil.

 

5. What provokes us into regarding all philosophers half with mistrust and half with mockery is not that we constantly find out how innocent they are—how often and how easily they mess up and go astray, in short, their childishness and childlikeness. Rather, what provokes our mistrust and mockery is that there is not enough honesty in them, even though they make loud and virtuous noises when the problem of truthfulness is even remotely touched upon. They all act as though they discovered and arrived at their own opinions through the self-development of a cold, pure, divinely insouciant dialectics (in contrast with mystics of every stripe, who are more forthright and more foolish than they are—the mystics talk of “inspiration”).  While, in fact, what happens is that the philosophers take a proposition that has been accepted in advance, a sudden impression, an “inspiration,” at most an abstracted and sifted-through wish of the heart that is then defended with rationalizations sought after the fact—all of them are advocates, who do not want to be known as such, and indeed cunning endorsers of their prejudices, which they christen “truths”—and are very far away from the bravery of conscience that would admit this fact, this very fact, far from the good taste of bravery, which would let friend or enemy know about this trickery, which would warn friend or enemy of this trickery, whether it be from exuberance or from self-deprecation.  The Tartuffery of Old Kant (a Tartuffery which is as stiff as it is prudish), who entices us down dialectical detours, sideroads that lead to his “categorical imperative”—or rather that lead us astray to his “categorical imperative.”  This spectacle makes us smile, we who are so indulgent, we who find no small amusement in spying on the subtle tricks of the old moralists and preachers of morals.  Or even that hocus-pocus of mathematical formulae with which Spinoza armed and masked (as if with ore) his philosophy—which would be better termed “his love of wisdom”—and thus from the beginning intimidate any assailants who would dare cast a glance at this unconquerable Virgin and Pallas Athena.  How much timidity and vulnerability are revealed by this masquerade of the reclusive invalid!

 

6. Gradually, the essence of every great philosophy hitherto was disclosed to me: To be precise, it was the self-confession of its creator and a kind of involuntary and unnoticed memoir. In brief, the moral (or immoral) intentions in every philosophy made up the actual life-germ from which the entire plant had been germinated. In fact, it would be good (and smart) to provide an explanation of how the most hidden metaphysical claims of a philosophy originated.  In order to do this, one must ask: Which morality does it (does he) stem from?  I accordingly do not believe that some “epistemological drive” is the father of philosophy.  Rather, there is another drive, here as elsewhere—knowledge (misknowledge!) is only an instrument that serves this deeper drive.  But anyone who looks at the fundamental drives of human beings, insofar as they play the game of pretending to be inspiring geniuses (or demons and kobolds), will soon find out that they have all done philosophy at one time or another.  Any one of these would be too pleased to present itself as the ultimate purpose of existence and as the rightful master of all of the other drives.  For each drive is thirsty for mastery: and as such tries out philosophizing.—Indeed: Among scholars, the truly scientific people, it might stand otherwise—“better,” if one likes.  There might really be something like an epistemological drive, some kind of trifling, autonomous clockwork, which, well-wound, bravely does its work without the remaining drives of the scholar essentially being involved.  The genuine “interests” of the scholar reside therefore somewhere entirely different, whether in the family or the acquisition of money or in politics.  Indeed, it is almost a matter of indifference whether his little machine is installed at this place within science or someplace else, and it is a matter of indifference whether the “promising” young worker makes a philologist or a fungus connoisseur or a chemist out of himself.  None of these things characterize him, whether he becomes this or that.  Rather, there is nothing impersonal about the philosopher.  It is the case that his morality gives a decisive and determining testimony of who he is—that is, his morality testifies to the hierarchy in which the innermost drives of his nature are arranged.

 

7. How malicious philosophers can be! I know of nothing more venomous than the joke in which Epicurus indulged against Plato and the Platonists: He called them “Dionysiokolakes.” That means, literally and on the surface, “flatterer of Dionysus”—thus, “tyrant retinue” and “toady.”  But above all, he wants to say that “all of them are actors; there is nothing authentic about them” (for dionysokolax was a popular designation for actors).  And that last part was the true maliciousness which Epicurus shot at Plato: He was exasperated by the bombastic mannerisms, the mise-en-scène that Plato and his students were so skilled at—which Epicurus was not skilled at!  He, the old schoolmaster from Samos, who sat hidden in his little Athenian garden and who wrote three hundred books—who knows why?  Perhaps out of rage and emulousness toward Plato?—It took one hundred years before Greece found out who this garden god Epicurus was.—Did it ever find out?

 

8. In every philosophy there is a point at which the “conviction” of the philosopher steps on stage: or, to say it in the language of the ancient mysteries:

adventavit asinus / pulcher et fortissimus.

 

9. You want to live “in accordance with nature”? O you noble Stoics, what a chicanery of words! Think of the essence that nature is—measurelessly wasteful, measurelessly indifferent, without purpose or care, without mercy or justice, fruitful and at the same time barren and uncertain.  Think of the indifference of nature itself as power—how could you live according to this indifference?  Life—is that not a wanting-to-be-otherwise, as nature is?  Is life not an evaluating, a preferring, a being-unjust, a being-limited, a wanting-to-be-different?  And suppose that your imperative “to live according to nature” meant, in essence, as much as “living according to life”: How could you do otherwise?  What is the reason for making a principle out of what you are yourselves and what you cannot help but be?—In truth, things are entirely different: Even though you rapturously pretend to read the canon of your law in nature, it is the exact opposite, you wonderworthy actors and self-deceivers!  Your pride wants to prescribe your morality, your ideal to nature and to incarnate your ideal in nature, nature itself!  You demand that Nature exist “according to the Stoa” and would like all of existence to be according to your own image—as the monstrous eternal glorification and generalization of Stoicism!  With all of your love of truth, you have forced yourselves for so long, so persistently, with such a hypnotic paralysis, to see nature in a false manner, namely in Stoical manner—and some abyssal arrogance gives you the madhouse hope that because you know how to tyrannize yourselves—Stoicism is self-tyranny—nature, too, lets itself be tyrannized: Is the Stoic not, then, a piece of nature? … But this is an old, eternal story: What happened with the Stoics is still happening today, as soon as a philosophy begins to believe in itself.  It always creates the world according to its own image.  It cannot do otherwise; philosophy is the tyrannical drive itself, the spiritual will to power, to the “creation of the world,” to the causa prima.

 

10. The zeal and the subtlety—I almost want to say, “the slyness”—with which the problem of the “real and apparent world” has been taken up gives one much to think about and much to listen to. And whoever hears nothing more than a “will to truth” in the background does not possess the sharpest of ears. In certain rare cases, there might actually be such a will to truth, some sort of extravagant and adventurous bravery, the ambitiousness of a metaphysician to take part in a lost cause that will, in the end, prefer a handful of “certainties” to a whole wagon of lovely possibilities.  There might even be puritanical fanatics of the conscience who would rather die for a certain nothingness than an uncertain Something.  But this is nihilism and the symptom of a despairing, deathly tired soul: no matter how bold the gestures of such a virtuousness might appear.  Among the stronger, more lifeful, life-thirsty thinkers, things stand much differently: Insofar as they campaign against appearance and utter the word “perspectival” only with contempt, insofar as they deprecate the believability of their own bodies as much as they deprecate the believability of phenomena, which says, “the Earth stands still,” and so, with seemingly good spirits relinquish their securest possession (for what does one believe in with greater certainty than one’s own body?)—who knows, if they do not intend to reappropriate something that one once even more securely possessed, some kind of old belief from Below, perhaps “the immortal soul” or “the old God”—in short, ideas that make their lives a bit more endurable, ideas that made them stronger and more cheerful than the “modern ideas”?  It is this mistrust against modern ideas, it is the disbelief in all of that which was built yesterday and today; it is perhaps a frivolous exuberance mixed with contempt that can no longer endure the bric-a-brac of concepts of various origins, which is how positivism advertises itself these days, a disgust by those of complacent tastes for the funfair-chromatics and raggediness of all these realist-philosophasters, for whom nothing is as new and as genuine as this colorfulness.  Here, I think, credit should be given to those skeptical anti-realists and epistemo-microscopists: their instinct, which diverts them from modern reality is unassailable—what do we care for their retrogressive detours?  The essential thing is not that they want to “regress”: rather that they—want to move away.  A little more strength, motility, courage, artfulness: and they will want to go out—and never come back!

 

11. It strikes me that people are everywhere working hard to distract themselves from the real influence that Kant exerted over German philosophy and to slip away from acknowledgement of the worth that he placed on himself. Kant was, first and foremost, proud of his Table of Categories. He said, with this table in hand: “This is the most difficult thing that could have been done in behalf of metaphysics.”  Let us understand this “could have been”!  He was proud to have discovered, within human beings, a new capacity (faculty), the capacity of synthetic a priori judgments.  Granted, he deceived himself therein: however, the development and sudden efflorescence of German philosophy is dependent on this pride and on the competitiveness of all younger philosophers who want, if possible, to discover something even more worthy of pride—and this means “new capacities” (faculties)!—But let us think of it: Now is the time to do so.  “How are synthetic a priori judgments possible?” Kant asked—and how did he answer, really?  They are capacitated by a capacity.  Unfortunately, his answer was not composed of four words.  Rather, his answer was so extensive and deferential and given with such an extravagance of German ponderousness and flourishes that one missed the ludicrous niaiserie allemande that was embedded in such an answer.  One was out of one’s brain at news of the discovery of this new capacity, and the jubilation reached its apogee as Kant discovered-introduced a moral capacity, too, in human beings—for, at that time, the Germans were still moral, and not at all “realistically political.”—That was the honeymoon of German philosophy.  All the young theologians of the Tübingen seminary went looking in the bushes—all of them went searching for “capacities.”  And what did they find—in that innocent, rich, still-young age of the German Spirit, in which Romanticism, the evil fairy, whispered, whistled, and sang, an age in which “finding” and “inventing” had not yet been distinguished?  Above all, they found a capacity for the “supersensible”: Schelling christened it “intellectual intuition” and thus gratified the most ardent desires of his fundamentally piety-loving Germans.  One cannot do greater damage to this exuberant and exalted movement than by taking it seriously and by not treating it with moral indignation—it is a movement that was youth itself, no matter how much it clad itself in grey and hoary concepts.  Enough!  One grows older—the dream flies away.  The time came when one scratched one’s brow—one is still scratching it.  One was a dreamer—first and above all, old Kant.  “Capacitated by a capacity,” he said, or at least meant.  But is that—an answer?  An explanation?  Or isn’t it merely the repetition of the question?  How does opium put to sleep?  It “capacitates by a capacity,” namely, by the virtus dormitiva.  As that physician in Moliere put it:

quia est in eo virtus dormitiva, / cujus est natura sensus assoupire.

But such answers belong to comedy, and it is high time to replace the Kantian question “How are synthetic a priori judgments possible?” with another question: “Why are such questions necessary?”  That is to say, it is time for us to understand that such questions are necessary to believe in for the preservation of the species to which we belong—which means that such questions might still be false!  Or more clearly stated and crude and basic: Synthetic a priori judgments should not be possible.  We have no right to them; in our mouths, they are purely false judgments.  The belief in its truth is indeed merely necessary as a foreground belief and as visual evidence, which belong to the perspectival optics of life.—And finally, to recall the monstrous effect which “German philosophy” (I hope that the right to these quotation marks is understood?) has had on Europe, a certain virtus dormativa is involved.  They were all delighted—the noble layabouts, the virtuous, the mystics, the artists, the three-quarter Christians, and political obscurantists of all nations—to have a counterpoison against the still-prepotent sensualism of the time, which cascaded over from the previous century.  In brief: “sensus assoupire.”

 

12. As far as materialistic atomism is concerned: This is one of the most well-refuted things in existence. And perhaps there is not a single scholar today so uneducated as to ascribe any serious significance to this term, except as a convenient, handy expression (namely, as a shorthand)—thanks, above all, to that Pole Boscovich, who, together with the Pole Copernicus, at this point the greatest and most victorious opponent of visual evidence. While it was precisely Copernicus who persuaded us to believe, against all sensory evidence, that the Earth does not stand still, Boscovich taught us to abjure that last bit of belief in the Earth “standing still”: belief in “matter,” in “material,” in the Earth-residue and the little clump of atom.  It was the greatest triumph over the senses that had been ever won on the Earth.—It is necessary to go further and declare war on the “atomistic need,” which has had a dangerous afterlife in areas that no one suspected, just like the popular “metaphysical need”: Let this war be a merciless fight to the finish.  Before all else, one must wreck that other fatal atomistics, the one that Christendom has taught the best and the longest, the atomistics of the soul.  Let this phrase be allowed to characterize the belief that the soul is something unassailable, eternal, indivisible, that the soul is a monad, that the soul is something like an atom: This belief should be stricken from science!  Between us, it is absolutely unnecessary to free oneself from belief in “the soul” and to renounce one of the oldest and deferential hypotheses, since the naturalists, in their awkwardness, lose the soul as soon as they touch it.  But the path to new conceptions and refinements of the soul hypothesis stands open: and concepts such as “mortal soul” and “soul as subjective multiplicity” and “soul as social structure of drives and affects” will continue to have their civil rights in science.  By preparing the end of the superstition, which hitherto proliferated around the soul idea with a tropical luxuriance, the new psychologist thrusts himself into a new wasteland and a new mistrust.  It might be the case that the older psychologists had an easier and more amusing time—: Ultimately, however, the new psychologist knows that he is condemned to invention.  And, who knows?  Perhaps to discovery.—

 

13. The physiologists should think twice before positing the drive to self-preservation as the cardinal drive of organic beings. Above all else, a living entity wants to discharge strength—life itself is the will to power—self-preservation is only the indirect and most frequent consequence thereof.—In short, here as everywhere else, be careful of superfluous teleological principles—such as the drive to self-preservation (thanks to Spinoza for this inconsequentiality). So much is demanded by method, which is essentially the parsimony / frugality of principles.

 

14. It has dawned today in perhaps five or six heads that even physics is merely an interpretation of the world and an arrangement of the world (among us, if I may say so!). But insofar as it rests on belief in the senses, it counts for more, and will to continue to count for more—that is, it will count as an explanation—for a long time yet to come. It has eyes and fingers on its side; it has optical evidence and tactile evidence on its side.  This has had an enchanting, persuasive, convincing effect on an epoch with a basically plebeian taste—indeed, it instinctively follows the truth canon of the eternally popular sensualism.  What is clear?  What is “explained”?  Only to what can be seen and felt—that is as far as the problem is pursued.  To the contrary: The enchantment of the Platonic perspective consists precisely in its resistance to sensible evidence; it was a dignified perspective, perhaps the perspective of human beings who enjoyed even more powerful and fastidious senses than our contemporaries but who found a greater triumph in mastering their senses—and this by means of pale, cold, grey conceptual net that they threw over the colorful chaos of the senses, over “the mob of the senses,” as Plato put it.  It was another kind of pleasure in world-overpowering and world-interpretation in the manner of Plato, different from the pleasure of physicists today, as well as the pleasure of the Darwinists and the Anti-Theologians who work in the field of physiology with the principle of the “smallest possible force” and the greatest possible stupidity.  “Where human beings have nothing more to see and grasp, there they have also nothing more to seek”—that is, of course, another imperative than the Platonic imperative, which, however, for a sturdy, sedulous generation of machinists and bridge builders who have purely crude labor before them, it might be just the right imperative to get the job done.

 

15. In order to pursue physiology with a good conscience, we must insist that the sense organs are not “appearances” in the sense that this word is used in idealistic philosophy: As such they certainly cannot be causes! Sensualism, at least as a regulative hypothesis, if not as a heuristic principle. How is that?  And others say that the external world would be the work of our organs?  But then our body, as a piece of this external world would be the work of our organs!  And then, indeed, our organs themselves would be the work of our organs!  This is, so it appears to me, a fundamental reductio ad absurdum: given that the concept of causa sui is something fundamentally absurd.  It follows that the external world is not the work of our organs—?

 

16. There are forever innocuous self-observers who believe that there is such a thing as “immediate certainty”—for instance, “I think” or, as was Schopenhauer’s superstition, “I will.” It is here and there as if knowing could purely and nakedly apprehend its object (Gegenstand), as if some “thing in itself” would never be falsified on the side of the subject or on the side of the object (Objekt). That “immediate certainty” or “absolute knowledge” or the “thing in itself” all contain a contradictio in adjecto is something that I will repeat one hundred times: One should finally release oneself from the seduction of words!  The people might believe that knowing is a knowing-to-the-end.  The philosopher should be saying: “When I analyze the process that is expressed in the sentence ‘I think,’ I arrive at a series of bold assertions, the justification of which is difficult, perhaps even impossible.  For instance: that I am the one who thinks, that there is even something that thinks at all, that thinking is an activity and the outcome of a being which might be thought of as a cause, that an “I” exists, and finally, that what is characterized as ‘thinking’ has already been settled—that I know, in other words, what thinking is.  For if I had not already decided that what I experienced was ‘thinking,’ how may I compare it with other states of mind?  And how may say I that what happened wasn’t ‘willing’ or ‘feeling’ instead?  Enough!  This ‘I think’ presupposes that I am able to compare my present state of mind with other states of mind in order to establish what my current state of mind is: Because of this retrospective comparison with other kinds of ‘knowing,’ my current state of mind has no ‘absolute certainty’ for me.”  In place of that “immediate certainty” in which the people might believe in certain cases, the philosopher takes on a series of metaphysical questions, proper and genuine questions of the intellectual conscience, which are the following: “Where do I get this concept of thinking from?  Why do I believe in cause and effect?  What gives me the right to speak of an ‘I’ as a cause and finally as the cause of thoughts?”  Whoever has the confidence to answer these metaphysical questions with an appeal to intuition as a form of knowledge, as someone does who says: “I think and know that this, at least, is true, real, certain”—he will find a smile ready for him, with two question marks, from a philosopher.  “My dear sir,” the philosopher will perhaps give him to understand, “it is unlikely that you are mistaken, but why should it be the truth?”—

 

17. As far as the superstitions of the logicians are concerned: I will never tire of underlining a single, tiny fact that these superstitious ones are loath to admit—namely, that a thought comes when it wants to come, not when I want it to come. Thus it is a falsification of the state of affairs to say that the subject “I” is the condition of the predicate “think.” It thinks: However, that this “It” should be the famous, ancient “I” is, putting it mildly, nothing more an assumption, an assertion, and by no means an “immediate certainty.”  Finally, this “It thinks” is already too heavily determined: Even the “It” contains the interpretation of a process and does not belong to the process itself.  People are deriving inferences from grammatical habits: “Thinking is an activity.  Every activity has an actor; therefore…”  The more ancient atomistics followed a similar schema and held that behind every “force” there must be a clump of matter that motivates that “force,” an atom.  More powerful minds learned how to do without that “little piece of Earth,” and perhaps logicians, too, will learn to do without that little “It” (into which the “I” so reverentially vanished).

 

18. The smallest charm of a theory is not that it is refragable / refutable: The refragability / refutability of a theory is precisely what draws discerning minds to it. The charm of “free-will” theory is apparently owed to the fact that it has been refuted hundreds of times. Again and again, someone comes across this theory and feels strong enough to refute it once more.

 

19. The philosophers take the effort to speak of the will, as if it were the most familiar thing in the world. Indeed, Schopenhauer gave us to understand that only the will is actually known to us, completely known to us, without qualification or addition known to us. But again and again, it has struck me that, in this case, Schopenhauer has only done what all philosophers have done.  That is, he took over and exaggerated a prejudice of the people.  Willing has always seemed to me to be something complicated, something that is only verbally unified—and that single word, willing, contains a prejudice of the people that has overruled even the smallest precautions that philosophers usually take.  Were we more careful, then we would be “unphilosophical.”  We say: In every willing there is a multiplicity of feelings.  That is to say: The feeling of the state in which we are away, a feeling of the state in which we are toward, and a feeling of this “away” and this “toward” itself, as well as the corresponding feeling in the muscles that comes into play by a sort of habit as soon as we “will,” even without our putting “arms and legs” into motion.  In the same way that feelings—even a plurality of feelings—must be recognized as ingredients of the will; secondly, so must thoughts be, as well.  In each act of the will, there is a commanding thought—and we should not believe that thought could be excised from “willing,” as there would be some willing left over after the thought were removed!  Thirdly, the will is not merely a complex of feelings and thoughts, but above all, it includes an affect: and it is that very affect of command.  That which is named the “freedom of the will” is essentially the affect of superiority with respect to what must obey: “I am free; that must obey.”  This consciousness is packed in every act of willing—particularly that intensity of attention, that proper look which fixates on one thing, that absolute evaluation (“Now you do this, and nothing else matters”), that inner certainty that one will be obeyed, and everything else that belongs to the state of commanding.  A person that wills—commands something in oneself that obeys or that makes one believe that one obeys.  Now the most remarkable thing about willing is—that the people only have one word for so many things.  We are, in certain situations, at once the obeying and the commanding, and as the obeying, know the feelings of compulsion, pushing, pressure, resistance, motion that generally start right after the act of willing has begun.  On the other hand, we are in the habit of neglecting, and deceiving ourselves about, this duality thanks to the synthetic concept “I.”  As the result of this synthetic concept, a whole chain of erroneous inferences and fallacious evaluations have attached themselves to willing, so much so that the person who wills believes, in all good faith, that willing is sufficient for action.  Since it is almost always the case that there is willing only where there is the expectation of the outcome of a command, only where there is the expectation of obedience, and therefore only where there is the expectation of action, appearance tends to translate into action—as if the outcome were necessary.  Enough!  The one who wills believes, with a degree of certainty, that action and appearance are somehow one—and attributes the success, the performance of the will, to willing itself and consequently enjoys an increase in the feeling of power that all success brings with it.  “Freedom of the will”—that is the name for the multitudinous pleasure-state of the one who wills, who commands and who equates oneself with the performance of this willing.  As such, the one who wills enjoys the triumph over resistances while thinking that it was his will alone that overcame these resistances.  Accordingly, the one who wills takes pleasure in being the commander as well as pleasure in using the instruments that successfully carry the command out, the serviceable “under-wills” or under-souls—our body is indeed nothing more than a society of many souls.  L’effet c’est moi.  What happens here is what happens in every well-built and happy communality: The ruling class identifies itself with the successes of the communality.  All willing is simply a matter of commanding and obeying and is built on the foundation, as I said earlier, of a society composed of many “souls.”  It is for this reason that philosophy arrogates the right to understand willing within the circle of morality: morality understood as the doctrine of sovereign relations, from which the phenomenon of ‘life’ originates.—

 

20. Individual philosophical concepts are not self-willed and do not grow out of themselves but only emerge in relation and connection to one another. As suddenly and as voluntarily as they seem to originate in the history of thinking, they belong to a system as the comprehensive members of fauna belong to a part of the Earth. This is ultimately revealed by the way in which diverse philosophers fill out a definite fundamental schema of possible philosophies.  As if under a spell, they believe that they are carving out a new path, only to find themselves revolving in the same orbit: They might feel independent of one another, with their critical or systematic wills, but something pushes them in the same determined order, one after the other, and this ‘something’ is the same inherited systematicity and relatedness of concepts.  In fact, their thinking is not so much a discovery as it is a recognition, a remembrance, a nostalgia, and a kind of homecoming to a remote, primeval household of the soul from which such concepts developed.—Philosophizing is the highest form of atavism.  The familial relationships between Indian, Greek, and German philosophies are clearly perceptible.  Precisely where there is a linguistic relationship, because of the common philosophy of grammar—I mean, the common domination of similar grammatical functions—it is obvious that everything lies ready for a common unfolding and sequentializing of philosophical systems.  On the other hand, the way to other possible interpretations of the world is as good as blocked.  Philosophers of the Ural-Altaic languages, in which the concept of the subject is underdeveloped, will “see the world” differently than those in Germanic and Islamic countries.  The spell of grammatical functions, in the final analysis, is the spell of physiological judgments and of racial conditioning.—So much for a repudiation of Locke’s shallowness in his discussion of the origin of ideas.

 

21. The causa sui is the best self-contradiction that has ever been conceived, a type of logical violation and a kind of unnaturalness. However, the exorbitant arrogance of humankind has entangled itself deeply and terribly in this nonsense. The longing for “the freedom of the will”—in the superlative metaphysical sense that still lords over the heads of the semi-educated, the longing to carry total responsibility for one’s actions and to disburden God, the world, one’s ancestors, chance, and society of all responsibility—is the idea of being nothing less than the causa sui oneself and, with a boldness greater than that of Little Munchhausen, to pull oneself up by one’s own hair from the quag of existence.  Suppose that someone saw through the philistine simplicity of the popular “free-will” concept and struck it out of one’s head—I would then ask this person to take his “enlightenment” one step further and to rid himself of its opposite, as well.  I mean the “unfree will,” which issues from a misuse of the concepts of cause and effect.  One should not reify the concepts of cause and effect as the natural scientists do (and whoever else today thinks naturalistically—) according to the dominant mechanistic idiocy, which would have a cause push and shove an “effect” into existence.  We should only use “cause” and “effect” as pure concepts and not conventional fictions for the purposes of description and clarification, but not for the purpose of explanation.  There is nothing “causal” or “necessary” in the “In Itself,” no “psychological unfreedom”—this does not follow from “causality,” there rules no such “law.”  We alone are the causes—we have fabricated sequence, the For-One Another, relativity, force, number, law, ground, purpose.  And if we fashion and mingle this “In-Itself” into things, so we do so, as we have always done—namely, mythologically.  The “unfree will” is mythology: Real life only concerns weak wills and strong wills.  It is almost always symptomatic of what he lacks when a thinker feels out compulsion, need, Must-Follow, pressure, unfreedom in every “causal-nexus” and “psychological necessity”: It is even treacherous to feel this way—and the personality of the thinker betrays itself.  And in general, if I have observed things correctly, the “unfreedom of the will” is forever grasped as a problem by two opposing sides, but in a deeply personal manner.  The one side would never dream of renouncing its “responsibility”; they would not give up the belief in themselves for any price, they would not give up a personal right to their advantage (the vain races belong here—).  By contrast, the other side wants to answer for nothing, to be indebted to nothing (to be guilty about nothing) and to demand, from an inner self-contempt, to be able to unload their self-blame onto something else.  When they write books these days, this latter group tends to side with criminals; a kind of socialist pity is their most appealing disguise.  And in fact, the fatalism of the weak-willed starts to look astonishingly attractive when it presents itself as “la religion de la souffrance humaine”: That is its “good taste.”

 

22. Forgive me, as an old philologist, for not being able to refrain from pointing my finger at bad tricks of interpretation, but that “lawfulness of nature” of which you physicians so proudly speak, as if it—only existed thanks to your explication and awful “philology.” That is no factuality, no “text.” Rather, it is merely a naïve-humanitarian correction and a distortion of sense, one that comfortably accommodates the democratic instincts of the modern soul!  “Everywhere there is equality before the law—nature is nothing different and no better than we are”: an elegant thought in the back of the brain, one that disguises a plebeian enmity for the privileged and the autocratic and one that disguises, as well, a second, more refined atheism.  “Ni dieu, ni maître”—you want that, too: and therefore, “Hurray for the laws of nature!”—isn’t that right?  But as I said above, that is an interpretation, not the text, and anyone else, with an opposing intention and different tricks of interpretation, could draw entirely different conclusions from the very same nature and, with regard to the very same phenomena, could read out of nature a tyrannous ruthlessness and the merciless assertion of power claims—this second kind of interpreter would show “the will to power” without any exception or condition such that almost every word and even the very word “tyranny” would eventually appear as useless or as a weakening and mollifying metaphor—as too human.  And yet this same interpreter might nevertheless make the same claims about the world as you, namely that there is a “necessary” and “calculable” course of the world, but not because it is ruled by laws, but because the laws are absolutely absent, and every power, at every moment, draws its final consequences.  Granted, this, too, is an interpretation—and you will doubtless be zealous enough to make this objection—so much the better.—

 

23. All psychology unto this point has been dependent on moral prejudices and fears: It has never ventured into the depths. To grasp psychology as morphology and as the doctrine of the development of the will to power, as I have done—no one has even touched on this subject, even in thought—to the extent, of course, that we are allowed to recognize, in what has been written thus far, a symptom of that over which one has until now been silent. The violence of moral prejudices has permeated the spiritual world, supposedly the coldest world, the world without presuppositions—and as is self-evident, a world that has been damaging, restricting, dazzling, and disfiguring.  A genuine physio-psychology has to contend with the unconscious resistances in the heart of the researcher—it has “the heart” pitted against it.  Even a doctrine of the mutual conditionality of the “good” and “evil” impulses, as a more sophisticated immorality, will cause grief and distress in even a robust and hearty conscience—to say nothing of a doctrine that holds that the good impulses are derived from the bad ones.  Just suppose that someone considers affects such as hatred, envy, avarice, the addiction to power to be the life-conditioning affects, as states of mind that must be foundationally and essentially present in the total economy of life and that consequently need to be intensified wherever life is intensified!  Such a person will suffer from such a train of thought as if from a seasickness.  And even this hypothesis is hardly the most discomforting, hardly the strangest in this monstrous, nearly new realm of dangerous knowledge!  And there are, in fact, hundreds of good reasons for someone to stay as far away from this realm as—possible!  On the other hand: If someone has embarked on a ship thereto—ahoy!  Clench your teeth right together!  Open your eyes right now!  Keep that hand firmly on the wheel!  We will voyage together away from morality!  We will squelch, we will pulverize, every last remnant of morality as we embark and voyage—but who cares about us?  Never before have such bold voyagers and adventurers opened this deeper world of insight, and the psychologist who “sacrifices”—it won’t be a sacrifizio dell’intelletto.  Quite the opposite!  The psychologist will demand, at the very least, that psychology will once again be recognized as the Queen of the Sciences, to whom all the other sciences give their service and readiness.  For psychology is, from now on, the path to fundamental problems.

 

SECOND SECTION: THE FREE SPIRIT

 

24. O sancta simplicitas! In what a strange simplification and falsification does the human being live! Whoever has eyes for wondering can never stop wondering!  How everything around us has been made bright and free and easy and simple!  How we have given our senses a free pass for everything superficial, how we have given our thinking a divine lust for leaps in logic and false conclusions!—How we have understood, right from the very beginning, to keep our ignorance in order to enjoy a barely comprehensible freedom, in order to enjoy thoughtlessness, recklessness, bravery!  All for the sake of a joy in life—all in order to enjoy life itself!  And from this stable, granite ground of ignorance science is elevated—the will to knowledge comes from the will to non-knowledge, to ignorance, to the untrue!  Not from its opposite, ignorance, does science grow—science is, rather, the refinement of ignorance!  Even when language, here as elsewhere, cannot free itself from its crudeness and continues to speak of opposites, when there are only degrees and subtitle gradations.  Even when the Tartuffery of morals—which is embedded in our bodies, which belongs to today’s indomitable “flesh and blood”—twists the words in our mouths (we who should know better).  Even then, we recognize what is happening and laugh about it—how even the best science wants to imprison us in a simplified, thoroughly synthetic, well-fabricated, and well-falsified world.  How unwillingly yet willingly does science love error because science, the living—loves life!

 

25. After such a cheerful entrance, there is a serious word that I would like to say, one that I hope will not be ignored: It is directed at the most serious people. Be on the watch, you philosophers and friends of knowledge and shield yourself from martyrdom! Protect yourself from suffering “for the sake of truth”!  Protect yourself from your own defense!  You will putrefy the innocence and sophisticated neutrality of your conscience, you will make yourself obdurate to objections and to red capes, suffering “for the sake of truth” will stupefy you, it will bestialize you, it will turn you into a bull, when you combat against danger, defamation, suspicion, expulsion and the even more vulgar consequences of adversarialness—ultimately, you will have to play the role of the defender of the truth on the Planet Earth.  As if “the truth” were such a harmless and gawky person that she needed defenders!  And you, especially, you Knights of the Sorrowful Countenance, my dear Loafers and Web-Spinners of the Spirit!  In the end, you know that it does not matter whether you are proven right, nor does it matter whether any philosopher has ever been proven right, and that a more laudable truthfulness dwells in every little question mark that you put after your favorite slogans and darling doctrines (and sometimes after yourselves) than in all of the solemn gestures and trump cards laid before accusers and courts of law!  Step aside instead!  Fly to hidden lands!  And put on your masks and use your subtlety so that no one recognizes you!  Or so that they will be a bit scared of you!  And do not forget the garden, the garden with the golden lattice!  And have people around you who will be like a garden—or like music floating over the water, for evening time, when the day is already a memory.  Choose the good solitude, the free, courageous, light solitude, which gives you the right to stay good, in some sense.  How venomous, how cunning, how much worse does every long war that cannot be waged out in the open!  How personal do you become after a long fear, after keeping a close eye on your enemies, on possible enemies, for such a long time!  The exiles from society, the long-persecuted, the terribly harassed—as well as the involuntary hermits, the Spinozas or the Giordano Brunos—will ultimately become sophisticated avengers and maker of poison, perhaps in a spiritual masquerade and perhaps without wanting to (just try digging up the foundation of Spinoza’s ethics and philosophy!).  To say nothing of the stupidity of moral indignation, which is an unmistakable sign that a philosopher has lost his sense of humor.  The martyrdom of the philosopher, his “sacrifice for the truth,” brings to light his inner agitator and actor—and since we have only ever regarded the philosopher with an aesthetic curiosity, it is easy to understand the dangerous wish to see philosophers in their degradation (degraded to “martyrs,” to crybabies of the stage and tribunal).  We should be clear about what we will be seeing—nothing more than a satyr play, an epilogue farce, nothing more than continual evidence that the real long tragedy is finally at its end.  That is assuming that every philosophy was a long tragedy at its inception.—

 

26. Every exceptional person strives instinctively for his fortress and his privacy where he can be saved from the multitude, the many, the Most—a place where, as the exception, he can forget about the “human” rule. The only outside case would be one in which he would be driven toward the rule by an even stronger instinct, as a knower in the great and extraordinary sense. Whoever traffics with people and does not occasionally shimmer with all the colors of distress—shining with the tremulous greens and greys of nausea, satiety, pity, sullenness, isolation—is no person of higher taste.  Suppose, however, that he does not take this burden and displeasure voluntarily upon himself, suppose he remains aversive, quiet and proud in his fortress—well, then, he is certainly not made for knowledge, certainly not predestined for it.  For one day, he will surely say to himself: “To the Devil with my good taste!  The rule is more interesting than the exception—than I, the exception!”  And he will then move down and, above all, move “within.”  The study of the average person—long and serious and requiring much dissimulation, self-overcoming, confidentiality, bad company (all company is bad company if it isn’t with your equals)—this constitutes a necessary part of the life history of a philosopher, perhaps the part which is the most disagreeable, the most malodorous, and the richest in disappointment.  If he had the good fortune to be bred into the fortunate child of knowledge, so would he encounter those who would truly abbreviate and alleviate his task.  I mean the so-called cynics—thus, those who recognize the bestial, the commonal, and the “regular” in themselves and yet still have a degree of intellectuality and the itch to talk about themselves and people like themselves in front of witnesses.  Sometimes, they even wallow in books as if in their own filth.  Cynicism is the only form in which base souls touch upon genuine honesty.  And the higher human being has only to open one’s ears to the more vulgar and refined kind of cynicism to congratulate oneself every time that a shameless buffoon or scientific satyr is audible.  There are even cases in which disgust mingles with enchantment—cases in which genius couples with some indiscreet ram and ape, through some whim of nature, as in the case of Abbé Galiani, perhaps the most profound, the most insightful, and filthiest man of his century.  He was far deeper than Voltaire and consequently much more often silent.  Much more frequently does it turn out that, as indicated, that a scientific head is set upon the body of an ape, an exceptionally sophisticated understanding is set upon a common soul—hardly a rare occurrence among physicians and moral physiologists.  And wherever someone speaks of another human being as a stomach with two needs or as one head with one stomach, wherever someone only sees, looks for, and wants to see hunger, sexual desire, and vanity, as if these were the sole driving forces of human behavior—in short, wherever someone speaks “badly” of other human beings and not just “poorly”—right then, the lover of knowledge should listen carefully and sedulously.  He should have his ears right there where such things are said without indignation.  For the indignant person and whoever tears and flays himself with his own teeth (or the world or God or society as a substitute) may stand higher than the laughing and self-complacent satyr, morally understood.  But considered any other way, he is a more common, more indifferent, less instructive case.  And no one lies so often as the indignant.—

 

27. It is difficult to be understood, particularly when one thinks and lives gangasrotogati among people who think and live otherwise, namely, those who kurmagati or “walk as if they were frogs,” mandeikagati—I do everything that I can to make it difficult to understand myself!—and one should be grateful for any good will that is found in any refined interpretation. But as far as “good friends” are concerned, they are always too comfortable and believe that they have the right to comfortableness. So it does one good to concede a playspace, a playground, for misunderstanding.  Then one can have a good laugh at the fact that one has been misunderstood by one’s friends.  Or one could completely get rid of these friends—and have a good laugh about that!

 

28. The most difficult thing to translate from one language to another is the tempo of its style: which has its ground in the character of a race or, physiologically speaking, in the average tempo of its “metabolism.” There are honest attempts at translation which are almost falsifications, involuntary generalizations of the original text, simply because the original’s brave and comical tempo was untranslatable, a tempo that leaps over the dangerous element in things and in words. The German is almost incapable of presto in his language: Therefore, it is easy to conclude that he is also incapable of many of the most delightful and bold nuances of free, free-spirited thought.  Just as the buffo and the satyr are foreign to him, in body and conscience, so are Aristophanes and Petronius untranslatable.  Everything ponderous, viscous, solemnly vulgar, all the tedious and boring genres of style—all of this has been developed by the Germans into an overflowing multiplicity.  Forgive me for confessing that even Goethe’s prose, with its mixture of stiffness and filigree, is no exception and serves as a mirror image of the “good old age” to which it belongs.  It is an expression of the German taste of the time, when there was still a “German taste”: the Rococo taste, in moribus et artibus.  Lessing is an exception, thanks to his actorly nature; he understood so much and was skilled in so much.  It was not in vain that he translated Bayle and fled to live in proximity to Diderot and Voltaire and even more so the Roman writers of comedic theatre.  Even in tempo, Lessing loved freespiritedness, the flight from Germany.  But how could the German language, even in the prose of a Lessing, imitate the tempo of Machiavelli, who, in his Prince, permits us to breathe the dry, refined air of Florence and who never forgoes the opportunity to present the most serious concerns in an untrammeled allegrissimo, perhaps not without the malicious feeling of an artist for the contrast that he is risking—the thoughts are long, heavy, hard, dangerous, and the tempo is galloping and the most high-spirited.  Who, in the end, would dare to translate Petronius into German, a writer who, more than any crass musician before him, was the master of the presto in invention, inspiration, and word.  Who do all of the quagmires in the sick, terrible world matter, even those of the “old world,” when someone, such as he, has the feet of the wind, the drive and the breath, the liberating scorn of the wind that makes everything healthy, since he makes everything run!  And as far as Aristophanes is concerned, that transfiguring, complementary spirit, for whose sake we can pardon Greece for everything, on the condition that one has understood deeply what requires forgiving and transfiguring.  I know of nothing that incites my dreams of Plato’s concealed, sphinxlike nature as much as the following petit fait, thankfully preserved: that no one found a “Bible” beneath Plato’s pillow in his death chamber.  Nothing Egyptian, nothing Pythagorean, nothing Platonic.  Rather, there was Aristophanes.  How could even a Plato have endured life—a Greek life, to which he said, “No”—without an Aristophanes?

 

29. Independence is a matter for the few—it is the privilege of the strong. And even those who have the right to independence, without having to be independent, demonstrate thereby that he is apparently not only strong but also audacious to the point of unrestrainedness. He finds himself in a labyrinth, he multiplies by a thousand the dangers which life always brings with it.  The least danger that such a person falls into is not that no one sees how he messes up, isolates himself, is rent to pieces by some hell-minotaur of the conscience.  And if such a person falls down, this descent will be so remote from the understanding of human beings that they won’t even be able to feel it or empathize with him—and he will never be able to turn back!  He can never return to the sympathy of human beings!

 

30. Our highest insights must—and should!—sound like idiocies and even, under certain circumstances, like crimes, when they come unbeckoned into ears that are neither desired nor prepared for them. The exoteric and the esoteric, as philosophers differentiate them—among Indians, Greeks, Persians, and Muslims, in short, everywhere where there is belief in hierarchy and not in equality and equal rights—the exoteric and the esoteric are not distinguished on the basis of the outside position of the exoteric and the position of the esoteric, which would see, evaluate, measure, judge from within. The more essential distinction is that in the exoteric position, things are seen from below—the esoteric position, by contrast, looks down below from above!  There are heights of the soul from which even tragedy ceases to exist, no longer has tragic effects.  Taking into consideration all the woe in the world as one thing: Who would dare to decide whether his unifying vision of all the woe in the world would necessarily lead to pity, which would therewith lead one astray into the doubling of one’s woe?  …  What nourishes or refreshes the higher type of human will be almost poisonous to those of the inferior type.  The virtues of the common man will perhaps signify vices and weaknesses to a philosopher.  If a higher type of man were to degenerate and go to his ruin, this might give him the very qualities that would make him venerated as a saint in the low world to which he has sunk.  There are books that have inverted value, in soul and health, depending on whether the inferior souls and passions or the higher and more forceful souls use them.  In the first case, such books are dangerous, disintegrating, and dissolving; in the second case, they are herald calls that summon the courageous to their courage.  Books for everyone are always malodorous books: The stench of small people clings to them.  Where the mob eats and drinks, even where they worship, it tends to stench.  Don’t go into the churches if you want to breathe clean air.

 

31. The young admire and despise without that art of nuance which constitutes life’s greatest reward; therefore, they will pay dearly for ambushing people and things with “Yes” and “No.” Everything is set up so that the worst of all tastes, the taste for the unconditional, will be cruelly duped and abused until people learn to put some art in their feelings and prefer to experiment with the artificial: just as the proper artists of life do. The wrathful and reverential qualities that are endemic to youth do not rest, it seems, until they have falsified people and things so thoroughly that they unleash themselves upon them.—Youth is intrinsically falsifying and deceiving.  Later, after the young soul has been tortured with absolute disappointments, finally turns against itself with suspicion, endlessly hot and wild, even in its suspiciousness and bites of conscience.  How ferocious it is toward itself now, how it impatiently tears itself asunder, how it takes revenge for its long self-blinding, as if it had been a willful blindness!  During this period of transition, a person punishes oneself by mistrusting one’s own feelings; one tortures one’s enthusiasm with doubt.  Indeed, even the good conscience is felt as a danger, as are the self-veiling and ennui of sophisticated honesty; and above all, one takes part—a fundamental part—against “youth.”  Ten years later: and one understands that all of this was still a stage of—youth!

 

32. Throughout the longest epoch in human history—one calls it “the prehistoric age”—the worth or worthlessness of an action was derived from its consequences: The action itself was given little consideration, as little consideration as its origin. In today’s China, something similar is happening: A child’s mark of distinction or of disgrace is traceable back to its parents. Similarly, the retroactive force of a success or a failure conduced whether people thought of an action as good or as bad.  We will name this period the proto-moral period of humanity: The moral imperative “Know thyself!” was unknown back then.  Over the last 10,000 years, to the contrary, upon entire swathes of the Planet Earth, people come to think about the origin of an action, not its consequences, in order to decide the worth of an action.  This was altogether a great event, a remarkable sophistication of point of view and of measure, the unconscious aftereffect of the hegemony of aristocratic values and the belief in “origins,” and the sign of a period that one could characterize as moral in the narrow sense: Thus the first step toward self-knowledge was made.  Origin instead of consequence: What an inversion of perspective!  And to be sure, this inversion was only attained after long struggles and many oscillations!  Indeed: A fateful new superstition, a peculiarly narrow interpretation came thereby to dominate.  The provenance of an action was, in the most determinative sense, interpreted as an origin that came from an intention.  There was then a consensus that the worth of an action would reside in the worth of the intention behind it.  The intention is the entire origin and prehistory of an action.  Under this prejudice, almost unto the present day on the Planet Earth, one has morally lauded, censured, judged, and even philosophized.—Should we not be summoned today by the necessity of bringing about an inversion and fundamental displacement of values, thanks to a reinvigorated self-contemplation and deepening of humanity?  Should we not be standing on the threshold of a period that we may negatively characterize, at the beginning, as extramoral?  Today, when we immoralists are motivated by the suspicion that the decisive value of an action is what is non-intentional, when all its intentionality, all that is visible, known, “conscious” belongs to its surface and skin—which, like every skin, reveals but also conceals?  Briefly, we believe that the intention is only the sign and symptom, one that requires an interpretation, and that a sign means so many things and therefore that means almost nothing.  That morality, in the former sense, therefore, intention-morality, was a prejudice, a precipitousness, a provisionality, perhaps, a thing along the lines of astrology and alchemy, but, in any case, something that must be overcome.  The overcoming of morality, in a certain understanding, the self-overcoming of morality: Let this be the name for that long secret labor which is reserved for the most refined and honest, even the most malicious consciences of today, as the living touchstone of the soul.—

 

33. It cannot be helped: The feeling of acquiescence, the self-sacrifice for the benefit of the other person, the entire morality of self-abnegation all must be called to task and brought to trial. The same must be said of the aesthetics of “disinterested contemplation,” beneath which the emasculation of art, seductively enough, seeks to give itself a good conscience. There is too, too much wizardry and sweetening in this feeling “for others,” this feeling of “not-for-me” for it not to be necessary to become doubly mistrustful and ask, “Are these not perhaps seductions?”  The fact that they are agreeable (to those who have such feelings, to those who enjoy their fruit, to the mere onlooker)this does not provide us with an argument for these things.  Rather, it gives us a reason for caution.  Let us therefore be cautious!

 

34. No matter from which philosophical standpoint one might stand: seen from such a position, the erroneousness of the world in which we believe to be living is the securest and most fixed thing that our eyes can seize hold of. We find reason after reason for this, all of which entice us into making presumptions about the deceptiveness in the “essence of things.” Whoever, however, makes thinking itself (therefore, “the spirit”) responsible for the falseness of the world—an honorable way out, taken by every conscious or unconscious advocatus dei—whoever regards this world, together with space, time, form, and motion, to be falsely inferred, such a person would at the very least have a good pretext to grow mistrustful of all thinking.  Wouldn’t this have been the greatest prank that has ever been played?  And what guarantee is there that the prank that has always been played would not continue to be played?  In all seriousness, the innocence of the thinker has something touching and respect-inspiring about it.  It is an innocence that allows thinkers, even today, to prostrate themselves before consciousness with the request that there be honest answers.  For example, whether consciousness is “real,” and why it holds the external world at arm’s length, and so many other questions.  The belief in “immediate certainties” is a moral naivete which does us philosophers honor: However—we should cease being “merely moral” persons!  Aside from morality, every belief is a kind of stupidity that gives us little honor.  In bourgeois life, the disposition of being-always-ready-to-mistrust is considered as the sign of a “bad character” and consequently is regarded as imprudent.  Here among us, on the other side of the bourgeois world, with its Yeses and Nos—what should prevent us from being imprudent and from saying, “The philosopher has nigh the right to a bad character.  He has today the duty to be mistrustful, to squint maliciously from out of every abyss of suspicion”?  Forgive me this joke, this somber farce, this expression: for as to betrayal and being betrayed, I learned long ago to think differently, to evaluate differently, and I’ve a few ribbings in store for those blind-rage philosophers who struggle not to be betrayed.  Why wouldn’t they be enraged?  Why wouldn’t they struggle?  This comes from a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than appearance, the most ill-demonstrated assumption in the world.  Let us go this far and admit: There would be no life without fundamental perspectival evaluations and phenomenalities.  And if someone, with the moral enthusiasm and stupidity of most philosophers, wanted to abolish the “phenomenal world,” assuming that one could do so, there would be none of your truth left!  Not only that, what makes us think that there is even an essential distinction between the “true” and the “false”?  Does it not suffice to accept the strata of appearances, and, as it were, lighter and darker shades and nuances of appearance—different valeurs, to use the language of painters?  Why would the world that concerns us—not be a fiction?  And whoever asks—“But doesn’t fiction belong to a Creator?”—why could we not respond, “Why?  What if this ‘belong’ belongs to a fiction?”?  Is it not allowed, against subject, against predicate, against object, to be a little ironic?  Shouldn’t philosophers elevate themselves above grammatical credulity?  With all due respect to governesses: Isn’t it time for philosophy to abandon governesses’ beliefs?

 

35. O Voltaire! O humanity! O stupidity!  There is something to “truth,” to the search for truth; and if human beings pursue this too humanly—“Il ne cherche le vrai que pour fair le bien”—I wager that he’ll find nothing!

 

36. Suppose that nothing is “given” as real besides our desires and our passions, that we can neither move downward or upward to any “reality” other than the reality of our impulses—thinking is only the relation of these impulses to one another. Are we not allowed to experiment and to ask the question whether this “given” isn’t enough to understand the so-called mechanistic (or “material”) world, as well? I don’t mean that the world is a deception, an “appearance,” a “representation” (in the Berkleyean and Schopenhauerian senses); I mean that the “reality” of our desires and passions might allow us to understand the mechanistic world as belonging to the same range of reality as our affects themselves.  As a more primitive form of the world of affects in which everything is contained in a powerful unity before branching out and developing itself in the organic process (and of course, being softened and weakened—)?  As a sort of life of the impulses in which the total organic functions (self-regulation, assimilation, nourishment, elimination, metabolism) are still synthetically bound together—as a preform of life?—Ultimately, we are not only allowed to experiment: The conscience of method calls for it.  Multiple forms of causality should not be posited until the attempt to make do with a single one has been taken to its furthest limit (—to absurdity, if you will allow the expression): That is the morality of method that today cannot be evaded—it follows “from its definition,” as the mathematicians would say.  The question is finally whether we recognize the will as effectual, whether we believe in the causality of the will.  If we do—and belief in this is belief in causality itself—so we must make the experiment of positing the causality of the will hypothetically as the only causality there is.  “Will” can naturally only affect “will”—and not “matter” (not “the nerves,” for instance—): Enough!  One has to set forth the hypothesis that will is affecting will everywhere in which “effects” are recognized—and that every mechanistic event in which a force is active is really the force of the will, a will-effect.—Assuming, finally, that we succeed in explaining our entire life of impulses as the arrangement and ramification of one basic form of will (namely, as the will to power, which is my assertion).  Assuming that all organic forces could be traced back to this will to power and find that it even solved the problem of procreation and nourishment (which is really a single problem).  Then one would have obtained the right to determine all efficacious force unambiguously as the will to power.  Viewing the world from within, determining and characterizing “the intelligible character” of the world—it would be precisely the “will to power” and nothing else besides.—

 

37. “What is that? Doesn’t that mean, to use a cliché, that God is refuted, but not the Devil—?” Quite the opposite!  Quite the opposite, my friends!  And, for the Devil’s sake, what is making you use clichés?—

 

38. This is how it went with the French Revolution, in the illuminatedness of more recent times—that terrifying and, on close evaluation, superfluous farce into which noble and exalted spectators throughout Europe have, from a remote position, interpreted their own indignations and enthusiasms for so long and with such passionateness until the text disappeared beneath the interpretation: In the same way, a noble afterworld could again misunderstand the whole past, and in so doing, perhaps, begin to make it tolerable to look at.—Or instead: Has this not already happened? Weren’t we ourselves this “noble afterworld”? And it is not now, inasmuch as this is what we apprehend to be the case, is it not now—already gone?

 

39. No one would consider a doctrine to be true just because it makes people happy or just because it makes people virtuous. An exception to this might be our dear “idealists,” who grow frothily excited over the Good, the True, and the Beautiful and let every kind of brightly colored, vulgar, and good-natured wishful thinking swim in their pond. Good fortune and virtuousness are not arguments.  But we like to forget—even contemplative spirits like to forget—that being made unhappy and evil are no counter-arguments, either.  Something might be true, even if it is damaging and dangerous in the highest degree.  It could even belong to the fundamental constitution of existence that people with full knowledge are destroyed—so that the strength of a spirit is proportionate to how much of the “truth” he can endure.  To phrase it more clearly, the strength of the intellect might be proportionate to the degree that it needs the “truth” to be diluted, shrouded, sweetened, made stupid, falsified.  But there is no doubt that when it comes to the discovery of certain parts of the truth, the wicked and the unhappy are in a more favorable position and have a greater probability of success—not to mention the wicked who are fortunate, a species that the moralists are silent about.  Perhaps obduracy and craftiness provide more favorable conditions for the emergence of strong, independent spirits and philosophers than that gentle, refined, yielding benignity and art of easygoingness which is prized in scholars and prized with good reason.  Assuming that we do not limit the concept of “philosopher” to philosophers who write books (or to those who put their own philosophy into books)!  One last feature in the picture of the free-spirited philosopher is brought forward to us by Stendahl; it is an example that, for the sake of the German taste, I will not forbear from underlining, in order to go against the German taste!  “Pour être bon philosophie,” says the last of the great psychologists.  “Il fault être sec, claire, sans illusion.  Un banquier, qui a fait fortune, a une partie du caractère requis pour faire des découvertes en philosophie, c’est-à-dire pour voir clair dans ce qui est.”

 

40. Everything that is deep loves the mask; the deepest things even hate images and likenesses. Would not the very opposite of the shame of a god be the right clothing in which the shame of a god would cloak itself? A questionable question: It would be strange if some mystic had not already attempted the same thing.  There are events of such a tender character that they should be veiled with coarseness and made unrecognizable.  There are acts that are so full of love and extravagant generosity that nothing is more advisable than to conceal them by taking a stick and giving the eyewitnesses a good, thorough drubbing; this will darken all mnemonic traces.  There are many people who are quite skilled at darkening and maltreating their own memory in order to exact their vengeance on at least this one accessory: —shame is inventive.  It is not the worst things that shame the worst: It is not only guile that hides behind a mask—there is so much that is good in cunning.  I can think of a man who has something precious and vulnerable to hide, raw and round like a green old heavy-hooped wine barrel: The delicacy of his shame will want it this way.  Someone with profundity in his shame encounters even his fate and delicate decisions along the paths that few people ever travel on—a shame the presence of which his closest friends and confidantes are not permitted to know of.  His life’s danger is hidden from their eyes, and so is his reobtained trust in life.  Such a person who conceals so much—who instinctively needs speech in order to keep silent and hidden and who is inexhaustible in his evasion of communication—desires and demands a mask to wander around in the hearts and brains of his friends.  Even if he doesn’t want such hiddenness, his eyes will open one day, and he will see that a mask of him was already there—and he will see that this is for the best.  Every profound mind needs a mask: What is more, a mask is constantly growing around every profound mind, thanks to the constant false (false because flat) interpretation of his every word, his every step, each sign of his life that he emits.—

 

41. We should experiment on ourselves to see whether we are designed for independence and command—and do so at the proper time. We should never supersede our own experiments, even if they are the most dangerous games that we could play and are witnessable by no other adjudicators than ourselves. Never depend on anyone: even if that person be our favorite—every person is a prison, every person is a corner, even.  Never depend on any fatherland: even if that country be the most afflicted and desperate—it is rather less difficult to release our heart from a victorious fatherland.  Never depend on pity for anyone: even if it is pity for higher human beings whose rare torture and helplessness we have fortuitously glimpsed.  Never depend on a scientific discipline: however much it tempts us with precious findings that seem to be reserved for us alone.  Never depend on any kind of dissociation, on that voluptuous remoteness and strangeness of the birds that fly ever higher into the sky in order to see ever more below them—the danger of those who fly.  Never depend on our own virtues, and never allow ourselves to be sacrificed for the sake of a single one of our characteristics (for example, our “hospitality”), which is the danger of all dangers for rich souls of the higher kind, who extravagantly squander themselves and do so almost with indifference, and who push the virtue of liberality to the point of vice.  We must learn how to preserve ourselves: the strongest test for independence.

 

42. A new species of philosopher is coming up: I will presume to christen them with a name that is not without danger. As far as I can tell, and as far as they allow me to tell anything about them (for they belong to the type of people who wish to remain riddles), these philosophers of the future might have the right (and might have the wrong) to be described as attempters / experimenters. This name is ultimately nothing more than an attempt / experiment and might even be an attempt at seduction, if you will.

 

43. Are these new philosophers the new friends of the “truth”? It is entirely probable: for all previous philosophers loved their truths. Surely, however, they will not be dogmatists.  If their truth were everyone’s truth, that would be an offense against pride—an offense against taste, as well: “Everyone’s truth” is the secret desire and concealed meaning of all dogmatic striving hitherto.  “My judgment is my judgment: For that reason, others have no right to it”—such a thing would perhaps be said by such a philosopher of the future. We must dispense with the bad-taste desire to harmonize with the multitude.  “Good” is no longer good when it’s stuck in your neighbor’s mouth.  And how could there be such a thing as a “common good”?  The phrase is self-contradictory: Whatever is common has little value.  Ultimately, things must stand in the way that they are standing now and have always stood: Great things are reserved for the great, abysses are reserved for the profound, tenderness and the tremble are reserved for the sophisticated, and, all in all, everything is rare is reserved for the rare.—

 

44. After all of this, do I need to say that even the free, the quite free spirits, these philosophers of the future—that they will certainly be more than merely free spirits? They will be something more, something higher, something greater, and something fundamentally other, those who never want to be misunderstood or confused with anyone else. However, in saying this, I feel toward them—almost as much as toward ourselves, those who are the heralds and precursors, we free spirits!—the obligation to sweep away from us an ancient, stupid prejudice and misinterpretation which, like a mist, has for all too long made the concept of “free spirit” opaque.  In every European country, and also in America, there is now something that abuses this name: a very narrow, restricted, fettered type of spirit who wants approximately the opposite of our intentions and instincts—not to speak of the fact that this type of spirit shuts the window and bolts the door on the coming, new philosophers of the future.  They belong, to be succinct, among the levelers, these falsely named “free spirits”—these garrulous and profusely scribbling slaves of the democratic taste and its “modern ideas.”  Altogether, they are people without solitude, without their own solitude—tactless yet upright youngsters whose courage and respectable morals cannot be denied, but who are also unfree and ludicrously superficial, particularly given that they see the forms of traditional, old society as the causes of ALL human misery and injustice.  Thereby the truth is happily turned on its head!  What they strive for with all of their strength is the common green meadow happiness of the herd, with security, safety, comfort, and the alleviation of life for everyone.  Their most magnificently sung songs and doctrines are called “equality of rights” and “empathy for the suffering”—they sing that suffering is something that will be taken away, that it must be abolished.  We inverted ones, we who have opened our eye and conscience to the question as to how and where the plant “Human Being” has hitherto grown most vigorously, believe that this has always taken place under the reverse conditions, that for this purpose the dangerousness of his situation had to be grown monstrously, his inventive and camouflaging capacities (his “spirit”—) had to develop into something refined and daring under long oppression and compulsion, and his life-will had to be intensified to the unconditional power-will?  We believe that severity, violence, slavery, danger in the street and in the heart, secrecy, stoicism, the seducer’s art, and devilry of every kind—that everything wicked, horrible, tyrannical, predatory, and colubrine in human beings serve as much to exalt the “human” species as its opposite.  We do not even say enough when we only say, “this much,” and in any case we find ourselves here, both with our speech and our silence, at the other end of all modern ideology and herd wishful thinking—at their antipode, perhaps?  No wonder that we “free spirits” are not exactly the most communicative spirits, that we do not wish to disclose in every respect from what a spirit can free itself and to where perhaps it will then be driven?  And as to the significance of the dangerous formula “Beyond Good and Evil,” with which we at least protect ourselves from misinterpretation, we are something else than “libres-penseurs,” “liben pensatori,” “freethinkers,” and whatever these upstanding advocates of “modern ideas” like to name themselves.  Being at home, or at least guests, in many lands of the spirit, having slipped again and again from the somber, agreeable corners in which fondness and prejudice, youth, origin, the accident of human beings and of books, or even the weariness of travel seemed to spellbind us, full of malice against the seductions of dependency which he hid in honors, money, positions, or enthusiasms of the senses, grateful even for dire need and vicissitudinous illness, because such things release us from some kind of rule and “prejudice,” grateful to the god, devil, sheep, and worm in us, curious to the point of vice, researchers to the point of cruelty, with inconsiderate fingers that grope for the intangible, with teeth and stomachs for the most indigestible, ready for any handiwork that requires perspicacity and acute senses, ready for every adventure, owing to an excess of “free will,” with foreground and background souls, the ultimate intentions which are not easy to sight, with foregrounds and backgrounds to the end of which no foot may run, concealed under the mantles of light, conquerors, though we resemble heirs and profligates, arrangers and collectors from morning until evening, misers of our wealth and our crammed drawers, economical in learning and forgetting, inventive in scheming, sometimes proud of Tables of Categories, sometimes pedants, sometimes night owls of work even in the brightness of the day, yes, when necessary, even scarecrows—and today, it is necessary, insofar as we are the born, sworn, jealous friends of solitude, of our own profoundest midnightly and afternoonly solitude—such a kind of human being are we, we free spirits!  And perhaps you are something like that, you coming ones?  You new philosophers?

 

THIRD SECTION.  THE RELIGIOUS ESSENCE

 

45. The human soul and its limitations, the entire extent of human inner experience that has been reached thus far, the heights, the depths, and the distances of these experiences, the entire former history of the soul and all of the possibilities that have not yet been drunken down: These are the predetermined hunting grounds of an innate psychologist and friend of the “great hunt.” But how often must he say to himself, despairingly: “Only one person! Ah, nothing more than one person!  And this vast forest, this primeval forest!”  And so he wishes for one hundred hunting aides and finely trained bloodhounds that he could drive into the history of the human soul in order to get his prey in order.  In vain!  He finds again and again, thoroughly and bitterly, how hard it is to find assistants and hounds for the very things that pique his curiosity.  The difficulty with sending scholars out into new and dangerous hunting grounds—where courage, cleverness, and refinement in every sense are needed—is that they are no longer useful precisely where the great danger begins: with the “great hunt.”  It is right there where they lose their eyes and noses for tracking quarry.  In order to figure out and to establish the kind of history the problem of knowledge and conscience had in the soul of the homines religiosi, one would have to have, perhaps, an intellectual conscience just as deep, as wounded, as monstrous as the intellectual conscience of Pascal—and then one would need an expansive heaven of bright, malicious intellectuality from which to survey, order, and force into formulae this chaos of dangerous and painful experiences.—But who is there to do me this service!  But who would have the time to wait for such a servant!—They emerge so seldom!  They are improbable in every age!  Ultimately, one has to do it oneself in order to know even a single thing.  That means, there is much to be done!—But curiosity of my style remains the most pleasant of all vices—Pardon me!  I should say instead: The love of truth has its reward in Heaven and also on Earth.—

 

46. The sort of faith that the first Christendom required and not seldom achieved within a skeptical, southern, and free-spirited world, a world that had a century-long battle between schools of philosophy behind it and within it, to say nothing of the lesson in tolerance given by the imperium Ronanum—this faith is not the true-hearted and barbarous faith of the slave to which Northern barbarians such as Luther and Cromwell attached God and Christendom. This original faith is much closer to Pascal’s faith, which, in a terrible manner, resembles the extended suicide of a reason that cannot be killed off immediately and in a single blow. Christian faith is sacrifice from its inception: the sacrifice of all liberty, the sacrifice of all pride, the sacrifice of all self-confidence of spirit; at the same time, it is enslavement and self-mockery, self-mangling.  There is cruelty and a religious Phoenicianism in this faith, one that presumes a brittle, multitudinous, and well-spoiled conscience: Its presupposition is that the subjugation of spirit is indescribably painful, that the entire past and all of the habits of such a spirit turns against the absurdissimum which is presented as “faith.”  Modern people, with their inurement to all Christian nomenclature, are no longer sympathetic to the dreadful superlative that was inherent, according to ancient tastes, in the paradox of the “God on the Cross” formula.  Nowhere has there ever been such a bold reversal, nowhere has there ever been anything as terrible, as questioning, as questionable as this formula: It summons a revaluation of all the values of antiquity.—It is the exaction-of-revenge by the Orient, the deep Orient, it is the taking-of-revenge of the Oriental slave on Rome and its elegant and frivolous tolerance, on the Roman “Catholicity” of faith—and never was it the Roman faith that enraged the slave.  It was rather the master’s absence of faith, that half-stoical and smiling unconcernedness in contrast to the slave’s earnestness of faith.  “Enlightenment” is enraging: The slave wants precisely the unconditional; he understands only tyranny, even when it comes to morality.  He loves as he hates, without nuance, into the depths, to the point of pain, to the point of illness, his many hidden sufferings rage against the elegant taste that seems to deny these sufferings.  Skepticism about suffering (fundamentally nothing more than an aristocratic attitude) contributed in no small part to the origination of the last great slave rebellion, which began with the French Revolution.

 

47. Wherever on Earth the religious neurosis has appeared, we find it bound up with three deadly dietary prescriptions: solitude, fasting, and sexual abstinence—without being able to decide with assurance what is the cause and what is the effect and whether there is even a relationship here between cause and effect. This final doubt is justified by the most regular symptoms, among people both savage and tame, including the wildest kind of voluptuousness which suddenly transforms into a spasmodic repentance and negation of will and world: perhaps both are interpretable as a masked form of epilepsy? But it is precisely here where interpretation should be gotten rid of: Around no other type of person has such a profusion of nonsense and superstition grown as around the religious type, and no other type has been more interesting to people, even to philosophers.  It is high time to be a little cold, to learn to be cautious, even better: look away, to go away.—Even in the background of the most recent philosophy, the Schopenhauerian philosophy, there stands (almost as the problem itself) the dreadful question mark of religious crisis and awakening.  How is the negation of the will possible?  How is the saint possible?—this seems to really have been the question that made Schopenhauer a philosopher, the question with which Schopenhauer began.  And so it was a genuinely Schopenhauerian consequence that his most committed disciple (perhaps also his last, as far as Germany is concerned—), namely Richard Wagner, ended his life’s work precisely at this point and finally brought that terrible and eternal type on the stage as Kundry, type vécu, as he loved and lived.  At the same time, the psychiatrists in every European country had the opportunity to study up close the religious neurosis—or, to use my language, “the religious essence”—as the “Salvation Army,” its last epidemic outbreak.—If anyone were to ask what is really so exorbitantly interesting about the phenomenon of the saint to people of all kinds, to people in every age, it would have to be without doubt the apparition of miracles which are always attached to the phenomenon of the saint.  Miracles: that is, the immediate succession of opposite states, states of the soul that are morally valued as antithetical.  It seems palpable that a “saint,” a good human being, can be made out of a “bad human being.”  The earlier psychology shipwrecks at this point: Shouldn’t this really have happened because of the installation of the hegemony of morality, because they really believed in the morality of opposing values, because they saw such oppositions in the text and in the state of affairs, because they read them into the text and state of affairs, because they interpreted them into the text and in the state of affairs?—How could this be?  The “miracle” as an error in interpretation?  A deficiency of philology?—

 

48. It seems as if Catholicism belongs to the Latin races more inwardly than the whole of Christendom belongs to us Northerners. For this very reason, unbelief in Catholic countries should be interpreted quite differently than it is in Protestant countries—namely, unbelief in Catholic countries is a kind of infuriation, a kind of enragement toward the spirit of the race, whereas for us, in Protestant countries, unbelief is a kind of return to the spirit (or unspirit—) of the race. We Northerners come doubtless from the barbarian races, even with respect to our aptitude for religion: We are poorly equipped for religion.  The Celts should be excluded from this, for they have given the North the most fertile ground for the Christian infection.—In France blossomed the Christian ideal, as far as the pale Northern sun would allow it.  How strangely pious do even the most recent French skeptics seem to our taste (insofar as some Celtic blood is within their lineage)!  How Catholic, how un-German to us is the stench of August Comte’s sociology, with its Roman logic of the instincts!  How Jesuitical is Saint-Beuve, that charming and clever cicerone from Port-Royal, despite all of his enmity toward the Jesuits!  And indeed Ernest Renan: How inaccessible to us Northerners is the language of this Renan!  His voluptuous soul (“voluptuous” in a more sophisticated sense), lying comfortably in his bed, would be disequilibriated, in a single moment, by some nothingness of religious intensity!  Recite just once these lovely sentences—and what malice and arrogance throb in our souls in response (our souls are German and therefore probably less lovely and more severe)!: “Disons donc hardiment que la religion est un produit de l’homme normal, que l’homme est le plus dans le vrai quand il est le plus religieux et le plus assure d’une destinée infinite…  C’est quand il est bon qu’il veut que la vertu corresponde à un ordre éternel, c’est quand il contemple les choses d’une manière désintéressée qu’il trouve la mort révoltante et absurde.  Comment ne pas supposer que c’est dans ces moments-là, que l’homme voit le mieux?…”  These sentences are so very antipodal to my ears and tendencies that, as I read them, I wrote in a rage, in the margin: “la niaiserie religieuse par excellence!”—until my wrath turned into fondness for these sentences which put the truth on its head!  It is so elegant, so distinctive to have one’s own antipodes!

 

49. The most astonishing thing about the religiosity of ancient Greek culture is the untrammeled plenteousness of gratitude that emanates from it: —This is a highly distinguished type of human being who stands before nature and before life! —Later, after the mob gained ascendancy in Greece, fear overgrew everything—even religion; and Christendom waited in the wings.

 

50. The passion for God: These are the rustic, true-hearted, and impertinent types, like Luther—the whole of Protestantism dispenses with the southern delicatezza. There is an Oriental ecstasy within this passion for God, as if it were the ecstasy of a slave who had just received an undeserved pardon or an undeserved elevation in status. An example thereof is St. Augustine, who had a disgusting lack of good taste in his gestures and desires.  There is an effeminate tenderness and desirousness within this passion for God, a bashful and unknowing yearning for a unio mystica et physica: as we see in Madame de Guyon.  In many cases, it manifests itself, strangely enough, as a kind of camouflaging of puberty in a young man or young woman; here and there, it even comes about as the final ambition of an old spinstress—in such cases, the Church often canonizes such a woman as a saint.

 

51. Until the present day, the most powerful people have bowed with reverence before the saint. The saint—that riddle of self-mastery and deliberate, final self-renunciation. Why have they bowed down before the saint?  They suspected that there was a superior force at work within him, beneath the question mark of his fragile and abject appearance.  They suspected that this force wanted to test itself by mastering itself.  They suspected a strength of will in which they recognized their own strength and lust for domination: By honoring the saint, they honored what was within themselves.  Moreover, the image of the saint raised the following suspicion: Such a monstrosity of self-negation, such an anti-natural thing could not be desired in vain—that is what they said to themselves, that is what they asked themselves.  Might there be a reason for it?  Might the ascetic have received news of a terrible danger in private, from his messengers and visitors?  Enough!  The powerful leaders of the world learned from the saint a new fear; they sensed a new power within him, and this power was perceived as an alien, still-unconquered enemy.  —It was the “will to power” that forced them to stand frozen before the saint.  They had to pose questions to him—

 

52. In the Jewish “Old Testament”—the book of divine justice—there are people, things, and speeches in such a great style that there is nothing comparable in any of the Ancient Greek or Indian literature. One stands in terror and awe before such a monstrous remnant of what humanity once was—and one only disconsolately reflects upon Ancient Asia and upon that little European semi-island which supposedly signifies “human progress.” Indeed, one someone who is nothing more than an emaciated house pet and who only knows house-pet needs (like our educated folk of today, like the Christians of “educated” Christendom) will find nothing astonishing, much less distressing, in these ruins.  The taste for the Old Testament is a touchstone for all reference to the “great” and the “small”: Perhaps he will find the New Testament, that Book of Grace, much closer to his heart (there is much therein that stenches of that real, tender, damp true-believer, small-soul smell).  To have taken this New Testament (a Rococo of taste in every sense) and have pasted it together with the Old Testament and to have formed a single book out of both—calling it the “Bible,” the “The Book Itself”—this is the perhaps the greatest presumption and “sin against the spirit” that literary Europe has on its conscience.

 

53. Why atheism today? —God as “the Father” has been thoroughly refuted, not to mention God as “the Judge” and God as “the Redeemer.” The same thing could be said of his “free will”: He doesn’t hear anything—and if he did, he wouldn’t know how to help, anyway. The worst is that he seems incapable of communicating himself clearly: Is he unclear?  —Having asked questions, having listened, having researched, in many different languages, these are what seem to me to be the causes of the decline of European theism.  The religious instinct is indeed growing vigorously—however, it denies theistic gratification with the deepest mistrust.

 

54. What has the whole of contemporary philosophy really been doing? Since Descartes—and, truly, more in spite of him rather than because of him—all philosophers have attempted to assassinate the ancient concept of the soul under the pretext of a critique of the subject and a critique of the predicate. That is to say, it would be the assassination of the fundamental presupposition of the Christian doctrine.  Contemporary philosophy, understood as epistemological skepticism, is, implicitly or explicitly, anti-Christian: though, for the sake of more sophisticated ears, is by no means anti-religious.  Formerly, people believed in “the soul,” in the same way that people believed in grammar and the grammatical subject: One said that the “I” is the condition and that “think” is the predicate and conditioned—thinking is an activity to which a subject must be conceived as the cause.  These days, with an admirable tenacity and cleverness, people are experimenting whether they can escape this net—whether perhaps the inverse is not true: perhaps “think” is the condition and the “I” is the conditioned.  The “I” is therefore a synthesis that is constructed by thinking.  Kant wanted to prove that the subject cannot be proven by the subject—nor can the object be proven by the object.  The possibility of a phenomenal existence of the subject (thus, “the soul”) might not have always been foreign to him, a thought that once appeared on Earth, with extraordinary power, as the Vedanta philosophy.

 

55. Religious cruelty is a long ladder with many steps; however, there are three of them which are the most important. Once human beings make sacrifices to their god, perhaps sacrificing even those whom they loved the best—to this belongs the sacrifice of the firstborn in all prehistoric religions, including the sacrifice of the Kaiser Tiberius in the Mithraic grotto of the island Capri, that most terrifying of all Roman anachronisms. Then, in the moralistic epoch of humanity, people sacrificed the strongest instincts that they possessed to their god: their “nature.”  This festive joy glimmers in the cruel gaze of the ascetic, this exalted “anti-naturality.”  Ultimately, what is there left to sacrifice?  Isn’t it now finally time sacrifice anything that brings comfort, everything sacred, everything that heals, all hope, every faith in an obscure harmony or in future felicities and justices?  Isn’t it finally time to sacrifice god itself and, in an act of cruelty against oneself, worship stones, worship stupidity, worship heaviness, worship Nothingness?  To sacrifice god for the sake of Nothingness—this paradoxical mysterium of the final cruelty has been reserved for the generation that is approaching: We all know about this already.—

 

56. Whoever, like myself, has long struggled—out of some kind of mysterious desire—to think deeply about pessimism and to free pessimism from its semi-Christian, semi-German narrowness and simplification (as displayed by the current century, namely in the Schopenhauerian philosophy). Whoever has looked the most world-negating style of thinking up and down, with an Asiatic and meta-Asiatic eye, beyond good and evil and no longer, as Buddha and Schopenhauer did, under the spell and delusion of morality. Whoever has done so has inadvertently opened his eyes to the inverted ideal: the ideal of the most exuberant people, the ideal of the liveliest people, the ideal of the most world-affirming people, those who have not merely learned to resign themselves to, and to put up with, everything that is and was, but who want to have it all over again, from out of all eternity, insatiably summoning da capo, not merely to himself, but rather to whole plays and spectacles, and not merely to spectacles, but fundamentally to those who have need of this spectacle and who the spectacle makes necessary: because he will, again and again, have need of it—and again and again be made necessary.  How is that?  And would this not be—circulus vitiosus deus?

 

57. With the power of his mental gaze and insight grows the distance and, at the same time, the space around the human being. His world becomes deeper; forever new stars, forever new enigmas and images enter his vision. Perhaps everything on which the eye of his mind tested its incisiveness and profundity was nothing more than a practice opportunity, a playful matter, something for children and for child-brains.  Perhaps someday the solemnest concepts—“God” and “sin,” concepts that have caused so much fighting and suffering—will seem to us no more important than toys and childish whining seem important to an old man.  And perhaps “the old man” will have need of another toy and another form of suffering—forever still child enough, an eternal child!

 

58. Has anyone ever noticed how a genuinely religious life requires external leisure or semi-leisure? (Leisure for its favorite pastime, microscopic self-examination, as much as for that tender state of composure known as “prayer” and is a constant readiness for the “coming of God.”) I mean, leisure with a good conscience, from ancient times until today, from the bloodline, is not entirely foreign to the aristocratic feeling that defiles work.  That is to say, it is the feeling that work makes soul and body common.  And has anyone ever noticed that, consequently, the modern, noisy, time-devouring, self-complacent, stupidly arrogant sedulousness, more than anything else, educates and leads one to “unfaith”?  Among those who live outside of religion—for example, in Germany—I find “freethinking” people of different stripes and heritages.  The majority for whom diligence, from generation to generation, has deteriorated the religious instinct.  So much so that they no longer know what purpose religion serves.  And they only register its presence in the world with a kind of stolid astonishment.  They feel that they are already industrious enough, these decent people, what with their businesses and their pleasures, to say nothing of their “fatherland,” their newspapers, their “familial duties.”  It seems that they have no time left over for religion, especially since they have no idea whether that religion would be a new business or a new pleasure, since, after all, they say to themselves, “It is impossible that anyone would go into a church just to spoil a good mood.”  They are hardly enemies of religious custom; if anyone (such as the state) requires of them to participate in such customs, they do what is required of them, as many people do.  They do so with a patient and modest earnestness and without much curiosity or discomfort.  They just live too far on the other side, beyond religion, to find a For or an Against necessary in such matters.  Today, the majority of middle-class German Protestants belong to these indifferent ones, particularly those in the centers of trade and transportation.  The same is true of the majority of diligent scholars and the entirety of the university faculties (excepting the theologians, whose existence and very possibility gives the psychologist more and more enigmas to unpuzzle).  Rarely do pious and ecclesiastical people ever have an idea of how much good will—one might even say, how much willful will—is required for a German scholar to take the problem of religion seriously.  His entire craft—and the workerlike industriousness that his modern conscience demands of him—inclines him to a condescending, almost kindly cheerfulness toward religion, mingled with a gentle deprecation on account of the “filthiness” of the spirit which he assumes is within every church in which people make their confessions.  Only from a historical perspective (thus not on the basis of his personal experiences) does a scholar take religion into careful consideration, with a reverential seriousness.  But even when he raises his feeling for religion to gratitude, he does not come any closer to church or piety—possibly quite the opposite.  The pragmatic indifference for religious matters in which he was born and raised is sublimated to a carefulness and purity that avoids contact with religious people and religious affairs.  It can be the depth of his tolerance and humanity that brings him to evade the subtle crises that come with such tolerance.  Each age has its own divine naivete of which other ages might be envious.  And how much naivete, how much admirable, childish, and unrestrainedly stupid naivete lies in the scholar’s feeling of superiority!  In the good conscience of his tolerance, in the cluelessly simplistic surety with which his instinct deals with religious people as if they were an inferior and debased kind of people!  Over which he is grown out, away, upward—he, the little presumptuous dwarf and mob-man, the busy-nimble head-worker and hand-worker of “ideas,” of “modern ideas”!

 

59. Whoever has looked deeply into the world can guess the wisdom that resides in the superficiality of human beings. It is their self-preservative instinct that teaches them to be elusive, light, and false. Here and there, among artists and philosophers, there is discoverable a passionate and exaggerated worship of “pure forms.”  Let no one doubt that whoever, in such a manner, needs the culture of the superfice once grabbed what was beneath the surface, with unfortunate results.  Perhaps there is even a hierarchy among such burnt children, these innate artists, who can only enjoy life by intending to falsify its image (as if it were a protracted revenge against life).  One can induce the degree to which they are sick of life from the extent to which they want to see its image falsified, diluted, pushed-into-the-beyond, deified.  One can count the homines religiosi as the highest rank of the artists.  It is the deep, suspicious fear of an irremediable pessimism that drives whole millennia to sink their teeth into a religious interpretation of existence.  It is the instinctive fear that suspects that the truth has been seized upon too soon, before the human being has become strong enough, before the human being has become artist enough…  Piety, the “life in God,” thus appears as the final spawn of the fear of truth—the most refined monster to have been spawned from the fear of truth.  It appears as the worshipfulness of an artist, as an artist’s drunkenness, before the most consistent of falsifications, the will to invert the truth into untruth at all costs.  Perhaps there has never been a more powerful means of beautifying humanity than piety.  Through piety humanity can become so much art, so much surface, so much color-play, so much kindliness—so that no one suffers by looking at it anymore.

 

60. To love human beings for the sake of God—until this point, that was the strangest, most dignified feeling achieved by human beings. The love of humanity is a form of stupidity and animality more than anything else (without some kind of sacralizing hidden motive). The addiction to the love of humanity only gets its measure, its refinement, its grain of salt, its tincture of ambergris from a higher addiction.  Whoever it was who first sensed and “experienced” this, even though his tongue might have stumbled as he tried to express it—let him be for all time as holy and as admirable as the one who has flown the highest and who has the most beautifully lost his way!

 

61. The philosopher as we free spirits understand him—as the person who has the most expansive responsibility, as the person who has a conscience for the total development of the human species. This philosopher will make religion work for his own training and education, in the same way that previous political and economic conditions would serve his own interests. The influence that religion can exert on a philosopher’s training and power of discrimination depends on the kind of person who is placed under religion’s spell and shelter.  The influence of religion might be as destructive as it is creative and formative.  For the strong, independent, commanding, prepared, and predetermined philosophers, in whom the reason and the art of a reigning race is corporealized, religion can be a means of overcoming resistances in order to dominate.  Religion as the bond that binds ruler and subordinate together.  Religion as the bond that binds the conscience of the subordinate to the rule.  The most concealed and intimate part of the submissive, that part which the submissive would most like to withdraw from obedience, is revealed to the ruler and becomes answerable to the ruler (thanks to religion).  And in the event that certain individuals from distinguished origins are inclined to a withdrawn and contemplative life, by their lofty spirituality, and only reserve for themselves the gentlest form of dominance (over exceptional young men or monks), religion can also be used as a means of creating quietude—a quietude that is remote from the noise and the bustle of vulgar governance.  Religion can even be used to create a space of purity that is remote from the necessary filth of all politicking.  This is how the Brahmans understood religion, for example.  With the assistance of a religious organization, the Brahmans gave to themselves the power to appoint their kings to the people (Volk), while the Brahmans positioned themselves far away from the people and felt themselves to be human beings with loftier, meta-regal tasks.  In the meantime, religion also gives the ruled the portion of instruction and opportunity they need to someday rule and command themselves.  That is, the rising classes and stations in which, through fortunate marriage arrangements, the strength and the lust for willing, the will to self-mastery, are forever ascending.  To them religion offers incentive and temptation enough to travel down the path of higher spirituality, to try out the affects of the great self-overcoming, the affects of silence and solitude.  Ascetism and puritanism are almost indispensable means of education and ennobling, whenever a race wants to master its mob origins and to work its way up to eventual mastery.  Lastly, as far as average people are concerned, the All-Most, those who are there only to serve, those who are only there for general utility, and who are only permitted to exist for these reasons, religion gives them an inestimable self of complacency with their situation and type.  Religion gives them a multitudinous peacefulness of heart.  Religion ennobles their obeisance; it gives them, and those who are like them, yet another kind of happiness and yet another kind of sorrow.  Religion brings them something like a transfiguration and beautification, something like a justification for their everyday life and for their total degradation, for the total, semi-bestial poverty of their souls.  Religion, and the religious signification of life, smears sunshine over such always-tormented human beings and makes even their own image endurable to them.  Religion has the same effect that the Epicurean philosophy has upon those suffering members of the higher classes; it refreshes, it refines, it exploits suffering, as it were.  Ultimately, it is sanctifying and legitimizing.  Perhaps nothing is so honorable in Christendom and in Buddhism as their art of teaching even the most inferior types of people to use piety to install themselves within a higher illusional order of things and thus make themselves content with the actual order, in which they live hard enough—and precisely this hard life is necessary.

 

62. Finally, of course, in order to give a counterargument against religion, in order to show its terrible counterbalance, and to shed light on its uncanny dangerousness. When religion is not put in the hands of the philosopher, who would use it as a means of training and of education, there is always a fearful and expensive price to pay. Religion sovereignly presides, when it is left to its own devices and becomes its own goal and not one means among other means.  As with any other animal species, humanity has a surplus of misbirths and invalids, the deformed and the fragile, the necessarily suffering.  The best cases in humanity are always the exception, and when taking into consideration that the human being is the not-yet-established beast, the extreme exception.  But it is even worse than that: The more a human being represents the higher type, the greater the improbability that he will turn out well.  The accidental, the law of nonsense in the total economy of humanity, shows its destructive effect on the higher human being—in the most terrifying manner.  The life-conditions of the higher human being are refined, multiple, and difficult to calculate.  So how is this surfeit of failures treated by the two greatest religions?  They seek to sustain, to stabilize in life whatever can be preserved.  Indeed, they are fundamentally on the side of the suffering, as the religion for the suffering; they give the suffering the right to suffer from life as if it were a sickness and want to make every other sensation of life count as false and impossible.  If anyone wants to value this preserving and sustaining solicitude, insofar as it was designed for the highest type of human being, the type that almost always suffers the most: In the total analysis, the sovereign religions belong to the chief causes of the degradation of the “human” type to the lowest levels.  They maintain too much of what should be destroyed.  They deserve inestimable gratitude, and who is too rich in gratitude not to become poor from thankfulness for what, for example, the “spiritual people” of Christendom have done for Europe?  Surely, if they give the suffering consolation, if they give the oppressed and the insecure courage, if they give the dependent a stick to lean upon, if they entice the inwardly destroyed and primitivized to cloisters and prisons of the soul.  What else did they have to do but work on the sustenance of the sick and the suffering with good conscience—that means, in fact and in truth, to work on the deterioration of the European race?  To turn all valuations upside down—that is what they had to do!  And shatter the strong, sicken great hopes, problematize pleasure in beauty!  Every form of self-mastery, everything virile, everything that conquers, every lust for mastery, every instinct that is owned by the highest and well-formed type of “human”—they had to bend all of that, twisting all of it into insecurity, distress over one’s conscience, self-destruction!  Indeed, they perverted the entire love of the earthly and the mastery over the Earth into hatred toward the Earth and the earthly!  That was the task of the Church and they had to set this task for itself until, in its estimation, finally “de-worlding,” “de-sensuousizing,” and “higher human being” melted together into a single feeling!  If someone could survey the amazingly painful, crude-yet-refined comedy of European Christendom with the mocking and detached eye of an Epicurean god, I believe that person would never stop laughing in astonishment.  Does it not seem that a single will over Europe has dominated Europe for eighteen centuries—making of the human being a sublime misbirth?  Whoever has inverted needs, however, whoever is no longer Epicurean but who has a divine hammer in hand—someone who comes across the near-voluntary degeneracy and laming of Christian Europeans (Pascal, for instance)—would he not scream with fury, with pity, with terror: “O you idiots!  You arrogant, pitiful idiots!  What have you done?  Was that work for your hands?  How you shattered and wrecked my loveliest stone!  What did you get out of it?”  I would say: Christendom was unto this point the most calamitous kind of self-elevation.  People who are neither high nor hard enough to form human beings in the way that artists can.  People who are neither strong nor farseeing enough to preside with a sublime self-restraint over the foreground law of the thousandfold failures and destructions.  People who are not distinguished enough to see the abyssal differences in rank, the cleft of rank, between one human being and another.  Such people have, with their “equality before God,” presided over the fate of Europe, until finally a diminutive, almost ludicrous type was chastened into existence.  A herd animal—something good-natured, something sickly, something mediocre—today’s European…

 

FOURTH SECTION.  APHORISMS AND INTERLUDES

 

63. Whoever is a fundamental teacher takes things seriously only in relation to one’s students—even oneself.

 

64. “Knowledge for knowledge’s sake”—that is the last snare laid by morality: thereby we are completely entangled in morality once more.

 

65. The charm of knowledge would be small, if less shame had to be overcome on the way to it.

 

65a.  One is most dishonorable toward one’s god: He is not permitted to sin.

 

66. The tendency of someone who lets oneself be debased, robbed, lied to, and exploited might be the shame of a god among men.

 

67. Love for only one person is a kind of barbarity, for it is exercised at the expense of all other people. This also includes the love for God.

 

68. “I did that,” says my memory. “I could not have done that”—says my pride and remains inexorable. Eventually—memory gives in.

 

69. One has not observed life very carefully, if one has failed to see the hand that gently—kills.

 

70. If someone has character, this means that one has a typical experience—that repeats itself over and over again.

 

71. The Sage as Astronomer—So long as you feel the stars as something “above you,” you lack the eyes of a person of knowledge.

 

72. It is not the strength, but the duration of high sentiments that constitutes the higher human beings.

 

73. Whoever reaches one’s ideal thereby goes beyond it.

 

73a. Many peacocks hide their peacocks’ tails from every eye—and call this their pride.

 

74. A person of genius is unbearable, unless he or she possess at least two other things besides: thankfulness and purity.

 

75. The degree and kind of a person’s sexuality extends to the highest peak of one’s spirit.

 

76. Under peaceful conditions, warlike people assault themselves.

 

77. With principles, someone seeks to tyrannize or defend or honor or abuse or conceal his or her tendencies: Two people with the same principles probably seek fundamentally different things, for that very reason.

 

78. People who reproach themselves still respect themselves as reproachers.

 

79. A soul which knows that it is loved, but does not itself love, betrays its sediment—its lowest elements come up to the surface.

 

80. A matter that is explained ceases to concern us—What did the god mean, the god who gave the advice: “Know yourself!”? Did this perhaps mean: “Don’t be concerned with yourself? Become objective!”?—And Socrates?—And what about the so-called “person of knowledge”?

 

81. It is terrible to die of thirst at sea. Is it necessary for you to salt your truth so that it will no longer—slake thirst?

 

82. “Pity for everyone”—that would be harshness and tyranny for you, my good neighbor!—

 

83. Instinct—When the house is on fire, one forgets one’s dinner.—Yes, but then, one retrieves it from the ashes.

 

87. Restrained Heart, Free Spirit—When one restrains and imprisons the heart, one gives the spirit many freedoms: I said this once before. But no one believed me when I said so, except for those who knew it already.

 

88. One begins to distrust very clever persons when they become embarrassed.

 

89. Terrible experiences raise the suspicion whether the one who experiences them is not also something terrible.

 

90. Hatred and love lighten heavy, melancholy people and bring them for a while to the surface—whereas the others are aggravated by hatred and by love.

 

91. So cold, so glacial, that one burns one’s finger on him! Every hand recoils that lays hold of him!—And precisely for that very reason, many think that he is glowingly hot.

 

92. Who has never, for the sake of one’s good reputation—sacrificed oneself?

 

93. In amiability, there is no hatred of human beings, but precisely for that reason, a great deal of contempt for human beings.

 

94. The maturity of man: that means to have retrieved the earnestness that one had as a child at play.

 

95. To be ashamed of one’s immorality: This is a step on the ladder at the end of which one is ashamed also of one’s morality.

 

96. One should separate from life as Ulysses separated from Nausicaa—blessingly instead of lovingly.

 

97. How is that? A great man? Each time, I see only the actor of his ideal.

 

98. When one trains the conscience, it kisses us at the same time that it bites.

 

99. The disappointed one speaks—“I listened for an echo, and I heard only praise.”

 

100. We all pretend to ourselves to be simpler than we are: We relax ourselves from our fellow human beings thereby.

 

101. A person of knowledge could easily feel himself, these days, to be the animalization of God.

 

102. The discovery of mutual love should really make the lover sober about the beloved. “How is this possible? The person you love is unpresumptuous enough to love even you?  Or stupid enough?  Or—or—”

 

103. The Danger in Fortune.—“Now, everything is turning out for the best for me, from now on, I love every fate—who would like to be my fate?”

 

104. It is not their love of humanity, but the impotence of their love of humanity that prevents the Christians of today from burning us.

 

105. The pia fraus is even more against the taste of the free spirit, the “man of knowledge” (against his “piety”), than the impia fraus. Thereupon the profound lack of understanding with respect to the Church which is characteristic of the “free spirit” types—this is their unfreedom.

 

106. By means of music, the very passions enjoy themselves.

 

107. Once the decision has been made to close the ear against even the best counterarguments: sign of a strong character. Therefore, an occasional will to stupidity.

 

108. There are no moral phenomena, only a moral interpretation of phenomena…

 

109. The criminal is often enough not equal to his deed: He lessens or maligns it.

 

110. The advocates of a criminal are seldom artists enough to turn the beautiful terribleness of the deed to the advantage of the doer.

 

111. Our vanity is most difficult to wound just when our very pride has been wounded.

 

112. To whomever feels himself preordained to contemplation and not to faith, all believers are too noisy and obtrusive: He guards against them.

 

113. “You want to take him in? Then you must be embarrassed before him.”

 

116. The great epochs of our life reside in those moments wherein we win the courage to rebaptize our badness as our best.

 

117. The will to overcome an affect is ultimately only the will of another affect or the will of several other affects.

 

118. There is an innocence of admiration: It is possessed by him on whom it has not yet dawned that he himself might one day be admired.

 

119. The disgust of filth can be so great as to prevent us from cleaning ourselves—from “justifying” ourselves.

 

120. Sensuality often outspeeds the growth of love so much that its root remains weak and easily extirpable.

 

121. It is a delicate matter that God learned Greek when he wished to turn writer—and that he did not learn it better.

 

122. To rejoice when one is praised is, for many, merely a kind of politeness of the heart—and the very opposite of vanity of the spirit.

 

123. Even concubinage has been corrupted:—by marriage.

 

124. Who exults at the stake does not triumph over pain, but triumphs over the fact that no pain is felt where it was expected. A parable.

 

125. When we have to change our impressions of someone, we reprove him severely for the discomfort which he thereby causes us.

 

126. A people is nature’s detour to arrive at six or seven great men.—Yes: and then to circumvent them.

 

128. The more abstract the truth you wish to teach, the more you must entice the senses to it.

 

129. The Devil has the most extensive perspectives on God; on that account, he keeps so far away from him:—the Devil, that is, as the oldest friend of knowledge.

 

130. What a person is begins to betray itself when his talent subsides—when he ceases to show what he can do. Talent is also ornamentation; ornamentation is also a form of concealment.

 

132. One is best punished for one’s virtues.

 

133. Whoever does not know how to find the way one’s ideal lives more frivolously and more impudently than the person who has no ideal.

 

134. From the senses originate all believability, all good conscience, all appearance of truth.

 

135. Phariseeism is not the degeneration of the good human being; a considerable part thereof is rather the condition of all being-good.

 

136. The one seeks an accoucheur for his thoughts, the other seeks someone whom he can assist: a good conversation thus originates.

 

137. In intercourse with scholars and artists, one readily makes mistakes in opposite directions: Behind a remarkable scholar, one finds, not infrequently, a mediocre human being, and behind a mediocre artist, one finds rather often—a very remarkable human being.

 

138. We do the same while waking as while dreaming: We only invent and imagine the person with whom we have intercourse—and then forget it immediately afterward.

 

140. Advice as Riddle—“Unless the ribbon is not to tear—first, you must bite upon it there.”

 

141. The abdomen is the reason that the human being does not so easily take oneself for a god.

 

142. The chastest saying that I have ever heard: “Dans le véritable amour c’est l’âme qui envelope le corps.” [Translation: “In true love, it is the soul that envelopes the body.”]

 

143. Our vanity would like what we do best to qualify as what is most difficult for us to do. Concerning the origin of many moralities.

 

146. Whoever fights with monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster thereby. And when you look too long in an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

 

149. That which an age considers evil is usually an unseasonable echo of what was formerly considered good—the atavism of an old ideal.

 

150. Around the hero everything becomes a tragedy; around the demigod everything becomes a satyr-play; and around God everything becomes—what? perhaps a “world”?

 

151. Having a talent is not enough: One must also have your permission to have it—no? my friends?

 

152. “Where the Tree of Knowledge stands, there is forever Paradise”: so speak the oldest and youngest serpents.

 

153. What is done from love always takes place beyond Good and Evil.

 

154. Objection, evasion, cheerful mistrust, love of mockery are signs of health: Everything unconditional belongs to pathology.

 

155. The sense of the tragic increases and decreases along with sensuality.

 

156. Insanity in individuals is something rare—but in groups, parties, people, ages, it is the rule.

 

157. The thought of suicide is a strong means of consolation: by means of it, one gets through many a bad night.

 

158. To our strongest impulse, the tyrant in us, truckles not only our reason, but also even our conscience.

 

159. One must repay good and bad: but why just to the person who did us good or ill?

 

160. One no longer loves one’s knowledge sufficiently as soon as one has communicated it.

 

161. Poets are shameless with their experiences: They exploit them.

 

162. “Our fellow is no longer our neighbor, but rather the neighbor of the neighbor”—every population thinks this way.

 

163. Love brings to light the highest and concealed traits of a lover—his rare traits, his exceptional traits: By virtue of this fact, love deceives us as to what is his rule.

 

164. Jesus said to his Jews: “The law was for slaves—love God, as I love Him, as His son! What do the sons of God care for morality?”

 

165. With respect to every party.—A shepherd always has need of a bellwether—or he must occasionally be his own wether.

 

166. One might very well lie with the mouth, but the jaws nonetheless tell the truth.

 

167. To severe people, intimacy is matter of shame—and something precious.

 

168. Christendom gave Eros poison to drink—he indeed never died of it, but instead degenerated into Vice.

 

169. Talking about oneself a great deal can also be a means of concealing oneself.

 

170. In praise there is more importunacy than in blame.

 

171. To a person of knowledge, pity has the same laughable effect as putting gentle hands on a cyclops.

 

172. Now and then, one embraces a beloved person out of love of humankind (because one cannot embrace everyone): but that is precisely what may not be revealed to the beloved…

 

173. One does not hate when one disesteems but only when one esteems the hated person as one’s equal or as one’s superior.

 

174. You utilitarians, you only love what is useful as a vehicle for your inclinations—even you actually find the noise of its wheels insupportable!

 

175. Ultimately, one loves one’s desires and not the thing or person desired.

 

176. The vanity of others is only counter to our taste when it is counter to our vanity.

 

177. Concerning what “truthfulness” is, perhaps no one has ever been sufficiently truthful.

 

178. The follies of clever people are never believed: What a renunciation of the rights of humanity!

 

179. We grasp the consequences of our actions by the mane, quite indifferent to the fact that we have “reformed” in the meantime.

 

180. There is an innocence in lying which the sign of good faith in a cause.

 

181. It is inhuman to bless where one is cursed.

 

182. The familiarity of superiors embitters because it may not be returned.

 

183. “I am shaken, not because you lied to me, but because I no longer believe you.”

 

184. There is a haughtiness of goodness which takes on the appearance of wickedness.

 

185. “I don’t like it.”—Why?—“I am not equal to it.”—Has ever a person answered this way?

 

FIFTH SECTION.  ON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF MORALS

 

186. In today’s Europe, moral sensation is just as delicate, old, multifarious, easily stimulable, and refined as “the science of morals” that belongs to it, which is still young, amateurish, vulgar, and thumby. This is an appealing contrast, one that is sometimes visible and corporeal in the person of the moralist himself or herself. Even the phrase “the science of morals” far too arrogant and tasteless in comparison with what it describes, since good taste always prefers more modest expressions than “the science of morals.”  With the greatest rigor, we should admit what is necessary and what will be provisionally correct for a long time in the future: namely, the gathering of materials and comprehensible concepts and the arrangement of a monstrous regime of tender feelings of value and value distinctions—feelings and distinctions that live, grow, reproduce, and die.  Perhaps all of this will be preparatory for a typology of morals (to attempt to make the recurrent and frequent formations of this living crystallization perceptible).  No one was, indeed, this modest before.  All of the philosophers demanded, with a rigid seriousness that brought one to laughter, something loftier, more fastidious, more solemn as soon as they conceived of their morals as a science.  They wanted the grounding of their morals.  And every philosopher since then has believed to have grounded morals.  Morals themselves were considered as a “given.”  How far away from their crass pride was the task of describing morals—this unimpressive-seeming task that was abandoned to the dust and the rot!  Although, for them, no hands or senses could be refined enough for the job!  Because these moral philosophers knew moral facts only crudely, in the form of an arbitrary abstract or in the form of an accidental abbreviation—they knew something about the morality of their own environment, their class, their church, the spirit of their age, their climate, their little stretch of Earth.  Because these moral philosophers were poorly trained with respect to people, with respect to periods of human history, with respect to antiquities—and weren’t even very eager to learn about them.  Because of all this, they never even stared at morality in the face—morality, which only discloses itself when one compares many different kinds of morals.  Every previous “science of morals” has failed to grasp the problem of morality itself, as strange as that might sound.  Even the suspicion is missing—the suspicion that there is anything problematical about morality is missing.  What philosophers called the “grounding of morals” and what they attempted to bring into existence was, seen in the proper light, nothing more than an educated form of good faith in the dominant morality.  What they named the “grounding of morals” was nothing more than a new means of expression—therefore, a factuality within a specific form of morality.  Indeed, in the final analysis, it was a kind of denial that this morality is permitted to even be grasped as a problem to begin with.  And in any case, it is the converse of testing, dissecting, interrogating, and vivisecting this faith.  Hear, for instance, the almost admirable innocence with which Schopenhauer describes his own task!  Draw your own inferences about the scientificity of this “science” from the way in which the Last Master of morality still speaks—he speaks as if he were a child or an old wife!  “The principle,” he says (page 136 of The Foundations of Morals), “the foundational axiom, the content of which all ethicists agree upon: neminem laede, immo omnes, quantum potes, juva—this is actually the proposition that every teacher of ethics has striven to ground…  [It is] the actual foundation of ethics, the philosopher’s stone which has been sought for centuries.”  The difficulty of grounding the proposition cited above might indeed be great.  It is well known that Schopenhauer also was not successful.  Whoever has not fundamentally felt how tastelessly false and sentimentalistic this proposition is, in a world the essence of which is the will-to-power.  Whoever has not felt this should remember that Schopenhauer, even though he was a pessimist, actually played the flute…  Every day, after dinner.  You can read about it in his biography.  And incidentally, one might ask: a pessimist, a repudiator of God, a repudiator of the world who stops at morality?  Someone who assents to morality and who plays the flute to laede-neminem morality?  How could such a person actually be—a pessimist?

 

187. Aside from the worth of such assertions as “There is within us a categorical imperative,” one might pose the question: What does such an assertion say about the one who makes it? There are morals which justify their creators before others. Other morals are meant to pacify him and to make him feel harmoniously at peace with himself.  Some morals are designed to nail him to the cross and to humiliate him.  Through other morals, he wishes to exact revenge.  Through others, he wishes to hide himself; through others, he wishes to transfigure himself and to project himself into the remoteness, into the heights.  One moral allows its creator to forget something; the other serves to sentence him, or something about him, to oblivion.  More than a few moralists impose their power and creative mood on humanity.  Many others—perhaps even Kant—articulate the following understanding through their moralities: “What is most respectable about me is that I can obey—and with you, it shall not be otherwise than it is with me!”  In brief, morals are nothing more than a semiology of affects.

 

188. Every morality is a portion of tyranny against “nature,” against “reason”—in contrast with laisser-aller. That, however, is no objection against morality. You still have to declare from another morality that every form of tyranny and unreason are impermissible.  The most essential, invaluable feature of every morality is that it is a long compulsion.  If you want to understand Stoicism or Port-Royal or Puritanism, you have to call to mind the compulsion which has brought every language to its strength and freedom—the metrical compulsion, the tyranny of rhyme and rhythm.  Look at the distress that every poet and every orator in every population goes through!  Some of today’s prose writers are not exempt from this compulsion, either.  An implacable conscience dwells in their ears.  The utilitarian dolts say, and think that they are clever for saying, that compulsion is “done out of stupidity.”  The anarchists, who think of themselves as “free” and free-spirited, consider compulsion to be “submission to an arbitrary law.”  The amazing fact is, however, that everything on Earth that exists or has existed that has anything to do with freedom, sophistication, boldness, dance, and masterly confidence, whether it is in the realm of thinking or ruling or speaking or persuasion or in the arts or in ethics—all of these things have developed by means of the “tyranny of arbitrary law.”  And for anything that is serious, there is no small probability that it is this which is “nature” and “natural”—and not laisser-aller!  Every artist knows how remote from the feeling of self-abandonment is his “most natural” condition—the free arrangement, the positioning, the joining, the forming that happens in the moments of “inspiration.”  He knows how rigorously and subtly he obeys the thousandfold laws, laws that make a mockery of conceptual formulation on the basis of their severity and determinateness (compared with these laws, even the most fixed concept has something fluid, multiple, ambiguous about it).  To say it one more time, the most essential thing “in Heaven as on Earth,” it seems to me, is obedience for a long time and in a single direction.  By means of this obedience, something comes about that makes life on Earth worth living—in the long run—for instance, virtue, art, music, dance, reason, spirituality, something transfigurative, refined, crazy, and divine.  The long unfreedom of the spirit, the mistrustful restraint that is placed upon the communicability of his thought, the discipline that the thinker inflicts upon himself, whether he is thinking within the constraints of ecclesiastical or courtly guidelines or whether his thinking is based upon Aristotelian presuppositions.  The long intellectual will to interpret everything that happens according to a Christian schema and to uncover the Christian God within every accidental occurrence and to justify every accidental occurrence by reference to the Christian God.  All of this violence, all of this arbitrariness, all of this severity, all of this counter-rationality has been set up as the means through which strength, reckless curiosity, and refined motility have been bred into the European spirit.  Admittedly, an irreplaceable loss of power and spirit also resulted from these constraints; power and spirit had been suppressed, smothered, and ruined (for here as everywhere else, “nature,” as it is, shows itself in its profligate and indifferent magnificence, which is outrageous yet dignified).  For millennia, European thinkers thought that they were proving something.  Today, things are the opposite: Every thinker who “wishes to prove something” raises our suspicions.  The results that were supposed to emerge from their most rigorous contemplation have already long since been established, whether it is Asiatic astrology or, as it is today, the benign Christian-moralistic interpretation of one’s most intimate personal experiences (“for the honor of God” or “for the salvation of the soul”).  Such tyranny, such arbitrariness, such rigorous and grandiose idiocy have educated the spirit.  Slavery is, it would seem, the indispensable means for the cruder and more refined intellects.  Every morality may be viewed in this way: “Nature” is that which teaches us to hate the laisser-aller, the all-too-vast freedom.  “Nature” is that which implants the need for restricted horizons, for narrower tasks.  “Nature” teaches us the narrowing of perspective—and therefore, in a sense, stupidity as the condition of life and the condition of growth.  “You shall obey someone, and you shall obey that person for a long time; otherwise, you will be destroyed and lose your final self-respect.”  This seems to me to be the moral imperative of nature, which is hardly “categorical,” as old Kant demanded it to be (hence, the “otherwise”).  Nor is “nature” directed toward the individual (for what does “nature” care about the individual!).  Rather, “nature” is directed to populations, races, periods of history, classes, and, above all, the whole animal called “the human being.”  “Nature” is directed to the human being.

 

189. The industrious races find it immensely difficult to endure leisure. The sanctification of Sunday was a masterpiece of the English instinct—use the Mass to bore the Englishman so that he lusts after the weekday and the workday, without him being aware of what has happened. The same is the case for the clever invention—and the clever interposition—of the fast.  Something similar can be perceived, in all of its richness, in the ancient world (not to mention within the southern populations, though not with respect to work).  There must be many different kinds of fasting.  Wherever powerful drives and habits dominate, the lawgivers of that society interpolate leap days in which such drives are fettered; thus, the drives learn once more what hunger means.  When regarded from a higher position: Any generation or epoch that seems to be afflicted by any kind of moral fanaticism is embedded with periods of compulsion and fasting in which a drive is cast down and suppressed and yet at the same time learns to purify itself and sharpen itself.  There are even whole philosophical sects that allow such an interpretation (such as the Stoic school in the midst of Hellenistic culture, a culture which was suffused with aphrodisiacal fragrances; there was lewdness in the air).  Here we have a clue to the elucidation of a paradox: Of all periods of human history, why was it within the Christian period—in which Europe in general was under the yoke of Christian value judgments—that the sexual drive (amour-passion) was sublimated?

 

190. There is something in Plato’s morality that doesn’t really belong to Plato. There is something discoverable in Plato’s philosophy, one might say, that exists in spite of Plato. I mean the Socratism that Plato was really too dignified for.  “No one wants to hurt oneself; this means that everything that is bad is involuntary.  For the bad man does injury to himself: He would never do such a thing if he knew that the bad were bad.  Consequently, the bad man is only bad because of an error.  If he removes his error, that makes him necessarily—good.”  The type of inferring stenches of the mob, which only sees the painful consequences of acting badly and actually makes the judgment: “It is dumb to do bad things.”  He identifies “good” with “useful” and “agreeable” just like that!  Anyone who follows the scent of moral utilitarianism to this source will seldom go wrong.  Plato did all he could to interpolate something sophisticated and distinguished into the statement of his teacher—above all, he tried to interpret himself within.  He, the boldest of all interpreters, who treated the whole of Socrates as if it were a popular theme or a folk song that he heard in the alley.  Plato varied this theme into the infinite and the impossible—with all of his own masks and multiplicities.  In jest, one may say Homerically: What is the Platonic Socrates if not prósthe Pláton opithén te Pláton mésse te Chímaira?

 

191. The old theological problem of “faith” and “knowledge”—or, to speak clearer, instinct and reason—therefore, the question of whether the instincts deserve more authority than rationality in the valuation of things. Rationality asks for reasons, for a “Why?” Rationality wants to know how to act and estimate with purposefulness and utility.  It is always the old moral problem as it emerges in the person of Socrates long before Christendom sliced the spirit in two.  Socrates initially put himself on the side of reason, according to the taste of his talent (that of a superior dialectician).  In truth, what did he do throughout his life but laugh at the awkward ineptitude of his noble fellow Athenians, who were people of instinct, like all noble people, and who could never give information on the reasons for their actions?  Ultimately, however, in silence and in secrecy, he laughed at himself: He discovered the same difficulty and ineptitude in himself, with all of his refined conscience and self-interrogation.  What is the purpose, then, he persuaded himself, what is the purpose of freeing himself from the instincts?  Give both the instincts and reason their due—one must follow the instincts and yet persuade reason to assist them with its good reasons.  This was the real fallacy of that great, mysterious ironist.  He made his conscience content with this form of self-deception.  In fact, he saw through to the irrationality within moral judgments.  Plato, who was in such matters innocent and who lacked the shrewdness of the plebeian, attempted (exerting a strength greater than that of any philosopher before him!) to prove that reason and instinct reach the same goal: the Good, “God.”  Since Plato, all theologians and philosophers have trodden the same path.  That is to say, in moral matters, instinct (or as Christians call it, “faith,” or as I call it, “the herd”) dominates.  Descartes, the father of rationalism (and thus the grandfather of revolution), needs to be exempted from the domination of instinct; he accorded all authority to reason.  However, reason is nothing more than an instrument, and Descartes was superficial.

 

192. Whoever pursues the history of any particular science will find a guiding thread in its development. This guiding thread will help one understand the oldest and basest processes of all “knowledge and cognition.” Everywhere hasty hypotheses, fabrications, the stupid good will toward “faith,” the absence of mistrust, patience—all of these things develop first of all.  Our senses learn too late—and never completely learn—how to become subtle, faithful, careful organs of cognition.  It is more comfortable for our eye to reproduce an image that it has often produced before than to fasten its gaze on any new and different impression, given any occasion.  If the eye were to fix its gaze on a new and different impression, that would require more energy, more “morality.”  It is discomforting and difficult for the ear to hear something new; we listen badly when we hear foreign music.  Whenever we hear another language, we involuntarily attempt to reshape the sounds that we hear into words that sound more familiar and more native to us.  For example, the ancient Germans transformed the word arcubalista, which they heard, into Armbrust (“crossbow”).  The new seems inimical and recalcitrant to our senses.  Generally, affects such as fear, love, hatred—this includes passive affects such as laziness—dominate even the “simplest” processes of sensibility.  Just as rarely today does a reader completely read each individual word (or even the syllables) on a page.  Rather, he arbitrarily extracts around five out of every twenty words and “guesses” the sense that presumably belongs to these five words.  Even as rarely do we see a tree comprehensively and precisely as it is, with respect to each leaf and each branch, with respect to every color and every form; it strikes as so much easier to projectively fantasticate an approximation of tree.  We do the same even in the midst of the strangest experiences.  We fabricate for ourselves the greatest portion of our experiences, and it is hardly necessary to force ourselves to regard ourselves as the “inventor” of some process or another.  All of this to say: We are thoroughly and for all time—habituated to lying.  Or, in order to phrase the same thing more virtuously and more hypocritically (that is, more agreeably): We are far more artist than we know.  When engaged in a lively conversation, I often look at the face of the person with whom I am talking.  Every thought that she expresses—or that I believe to have summoned from her—every thought is so clearly and precisely determined before me that it is as if the degree of clarity vastly exceeds the power of my optical faculty.  The delicacy of the play of muscles and the expression of the eyes must have therefore been projectively poeticized by me.  Perhaps this person made an entirely different expression or none at all.

 

193. Quidquid luce fuit, tenebris agit: but also the reverse. What we experience in dreams belongs to the economy of our soul, as if it were something that we “really” experienced (on the proviso that we dream-experience it often enough). Thereby capacitated, we become richer or poorer, have more needs or fewer needs and become finally, in the clear light of day, and even in the most cheerful moments of our waking spirit, a little cosseted by the habits of our dreams.  Presuming that someone flies often in his dreams and, after having so dreamt, becomes conscious of the power and the art of flying as it if were his own prerogative, as if he were fortunate to have this talent, which is peculiar to him and worthy of envy.  Such a person, who believes himself capable of actualizing every contour and corner of flight with the gentlest impulse, he who knows the feeling of a particular divine levity, the feeling of a “Go up!” without tension or compulsion, the feeling of a “Go down!” without condescension or degradation—without gravitas!—how could such a person who has such dream-experiences and dream-habits, how could such a person not find the word “fortunate” differently colored and differently defined in his waking day?  How could every other kind of “flying”—the “swinging upward,” as the poets describe it—not seem too terrestrial, muscular, violent, even too “heavy” for him?

 

194. The diversity of human beings displays itself not merely in the diversity of their Tables of Goods (that is, the way in which they consider certain goods to be worthy of striving after and the disagreements among them over the More and the Less, the hierarchy of commonly recognized goods). The diversity of human beings shows itself much more in the different ways in which they consider what counts as a genuine appropriation, what it means to really have something. With respect to a woman, for instance, more modest men regard disposition over her body and sexual enjoyment to be a sufficient and satisfactory sign of having, of possession.  Someone who has a more mistrustful and fastidious thirst for possession will see the “question mark” in the above definition; he will see the mere appearance of possession within and will demand a more meticulous examination in order to know not merely whether the woman belongs to him alone, but to know that she has abandoned everything that she has or that she would like to have.  Only this qualifies as “possession” for him.  A third man, however, would not consider this to be the end of his mistrust and desire for ownership.  He asks himself whether the woman, even if she abandons everything for his sake, is not doing so for a phantasmal version of himself.  Above all, he wants to be fundamentally—even abyssally—known by her before he is loved by her at all.  He dares to allow himself to be found out.  Only then does he feel in total possession of the beloved—when she is no longer deceived by him, when she loves him for his devilry and hidden insatiability as much as she loves him for his kindness, patience, and intellectuality.  Another would like to possess an entire population—and all of the higher arts of Cagliostro and Catilina are appropriate to this purpose.  Another who has a delicate thirst for possession says to himself: “Never deceive where you would possess.”  He is irritated by the idea, made impatient by the idea that a mask of himself rules the hearts of the people.  “Therefore, I must make myself known and, before all else, know myself!”  Among serviceable and benevolent people a vulgar guilefulness appears almost regularly—those whom they help must first be “dressed up” in order to receive their help.  As if the unfortunate, for instance, should “earn” their help.  As if those who demand their help should be profoundly grateful for their help.  As if those who demand their help should prove themselves to be dependent, submissive.  With these imaginings, they dispose themselves over the unfortunate as if he were their possession—as if they were benevolent and serviceable people merely out of their desire for possession.  These people are jealous when someone crosses them while they are helping or when someone helps an unfortunate before they do.  Parents involuntarily do something similar with their children—they call it “education.”  No mother doubts in the core of her heart that the child was born to be her property.  No father contests his right to subject the child to his conceptions and valuations.  Indeed, formerly, it seemed easy for fathers to dispose over the life and the death of the neonate (as it was with the ancient Germans).  And as it was with the father, now the teacher, the social station, the priest, the prince sees within every new person the surefire opportunity for a new possession.  From which it follows…

 

195. The Jews—a people “born into slavery” (as Tacitus and the entire ancient world says; “the chosen people of all people,” as they say themselves and as they believe). The Jews accomplished that miraculous inversion of values thanks to which life on Earth has acquired its new and dangerous charm. Their prophets coalesced the concepts “rich,” “godless,” “evil,” “violent,” “sensuous” into a single concept and recoined the word “world” as an insult.  Within this inversion of values (to which belongs using the word for “poor” as if it were a synonym for “sacred” and “friend”) dwells the significance of the Jewish people: With it begins the slave revolt in morality.

 

196. It may be inferred that there are innumerable dark bodies near the Sun—bodies that we have never seen. Between us, that is a parable. And a psychologist of morals reads the whole of celestiography as nothing more than a parable.  And as a semiology, which is silent about so much.

 

197. Animal predators and human predators (such as Cesare Borgia) are fundamentally misunderstood, “nature” is misunderstood, so long as we are looking for “sickliness” at the core of the healthiest tropical monsters and vegetative growths. We do not understand them at all when we go looking for a “Hell” that would be born within them—as almost all moralists thus far have done. Does it not seem that the moralists hate the primeval forest and the tropics?  And does it not seem that they consider the “tropical human” to be a disease and a kind of human degeneracy, as if the “tropical human” were its own Hell and self-torment?  Why, then?  In favor of the “temperate zones”?  In favor of the “temperate humans”?  In favor of the “moralists”?  The mediocre?  This for a chapter entitled “Morality as Timorousness.”

 

198. All of these morals directed at individuals in order to foster their “happiness,” as it is called. What are these morals other than proposals on how to behave in relation to the degree of danger in which an individual lives with himself / herself? They are prescriptions against the passions, their good and bad tendencies, inasmuch as they have the will-to-power and want to play the master.  Artifices large and small, clever stratagems large and small—the reek of old household appliances clinging to them, the wisdom of old ladies attached to them.  All of them have a baroque and irrational form, since they are applied to “everything”—since they generalize, where one is not permitted to generalize.  All of them speak absolutely; all of them are taken absolutely.  All of them are seasoned with more than just a grain of salt; moreover, they are only tolerable, and even become seductive, when they are over-seasoned and stench dangerously of “otherworldliness,” above all.  Considered intellectually, they are worth little and are hardly “scientific,” much less “wise.”  Rather, to say it one more time, and to say it three more times: Smartness, smartness, smartness intermeshed with stupidity, stupidity, stupidity.  Whether it is the advice or the curative of the Stoics—indifference and stone-column coldness toward the fiery foolishness of the affects.  Or whether it is the laugh-no-moreness and cry-no-moreness of Spinoza, who naively advocated for the destruction of the affects through analysis and vivisection.  Or whether it is the toning-down of the affects to a harmless middle ground where they could be easily satisfied, as it is in moral Aristotelianism.  Even morality as the gratification of the affects through a deliberate dilution and spiritualization, in the symbolism of the arts.  Something like this is done in music or divine love or love of humanity for the sake of God.  For in religion the passions obtain their civil rights again, provided that…  There is smartness, smartness, smartness, and stupidity, stupidity, stupidity, ultimately, even in that accommodating and spirited surrender to the affects taught by Hafis and Goethe, that bold slackening of the reins, that spiritual-corporeal licentia morum in the exceptional cases of wise fogies and sods for whom “little is dangerous anymore.”  This, too, for the chapter “Morality as Timorousness.”

 

199. For as long as there have been human beings, there have also been human herds (generations, communities, lineages, populations, states, churches); moreover, there have always been masses of obedient subordinates in relation to a small number of commanding leaders. Taken from this perspective, therefore, it has always been obedience that has been practiced by—and bred within—human beings. One may easily posit that, on average, there is a need which is innate within human beings, a kind of formal conscience that gives the order: “Thou shalt absolutely do this thing.”  Or: “Thou shalt absolutely forbear from doing this thing.”  In brief: “Thou shalt.”  This need strives to satiate itself and to fill itself with content.  The need for obedience absorbs whatever a commander screams in its ear, no matter who that commander might be—whether that commander is a parent, a teacher, the law, class judgment, or public opinion.  It seizes and assumes these orders as indiscriminately as a crude appetite would, according to its own strength, impatience, and intensity.  This strange delimitation of human development is based on the fact that the herd instinct is inherited best and at the cost of the art of commanding (manifestations of the herd instinct include hesitations and prolongations, frequent retrogressions and rotations).  Imagine: If this instinct proceeds to its final excesses, there will be an absence of commanders and independent human beings.  Or the commanders and independent human beings will suffer inwardly from a bad conscience and will need to deceive themselves into believing that they are commanding when they are only obeying.  Such is the actual state of affairs in Europe: I call it the moral hypocrisy of the commandant.  The only way that they know how to shield their bad consciences is acting as if they were the executors of older or loftier commands (from their ancestors, their constitutions, their rights, their laws, or even their God).  Sometimes, to protect themselves from their bad consciences, they even borrow herd ways of thinking or herd maxims, such as “the first servant of the people” or “instrument of the common good.”  On the other hand, today’s European herd human gives the appearance of being the only human who is permitted to extol those traits which make him tame, congenial, and useful to the herd as the only actual human virtues (thus, sense of commonality, benevolence, considerateness, industriousness, moderation, modesty, indulgence, pity).  For those cases, however, in which one believes that one cannot dispense with a leader and bellwether, today, one makes experiment after experiment in replacing that commander by adding together a herd of clever herd humans.  Such is the origin, for example, of all representative constitutions.  What a benevolent act for those European herd animals!  What a redemption from intolerable pressure when someone appears who can give absolute commands to the European herd animals!  The effect of Napoleon’s appearance is the final piece of major evidence of this fact.  The history of Napoleon’s influence is almost the history of higher happiness brought about in the most valuable human beings and moments in the whole of the current century.

 

200. Any person who lives in this age—the age of disintegration, in which races are thrown together. Such a person has multiple heritages in his or her body. This means that s/he has contradictory drives and standards (and often, more than merely contradictory drives and standards).  Drives and standards that fight with one another and seldom give any peace.  Such a person—a person of late-born cultures and fractured lights—will often be a weak person.  His fundamental desire is that the war which he is will come to an end.  Happiness, for him, seems to be primarily the happiness of placidity, the happiness of unperturbedness, the happiness of satiety, the happiness of the final unity—as the “Sabbath of Sabbaths,” to quote the sacred rhetor St. Augustine, who was himself such a person—in harmony with a pacifying medicine and way of thinking (for instance, the Epicurean or Christian).  However, if contradiction and war work in such a nature as if they were stimuli and additional prompts to life.  If there is genuine mastery and elegance in the war with the powerful and irreconcilable drives within him (thus, inherited and bred self-mastery and the outwitting of oneself).  If all of these things are present, then there will germinate magically the most incomprehensible and unthinkable creature.  The Riddle Human—the one who is predetermined for victory and seduction, the most beautiful expressions of which is Alcibiades and Caesar.  (I would like to include in their company the first European, according to my taste: Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen.  Among artists, perhaps I would include Leonardo da Vinci.)  All of these Riddle Humans belong in the same epochs in which the weaker type, with his demand for relaxation, treads in the foreground.  Both types belong to each other and originate for the same source.

 

201. As long as usefulness, especially herd usefulness, dominates moral judgments. As long as one’s gaze is directed at the preservation of the community. As long as the “immoral” is considered to be whatever seems to endanger the survival of the community—there can be no “morality of neighborly love.”  Suppose that there is already the constant practice of considerateness, pity, equity, gentleness, reciprocity of helpfulness.  Suppose that in the current state of society, all of the drives that will later be described with the honorable title of “virtues” (and will almost coincide with the concept of “morality”)—suppose that these drives are already active and do not belong at all to the realm of moral valuations; they are extra-moral.  An act of pity, for instance, in the best days of Rome, was neither good nor evil, and if it was praised for what it was, that praise would coincide, in the best cases, with a kind of involuntary deprecation, as soon as that act was held up as something that promoted the common good, as something that served the res publica.  Ultimately, the “love of the neighbor” is always something irrelevant, partly conventional, and arbitrary-phenomenal in relation to the fear of the neighbor.  After the structure of society is established, as a whole, and seems to be secured against external dangers, the fear of the neighbor creates yet new perspectives of moral valuation.  Certain strong and dangerous drives—such as the lust for endeavor, daring adventurousness, the addiction to vengeance, slyness, rapacity, the lust for domination—were not only honored (under other names) but cultivated and bred.  (Because the whole of society was in danger, and protection against enemies was needed.)  Now the dangerousness of these drives is felt to be double—now there are no longer escape valves for them to be released.  Gradually, they are marked as “immoral” and surrendered to defamation.  Now the opposing drives and inclinations are raised to status of moral honor.  Step by step, the herd instinct draws its conclusion.  This is the moral perspective, regardless of how much or how little danger to the community or to equality there dwells within an opinion, in a state, in an affect, in a will, in a talent.  Fear is yet again the mother of morality.  When the highest and strongest drives explode in passion, driving the individual far over the average and far above the depressions of the herd conscience, the self-esteem of the community is wrecked.  Its belief in itself—its backbone, as it were—is shattered.  As a result, these are the drives that are stigmatized and defamed.  Lofty, untrammeled intellectuality, the will to stand alone, and the great reason are all perceived as dangerous.  Everything that elevates the individual above the herd, everything that terrifies will be called “evil” from now on.  The cheap, the modest, the orderly, the equalizing mentality, the mediocrity of desires are given moral names and honors.  Finally, under peaceable conditions, the opportunity and the necessity of educating the feelings of strength and severity are lacking more and more.  And now every form of severity, even in justice, perturbs the conscience.  A lofty, difficult aristocratic attitude is almost considered to be offensive and awakens mistrust, as does self-responsibility.  It is “the lamb” that wins respect—no, better, “the sheep.”  There is a stage of pathological pulverization and tenderization in the history of society—when society takes sides with those who do it injury, with criminals.  And it does so earnestly and honestly!  Punishment: That seems somehow illiberal to this society.  It is certain that the ideas of “punishment” and “deserving punishment” cause this society pain, are terrifying to this society.  “Isn’t it sufficient to make him harmless?  Why should there be more punishment?  Punishment is itself terrible!”  With this question herd morality—the morality of timorousness—draws its final conclusion.  Assuming that one could even abolish the danger, the ground of all fear altogether.  Even then, one would abolish morality along with it!  It would no longer be necessary!  It would no longer consider itself necessary!  Whoever tests the conscience of today’s European will extract the same imperative from one thousand moral folds and pockets, the imperative of herd timorousness: “We wish that there would somehow finally be nothing more to fear!”  Somehow finally—the will and the way to that point is called today everywhere in Europe “progress.”

 

202. Let us say once more what we have said one hundred times before, for the ears are not well-inclined to such truths, for our truths. We have long since known how offensive it sounds when we reckon human beings to be animals, without ornamentation or metaphor. Blame will almost be attributed to us for referring to human beings of “modern ideas” with the expressions “herd,” “herd instinct,” and so forth.  What is to be done about this?  We cannot do otherwise, for herein dwells our new insight.  We have found that wherever the European influence is dominant, all of the main moral judgments of Europe are unanimous, and this includes the countries that are allied with Europe.  What Socrates believed not to know, and what the famous snake once promised to teach, is apparent in Europe: Today’s Europeans “know” what is good and what is evil.  Now it must be difficult to listen to, it must sound terrible to one’s ears, when we repeatedly admit: What we believe that we know, what is exalted with praise and with blame, what is called “good” is the instinct of that herd animal called “human being.”  The herd instinct is coming to the fore, exerting preponderance, supremacy over the other instincts, in accordance with the growing physiological approximation and alignment of which it is the symptom.  Morality, in today’s Europe, is herd-animal morality.  Therefore, as we come to understand things, it is a kind of human morality beside which, before which, and after which many other higher moralities would exist or would be made possible.  Against such a new “possibility,” against such a new “Thou Shalt,” this morality directs all of its forces.  It says stubbornly and inexorably: “I am morality itself, and nothing is outside of my morality!”  Indeed, with the assistance of religion, which sublimates and flatters herd-animal desires, things have come to the point at which this morality is constantly and visibly expressed in political and social institutions: The democratic movement inherits Christian morality.  The tempo, however, is too slow and torpid for the impatient, for the sick, and for those who are addicted to the aforementioned instinct.  Evidence can be found in the raving yowls, in the forever-bared teeth of the anarchistic dogs that course through the streets of European culture, in seeming opposition to the peacefully laboring democrats and revolutionary ideologues, in even greater opposition to the idiotic philosophasters and monastically exalted ones who call themselves “socialists” and who want the “free society.”  In truth, however, all of these forms are united in their fundamental and instinctive enmity toward every social form other than that of the autonomous herd (to the point that even the socialistic formula ni dieu ni maître is rejected, even the concepts of “master” and “slave” are rejected).  They are all one in their resistance against every exceptional claim, every exceptional right, and that every exceptional privilege (which means, in the final analysis, they are against every right, since when All are equal, no one needs “rights” anymore).  They are all in one in their mistrust toward punitive justice (as if it were the violation of the weak, a wrong against the necessary consequence of all earlier societies).  But even so, they are all one in the religion of pity, of commiseration for whatever feels, lives, and suffers (all the way up to animals, all the way up to “God”—the excessiveness of pity for “God” belongs to a democratic epoch).  They are all unanimous in their shrieking and in the impatience of their pity, in their mortal hatred of suffering in general, in their almost feminine impotence to remain spectators and to allow suffering to happen.  They are unanimous in their involuntary benightedness and tenderization, under which Europe seems to be threatened by a new Buddhism.  They are one in their faith in the morality of common pity, as if it were morality itself, as if it were the height, the attained height of humanity, the unanimous hope for the future, the means of consolation for those who live in the present, the great dissolvent of all past guilt.  They are all one in their faith in the community as the dissolveress—they are all in one in their faith in the herd, therefore, in their faith in themselves…

 

203. Those of us who are of another belief. We who do not see the democratic movement as merely the debasement of political organization but as the diminution of human beings, as their banalization and as the degradation of their worth. Where do we need to reach with our hopes?  Toward new philosophers, there is no other choice.  Toward minds that are strong enough and original enough to incite oppositional valuations.  Toward minds that are strong enough and original enough to revaluate, to invert “eternal values.”  Toward those who were sent out before us.  Toward the human beings of the future, who, in the present, tie the knots and compel the Will of Millennia down new paths.  To teach the future of humanity to human beings as their will.  The future of humanity as dependent on the human will.  To prepare for great risks and for the total experiment of discipline and breeding—so that the dreadful hegemony of nonsense and arbitrariness which was once named “history” will come to an end.  The nonsense of the “greatest number” is only its terminal form.  For this purpose, someday, a new type of philosopher and commander will be necessary.  Whatever hidden, frightening, and benevolent spirits have existed, they will seem pale and dwarfish in comparison with this image.  The image of such a leader that floats before our eyes—may I say it aloud, my fellow free spirits?  The circumstances that are required for the origination of the leader must partly be created, partly be taken from other sources and exploited.  The most probable means for such a soul to grow up to its greatest height and violence, the most likely tests for it to undergo, in order for such a soul to feel the compulsion of these tasks.  The new pressure, the new hammer of such a revaluation of values will steel the conscience and transmute the heart into iron so that it might bear the weight of such a responsibility.  On the other hand, the necessity of such leaders, the terrifying danger that they might be absent or fail and degenerate—are those our real cares and darkenings.  Do you know this, my free spirits?  These are the heavy, distant thoughts and thunderings that slip across the skies of our lives.  Few pains are as sensitive as the pain of having once seen or sympathized with an extraordinary human being who has derailed and degenerated—or even having surmised that such a thing once happened.  However, whoever has an exceptional eye for the total danger that “humanity” itself will degenerate.  Whoever recognizes the monstrous contingency, as we do, that has been playing games with the future of humanity thus far.  A game in which neither hand nor the “finger of God” has ever played along!  Someone who surmised the catastrophic undoing inherent to the stupid unwittingness and confidingness of “modern ideas.”  Even more, the stupid unwittingness and confidingness that lies concealed within the whole of Christian-European morality.  Such a person suffers from an anxiety with which no other anxiety can be compared.  He grasps in a single glance what could be bred in humanity—with the favorable accumulation and intensification of force and task.  He will know with all of the science of his conscience how humanity has still not exhausted its greatest possibilities.  He will know how often the human type has already stood before enigmatic decisions and new paths.  He will know well, from his most painful memories, what a miserable thing it is when a person of the highest rank shatters, fractures, sinks down—when this happens to someone who is in the process of becoming.  The total degeneracy of humanity, humanity’s degeneration to the status of what the socialistic morons and shall0wheads call the “human of the future,” appears as their ideal!  This degeneration and minimization of human beings to complete herd animals (or, as they say, to humans of the “free society”)!  This animalization of humanity to dwarfish beasts, with their equal rights and claims is possible.  There is no doubt of it!  Whoever has thought this possibility through to the end will no longer feel nausea, unlike other people.  Perhaps s/he will know a new task!

 

SIXTH SECTION: WE SCHOLARS

 

204. At the risk that our moralizing will seem to be what it always has been—namely, an undiscouraged montrer ses plaies, to quote Balzac—I will dare to countervail against the unseemly and injurious displacement of rank between science and philosophy, which today, with the best conscience, is threatening to be installed. I mean that one must have the right to speak from experience on the loftier question of rank—and experience always signifies, it seems to me, bad experience. One must have the right to speak from experience in order not to speak in the way that the blind speak about colors or the way in which women and artists speak of science (“Oh, this terrible science!” sigh their instinct and their shame.  “It always goes down to the root!”).  The scientist’s declaration of independence, his emancipation from philosophy, is one of the more sophisticated aftereffects of the democratic essence and non-essence.  The self-mastery and self-elevation of the scholar is today everywhere in its fullest bloom, in its finest springtime (this does not mean that, in this case, his self-praise smells pleasant).  “Freedom from all masters!”  This is what the mob instinct wants—and after science turned against theology with the most fortunate success (science was the “maid” of theology for too long), now science is legislating philosophy and playing the role of its “master” with the greatest arrogance and incomprehension.  What am I saying?  The scientist is playing the role of the philosopher.  According to my memory (this is the memory of a scientific man, if I may say so), I have heard young explorers of nature and older doctors talking about philosophy and philosophers, their words teeming with arrogant naiveties (not to mention the most educated and illusioned of all scholars, the philologists and schoolmen, who are educated and illusioned by profession).  Soon the specialists and the loafers instinctively resisted all synthetic tasks and capacities.  Soon the industrious laborers scented the otium and elegant voluptuousness of the philosopher’s household of the soul and felt reduced and belittled.  Soon came the color blindness of the pragmatists who saw nothing in philosophy other than a sequence of refuted systems and an extravagant expense that would never do anyone “any good.”  Soon sprang up the fear of camouflaged mysticism; soon sprang up the justification of the limits of cognition.  Soon came the disrespect toward individual philosophers, which had been unwittingly generalized to a disrespect toward philosophy itself.  Finally, I discovered beneath the arrogant denigration of philosophy the terrible aftereffects of what a certain philosopher himself had done.  One no longer was submissive to this particular philosopher, but neither did one escape the spell of his dismissive evaluations of other philosophers.  The result was a bad feeling about all philosophy.  (Such seemed to me, for example, Schopenhauer’s aftereffect on contemporary Germany.  With the unintelligent wrath that he spewed at Hegel, Schopenhauer made the last generation of Germans break away from German culture.  Everything considered, German culture of the recent past was the zenith and divinatory refinement of the historical sense.  However, Schopenhauer himself was impoverished, unreceptive, un-German to the point of ingeniousness in this matter.)  All things considered, the damage inflicted on the once-respectable reputation of philosophy might have to do with the human-all-too-humanness (that is, the miserable character) of contemporary philosophy, which has opened the door to the instinct of the mob.  One recognizes the degree to which our modern world has strayed from the Heraclitean type, the Platonic type, and the Empedoclean type (or whatever these regal and magisterial hermits of the spirit might have been called).  We should acknowledge the good reasons why such representatives of philosophy, thanks to the fashions of the time, are brought up and brought down—for instance, the two Lions of Berlin, the anarchist Eugen Dühring and the amalgamist Eduard von Hartmann.  We should acknowledge the good reasons why a decent person of science would feel oneself to be of a superior type and lineage to those philosophers, especially the mishmash philosophers who call themselves “philosophers of reality” or “positivists” (those who inspire a dangerous mistrust of philosophy in the soul of a young, ambitious scholar).  Such philosophers are, in the best case, themselves scholars and specialists (one can feel it!).  They are all defeated by science and then re-subjected to science.  Science somehow wanted more from them without a right to this “more” and without a responsibility for this “more.”  And now, worshipfully, wrathfully, vengefully, philosophy represents a lack of belief in the master-task and the masterfulness of philosophy, in word and deed.  Finally, how could it be otherwise?  Science blossoms today, its good conscience bountifully visible.  By contrast, contemporary philosophy is gradually sinking.  The remains of philosophy inspire mistrust and a lack of confidence, if not outright mockery and pity.  Philosophy has been reduced to “epistemology.”  Essentially, this is nothing more than a meek epochism and doctrine of temperance.  A philosophy that is not permitted to traverse the threshold and awkwardly denies entrance.  That is philosophy in its dying breath, a finality, an agony, something that incites pity.  How could such a philosophy—dominate?

 

205. There are, in truth, so many dangers today to the development of the philosopher that one has reason to doubt whether such a fruit can ever ripen. The tower of the sciences has grown to monstrous proportions and with it, the likelihood that the philosopher will tire of learning or will stop learning altogether and instead “specialize.” The result will be that he will never reach his height—and never be able to survey, to look around, to look down.  Or he will reach his height too late, when his best time will long have been over, and his energy will long have been expended.  Or he will become so damaged, vulgarized, degenerated that his vision, the totality of his value judgments, will mean very little anymore.  Even the refinement of his intellectual conscience hesitates and causes him to hesitate.  He becomes afraid of the seductions of dilettantism, of the millipede with its thousand feelers.  He knows all too well that anyone who loses one’s self-respect no longer commands as a knower, no longer leads.  He would be forced to become a great actor, a philosophical Cagliostro and ratcatcher of spirits; in short, he would become a seducer.  Ultimately, it comes down to a question of taste—if not a question of conscience.  And to redouble the difficulties of the philosopher, he is required to give a judgment, not on the sciences, but on life and on the value of life—he is required to give a judgment, a “Yes” or a “No.”  He is reluctant to believe that he has the right, much less the obligation, to have such a judgment.  He believes that he would have to search through the most comprehensive range of experiences—perhaps even through the most disturbing and destructive experiences before coming to this right, to this belief.  And he believes that he would have to do so hesitantly, doubtingly, mutely.  In fact, the crowd has misinterpreted the philosopher for a long time; they have confused him with the religiously exalted, desensibilized, “desecularized” fanatics and God-intoxicated drunkards.  And even today, one hears someone being praised for living “wisely” or for living “as a philosopher lives.”  This means nothing more than “smart” and “distant.”  Wisdom: To the mob, that seems a form of elusion.  A trick.  A means of getting oneself out of a nasty game.  However, the real philosopher lives “unphilosophically” and “unwise”—doesn’t it seem so to us, my friends?  Above all, the real philosopher lives uncleverly and feels the weight and duty of one hundred experiments and temptations of life.  He constantly risks himself, he plays the nasty game…

 

206. In relation to the genius, that is, in relation to a creature who creates or births (both words should be taken in their widest application), the scholar is a scientific commoner. He has something of the old maid about him. After all, he doesn’t know how to participate in the two most valuable human activities.  People admit that both the scholar and the old maid are respectable—and one emphasizes this admission—but this is, as it were, a kind of compensation.  One is annoyed by the fact that one is compelled to make this concession.  Let us look at this matter a bit more precisely: What is the scientific person?  Above all, he is an undistinguished type of human.  Someone with the virtues of an undistinguished type of human—that is, someone who is not dominating, not authoritarian, and also not self-sufficient.  He is industrious.  He patiently arranges things in sequences and in rows.  In whatever he can do and must do, he is regular and measured.  He has an instinctive understanding of those who are like he is and for what they require.  He requires, for instance, a portion of independence, a green meadow, the peacefulness without which no work can be done.  He claims honor and recognition (which presuppose acknowledgement, acknowledgeableness), the sunshine of a good name, the constant seal of his worth and his usefulness—this allows him to overcome, again and again, that inner mistrust which lies at the core of all dependent people and herd animals.  The scholar usually has the diseases and the disorders of the undistinguished type.  He is fraught with petty envies and has a lynx’s eye for the coarsest qualities of those whose heights he will never scale.  He is confiding, but in the fashion of someone who lets himself go without ever releasing himself.  And when he is around people who are releasing themselves, he just stands there, colder and more closed-off than anyone in the room.  His eye becomes like a slick, self-withholding lake without a ripple of delight, without a ripple of sympathy.  The nastiest and most dangerous things of which a scholar is capable come from the instinct for mediocrity that characterizes him and his type.  It comes from the Jesuitism of mediocrity which instinctively works on annihilating the uncommon human being and which strives to break the tense bow or—even better!—strives to bend the tense bow.  The bending happens with considerateness—with a gentle hand, of course.  Bending with confiding pity.  That is the real art of Jesuitism, which has always understood how to introduce itself as the religion of pity.—

 

207. Who has not been bored to death with all of this subjectiveness and damned ipseitymosity? However grateful one might be to the objective spirit, and however one might welcome it with gratitude—in the end, however, one must learn to be cautious with one’s gratitude and put an end to the exaggerated celebration of the deselving and depersonalization that the spirit has recently been subjected to, as if it were redemption and transfiguration, as if that were the end in itself. This [deselving / depersonalization of the spirit] has been tending to happen in the Pessimist school, which has its own reasons for honoring “disinterested knowledge.”  The objective person—who, unlike the pessimist, no longer swears and reprobates—is the ideal learner; after one thousand failures and semi-failures, he is the one in whom the scientific instinct blooms.  Assuredly, he is one of the most expensive tools that exist.  He belongs in the hand of the one who has more power than he.  He is only an instrument, as it were.  He is mirror; he has no “self-purpose.”  The objective person is, in fact, a mirror who is used to supplicating itself before anything that wants to be known, with no desires other than those required by knowledge or “reflection.”  He waits until something comes along and then extends himself so tenderly that even the delicate footfalls and sliding-by of spiritual beings will not elude his surface and skin.  What little “personality” he still possesses seems to him supervenient, arbitrary, or, even more often, troubling.  This is the extent to which he has come to see himself as the conduit and reflection of external shapes and events.  He can only conjure the memory of his “self” with great effort, and it is not uncommon for his memories to be inexact.  He easily mistakes himself for other people.  He misunderstands his personal needs, and this is the only place in which he is unsophisticated and inadvertent.  It might happen that he is worried about the well-being of Wife or Friend.  It might happen that he is bothered by the small-mindedness of Wife or Friend.  It might happen that he is annoyed by the claustrophobia-inducing atmosphere that emanates from Wife or Friend.  It might happen that he is concerned about his lack of friends or other social connections.  Indeed, he forces himself to meditate on his torment—but in vain!  His thoughts quickly roam to the more general case, and tomorrow he knows as little as he knew yesterday how to help himself.  He no longer takes himself seriously and no longer has time for himself.  He is sanguine not because he is free from trouble but because he lacks the ability to grasp and handle his trouble.  The inveterate obeisance toward every object and experience, the sunny and placid hospitality with which he accepts everything that strikes him, his brand of inconsiderate benevolence, of dangerous unconcernedness as to “Yes” or “No.”  Alas!  There are enough instances in which he must atone for his virtues!  And as a human being, generally considered, he becomes far too easily the caput mortuum of these virtues.  Should one want love or hatred from him—I mean “love” and “hatred” as God, woman, and animal understand them—he will do what he can and give what he can.  But no one should be surprised if it does not amount to much—if he should show himself precisely on this point to be artificial, brittle, questionable, and decomposable.  His love is forced, his hatred is synthetic—or, rather, un tour de force, a slight display of vaingloriousness or affectation.  He is only authentic to the extent that he can be objective.  Only in his sanguine totalization is he still a form of “nature,” is he still “natural.”  His mirroring and eternally auto-polishing soul no longer knows how to affirm, no longer knows how to negate.  He does not command, nor does he destroy.  With Leibniz, he utters, “Je ne méprise presque rien.”  Don’t ignore or diminish the value of the presque!  Nor is he the model human; he does not go in front of anyone, nor does he ever go behind.  Generally, he puts himself in such a remote position that he never has any reason to truck with Good or Evil.  If he has long been mistaken for a philosopher, if he has long been confused with the Caesarean breeder and autocrat of civilization, he has been granted far too much honor and the essential point about him as been overlooked—he is but an instrument, a slavish thing, though by all means the sublimest kind of slave.  He is, however, nothing in himself—presque rien!  The objective human is an instrument, a precious, easily damaged, easily tarnished measuring instrument and specular art piece that should be taken care of and honored.  But he is no goal, neither escape nor shaft, no complementary man in whom the rest of existence would justify itself, no terminus—and still less a point of departure, a generating, or a first cause.  Nothing sturdy or prepotent.  Nothing set-up-by-itself.  Nothing that wants to be master.  Rather, he is merely a tender, bloated, delicately mobile piece of pottery that is waiting for some kind of form and content.  He is waiting for someone to “shape” him.  All things considered, he is a human without content or form.  A “selfless” human.  Consequentially, he is of no use to women, in parenthesi.—

 

208. I hope that the previous discussion of the objective spirit has made it clear [that he is no skeptic]. When a philosopher of today announces that he is not a skeptic, everyone grows impatient. They look at him with a certain trepidation [on account of his lack of skepticism].  They have so many questions to ask of him, so many questions.  The nervous auditors of his announcement even declare him to be dangerous.  His rejection of skepticism sounds to them as if it were an ominously malevolent boom in the distance, as if a new kind of bomb were being detonated someplace, a kind of spiritual dynamite of the spirit, perhaps a newly discovered Russian nihiline, a pessimism bonae voluntatis, that not only says, “No,” that not only means “No,” but—perish the thought!—does “No!”  Against this so-called “good will”—which is really the will to the actual, active negation of life—there is no better soporific and depressant than skepticism, as is generally acknowledgeable these days.  The gentle, graceful, lulling poppy of skepticism.  Hamlet himself is now prescribed by the doctors as an antidote to the “spirit” and its subterranean murmurings.  “Have our ears not had their fill our bad noises?” the skeptics say, friends of rest, and almost as a kind of security police force.  “Dreadful is the Underground No!  Be silent, you pessimistic moles!”  The skeptic, that is, that fragile creature, frightens so easily.  His conscience is schooled to jolt at every “No!” and even at that decisive, stentorian “Yes!”  That is how conscience is made to feel as if it were a bite.  “Yes!” and “No!”—they seem at variance with morality.  Quite the opposite: He loves to make a festival of his virtue with a kind of noble abstemiousness.  Meanwhile, he asks, perhaps, with Montaigne: “What do I know?”  Or saying, with Socrates: “All I know is that I know nothing.”  Or: “I don’t trust myself; no door is open to me.”  Or: “Even if the door were open, what would be the point of entering?”  Or: “What is the use of premature hypotheses?  It might be more tasteful to withhold making hypotheses.  Why are you obligated to straighten what is crooked?  To stop up every hole with caulk?  Isn’t there time enough?  Does time have time?  Oh, you daemon children, can you not all wait?  Even the uncertain has its charm, the Sphinx, too, is a Circe, and Circe, too, was a philosopheress.”  So does a skeptic console himself, and in truth, he needs some consolation.  For skepticism is the most spiritual expression of a certain multifaceted physiological disposition, which, in ordinary language, is called “weakness of the nerves” and “sickliness.”  It comes about whenever races or lineages which have been long divided suddenly and decisively intermesh with one another.  Everything is disquietude, dementedness, doubtfulness, and tentativeness in the new generation, which has inherited, so to speak, different standards and values in its bloodstream.  The strongest powers function individually.  Each virtue prevents the other from growing and becoming strong; balance, support, and perpendicular stability are missing in body and soul.  It is the will, however, that is most diseased and degenerated in such commoners; they are no longer conversant with independent decision-making or the brave feeling of pleasure in willing—they are skeptical of the “freedom of the will,” even in their dreams.  Today’s Europe is the stage for a mindless, hasty attempt at the radical blending of lineages and consequently of races.  Today’s Europe is thus skeptical from top to bottom, sometimes exhibiting the mobile skepticism which springs impatiently and lustfully from one branch to another, sometimes somberly, as if it were a cloud over-laden with question marks—and often sick to death of its will!  Paralysis of will.  Where do we not find this cripple sitting today?  And yet how bedizened!  How seductively decorated!  These are the finest fancy dresses and masks for this disease.  What is exhibited in the showcase windows as “objectivity,” the “spirit of science,” “l’art pour l’art,” and “pure volitional cognition” is nothing more than bedecked skepticism and volitional paralysis.  I will vouch for this diagnosis of the European disease.  The sickness of the will is distributed unequally over Europe.  It is at its worst and most intricate where civilization has endured the longest, but it decreases wherever “the barbarian” still (or again) affirms his right under the baggy garment of Western culture.  In today’s France, it can be easily perceived and comprehended that the will is most moribund, and France, which has always had a superb talent for transmuting even the ominous crises of its spirit into something enticing and delightful, now blatantly exhibits its intellectual superiority over the rest of Europe by being the school and showcase of all the charms of skepticism.  Moreover, the power of willing and of perseverance in resolution is already somewhat stronger in Germany.  In Northern Germany, it is stronger than in Central Germany.  It is considerably stronger in England, Spain, and Corsica.  It is associated with phlegm in the former and with hardheadedness in the latter.  We should not overlook Italy, which is too young to know what it wants and must first show whether it can exercise will, but it is strongest and most surprising of all in that immense middle empire where Europe as it were flows back to Asia—namely, in Russia.  There, the power to will has been gathered and stored.  There, the will—uncertain whether it is negative or affirmative—waits portentously to be released (to use the language of our physicists).  Perhaps not only Indian wars and complications in Asia would be necessary to emancipate Europe from its greatest danger, but also internal subversion, the dissolution of the empire into small bodies, and above all, the introduction of parliamentary stupidity, together with the obligation for everyone to read one’s newspaper at breakfast.  I do not say this as one who wishes it.  In my heart, I would prefer the opposite.  I mean such an increase in the threatening attitude of Russia, that Europe would have to make up its mind to become equally threatening.  By acquiring a new will, by means of a new Europe-dominating caste.  An insistent, terrible will of its own, that can set its goals thousands of years ahead—so that the long spun-out comedy of its Small Statehood (Kleinstaaterei) and its dynastic and democratic multivolitionality might at last come to an end.  The time for minor politics has passed.  The next century will bring the struggle for the mastery of the world—the compulsion to great politics.

 

209. As to the extent to which the new, bellicose era in which we Europeans have seemingly entered might favor the development of another, stronger form of skepticism: I would like to express myself provisionally by way of a parable, which the friends of German history will surely understand. The questionable, insane father of Friedrich the Great. That mindless enthusiast for handsome grenadiers who had grown into big men.  The man who, as King of Prussia, gave existence to a military and skeptical genius and thereby, in reality, the new, triumphal emergence of the German type.  [Friedrich Wilhelm I] had the finesse and fortunate hand of the genius on at least one point: He knew what was wanting in Germany back then, and he know that this want was one hundred times more anxiety-provoking and urgent than any lack in education or social form.  His resistance to Young Friedrich came from a deep, instinctual dread.  Men were missing.  And the father suspected, to his bitterest annoyance, that his own son was not man enough.  In that, however, he was being self-deceptive.  But who would not have deceived oneself in his position?  He saw his son precipitate into atheism, into esprit, into the agreeable banter of brilliant Frenchmen.  He saw in the background the great vampire, Skepticism the Spider.  He suspected the irremediable misery of a heart that was not hard enough for either Good or Evil.  He suspected a broken will that commands no more, that can command no more.  In the meantime, however, there swelled in his son that much more dangerous and much more severe new kind of skepticism.  Who knows to what degree it was furthered precisely by his father’s hatred and by the glacial melancholy of a will that had become isolated?  The skepticism of audacious virility, which is closely allied to the genius for war and for conquest, make its entrance in Germany in the shape of Friedrich the Great.  It is a skepticism that is contemptuous—yet nonetheless seizes for itself.  It is a skepticism that undermines and takes possession.  It is a skepticism that believes nothing but that does not lose itself thereby.  It is a skepticism which gives the spirit a dangerous liberty but which holds tightly the heart.  It is the German form of skepticism, which, as a Friedrichism that perdured and ascended to intellectuality, has brought Europe for a long time under the subjection of the German spirit and its critical and historical mistrust.  Owing to the indomitably strong and resilient virile character of the great German philologists and historical critics (who, regarded properly, were all also artistes of destruction and corrosion), a new concept of the German spirit gradually stabilized itself.  In spite of all Romanticism in music and in philosophy, the drive toward virile skepticism was decidedly manifest in this new concept of the German spirit.  For instance, in the unfrightenedness of a gaze, in the courageousness and severity of the hand that carves to pieces.  In the resolute will to dangerous voyages of discovery, to intellectualized North Pole expeditions under destitute and dangerous skies.  There may be good reasons for the fact that warm-blooded and superficial humanists make the sign of the cross before this spirit, cet esprit fataliste, ironique, mephistophelique, as Michelet names it, not without shuddering.  However, if one would sympathize with this fear of the “man” that resides in the German spirit which wakes Europe from of its “dogmatic slumber,” let us call to mind the earlier concept of that had to be overcome.  And it wasn’t so long ago that a masculated woman would dare, with unbridled presumption, to commend the Germans as mild, good-heared, weak-willed, and poetic morons to the wider European audience.  Let us finally understand the astoundment of Napoleon when he came to see Goethe.  It reveals what people had thought of the “German spirit” for centuries.  “Voilà un homme!”  Napoleon meant to say: “That is indeed a man!  And I was only expecting a German!”—

 

210. Let us presume that in the image of the philosopher of the future, there is some trait which suggests that he is a skeptic in the aforementioned sense. If that is the case, such a feature [skepticism] designates only one thing about them—it is not something that designates who they are themselves. With the same justice, they might call themselves critics; certainly, they will be experiments.  By the name with which I dared to christen them, I have already explicitly highlighted their experimentation and their passion for experimentation.  Is this not because, as critics both physical and spiritual, they will love to pursue experiments in a new, perhaps broader, and more dangerous manner?  Isn’t it not that, in their passion for knowledge, they venture further in bolder and painful attempts—beyond what the delicate, cosseted taste of a democratic century will condone?  Doubtless these approaching ones will hardly forbear the serious, fastidious qualities that distinguish the critic from the skeptic.  I mean the assurance as to standards of value, the conscious application of a unified method, the reluctant courage, the ability to stand alone, and the ability to be responsible for oneself.  Indeed, the joy in negation and dismemberment will be acknowledgeable among themselves.  They will have a certain cool-headed cruelty which will know how to manipulate the knife with sureness and dexterity—whether the heart bleeds or not.  They will be more severe than humanitarians might like and perhaps not merely toward themselves.  They won’t relate to the “truth” as something that will give them “pleasure,” as something that will “lift them,” as something that will “edify” them.  Rather, they will have little faith that the “truth” could ever furnish such pleasantries.  They will smile, those stern spirits, whenever someone says in their presence: “If a thought lifts me, why should it not be true?” or “If a work bewitches me, why should it not be true?” or “If an artist expands [my sensibilities], why should he not be great?”  Perhaps they will not only smile but be genuinely nauseated by all that is thus exalted, idealistic, feminine, and hermaphroditic, and if anyone looked through the secret chambers of their hearts, one would scarcely find within the intention to coalesce “Christian sentiments” with “antiquarian taste” or even with “modern parliamentarism” (the sort of coalescence necessarily found in our very uncertain and therefore very conciliatory century even among philosophers).  Critical discipline and every habit that leads to purity and rigor in intellectual matters will not only be demanded of themselves by these philosophers of the future.  They might even exhibit it as their ornament—despite this fact, they will not want to be therefore called critics.  If it will be decreed, as is quite common these days, that “philosophy itself is criticism and critical science—and nothing else besides!” philosophers of the future will regard this as no minor scandal afflicting philosophy.  Though such an appraisal of philosophy might enjoy the approval of all the French and German positivists (and perhaps it flattered the heart and taste of even Kant: just call to mind the titles of his major works), our new philosophers will say nonetheless that critics are instruments of the philosopher.  As such, as instruments, they are far from being philosophers themselves!  Even the great Chinaman of Königsberg was only a great critic.

 

211. I insist that people finally stop confusing philosophical workers and scientists with philosophers. I insist that people rigorously adhere to the maxim “to each his due” and not give too much to one and too little to the other. It might be necessary to the education of real philosophers to stand on each of the steps on which his servants, the scientific workers of philosophy, have stood.  Perhaps the real philosopher must have been a critic, a skeptic, a dogmatist, a historian, a poet, a collector, a voyager, a solver of riddles, a moralist, a seer, a “free spirit,” and anything else before circumscribing the expanse of human values and feelings of value.  Before having the ability to look with manifold eyes and consciences from the heights into every distance, from the abyss up to every height, from the narrowness of the corner into the broadness of every vastness.  However, all of this is nothing more than a precondition for his task.  The task itself will be something different.  It is the demand for the creation of values.  Philosophical workers who model themselves on Kant or Hegel begin with a massive cache of valuations.  I mean, value-positings, creations of value, that were once dominant long ago and have long since been called “truths.”  Philosophical workers who imitate Kant or Hegel stabilize these valuations and push them into formulae, whether we are in the realm of logic or politics (morality) or art.  It is incumbent upon such researchers to make everything that has happened or has been estimated thus far surveyable, thinkable, graspable, and manipulable.  To take everything that has been around for a long time—yes, even “time” itself—and abbreviate it.  To overpower the whole of the past.  This is an awesome and wonderworthy task that would satisfy a sophisticated pride and a tough will.  Real philosophers, however, are commanders and legislators.  They say: “So shall it be!”  They are the ones who determine the human “Whereto” and the human “Wherefore” before anyone else.  They are enjoined to do the pre-work before any of the philosophical workers do their work.  Real philosophers reach for the future with the hands of creators.  Everything that is and everything that was becomes for them a means to an end, a tool, a hammer.  Their “cognition” is a form of creating, their creating is legislation, their will is truth—the will to power.  Are there such philosophers these days?  Have there ever been such philosophers?  Shouldn’t there be such philosophers?…

 

212. It has always seemed to me that the philosopher—necessarily, a person of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow—must always find himself in contradiction with his today. His enemy has always been the ideal of today. Until this point, all of these extraordinary investigators of humanity called “philosophers” seldom felt themselves to be friends of wisdom; rather, they felt themselves to be disagreeable fools and pernicious question marks.  Their task has always been being the bad conscience of their time—and this has always been their hard, unwitting, irrefusable task (and yet ultimately, this has been the greatness of their task).  Applying the vivisectional knife to the breast of the virtues of their time, they reveal what their own secret was: to know a new greatness in humanity, to open a new, unridden road to humanity’s magnification.  Each time, they uncover how much hypocrisy, complacency, and wantonness, how much letting-oneself-go and letting-oneself-fall, how many lies are concealed beneath the most honored specimens of contemporary morality.  How much of today’s virtue is obsolete!  Each time, they said: “We have to go out, we have to go out there today, where you feel least at home.”  In the world of “modern ideas” in which everyone is banished into a corner and [crammed into a] “specialization,” a philosopher—assuming that there are any philosophers today—would be impelled to posit the greatness of humanity (the concept of “greatness”) precisely in its expansiveness and manifoldness, in its totality-in-multiplicity.  He would even determine the worth and rank of a human being by how much and how many one could bear and take upon oneself, how far someone could stretch one’s responsibility.  Today’s taste and virtue weaken and dilute the will.  Nothing is more contemporary than the weakness of the will.  Therefore, the concept of “greatness” must include within itself the strength of the will, its toughness and its capacity to make protracted decisions (such a concept must be the ideal of the real philosopher).  With equal justice, an inverted epoch had the converse doctrine and ideal—the doctrine and ideal of a stupid, self-renunciative, humiliated, selfless humanity.  Such a doctrine and ideal was appropriate to the sixteenth century, with its pent-up volitional energy, a century that suffered from the most untrammeled waters and storm-surges of selfishness.  In the time of Socrates, among people with exhausted instincts, conservative Ancient Athenians who let themselves go—for the sake of “happiness,” as they said, for pleasure, as could be seen from how they behaved.  For this purpose, they put worn-out, pompous words into their mouths—words that their lives had no right to.  Perhaps irony toward the greatness of the soul was necessary at such a time—that malicious Socratic assurance of the old physician and man of the crowd.  An irony that mercilessly cut into the flesh, as if into the flesh and heart of the “distinguished,” with a single glance which spoke clearly enough: “Do not disguise yourselves before me!  Here—here we are equal!”  Today, by contrast, in Europe, where all herd animals receive equal honors.  In Europe, where honors are equally distributed.  Where the “equality of rights” all too easily could convert into the equality of wrongs.  I would like to say that there is in today’s Europe an all-out war against everything uncommon, against everything strange, against every privilege, against the higher humans, against the higher souls, against the higher duties, against the higher responsibilities, against the creative plentitude of power, against lordliness.  Today, the concept of “greatness” includes being-distinguished, wanting-to-be-for-oneself, being-able-to-be-other-than-oneself, standing-alone, and being-forced-to-live-by-one’s-own-strength.  And the philosopher will reveal something about his own ideal when he sets forth: “He shall be the greatest who can be the most alone, the most hidden, the most elusive, and the Human Being Who Is Beyond Good and Evil.  He will be master of his virtues, he who is abounding in will.  Just this shall be called greatness: being capable of being as multiple as one is whole.  Being capable of being as broad as one is full.”  And to ask the question once more: Is greatness possible today?

 

213. It is difficult to learn what a philosopher is because it is difficult to teach what a philosopher is. You have to “know” it—from experience—or you have to be proud not to know it. These days, people talk about things of which they can have no experience, especially (and worst of all) when it comes to philosophical affairs.  Few are familiar with matters of philosophy, few are permitted to know them, and every popular opinion about them is false.  So it is with the genuinely philosophical complementarity between a boldly wanton spirituality that runs presto and a dialectical rigor and necessity that never makes a mistake.  This experience [of the complementarity between spirituality and dialectics] is unknown to most thinkers and scholars; if someone were to tell them of it, they would find it incredible.  Most thinkers and scholars think of every necessity as a need, a strenuous having-to-follow and a compelled-to-do-it.  And think itself is, for them, something slow, halting, almost a burden and often enough something “worth the sweat of the noble.”  But not at all as something light and divine and closely allied with the dance and high spirits!  “Thinking,” “taking a matter seriously,” “considering something with gravity”—all of these things belong to one another, according to thinkers and scholars.  Such has been their “experience.”  Even artists might have a finer sense for [the complementarity between spirituality and dialectics].  They know all too well that only when nothing is “voluntary” and everything is necessary do their feelings of freedom, refinement, authority, creative positing, ordering, shaping reach their heights.  In short, they know all too well that necessity and the “freedom of will” are one and the same.  Lastly, there is a hierarchy of states of the soul which corresponds to the hierarchy of problems.  And the highest problems drive away anyone who dares to come too close, mercilessly reverberating anyone who is not intellectually predestinated to their solutions by virtue of one’s stature and power.  What does it matter if, as so often happens today, nimble averageheads and unnimble honest-hearted mechanics and empiricists push on with their plebeian energy as if they were rushing into the Court of all Courts!  No longer may dirty feet tramp upon such a carpet.  The Primeval Law of Things has already taken care of that.  The gates remain shut to these invaders.  May they smash and break their heads against these gates!  One must be born for that lofty world.  To say things more clearly: To have the right to philosophy (taking the word in its broadest sense), one must be bred into it.  One’s right to philosophy comes from one’s heritage, one’s ancestry; one’s “bloodline” is also decisive.  Multiple generations must pave the way for the engendering of the philosopher.  Each one of his virtues must be individually acquired, cultivated, passed down from previous generations, incarnated.  And not merely the bold, light, delicate gait and course of his thoughts.  Above all, his readiness to great responsibilities, the loftiness of his commanding gaze and his downmost look.  His feeling of remoteness from the mob, with all of its obligations and virtues.  The way in which he safeguards and defends, with gentle condescension, whatever is misinterpreted and aspersed and traduced, be it God, be it the Devil.  The pleasure, the practice in great justice.  The art of commanding.  The broadness of his will.  The deliberative eye, which seldom admires, seldom gazes upward, seldom loves…

 

SEVENTH SECTION: OUR VIRTUES

 

214. Our virtues? We probably still have our virtues, but certainly not those squat, true-hearted virtues that our grandfathers held in esteem—virtues that we keep at arm’s length. We Europeans of the day after tomorrow.  We firstborns of the twentieth century.  With all of our deleterious curiosity, with our multisidedness, with our art of disguise, with our friable yet sugary cruelty of spirit and sensuousness.  If we must have virtues, we presumably would only have those that are compatible with our most intimate and most heartful proclivities—with our most flagrant requirements.  Avaunt!  Let us go searching for them in our labyrinths!  Wherein so many things are lost, wherein so many get lost.  And is there anything lovelier than an expedition for one’s virtues?  Doesn’t this almost mean: believing in one’s virtue?  This “believing-in-one’s-virtue”—is this not fundamentally the same thing as what is called the “good conscience”?  That honorable longicaudal concept, that pigtailed concept?  The one that our grandfathers used to wear on the backs of their heads—often enough, they would wear it on the backs of their intellects, too.  However little we might imagine ourselves to be old-fashioned and grandfatherly, in one respect, we are the worthy grandchildren of our grandfathers, we late-born Europeans, with our good consciences.  We, too, wear the pigtails on the backs of our heads.  Oh, if we only knew how soon, how quickly—something different were coming…!

 

215. As in the stellar realm, wherein two suns determine the path of a planet. In certain cases, multichromatic suns illuminate a single planet—now with red light, now with green—then cascade all of their colors upon that planet at once. So are we modern human beings—we are determined by the complex mechanics of our own “starry heavens.”  We are determined by a variety of morals.  Our actions are illumined by alternating colors.  They are seldom unambiguous—and there are enough cases in which we perform chromatic actions.

 

216. Love one’s enemies. I believe that is well-known. There are today thousands of instances of this, big and small.  Indeed, something loftier and more sublime happens now and again.  We learn to despise as we love, especially when we love best.  But all of this is unconscious, noiseless, without pageantry, with the shame and concealedness of kindness, which forbids both solemn words and the formulae of virtue.  Morality as attitudinizing—we find it tasteless these days.  The fact that we find it tasteless is a kind of progress.  Our fathers’ progress was regarding religion as a form of attitudinizing—as something tasteless (this includes the enmity toward religion and the Voltairean bitterness toward religion, as well as everything else that belonged to the dactylology of free spirits back then).  It is the music in our conscience, the dance in our spirit, which is never assonant with the litanies of the Puritans, the sermons of the moralists, or anything relating to the bourgeoisie.

 

217. Watch out for those who invest value in appearing morally tactful and sophisticated in moral decisions! They never forgive us when they slip up in front of us (they are especially unforgiving when they make a mistake concerning us)! They will inevitably and instinctively slander us and insult us, even while remaining our “friends.”  Blessed are the forgetful, for then they, too, will “have done” with their stupidities.

 

218. The French psychologists—where today are there psychologists other than in France? The French psychologists have never ceased savoring, with bitterness and in so many ways, the bętise bourgeoise. It is almost as if they were betraying something about themselves.  Flaubert, for instance, the good citizen of Rouen, ultimately saw, heard, or tasted nothing else.  This was his style of self-torment and refined cruelty.  Now, for a change of pace (otherwise, things would grow boring), I recommend another thing of delight: that is, the unconscious deviousness that all good, fat, upstanding mediocre spirits have toward higher spirits and their tasks.  I mean, that refined, enmeshed, Jesuitical deviousness which is one thousand times more refined than the intellect and taste of these mediocrities in any of their other best moments.  Their deviousness is more refined than even the intellects of their victims, the higher spirits (further evidence that “instinct” is the most intelligent form of intelligence that has hitherto been discovered).  To be succinct: Study, you psychologists, the philosophy of the “rule” in its conflict with the “exception”!  There you will have a spectacle fit for the gods and for divine malice!  Or to be relevant to contemporaneity: Perform vivisection on “good people,” on homo bonae voluntatis!

 

219. Moral judgments and moral condemnations are the favorite form of revenge of the intellectually limited on those who are less limited intellectually. They are also a form of compensation for who are poorly gifted by nature. Finally, they are an opportunity for the poorly gifted to acquire spirit and to become refined.  The spiritualization of malice.  For the intellectually limited, it does their hearts good to know that there is a measure by which they may stand equal to those who are inundated with intellectual gifts; it does their hearts good to know that there is a measure by which they may stand equal to those who are privileged with intellect.  They fight for the “equality of all before God” and almost need the faith in God for this purpose.  The most vigorous adversaries of atheism are among their number.  If someone were to say to them, “The decency and respectability of someone who is merely moral cannot be compared with a high level of intellectuality,” they would be infuriated.  I will be careful not to say that to them.  Rather, I will flatter them with my proposition that a high level of intellectuality is nothing more than the final outgrowth of the moral qualities of which it consists.  Instead, I will tell them that a high level of intellectuality is merely the synthesis of all of those conditions that had been individually acquired by the so-called “merely moral”—conditions that had been acquired through a long process of breeding and practice, perhaps even through a series of generations.  I would tell them, rather, that lofty intellectuality is just the spiritualization of justice and a sort of kindly severity which knows that it is entitled to maintain the order of rank in the world—among things themselves and not just among human beings.

 

220. Given the popularity of the term “disinterested,” one must become conscious of what truly interests people, perhaps not without danger. One must become conscious of the things that fundamentally and profoundly interest the common man—including the educated, even the scholars, and, unless everything is other than what it seems, perhaps even the philosophers. The fact emerges that the majority of what interests higher natures, those with more sophisticated and fastidious tastes, will seem entirely “uninteresting” to the average person.  If the average person notices a preoccupation with it nonetheless, he will name it “désintéressé” and asks himself how it is possible to act “disinterestedly.”  There have been philosophers who knew how to give the popularity [of “disinterestedness”] a seductive and mystical-otherworldly expression.  (Perhaps because they never experienced a high nature?).  Instead of setting forth the naked and honestly simple truth that a “disinterested” action is a very interested and interesting action, provided that…  “And love?”  How is that?  Even an act performed out of love should be “unegoic”?  Oh, you idiots—!  “And the praise for self-sacrifice?”  But who would actually sacrifice himself unless he knew that he wanted something for doing so and would receive something in return—?  Perhaps something from himself in exchange for something for himself.  That he surrendered himself in order to have something more, perhaps to be something more or indeed to “feel” himself as being something more.  But this is a realm of questions and answers in which a distinguished spirit would not to dwell for a long time.  This is precisely the moment at which Truth would have to suppress a yawn, if she had to give an answer.  In the end, Truth is a woman; no one should do her any violence.

 

221. “It comes about,” said a moralistic pedant and nitpicker, “that I prize and honor an unselfish person. Not because he is unselfish, however; I prize and honor him because it seems to me that [a moral person is someone who has] the right to use another person at his own expense. Enough!  It always a question of who he is and who that other person is.  For example, for a person who was made and determined for command, self-denial and self-withholding would not be considered virtues but the squandering of virtues.  That is how it seems to me.  Every unegoic morality that considers itself unconditional and directed toward everyone does not just transgress against good taste.  It also incites one to sins of omission and is yet another seduction under a mask of philanthropy—a kind of seduction and offense to those who are higher, those who are rarer, those who are privileged.  From the very beginning, morality must be forced to bow before rank order.  The presumptuousness of moral [gradation] must be thrust into one’s conscience until there is finally concurrence between them—until one finally recognizes that it is immoral to say that ‘what is right for one person is also fair for another.’”  So says my moralistic pedant and bonhomme.  Does he really deserve to be laughed at for pushing moral [gradation] into morality?  But you shouldn’t be too correct if you want the one who laughs at you to be on your side.  A little kernel of wrong belongs even to good taste.

 

222. Wherever pity is sermonized these days—and if you are listening carefully, you won’t hear any religion other than the religion of pity preached these days. Those psychologists who have ears, let them hear!  Behind all of the vanity, behind all of the noise that is peculiar to these preachers (and vanity and noise are peculiar to all preachers), the psychologist will hear the real raspy, groaning sound of self-contempt.  Self-contempt belong to the benightedness and uglification of Europe which have been growing for a century now.  (The first symptoms thereof can be found described in a thoughtful letter by Ferdinando Galiani to Madame d’Épinay.)  Self-contempt is a symptom of the benightedness and uglification of Europe—if it is not their cause!  The person of “modern ideas,” that proud ape, is boundlessly discontent with himself.  This has been established.  He suffers—and his vanity wants him to only “suffer with others,” to suffer the suffering of pity.

 

223. The European mongrel [Nietzsche does not mean this in any racist sense; as the paragraph will make clear, he is alluding to an intellectual mixing]—a relatively ugly plebeian, all in all. He absolutely needs a costume. He needs history as a storage closet of costumes.  Obviously, he notices that nothing looks good on his body—he changes his clothes and then changes them again.  Look at the nineteenth century as a rapidly alternating series of preferences, as a rapidly alternating masquerade of style.  Even during the moments of despair over the fact that “nothing suits” us.  In vain dressing up as in Romanticist or Classicist or Christian or Florentine or Baroque or “Nationalist,” in moribus et artibus.  No matter what: “It doesn’t look good!”  But “spirit”—particularly, the “historical spirit”—notices that even this despair is to its own advantage.  Again and again, a new portion of prehistory or some foreign country will be tried out, flipped over, put away, packed up, and, above all, studied.  We are the first to have studied epochs in puncto “costimes.”  I mean the morals, articles of faith, aesthetic tastes, and religions.  We are prepared, as no age before us ever was, for a carnival in the grand style, for spiritual carnival laughter and merriment, for the transcendental heights of the loftiest idiocy and for an Aristophanean mockery of the world.  Perhaps we will discover a realm of our invention, a realm where we can still be original, a realm in which we can be something like the parodists of world history and the clowns of God.  If nothing in our present has a future, perhaps at least our laughter will!

 

224. The historical sense (or the ability to quickly guess the hierarchy of values by which a population, a society, a human being has lived; the “divinatory instinct” for the characterization of values, for the relation between the authority of values and the authority of effectual forces). This historical sense, which we Europeans claim as our peculiarity, is a consequence of the bewitching, insane semi-barbarism into which Europe has been plunged by virtue of the democratic intermingling of classes and races. The nineteenth century is the first to be familiar with this sense as if it were its sixth sense.  The past of every form and way of life, the past of every culture (cultures that previously stood stiff next to another or on top of another) infuses into our “modern souls” thanks to this intermingling.  Our instincts are now running backward, and we ourselves are a kind of chaos.  Consequently, “the spirit” discovers thereby, as I said, its advantage.  Because of the semi-barbarism in our bodies and in our desires, we now have secret access to everywhere, to the labyrinth of undeveloped cultures and to every semi-barbarism that has ever been on Earth.  And inasmuch as the most considerable part of human culture thus far has been semi-barbaric, this “historical sense” almost signifies an instinct for everything, the taste and tongue for everything—by which it immediately shows itself to be an undistinguished sense.  We can enjoy Homer a second time, for example.  Perhaps the appreciation of Homer is our most fortunate advantage, one that people of a more distinguished culture do not and did not know how to make their own, one that they hardly allowed themselves (such as the French of the seventeenth century, such as Saint-Evremond, who rejected Homer’s esprit vaste, even the final notes of Voltaire).  The definitive “Yes” and “No” of their palate, their readiness to feel disgusted, their tentativeness and reserve in relation to anything foreign, their timidity before the tastelessness of even a lively curiosity, and the general unwillingness of every distinguished and self-subsistent culture to admit a new pleasantry, to admit any self-dissatisfaction, to admit an admiration for the exotic.  All of this puts a distinguished culture in an unfavorable position toward, disposes a distinguished culture unfavorably toward the best things in the world—whatever things cannot become their property or their prey.  No sense is more incomprehensible to such [distinguished] people than the historical sense and its groveling, plebeian curiosity.  It is no different with Shakespeare, this amazing Spanish-Moorish-Saxon taste-synthesis which would nearly kill an Ancient Athenian friend of Aeschylus with laughter or with rage.  But we—we accept this wild play of colors, this gallimaufry of tenderness, vulgarity, and artistry, with a secret familiarity and warmth.  We enjoy him as an aesthetic refinement reserved solely for us and do not allow ourselves to be disturbed by the repulsive fumes and the proximity of the English mob in which Shakespeare’s art and taste lived, any more than we allow ourselves to be disturbed by the Chiaia in Naples.  There, with all of our senses enchanted and willing, we go our way, however much the cloaca of the bad neighborhoods stench the air.  We people of the “historical sense”: We do have our virtues, that is indisputable.  We are undemanding, selfless, modest, bold, completely self-overcoming, acquiescent, quite grateful, quite patient, quite accommodating.  For all of that, we are not very “tasteful.”  Let us finally admit to ourselves that there is something which we people of the “historical sense” find difficult to comprehend, to feel, to taste once more, to love more.  Let us finally admit that there is something which we are fundamentally prejudiced against and almost inimical to.  It is the perfect and the ultimate.  It is the ripeness contained in each culture and genre of art, the genuinely dignified element (Vornehme) in works and in people.  It is the glimpse of smooth seas and halcyon self-sufficiency.  It is the goldenness and the coolness in which all perfect things are displayed.  Perhaps our great virtue, the historical sense, necessarily contradicts good taste.  At least it contradicts the best taste.  We are only able to reproduce the smallest, briefest, and highest turns of fortune and transformations of human life that light up here and there—and we are only able to do so poorly, haltingly, and with force.  We enjoy every moment and miracle when a great force voluntarily stands still before the measureless and illimitable.  We enjoy the moments at which an excess of refined pleasure is suddenly trammeled and petrified, establishing and stabilizing itself upon a ground that is still shivering.  Measure is alien to us, we must admit.  Our impetus is the impetus of infinitude, of illimitedness.  As if we were the rider on the horse which snorts as it moves forward, we drop the reins, we moderns, we semi-barbarians—and we are those who are there first, there in our serenity, where we are also the most—in danger.

 

225. Whether it is hedonism, whether it is pessimism, whether it is utilitarianism, whether it is eudaemonism: All of these ways of thinking are foreground ways of thinking and naiveties. They measure the worth of things by pleasure and pain—that is, according to subsidiary conditions and secondary matters. No one who is conscious of the formative powers and the aesthetic conscience will look down upon them without mockery and pity.  We pity you!  Our pity is, of course, not “pity” as you mean it.  It is not pity for social “distress,” for “society,” with its sick and its misfortunate.  It is not pity for the ever-burdened and the ever-broken, who lie around us on the ground.  Even less is it pity for the strata of grumbling, oppressed, rebellious slaves who strive for mastery (they call it “freedom”).  Our pity is a loftier, more hyperopic pity.  We see how humanity has been minimized—we see how you have minimized humanity!  And there are moments when we look at your pity with an indescribable anxiousness.  There are moments when we turn against this pity.  There are moments when we find your seriousness more dangerous than any kind of frivolity.  Whenever possible, you want to abolish suffering—and there has never been a crazier “whenever possible.”  And we?  Apparently, we wish that everything be intensified and worse than it was!  Welfare, as you understand it—that is no goal, it seems like an end to us!  A state that makes human beings ridiculous and contemptible—that makes them desire their decline!  The breeding of suffering, the great suffering—do you not know that it has been just this breeding which has brought about the ascension of humanity?  The tenseness of the soul when it is in a state of misfortune—this is what trains its strength.  The shudder of the soul when it glimpses its own great destruction.  Its sensitivity, its bravery as it bears, perseveres, deciphers, exploits its misery.  And whatever gifts it has been given—profundity, mystery, masking, spirit, cunning—haven’t they been given to the soul by suffering, by the discipline of the great suffering?  Within every human being, creator and creature are unified.  Within every human being is contained material, fragments, excess, mud, filth, nonsense, chaos.  But within every human being, also the creator, the educationalist, a kind of hammer-hardness, a sort of divine spectatorship, and the Seventh Day are also present.  Do you understand this contradiction?  And that your pity concerns the “creature in humanity”—what must be shaped, broken, forged, rent, burnt, polished, purified.  That is, what necessarily suffers and must suffer?  And our pity—do you not understand at whom our inverse pity is directed?  Our inverse pity is directed against the feeblest and the most cosseted.  Thus, pity against pity!  However, to say it once more, there are greater problems that all of the pleasure problems, suffering problems, and pity problems.  And every philosophy that proceeds from such problems is a form of naivete.

 

226. We immoralists! The world that concerns us, the world in which we are frightened, the world in which we love, this nearly invisible, inaudible world of subtle commands, of subtle obedience, a world in which an “almost” exists in every respect, this spiny, tricky, spiky, cushy world. Indeed, this is a world that is shielded against vulgar spectators and overly familiar curiosity!  We are spiderwebbed in a strong net and garb of duties and cannot get out.  Within we are exactly “people of duty,” even we!  Now and then, it is true, we dance well in our “chains” and between our “swords.”  More often, it is just as true that we grind our teeth under the pressure and are impatient of the secret difficulties of our fate.  But we are able to do what we want.  Morons and appearances say against us: “Those people have no duties.”  We will always have morons and appearances against our side!

 

227. We cannot rid ourselves of our honesty, we free spirits (assuming that it is our virtue to begin with). Now, we want to work on our honesty with all of the malice and love that we can muster and will never grow tired of it. The only thing that remains for us now is the “perfecting” of the virtue of honesty.  Like a gilded, azure, mocking twilight, may its glow settle upon this aging culture and all of its soggy, somber seriousness.  And if our honesty nonetheless grows tired and sighs and stretches its limbs and finds us too hard and would rather that things be better, lighter and more tender, like a pleasant vice.  Let us stay hard, we last Stoics!  And we will facilitate our honesty with all of the devilry that lies within us.  Our disgust for the crass and the approximate, our nitimur in vetitum, our adventurer’s courage, our shrewd and fastidious curiosity, our most refined and disguised intellectual will-to-power and a world-overcoming that lustfully rambles and raves over all of the realms of the future.  Let us bring all of our “devils” to help out our “God.”  It is likely that people will be mistaken about us and misinterpret us because of this—who cares?  They will say: “Your ‘honesty’ is nothing more than your devilry!”  Who cares?  And even if they were right!  Isn’t it the case that all gods heretofore are sanctified, rechristened devils?  And ultimately, what do we know about ourselves?  And what will be the name of the spirit that leads us?  (It is a matter of naming.)  And how many spirits will we conceal?  Let us make sure that our honesty will never become our vanity, our finery, our gaudery, our finity, our stupidity, O free spirits!  Every virtue inclines to stupidity, as every form of stupidity inclines to virtue.  “Stupid to the point of holiness,” as one says in Russia.  Let us be careful not to become holy and boring out of honesty!  Isn’t life one hundred times too short to be bored?  One has to believe in eternal life in order to…

 

228. Forgive me the insight that all moral philosophy so far has been boring and soporific. And nothing has done more to lower “virtue” in my eyes than the tediousness of its advocates. Still, I wouldn’t want to misrepresent their general usefulness.  It is important to note that the fewest number of people reflect on morality.  It is even more important that morality should one day become interesting!  However, do not be concerned!  Things are today as they have always been.  I have not seen a single European who conceived of moral reflection as something dangerous, risky, seductive, or catastrophic (or who communicated that moral reflection could be any of these things).  See, for example, the indefatigable, inescapable English utilitarians.  How crassly, how reverentially they follow the footsteps of Bentham, wandering here and wandering them (a Homeric parable says it clearer), as Bentham himself followed the footsteps of the revered Helvétius.  No, he was not a dangerous man, this Helvétius (ce sénateur Pococurante, to quote Galiani).  This is no new thought, nor is it the sophisticated modulation of an old thought or even a crease in an old thought.  It is not even the real history of what had been thought.  An impossible literature, on the whole, unless you know how to silage it with a little malice.  That old English vice known as cant has insinuated into the works of these moralists (which one must read with second thoughts, on the proviso that one must read them at all).  Cant is moralistic Tartuffery that is disguised under the new form of scientificity.  There is no shortage of secret defenses against the biting of the conscience that afflicts a race of former Puritans whenever they deal with a scientific conception of morality.  (Is a moralist not the opposite of a Puritan?  Isn’t a moralist a thinker—someone who considers morality as something questionable, as something worthy of a question mark, as something problematical?  Shouldn’t moralization be—immoral?).  Ultimately, they all want English morality to be given its rights—since it would best serve humanity or “general utility” or “the fortune of the majority.”  No, rather, morality would best serve the fortune of England!  They want to demonstrate, with all of their power, that striving for the fortune of England is the right path of virtue.  (By “the fortune of England,” I mean comfort and fashion and, in the best circumstance, a seat in Parliament.)  [They believe that] all the virtue that has ever existed in the world has consisted in such a striving.  Not a single of one of these awkward, guilty-conscience herd animals wants to know or to scent the fact that “general welfare” is far from being an ideal, far from being a goal, and far from being any kind of comprehensible concept.  They don’t want [to accept the fact] that “general welfare” is nothing more than a vomitive.  Or: What is fair for one person can absolutely not be fair for another person.  Or: The demand for a universal morality is the depreciation of the higher human being.  Or: There is a hierarchy between one human being and another human being; consequently, there is a hierarchy between one morality and another morality.  The utilitarian Englishman is a modest and fundamentally mediocre kind of person and, as I said earlier, insofar as he is boring, one cannot think more highly of his utility.  They should even be encouraged, as the following verses attempt to do, to a certain extent:

 

Hail, you good wheelbarrow pushers!
Forever “the longer, the better”
Forever stiff in head and knee
Spiritless, humorless
Indestructibly mediocre
Sans genie et sans esprit!

 

229. The most recent epochs, which have every reason to be proud of their humanity, still have so much fear, so much superstitious fear of the “savage, cruel beast.” The mastery of the beast is precisely the reason for this human epoch’s pride. Even palpable truths have remained unspoken for centuries, as if by mutual agreement, because it appears that these truths would help bring that savage beast back to life—that beast which took so long to kill off.  I will be taking a risk, to an extent, if I let such a truth elude me.  May others re-encage that truth and give it to drink the “milk of pious thinking” until the truth lies quiet and oblivious in its usual corner.  It is important to unlearn and to re-learn cruelty and to open one’s eyes.  Impatience should finally be learned so that such immodest, fat errors stop wandering around virtuously and impetuously—for example, the ideas about tragedy that have been fed to ancient and modern philosophers.  Almost everything that we call “higher culture” rests on the spiritualization and deepening of cruelty.  This is my thesis.  That “savage beast” has hardly been slaughtered.  It lives, it blooms, it has just been—deified.  Cruelty is what constitutes the painful voluptuousness of tragedy.  The agreeable effects of tragic pity (so called) derive their sweetness from the mixed-in ingredient of cruelty.  Even the agreeable effects of sublimity—all the way up to the loftiest and tenderest shiverings of metaphysics—fundamentally derive their sweetness from the mixed-in ingredient of cruelty.  The Roman in the arena, Christ in his ecstatic spasms on the cross, the Spanish in view of the heretics’ pyre or the bullfight, the modern Japanese storming to see tragedies, the Parisian suburban laborer with his nostalgia for a bloody revolution, the Wagnerianne with her unhooked will who “loses herself” over Tristan and Isolde.  What all of these savor, what all of these strive to drink in with a secret fervor, is the spicy drink of the great Circe “Cruelty.”  We must indeed chase away the stupid psychology of yesterday, which only teaches of cruelty that it originates from the sight of a strange suffering.  There is much more fertile—indeed, an overly fertile—enjoyment that comes from one’s own suffering, from one’s own making-oneself-suffer.  And wherever a human being denies oneself in the religious sense or maims oneself, as the Phoenicians and ascetics did.  Or generally considered, desensibilization, the flaying of the skin, contrition.  The Puritanical spasms of penitence, the vivisection of the conscience, the Pascalian sacrifizio dell’intelletto.  Whenever this happens, he is secretly tempted by his own cruelty and charges forward with that dangerous shudder of self-directed cruelty.  Ultimately, it should be considered that even the knower, by forcing his mind to know against his mind’s tendencies and, often enough, against the desires of his heart, as well, says, “No,” where might have affirmed, loved, worshipped.  The knower rules as artist and transmuter of cruelty.  Even every taking-as-deep and taking-as-fundamental is a form of violation, a wanting-to-hurt the basic will of the spirit, which ceaselessly tends toward semblance and superfice.  Even in every wanting-to-know there is a droplet of cruelty.

 

230. Perhaps people will not immediately understand what I have said here about a “basic will of the spirit.” Permit me to elucidate. The commanding Thing which people call “the spirit” wants to master itself and master everything around it and feel as if it were the master.  It has the will to change plurality into unity.  It is a binding-together, trammeling, mastery-loving, and truly masterful will.  Its requirements and capacities are the same as physiologists have established for all that lives, grows, and multiplies.  The force of the spirit—to appropriate the strange—discloses itself in a strong tendency to assimilate the new with the old, to simplify the multiple, to oversee or to repel the contradictory.  Just as it will arbitrarily highlight, extract, or falsify definite traits and lines of the strange, of some portion of the “external world.”  Its intention is to incorporate new “experiences,” to sequentialize new things into old sequences.  Its intention, then, is growth—more precisely, the feeling of growth, the feeling of augmented energy.  The same will is served by an apparently oppositional drive of the spirit, a resolution to ignorance that suddenly breaks out.  The arbitrary cutting-off, the closing of its window, the interior “No”-saying to this thing or to that thing, the not-letting-approach, the kind of defensive position against much that is knowable, the feeling of contentment with darkness, with shut-off horizons, the “Yes”-saying and calling-ignorance-“good.”  All of which are necessary in accordance to the degree of its appropriative force, its “digestive force,” to use a metaphor—and truly, “the spirit” does resemble a stomach more than anything.  Likewise, here belongs the occasional will of the spirit to allow itself to be deceived, perhaps with the playful suspicion that things do not stand that way (that you just accept things as they are), perhaps with a feeling of pleasure in every uncertainty and equivocality, the joyous self-enjoyment in the arbitrary narrowness and intimacy of a corner, in the all-too-close, in the foreground, in the magnified, in the minimized, in the displaced, in the beautified, a self-enjoyment in the arbitrariness of all of these expressions of power.  Finally, there belongs here that not quite harmless readiness of the spirit to deceive other spirits and to disguise itself from them, the constant pressure and intensity of a creative, formative, mutable force.  The spirit enjoys the plurality of its masks and its shrewdness.  It also enjoys the feeling of its security [behind the mask]—it is precisely through its Protean arts that it is best protected and hidden!  This will to semblance, to simplification, to the mask, to the cloak, in short, to the superficial—for every surface is a cloak—counteracts that sublime tendency of the knower that accepts things (and desires to accept things) as deep, multiple, and fundamental.  [The sublime tendency of the knower] is a kind of cruelty of the intellectual conscience and taste which every valiant thinker will acknowledge resides within him (assuming that, as befits him, his eye has hardened and sharpened itself long enough and is used to strict discipline, even to stern words).  He will say: “There is something cruel in the tendency of my spirit.”  May virtuous, lovely people try to dissuade him from it!  In fact, it would sound more graceful if one, instead of cruelty, accused us of “extravagant honesty” (or murmured it to us or praised us for it)—we free, very free spirits.  And perhaps this is what our—posthumous fame will be?  In the meantime (for there will be time before then), we are the least likely to gussy ourselves up with such moralistic verbal baubles and verbal frippery.  Our entire work thus far has been spoiled by this taste and its lively luxuriousness.  These are such beautiful, glittering, clanging, festive words: “honesty,” “the love of truth,” “the love of wisdom,” “sacrifice for the sake of knowledge,” “the heroism of the truthful.”  There is something within these words that swells one’s pride.  But we hermits and marmots, we have long since persuaded ourselves to assume the secrecy of the hermit’s conscience.  We have long since persuaded ourselves that this pompous verbal display belongs to the cladding of old lies, to the rubbish and gold dust of unconscious human vanity.  And we have persuaded ourselves that beneath the smarmy coloring and overpainting the terrible foundational text homo natura is still recognizable.  To retranslate the human being into nature.  To become master over the many vain and fanatical interpretations and adjoining senses of nature which had been hitherto been scribbled and painted over the eternal foundational text homo natura.  To ensure that the human being stands henceforth before human being as he does today, hardened in the discipline of science, before the other nature, with unfrightened Oedipus eyes and stopped Odysseus ears, deaf against the seductive means of old metaphysical bird catchers, which had warbled at him for too long: “You are more!  You are higher!  You are of another origin!”  This may be a strange and insane task, but it is a task—who would deny it?  Why would we choose it, this insane task?  Or to put it another way: “Why know anything at all?”  Someone will ask us this question.  And we, thus pressured, we who have been asked the same thing one hundred times, we found and find no better answer…

 

231. Learning transforms us. It does what all nourishment does that does more than merely “keep one alive,” as every physiologist knows. But at bottom, at our deepest “bottom,” there is indeed something unteachable, the granite of an intellectual fatum that gives predetermined decisions and answers to select, predetermined questions.  From within each cardinal problem speaks an immutable “So I am.”  As to man and woman, for instance, a thinker cannot re-learn; he can only cease-learn.  He can only uncover, at last, what he considers “established.”  In time, certain solutions are found to problems that inspire within us a firm belief.  Perhaps one will name them henceforth one’s “convictions.”  Later, one sees them as nothing more than footsteps to self-knowledge, guideposts to the problems that we are.  Or rather, guideposts to the great stupidity which we are, to our intellectual fatum, to the unteachableness of our “down below.”  On account of the abundant graciousness that I bestowed upon myself, perhaps I will be permitted to pronounce a few truths concerning the “Woman in itself”—on the condition that one understands from the outset that these are merely my truths.

 

FIFTH SECTION: POPULATIONS AND FATHERLANDS

 

240. Once more and for the first time, I heard Richard Wagner’s Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. It is splendid, over-encumbered, heavy, late-stage art, which pridefully assumes that two centuries of music are still living—for the purpose of making the work understandable. It is to the Germans’ honor that such a pride made no mistakes!  What succulence, what forces, what seasons, what climes are here not intermingled?  Sometimes, it strikes us as ancient.  Sometimes, it strikes us as exotic, bitter, and juvenile.  Sometimes, it is just as arbitrary as it is ponderously conventional.  It is not seldom curmudgeonly; more often, it is coarse and gross.  It has fire and courage and, at the same time, the flaccid, fallow skin of fruit, which ripens too late.  It streams out wide and full, and suddenly, there is a moment of inexplicable tentativeness, as if it were a hole that ruptures between cause and effect, a pressure that gives us to dream, almost a nightmare.  But already the old flow of comfort broadens and expands once more, the most multifaceted kind of comfort, the comfort of old and new happiness, certainly including the feeling of happiness that the artist has for himself, a happiness that he refuses to hide, the amazed, happy, shared knowledge of his mastery of the means that are here applied, his new and newly acquired, never-tested aesthetic equipment which he appears to reveal to us.  All in all, no beauty, no South, nothing of the southern, refined brightness of the sky, nothing graceful, no dancing, scarcely a will to logic.  Even a certain vulgarity that is highlighted, as if the artist wished to say to us: “This was my intention.”  A portentous garbing, something arbitrarily barbarous and solemn, a flurry of scholarly and reverential preciosity and witticism.  Something German, in the best and worst senses of the word.  Something multiple, amorphous, and inexhaustible in the German manner.  A certain German potency and overflowing of the soul, which is unafraid to conceal itself beneath the raffinements of decadence (which is where it feels best).  A right, genuine, veritable sign of the German soul, which is at the same time young and old, overripe and overrich in the future.  This kind of music expresses bet what I think of the Germans: They are from the day before yesterday and from the day.  They still have no today.

 

241. We “good Europeans”—even we have hours when we permit ourselves a heartful fatherlandness. Hours when we slide and plop down into old loves and a bit of narrowness. (I gave an example thereof in the passage above.)  [From time to time, even we have] surges of nationalism, moments when we are oppressed by bursts of patriotism, when we are inundated by all kinds of ancient feelings.   Weighty spirits, such as we are, might take a long time to have done with such moments, moments that are restricted to a few hours and that might be over with in a few hours.  For one of us, it might take half a year; in another, it might take the course of one’s human life.  It depends on the speed and force with which they digest and “metabolize.”  Indeed, a could think of dull, halting races of people that would need, even in our fast-paced Europe, half a century to overcome their atavistic attacks of fatherlandness and glued-to-the-soilness and reclaim their reason, by which I mean their “good Europeanness.”  And as I am digressing on this possibility, it strikes me that I am the earwitness of a conversation between two old “patriots.”  Evidently, they are hard of hearing and for that reason are speaking all the louder.  “He has opinions and knowledge of philosophy as much as a farmer or a fraternity brother,” one of them says.  “He is still innocent.  But who cares about any of that today?  This is the time of the masses.  All prostrate themselves before massiveness.  And that’s how it is in politics, too.  They call a statesman ‘great’ if he builds up a new Tower of Babel, some behemoth of realm and power.  Who cares whether we more careful ones and more reserved ones, in the meantime, don’t believe that a great thought leads to a great deed or a great cause?  Suppose that a statesman brought his people into a position where they were forced to pursue ‘great politics’—a position for which they were badly equipped by nature and for which they were badly prepared.  So that it were necessary for them to sacrifice their old and reliable virtues for the sake of a new and dubious mediocrity.  Suppose a statesman condemned his people to ‘politicization’ when they have much better things to do and better things to think about and, in the core of their souls, have never freed themselves from a circumspect disgust for restiveness, emptiness, and noisy vixenishness.  Suppose that such a statesman prods the dormant passions and cupidity of his people, makes a flaw of their former coyness and enjoyment of stasis, makes a sin of their exoticism and secret infinitude, devalues their most ardent habits, reverses their conscience, narrows their spirit, ‘nationalizes’ their taste.  How is this?  A statesman who would do all of this—who would force his people to do penance for all of the future, if there even were a future—such a statesman would be great?”  The other old patriot answered the first with vigor: “Of course!  Otherwise he couldn’t have done it!  Was it insane to have such desires?  But perhaps all greatness is insane at its inception!”  His interlocutor screams at him: “Misuse of words!  Strong!  Strong!  Strong and insane!  Not great!”  The old men had evidently gotten themselves heated, as they screamed their ‘truths’ in each other’s faces, in such a fashion.  I, however, in my happiness and in my Beyond, thought how soon the stronger become master over the strong.  And also that the intellectual flattening of a people equals the deepening of the other.

 

242. The distinction that Europeans are seeking, whether one calls it “civilization” or “humanization” or “progress.” Let it be called simply, without praise or blame, “the democratic movement in Europe” (to use a political formula). Beneath the foreground of morality and politics that is indicated by such formulae, an extraordinary physiological process is occurring, a process that is constantly flowing.  It is the process of approximating all Europeans.  It is their growing liberation from the conditions under which races of people originate, races that are climate-bound and class-bound.  It is their progressive independence from that determinate milieu which has inscribed its demands within their souls and bodies for centuries.  It is thus the slow emergence of an essentially supranational and nomadic kind of person who, physiologically speaking, possesses the maximum skill and power of adaptation (it is exemplified by this distinction).  The process of the European who is becoming, who might be slowed down by lapses in tempo but who can perhaps gain vehemence and depth thereby, who can grow.  The Storm and Stress of the current period of “nationalistic feeling” belongs here, as does the emergent movement of anarchism.  This process will probably produce results that might not be expected by its naïve promoters and eulogists, the apostles of “modern ideas.”  The same new conditions that give rise to the equalization and banalization of humanity.  The same new conditions that form a serviceable, sedulous, multiply useful, and employable herd-animal human are, to the highest degree, suitable to generate the most dangerous and most prepossessing qualities of the exceptional human.  While that adaptive power, which experiments with ever-changing conditions and works anew on every new generation, with almost every new decade, making the powerfulness of that type impossible.  While the total impression of such a future European will probably be a garrulous, weak-willed, and extremely employable worker who needs a master as he needs his daily bread.  While, therefore, the democratization of Europe proceeds from the engendering of slavery in the most subtle sense of the word.  In individual and exceptional cases, the strong human will be forced to become stronger and richer than he has ever been before, thanks to the absence of prejudice in his schooling, thanks to the monstrous plurality of exercises, arts, and masks.  I would like to say that the democratization of Europe is, at the same time, the involuntary institution of a breeding ground for tyrants.  I intend the word tyrants in every sense, including in the intellectual.

 

243. I am pleased to hear that our sun is rushing toward the Hercules constellation. And I hope that the human beings upon this Earth will do as the Sun does. And we at the vanguard, we good Europeans!

 

244. There was a time when one was accustomed to naming the Germans with the distinguished word “profound.” Now that the new, more successful type of German is greedy for much different honors, and now that the “sharpness” is perhaps missing from his depth, it is almost certainly timely and patriotic to ask if one did not deceive oneself in giving such praise. [We might ask] whether the German depth is not fundamentally something much different and worse than what it appears to be.  Perhaps it is something that one can successfully get rid of—thank God!  Let us, then, attempt to re-learn German profundity!  Nothing is more necessary for this purpose than a little vivisection of the German soul.  The German soul is, above all, composed of multiple and diverse origins; it is more assembled and agglomerated than actually built: That is because of its provenance.  Any German who would be emboldened to claim, “Two souls dwell, alas, in my breast!” would be misapprehending the truth.  It would be more accurate to claim that he missed the truth that there are many souls within.  The Germans are a group of people who are the most extraordinary mingling and confluence of races, perhaps even with a surplus of pre-Aryan elements—a “people of the center,” in every sense.  The Germans are more incomprehensible, more comprehensive, more contradictory, more obscure, more unpredictable, more surprising, even more terrifying to themselves than any other group of people.  They evade definition and are, for that reason, the despair of the French.  The fact that the question “What is German?” never dies out is characteristic of the Germans.  Kotzebue knew the Germans well enough: “We are recognized,” they rejoiced to him—and even Sand believed that she knew them.  Jean Paul knew what he was doing when he railed against Fichte’s mendacious yet patriotic flatteries and hyperbole.  However, it is likely that Goethe thought otherwise about the Germans than Jean Paul did, even though Goethe did concur with his critique of Fichte.  What did Goethe actually think about the Germans?  But there are so many things that he never explicitly spoke of, so many things about which he knew to be silent.  It was a lifelong, prudent silence—he probably had good reasons for it.  It was certainly not the “Wars of Independence” that made him gaze joyfully upward, any more than it was the French Revolution.  The event that prompted him to rethink his Faust—indeed, the event that prompted him to rethink the entire problem of the “human”—was the appearance of Napoleon.  There are words of Goethe in which he repudiates Germany as if he were an outsider, repudiating with an impatient severity everything that the Germans consider their pride.  Goethe once defined the famous German mind as “forbearance of the weaknesses of others, forbearance of one’s own weaknesses.”  Was he incorrect?  One of the traits of the Germans is that one is hardly ever completely wrong about them.  The German soul bears within itself passageways and breezeways.  There are caverns within it—and hiding places, castle dungeons.  The chaos of the German soul has the charm of an enigma.  The German understands the secret passages to chaos.  And as everything loves its likeness, so does the German love the clouds and all that is unclear, all that becomes, all that is twilit, all that is moist and ominously impending.  He feels that anything which is uncertain, shapeless, self-displacing, and intensifying is “deep.”  The German is nothing in himself; he becomes, he “develops himself.”  “Development” is therefore the genuinely German ‘Catch and Release’ game in the grand realm of philosophical formulae.  “Development” is a regent concept, allied with German beer and German music, that is laboring to Germanize the whole of Europe.  Foreigners stand astounded and fascinated before the enigmas produced by the antinomic nature of the German soul (which Hegel used in his System and which Richard Wagner ultimately put into music).  “Good-natured” yet “mean-spirited”: Such a complementarity would be impossible for any other population.  Unfortunately, it is justified all too often in Germany.  Just live for a while among the Swabians!  The awkwardness of the German scholar, his social gaucheness, corresponds terrifyingly well with a kind of inner tightrope walking and easy audacity that all the gods have learned to fear.  If anyone wishes to demonstrate the “German soul” ad oculos, just look at the German taste, German arts and culture.  What a plebeian indifference toward matters of “taste”!  How the noblest and the commonest stand beside each other!  How disorderly and overflowing is the entire economy of the soul!  The German drags his soul around.  He drags around everything that he has experienced.  He badly digests his experiences; he will never be “finished” with them.  His German depth is often nothing more than a heavy, halting form of “digestion.”  And as with all the sick, as with all dyspeptics who have the urge for comfort, so the Germans loves “openness” and “conventionality.”  How comfortable it is to be open and conventional!  Today’s German understands that being confiding and accommodating and leaving one’s cards on their table—German honesty—it is perhaps the most dangerous and fortunate kind of concealment.  It is his genuinely Mephistophelean art, with which he can nonetheless “go too far”!  The German lets himself go and looks out with true, blue, empty, German eyes—and foreigners quickly mistake him with nightshirt!  I would like to say: Let the “German profundity” be what it will.  Between us, shall we not permit ourselves to have a laugh about it?  We would do well henceforth to honor the appearance and good name of “German profundity” and not to take it out in trade, not to exchange it too easily for Prussian “sharpness” and Berlinian wit and sand.  It is clever for a people to take themselves for deep, for incompetent, for good-natured, for honest, for dimwitted—or to allow themselves to be so taken.  That could even be—a kind of depth!  Lastly, one should honor one’s name.  The Germans, die Deutschen, are not called the tiusche people for nothing, the deceptive people, das Täusche-Volk…

 

245. The “good old” days are over. Mozart sang them out. How fortunate we are that his rococo still speaks to us!  How fortunate we are that his “good society,” his tender exaltations, his childish pleasure in Chinese culture and in arabesques, his heartfelt etiquette, his yearning for the delicate, for the darling, for the dancing, and for the lachrymose, his faith in Southern Europe still appeal to something residual within us!  Alas, someday, this will all be gone!  But who would doubt that the understanding and taste for Beethoven will be gone even sooner?  Though he was only the swan’s song of a stylistic transition and a stylistic interruption and not, as was Mozart, the swan’s song of a grand European taste that lasted for centuries.  Beethoven is the intermediate stage between an old, brittle soul that is constantly shattering and a futurely, immature soul that is constantly approaching.  Upon his music settles that twilight of eternal loss and eternally illimitable hope—the same light that suffused Europe when it dreamed along with Rousseau, when it danced around the Tree of Freedom of the revolution and ended by virtually idolizing Napoleon.  But how quickly does this feeling blanch!  How difficult is it even to know this feeling today!  How strange does the language of this Rousseau, Schiller, Shelley, and Byron sound to our ears!  A collective language in which the destiny of Europe was verbalized.  The language that Beethoven knew how to make sing!  The next stage of German music was Romanticism—that is to say, historically considered, a briefer, more volatile, more superficial movement than that great interlude, that transition from Rousseau to Napoleon and to the resurrection of democracy.  Weber?  What are his Freischütz and Oberon to us today?  Or Marschner’s Hans Heiling or Vampyr?  Or even Wagner’s Tannhäuser?  That sound has now faded, even though the music has not yet been completely forgotten.  The whole of Romantic music was scarcely elegant enough, scarcely music enough, to have any right to be anywhere other than in the theatre, in front of a crowd.  From the beginning, it was second-rate music, music that only a few real musicians took seriously.  Things stood otherwise with Felix Mendelssohn, that halcyon master who, thanks to his lighter, purer, more gifted soul, was quickly admired and just as quickly forgotten as a beautiful incident within German music.  As far as Robert Schumann is concerned: He was taken seriously and took things seriously himself, right from the beginning.  He was the last one to found a school.  Between you and me, is it not fortunate, is it not a relief, is it not liberating to know that Schumannian Romanticism has been overthrown?  Schumann, who flushed into the “Saxon Switzerland” of his soul.  Schumann, whose nature was semi-Wertherian and semi-Jean-Paulian.  Schumann was certainly not Beethovenian!  And certainly not Byronian!  Schumann’s Manfred is misbegotten and misconceived to a fault.  Schumann’s taste was fundamentally a minor taste (namely, a dangerous tendency toward serene lyricism and dipsomania of feeling—this tendency is doubly dangerous among Germans).  Schumann is constantly walking on the side of the road.  He is always shyly apologizing and retreating.  He is a noble tenderling who reveled in nothing but anonymous joy and anonymous pain.  From his inception, he was a kind of little girl, noli me tangere.  This Schumann was nothing more than a German event in music and not even a European event such as Beethoven was.  Nor was he a European event in the even more comprehensive manner that Mozart was.  With Schumann, German music met its greatest danger: the loss of the voice of the European soul, sunk into mere fatherlandness.

 

246. What torture are German-language books for those who possess the third ear! How the reader stands unwillingly beside this slowly swirling sump of soundless sounds and undanceable rhythms which the Germans call a “book”! And the German reader of books!  How lazy, how reluctantly, how badly he reads!  How many Germans actually know the art that should be placed into every sentence—and how many Germans demand the knowledge thereof?  It is an art that wants to be fathomed as much as the sentence wants to be understood!  A misunderstanding about its tempo, for example.  And the sentence itself has been misunderstood.  To be confident with rhythmically decisive syllables, to find charming and deliberate the interruption in all-too-stringent symmetries.  To extend a refined and patient ear to every staccato and rubato and to fathom the sense in the sequence of vocals and diphthongs, how tenderly and how richly their colors change when placed in succession.  Which book-reading German is good-natured enough to recognize such duties and requirements and to be able to listen to so much art and intention in the language?  Ultimately, the Germans do not “have the ear for it.”  And so the strongest stylistic contrasts will not be heard and the most refined artistry will be squandered, as if on the dead.  These were my reflections as I observed how someone mistook two masters of the art of prose for each other—in such a crass and clueless manner.  One of these masters lets the words drip down, hesitantly and coldly, as if from the ceiling of a moist cave; he expects the dull sound and resonance.  And the other grasps his language as if it were a supple dagger and, from finger to toe, feels the dangerous joy of the quivering, super-sharp clink-clang which wants to bite, which wants to sizzle, which wants to cut.

 

247. Our best musicians write badly—and this fact shows how little sound and ear there is within the German [prose] style. Germans do not read aloud. They read with the eye, not with the ear, all the while keeping their ears in a drawer somewhere.  When the ancients read, if they read at all (it happened seldom enough), they read aloud to themselves and loudly.  Whenever someone read quietly, they were nonplussed and asked themselves, “Why?” in private.  “Loudly”: That means, with all of the swellings, inflections, sudden changes in tone, and alterations in tempo that the ancient public world took pleasure in.  Back then, the laws of graphic style were the same as the laws of phonetic style.  And those laws partly depended on the astonishing training of the ear and the larynx, the sophisticated precepts for the ear and the larynx; they were also dependent on the strength, duration, and power of the ancients’ lungs.  A period is (in the antiquarian sense) a physiological totality unified in a single breath.  Such periods (as appear in the work of Demosthenes and Cicero) swell and sink twice over in a single draught of breath.  This is pleasure for the ancients, who knew from their own schooling how to value the virtues of rarity and difficulty in the performance of such periods.  We moderns really have no right to the great period—we who are short of breath in every sense!  The ancients were altogether dilettantes when it came to speaking—therefore, they were knowers and therefore, critics.  For this reason, they drove their rhetors to the extreme.  In the same way, in the previous century [the eighteenth century], all of the Italians and Italianesses knew how to sing; through them, lyrical virtuosity (and therefore also the art of melody) reaches its height.  Until most recently, in Germany, there was a genre of public and vaguely artistic speech (before a kind of grandstand eloquence shyly and crassly enough animated its young wings)—that was the rhetoric which came from the pulpit.  The preachers were the only ones in Germany who knew how much a syllable weighed, how much a word weighed—the extent to which a sentence strikes, leaps, crashes, runs, runs out.  They had conscience in their ears, and often enough, it was a bad conscience.  For there was no shortage of reasons why a German should so rarely attain skillfulness in rhetoric—almost always do so late in life.  The masterpiece of German prose is, without question, also the masterpiece of the greatest preacher in Germany.  The Bible has been the best German book thus far.  In comparison with Luther’s Bible, almost everything else is just “literature”—something that did not germinate in Germany and therefore did not and does not germinate in German hearts.  As the Bible has done.

 

248. There are two kinds of genius. The first kind of genius procreates and wants to procreate. The second is pleased to be fructified and to give birth.  There is the female problem of pregnancy among the second people of genius, to whom has fallen the secret obligation of forming, ripening, completing.  The Greeks, for example, were a people of this stripe, as are the French.  The first type of genius has the necessity of fructifying and becoming the origin of new orders of life—like the Jews, the Romans, and (to ask in all modesty) perhaps the Germans?  These people are tortured and raptured by obscure fevers and are ineluctably forced out of themselves, loving and lusting after foreign races (those who “let themselves be fructified”).  They are thereby impelled to mastery, as are all those who are full of procreative forces and thus know they are “of God’s grace.”  These two forms of genius seek themselves out, as men and women seek themselves out.  However, they misunderstood each other, as men and women do.

 

249. Every population has its own form of Tartuffery and calls this its “virtues.” No one knows the best of what one is. No one can know the best of what one is.

 

250. What does Europe owe to the Jews? A great deal, both good and bad, but primarily one thing that is both the best and the worst: the grand style of morality. [Europe has the Jews to thank for] the fearsomeness and majesty of endless requirements, endless meanings, the whole romanticism and sublimity of moral problematics.  [But Europe also has the Jews to thank for] life’s most attractive, most subtle, and most special elements within that play of colors and seductiveness in whose after-shimmer the evening sky of contemporary European culture is glowing.  And perhaps is glowing out.  Along with the spectators and the philosophers, those us who are artists are thus—grateful to the Jews.

 

251. One has to accept the fact that a people will suffer, will want to suffer, from nationalistic typhus and political ambitiousness. All kinds of clouds, all kinds of disturbances will waft over their spirit—basically, minor attacks of stupefaction. With today’s Germans, for example, there is the Anti-French stupidity, the Anti-Judaic stupidity, the Anti-Polish stupidity, the Christian-Romantic stupidity, the Wagnerian stupidity, the Teutonic stupidity, the Prussian stupidity, and whatever they are called (look at the miserable, blubber-headed, bandage-headed historians Sybel and Treizschke for examples of these stupidities)—minor becloudings of the German spirit and conscience. Pardon me for not being completely immune from such illnesses when I dwelled, for a brief time, in a severely infected region.  As did everyone else, I had thoughts about things that did not concern me: the first sign of the political infection.  For instance, the Jews.  Listen!  I have never met a German who was kindly disposed toward the Jews.  And even though real Antisemitism is unconditionally rejected by the prudently and politically minded, this prudence, this political cast of mind is not directed against the feeling of Antisemitism itself; rather, it is directed against its dangerous excessiveness.  In particular, it is directed against the tasteless and injurious manner in which this immoderate feeling is expressed.  Let there be no doubt of this!  The statement that Germany has more than enough Jews, that it is necessary for the German stomach, for the German blood to have done with this quantum of “Jews” (and that it has been long since necessary)—in the way that the Italians, the French, the English have done (thanks to their stronger digestive systems): This statement is the clear enouncement, the clear language of a universal instinct that one should listen to, that one should act upon.  “Do not let any more Jews inside!  Close the doors to the Jews, especially the doors to East Germany (also to Austria)!”  Thus commands the instinct of a people that are so weak and indeterminate that they could easily be wiped out, extinguished by a stronger race.  The Jews are doubtless the most vigorous, toughest, and purest race that lives in Europe today.  They understand how to persevere even in the worst conditions (better even than in favorable conditions) thanks to virtues that people today would rather label as vices.  Thanks, above all, to a resolute faith that doesn’t need to be ashamed before “modern ideas.”  If they change, they change in the way that the Russian regime makes conquests—in the way that regime which has time on its side does, in the way that a regime does that wasn’t born yesterday.  That is, they change according to the foundational principle “As slowly as possible!”  A thinker who has the future of Europe on his conscience will, in every sketch he makes of this future, take the Jews into account in the same way that he would take the Russians into account: as the most certain and likely factor in the great play and struggle of forces.  What is called a “nation” in today’s Europe (and what is really more of a res facta than a res nata—and sometimes a res ficta et picta will look exactly the same): What is called a “nation” in today’s Europe is, in each case, something that is becoming, something that is young and easily displaceable and not yet a race at all, to say nothing of the aere perennius which is the Jewish mode.  These “nations” should be careful and look out for every hot-headed rivalry, for every hot-headed adversarial attitude!  The Jews could already have dominance—literal supremacy—over Europe by now, if they wanted to (or if they were forced to, which is what the Anti-Semites seem to want).  This is established.  Yet they have not worked toward this goal; likewise, they have not made plans to do so.  In the meantime, what they want and wish for instead—indeed, with a certain impetuosity / obtrusiveness / pushiness—is to be assimilated with, and absorbed by, Europe.  They are thirsting for this goal—to find a place where they can be fixed, permitted to exist, respected, and to put an end to the nomadic life, the life of the “eternal Jew.”  And one should notice this drive, this push (which expresses, perhaps, even an alleviation of the Jewish instinct) and accommodate them.  For this purpose, it would be perhaps useful and judicious to throw the Antisemitic loudmouths out of the country.  Approached cautiously, selectively, around the way that the English nobility does it.  It would clearly be unproblematic for the strongest and already well-formed New German types (for instance, the noble officers of the Mark Brandenburg) to engage with them.  It would be interesting from a number of perspectives to see (or not to see) whether the genius for fortune and patience (as well as spirit and spiritualness, which is markedly lacking today in the Mark) might not be added to, bred into, the inherited art of commanding and obedience (both are classical attributes of the Mark).  But now it might be opportune for me to end my cheerful Germanomania and my festive speech, for I am already touching on something that I do take seriously: the “European problem,” as I understand it, and the breeding for a new, caste that would reign over Europe.

 

252. This is no philosophical race—the English.  Bacon signified an attack on the philosophical mind in general. Hobbes, Hume, and Locke degraded and minimized the value of the concept of the “philosopher” for over a century.  Kant rose up and stood up against Hume.  Schelling had this to say about Locke: “Je méprise Locke.”  In their fight against the English-mechanistic idiotization of the world, Hegel and Schopenhauer (with Goethe) were of one mind.  Both fraternal enemy geniuses in philosophy, who moved along the opposite poles of the German spirit (and who thereby did each other wrong, as only brothers can do).  Every semi-actor and rhetorician knew well enough what is missing in England and what has always missing in England.  The gauche chowderhead Carlyle, who sought to hide beneath grotesquely caricatured emotions what he knew about himself: the real power of intellectuality, the real depth of the intellectual gaze, was missing in himself.  Basically, philosophy.  It is characteristic of an unphilosophical race that it holds on to Christendom so tightly.  Such a race needs discipline in “moralizing” and humanization.  The English is more somber and more sensuous, more strong-willed and more brutal than the German; between the two of them, the English the more common one, as well as the more pious one, precisely for those reasons.  The English has an even greater need for Christendom.  To more sophisticated nostrils, the English Christendom still has the genuinely English, second-hand aroma of spleen and alcoholic excess against which it is rightly used as a remedy.  The subtler poison against the cruder poison, then.  A subtle poison, in fact, is an advance, a step toward intellectualization, among crude populations.  The English vulgarity and peasant seriousness are most tolerably disguised—rather, analyzed and reinterpreted—through Christian dactylology and through praying and psalmody.  As for that herd of drunk and dissolute cattle which used to grunt their moralisms under the auspices of Methodism—and which today, grunt their moralisms as the “Salvation Army”: For such a herd of cattle, a spasm of contrition might be the highest “human” accomplishment which they can attain, relatively speaking.  This much may be reasonably admitted.  The most offensive thing about even the most humane Englishman is his absence of music, to speak metaphorically (and literally).  He has neither tact nor dance in the movements of his soul and body.  Indeed, he doesn’t even have the desire for tact or for dance—for “music.”  Listen to him speak.  Watch the loveliest Englishwoman as she walks—in no other country on Earth are there lovelier doves and swans.  Finally, listen to them sing!  But I am asking for too much…

 

253. There are some truths that are understood by mediocre brains better than by any others because these are the brains that are the most appropriate for them.  There are some truths that are only capable of stimulating and enticing mediocre minds. This uncomfortable / unpleasant proposition is being thrust upon us, now that the spirit of well-respected yet mediocre Englishmen is preponderating in the middle regions of European taste.  I would name Darwin, John Stuart Mill, and Herbert Spencer [in this respect].  Who would doubt that it is useful for such minds to dominate—for the time being?  It would be a mistake to think that those spirits of the higher kind, those spirits which fly beyond, would ever be skilled at establishing and collecting common little facts—and deriving conclusions from them.  Rather, being the exception, they are not in any favorable position [to judge] the “rule.”  Ultimately, they have more to do than merely to know.  That is, they have to be something new and mean something new; they have to present new values!  The chasm between knowledge and ability is perhaps greater—and spookier—than one thinks.  Those who are capable of doing things in the grand style, the creators, might have to be ignorant.  While, on the other hand, when it comes to scientific discoveries of the Darwinian type, it might not harm to have at one’s disposal a certain narrowness, aridity, and diligent carefulness—in short, it might do no harm to possess English traits.  Let us not forget that the English once caused the total depression of the European spirit with their profound banality.  With what people term “modern ideas” or “the ideas of the eighteenth century” or “French ideas.”  There is no doubt that what the German spirit stood up against with the deepest nausea was of English origin.  The French have been nothing more than the apes and the performers of these ideas—indeed, they have even been their best soldiers.  Likewise, and regrettably, the French were their first and most fundamental victims.  For ultimately, the âme française grew so thin and starved on the damned Anglomania of “modern ideas” that we look back on their sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (with their profoundly passionate energy, their inventive elegance) with something akin to disbelief.  It is necessary to clamp on this statement of historical fairness with one’s teeth and defend it against momentary glimpses and illusions: The European noblesse is the invention and work of the French—the feeling, the taste, the customs (in brief, taking the word noblesse in its highest sense).  European commonness, the plebeianism of modern ideas—is the invention and work of the English.

 

254. Even now, France is still the site of the most spiritual and refined culture in Europe and the lofty academy of taste. But one must know how to find this “France of Taste.” Whoever belongs to it knows how to hide.  There might be a small number of people in which it lives, in which it is bodied forth.  To this school belong, perhaps, those who do not stand on the strongest legs—a portion thereof are fatalists, the somber, the sick.  Another parcel comprises the mollycoddled and the artificial—those who are ambitious enough to conceal themselves.  They all have something in common: They close their ears to the raging stupidity and loud gabbling of the democratic bourgeois.  Indeed, a stupidified and vulgarized France undulates in the foreground today.  Recently, France celebrated a real orgy of distastefulness and self-admiration at Victor Hugo’s funeral.  And they have something else in common: the good will to keep intellectual Germanization at bay.  And an even greater inability to do so!  Perhaps Schopenhauer is now more at home within this France of the Spirit, which is also a France of Pessimism, than he ever was in Germany—and more comfortably at home within.  Not to speak of Heinrich Heine, who has transmigrated into the flesh and the blood of some of the more sophisticated and fastidious lyricists of Paris for some time now.  Or of Hegel, who appears today in the shape of Taine, the preeminent living historian, on whom Hegel exerts a nearly tyrannical influence.  As far as Richard Wagner is concerned: The more that French music learns to develop according to real demands of the âme moderne, the more will it “Wagnerize.”  Such may one say in advance.  It is already happening!  Nevertheless, there are three things that the French may display with pride as their inheritance and as their property and as unlost traits of an ancient cultural preponderance over Europe—despite all of the voluntary or involuntary Germanization and mobification of taste.  One is the capacity for artistic passion, for the obeisance to “form,” for which the phrase l’art pour l’art was invented (besides thousands of others).  Something like this has existed in France for three centuries.  Thanks to [the French] reverence for “small numbers,” a kind of chamber music of literature has been made possible that is missing in the rest of Europe.  The second (thing that grounds the preponderance of the French over Europe) is their ancient, multifaceted, moralistic culture, which means that one finds, generally considered, even among the little romanciers of newspapers and the occasional boulevardiers of Paris a certain psychological sensitivity and curiosity that no one finds a concept of in, for example, Germany (to say nothing of the actual thing!).  For this purpose, the Germans lack a few centuries of moralism, which, as I said above, France has not denied itself.  Anyone who calls the Germans “naïve” for this reason is turning a deficiency into something worthy of praise.  (In contrast to the German inexperience and innocence in voluptate psychologica, which is not remotely related to the tedium of German social intercourse.  In this realm of tender shuddering, Henri Beyle counts as the most accomplished expression of a genuinely French curiosity and talent for invention, that remarkably anticipatory forerunner ran with a Napoleonic tempo through his Europe, through many centuries of the European soul, as a detector and discoverer of this soul.  Two centuries were required to somehow catch up with him, to guess some of the riddles that tormented and enraptured him, this wonderful Epicurean and question-mark man who was France’s last great psychologist.)  There is yet a third claim to superiority: The essence of the French is a half-complete synthesis of the North and the South.  A synthesis that allows them to comprehend many things and to do many other things that an English would never comprehend.  Their temperament is periodically directed toward, and diverted away from, the South.  Within this temperament, from time to time, the Provençal and Ligurian blood froths over.  The French shield themselves from the dreadful northern Grey-on-Grey and its sunless conceptual spookiness and anemia.  Against the excessiveness of our German disease of taste, one will prescribe blood and iron with great resolve: the “great politics” (according to a dangerous healing art which teaches me to wait and wait, but not to hope).  And in the French there is a predisposition and an accommodating manner toward those rarer and rarely satisfied people who are too cosmopolitan to find satisfaction in any kind of fatherlandishness, toward those who know how to love the North in the South and the South in the North.  For the congenital Mediterranean, the “good European.”  Bizet made music for them—Bizet, this last genius, who has seen a new beauty and seduction and who has discovered a piece of the Southernness of music.

 

255. With regard to German music, I advise a great deal of caution. Provided that one loves the South as much as I love the South—intellectually and sensuously, as a great academy of the healing arts. With its boundless sunniness and sunny transfigurations, which spread over a self-dominating and self-trusting existence.  Now, such a person who loves the South in such a manner will learn to be careful about German music.  For this kind of music not only will ruin his taste; it will ruin his health, as well.  Such a Southerner—not by descent, but by faith—must dream of the redemption of music from the North if he dreams of the music of the future / the future of music.  He will dream of having within his ears the prelude to a more profound, more powerful, and perhaps more evil and more mysterious music—a supra-German music, which does not fade away, grow pale, or become jaundiced before the sight of the voluptuous, blue sea and the Mediterranean sky, as all German music does.  A supra-European music that asserts its rights even before the brown sunsets of the desert, its soul related to the palm tree, its soul knowing how to be at home among massive, beautiful, solitary predators, its soul knowing how to wander…  I could imagine a music, the rarest magic of which would be that it knew nothing of good and evil.  Perhaps it would only know some kind of sailors’ homesickness, trembling here and there with a few golden shadows and tender vulnerabilities.  It would be an art that would see the escaping colors of a declining, almost incomprehensible moral world from a place far away.  And it would be an art that would be hospitable and deep enough to accommodate those who seek asylum later in life.

 

256. Thanks to the diseased estrangement of the populations of Europe from one another. An estrangement that has been set in motion by the lunacy of nationalism and that is still dividing the populations of Europe. Thanks also to those politicians with their quick glances and precipitous hands who are on top today because of this nationalistic lunacy.  These politicians are unaware that the politics of radical divergence which they pursue is necessarily only an intermediate form of politics.  Thanks to all of this, and thanks to much that is unspeakable today, the most unambiguous signs which express that Europe wants to become unified have been either overlooked or mendaciously reinterpreted.  The real direction of all the more profound and more expansive human beings of this century has been to prepare, in the mysterious labor of their soul, the way for a new synthesis and to try to anticipate the European of the future.  Only in the foreground, only in their weaker hours (such as old age), did they belong to a “fatherland.”  Only when they relaxed from themselves did they become “patriots.”  I am thinking of Napoleon, Goethe, Beethoven, Stendhal, Heinrich Heine, Schopenhauer: Don’t blame me if I include Richard Wagner among them, about whom one should not be led astray by one’s own misunderstanding.  Geniuses of this type seldom have the right to understand themselves.  Even less are they understood, of course, because of the rude noise that the French use to block and shield themselves from Richard Wagner.  The fact remains, though, that the French Late Romanticism of the 1840s and Richard Wagner belong to each other in the closest and most intimate manner.  They are related in all of the heights and depths of their requirements—they are fundamentally connected.  The soul of Europe, the soul of the One Europe, is that which yearns and urges outward and upward—whereto?  To a new light?  Toward a new sun?  But who wouldn’t like to express precisely what all of the masters of the new medium of language did not know how to express clearly?  It is certain that the same Storm and Stress tormented them, that they searched in the same fashion, these last great searchers!  The first artists with a world-literary education—most of them were even writers, poets, mediators, and synthesizers of artistic media and the sensorium.  Literature dominated all of them, all the way into their ears and their eyes.  (Wagner belongs as a musician among painters, as a painter among musicians, as an artist, in general, among actors.)  All of them were fanatics of expression “at all costs.”  I would highlight Delacroix as Wagner’s closest relative.  All of them were great discoverers in the realm of the sublime—also in the realm of the ugly and that of the ghastly.  They were even greater discoverers in the realm of effects, in the realm of showmanship, in the art of showbusiness—all of which were talents that were far outside of their genius.  Virtuosi through and through, with an uncanny access to everything that seduces, entices, compels, overthrows.  Congenital enemies of logic and of straight lines.  Lusting after the foreign, the exotic, the monstrous, the crooked, the self-contradictory.  As human beings, they were Tantaluses of the Will.  Parvenu plebeians who knew how to strike an elegant tempo in life and in creation yet who were incapable of a lento.  One thinks, for instance, of Balzac.  Untrammeled laborers, almost destroying themselves through labor.  Antinomians and rebels against ethics.  Ambitious and insatiable without a sense of balance and without taking any pleasure from being so.  All of them at last broken by the Christian Cross, all of them sinking down.  (And rightly so, for who among them would have been profound and original enough for an Antichristian philosophy?).  Each of them was a kind of impudently bold, splendidly violent, high-flying and high-soaring higher human being who first taught their century—and it is the century of the mob!—the concept of the “higher human being.”  May the German friends of Richard Wagner research whether there is something absolutely German in Wagnerian art or whether its distinctness comes from supra-German sources and impulses.  The degree to which Paris was indispensable to the formation of the Wagnerian type may not be underestimated.  The depths of Wagner’s instincts summoned him to Paris at the decisive moment.  Nor should one underestimate the degree to which his entire appearance, his self-apostolate, was based on the model of French socialism.  Perhaps a closer comparison will reveal, to the credit of Richard Wagner’s German nature, that he did everything stronger, bolder, and harder than the French of the nineteenth century could do—thanks to the circumstance that we Germans stand closer to barbarism than the French.  Perhaps the oddest thing that Richard Wagner ever created will be inaccessible, unsympathetic, and inimitable to the late Latin races, today and evermore: the figure of Siegfried, that quite free human being who might actually be far too free, far too severe, far too cheerful, far too healthy, and far too anti-Catholic for the tastes of traditional and delicate cultural populations.  He might have even been a sin against Romanticism, this anti-Romantic Siegfried.  Now, Wagner had richly abolished this sin, in his sad old age, anticipating a taste that in the meantime has become political.  He took his own religious vehemence down the path toward Rome.  Perhaps he did not travel down this path himself, but he did begin to sermonize the path toward Rome.  So that no one misunderstands these aforesaid words, I will avail myself of a few powerful rhymes which will reveal to less sophisticated ears my intentions.  What I have against “late Wagner” and his Parsifal music.

 

Is that still German?

Did this sleazy screeching come from a German heart?
And is this the self-flaying of a German body?
German is this priestly hand-folding?
This incense-fragrant sense-stimulating?
And German is this stumbling, tripping, falling?
This insecure wham-bam-bamming?

Is that still German?

Think!  You are still standing by the gate:
For what you hear is Rome—Rome’s wordless faith!

 

NINTH SECTION: WHAT IS “DISTINGUISHED”?

 

257. Any elevation of the “human” type has been the work of aristocratic society, and so shall it ever be. An aristocracy is a society that believes in the long ladder of hierarchy; it believes in the diversity of values between one human being and another. And it believes that slavery, in some form, is always necessary.  A pathos of distance arises from the incarnate difference between the classes, the constant looking beyond and looking down of the dominant classes upon their subordinates and tools, and the just as constant practice of obedience and commanding—the holding-down and holding-away.  Without this pathos of distance, that other, more mysterious form of pathos could not grow: the demand for an ever-greater distance, the demand for an ever-greater widening of distance within the soul itself.  The continual formation of ever-higher, ever-rarer, ever-remoter, ever-broader, ever more expansive states of the soul.  Basically, the very elevation of the “human” type, the continuous “self-overcoming of the human being,” to assimilate a moralistic formula into a supra-moral sense.  Indeed: Do not allow yourself to give in to any humanitarian deceptions concerning the history of the development of aristocratic societies (such a society is thus the presupposition of the elevation of the “human” type).  The truth is hard.  Let us tell the story, without sparing anyone’s feelings, of the way that every higher culture on Earth has begun!  Those who still have a natural nature, those who are barbarians in the terrible sense of that word, those rapacious predators who are still in possession of the seamless force of will and the desire for mastery.  They pounce upon those who are weaker, more civilized, more peaceful—perhaps they pounce upon those who belong to the merchant races or the cattle-breeding races.  Perhaps they pounce upon those who belong to ancient, delicate cultures, whose final burst of vitality flickered out in a glittering firework spectacle of spirit and corruption.  The distinguished caste was originally the barbarian caste.  The superiority of the barbarian resided not primarily in his or her physical force, but rather in his or her soulful force.  [The barbarian] was the more complete human being (which meant, at that stage, “the more complete beast”).

 

258. Corruption is the expression of the instincts which are threatening anarchy. Corruption is also the expression that the fundamental structure of affects, which we call “life,” has been destabilized. Corruption means something fundamentally different, depending on the lifeform in which it shows itself.  If, for example, an aristocracy, such as the French aristocracy at the beginning of the Revolution, throws away its privileges in a gesture of sublime nausea and sacrifices itself to an excessiveness of moralistic feeling: This is corruption.  It was actually only the concluding act of the enduring corruption of the eighteenth century in which the aristocracy gradually surrendered its dominant authority and deposed itself to a function of the kingdom (and finally became the bauble and ornament of that kingdom).  The most essential thing about a good and healthy aristocracy is, though, that it should not feel as if it were a function (whether it be of the kingdom, whether it be of the communality).  The essential thing about a good and healthy aristocracy is that it feel as if it were the sense and the highest justification of the kingdom, of the communality, etc.  It is essential, for this reason, that the aristocracy accept the self-sacrifice of an indeterminate number of human beings with good conscience—human beings who must be oppressed and reduced to incompleteness, to slaves, to instruments in the service of the aristocracy.  Its fundamental belief must be that the society is not permitted to exist for the sake of society.  Rather: The fundamental belief of the aristocracy must be that society exists merely as the substratum and scaffolding for the sake of an exceptional type of human being.  Its fundamental belief must be that society exists merely in order to empower the exceptional type of human being, to allow the exceptional type of human being to elevate to his or her higher task and to his or her higher being.  This comparable to that heliotropic Javanese climbing plant called sipo matador.  Wrapping its arms around the oak tree, this plant climbs relentlessly and for so long until it finally comes to the top of the oak and, propped upon the oak’s highest branches, unfolds its corolla in the free light and displays its happiness.

 

259. Sharing injury, violation, exploitation. Positing one will as equal to another’s. These can be considered good manners between individuals (“good manners” understood in the colloquial sense), if the right conditions are there.  (“The right conditions” would be the actual similarity in strength and value of two individuals and the co-belonging of the aforementioned experiences within a single body.)  However, as soon as one wants to assume this principle and make it—wherever possible—the foundational principle of a society: Then, the principle of sharing grievances and equalizing wills shows itself for what it is.  It is the will to negate life.  It is the principle of dissolution and disintegration.  Here you have to think thoroughly and rationally and resist all sentimental weakness.  Life itself is essentially appropriating, damaging, dominating the strange and the weak, oppressing, imposing one’s own forms on others, incorporating, being-severe, and—at the very least, in the mildest of cases—exploiting.  But why must we use such old words?  Words from an age that imprinted them with a defamatory meaning?  As we presupposed above, even within a body that treats bodies that are like it as equal—and this happens in every healthy aristocracy: Such a body will behave toward bodies that are different from it in a way that it refrains from behaving when it encounters bodies that are similar to it.  That is, if that body is a living body and not a dying body.  The body of the aristocrat must be the corporeal will to power.  It will grow, it will expand, it will draw to itself, it will desire supremacy—not out of some kind of morality or immortality, but rather because it lives and because life itself is the very will to power.  Nowhere is the vulgar consciousness of the European more resistant to education than it is here.  Everywhere, these days, people are raving—all while wearing scientific clothes.  They are raving about the conditions of a future society which will abolish its “exploitive character.”  To my ears, that sounds as if they were promising to invent a life that abstains from developing any organic functions.  “Exploitation” does not belong to a corrupt or incomplete or primitive society.  It belongs to the essence of the living itself, as its basic organic function.  “Exploitation” is the consequence of the actual will to power, which is the very will to life.  Granted, this is a new theory.  In reality, it is the ur-fact of all history.  At the very least, let us be honest about it!

 

260. As I wander through the coarser and more sophisticated morals that have dominated this Earth (or that still dominate the Earth), I have found that certain traits regularly repeat themselves and bind themselves to other traits. At last, two basic types were revealed, and a basic distinction emerged. There is master morality and slave morality.  Let me add that in all higher and synthetic cultures, there appears the attempt to intermediate both forms of morality.  Even more often, the two moralities are confused with each other, and reciprocal misunderstandings arise.  Indeed, you sometimes find them starkly juxtaposed—even within the same person, even within the same soul.  Moral value distinctions originate either from the dominating type—which takes pleasure in its difference from the dominated type—or from the dominated type (slaves and dependents of every degree).  In the first case: If it is the dominators who determine (and determine well) the concept of morality, the sublime and proud states of the soul will be felt as the most distinctive and hierarchical states.  The distinguished person divides himself from those creatures who express the contrary of such elevated, proud states of the soul.  He has contempt for them.  It becomes immediately apparent that in the first form of morality, the opposition between “Good” and “Evil” means the same as the opposition between “Distinguished” and “Contemptible.”  The opposition between “Good” and “Evil” comes from a different origin.  Contemptible will be the cowardly, the nervous, the trifling, whoever thinks of his own restricted utility.  Even more contemptible are the mistrustful person with his unfree glances, the self-denigrating person, the canine type of human who allows himself to be mistreated, the smarmy beggar, and, above all, the liar.  Such is the fundamental belief of all aristocrats: The common people are mendacious.  “We truthful ones”: This is how the nobility of Ancient Greece named itself.  It is obvious that moral valuations were first derived from people and only later derived from actions.  For this reason, it is an awful mistake when the moral historians begin their inquiries with the question “Why do we praise acts that are done from pity?”  The distinguished type of human being feels himself to be determinative of value.  S/he does not need approval.  S/he judges: “What is injurious to me is injurious in itself.”  S/he knows himself or herself as the one who confers honor to things in the first place.  S/he is creative of value.  Everything that s/he recognizes in him- or herself is honored.  Such morality is a form of self-glorification.  In the foreground is the feeling of plentitude, the feeling of a power that wants to overflow, the happiness that comes from the feeling of high tension, the consciousness of a wealth that wants to give and squander.  Even the distinguished person helps the misfortunate, but never or almost never out of pity.  Rather, s/he does so from the feeling of pressure that is produced by the overflow of power.  The distinguished person honors the mightiness within himself/herself.  S/he honors, as well, the one who exerts power over oneself.  The distinguished person honors the one who knows when to speak and when to keep silent; s/he honors the one who applies rigor and severity to oneself.  “Wotan put a hard heart in my breast”: So goes an ancient Scandinavian saga.  This was rightly poeticized from the soul of a proud Viking.  Such a person is quite proud that s/he is not made for pity.  For this reason, the hero of the sage admonishes: “Whoever does not have a hard heart when young will never be hard.”  Those who are distinguished and audacious and who think in such a manner are the furthest away from that morality that sees pity or acting for the benefit of others or désintéressement as its distinctive traits.  Belief in oneself, pride in oneself, and a fundamentally adversarial and ironic position toward “selflessness” belong to a distinguished form of morality—so does the gentle deprecation of one’s inferiors and the reluctance to be empathic, as well as the reluctance to have a “warm heart.”  The mighty are those who know how to honor.  It is their art, their realm of sensation.  The profound reverence toward age and tradition—the whole of justice rests upon this double reverence, and the belief in, and the preference for, one’s ancestors and the disinclination toward the approaching generations: These things are typical of the morality of the powerful.  Conversely, if people of “modern ideas” believe almost instinctually in “progress” and the “future” and are ever more lacking in reverence for age: This reveals the undistinguished origin of these “ideas.”  For the most part, however, the morality of the dominant is alien to contemporary tastes.  Its fundamental propositions are considered to be uncomfortable in their stringency: that one only has duties toward one’s equals.  That one may behave toward creatures of inferior rank and toward anything strange as one pleases or “as the heart desires.”  In any event, one is permitted to act toward such creatures “beyond Good and Evil.”  Pity and other such things may belong here.  The capacity and the obligation to practice long-term gratitude and long-term vengeance—both only practiced among one’s equals—refinement in retaliation, conceptual refinement in friendship, a certain necessity to have enemies.  (Enemies are, as it were, the “ditches” for the affects of envy, rivalry, arrogance—basically, in order to be able to be a good friend, such “ditches” are needed.)  All are the typical characteristics of the morality of distinction, which, as indicated above, is not the morality of “modern ideas” and which is therefore difficult to sympathize with today.  It is also difficult, these days, to excavate and to uncover the morality of the distinguished.  Things stand otherwise with the second type of morality, slave morality.  Suppose that the violated, the oppressed, the suffering, the unfree, the insecure, and the fatigued are moralizing.  What would their moral valuations be?  Probably a pessimistic distrust of the whole situation of humanity would be expressed.  Perhaps a judgment of human beings together with their situation.  The gaze of the slave is disadvantageous to the virtues of the powerful.  [The slave] is skeptical and mistrustful; he is subtly mistrustful of anything that is revered as “Good” [on the side of the masters].  He would like to persuade himself that their fortune is not genuine.  Inversely, those traits that serve to alleviate the conditions of the suffering are drawn out and suffused with light.  This is where reverence for pity, the accommodating and serviceable hand, the warm heart, patience, sedulousness, humility, and friendliness come in.  These are the most utile properties and nearly the only means of withstanding the pressures of existence.  Slave morality is essentially the morality of usefulness.  Here, the herd is the origin of the famous opposition between “Good” and “Evil.”  Powerfulness and dangerousness will be felt within “Evil”—a certain formidableness, refinement, and strength which stunt any inchoate contempt.  According to slave morality, then, “Evil” inspires fear.  According to master morality, it is precisely the “Good” which inspires fear and which desires to inspire fear, while the “bad” person will be felt as contemptible.  The opposition reaches its zenith when, as the consequence of slave morality, the scent of deprecation clings to the idea of “Good”—no matter how gentle and benevolent it might be.  For “Good,” according to the slavish way of thinking is, in any event, the person who is incapable of danger.  He is good-natured, easy to deceive, perhaps a little dumb, un bonhomme.  Everywhere in which slave morality dominates, the words “good” and “dumb” come closer together in the language.  The last basic distinction: the longing for liberty, the instinct for happiness, and the intricacies of the feeling of freedom belong as necessarily to slave morals and morality as art and exalted reverence and exalted obeisance belong as regular symptoms to an aristocratic way of thinking and valuating.  On this basis, it becomes immediately evident why love as passion—our European specialty—must have an absolutely distinguished source.  As is well known, the invention of love-as-passion belongs to the Provençal chivalric poets, to those magnificently inventive people of the gai saber, to whom Europe owes so much gratitude and to which Europe owes almost its very existence.—

 

261. One of the things that are perhaps most difficult for distinguished people to understand is vanity. They will attempt to deny its existence, whereas another kind of person will grasp it with both hands. The problem for the distinguished person is to imagine a creature who seeks to awaken a good impression of itself in others—an impression that it does not have of itself.  An impression that is also “unearned.”  And afterward, this vain creature is supposed to believe this good impression itself.  To a distinguished person, all of this seems somewhat distasteful and dishonorable to one’s own self.  It also seems so baroquely irrational that the distinguished person would rather see vanity as something rare and doubt of its existence in most of the cases in which it is brought up.  He will say, for instance: “I might be mistaken about my own worth.  Or I might demand to be recognized by others.  But that isn’t vanity.  Rather, it is a kind of benightedness or, more commonly, it is what people call ‘humility’ or ‘modesty.’”  Or even: “I can be happy about the good impression that others have of me for all kinds of reasons—perhaps because I honor and love them and enjoy their enjoyment.  Perhaps also because their good impression of me highlights my good impression of myself and strengthens it.  Perhaps because the good impression that others have of me, even in cases where I disagree, is just useful to me or promises some future usefulness.”  It is only through compulsion (that is, by studying history) that the distinguished person conceives how, from time immemorial, the common person only was what he was considered to be.  Since he is not at all accustomed to posit values himself, he only ascribes values to himself that his masters have ascribed to him.  (The creation of values is proper right of the masters.)  As the consequence of a massive atavism, the ordinary person will always just wait until an impression is made of him and then he will instinctively subjugate himself to that impression.  Certainly not just a “good” impression, but also a bad and unfair impression.  (Think, for example, of the majority of self-estimates and self-underestimates that credulous women learn from their father confessors.  Think of the self-estimates and self-underestimates that the credulous Christian learns from his Church.)  Basically, in keeping with the gradual approach of the democratic order of things (and its source, the common sanguinity of masters and slaves), the original impulse of the distinguished and rare is being encouraged more and more and is disseminated ever more widely: to ascribe to oneself value and to “think well of oneself.”  In each epoch, however, the impulse of the rare and the distinguished is countered by a more ancient, more extensive, and more fundamentally embodied tendency: that is the phenomenon of “vanity,” and this older tendency (vanity) will master the newer tendency (to give oneself value and to think well of oneself).  The vain person enjoys every good impression that people have of him, every good impression about him that he hears (completely beside the question of whether or not that impression is true or false and regardless of any usefulness such a positive impression might have).  In the same manner, he suffers from every negative impression that people have of him.  For he subjugates himself to both of these impressions, the positive and the negative.  He feels himself subjugated to them—and this comes from that most ancient of instincts, the instinct to be subjugable, and it is the instinct to be subjugable that bursts within him.  It is “the Slave” that is in the blood of the vain person, a residue of the slyness of the Slave—and how much “Slave” is still regressive within woman, for example!  She seeks to entice others into having positive impressions of her.  Along the same lines, the slave is the one who prostrates himself before the positive opinion [that the master has of him] after the fact, as if he were not the one who summoned the positive opinion to begin with.  And to say it once more: Vanity is a kind of atavism.

 

262. A species emerges, a type of creature is stabilized and strengthened when it is placed, again and again, under the same unfavorable circumstances. Contrariwise, it is known from the experience of breeders that species which receive a superabundance of nourishment and an excess of care and protection will incline toward the strongest variation of type. Such species—which receive an excess of nourishment, care, and protection—will be rich in aberrations and monstrosities (also in monstrous vices).  Now look at an aristocratic communality, such as the Greek polis or Venice, as if it were an intentional or unintentional breeding institution.  There are people who rely on one another as a form of perseverance—mostly because they must persevere or else run the risk of becoming extirpated.  Here, every advantage is lacking—every form of excess, every kind of safeguard that would favor species variation.  A species becomes necessary as a species only if it can assert itself and become permanent in its constant struggle against its neighbors or against the revolt-threatening oppressed or against insurrection.  A species becomes necessary as a species only on account of its hardness, consistency, and simplicity of form.  The multiplicities of experience teach the [dominant members of a] species to which qualities it chiefly owes its existence.  Despite all divinity and humanity, it is still there.  Despite all divinity and humanity, it has always had the upper hand.  [The dominant members of the species] call these qualities “virtues.”  Only virtues make the species great [according to the dominant caste].  If it is done severely, severity is desired.  Every form of aristocratic morality is intolerant—in the way that it educates its youth, in the way that it instructs women, in its conjugal customs, in its relations between the old and the young, in its penal laws (which alone have the aberrant in their gaze).  [The dominant members of the species] count intolerance itself as a virtue, and they give it the name “justice.”  A type with a few strong features.  A species of stringent, bellicist, taciturn, closed-off, and locked-away human beings (and are such from the most sophisticated feelings for the enchantments and nuances of society).  In this way, a society will be solidified—above the tumult of generations.  The cause of the stabilization and the strengthening of society is, as I said above, the constant struggle with ever-identical unfavorable circumstances.  At last, however, a favorable situation emerges—a favorable situation that slackens the tremendous tension.  Perhaps the neighbors are no longer adversaries, and the means to live—even the enjoyment of life—are in fertile abundance.  With a single stroke, the bonds and the compulsions of the old disciplinary norms are rent.  The [members of the species] no longer feel themselves as necessary, as existentially conditioned.  If the species wants to continue, it can only do so in the guise of luxury, of archaic taste.  Whether it takes the form of aberration (into the loftier, the more refined, the rarer) or of degeneracy and monstrosity, variation suddenly exists in the greatest plenitude and splendor—right there, as a spectacle.  Now, the individual dares to be individual.  Now, the individual dares to take off.  At these turns of history, side by side and often entangled and strangled, there is a majestic, multifarious, primordial jungle-like proliferation and towering, a tropical tempo in the rivalry of growth and a tremendous devastation and going-down-to-the-ground, thanks to, as it were, the wildly turned-against-one-another exploding egoisms that wrestle with one another “for sun and light” and derive no border, no rein, no safeguard from the previous morality.  It was the morality itself which accumulated its energy to such monstrous propositions.  It was the morality itself that tensed the bow in such a threatening manner—now it is, now it will “survive.”  The ghostly, threatening point has been reached—the point at which a greater, more multitudinous, more expansive life lives beyond the old morality.  The “individual” stands there—compelled to its own legislation, to its own artifices, to the cunning of self-preservation, self-heightening, self-redemption.  Nothing but new “For what purposes,” nothing but new “By this meanses,” no more formulae that are held in common.  Misunderstanding is bound to disrespect.  Decline, decomposition, and the highest desires are terribly entangled.  The genius of the race is overflowing from all of the cornucopias of the Good and the Awful.  The catastrophic simultaneity of spring and autumn, flush with new stimulations and veils that are characteristic of a fresh corruption, a corruption that is yet unexhausted, that is not yet depleted.  Again the danger is there, the mother of morality, the great danger, this time transferred to an individual, to one’s intimates and friends, on the street, to one’s own child, to one’s own heart, in everything that is ownmost and one’s most secret desires and volitions.  What will the future moral philosophers have to sermonize about?  They will discover—these sharp-eyed observers and slackers—that it will all soon come to an end, that everything around them will wreck and be wrecked.  That nothing will be standing the day after tomorrow.  Except for a certain kind of human being, the incurably mediocre.  The mediocre alone have the promise of persistence, of propagation.  It is they who are the people of the future, the only ones who will survive.  “Be like us!  Become mediocre!” is now considered the only morality that still makes sense, that still finds ears to listen to it.  But this morality of mediocrity is difficult to sermonize!  It may never admit what it is and what it wants!  It must speak of measure and dignity and duty and love for one’s neighbor.  It will need to bury irony!

 

263. The instinct for rank is, more than anything, already the mark of a high rank. The pleasure that one takes in the nuances of honor suggests that such a person has a distinguished heritage and is a person of distinguished habits. The preciousness, kindliness, and loftiness of a soul will be dangerously put to the test whenever it encounters something that is of the first rank but which is not yet guarded from invasive groping and vulgarity by the shudders of authority.  Something that is passing by, going its way, unmarked, undiscovered, trying new things out, perhaps intentionally veiled and disguised, as if it were a living touchstone.  Anyone who is charged with the task and exercise of investigating such souls will use this art in many of its forms to establish the ultimate value of such a soul—to identify the inexorable, innate hierarchy to which it belongs.  The investigator will test his subject’s instinct for honorDifférence engendre haine.  Many natures have a commonness that suddenly sprays forth as if it were filthy water whenever some kind of holy vessel, some kind of treasure from a secluded shrine, some kind of a book that bears the signs of a tremendous destiny is carried over.  On the other hand, there is an unwitting muteness, a hesitation in the eyes, a silencing of every gesture which expresses that a soul feels the proximity of something that is most worthy of reverence.  All things considered, the way in which respect for the Bible has been maintained in Europe is the most impressive fragment of discipline and refinement of manners that Europe owes to Christendom.  Such books of depth and ultimate significance require an external tyranny of authority for their protection to give them the millennia of longevity that are requisite in order to unpack them and unpuzzle them.  Much will have been accomplished when the vast crowd (shallow minds and quick digesters of all stripes) is finally trained to stop touching everything.  A great deal will have been achieved when they are trained to understand that there are sacred experiences that demand the removal of shoes and the prohibition of unclean hands.  This training is almost the pinnacle of humanity.  In contrast, as far as the so-called educated class is concerned, the believers in “modern ideas”: Perhaps nothing is more nauseating than their lack of shame, the complacent impudence of their eyes and their hands, which touch, lick, and fondle everything.  These days, there is possibly a greater elegance (Vornehmheit) of taste and tactful respectfulness, relatively speaking, amid the peasantry than amid the newspaper-reading demimonde of the spirit, the educated class.

 

264. What one’s ancestors did with the greatest constancy and love should never be effaced from the soul of a human being. Perhaps they were assiduous savers of money and the accessories of a writing desk and a money box, modest and bourgeois in their desires, modest in their virtues. Perhaps they were used to being ordered around from morning until night; perhaps they were sweet on rough pleasures and even rougher duties and responsibilities.  Perhaps at some point, they finally sacrificed their old privileges of birth and possession in order to live fully their faith—their “god”—as the people of an implacable and tender conscience that is ashamed of any mediation.  It is impossible that the child will not embody the properties and proclivities of his parents and ancient forbears.  This is the problem of race.  Assuming that you know a few things about someone’s parents, you can draw a conclusion about the child: some adverse intemperance, some sitting-in-a-dark-corner envy, some crude sanctimonious nonsense.  How these three things together have always constituted the real “mob” type!  Something along these lines will be transfused to the child as surely as if it were contaminated blood.  And only with the help of the best education and enculturation will one be able to deceive oneself about such an inheritance.  And what else is the point of education and enculturation these days?  In our very populist, one might say, ochlocratic age, “education” and “enculturation” will have to belong to the art of deception—they exist to deceive one about one’s heritage, they exist to deceive away the inherited mobbishness in one’s body and soul.  An educator who sermonizes truthfulness before all else.  An educator who constantly bellows at his breedees / trainees: “Be truthful!  Be natural!  Show yourself for what you are!”  Even such a virtuous, true-hearted donkey will learn to reach for the furca of Horace in order to naturam expellere: what was result?  “Mob” usque recurret.—

 

265. At the risk of offending innocent ears, I propose the following: Egoism belongs to the essence of the distinguished soul. By “egoism,” I mean our inexorable belief that other creatures will be subordinate to creatures such as “we are” and will sacrifice themselves to us. The distinguished soul will presuppose the fact of one’s egoism without so much as a question mark.  Not even with a feeling of the harshness, constrainedness, or capriciousness that comes with it.  Rather, the distinguished soul will accept his or her own egoism as something that might be grounded in the primordial law of things.  If they were to look for a name for this egoism [without calling it as such], they would say, “It is justice itself.”  On certain conditions, they will confess that they were hesitant, at first, to admit that they share equal rights with others.  As soon as the question of rank comes to light, they will move among these equals and equally righted with the same assurance of shame and tender reverence that they have when interacting with themselves—according to that secret, inborn mechanism that all stars know how to follow.  This is just yet another portion of egoism—this delicacy / subtlety and self-restraint while in contact with others.  Every star is just such an egoist.  Every distinguished soul honors itself in others and honors itself in the rights which it transmits to them.  The egoist never doubts that the exchange of honors and rights belongs to the essence of all interaction as if it belonged to the natural state of things.  The distinguished soul gives as it takes—and this exchange comes out of its impassioned and stimulable instinct for compensation, which lies at the basis of its soul.  The concept of “mercy,” inter pares, is nonsensical and noisome.  There might be a sublime way of letting gifts come down upon you from on high and thirstily drink them up as if they were droplets of water.  But a distinguished soul is unskilled in such arts and gestures.  Here, its egoism is an impediment.  The distinguished soul does not at all enjoy looking “On High.”  Instead, it would prefer to look laterally—horizontally, slowly—or downward.  The distinguished soul is already on high, and it knows this.

 

266. “One can only truly esteem the one who does not search for oneself.”—Goethe to Rath Schlosser

 

267. The Chinese have a saying which mothers teach their children: siao-sin. “Make your heart small!” This the actual fundamental tendency of late civilizations: I have no doubt that our self-minimization is the first thing that an Ancient Greek would notice about us Europeans of today.  And more than anything, it is this which would be “antithetical to his taste.”

 

268. What is commonness, ultimately? Words are the sonic signs of concepts. Concepts, however, are the more or less definite image-signs of often-repeated and coalescent sensations; they are the glyphs of sensation-assemblages.  Using the same words is not enough for us to understand one another.  We must use the same words for the same genres of inner experience.  We must, in the end, hold an experience in common.  Therefore, human beings within the same population understand one another better than those who belong to different populations, even if they are manipulating the same language.  Or rather: When people have lived together for a long time under similar conditions (climate, soil, danger, needs, work), something comes into being, something that “goes without saying”: a population.  In each soul, a determinate number of often-repeated experiences takes the upper hand over those experiences that rarely occur.  On the basis of these same experiences, we understand one another quickly and ever quicker evermore—the history of language is the history of the process of truncation.  On this basis of this quick understanding, we are bound together—tighter and ever tighter.  The greater the danger, the greater is the need to come to an agreement, quickly and easily, about what needs to be done.  When there is a danger, people can absolutely not dispense with the requirement of not misunderstanding one another.  In every friendship or romance, we administer this test: [We know that] nothing will endure as soon as we find out that one of us feels, intends, senses, desires, fears differently than the other person, even though we are using the same words.  (The fear of the “eternal misunderstanding”: This is the well-meaning genius who so often obstructs people of different sexes from rushing into the connections to which their senses and hearts are guiding them—and not some Schopenhauerian “genius of the species”!).  The sensation-assemblages inside of a soul that are the quickest to awaken, the quickest to speak up, the quickest to give commands will decide the total hierarchy of its values.  This [hierarchy of values], in turn, will ultimately determine [the soul’s] Table of Goods.  A person’s valuations disclose something about the structure of his or her soul and what that soul sees as the conditions of its life, its real needs.  The facile communicability of needs means, ultimately, the experiencing of average and common experiences—on the proviso that needs have only brought people together when they indicated, with similar signs, similar experiences and similar needs.  The facile communicability of needs must have been the most violent of forces that has ever been imposed on human beings.  Those human beings who are more ordinary and more recognizable take, and have always took, the advantage.  Those human beings who are rarer, more exceptional, more sophisticated, and more difficult to understand have no problem staying alone; they are subject to accidents in their isolation and seldom reproduce.  It is necessary to summon extraordinary counter-forces in order to impede this natural, all-too-natural progressus in simile: the continuing education of human beings into becoming similar, ordinary, average, herd-like—and common!

 

269. A congenital psychologist, someone who cannot avoid becoming a psychologist, a diviner of souls. The more such a psychologist turns his attention to exceptional cases and exceptional human beings, the greater will be the danger that he will suffocate from pity. He needs severity and cheerfulness more than anyone else.  The foundering, the annihilation of higher human beings, those rare souls, is the strict rule.  It is terrible always to have such a rule before one’s eyes.  The torment of the psychologist who discovers this annihilation, who discovers the total inner “irremediableness” of higher human beings, this eternal “Too late!” in every sense.  The torment of the psychologist who makes this discovery before anyone else and then makes this discovery again and again (almost), throughout the total course of history—this torment is multidimensional.  Someday, he might have the occasion to turn bitterly against his own lot and attempt his own destruction.  It might happen that he himself will be “ruined.”  In nearly every psychologist, there is perceptible a treacherous preference for—and pleasure in—contact with ordinary and orderly people.  This reveals that the psychologist forever requires a cure, that he forever needs a kind of escape and oblivion, a way out from the insights and the incisions that his “trade” has carved into his conscience.  The fear of memory is peculiar to him.  He is easily silenced by the judgments of others.  He listens with a motionless visage to how they revere, admire, love, transfigure what he has seen.  Or he conceals his silence by expressing his agreement with some foreground opinion.  Perhaps the paradox of his situation becomes so terrifying that the mob acquires a great admiration for what he has a mixture of pity and contempt for—the mob of the educated, the mob of fanatics.  [I mean the] admiration for those “great men” and prodigies for whose sake people bless and honor the fatherland, the Earth, the dignity of humanity.  Those “great men” and prodigies who are pointed out to the youth for their education…  And who knows whether the same thing has not happened in every remarkable instance?  The mob worships a god—and that “god” turns out to be a miserable sacrificial beast!  Success is always the greatest liar, and the “work” itself is a form of success.  The great statesman, the conqueror, the discoverer is camouflaged by his creations—to the point of unrecognizability.  The “work” of artists, of philosophers invents whoever has created it, whoever should have created it.  The “great men” (as they are regarded) are tiny pieces of bad poetry written after the fact.  Counterfeit money dominates the world of historical value.  The great poets (for example)—this Byron, Musset, Poe, Leopardi, Kleist, Gogol.  They are, perhaps they always have been, people of the moment.  Enthusiastic, sensuous, juvenile, frivolous and unpredictable when it comes to mistrust, frivolous and unpredictable when it comes to confidence.  With souls that generally conceal some kind of fissure.  Often taking revenge with their work for some inner defilement.  Often seeking oblivion by flying away from an all-too-reliable memory.  Often getting lost in the slime and almost falling in love with it—until they become like the will-o’-the-wisps that surround the swamp and pretend to become stars (the people then call them “idealists”).  Often struggling with some enduring disgust, with the recurring specter of disbelief, which chills them and compels them to yearn for gloria and to take “belief in itself” from the hands of besotted flatterers and then devour it.  What torment these great artists and higher human beings are for anyone who has guessed who they really are!  So much is perceptible: It is precisely from women that great artists and higher human beings so easily experience outbursts of illimited pity, outbursts of the most acquiescent pity—women who are clairvoyant in the world of suffering and, regrettably, addicted to helping and rescuing those who are far beyond their powers.  Great artists and higher human beings experience so many outbursts of pity that the crowd, especially the worshipping crowd, does not understand and overloads such outbursts of pity with so many invasive and self-complacent interpretations.  This pity normally deceives itself as to its strength.  Woman might believe that love can do anything.  It is her essential faith.  Alas, the one who knows the heart suspects how poor, how stupid, how helpless, how presumptuous, how misbegotten even the best love is, even the profoundest love is!  Even the best and profoundest love is more likely to destroy than it is to save!  It is possible that lying hidden and disguised beneath the holy fable of the life of Jesus is one of the most painful cases of the martyrdom of the knowledge about love.  The martyrdom of the most innocent and yearning heart, which never had enough human love, which demanded nothing other than love and the feeling of being loved.  With severity, with lunacy, with frightening outbursts against those who refused to give him love.  The story of one who was so impoverished, unsatiated, and insatiable in love that he had to invent Hell as a place to send those who did not want to love him.  One who, finally becoming aware of human love, had to invent a God who was totally love, who was the ability to love totally.  One who has mercy on human love because it is so paltry, so ignorant!  Whoever so feels, whoever knows such things about love—seeks death.—But why indulge in such painful things?  Unless one has to.—

 

270. The intellectual arrogance and disgust of anyone who has ever suffered profoundly. Hierarchy is nearly determined by how deep a person is capable of suffering. He is certain that his suffering has given him a greater knowledge than the cleverest and wisest could ever have—and this shivering certainty supersaturates him, tinting him with its colors.  He is familiar with worlds that are distant and terrible—he’s sure of that.  He is “at home” in places that “you would know nothing about!”  …  This silent intellectual arrogance of the one who suffers, this pride of the exceptional person of knowledge, the “initiate,” almost its sacrificial figure.  He requires all kinds of disguises to shield himself from contact with intrusive, pitying hands—indeed, from anyone who is not his brother or sister in pain.  Deep suffering makes distinctive (vornehm); it separates.  One of the most sophisticated forms of disguise is Epicureanism and a certain ostentatious boldness in taste that takes suffering lightly and defends itself against anything sad and profound.  There are “cheerful people” who use their cheerfulness because it allows them to be misunderstood; they want to be misunderstood.  There are “scientific people” who use science because it gives them a cheerful appearance and because scientificity implies that a person is superficial.  They want to seduce others into a false conclusion.  Some intellects are cocky and free and want to hide that their hearts are crippled, proud, inoperable.  They want to deny this.  Now and then, even foolishness is a mask for an unholy, super-certain knowledge.  From this, one can infer that reverence “for the mask” belongs to a more sophisticated form of humanity that will not engage in an inopportune psychology or an invasive curiosity.

 

271. What divides two people most deeply is a different sense and degree of cleanliness. All of the decency, all of the reciprocal utility, all of the goodwill in the world will not help. What matters is always the same: They “cannot stand the way that those people reek!”  The lofty instinct for cleanliness forces the one burdened with it into the strangest and most threatening isolation.  It is as if one were a saint.  For saintliness is precisely what it is—the highest intellectualization of the aforesaid instinct.  Some kind of shared knowledge of the superabundant joy that comes from bathing—some kind of zeal and craving that constantly drives the soul out of the night and into the morning, out of cloudiness, out of “tribulation,” and into brightness, radiance, profundity, finesse.  As much as such a tendency makes a person distinctive—it is a distinguished tendency—it also separates.  The pity of the saint is pity for human scum, for all-too-human scum.  There are degrees and heights where even pity is felt by him as form of contamination, as filthiness…

 

272. A sign of elegance (Vornehmheit): Never consider lowering our obligations to the level of just anyone’s obligations. Never have the desire to renounce our responsibility. Never have the desire to share our responsibility.  Count our privileges, and the performance of these privileges, among our obligations.

 

273. Any human being who strives for greatness regards anyone he encounters on his path as either a means to an end or as something that will slow him down or as an impedance. Or he will regard that person as a bed on which he can take a short rest. His generosity toward his fellow human beings is peculiar to the superior species to which he belongs.  This generosity is only made possible when he is dominating and when he is at the zenith of his powers.  He is impatient and conscious that he had been condemned to a play a role in a comedy until he reached his height (for every war is a comedy and hides its goal in the way in which every means hides its goal).  And all of this—[the impatience of the great man and his awareness that he had played a role in a comedy]—spoils all social intercourse for him.  This is the kind of person who knows solitude and what is most poisonous about solitude.

 

274. The problem with the one who waits. Many fortunate and unpredictable events are necessary in order for a higher human being to “explode,” as they say. The solution to a problem is dormant within the higher human being; only at the opportune time does he come to act.  This usually does not happen, and in every corner of the Earth there sit those who wait.  They hardly know for how long they must wait; few of them know that they are waiting in vain.  From time to time, the alarm bell will sound too late—that chance circumstance which will give them the “permission” to act.  Then, the best years of their youth and the power to act have been spent from sitting still for so long.  And how many have found, right as they “jump up” in terror, that their limbs have fallen asleep and their spirit is already too heavy!  “It is too late,” they say to themselves, marveling at themselves in disbelief and from now on, forever useless.  Should the “handless Raphael” be not the exception but the rule in the realm of genius (understanding the phrase “handless Raphael” in its broadest sense)?  Perhaps genius is not so rare; five hundred hands are necessary, though, in order to tyrannize kairós, “the opportune time.”  In order to grab chance by the back of its head!

 

275. People who don’t want to see someone’s height will stare all the more keenly at whatever is low about him. They will stare at whatever is in the foreground. By doing so, they reveal the kind of people that they really are.

 

276. Grosser, lowlier souls are better equipped to deal with every kind of hurt and loss than are more elegant souls. The latter, the more elegant souls, are in much greater danger—the probability will be greater that they will face misfortune or be destroyed. Because of the multiplicity of their conditions for life, this danger is extraordinary.—When a lizard loses a finger, the finger grows back.  Not so with human beings.

 

277. Sufficiently terrible! The same old story! After your house is built, you notice something, you unwittingly learn something, that you should have known before the building started.  The eternal, miserable “Too late!”  The melancholy of all that is finished! …

 

278. Wanderer, who are you? I see you going your way, contemptless, loveless, with an inscrutable gaze. Damp and sad like a plummet, coming back up to the light from every depth unsatiated.  What were you looking for down there?  With a breast that never sighs, with lips that hide their disgust, with hand that only slowly grabs.  Who are you?  What did you do?  Rest here!  This place is hospitable to everyone.  Relax!  And whoever you might be, what would make you happy?  What would make you relax?  Just name it!  I will offer you whatever I own!  “Relax?  Relax?  Oh, you curious one, what are you talking about?  But give me, I ask you…”  What?  What?  Tell me!  “One more mask!  A second mask!”

 

279. When they are happy, people of deep sadness reveal who they really are: They have a means of grasping happiness, as if they wanted to crush and strangle it out of jealousy. Alas, they know too well that it will run away from them!

 

280. “Terrible! Terrible! What is this?  Isn’t he—retreating?”  Indeed!  However, you understand him badly if you complain about this.  He is retreating as one who is ready to make a great leap—.

 

281. “Will they believe me? But I demand to be believed. I have always been bad at thinking of myself, at thinking about myself.  Only thinking about myself in very rare cases—only when forced to and always without any pleasure in ‘the matter.’  Always ready to deviate from ‘Me’ and forever without faith in the results.  Always coming from an ineluctable mistrust toward the possibility of self-knowledge, a mistrust that has even brought me to the point at which I feel a contradictio in adjecto in the concept of ‘immediate knowledge,’ which is something that the theorists allow themselves to believe in.  All of these facts are just about the most certain things that I know about myself.  There has to be some kind of resistance in me toward believing anything determinate about myself.  Is there a riddle therein?  Probably.  Fortunately, however, it is nothing for my teeth.—Perhaps [my resistance toward self-knowledge] discloses the species to which I belong?—But it doesn’t disclose [the name of] this species to me: which is exactly how I wish it.”

 

282. “What happened to you?” “I don’t know,” he said haltingly. “Perhaps the harpies flew at me from across the table.”  These days, it happens every now and then, a mild-mannered, moderate, reserved human being will suddenly be thrown into a rage and smash dishes and turn over the table, screaming, raving, cursing the whole world.  Finally, he will walk away, ashamed, furious at himself.  Where did he go?  For what reason did he leave?  To starve himself, alone, away from the others?  To suffocate himself with the memory of what he did?  A person who has the desires of a soul that is high-born and fastidious.  A person who rarely finds his table set properly.  A person who rarely finds his food well-prepared.  The danger will always be considerable for such a person.  Today, however, the danger is absolutely extraordinary.  Thrown into a noisy and mobbish age, having no desire to eat out of a single one of its bowls, he can easily die from hunger or thirst.  Or if, despite everything, he finally “digs in” and eats, he could easily be annihilated by a sudden paroxysm of nausea.  All of us have probably sat down at tables where we did not belong.  And the most intellectual among us find it the hardest to nourish ourselves.  We know the dangerous dyspepsia that originates from the sudden recognition of the kind of feed that we are eating—from the sudden disappointment with our fodder, the sudden disappointment with those who are sitting at our table, eating their dessert.  Dessert nausea.

 

283. Assuming that one wants to dispense any praise at all, it is a sophisticated and at the same time elegant form of self-mastery to praise something that one does not agree with. Otherwise, one would be praising oneself, which is invidious to good taste. Of course, this is a form of self-mastery that provides other people with a good opportunity and incentive to constantly misunderstand the one who is giving out praise.  In order to permit yourself this real luxury of taste and morality, you have to avoid living among intellectual idiots.  Moreover, you have to live among such people whose misunderstandings and errors are amusing because of their sophistication—otherwise you will pay the price!  “He praised me; thus, he did me a service.”  This inferential asininity ruins half of our lives, the lives of us hermits.  For such asininity in drawing inferences brings the asses into our neighborhoods, into our friendships.

 

284. Living with an extraordinary and proud serenity. Always on the other side. Having his affects (voluntarily).  Not having his affects.  Having his For and Against.  Not having any For or Against.  Condescending to assume a For or an Against—for a few hours.  Riding them as if he were riding horses.  Sometimes, riding them as if they were donkeys.  You have to know how to use their stupidity as if it were fire.  Keeping in reserve his three hundred surfaces.  Even wearing sunglasses.  For there are moments when no one should be allowed to see our eyes.  Not to mention: There are also moments when no one should be allowed to see our “reasons.”  Choosing for his company that mischievous and gleeful vice known as “politeness.”  Staying master of his four virtues: courage, insight, empathy, solitude.  Solitude is one of our virtues, for it is a sublime tendency and urge toward cleanliness.  Solitude gives us the suspicion that contact between human and human “in society” inevitably makes one unclean.  Every form of communality makes—somehow, somewhere, sometime—everything “common.”

 

285. The greatest events and thoughts—though the greatest thoughts are the greatest events—will be comprehended last. Contemporary generations will never experience such events. They will live past them.  It is a bit like what happens in the stellar realm.  The light from the most distant stars comes to human beings last.  And before that light arrives, human beings deny that—stars exist.  “How many centuries does a mind require in order to be comprehended?”  That is also a standard of measurement which creates a necessary hierarchy and etiquette.  For minds, as for stars.

 

286. “Here the vista is free, the mind is lifted.” There is, however, an inverse kind of human being who is also at the apex and who also has a free prospect. But this type of human being looks down.

 

287. What is “distinguished”? What does the word distinguished mean to us? How does one identify someone who is distinguished?  How does one recognize a distinguished human being under the heavy, overcast sky of the burgeoning ochlocracy, which darkens everything and makes everything heavy as lead?  It is not one’s actions which reveal who is distinguished.  Actions are forever ambiguous, forever unfathomable.  Nor is it one’s “works.”  There are more than enough people among artists and scholars who reveal through their work their deep desire to become distinguished.  It is precisely this demand for distinction that is alien to the needs of the distinguished soul.  In fact, the demand for distinction is the loquacious and dangerous mark of its absence.  It is not works, but rather faith that is decisive here.  Faith establishes the hierarchy (to absorb an ancient religious formula into a new and deeper understanding).  There is a kind of fundamental certainty that the distinguished soul has for itself.  This certainty cannot be sought or found; perhaps, it can also not be lost.  The distinguished soul is in awe of itself.

 

288. There are people who have intellect in an inevitable manner. They might turn and twist, as they like; they might hold their hands before their treacherous eyes (as if the hands weren’t capable of betrayal!). Finally, it comes out that they have something that they tried to conceal: namely, intellect.  One of the most sophisticated means of deceiving other people for as long as possible and successfully appearing more stupid than you really are (which is as desirable in everyday life as an umbrella) is called “enthusiasm.”  Including what belongs to it, such as virtue.  For, as Galiani says (who certainly knew about such things): vertu est enthousiasme.

 

289. You can always hear an echo in the writings of a hermit—forever the echo of the wasteland, forever the sound of whispering and the shy-looking-around of solitude. From his most powerful words, from his screaming, resounds a new and more dangerous kind of solitude, of self-withholding. Whoever has sat with his soul—year in and year out, day in and day out—in confidential dialogue, in confidential debate.  Whoever has become a cave bear or a graverobber or the guardian of a treasure and a dragon.  Whoever has sat there in his cave—it might be a labyrinth or a gold shaft.  His very concepts will get a twilight color, an odor that smells as much of depth as it does of mildew.  Something incommunicative and resistant.  Something that blows its cold wind on every passer-by.  The hermit never believes that a philosopher expresses his real and final opinions in books (assuming that such a philosopher was originally a hermit himself).  Isn’t that just why people write books?  To keep what they hide to themselves?  The hermit will question whether a philosopher can even have “final and real” opinions at all.  He will question whether at the back of every cavern there might not be another cavern; he will question whether there must not be another cavern at the back of every cavern.  A wider, stranger, richer world beyond every surface.  An abyss beneath every ground, beneath every “grounding.”  Every philosophy is a foreground philosophy.  Such is the judgment of the hermit: “There is something arbitrary about the fact that he is staying here and not there.  There is something arbitrary about the way he is looking backward and looking around himself.  Something arbitrary about the fact that he isn’t digging deeper right here.  Something arbitrary about the fact that he isn’t tossing the spade aside.  There is something suspicious about that.”  Every philosophy also conceals another philosophy; every opinion is also a form of concealment, every word is also a mask.

 

290. Every profound thinker is more afraid of becoming understood than of becoming misunderstood. In the latter case, becoming misunderstood would perhaps hurt the thinker’s vanity. In the former case, however, becoming understood would wound his heart, his empathy, which forever speaks these words: “Oh, why do you want to have it so difficult—why do you want it to be as difficult for you as it is for me?”

 

291. The human being is a multitudinous, mendacious, artful, and opaque beast—a beast that seems uncanny to other beasts not so much because it is powerful but because it is crafty and clever. [The human beast] has invented the good conscience in order to enjoy its own soul someday, as if that soul were something simple. And the whole of morality is a long, hearty falsification—to make it possible [for the human beast] to view its soul with pleasure.  From this perspective, there is much more in the concept of “art” than one commonly believes.

 

292. A philosopher is a human being who constantly experiences, sees, hears, surmises, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things. He is struck by his own thoughts as if encountering them from the outside—from above and from below. As if he were struck by his type of events and lightning bolts.  He himself is perhaps a kind of storm which is pregnant with new lightning flashes.  He is a catastrophic human being, a calamitous human being around whom there is forever rumbling and humming and gaping and everything is uncanny.  A philosopher.  Alas, a being who often runs away from himself and often is afraid of himself.  However, he is curious enough to return to himself again and again…

 

293. A man who says, “I like that. I will take it for myself, and I will protect it and defend it against anyone.” A man who wants to pursue a matter, a man who wants to carry out a decision, a man who wants to be true to a thought, a man who wants to hold on to a woman, a man who wants to punish an impertinent / overbold character and throw him down.  A man who has his wrath and his sword.  A man who the weak, the suffering, the oppressed, even animals like to go to—and who belong to him by nature.  Basically, a man who is naturally master.  If such a man has pity.  Well!  This pity has value, then!  But who cares about the pity of someone who suffers?  Or the pity of someone who sermonizes pity?  There is today almost everywhere in Europe a diseased delicateness and sickly sensitivity to pain.  In the same way, there is a repulsive intemperateness in lamentation, a softness which gussies itself up into something higher with the help of religion and philosophical bric-a-brac.  There is a formal cult of suffering.  The unmanliness which is christened as “pity” in such exalted circles, I believe, is what always appears first to your eye.  This latest form of bad taste must be warded off, vigorously and thoroughly.  And finally, I wish that people will put the amulet gai saber on their hearts and around their necks.  [Gai saber means] “the gay science,” to translate it into [English].

 

294. The Olympian vice. Against that philosopher who, being a real Englishman, tried to defame laughter to all thinking minds. “Laughter is an awful oddment of human nature that every thinking mind will strive to overcome” (Hobbes).  If I were permitted a hierarchy of philosophers according to the tier of their laughter, up to those who are capable of a golden laughter.  Given that even the gods philosophize (a conclusion to which I have been urged many times), I have no doubt that they know how to laugh in a suprahuman and new manner—and at the expense of all serious things!  Gods take pleasure in mockery: It seems as if they can’t refrain from laughing even at holy acts.

 

295. The Genius of the Heart—possessed by the great Hidden One. The Experimenting God / The Tempting God. The one who was born to be the Ratcatcher of the Conscience, whose voice knows how to descend into the underworld of every soul.  The one whose every word, whose every glance conveys carefulness and a fold of seduction.  The one whose sovereignty understands how to appear differently than what he is.  More so, he knows how to compel his followers to come closer to him—he knows how to make them follow him more intimately, more thoroughly.  The Genius of the Heart—he who silences every sound and every form of self-complacency.  He who teaches how to listen.  He who smooths rough souls and gives them the taste of a new desire.  He makes them as silent as a mirror that reflects the deep sky.  The Genius of the Heart, who teaches the foolish and impulsive hand to hesitate and to grasp in a more decorous manner.  The Genius of the Heart, who surmises the existence of a hidden and forgotten treasure.  The Genius of the Heart, who divines the droplet of goodness and sweet spirituality beneath the dark and thick sheet of ice.  The Genius of the Heart: the one who serves as the dowsing rod for every grain of gold that has been long buried in a dungeon of sludge and sand.  The Genius of the Heart: the one who enriches everyone he comes into contact with.  He does not ennoble or surprise, as if blessing and oppressing someone with a strange gift.  Rather, he makes them richer in themselves, newer than ever before, broken open, as if thawed by a balmy gust.  As if they now could be heard.  Perhaps they are less secure than before.  Perhaps they are more delicate, more fragile, more fragmented than before.  However, they are now full of hopes that are still nameless.  They are now overflowing with a new will and a new surge.  They are now overflowing with a new non-will and a new counter-surge…  But what am I doing, my friends?  Whom am I talking about?  Whom am I telling you about?  Have I forgotten so much that I can’t even name his name?  Unless it be the case that you have already guessed yourselves who this questionable spirit, who this questionable god is, who would be praised in such a fashion.  As with everyone who has been on the go from childhood, as has happened to everyone who has been in foreign lands since walking with a child’s legs, so has it come to pass with me: I have crossed paths with many strange spirits, many spirits who are not harmless.  Above all, however, the one of whom I spoke has crossed my path again and again.  He is no less than the god Dionysius, that great Ambiguous One, the Experimenting God / the Tempting God.  The one to whom, as you know, I sacrificed my firstborn child, in all secrecy and fearful reverence.  I am the last one, it seems to me, who has sacrificed a firstborn to Dionysius.  For I found no one who could have understood what I did back then.  In the meantime, I learned much more, too much, about the philosophy of this god, a knowledge that has been transmitted from mouth to mouth.  I, the last acolyte and initiate of the god Dionysius.  And might I be permitted, finally, to begin my work, my friends?  To give you a little taste of this philosophy, as much as I am allowed to?  With a soft voice, as is courteous.  For this philosophy concerns much that is arcane, much that is new, much that is uncommon, much that is fantastical, much that is spooky.  The idea that Dionysius is a philosopher, the idea that even the gods philosophize, seems like news to me—a piece of news that is hardly uncontroversial and that might even excite mistrust among philosophers.  Among you, my friends, such an idea would receive less opposition, unless it come too late and at an unpropitious time.  For I have been informed that you are not fond of believing these days in god or in gods.  Perhaps, as I tell my story, I even have to go further with my candor than the strict habits of your ears would prefer?  Certainly, the God in question went further in such dialogues—much, much further—and was always many steps ahead of me…  Indeed, I would like—if it were permissible—to give him lovely, solemn names of grandeur and of virtue, according to the rules of human usage.  I would boast of his courage in research and discover, of his bold honesty, truthfulness, and love of wisdom.  However, a god such as this would have nothing to do with all of this honorable, sumptuous junk.  He would say: “Keep this praise to yourselves and to those who are like you—and whomever else has need of it!  I—have no reason to bedizen my nudity!”  The suspicion arises that this type of divinity and philosopher perhaps lacks shame.  About this matter, he once said: “I love humanity, under certain circumstances.”  He alluded to Ariadne, who was present as he was speaking.  “The human being is, to my mind, an agreeable, audacious, inventive animal that has no equal upon the Earth.  An animal that finds its way out of every labyrinth.  I am good to [this creature].  I think often of [this beast], how I impel it and make it stronger, eviler, and profounder than it is.”  I ask, terrified: “Stronger, eviler, and profounder?”  He says again: “Indeed, stronger, eviler, and profounder—and also lovelier.”  And with this, the Experimenting God, the Tempting God grinned with his halcyon grin, as if he said something enchantingly gracious.  You can see it right here.  This divinity lacks more than just shame.  But you can also see that there are perfectly good reasons to presume that we can teach the gods a thing or two.  We human beings, we are—more human…

 

296. Oh, what are you, then—you, my written and painted thoughts? Not too long ago, you were so vivid, so young, and so malicious, full of barbs and hidden spices that made me laugh and sneeze. And now?  Already you’ve taken off your young person’s clothes, and a few of you are, I am afraid, ready to become truths.  You already look so immortal!  So heartbreakingly upstanding!  So boring!  And were things any different back then?  What things we wrote out back then, what things we painted out—we mandarins with our Chinese paintbrushes, we eternalizers of things that let themselves be written.  What are we then capable of painting out?  Alas, only that which is already wilting and begins to stench!  Alas, forever only storm clouds after they have exhausted themselves and withdrawn—and golden, post-date feelings!  Alas, forever only birds that flew with fatigue and then had done with their flying and let themselves be caught—by our hands!  We externalize what lives no longer, what no longer can fly—only worn-out and outworn things!  And it is our afternoon, my written and painted thoughts, for which only I have colors, perhaps many colors, many vivid delicatenesses and fifty yellows and browns and greens and reds.  But no one suspects how you looked in your morning, you unpredicted sparks and wonders of my solitude, you, my old, beloved—awful thoughts!

 

From Lofty Mountains: An Epilogue Song

 

O afternoon of life!  What a solemn time!
O summer garden!
Intranquil happiness.  Standing and watching and waiting
I’m waiting for friends, ready day and night
Where are you hiding, my friends?  Come!  It’s time!  It’s time!

 

Was it not for your sake that the iceberg’s grey
Is today engarlanded with roses?
The stream is looking for you, yearning, pushing on
Wind and cloud sail higher into the blue
Higher to peer at you from a high bird’s view

 

High in the Most High, my table is set for you
Who dwells so close to the stars?
Who dwells in the grey remoteness of the abyss?
My realm—which realm stretches out further?
And my honey—who has ever tasted it?

 

There you are, friends!  Alas, I’m not the one
Who you’re looking for?
You hesitate, astounded—alas, you’d rather complain?
I—am no longer the one?  Have my hand, gait, and face been swapped?
And what am I to you, friends—am I not the one?

 

Have I become another?  Have I become foreign to myself?
Have I originated from myself?
A wrestler who defeated himself too often?
His strength turned against itself?
Wounded and confined by his own victory?

 

Am I looking for where the wind blows the sharpest?
Am I learning to live
Where no one lives, in destitute ice-bear zones?
Unlearning humanity and divinity, curse and prayer?
Have I become a specter that wafts over glaciers?

 

My dear old friends!  Look!  Now you seem pale
Flush with love and dread!
No, go!  Don’t be angry!  Here—you can’t build a house!
Here between the most distant realms of ice and rock—
Here one has to be like both hunter and chamois.

 

What a wicked hunter I’ve become!  See how tightly
Strung is my bow!
The strongest drew the bow string—:
But alas!  Dangerous is that arrow!
More dangerous than any arrow!  Get out!  Run for safety…!

 

You’re turning away?  O heart, you deceive yourself enough
Your hopes stay strong:
Do your new friends hold doors open for you?
Let go of the old!  Leave your memories alone!
You were young once.  Now you are young better!

 

What ever binds us is the bond of hope
Who is reading the signs that
Love once inscribed, signs that now fade?
I am like the parchment that the hand
Shies from touching—so that it doesn’t brown, so that it doesn’t burn.

 

Friends no more.  They are—what do I call them?
Just friend-specters?
They knock nightly on my heart and window
They stare at me and say: “We were the ones?”
O wilted words that once were redolent of roses!

 

O yearning of youth that misunderstands itself!
Those whom I yearned for,
Those whom I consider myself to be related to-transformed by
They became old—I exorcised them away:
Only those who change themselves are related to me.

 

O afternoon of life!  What a solemn time!
O summer garden!
Intranquil happiness.  Standing and watching and waiting
I’m waiting for friends, ready day and night
Where are you hiding, my new friends?  Come!  It’s time!  It’s time!

 

This song is done—sweet scream of yearning
Dead in my mouth:
A wizard did it, that friend who always comes at the right time,
Friend to the afternoon.  No!  Don’t ask me who it is!
In the afternoon, it was.  When one became two.

 

Now we feast.  We know our common goal,
The festival of festivals:
Friend Zarathustra came, guest of guests!
Now the world is laughing.  Tearing the gruesome curtain.
The wedding of light and darkness is here…

 

Translated by Joseph Suglia.  December 2019

On KING LEAR (Shakespeare)

 

I DON’T THINK YOU’RE READY FOR THIS VILE JELLY: ON KING LEAR (Shakespeare)

by Joseph Suglia

 

“One has not observed life very carefully if one has failed to see the hand that gently—kills.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Paragraph 69

 

“Achieved art is quite incapable of lowering the spirits.  If this were not so, each performance of King Lear would end in a Jonestown.”

—Martin Amis, “Philip Larkin: His Work and Life”

 

Any writer who has received a Letter of Rejection knows the sting of malignancy behind that letter’s boilerplate politeness: “Every month, we are sent thousands of manuscripts for review.  Unfortunately, your manuscript was not among the few that reached our editorial board.  We will keep your query on file should another opportunity arise.”  Any suitor whose desires have been refused knows the malicious assertion of power that surges and throbs behind the superficially gentle refusal, so unkind in its apparent kindness: “Thank you.  I am very flattered; unfortunately, I am not available for dating.”  When American corporatists say, “I am sorry that you feel that way,” this means: “I don’t care how you feel.”  When Disney employees cheep and chirp, “Have a Disney Day!” to tourists, this is another way of saying, “Kill yourself!”

Such is what Slavoj Žižek calls the “unmistakable dimension of humiliating brutality” inherent to polite responses (In Defense of Lost Causes, p. 17).  Politeness is ambiguous because it seems to be a form of gallantry and respect for the other person’s feelings; just as often, it conceals a radical disregard for a person’s sensitivity.  Open expressions of dislike must be avoided in polite society; therefore, one’s contempt for others maintains itself as disguised contempt.  Respectfulness and tact are, often enough, screens behind which disrespectfulness and insensitivity lurk.  There is, in a word, such a thing as aggressive politeness; there is such a thing as being aggressively polite.

I believe that the ambiguity of politeness is evident in Shakespeare’s traumatizing King Lear (1605-1606).  Let me be blunt: The play concerns a king who is thrown down to the level of a homeless beggar, and he is subjected to a series of brutal humiliations throughout the play, as are Edgar, Gloucester, and Lear’s rough yet loyal-to-the-death servant Kent.  The abjections begin long before the King’s exposure to the cold gusts of the open heath.  Lear is humiliated long before he experiences undisguised elder abuse, long before he is pushed out of doors, long before he is diminished to an undignified poverty.  The degradations begin with the manifest politeness of his two eldest offspring, Goneril and Regan.  Lear is mapping out and parceling out his kingly estate—prematurely, I would add—to his three daughters, Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia, before his “[u]nburdened crawl toward death” [I:i].  His crawl toward death turns out to be a severely burdened one, despite his expectations.  His decision to give away his land, property, and revenue is an undiscerning one—hence the ocular imagery that spreads throughout the play.  The gruesome enucleation of Gloucester in Act Three: Scene Seven, for instance, mirrors Lear’s own blindness, his inability to leer.  The play’s twin metaphors are blindness and nothingness.[i]

When Lear asks his youngest daughter, his favorite, to declare her love for him, Cordelia’s response is monstrously inappropriate: “Nothing, my lord” [I:i].  (Inappropriate yet not as cruel as the pointed flatteries of Goneril and Regan, which I will turn to below.)  Inexpressive Cordelia says this to herself, and so we know that it is genuine: “I am sure my love’s / More ponderous than my tongue” [Ibid.].  She knows that language always lies, she knows that any word that she could possibly say would belie the love that she has for her father, transmuting her feelings to their converse,[ii] so she chooses to say nothing: “Nothing, my lord.”  She utters the following to explain her mutism: “I cannot heave / My heart into my mouth” [Ibid.]—“to heave” means “to lift.”  She cannot raise the profundity of her feeling to language, with all of its manifold evasions, pomposities, and solecisms.  Undiscerning Lear misses Cordelia’s meaning: All Cordelia is suggesting is that she loves her father according to a wordless obligation.  She is “[s]o young” and “true” [Ibid.]—and Lear, dotard that he is, mistakes his youngest daughter’s brazenness and refusal to dote on him for disloyalty.[iii]

Again, Lear’s successive humiliations begin not with Cordelia’s inadvertent insult, but with the politeness of Goneril and Regan.  Cordelia, the malapert minx, with her saucy bluntness, is kinder than Goneril and Regan, who are empty flatterers and who are cruel in their flattery.  Politeness and manners are cruelty.  Goneril and Regan are followers of the conventions of the court; their intimacy is a kind of formalized intimacy or a kind of intimate formality.  One of Goneril’s inflated flatteries goes thus: “Sir, I do love you more than word can wield the matter…” [Ibid.].[iv]  Undiscerning Lear, who “jointly” “invests” his eldest daughters with his “power” [I:i][v] trusts their statements—statements that are no more meaningful than the proposition “Banana trees eat cheese.”

Cordelia’s resistance is nothing in comparison with Goneril and Regan’s insubordination, for they undermine their father’s standing and resources before pushing him out into the cold of the storm.[vi]  The point that I am trying to make is that Cordelia’s resistance, however inapposite it might be, is far less destabilizing than the savage overthrows of her older sisters, who wear the mask of politeness.

Lear is a literalist.  He literalizes Cordelia’s impoliteness, as if it represented disloyalty, when it does not.  He literalizes Kent’s bluntness, his “unmannerliness,” his “plainness” [I:i], as if it represented rebelliousness, which it does not.  Instead, he prizes Goneril and Regan’s “oily” and “glib” [I:i] flatteries, which conceal a deep and deadly disobedience.  To repurpose something once said by George Carlin, their version of politeness is contempt pretending to be manners.

The King’s demand is for the expression of love, as if the expression of love were love itself.[vii]  Lear prefers expressions of politeness to genuine loyalty.  He believes that Goneril and Regan love him because they say that they do.  When he finally grasps the venom with which their polite formulae is saturated, Lear makes the logical error of associating the inhuman behavior of Goneril and Regan with the behavior of all women.  Lear becomes a full-blown misogynist on account of this logical error (the Fallacy of Composition), which is similar to the unfortunate mistake of some critics who think that the play is misogynistic because the character Lear blindly becomes a misogynist.[viii]

Lear’s absolute authority at the beginning of the play is gradually triturated.  Contemptuously, Oswald refers to the King as “My lady’s father” [I:iv].  “My lady’s father” places the emphasis on the “lady” (Goneril) and thus suggests the unmanning of Lear.  Everyone in the hall knows this nasty bit of pseudo-politeness for what it is: an insult to the King.  Kent accordingly gives Oswald a good drubbing—Kent, who is blunt and painful in his honesty yet far, far kinder than those flatterers, those sycophants, those sophists, whose loyalties lie in their mouths and not in their deeds.

The eldest daughters are the cuckoos that bite the head off the hedge-sparrow, their father.  The Fool to Lear: “The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long / That it’s had it head bit off by it young” [I:iv].  The most shocking thing about the second line is the intentional absence of proper grammar.  The grammatical way of composing the lines would be: “The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long / That it had its head bit off by its young.”  The intentionally bad grammar intensifies the shocking character of the image.  Since the cuckoo and the hedge-sparrow belong to different species within the avian kingdom, the Fool might even be suggesting that Lear’s daughters belong to a different species than the King—though, to be historically precise, Linnaeus established the separate classification of dunnock and cuckoos slightly over 150 years after this play was composed (in 1758).  If the Fool intends that they belong to the same family, this is an image of the daughters cannibalizing their father.

Soon after his eldest daughters drive him down, inverting the traditional father-daughter relationship,[ix] Lear becomes estranged from himself; he becomes unrecognizably other.  Alienated from himself, alienated from his estate, which he has imprudently given to his eldest daughters, Lear can no longer recognize himself: “Who is it that can tell me who I am?” [I:iv].  His previous self is foreign to him: “Does any here know me?  Why, this is not Lear” [Ibid.].  He is the father who is father no more; he is the king who is king in title only.  For much of his life, he thought of himself as father and as king.  Now that the roles of father and king have been robbed of their substance, he does not recognize who he is.  This non-self-recognition is madness.[x]

Lear tries to strip off his royal habiliments in the storm, which would be a kind of stripping-away of the symbols of royal authority, but is restrained by the Fool.  The Fool is introduced in Act One: Scene Four, three scenes after the befooling of Lear has been initiated.  The Fool disappears in Act Three: Scene Six, right after Lear says, “We’ll go to supper in’the morning” [III:vi], which means that Lear is now completely demented.  Now, it is the King who has become the Fool.  What use is the Fool when the King is foolish?  It is only when the Fool is hanged that we hear of the Fool again.

Even though, on the surface, Cordelia has “scanted” her “obedience” [I:i] by avoiding an explicit declaration of love for her father, she shows signs of real devotion to him toward the end of the play, when she leads a charge into England to restore him to the throne.  After the first scene of the first act, we do not see Cordelia again until the fourth scene of Act Four, wherein she reemerges as the Queen of France.  At least, this is the case in the Quarto of 1608.  There are significant discontinuities between the Quarto of 1608 and the First Folio of 1623.  In the First Folio, Cordelia reappears in the third scene of “Actus Quartus,” surrounded by pendants, drums, and her entourage: “Enter with Drum and Colours, Cordelia, Gentlemen, and Souldiours.”

One of Cordelia’s roles, after she accedes to the queenship of France, is to re-man, to re-virilize Lear, to undo the unmanning to which he has been subjected: “How does my royal lord?  How fares your majesty?” Cordelia asks her father in the seventh scene of the fourth act—without ever addressing him as her father!  No, she gives Lear a higher status than that of a father, than that of a biological progenitor.  He is the King, her royal lord, his majesty once more, and he is addressed with respect—and yet, for once, one senses that there is no malice beneath a shifty veneer of respectfulness.

The play does end in a certain restoration—the King reunites with his disowned daughter—and it is a beautiful resipiscence, a beautiful reconciliation between father and daughter, which makes the play almost endurable.  At the risk of sounding facile, this is a very dreary, very abjective, and quite nauseating play, but it does contain one positive value, and that is the value of covert loyalty.  Whereas Harold Bloom inflates the role of Edgar, I would emphasize the magnificent Kent.  Even when he disguises himself and escapes banishment, Kent does so in order to better serve his master.  Kent’s dishonesty masks a deeper honesty, his deceptions mask a deeper loyalty, as Cordelia’s phenomenal coldness masks a profounder warmth.  Kent shows a deeper obedience to Lear by standing up to the King and telling him, in essence, that the King is acting against his own best interests.  Kent is the very model of disloyal loyalty, of traitorous piety, of the fidelity of treason, which is something that Nietzsche knew well.

Joseph Suglia

[i] These are not matters that I am able to pursue in this essay directly, so I will place the relevant citations within an endnote.  Concerning the ocular metaphors: Goneril claims, phonily, that her father is “[d]earer than eyesight” to her [I:i].  Lear exclaims to Kent: “Out of my sight!”  Kent’s response: “See better, Lear, and let me still remain / The true blank of thine eye” [Ibid.].  Lear says to his own eyes: “Old fond eyes, / Beweep this cause again, I’ll pluck yet out…” [I:iv].  Concerning the metaphors of nullity, within which Harold Bloom would see a creative gnostic vacuity: There are Cordelia and Lear’s “Nothings” in the first scene.  Edmund says to his father, “Nothing, my lord” in the second scene of the play.  In the fourth scene of the first act, Lear tells the Fool that “nothing can be made out of nothing.”  The Fool says to Lear: “I am a fool, thou art nothing” [Ibid.].

[ii] Cordelia knows the deceptiveness of language, as does her male double, Edgar.  Edgar says, to himself, that “the worst is not / So long as we can say ‘This is the worst’” [IV:i].  The verbal articulation of one’s condition nullifies that very condition.  One is not fully lonely, as long as one can say, “I am lonely,” to follow Blanchot.  One is not fully sad, as long as one can say, “I am sad.”  One at least has energy enough to say that one is sad; one still opens the possibility of an addressee or an auditor when one says that one is lonely.

[iii] So scandalized is Lear that he (ostensibly) delights in the company of his youngest daughter no more than he delights in the company of cannibals: “[H]e that makes his generation messes / To gorge his appetite, shall to my bosom / Be as well neighboured, pitied and relieved, / As thou my sometime daughter” [I:i], Lear intones to Cordelia.

[iv] Cordelia, by contrast, is reticent: “To speak and purpose not—since what I well intend, / I’ll do’t before I speak” [I:i].

[v] By way of an illocutionary performative speech act.

[vi] Regan and Goneril’s insubordination of their father is mirrored by the bastard Edmund’s insubordination of his father.  Edmund betrays his father, the Earl of Gloucester, as Goneril and Regan betray their father, Lear.  Edmund, at least, becomes sympathetic in his dying.  In his final moments, he has a coda of self-acknowledgement.  Not so Goneril and Regan.  Edmund is an obvious sociopath but is less dislikable than Goneril and Regan.

[vii] Lear is King James I perceived through the speculum of a funhouse mirror.  Much as James I, who patronized Shakespeare and whom Shakespeare served when this play was first performed, King Lear demands absolute obedience.  James I asserted his absolute authority in writing, in The True Law of Free Monarchies; or, The Reciprocal and Mutual Duty Betwixt a Free King and His Natural Subjects (originally published in 1598).  Anyone who reads this text will see that James I considered obedience to the King to be identical to obedience to God.  Intriguingly, Shakespeare seems to be subtly criticizing his patron.  Both James I and Lear make the mistake of believing that an outward show of submission is true obedience.  Moreover, James I similarly divided his estate, giving it to his sons, renouncing the ownership of moieties of his land and money.  Instead of burbling about Shakespeare’s “universalism” or “infinity,” it is important to place the plays within their proper historical contexts.  “Universalism” and “infinity”: Such are a few of the pomposities and vaporizings of Harold Bloom, who is otherwise often admirable.

[viii] Lear is nothing if not the Father.  If he is not patriarchal, then no one is.

[ix] Lear is infantilized, becoming son to Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia.  In this play, daughters are mothers to their father.  “Old fools are babes again,” Goneril says of her father to Oswald [I:iii].  The Fool tells Lear, “[T]hou mad’st thy daughters thy mothers” [I:iv].  Similarly, Edmund says of his brother Edgar that the latter claimed: “[T]he father should be as ward to the son and the son manage his revenue” [I:ii].  Likewise, Edgar says of his father, “He childed as I father’d” [III:vi], implying an inversion of relation between father and son.  It is an inverted world in which the characters are dwelling, one in which the home-space is outside of the kingdom and the outside is within: “Freedom lives hence and banishment is here” [I:i], as Kent phrases it.

[x] There is a great deal of self-estrangement in the play.  Edgar disguises himself as Poor Tom, peasant and bedlamite, before becoming the next King of England, and Kent disguises himself as Caius before being recognized for who he is by the dying Lear in the final act.  In the guise of Poor Tom, Edgar dispatches the vermin Oswald and Edmund, who have verminated England.  Interestingly, there is a legend that the historical King Edgar committed lupicide, dispatching and expelling wolves from Albion immediately after he became king.

 

A Fragmentary Analysis of TIMON OF ATHENS (Shakespeare) by Joseph Suglia

 

A Fragmentary Analysis of TIMON OF ATHENS (Shakespeare)

by Joseph Suglia

 

“Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible, be daily before your eyes, but death chiefly, and you will never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything.”

—Epictetus, The Enchiridion

 

“A friend asks only for your time and not money.”

—From a fortune cookie.  Chinatown, Chicago, 2019

 

Athenian lord Timon has an embarrassment of wealth, and he doesn’t seem in the least embarrassed about it.  He is generous—absurdly, promiscuously generous, prodigal to the point of profligacy.  His Lucullan feasts are well-attended.  Of course, he is parasitized by the mob—by the mob of disgusting parasites who call themselves his “friends.”  As if they were a pack of baphometic daemons, his “friends” eat up his money until he has nothing left.  When the creditors demand repayment, Timon has nothing to give them.  None of his “friends” helps Timon in his time of need; the pseudo-friends to whom he appeals for money—Lucullus, Lucius, and Sempronius—refuse his entreaties, even while they are wearing the jewelry that Timon gifted them.  Timon is soon on course for self-immolation.  He is so aggrieved that he spends the rest of his life in a wasteland, where he execrates the whole of humanity.

So goes the epitasis of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens (circa 1605-1608), largely based on Plutarch’s life of Antony and Lucian’s dialogue on Timon.  It is an allegory of language (this is not something that I will pursue in depth here) and an allegory of misanthropy and sounds particularly allegorical when Timon declares dismally to Alcibiades: “I am Misanthropos and hate mankind” [IV:iii].  It is clear that Timon is allegorizing misanthropy in the general and in the abstract.  However, Shakespeare’s great play, one of the most underestimated in the Western literary canon, is not a misanthropic play, despite appearances, but a subtle critique of Timonian misanthropy.

 

TIMON IS NOT APART FROM HUMANITY; HE IS A PART OF HUMANITY

Timon retreats to the wasteland in order to avoid human contact and to correct the errors of his personal past, to correct the mistakes that he made when he was rich (profligate liberality, exploitability).  And what does he do while in the wasteland?  He socializes still!

Even while wasting away in the wasteland, Timon is thronged by other human beings.  In the same way that the Forest of Arden in As You Like It is an overpopulated desert, there are too many people in the wasteland, and Timon can’t escape contact with them.  Timon curses Alcibiades for approaching him: “The canker gnaw thy heart / For showing me again the eyes of man!” [IV:iii].  He withdraws from humanity and yet draws humanity to him at the same time.

The obvious question floating in my mind: If Timon wishes to be left alone, why does he ask Apemantus[1] to report to Athens that Timon has money: “Tell them there I have gold” [IV:iii].  He knows well, and Apemenatus tells him as much, that he will soon be thronged with Athenians.  Apemantus even affirms that the rogues of Athens will come for him, seeking money: “I’ll say thou’st gold: / Thou wilt be thronged to shortly” [IV:iii].  This is a strange paradox or a koan: If he wants to be left alone, why does Timon send Apemantus as a messenger to Athens?  And why is the message that Apemantus carries, in effect, “I have money.  Come to see me!”?

Apemantus and Timon are paradoxes: both misanthropes and social animals at the same time.  If Apemantus dislikes humanity so much, why does he attend Timon’s well-attended dinners?  He doesn’t eat the food that is prepared; he instead show-offily eats roots and drinks water.  Why even go to one of Timon’s parties if he is not there for the food?  Apemantus does relish piercing the revelers with caustic insults.  Everyone appears to know who he is, and he interacts with the partygoers.

The most interesting thing about Shakespeare’s punk-rock play is that it is a condemnation of the whole of humanity—and of Timon along with it!  This condemnation extends to misanthropy.  Timon’s misanthropy does not go far enough; it leaves Timon immune.  Timon is not apart from humanity; he is a part of humanity, even after he renounces it.  The play suggests the impossibility of liberating oneself from humanity, the impossibility of ever being alone while being alive, something that brings the work—the strangest, darkest, most nihilistic, most heterodox work in the Shakespearean canon—in close proximity to the shocking literature of Roland Topor.  Timon the Misanthrope thinks that he is soaring over the unhuman crowd, but he is one of them; he is a member of the crowd.[2]

 

WHEN HIS LANGUAGE ENDS, ALL LANGUAGE SHALL END

Timon of Athens is an allegory of language.[3]  It suggests that language is empty.  Timon’s parasitical “friends” make empty promises and justify the non-performance of their promises with empty words.  Timon spends more money than he has and thus defaults on his loans.  The Poet promises to craft a poem in honor of Timon that he will never present, the Painter promises to paint a likeness of Timon that he has no intention of completing, etc.  Flavius claims that “the world is but a word” [II:ii], the world only extends as far as language does, and that the “breath is gone whereof this praise is made” [II:ii].

It is no wonder that Timon looks forward to the apocalyptic death of language, the reduction of human words to muteness, to silence.  Ultimately, all we have are words.  When human language dies, humanity dies—and this is something that Timon welcomes in his final words, as if the language of humanity will die when his language dies: “Lips, let sour words go by, and language end” [V:ii].  When his language ends, Timon suggests, all language shall end.

 

HE IS EITHER GENEROUS TO EVERYONE OR GENEROUS TO NO ONE

Timon moves from indiscriminate generosity to indiscriminate human-hatred.  Life is a zero-sum contest, for Timon.  He knows only absolutes.  Much as Coriolanus, another one of Shakespeare’s simpletons, either loves his motherland Rome or hates Mother Rome, Timon either loves Athens or hates Athens.

Timon is either a profligate prodigal or a human-hater.  There is no middle ground for him.  He is a quasi-borderline, as if he were afflicted with a version of Borderline Personality Disorder.  He absolutely loves or absolutely hates—not one individual, but the totality of humanity.

Note Timon’s use of the word “therefore,” as if he were drawing a logical conclusion:

There’s nothing level in our cursed natures,
But direct villainy.  Therefore, be abhorr’d
All feasts, societies, and throngs of men!
[IV:iii][4]

He proclaims that he holds no brief for human beings and their communities and rituals, holds no brief for those who compose the human species because they are unequal (it is as if he were attempting to refute Hobbes, whom Shakespeare certainly read, and read with great admiration, according to Ben Johnson).  Allow me to paraphrase further: “Human beings are unequal except that they are equal in villainy; therefore, all of human society should be hated!”

Again, Timon is either generous to everyone or generous to no one.  As we have known at least since Hegel, opposites interpenetrate.  Opposites are inwardly connected; they belong to the same system.

Leftism is nothing more than the inversion of rightism, and Satanism is nothing more than the obverse of Christianity.  An opposite is not completely different from the original term.  The opposite of something is related to that thing.

Timon, a man whose fortune suddenly changes to misfortune, is not a genuine misanthrope at all.  For he only hates humanity after he has been exploited.  Had he not been exploited, as Apemantus suggests, he would never have converted to misanthropy.  As Apemantus phrases it, Timon’s misanthropy is forced: “This is in thee a nature but affected” [IV:iii].  Timon’s human-hatred is a pre-reflexive, ungenuine, affected misanthropy.  It is an immature misanthropy.

Apemantus, who, in many respects, is the raisonneur of the play, is suggesting, quite rightly, that Timon’s rejection of sociality is the mere opposite of promiscuous sociality.  Apemantus says, in prose: “The middle of humanity thou never knewst, but the extremity of both ends” [IV:iii].  Apemantus has a more nuanced view of humankind than Timon does.

Jonathan Swift knew that Timon’s misanthropy is naïve and simplistic.  This is likely why Swift refuses to identify as a Timonian human-hater.  Swift acknowledges that he is a misanthrope, but not a misanthrope in Timon’s manner (see Swift’s letter to Alexander Pope, 29 September 1725).  Timon’s misanthropy is not intelligent enough for Swift.

Similarly, in Paragraph 379 of The Gay Science, Nietzsche distances himself from Timonian misanthropy.  Nietzsche knew not the love of hatred, but contempt.  Contempt is hatred’s icy cousin, and Nietzsche knew well the aristocratic pleasures of contempt, as he knew well that hatred is an all-enmeshing obsession.

 

HE MOCKINGLY IMITATES THE MOCKING IMITATORS

Timon’s attitude toward art undergoes a change.  First, he believes that art is almost the direct representation of human nature: “The painting is almost the natural man” [I:i].  Art is like reality itself; it shows things as they are: “[T]hese penciled figures are / Even such as they give out” [I:i].  He is naïve, again, and has a naïve, pre-reflexive attitude toward art.  At the beginning of the play, he actually believes that art is honest!

In the fifth act of the play, Timon considers art to a sham, a kind of fakery, a confidence trick, a lie.  The Painter is said to draw “counterfeit” and the Poet is said to compose “fiction” [V:i].  Timon mockingly imitates the mocking imitators.

What Nietzsche writes about Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Julius Caesar may also be written about Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens: Shakespeare slyly ridicules poetry and all other forms of art.  There is in Timon of Athens the playful disparagement of poetry as a kind of frivolity (see Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, Paragraph Ninety-Eight).

 

HE IS A MISANTHROPE, IT IS TRUE, BUT IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT HE MISANTHROPIZES HIMSELF

Timon is a misanthrope, it is true, but it is also true that he misanthropizes himself.  His misanthropy comes from his autolatry, his self-worship, his narcissism, and his inability to forgive himself for his prodigal liberality.  It is for this reason that Flavius says of Timon: “[H]e is set so only to himself” [V:ii]

Timon, or Timonian misanthropy, presages the cultural movement in this century known as the “incel” movement.  “Incel” is a portmanteau abbreviation of “involuntary celibate.”  “Incels” are sexually disappointed young men, men who cannot find sexual release with women and who despise these same women for rejecting them.  Often, “incels” are “black-pilled,” which seems to mean that they are anticipating a dreary, hopeless future for themselves and, often, for everyone else.

I see the similarity in that “black-pilling” involuntary celibates transfer their self-hatred onto a world that does not bend to them, much in the way that Timon transfers his self-hatred onto a world that is indifferent to him.

Misanthropy is founded on narcissism and on narcissistic self-hatred.  Misanthropes project their hatred of themselves onto the numberless faces that they will never see.

Misanthropy is an immature response to the venality of humanity.  Rather than inventing more nuanced, cleverer ways of dealing with people, the misanthrope thinks: “Because a small group of people mistreated me, all of humanity should be condemned.”  It is as if the misanthrope were saying: “Because I was exploited and because no one helped me when I was abject, die, everyone, die!”

It is important to highlight that this play is critical of Timon’s liberality and his misanthropy.

 

HE REINTERPRETS HIS PERSONAL EXPLOITATION AS INFECTION BY PESTILENTIAL HUMANITY

In his final words, Timon says, dismally: “My long sickness / Of health and living now begins to mend” [V:ii].  Dying is the healing, the “mending,” of the sickness of life, the remedying of that disease which is life.  Timon reinterprets his personal exploitation as infection by pestilential humanity.

Timon is someone who seems endlessly fascinated by Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), to the extent that I would describe him as a syphillographer, a syphillologist, and a syphillophile.  This makes perfect sense when we consider that Timon associates venereal disease with human life, since, after all, human life is a Sexually Transmitted Disease.

 

ONE IS THE CANNIBAL AND THE OTHER IS THE CANNIBALIZED

Timon of Athens sets forth the dreariest vision of humankind of any Shakespearean play.  In the fourth line of the text, the Painter says that the world “wears… as it grows” [I:i]: that is, the world is progressively wearing itself down, depleting itself, exhausting itself, decomposing, rotting, putrefying, in the same way that Timon’s fortunes are shrinking and shriveling.

Human relations are anthropophagous relations, the play is suggesting: In every relationship between any given two human beings, one is the cannibal and the other is the cannibalized, one is dominant and the other submissive.  Alcibiades looks forward ghoulishly to a “breakfast of enemies” that would be “bleeding new” [II:i].  Apemantus knows that wherever two human beings meet, one is the predator and the other is the prey, one is more active and the other is more passive: “What beast couldst thou be that were not subject to a beast?  And what a beast art thou already that seest not thy loss in transformation!” [IV:iii].  In other words, humanity has devolved into the purely bestial: “The strain of man’s bred out into baboon and monkey” [I:i].  Apemantus asks, rhetorically “Who lives that’s not depraved or depraves?” [I:ii], and it is the clear that Apemantus knows well that Timon’s friends are devouring him: “It grieves me to see so many dip their meat in one man’s blood” [I:ii].

The distinction between eater and eaten runs throughout the play.  Timon’s friend-enemies are feeding upon him, eating his flesh, slicing him up: “Cut my heart in sums—” [III:iv], Thomas cries out as the creditors come for him.  Flavius declares that the creditors ate of his “lord’s meat”; “they could smile and fawn upon his debts, / And take down th’interest into their gluttonous maws” [III:iv].  This is an interesting use of antiprosopopoeia (the representation of human beings as objects): Timon is represented as the meat on which his “friends” feast.  The creditors come, demanding payment and charging interest—they are metaphorically ingesting Timon.

Timon is preyed upon by creditors who wear the jewels that Timon has given them.  The “strange event,” Titus says of his master, is that “he wears jewels now of Timon’s gift / For which I wait for money” [III:iv].  Here is the sickening cosmic irony: Timon has given gifts to recipients who now demand payment for those same gifts.  In the very diagesis in which he claims to have warned Timon about keeping a tighter purse, Lucullus says that he ate Timon’s food!: “Many a time and often I ha’ dined with him, and told him on’t, and come again to supper to him of purpose to have him spend less…” [III:i].  The “friends” who are wearing Timon’s gifts refuse to lend him any money and charge Timon for the gifts that he has given them.

It is as if Shakespeare were canalizing Machiavelli, whom Shakespeare might have read and who claimed, in The Prince, that human beings are, in general, “ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous.”  One might add, according to the metaphorics of Shakespeare’s underestimated play: self-interested, swinish, gruesome, callous, lazy, unreliable.

 

THE REAVING THIEVES AND THE WATERY NOTHINGNESS OF THEIR WORDS

At the end of the third act, Timon feeds the parasites lukewarm water.  He tosses the water at the false friends and tosses them out of his house.  “Smoke and lukewarm / water / Is your perfection” [III:vii], he declares.  As Jesus evicts the money changers and the dove hawkers from the temple, Timon evicts the false friends from his house, baptizing them with tepid water, a kind of reverse christening.

Why water?  Why smoke?  The smoke is the vapor emanating, paradoxically, from the lukewarm water—and the vaporous, lukewarm water is the perfect metaphor for the reaving thieves and the watery nothingness of their words.  Water literalizes the metaphor of friendship as liquid—that is to say, as not solid, not trustworthy, not constant.  As Flaminius asks, rhetorically, “Has friendship such a faint and milky heart / It turns in less than two nights?” [III:i].

Liquid metaphors drench the text.  Apemantus is a root-eater and water-drinker, and water, as I will explain below, symbols the reversion to nature and the desertion of fortune.

 

HE DIGS IN THE EARTH

Fortune overtakes nature, as it always does in Shakespeare.  Timon tells us, recalling As You Like It (written around ten years earlier), that brothers who are twins by nature will fight against each other as soon as one brother grows more fortunate than the other: “Twinned brothers of one womb / Whose procreation, residence and birth / Scarce is dividant, touch them with several fortunes, / The greater scorns the lesser” [IV:iii].

It is no wonder that Timon favors nature to fortune.  It is no wonder that Timon reverts to nature, to eating roots and drinking water: “Earth, yield me roots” [Ibid.].

The stage direction makes it plain: Timon digs in the earth [Ibid.], excavating for roots, much in the way that his model Apemantus does—Apemantus, the ape man whom Timon is aping.  Timon, then, turns against fortune and turns toward nature, for he knows well that fortune quickly converts into misfortune.

 

HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS DESTRUCTION

Only a coarse and lazy reading of the play would suggest that Timon is innocent of his exploitation and eventual destruction.  Sharper, more careful readers will not think of Timon as an innocent victim.  Both meanings are supportable: His friends are parasitical, and Timon is complicit in his demolition.

 

HE GIVES MORE THAN IS ASKED FOR AND THEN GROWS SPITEFUL WHEN HIS LARGESSE IS NOT RETURNED

Timon refuses to allow the recipients of his gifts to give him anything of equal value.  It might be tempting to describe his gifts as a kind of potlatch, but let us remember that (according to Mauss and Bataille) potlatch places the recipient of the gift in the uncomfortable position of having to out-give the original giver.  This is not the case here.  Timon does not accept the repayment of debts—in that sense, Timon does not loan money; he gives it.  He refuses Ventidius’ offer to repay the money that Timon has given him.  Timon’s response is that gifts should be given freehandedly: “[T]here’s none / Can truly say he gives if he receives” [I:ii].  He gives promiscuously, but not entirely without the reciprocity of interest (I will discuss this matter later on).

Not only that: Timon cannot accept a gift without giving something to the giver in exchange.  When Lucullus gives Timon two brace of greyhounds, Timon’s response is that they should not be received “without fair reward” [I:ii].  As the Second Lord phrases it: There is “no meed but [Timon] repays / Sevenfold above itself, no gift to him / But breeds the giver a return exceeding / All use of quittance” [I:i].  In other words, Timon has the tendency of giving beyond compensation, beyond remuneration.

More so: Timon gives excessively.  He gives more than is asked for and then grows spiteful when his largesse is not returned.  He ransoms Ventidius from debtor’s prison—and even offers to support him financially after he is freed: “’Tis not enough to help the feeble up, / But to support him after” [I:i].  Timon is too trusting, too naïve, too credulous, and gives too readily, too quickly to the firstcomer; he guarantees more than is requested.  (When Timon is down in a financial hole, incidentally, Ventidius does not come to his aid.)

Worst of all, Timon is financially illiterate; indeed, his knowledge of money is at best lineamental.  He is not financially hyperopic enough to see that his lavish expenditures exceed his income.  When Timon complains that Flavius never warned him about the rapid decrease in his funds, the servant says: “You would not hear me: / At many leisures I proposed—” [II:ii].  Timon interrupts Flavius before Flavius can conclude his sentence of explanation, inadvertently proving Flavius’ point: Timon is a terrible listener and hence a terrible learner.  When, in his previous life, Timon is overly generous to those around him, he speaks of a “bond in men” to “build [the] fortune” of others [I:i; emphasis mine].  He uses this word—bond—as if it were a divine commandment to give his servant Lucilius a massive raise.

 

HE IS AS MUCH OF AN EXPLOITER AS THE FLATTERING PARASITES WHO FAWN OVER HIM

Timon seems to be a selfless giver—“more welcome are you to my fortunes / Than my fortunes to me” [I:ii], he says to Ventidius—and yet Timon does expect compensation.  He just doesn’t expect monetary compensation.  As Nietzsche reminds us, no one gives without expecting a reward.

Timon is every bit as parasitical as his so-called “friends.”  Timon says: “[W]hat need we have any friends, if we should ne’er have need of ’em?” [I:ii].  He is saying, in effect: “Because I give to you, you will give to me, if I ever need you!”  But this does not follow logically; it is an argument that contains false inference.  Timon discovers his non sequitur too late.

He is an exploiter in a culture of exploitation—he is as much of an exploiter as the flattering parasites who fawn over him.

 

EVEN WHILE WASTING AWAY IN THE WASTELAND, TIMON GIVES MONEY TO THE UNWORTHY

Unfortunately, there is one thing about Timon that only changes very late in the play: Even while in self-imposed exile, even after renouncing and repudiating humanity, Timon gives away his money!

He gives money to Alcibiades (“There’s gold to pay thy soldiers—” [IV:iii]), he throws gold at the prostitutes without getting or asking for anything in return (“There’s more gold” [Ibid.]), he squanders money on thieves.  His gives money to everyone besides the Poet, the Painter, and the Senators.  What, then, has changed about Timon—if anything?

(Interestingly, one of the prostitutes is named Phrynia, a name which almost certainly is an allusion to Phryne, the high-end batrachian call girl of Ancient Greece.  And as deep readers of Greek history will know, the historical Alcibiades was a kind of prostitute himself.)

Has he changed at all?  He gives now out of spite, not out of love—but the ridiculous excessive liberality has not changed.  He gives out of different motives than he gave before, but he still gives—indeed, squanders—what he has.  “More whore, more mischief first—” [IV:iii], he says to the prostitutes, whom he pays to sow discord, and pays Alcibiades to wage war against the Athenians.  But he is still Timon the Spendthrift.  As far as the thieves are concerned: Timon might curse them, but the thieves might as well say, in contemporary American English slang, “I still got your money, dude.”

Has Timon truly changed?  Even while wasting away in the wasteland, Timon still gives money to the unworthy.  If I were to be even more curmudgeonly, I would like to suggest that Timon hasn’t learned his lesson: He is still giving to the parasites who are feeding upon him.

 

THEOREM

Timon of Athens is the complex character study of a misanthrope who never succeeds in hating humanity as much as humanity deserves to be hated.

Joseph Suglia

 

[1] Much like Thersites in Shakespeare’s earlier Troilus and Cressida, Apemantus is a cynical philosopher.  In the fourth act, Timon has transformed himself into the likeness, into a grotesque burlesque of Apemantus, the ascetic who eats nothing but roots and who drinks nothing but water (perhaps in denial of the opulent pleasures of affluence).  A defensible reading of Apemantus’ name would be Ape-mantus: the Ape Man, as well as the Man Who Is Aped.  He is an ape man, and he recognizes that other human beings are apes.  And he is aped by Timon, who takes on Apemantus’ misanthropy.  There is a flaw in Timon’s imitation of Apemantus, however.  Though Timon takes on the human-hating position of Apemantus, there is something forced, something affected in Timon’s misanthropy.  Apemantus is not a hater of the whole of humankind.  It would be accurate to say that Apemantus has contempt for humanity, but there is no evidence that he is gripped and entangled by that obsession which is called “hatred.”  Apemantus seems to approach Timon in the desert only in order to torment him further and to prevent him from copying his mannerisms: “Do not assume my likeness” [IV:iii].  Timon and Apemantus are not pleased to see their doubles.  It would not be relevant for me to pursue a sustained comparison between Thersites and Apemantus here.

 

[2] Here is another of the play’s cosmic ironies: In the sixth scene of the third act, Alcibiades pleads to the senators for the life of one of his rogue soldiers.  They banish him for his alleged impudence.  At the end of the play, these same senators will plead for their lives with the grinning submission of passive chimpanzees when confronted by a dominant chimpanzee.  The Third Senator proposes “decimation and a tithed death” [V:v] for the Athenian people.  “Decimation” does not mean “destruction.”  It means “the killing of every tenth being.”

 

[3] The thrust and the tenor of this essay is not to explore the ways in which the play is an allegory of language (I am more concerned here with the ways in which it is an allegory of misanthropy), but let me give some indications of how such an analysis would proceed.  There are apostrophes, in the rhetorical sense, throughout the text.  A (rhetorical) apostrophe is an address to someone or something that is absent.  Here is a partial list of apostrophizing in the text: The Poet addresses an absent Timon as “Magic of bounty” [I:i].  Both the Poet and the Painter frequently speak of Timon in absentia.  Flavius apostrophizes Timon in his lord’s absence: “My dearest lord…” [IV:ii].  Timon apostrophizes money: “O thou sweet king-killer…” [IV:iii].  In the third scene of the fourth act, Flavius apostrophizes the gods (“O you gods!”).

 

[4] This statement is every bit as insane as when Timon says to Apemantus: “[T]hou’rt an Athenian, therefore welcome” [I:i; emphasis mine].

 

Jordan Peterson Is Overrated / Jordan Peterson Does Not Understand Nietzsche / Entrain the Nietzschean Time Machine / An Analysis of ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA by Friedrich Nietzsche / An Analysis of THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA by Friedrich Nietzsche

Entrain the Nietzschean Time Machine

by Joseph Suglia

 

“It’s a love/hate relationship I have with the human race.  I am an elitist, and I feel that my responsibility is to drag the human race along with me—that I will never pander to, or speak down to, or play the safe game.  Because my immortal soul will be lost.”

—Harlan Ellison

“When belief in a god dies, the god dies.”

—Harlan Ellison

 

NIETZSCHEAN RETROACTIVE CONTINUITY

Nietzsche is like a peaceful hurricane—not a hurricane that has been pacified but a hurricane that peacefully sweeps aside villages.

I am convinced that Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-1885) is work of retrodictive speculative fiction.  By “retrodictive speculative fiction,” I mean a work of a fiction, such as a novel, that imagines what the world today would look like if the world of yesterday were different than it was.

The thesis makes perfect sense if we consider the following: The historical Zarathustra was an ancient Iranian prophet (circa 1500 B.C.E.) who founded one of the first monotheisms—some religious historians even say the first monotheism—Zoroastrianism.  It is a religion that vastly predated Platonism and Christianity and is one of the first religions to postulate a divine order, a world beyond the world of the senses.  It clearly inspired Christianity, which also posits a dichotomy between the world-in-which-we-live and the beyond.

Nietzsche considers every religion to be a hive of intellectual errors.  If one were to go back in time and correct one of the first and most influential religions, Zoroastrianism, in what kind of world would we be living today?  This, I believe, was Nietzsche’s question as he was writing Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Nietzsche is asking us: What if this book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, were a book written by the historical Zarathustra?  What if Nietzsche’s Zarathustra were the real Zarathustra?  If Nietzsche’s Zarathustra were the historical Zarathustra, the book is suggesting, we would be living in a much better, saner, healthier, more robust, more living world.  What effects would it have on the history of Christianity, if Nietzsche’s Zarathustra were the historical Zarathustra?   Christianity would have been entirely different—indeed, Christianity would never have existed.  There would be no Christianity without the historical Zarathustra.  We must remember that Nietzsche considered Christianity to be anti-life and anti-human.  One can find ballast for my supposition in Nietzsche’s opusculum Ecce Homo: “Zarathustra created this fateful error of morality [the division between benevolence and self-interest]: This means he has to be the first to recognize it.”  And to correct it.  Nietzsche’s Zarathustra will go back in time and will correct the ancient Zarathustra’s errors—errors that gave birth to Christianity and to Christian-inspired moralisms.  Nietzsche’s Zarathustra will reverse the errors that the ancient Iranian prophet Zarathustra made and thus obviate the supervenient Christianity.  Nietzsche’s target is clearly Christianity, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a counter-Bible.  It is a speculative-fictional retrodiction of the Christian Bible.  Its title could have been What Would Nietzsche Do?

The historical Zarathustra never said anything that Nietzsche’s Zarathustra says.  Nietzsche’s Zarathustra even acknowledges that he is not his Iranian namesake at one stage (in “Von Tausend und einem Ziele”).[1]  This is why I maintain that Thus Spoke Zarathustra is an ex-post-facto speculative novel.  The novel establishes retroactive continuity, what we might call “Nietzschean retcon.”  We, as readers, are enjoined to travel in the Zarathustran Time Machine and to alter the past, which will, of course, alter the future.  This is not quite utopian fiction, since it does not present a paradisaical utopia, but it is not far away from utopian fiction, either (along the lines of Bellamy’s chiliastic-utopian Looking Backward).  It is a shame that Nietzsche did not live to write a science-fiction novel that would have been about the future—one that would have been written in the future perfect about a perfect future.

The narrative takes place in the hyper-past—not in the Before as it was lived, but in the Before as it might have been lived from the perspective of the After.  I am well aware that Thus Spoke Zarathustra makes allusions to nineteenth-century Europe and that the book is a modern book.  But its modernity resides in the fact that it bends the past to the will of the future.  A citation from T.S. Eliot (in “Tradition and the Individual Talent”) is a propos to this context: “Whoever has approved this idea of order [the idea that the order of the English literary canon must be adjusted when a new work is canonized], of the form of European, of English literature will not find it preposterous that the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past.  And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities.”  (Zizek, in his debate with Jordan Peterson on 19 April 2019, slightly miscited this passage from T.S. Eliot.)  One must modulate the T.S. Eliot quotation somewhat: The past should be altered not by the present, in the case of Nietzsche, but by the future.

Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is an irreligious prophet who lives alone in a mountain cave with his pet eagle and his pet snake.  (The eagle represents pride; the snake symbols cunning.)  After living in solitude for ten years, Zarathustra is now forty years old—only one year older than Nietzsche was when he began writing this book, in 1883.  Bored with his self-imposed exile, he returns to humanity and showers his wisdom on the people.  He is like the sun and wishes to radiate, for a sun needs an object against which to refract its rays in order to show its brilliance—we remember that Zarathustra’s Greek name, Zoroaster, means “Golden Star.”

An overflowing cup, Zarathustra wants nothing more than to teach and so he teaches the lesson of the overhuman, the Übermensch, to the residents of the Motley Cow, the bunte Kuh, a city that is as bovine and as disorderly as its name suggests.  He sermonizes the crowd non-messianically, lecturing them on “the sense of the Earth,” der Sinn der Erde, the overhuman (which I will discuss in greater depth below).  In doing so, Zarathustra gives what could be best described as an Anti-Sermon on the Mount.  Implicit in this sermon is a perversely subversive reinterpretation of Jesus.  Zarathustra blesses the meek, as Jesus does—but Zarathustra blesses the meek not because the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs, but because they will soon go under, because they will soon decline.  To go under (untergehen) is the necessity prerequisite for going across (übergehen) to overhumanization.  Unlike Jesus, Zarathustra is not a prophet who praises meekness, weakness, self-renunciation.  Unlike Jesus, Zarathustra is a prophet who praises strength, pride, vitality, creativity, fecundity.  Zarathustra favors the noble and the dignified, those who are vornehm, to the weakly meek and the meekly weak.  Zarathustra Contra Jesus.

Unlike Jesus, Zarathustra is no populist and would rather be alone than mingle with the mob.  Love of the crowd quick-transforms into disgust and contempt for the crowd, into a thick admixture of nausea and contempt, for the crowd is distractible and manifestly unworthy of his love and his lesson.  This is likely why Nietzsche subtitles the book A Book for Everyone and No One, Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen—he does not write for the herd, for the ironically anointed “higher humans” of today, or for the “last humans” of tomorrow.  He writes for his imaginary friends who will come about the day after tomorrow, the supra-futural free spirits who alone will understand his writings, his message, his lessons (the All), not for the human beings of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries who will constantly misinterpret his messages and lessons (the No One).  As all great authors, he writes not for readers of today, but for readers who have not yet been born.

Zarathustra witnesses a display of funambulism in the city square.  A tightrope walker, a Seiltānzer, is balanced above the crowd.  Suddenly, a buffoon, a Possenreisser, appears and leaps over the funambulist, who topples from the line and plummets to his slow death.  Much like the tightrope walker, modern humanity, Zarathustra reminds us, is positioned between the ape and the overhuman.  Who could the jester represent other than those nihilists who would overthrow humankind as it exists in modernity in a simple and hasty fashion?  The mistake of the buffoon is to believe that humanity could ever be merely “jumped over.”  Humankind must go down before it can ever go across, before it transforms into the overhuman, it is true—but it must go across.  The Prologue suggests that humanity cannot be “jumped over” in a simple way—great longing and self-disgust precede the lurch into the overhuman.  Epigenesis, then, not autogeny or spontaneous birth.

 

DEVALUATING THE VIRTUES

After the Prologue, very little happens.  Zarathustra just gives speeches most of the time.  Thus Spoke Zarathustra becomes, formally, a novel of sermons—a microscopic subgenre of literature to which novels of Hölderlin, Gibran, and Hesse also belong.  Zarathustra sets to work dispraising and disprizing virtues—exposing them as genetically vicious—and praising and prizing vices.  He will do so throughout Part One, Part Two, and Part Three (this is a book in four parts).  Until Part Four, wherein Thus Spoke Zarathustra again becomes a narrative, the book will not be especially literary.  Part Four did not appear until 1885; forty copies were published privately and gifted to friends.

In a book that is heavy in metaphor,[2] Nietzsche compares his language, his writing, to the snout of a boar which digs up acorns and insects from the dirt.[3]  As the boar, as the wild pig, Nietzsche will uncover, reveal, disclose our hidden motives whenever we do something that seems to be moral.  So, Nietzsche the boar digs up our hidden motives—and what does he find?  He finds that all of our motives are unclean and selfish and rotten.[4]  Human beings are grasping and designing creatures.

According to Nietzsche, no one ever does anything without the promise of a reward.  Behind every virtue is the desire for an advantage.  The virtuous want to be paid, Nietzsche tells us: ‘[S]ie wollen noch—bezahlt sein!’ (“Von den Tugendhaften”).  I have coined the adjective virtuous-Machiavellian to describe this disposition.  Think of those who perform good acts because they want transcendence: They want compensation, in the beyond.  After death, I will receive repayment for all that I have suffered in the name of virtue.  I will receive my compensation for being a good person.  But this is only a religious framework.  Nietzsche is not writing about a religious framework, really; he’s writing about those who are virtuous for the sake of the approbation of an audience.

For Nietzsche, virtues are not inner properties, inner qualities (here, Nietzsche partly agrees with Aristotle).  They are not signs of a good character.  A virtue is a performance.  What is a virtue if you can’t perform it in front of spectators?  Virtues exist for one reason—to be displayed.  We have virtues in order to show them off, according to Nietzsche.  We have virtues in order to assert our moral superiority.  Someone who speaks in a very loud voice about his or her moral outrage over some event or over some sequence of syllables—does that person not want to be regarded as morally superior?  And isn’t such a megaphonic blast of phony moral outrage a kind of strike or attack against other people to whom one wants to be superior?  All virtuousness is sanctimony.

To adduce three examples of sanctimonious virtuousness (from Human, All-Too-Human and Daybreak, slightly paraphrased):

a.) The man who rescues an anile old woman from an immolating building wants everyone around him, including himself, to think that he is heroic.  He is performing a counterstrike against his own feeling of powerlessness—as he is suggesting that who do not intervene are powerless.

b.) The soldier who dies on the battlefield wants to be memorialized as a superhero—in opposition to the Most, who, he implies by his self-chosen death, are cowardly and not as strong as he.  He really has the vain desire for immortality.

c.) The girl who is faithful to the boy she loves wants her beloved to cheat on her so that she can display her virtuous faithfulness.  She can then boast of her virtuous chastity and loyalty.

The point is, to paraphrase Nietzsche, that these self-anointed saints of virtue want to elevate themselves by degrading others.  In Daybreak, Nietzsche writes of the nun who wants married women to hate her because she is celibate and piously devoted to God.  The nun flaunts her holiness; the nun flaunts her virginity.  She degrades all other women in order to elevate herself.

This is why Nietzsche suggests that virtue is vengeance.

We learn that the virtues are actually vices, that Good is actually Evil.  After all, all virtues have degenerate, corrupt, filthy, unspeakable origins.  At the bottom of our virtues are malice, the desire for revenge, envy, gluttony, hatred, vanity—our darkest impulses lie at the bottom of every virtue.  Nietzsche lets no one off the hook and certainly not the meek, the charitable, the volunteers, and the saints.

Chastity is disguised vulgarity, for instance.  Chastity is nothing more than lust misspelled.  The chaste are vulgarians who would revirginize themselves—but one cannot revirginize oneself.  Chastity places extraordinarily unhuman restrictions on our somatic constitutions—but it does not eliminate lust.  Chastity intensifies lust.  As Nietzsche reminds us, chastity is originally filthiness, and the chaste tend to be filth-obsessed.  Chastity, and all of the other conventional virtues, are already rooted in the body—and yet the virtues pretend to be transcendences, idealizations, sublimities.  They pretend to be away-from-the-body etherealities.  The point is that the virtues are not so virtuous and the vices are not so vicious and we should invent new values that would celebrate and affirm the bodiliness of the body and that would celebrate and affirm the worldliness of the world.  The elaboration of new, life-affirming values could only happen once we accept that all of us are selfish and that we can never erase our petty envies and trivial vanities.

Nietzsche’s chapter on the virtuous, the Tugendhaften, is clearly a riposte to Kantian ethics.

Kant criticizes what Nietzsche acknowledges, the impurity of motives, but Kant believes in a higher morality—in a morality that is enacted for the sake of morality, for the sake of pure practical reason.

There are no pure incentives or pure motives, according to Nietzsche.  Here is a difference from Kant.  Kant believes in the pure, insensate feeling of respect (Achtung) as the affective basis of all moral action.

For Kant, morality is autonomy (reason talking to itself, reason telling itself what to do, the human reason giving the law to itself).

For Nietzsche, all morality is heteronomy (reason is told what to do by external forces—social forces, the sensorium, the emotions).

For Kant, to be moral, we must be rational: We must perform moral acts and make moral choices without expecting anything in return.

For Nietzsche, whenever we perform moral actions and make moral choices, we always expect something in return.

Human beings are not autonomous, despite what the Kantians and the libertarians tell us.  Human beings are automatic; they are automata.

Nietzsche’s “On the Despisers of the Body” (“Von den Verächtern des Leibes”) is a rejoinder to Plato’s theory (in the Timaeus) that the soul is immaterial and the body is an obstruction to the intuitions and perceptions of the soul.

In the Prologue, Zarathustra exclaims to the residents of the Motley Cow: “Whoever [-] is the wisest among you, he is nothing but a conflict and a hybrid between plant and ghost,”  Wer [-] der Weiseste von euch ist, der ist auch nur rein Zwiespalt und Zwitter von Plfanze und von Gespenst.  If we see the vegetative “part” as the body (matter without consciousness) and the ghostly “part” as the mind (consciousness without matter), we are artificially dividing the human being into two antagonistic components.  This is a false interpretation of the human animal.  This is the OLD way of looking at human beings, not the NEW way that Zarathustra teaches.

As is well-known, Aristotle asserted that the human being is a rational animal—an animal with reason superadded to what is animal, that is to say, the human being is an animal with reason superadded to what is body.  Rationality, thinking, the mind, the soul, the spirit, the ectoplasm, the anima, according to this conventional path of thinking, is somehow transcendent to the physical—as if these ideals were immiscible with physical reality.

But it is precisely the other way around: The body is not a function of the soul; the soul is a function of the body.  Nietzsche suggests, as well, that the mind is an appendage of the body, thinking is a physiological process, the cognitive supervenes upon the somatic.  Sense is a figure of the body, Zarathustra tells us, so ist [der Sinn] ein Gleichnis unsres Leibes (“Von der schenkenden Tugend”).  The mind, and the consciousness that is dependent upon the mind, could not exist outside of the body and is subordinate to the body.  Every cognitive scientist today knows this already.

And yet Nietzsche’s Zarathustra says more than this.  Nietzsche despiritualizes and animalizes / bestializes the human being.  The animal “part” is, according to Nietzsche, the whole of the human animal.  He places the body above the spirit and then supersedes the distinction between body and spirit altogether.  The Cartesian distinction between mind and body is a false distinction.

Since at least the time of Plato, human beings have thought of themselves as divided organisms (as composites of body and mind or as composites of body and soul), whereas, for Nietzsche, they are unified bodies that misinterpret themselves.  Contempt for the body is itself a manifestation of the body, of the body that despairs of the body, Der Leib war’s, der am Leibe verzweifelte (“Von den Hinterweltlern”).  We learn that the body is a great reason, Der Leib ist eine grosse Vernunft (“Von den Verächtern des Leibes”).  We are taught that “soul” is only a word for a Something on the body, Seele ist nur ein Wort für ein Etwas am Leibe (Ibid.).  The human reason is corporeal, the “soul” is corporeal, the “I” is corporeal, the mind (or spirit) is corporeal.  Everything that is considered “spiritual” is corporealized.  Everything is the body; the body is everything.

There is no evidence that the mind does anything apart from the body—quite the contrary.  The idea that the mind is separate or separable from the body is an anti-physiological wish—the wish for human self-mastery and human freedom.

The soul is a part of the human anatomy.  There is no pneuma outside of soma.  The spirit does not come before the flesh.  For Nietzsche, the flesh comes before the spirit.  What Nietzsche is suggesting is far more radical (than suggesting merely that the mind is a part of the body): He is telling us that the ideal is rooted in the real.  The real makes possible the ideal, not the other way around.  The overhumans will not think of themselves as half-bodies and as half-souls but as all bodies—and each body of each human being contains a thinking organ.

The world, as the body, is empty of sin.  Zarathustra, accordingly, terrestrializes the world: “Stay true to the Earth,” bleibt der Erde treu, Zarathustra says in the Prologue.  “To blaspheme the Earth is now the most terrible thing…”  An der Erde zu freveln ist jetzt das Furchtbarste…  We should no longer believe that the world is infused with sin or that the body is infused with sin.

After deposing the body and the world, Nietzsche deposes pity as a virtue.  Nietzsche unmasks pity as the desire to inflict shame (Scham) on the object of pity.  Pity is formative of a power-relation: The pitier has dominance, preponderance, superiority over the pitiful.  The one who is capable of pity has a greater degree of power than the one who is incapable of pity.  The one who pities makes the pitied dependent on the pitier—the pitied forms a “great dependency” ([g]rosse Verbindlichkeit) as a result of being pitied by the one who is capable of pity.  This dependency creates within the pitied, in turn, the impulse toward revenge against the pitier (“Von den Mitleidigen”).

Generosity is unmasked as a form of revenge, for Nietzsche: When we are generous, we are trying to show how noble we are—which means that we are suggesting that we are better than most people, especially the benefactors of our generosity.  We give with an aggressive freehandedness, which is why the one who refuses our gifts is regarded by us as an insulting person.  The overnice are not very nice.  The overmellow are not very mellow.

Gratitude is likewise unveiled as the sign that one is overflowing with power—one has the power to be grateful to someone who has done one a favor.  Here we must remember: Life itself is the will-to-power.  That is to say: Every living thing desires mastery, preponderance, superiority over all other living things.  The two forms of will-to-power are obeying and commanding, and even obeisance is the desire for mastery: “Even in the will of the serving I found the will to be master,” noch im Willen des Dienstenden fand ich den Willen, Herr zu sein (“Von der Selbst-Überwindung”).  Even in servants, especially in servants, there is the will to become master.  Every secretary desires to become the boss; every nurse desires to become the doctor.

Nietzsche-Zarathustra reduces benevolence to vengeance.  Reclining under a Bodhi Tree—much like the Buddha did, except the Buddha squatted under a Bodhi Tree—Zarathustra is bitten in the neck by an adder.  And what does Zarathustra do in response?  He does not forgive the adder, nor does he offer the snake his neck for a second bite.  He thanks the serpent for awakening him, for he has a long journey ahead of him.

Zarathustra, then, doesn’t offer his neck to his enemy.  To do so would be to dishonor the snake.  “Turning the other cheek” is not a morally pure action.  There is nothing good about “turning the other cheek”—it is a passive-act of aggressive generosity.  As Nietzsche reminds us, not avenging oneself can be a subtle and elegant form of vengeance.

Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek—to exchange an evil with a good.  Zarathustra teaches us not to exchange an evil with a good—but to show our enemy that by doing us evil, he has actually done us some good, beweist, dass er euch etwas Gutes angetan hat (“Vom Biss der Natter”).  At this point, I cannot resist paraphrasing the greatest of all Nietzschean novelists, D.H. Lawrence, who warned us never to forgive our enemies prematurely, lest we breed murderers in our hearts.  In the same way that benevolence is vengeance, vengeance can be a form of benevolence.  This is what I would call salutary revenge.

Even the desire for justice, for equality and equitableness, is distilled to the hunger for revenge against the powerful—and decocted to the enviousness of the powerful.  The contempt for tyrants is itself the “tyrannical lunacy of impotence” (Tyrannen-Wahnsinn der Ohnmacht) (“Von den Taranteln”), for within every socialist revolutionary pulses the heart of a micro-tyrant or a failed tyrant, a tyrant manqué.  The tarantulas (Nietzsche’s name for justice advocates) and the firehounds (his name for revolutionaries) practice the sadism of unearned victimhood.  Justice advocates and revolutionaries are driven by emotional-political and political-emotional impulses.

Zarathustra scrapes off the coating of gold from the Golden Rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself!”  One might rightly ask oneself these questions: Why should I love my neighbor?  What has s/he done to earn my love—and can love ever be earned?  Is love a matter of choice?  What if I hate myself?  How could I then love my neighbor?  Love of the neighbor means not loving oneself, eure Nächstenliebe ist eure schlechte Liebe zu euch selber (“Von der Nächstenliebe”).  Neighborly love, Nächstenliebe, is really the abrading of self-love, the failure to love oneself properly, or a kind of cowardice, the fear of being hit or otherwise hurt by one’s neighbor.  Other-centeredness benefits the neighbor, and yet neighborly love is selfish, paradoxically (I will return to the concept of self-love below).

Nietzsche distills love to envy.  By loving someone, one often wants to jump over the envy that one has for the person whom one loves, oft will man mit der Liebe nur den Neid überspringen (“Vom Freunde”).  Yes, love is a form of envy.  To love someone is to want to become that person.  In the eyes of lovers, in their Liebesblicke, there is the desire to become those whom they love—and then to become better than those whom they love.  What is attractive to the lover are certain qualities that the lover lacks.  Love is a form of cannibalism, and cannibalism is the urge to ingest desired traits of the cannibalized.

The indiscriminate love of humanity makes no sense, either, for Zarathustra/Nietzsche (there is no essential difference, is there?).  Nietzsche has a name for average human beings.  He calls them flies.  And Nietzsche’s flies are venomous—though, as far I know, there are no venomous flies in nature, though biting flies, such as the female Horse Fly or the Yellow Fly, do exist.

Why flies, precisely?  In the eighth chapter of Exodus of the Hebraic Bible, God sends swarms of flies to attack the Pharaoh of Egypt and his retinue.  Nietzsche’s imaginary friends, the suprahuman readers of tomorrow, are pharaonic disbelievers, of course; accordingly, his Zarathustra advises us to flee into our solitude—away from the divinely propelled flies, away from the rabble, away from the mob, away from the crowd, away from the commonal.

Here, Nietzsche is passing close to the teachings of stoicism, the philosophy of the corridor.  Stoicism teaches us that we can control the way that we feel (I actually don’t believe this) but that we cannot control what we cannot control: the uncontrollable, ananke.  Do your best in everything, and don’t worry about what you cannot change!  Such is the watchword of stoicism.  One of the things that is within our control is the number of friends we permit through the narrow aperture of our lives.  Zarathustra has no time for the venomous flies.  As Darius Foroux writes, “[Y]ou don’t control others.  That’s why who you spend your time with is a matter of life and death.”  Epexegesis: You cannot control other human beings, but you can control who you spend time with.

What I gather from this lesson in Nietzschean stoicism: The crowd is not the enemy of the free spirit; average people are flies, not enemies.  Flies are not enemies, for the concept of enmity implies parity.  An enemy is your equal; to call someone an “enemy” is to imply that such a creature is your equal.  To avenge oneself on a fly is to grant that subhuman organism a dignity that is not its own.  Do not swat them!  Dismiss them from your life, that is all.  A fly is unworthy of becoming the object of your vengeance.  One does not avenge oneself on flies.  One does not swat flies.  As Nietzsche writes, it is not Zarathustra’s lot to be a flyswatter, a Fliegenwendel (“Von den Fliegen des Marktes”).

Zarathustra drags everything ideal down to the Earth.  He pollutes every form of purity.  There is no such thing as pure perception, as immaculate perception (die unbefleckte Wahrnehmung), we are told.  Here he is in total concordance with his unofficial Philosophy teacher Schopenhauer, with one important distinction—Nietzsche believes that perception is contamination, which is something that Schopenhauer nowhere suggests.  We never perceive anything like an objective world—our perceptions are sullied with our desires, with our anthropomorphisms, with prejudices that we impose on the world.  We screen the world through our own speculum.  I do not perceive the moon as it actually is; I perceive an image on my retina.  My mind is a hegemonikon, a sun that illuminates all of the things that surround me and gives them meaning.  My hand does not touch the branch of the tree; my hand touches itself, my hand only touches its own touching.  I do not see the waves as they rush to the shore; I only see my own seeing.  As Schopenhauer argues, the hand can let go of anything other than itself; Nietzsche and Schopenhauer are concordant on this point.  The world has to reach to my height, zur meiner Höhe (“Von der unbefleckten Wahrnehmung”).  An honest perception is one that embraces the veil—and this embracement-of-the-veil is art.  An honest percipient is one who perceives that we only perceive our own perceptions, that any possibility of “purity” is contaminated by our valuations, our prejudices, our background, our desires, our feelings—and the highest form of perception is formative, aesthetic perception.  Art expresses the desire for a perception to become more than mere perception while acknowledging that all perception is mere perception.  How does art do this?  By creating the image of a perception.  Art is the image of an image.

In contradistinction to the teachings of the Iranian Zarathustra and to the lessons of Jesus, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra tells us that there is no otherworldliness, that there is no mind apart from the body, that soma is spirit.  There is no reason, we learn, for tormenting the body for its necessary cravings and impulsions; there is no reason for tormenting ourselves for feelings that are inborn within us, feelings that are innate, our congenital affections and desires.

Nietzsche’s Zarathustra anticipates, welcomes, promises, celebrates a self-affirmative, spontaneous, productive, fruitful humanity that will not condemn itself for what it is and for what it cannot but be.

It is as if Nietzsche were presenting to us a Zarathustra, one of the first religious prophets we know of, who is anti-metaphysical, who believes in sanctifying the Earth, who celebrates the body and who does not see the mind as separate from, or superior to, the body, and who even tells us that benevolence is selfishness, that there is no giving without selfishness.  A healthier, more vigorous, more lifeful overhumanity will accept these things.

 

THE OVERHUMANITIES

The overhuman is a new species of humanity that will be disencumbered from the intellectual lies of religion, metaphysics, and morality.  The overhuman is the one who will exceed, surpass, transcend the religions, the moralities, the metaphysics that have hitherto encumbered humankind.  It will be the end of the Anthropocene and the beginning of the Meta-Anthropocene.

But what are the virtues of the overhuman?  We know the Official Theories that are subjected to critique by Zarathustra: pity, generosity, gratitude, benevolence, the sense for justice, romantic love, love of the neighbor, the love of humanity or philanthropy, immaculate perception, etc.  Zarathustra de-ballasts the traditional concepts of morality, as well as those of metaphysics and of religion.  But what does Zarathustra stand for?  Zarathustra heralds the overhuman.  What does the overhuman stand for?  What are the virtues of the overhuman?  What are the overhumanities?

It is too early to say with precision—the overhuman has yet to be born, the overhuman will come after the last human—but there are three overhumanities that we know of, and they are presented in the chapter entitled “On the Three Evils.”  We learn a great deal about what the overhuman will not be.  What the overhuman is, what the overhuman believes and thinks, in a positive sense, will be explained in “On the Three Evils.”  What, then, are Zarathustra’s values?  The answer is: Zarathustra’s values are what have hitherto been called “vices.”  Nietzsche soberly and dispassionately evaluates three so-called “vices” or “evils”: voluptuous carnal pleasure, the desire to rule, and selfishness, Wollust, Herrschsucht, and Selbstsucht (“Von den drei Bösen”).

“Selfishness” is healthy self-love, not the sickly “own-love” (Eigenliebe) of pathological narcissism, the self-obsession of sadistically abusive, exploitive narcissists who do not genuinely love themselves and who are forever unhappy—and forever heavy.  Self-loving is a kind of delicious selfishness.  Self-love cannot be the basis of a moral action, according to Kant.  Against Kant, Nietzsche is urging us to love ourselves.  Nietzsche teaches us to love ourselves, against Christianity, as well, which teaches that self-love is the deadliest of all sins.

Voluptuous carnal pleasure, the desire to rule, and selfishness are all life-affirming and signs of human strength.  Are they really so bad?  Virtuousness, which hides the demand for moral superiority, and which praises weakness and meekness, is far worse.  Virtuousness is a life-hating position; vice is enhancing of life.

Nietzsche, then, elevates “Evil” and “vices” and derogates “Good” and “virtue.”  Again, what is traditionally called “good” isn’t very good, and what is traditionally called “evil” isn’t so bad.

The first stage, then, is the dispraise of conventional virtues.

The second stage is the praise of conventional vices.  Nietzsche/Zarathustra prizes, in particular, voluptuous pleasure, the lust for power, and selfishness.  None of these deserves to be goblinized; none of these deserves to be monsterized.  Here it is imperative to clarify: Thus Spoke Zarathustra is not some Satanic Anti-Bible; this is not inverted Christianity.  Nietzsche wears the devil’s horns, prankish Nietzsche, but it is only a mask.  Marilyn Manson, who is conscious of Nietzsche, similarly plays the role of the bogeyman.  Nietzsche is not an endorser of Evil; he is not Mephistopheles who pops up from the abysses of Hell and proclaims, “Let Evil be my Good!”  He wants to rethink the dichotomy between Good and Evil altogether, which leads us to the third stage.

The third stage is the displacement, the overcoming of the distinction between “virtue” and “vice” altogether and the making-way for a set of new values.  The final stage is the abrogation of common Good and common Evil.  There is no reason to have virtues or vices in an overhuman world in which the Earth and the body are valued.  Invent new values!  Invent your own values!  Actively forget the virtues and the vices!  Values, yes.  Virtues and vices, no.

So: In the first stage, the virtues are diabolized, and in the second stage, the vices are angelized.  In the third stage, there are neither devils, nor are there angels.  Derrida does not appear terribly original anymore when we see the supersession of dichotomies in Nietzsche.

After praising vices and dispraising so-called “virtues,” we accede to a new order in which there will be no vices and there will be no virtues.  A world in which nothing will be considered “moral” or “immoral,” a world in which nothing will be considered “good” or “evil.”  Create your own morality, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is suggesting to us.  And to create, Zarathustra reminds us, one must be a lover—and one, perhaps paradoxically, must be solitary.  “With your love go into your solitude and with your creating, my brother,” Mit deiner Liebe gehe in deine Vereinsamung und mit deinem Schaffen, mein Bruder… (“Vom Weg des Schaffenden”).  Then comes the euphoria of aesthetic productivity.  Overhuman values will be generated.  And this is what Nietzsche means by “self-overcoming” (Selbst-Überwindung): the devaluation and destruction of conventional values and the creation of overhumanly affirmative values.

Here Nietzsche is not far from the anti-ethical philosophy of Max Stirner, whose work Nietzsche certainly read and admired.[5]  Stirner thinks that the Good is whatever is good for me and that the Evil is whatever is evil for me.  Such are the contours of the Stirnerian ego-system.  However, Nietzsche goes beyond the egosphere, beyond the egoic.  Nietzsche, by contrast, asks: What is good for humanity?  And what is good for humanity will be a banquet of delights for overhumanity.

The point is not to humanize humanity, but to overhumanize humanity.  Nietzsche welcomes not the superhuman, but the suprahuman.  Zarathustra is not the overhuman but the one who heralds the overhuman.  Accordingly, Zarathustra’s new animal friends will be a lion and a flight of doves that encircles the beast—the sign of the overhuman (“Das Zeichen”).

* * * * *

If the world seemed like a desert to Nietzsche, the Europe of the nineteenth century, the modern world, it was because there were so many camels about, so many human beings who loaded themselves up with toxic, noxious inherited concepts, concepts that were extrinsic to humanity—and that stultified humanity.  Good and Evil, the concept of original sin, led to the desertification of the world and the becoming-camel of cameline humanity.  Of camelinity.

Nietzsche sees humanity as weighed down by the so-called virtues and vices, as weighed down by fictitious Good and fictitious Evil, a humanity burdened by the self-hatred that comes with guilt and the presumption of selflessness, which does not exist.  Nietzsche’s diagnosis is that modern humanity is still freighted by the “Spirit of Gravity,” der Geist der Schwere—but this spirit is losing its gravitas.  Nineteenth-century Europe is drifting toward nihilism.

The Spirit of Gravity is the misbegotten idea that the world is aggravated by some inherent meaning.  The Spirit of Gravity freights the world with theological lies such as Good and Evil, as if human beings were simple and undifferentiated and pourable and fillable into Tupperware containers marked ‘Good’ and ‘Evil.’  Specifically, Nietzsche is concerned with original sin.  The concept of original sin blocks self-love—after all, if we are born evil, if sinfulness is inborn within us, what is lovable about you or me?

Nietzsche’s goal is to liberate humanity from the concept that existence is sinfulness (as promulgated by Christianity and Schopenhauer, Nietzsche’s former ex officio mentor).

For Schopenhauer, existence is hatable for three essential reasons: 1.) When the human will can’t get what it wants, it suffers.  2.) When the human will seizes upon what it wants, it doesn’t want that object anymore.  3.) The fundamental character of the will is striving.  There will thus inevitably be a conflict of wills.  Two people want the same piece of land—because the other person wants the same piece of land.  Two men desire the same woman—because the other man desires the same woman.  Two women desire the same man—because the other woman desires the same man (one does not need to limit oneself to heterosexual desires; here, Schopenhauer is close to Hobbes).

Nietzsche has a different, more interesting characterization.  Life appears terrible because the past is irrecoverable, irreversible, immutable.  We grow bitter, resentful, because we wish that the past were otherwise than what it was.  The past seems immovable, like a stone.  We hate existence because we hate who we were in the past.  The Spirit of Revenge (der Geist der Rache) avenges itself on existence by regarding existence as punishment, as sinfulness.  Christianity holds that human beings are essentially mired in sinfulness—which means, of course, that they are sinful even before they are born.

Zarathustra would liberate—redeem—human existence from the imputation of sinfulness.  He would emancipate humanity from its self-inculpation.  How?  By regarding the irretrievable, irrecoverable, undeletable, unerasable, hatable past into something that is fervently desired—the “It was” becomes the “So I want it,” the Es war becomes the So wollte ich es (“Von der Erlösung”).

Against Schopenhauer, against Christianity, Nietzsche reverses resentment toward the “It was.”  Both the Christian and Schopenhauerian positions are concordant: “I can’t do anything about the ‘It was,’” they both suggest.  Yes, you can do something about the “It was”—you can impassionedly affirm it.  You can desire the “It was.”

Regarding existence as sinful or as a punishment (Schopenhauer agrees with Christian theology that existence is fallenness and a punishment) stops being meaningful as soon as you desire the “It was.”  More than that: You desire that the “It was” will repeat itself infinitely.

Not only is the past vigorously affirmed—the infinite repetition of the past is vigorously affirmed.  The thought experiment is as follows: Act as though everything that you do will have been repeated infinitely.  This suspends the category of the past; the “It was” becomes the “It will always be” and “It will always have been.”  Living one’s life for the sake of its own infinite repetition—the past is now subject to its own infinite repetition—means that the category of the past is suspended.  It also means that the category of the present is abolished, as I will argue when I finally get to Nietzsche’s posthumous papers.

(Briefly: There is no present moment, since the present moment will repeat itself infinitely.  The infinite repetition of the same suspends the category of the present.  There is no such thing as the present, only the future perfect.  Nothing happens now—things only will have happened.  The future has already occurred; the future will have already occurred.)

The embracement of the eternal recurrence of the same, the affirmation of infinite repetition, eliminates all human regret and all human guilt.

In “Vom Gesicht und Rätsel,” Zarathustra experiences a vision of the eternal recurrence of the same.  Two roads lead from and to a gate upon which is emblazoned a sign that reads “MOMENT.”  One eternity leads to the past, the other to the future (assuming that the word “MOMENT” actually means that the intersection of the two eternities is the “MOMENT”).

Zarathustra envisions a spider in the moonlight and a talpine dwarf.  (Talpine = “mole-like.)  Zarathustra hears the baying of a dog.  The spider in the moonlight, the baying dog, the dwarf-mole—all of these creatures will recur again and again, forever.  They will play their parts in an infinitely restaged spectacle.

Zarathustra dreams of a shepherd who is lying supine on the ground in the moonlight with a snake down his throat, choking on the snake that is tunneling down his throat.  Why is he a “shepherd”?  How is he a “shepherd”?  Isn’t a shepherd someone who tends sheep?  But this “shepherd” doesn’t tend sheep—he is writhing on the ground with a snake in his mouth.  Perhaps the shepherd represents Zarathustra himself—the shepherd without sheep, the leader without followers (I will return to this matter below).

Nietzsche is also slyly suggesting to us that the one who gazes at his or her life with an eternal eye will be free from every role, will not be reducible to any social role or to any social function.  S/he will be liberated, fully transformed, fully human for the first time.

Why “choking”?  In the same way that God chokes on His pity for humankind, the shepherd is choking on his pity for humankind, on a thick admixture of disgust, contempt, and pity.

Biting the snake, the shepherd who tends no sheep transcends his nausea.  It is nauseating, at first, to think of all of time repeating itself eternally.  A future humanity will embrace and affirm the eternal repetition of all things without nausea.

The point is to think eternally, in the way that Zarathustra does, and to surmount one’s nausea in the face of life’s abyssal eternal self-repetition.  Nietzsche is not suggesting that our lives will actually repeat themselves endlessly; Nietzsche does not believe in reincarnation, in samsāra, in the perpetual recycling of rebirth and redeath.  The eternal recurrence of the same is a thought experiment.  It is a Nietzschean imperative.  The Nietzschean imperative is: Act as if your life will repeat itself eternally.  Once you act as if your life will endlessly reinitiate itself, concepts such as Good and Evil seem as if they were only wispy clouds, drifting ephemerae against the backdrop of the infinite blue sky (“Vor Sonnen-Aufgang”).[6]

The theory of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same lightens the world.  It alleviates the world of its anti-human cargo.  The lightness that suffuses one is not unbearable at all, especially since Nietzsche stresses that the levity of self-love exists “so that one [can] bear oneself,” dass man es bei sich selber aushalte (“Vom Geist der Schwere”).  The consequence of believing in the Eternal Recurrence of the Same is not the unbearable lightness of being, but the floaty legerity of existence.

 

THE ETERNAL RECURRENCE OF A JOKE

In order to properly understand the chapter entitled “On the Poets” (“Von den Dichtern”), the reader must know something about Goethe.

Goethe writes at the end of Faust: Part Two (1832): “All that is perishable is just a parable,” Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis.  He meant that the idea that anything is decaying, decomposing, dying, temporary, ephemeral, evanescent, vanishing is an illusion.

Zarathustra says to his disciples: “‘Imperishable’—that is just a parable,” ‘Unvergängliche’—das ist auch nur ein Gleichnis (“Von den Dichtern”).  In other words, the idea that anything is immortal, permanent, eternal, everlasting is an illusion.  Zarathustra’s disciples are rather upset by this announcement, but they are even more upset when their leader tells his followers not to believe anything that he says.  The leader disfollows his followers; he tells his own followers not to follow him.

Zarathustra says more than this.  He even calls his own erstwhile beloved overhuman one of the “colorful brats” (bunte[-] Bälge) that we place into the heavens—in other words, the overhuman is nothing more than a bombastic fiction, nothing more than an ethereality, nothing more than a fabrication, nothing more than a mystification, nothing more than an abstraction, nothing more than one form of unreality among other forms of unreality.

One should draw a contrast between the Goethe of Faust II and the Goethe of the second edition of The Sorrows of Young Werther (1775).  In the second version of The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe revised the poem at the beginning of the book to end thusly: “Be a man, and do not follow me,” Sei ein Mann, und folge mir nicht nach [in italics].  It is as if Goethe were admonishing young men not to follow Werther’s example.  It is as if Goethe were admonishing young men not to kill themselves, as Werther did, and not to imitate Werther’s atrocious fashion choices.  Goethe didn’t want his young male readers to kill themselves; he probably didn’t want them to dress the way that his Werther did, either.

Nietzsche is turning toward the Goethe of 1775 and turning away from the Goethe of 1832.  It is as if Zarathustra were saying to his followers, and Nietzsche were saying to his readers, “Do not believe in me!  Believe in yourselves!  Do not follow me!  Follow yourselves!”

In The Gospel according to Luke, Jesus commands his disciples to follow him blindly: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and his mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and his sisters—yes, even his own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” [14:26].  Unlike Jesus, who demanded obeisance from his disciples, Zarathustra wants traitors, not followers.  By being faithful to Zarathustra, his disciples are betraying themselves.  Zarathustra thus implores his disciples to follow him with a kind of treacherous piety and to believe in themselves, not in him: “Now I summon you to lose me and to find yourselves; for only after you have all denied me will I turn back to you.”  Nun heisse euch, mich verlieren und euch finden; und erst, wenn ihr mich alle verleugnet habt, will ich euch wiederkehren (“Von der schenkenden Tugend”).  In other words: Think for yourselves!  And thinking for yourselves means to contradict yourselves, to overthrow your own convictions and credulities, again and again and again.  Jesus never says, “Betray me!” or “Deny me!”  He says (to Peter), “You will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

The Jesus of the Johannine Gospel says, “Whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (11:26).  Zarathustra, by contrast, affirms the “consummative death,” [der] vollbringende[-] Tod (“Vom freien Tode”)—the death that is undergone by the complete free spirit who chooses his or her own death, who chooses to die at the right time, at the time of his or her fullness and ripeness, who completes his or her life in the active passivity of dying.  And life can only complete itself through the voluntary assumption of mortality.  More relevant to this section of my essay: Zarathustra is saying, in essence: Whoever lives by believing in me is deceiving oneself.  This is not a didactic or pedantic book.[7]

Nietzsche is telling us, in effect, that everything that we have been reading is a lie!  Zarathustra brooks no fans, no fanatics, no followers.  He wants to missionarize no one.  Zarathustra is a sermonizer who urges his disciples to betray him and to contradict his lessons.  A prophet who renounces his or her own followers renounces himself, renounces herself.  Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a book that cancels itself out; it takes on the strange appearance of a book that annihilates itself and leaves the reader alone to think for himself, for herself.

 

DETHRONING THE HIGHER HUMANS

In Part Four, Zarathustra encounters the ironically typed “higher humans.”  Each one of them lets out a cry of distress (Notschrei) in the forest, and Zarathustra, out of pity, rushes to soothe their lachrymose lachrymations.  A cry of distress leads Zarathustra from one higher human to the next, from one station to the next.

The higher humans are invited to a feast at Zarathustra’s cave.  They are the following: the Soothsayer, the Two Kings, the Conscientious of Spirit, the Wizard, the Last Pope, the Ugliest Man, the Wanderer, and the Voluntary Beggar.  Each personage misinterprets Zarathustra’s lesson (I will return to this matter below).

1.) The Soothsayer (der Wahrsager) predicts the coming emptying-out of all values—the epoch of nihilism, the historical moment at which human beings will no longer have the desire to value anything at all.  This will be the time of the last humans, those who blankly blink, those who are passionless, those who are self-complacent, those who don’t even understand the concept of striving.  The absence of all values will be the moment when values will devaluate themselves, which is the final stage before the coming of the overhuman (see Deleuze’s remarks on the Soothsayer in Pure Immanence).  The Soothsayer holds that all life is suffering; he, perhaps, reflects Schopenhauer.

2.) The Two Kings might be best described as “anthropotheists”: those humanists who worship the Human as if it were a god.  They allegorize those who seek the higher humans; they are also, paradoxically, called “higher humans” themselves.  The Two Kings replace the dead gods with the living human being.  It is they who bring the donkey.  They misinterpret what Zarathustra aphorizes: that a “good war hallows any cause” and that a “short peace is better than a long one,” der gute Krieg ist es, der jede Sache heiligt and [Ihr sollt] den kurzen Frieden [lieben] mehr als den langen. (“Vom Krieg und Kriegsvolke”).  Nietzsche knew that some of his hastier and lazier readers who misinterpret him as an endorser of bellicosity.  Zarathustra (and Nietzsche) does not endorse war in the literal sense—he endorses an intellectual war against the complacencies of faith.  The Two Kings literalize Zarathustra as a militarist.

3.) The Conscientious of Spirit (Gewissenhafte des Geistes) allegorizes scholarship and scholarliness.  He is the Man of Knowledge; he is the one who holds knowledge above all else.  He fetishizes knowledge in lieu of thinking.  Thinking is superior to knowledge—and those who privilege knowledge over thinking are paving the way for religiosity, for political ideology, for morality, for all forms of dogmatism.  He misinterprets Zarathustra’s language: When he said that “spirit is that life which cuts into life,” Geist ist das Leben, das selber ins Leben schneidet, Zarathustra never meant that life should turn against life (“Von den berühmten Weisen”).  The Conscientious One wants security (Sicherheit) and comes to Zarathustra for security.  But Zarathustra is a great destabilizer and destabilizes all certainties, all complacencies, all assurances.  The Conscientious of Spirit is parasitized by a leech, the leech of knowledge.

4.) The Wizard is a comic figure, a self-deceptive figure, who deceives himself into mourning the death of the gods.  The best contemporary instantiation of the Wizard is Professor Jordan Peterson (I will return to this matter below).

5.) The Last Pope claims that the gods died for their pity of humankind (in “Ausser Dienst”).  Having lost the dead gods, the sad hierophant now worships the godless one, Zarathustra.  Nietzsche appears to be proleptically making fun of the vulgar Nietzscheanists who will distort him into resembling a religious thinker.

6.) The Ugliest Man has assassinated the gods.  Why did he assassinate the gods?  He assassinated the gods because the gods witnessed the Ugly Man’s ugliness and the Ugly Man could not stand the idea of the all-seeing gods witnessing his ugliness.  He kills the gods so that the gods can no longer see the Ugliest Man’s ugly hideousness and hideous ugliness.  When he writes of the Ugliest Man’s “ugliness,” Nietzsche means the Ugliest Man’s perception of sinfulness, his sinful self-perception, the perception of his mortality, his thanatoception.  But what madness is this?  Omnificent gods create sinful human creatures, and then the gods punish human creatures for their sinfulness.  This means that the gods punish their own creatures for what the gods have put into their creatures—the gods create human beings and then punish their own creations for being imperfect.  The gods punish themselves.  The Ugliest Man is ashamed of his sinfulness, and this leads to self-contempt, Verachtung.  The cure of self-contempt is self-love—something that the Ugliest Man certainly does not have.

7.) The Wanderer is entranced by dancing girls from the East, by their shapely choreomania.  Nietzsche is probably metaphorizing those who are allured by Eastern mysticism.  There is also mention of the Shadow, but the Shadow is tenebrous to me.

8.) The Voluntary Beggar (der freiwillige Bettler) gives up all of his wealth so that he might live among sheep, among the ovinely faithful.  He figures the ascetic, the self-denying religionist.  He misinterprets Zarathustra’s great disgust, grosser Ekel, as disgust over one’s own affluence, as nausea over riches and self-accumulation, which is something that Zarathustra has never actually expressed (“Der freiwillige Bettler”).

* * * * *

Zarathustra returns to the cave where the higher men were feasting, a cave that was until now full of joy and laughter.  No one is laughing anymore.

And what are the higher men doing, these visitors, these guests?

Zarathustra is shocked to see the higher men in the cave worshipping the donkey as if the beast were a god.  They are godifying the donkey, the donkey is to them a god, an asinine divinity or a divine asininity.  It is like a Satanic mass, but the problem, for Nietzsche, is not its unholiness, but its holiness!  Zarathustra, and Nietzsche, are alarmed by the pointlessness of it all, the pointlessness of muttering prayers to oneself that no one else can hear.  After all, it makes as much sense to worship a donkey as it does to worship a wafer, a cracker, a goblet of wine, or a piece of wood.

Why a donkey?  Why does Nietzsche use this metaphor, and what is being metaphorized?

The donkey metaphorizes the gods—all deities, all idols.  The donkey is the Ass God.  The nimbus of mystery that shrouds the gods has been dispelled.  The god is revealed as an animal.  An enigma that is revealed is an enigma no longer; a mystery that is revealed is no longer a mystery.  What we are left with is not the mysticism of mystery, but the animalism of an animal.

The donkey has long ears—it is incapable of subtle, critical listening, incapable of listening with discernment, incapable of distinguishing lovely sounds from harsh sounds.  It likes everything and everyone, without discrimination.  The donkey’s long ears are figurative of the indiscriminate listening of the inscrutable gods.

Donkeys never answer questions; the gods never answer questions.  The donkey spews inhuman, unintelligible gibberish.  Hence, its mindless cry: “I-A.”  Pronounced: “Eeeh-Ahh!”  Donkeys laugh inanely at everything and at nothing.  Much as the deity who is forever silent or, what amounts to the same, utters indecipherable mishmash, the donkey never discloses itself; no one knows what its message is.  No matter what the gods say, the believers will find something meaningful in it.  No matter what happens, it is always the will of the gods.  When a child dies, “the gods work in mysterious ways,” we are told; if a child’s life is saved, that, too, is the work of the gods.  This is a game that is rigged in advance, a game that is impossible to lose, an infinitely inflatable air bag.  No matter what one says about the will of the gods, it will be correct—because the gods do not disclose themselves.  No matter what the donkey says, it is regarded as meaningful—even though it is braying senselessly.

The donkey accepts everything and nothing with a kind of blank stupidity, with an empty stupidity.  The donkey emptily affirms everything.  It bawls its affirmation, its I-A, to everything and nothing.  The yee-hawing of the donkey, its empty affirmation of everything and nothing with equal vacuity and acuity, is not the affirmation, the Yes-saying, of Zarathustra.

Zarathustra denounces the higher humans and their false idol—for all idols are false, according to Nietzsche.  Zarathustra denounces the higher humans with the same rage, with the same asperity, with which Jesus denounced the money changers and the animal hawkers in the temple.  It is thrilling to read Zarathustra’s denunciation of the ass-drunk hypocrites.

The higher humans are not high enough.  The higher humans are still deists; they are still godly men.  They are still god-obsessed, god-addicted, god-infected, god-infested, god-injected lunatics.

The entire point is that the humanists are religionists and humanism is a form of religiosity.  The higher humans are not yet overhuman; humanity has not yet superseded itself and acceded to the overhuman.

The humanists talk about the “transcendent,” as Jordan Peterson does.  They talk of the religiosity of art, how “art and poetry are not possible without religion,” as Peterson said.  They are hucksters, quacksters, fraudsters.  They are the resurrectors of the gods.

The higher humans are not irreligious enough for Nietzsche.  They pretend to be irreligious, but they are all covert god-believers—they are all infected, infested, injected with religiosity.

Humanism fills the abyss left by the absence of the gods.

After the gods die, humanism takes over.

Why did the gods die?  The gods died because they pitied humankind.  The Christian God “died” when He became Christ—even Karl Barth acknowledged that the finitization of God-as-Christ is the mortalization of God.  God “died,” even before Christ was mounted on the cross.

Such is Nietzsche’s diagnosis of modernity: Modernity is the slow convalescing from a sickness—belief in the gods is a sickness, and since the gods died, we have been convalescing from this sickness.

On guidance counselors’ office doors throughout the United States of America is emblazoned the overcited declaration: “Whoever would give birth to a dancing star must have chaos within,” man muss noch Chaos in sich haben, um einen tanzenden Stern gebären zu können (Prologue).  Nietzsche means that the higher men will give birth to the overhuman, once the agonies of self-contempt and nausea have subsided.

Nietzsche’s genealogy of the future runs like this: First comes self-contempt on the part of humanity.  Humanity will become contemptuous of itself.  Then comes the death of the gods.  Then, nihilism, or the self-evacuation of all values.  Then, the last human, who cares about nothing, who has no longing, no yearning, no striving.  Then, self-overcoming or the invention of new, life-affirmative and world-affirmative values, which leads to the overhuman—a humanity that finally keeps pace with its fullest promise.

Part Four is especially brilliant in the way that it folds back on Parts One, Two, and Three.  Part Four contains ways in which the first three parts of the book will have been misinterpreted by Nietzsche’s careless readership long after he will have been gone.  To give one example of this: The Ugliest Man quotes Zarathustra: “One kills not by wrath, but by laughter,” Nicht durch Zorn, sondern durch Lachen tötet man.  (These words were originally written in “Vom Lesen und Schreiben” and are now quoted in “Das Eselsfest.”)  However, the Ugliest Man misinterprets these words to mean: “It doesn’t matter whether or not one excises God from one’s life.”  He mistakes Zarathustra’s laughter as silliness, as giggling nonchalance.

Part Four is a meta-literary device—it affords a meta-perspective that anticipates the book’s future reception.  Nietzsche installed in his book its inevitable misinterpretation in the hands of a lazy, glazy, dazy, hasty readership.  (Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a fissile book—it opens to the future.)  Indeed, this is exactly what happened: Nietzsche has been misinterpreted as a proto-Nazi and as a crypto-Christian, among other things that he was not.

No one has misinterpreted Nietzsche more perniciously and more fatefully than Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche and Dr. Jordan Peterson.

 

NIETZSCHE CONTRA PETERSON: JORDAN PETERSON DOES NOT UNDERSTAND NIETZSCHE

The most visible and effective public intellectual on the Planet Earth, at the time that I am composing this essay, is almost certainly Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson.  He is far more effective and visible than competing public intellectuals Dr. Slavoj Zizek and Twitter philosopher Dr. Sam Harris, both of whom he has debated publicly.  The fact that Dr. Peterson is so visible and so effective says more about the current state of the Planet Earth than it does about Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Jordan Peterson—who is a homarine brophilosopher (or, as my friend Andy Ball puts it, a “brosopher”)—makes sense 88.8% of the time.  Unlike other critics of Dr. Peterson, I actually believe that some of his prescriptions, such as “Stand up straight!” and “Clean your room!” are only apparently simple, are indeed profound, and have great utility, both as literal and as metaphorical prescriptions for the young and for the old (here is not the place to pursue this argument).  And then he says things such as “There can be no art or poetry without religion” to a cackling audience of atheists (see his debate with Matt Dillahunty; April 2018).  Even worse are his remarks on Nietzsche.  His pseudo-reading of Nietzsche is that of a Christian existentialist (a contradictio in terminus, if there ever was one).

On the 18 April 2019 episode of his podcast, Dr. Peterson had this to say about the Nietzschean Death of God: “When Nietzsche announced the Death of God—which, by the way, as you may know from listening to my lectures [!!!]—was not precisely a triumphal… wasn’t an announcement of triumph.  It was a warning and the tolling of bells of sorrow.  That’s a good way of thinking about it.  Even though Nietzsche styled himself as a vicious [!]… an intellectually vicious critic of institutionalized Christianity, which he certainly was, he was also a strange friend to the faith.  I think, in the most fundamental sense, that’s the truth…  So, when Nietzsche announced the Death of God, he did it sorrowfully…”

These are not adventitious remarks.  These remarks are at the core of Dr. Peterson’s thinking.  Whenever he lectures or interviews, Dr. Peterson refers to Nietzsche, almost without exception, and whenever he speaks of Nietzsche, he invariably speaks of the Death of God.

On the 8 June 2018 episode of a video series entitled, fittingly, The Big Conversation, Dr. Peterson had this to say:

“You know, Nietzsche announced, of course, in the 1880s, in the late 1880s [sic!!!], that God was dead.  Typical rationalist atheists regard that as a triumphal, a triumphalist proclamation.  But that wasn’t that for Nietzsche.  Nietzsche knew perfectly well and said immediately afterward that the consequences of that was going to be a bloody catastrophe because everything was going to fall…  Nietzsche knew perfectly well that when you remove the cornerstone from underneath the building that even though it may stay aloft in mid-air like a cartoon character that’s wandered off a cliff, that it will inevitably come to crumble.”

Dr. Peterson makes the claim that Nietzsche was really very sad about the Death of God almost everywhere he goes.  On 16 May 2018, Dr. Peterson participated in a structured Question-and-Answer session at the Oxford Union.  When an exceedingly bright student asked him if meaning is artificially imposed on the world by human beings, Dr. Peterson uttered this non-response in response:

“When Nietzsche announced the Death of God, which is something that he announced in sorrow and trembling [!!!!!!], I would say, rather than triumphantly, which is often how that’s read because people don’t actually read Nietzsche; they just read one half of a quote from Nietzsche.”

But have you truly read Nietzsche, Dr. Peterson?  If anything, Dr. Peterson is the illiteratus and his followers, the illiterati.  “Nietzsche was sad about the Death of God” is a false axiom.  To refute Dr. Peterson’s erroneous claim that Nietzsche mourned the Death of God, one only has to consult the following passage from “On the Apostates”:

“It has been over for the gods for a long time now: —and indeed they had a fine, joyful gods’ end! / They did not ‘twilight’ themselves to death—that is a real lie!  Rather: They laughed themselves—to death!”

Mit den alten Göttern ging es ja lange schon zu Ende: —und wahrlich, ein gutes fröhliches Götter-Ende hatten sie! / Sie “dämmerten” sich nicht zu Tode—das lügt man wohl! Vielmehr: sie haben sich selber einmal zu Tode—gelacht! (“Von den Abtrünnigen”).

Dr. Peterson believes that Nietzsche is one of those who think they want the destruction of God but who “creep at midnight around God’s tomb,” mitternachts um das Grab seines Gottes schleicht (“Von den Hinterweltlern”).  And Jordan Peterson is the mournful mourner, not Nietzsche, who never mourns the death of the Old Gods.

Nietzsche did suggest that belief in the gods, which constitutes the absolute virtue, is an obstruction to aesthetic creativity.

Nietzsche/Zarathustra proclaims: “[I]f there were no gods, how could I stand not being a god!  Therefore, there are no gods.”  [W]enn es Götter gäbe, wie hielte ich’s aus, kein Gott zu sein!  Also gibt es keine Götter (“Auf den glückseligen Inseln”).

This is both a false inference and an argument from pleasure, an argumentum ad consequentiam.  Nietzsche actually appears to be suggesting: “Because I can’t stand the idea of not being a god, there are no gods!”  As if the existence of gods were dependent on my emotional needs!  Right after the fake syllogism that I cited above, there is the sly suggestion that Nietzsche is being ironic, that he knows that he is being illogical.[8]

All healthy virtues will be rooted in the body and in the world—and the unhealthiest of all virtues, according to Nietzsche, is faith in the Old Gods, which leads Nietzsche into a logical contradiction.

In contradistinction to Jordan B. Peterson, who believes that there can be no art or poetry without religion, and who said as much to an amphitheater of giggling atheists, Nietzsche writes the exact opposite: There can be no art or poetry with religion!

There would be no reason for art if gods existed.  “What would there be to create if gods—were there!” [W]as wäre denn zu schaffen, wenn Götter—da wären!  (“Auf den glückseligen Inseln”).  Art is a fundamentally human activity—it only makes sense in the absence of gods.  I create because no gods exist, for the gods and goddesses would be the superior craftsmen and craftswomen.  To believe in a god that you have not created is to negate yourself.  Nietzsche is suggesting: Don’t believe in any god that you haven’t invented yourself.  The absence of gods makes possible artistic creativity.[9]

Nietzsche affirms the gaiety of creation in the absence of deities.  The only person who is mournful about the absence of the deities is—Dr. Jordan Peterson, who is no Zarathustra!

The one who feels as if one were a human god has no need of gods.  I acknowledge that this is a dangerous position, but it is Nietzsche’s position, regardless of whether one agrees with it.  Nietzsche wants all of us—each free spirit who reads his words—to feel as gods ourselves.

Above all, Nietzsche wants to inspirit the broken-spirited.

Dr. Joseph Suglia

 

[1]Wahrheit reden und gut mit Bogen und Pfeil verkehren”—so dünkte es jenem Volke zugleich lieb und schwer, aus dem mein Name kommt—der Name, welcher mir zugleich lieb und schwer ist.”

[2] A book that is heavy in metaphor will not be understood by professional philosophers who do not know how to retranslate its metaphors into concepts, who will be puzzled by, for instance, Zarathustra’s claim that he speaks too crassly and openly for Angora rabbits (Seidenhasen).

[3] Metaphor conceals the harsh nascency of the concept.

[4] Style is a means of concealing one’s motives.  Having style—finesse, trickery, chicanery—means not showing everything.  Style is the corrective of nature.

[5] We know that Nietzsche read Stirner with admiration (see Conversations with Nietzsche, edited by Sander L. Gilman, pages 113-114).

[6] The Eternal Recurrence of the Same is the forever-supervenient and the non-obviatable.

[7] Compare the following passages: In “On the Spirit of Gravity,” Zarathustra tells us, “The way precisely—that does not exist!”  Den Weg nämlich—den gibt es nicht! (“Vom Geist der Schwere”).  In “On the Old and New Tablets,” Zarathustra claims that he is a “prelude to better players,” Ein Vorspiel bin ich besserer Spieler (“Von alten und neuen Tafeln”).

[8] “Wohl zog ich den Schluss; nun aber zieht er mich” (Ibid.).

[9] Much like Archimedes, Zarathustra demands that the stars orient themselves around him: Kannst du auch Sterne zwingen, dass sie um dich drehen? (“Vom Wege des Schaffenden”).