I like that quote. It coincides with a topic that keeps coming up lately: stream of consciousness. After I knew a comrade had recovered from a night of vodka during which time he had contacted me on relevance of the subject I messaged back about our timeless streams which even the patient flowing can carve through the most stubborn peaks. After all, it's all malleable.
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I know that the psychiater will see in this exhilarated, ecstatic self-glorification the euphoria, the final flash of joy, of the doomed, the stigma of megalomania, the self-exaltation typical in certain forms of insanity. But yet I ask, has any other man immortalized with such crystalline clearness the state of creative frenzy? For this is the unique, the unprecedented miracle of Nietzsche's last work — that a supreme degree of clarity accompanied the climax of his somnambulistic frenzy, that the wisdom of the serpent dwelt with him in the very midst of its bacchantic fury. All others thus self-deified, those whose souls Dionysus has made drunken, have maundered and lost themselves in misty obscurities. They have spoken vaguely and confusedly, as men in dreams. All others who have gazed into the abyss have used an Orphic, a Pythian, a weird, mysterious speech that carries dread but not understanding to our minds, and that our intellect refuses to comprehend. But Nietzsche was as clear as. crystal in the midst of his frenzy. His words are keen and precise in the very flame of the tripod. Possibly there never was another living man who bent over the brink' of madness so intensely clear-sighted and conscious, so unshrinking and free from dizziness. Nietzsche's language is never colored, never' clouded with mystery. On the contrary, at no time was he clearer and truer than during those last few moments when he was, so to speak, irradiated by the mystery of existence. To be sure, it was a dangerous radiance that made his soul so luminous. It was the weird, morbid glow of a midnight sun falling over icebergs. It was a northern light of the soul that fills the beholder with awe but does not warm dynamite.' or vivify. . . . Nietzsche's collapse was a sort of flame-death. His spirit was consumed on its own altar-fire..
He into whose eyes the spirit has gazed too deeply is blind forever after
Not long after the Nietzsches took up residence in Villa Silberblick, Kessler stopped in. “The house lies on a hill above the city in a newly planted but still rather bare garden,” he wrote in his diary. Förster-Nietzsche told him that her brother liked the new house—upon arriving he had wandered from room to room chanting, “palazzo, palazzo.” That story and other tales of Nietzsche’s behavior unsettled Kessler. “She seems to have become so accustomed to treating her brother as a stammering child that she no longer seems to feel the horrible tragedy of it all.”
It also appears to be the first time that Kessler encountered Nietzsche—to use the word “met” would be misleading.
"He[Nietzsche] lay sleeping on a sofa. The mighty head rested, as if too heavy for his neck, sunk on his chest, hanging halfway to the right. The forehead is quite colossal, the mane of his hair still dark brown, and also the shaggy, swollen moustache. There are wide, black-brown shadows sunk deep under his eyes into his cheeks. In his flat, loose face deep furrows from thought and desire are engraved but gradually fading and becoming smooth again. The hands are like wax, with greenish-violet veins, and somewhat swollen, like those of a corpse."
Kessler arrived home from reserve duty to find a telegram waiting. “This morning my deeply loved brother passed away unexpectedly,” wrote Förster-Nietzsche. “Monday afternoon at 5 p.m. the funeral in the Nietzsche Archive. Please come if possible.” There was no “if” about it. Kessler booked a train ticket to Weimar for the next day. When he arrived, he found that Förster-Nietzsche was “very upset.”
Nietzsche’s body had been laid out in a coffin lined with white damask and linen, his half-opened eyes suggesting he was merely sleeping. “His last sickness gave him a pitifully drawn and emaciated expression, but the large, puffy, frost-gray moustache hides the pain of the mouth,” observed Kessler. “And this splendid form appears everywhere through the emaciation: the wide, arched forehead, the robust, powerful jaw and cheekbone appear still more sharply under the skin than when he was alive. The total impression is one of strength despite the pain.”
"1. Of prime necessity is life: a style should live.
2. Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.)
3. First, one must determine precisely “what-and-what do I wish to say and present,” before you may write. Writing must be mimicry.
4. Since the writer lacks many of the speaker’s means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler.
5. The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything — the length and retarding of sentences, interpunctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments — like gestures.
6. Be careful with periods! Only those people who also have long duration of breath while speaking are entitled to periods. With most people, the period is a matter of affectation.
7. Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only that one thinks it but also feels it.
8. The more abstract a truth which one wishes to teach, the more one must first entice the senses.
9. Strategy on the part of the good writer of prose consists of choosing his means for stepping close to poetry but never stepping into it.
10. It is not good manners or clever to deprive one’s reader of the most obvious objections. It is very good manners and very clever to leave it to one’s reader alone to pronounce the ultimate quintessence of our wisdom."
Hey, can someone here help explain this [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] to me in practical terms? Practical examples and application would help.
I understand Heraclitus's philosophy, but I don't seem to understand this link. Something like this threw me off... "Creation for the artist and the kosmos originates in gift-giving fullness. When Nietzsche writes that an artist is “seized by a need to create,” what does he mean? The need of the artist and of the kosmos is not the "need" of the weak, clamoring for this or that satisfaction. The need to create is based not on a lack, but on an abundance, an excess, of strength. It is the need to bring forth, to give, to bless. This impulse is a timely need; it seizes the artist and the kosmos in the height of their richness and readiness (satiety)."
For Nietzsche, there are creators (and destroyers) who operate either from self-hatred, hatred of the world, reality at large, motivated by the poverty of their soul, their weak-constitution,, and those who operate from affirmation of all that is, motivated by the strong constitution of their will, from their excess spirit that is not subject to the pain/pleasure that affirming reality may cause them.
He calls this hunger vs. super-abundance.
Some become creative from envy, from hatred of life, from insecurity, from escapism - like the Judeo-Christian priests. It is their need to bring down others, level down life, than take the effort to raise themselves up that motivates their actions.
Some become creative from their conscious pride of their strength which comes from an inner discipline, a self-domination and mastery that expresses itself as an artist's vitality, his attitude to the world, and shaping it from his spiritual power, his life intoxication - managing to raise life to a loftier experience.
Such an artist feeling 'impregnated'/inspired by life, gives birth to his art. His creativity flows from the joy of being Able to repay life at its grandest And its most terribleness, with his spirit, his abundant-will. To be able to stand at par As life the max. he can, and bless the world.
All the best creations of art we value, are so, because they uplift us on their shoulders and for an ecstatic moment, we have a dominant vision of the world, and how broad and vast and timeless We stretch, along with life… They make us feel imperishable.
Jill Marsden wrote:
"In the context of an early essay in praise of Wagner, Nietzsche asserts that the power of the great artist resides in his `demonic transmissibility' (UM IV, 222). Such an artist embodies an overflowing energy through which `he' (the pronoun is not generic) is able to communicate with other natures, to both surrender to alien forces and to receive them in turn. Images of intensified life thus spark new intensities, drawing other lives into a new, intoxicating flow. Yet this power does not simply flow between beings, it flows between bodies, unmaking the `being' of the body in the process. Sensations no longer converge on a common object, but work against and upon one another in deviant rhythms, replacing synchronized perception with synaesthetic couplings.
Nietzsche suggests that there is an ongoing reflux between the creator and his or her creations. We infuse `a transfiguration and fullness' into things through an `overflowing fullness and bodily vigour' which is in turn reactivated by things which display this transfiguration and fullness (WP 801). ...It could be said that art excites the state that creates art because it communicates the intensity of the body to the intensity of the body. It excites a transmission of energies, creating senses for itself." [[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]]
The artist enraptured by the world creates art out of this fullness which in turn enraptures him again,- so Marsden remarks, it is a reflex of the artist, not the world itself that is perceived. Like the enraptured artist compels the world to take a certain form out of his overflowing fulness, now the transfigured world compels him to rapture, to a transfiguration.., and therefore in this immitation of him, his fullness, the world itself becomes his differentiated body..- he recurs as the same...
"If one had the slightest residue of superstition left in one, one would scarcely be able to reject the idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely medium of overpowering forces." [EH, TSZ, 3]
The artist and the world are differential bodies of each other, growing, like a cell differentiating itself into an organ and then into an organism, and so forth.
Read Thus Spake Zarathustra, Birth of Tragedy, and Will to Power, Book 3.
The true spirit of Nietzsche's metaphor, at least as he intended, is:
“My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendaciousness in the face of what is necessary—but love it" - Nietzsche Nietzsche was not a nihilist. His outlook can be looked at as somewhat of a mixture of the polar viewpoints. The idea of amor fati (love your fate) is much easier without eternal return, because all fate is etherial and meaningless in that context. However, what Nietzsche says in "The Gay Science" is:
"What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, ‘This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence?'"
Thus, he is not asserting that eternal return is the case, but he is asking, 'what if it is the case?'.
Then he goes on to say:
"Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, ‘Never have I heard anything more divine’?" In other words - if this life is to recur eternally, 'Will I love this fate?' or 'will I despise this curse?'.
Thus, I must live my life in such a manner as if the events I experience were to be my fate eternally, and in so doing, I will create a life worthy of living eternally.
I looked up the actual passage but I interpreted it differently than this fellow - who appears to suggest that you must live life as if you might experience over and over again. That sounds nihilistic or, at the very least, hedonistic as a concept. Here is the actual passage:
The Heaviest Burden. What if a demon crept after you into your loneliest loneliness some day or night, and said to you: "This life, as you live it at present, and has lived it, you must live it once more, and also innumerable times; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh, and all the unspeakably small and great in your life must come to you again, and all in the same series and sequence and similarly this spider and this moonlight among the trees, and similarly this moment, and I myself. The eternal sand glass of existence will ever be turned once more, and you with it, you speck of dust! "Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth, and curse the demon that spoke thus? Or has you once experienced a tremendous moment in which you wouldst answer him: "you are a God, and never did I hear anything so divine!" If that thought acquired power over you as you art, it would transform you, and perhaps crush thee; the question with regard to all and everything: "Do you want this once more, and also for innumerable times?" would lie as the heaviest burden upon your activity! Or, how would you have to become favourably inclined to yourself and to life, so as to long for nothing more ardently than for this ultimate sanction and seal?
People who are stuck in the nihilistic paradigm face this dichotomy. Either they will transform themselves so as to act as if they must enjoy life or they burden themselves with a paralysis that they cannot make one mistake, because it will be lived forever. Christianity proposes a similar kind of framework, with Heaven/Hell being eternal joy/suffering.
A hedonist would have no problem saying "Surely, I must live my life to its fullest and enjoy every aspect I can!" However, I think Nietzsche is being more subtle - that people are also prone to a sort of 'positive' nihilism. That is, they would lower their standards in order to accomplish more pleasure-seeking, so they could enjoy life more. This, even, at the expense of their future. I see it in America as a ravenous consuming of the wealth built up by their ancestors/forefathers. When it runs out, they're going to be in for a rude awakening.
This is my first time witnessing what I see as people interpreting Neitzsche in a nihilistic way and passing it off as if they were not being nihilistic in their interpretation.
I could be incorrect, but I see the concept of eternity and the concept of timelessness (meaninglessness) to be the same. Two absolutist extremes used as a comparison in judgment.
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After further investigation of Nietzsche; his positions on states, Christianity (illness of the European race) and Judaic purity, I realized the follies of a white/European nationalism that simply adopts the old English racial sentiment which involved entitlement and rights only by virtue of their skin color. What has infected the racial image of Europe is not only Hitler but also the British. In the marketplace, European has become synonymous with British and American whiteness.
In fact, this conception of whiteness could be said to have been Christian in origin - as they used scripture to call the unclean what is dark and the clean what is white. What every young "white man" intuitively knows, though, is that if they give up the Christian identiny of whiteness, if they would have to again justify a European ethnic cooperation and further then justify that between German people's amongst themselves or the Irish amongst themselves, or any European race. In the face of a levelling American global capitalist power and a culture of persistent critique, it becomes another concern about justifying ego itself in the face of an Eastern deconstruction of self against cultural nihilism.
What will rescue the European man, but Nietzsche's eternal return? That he state openly he lives as if he were to live over again his life - that he would sooner find his heaven and purpose here than in an afterlife. What ensures the legitimacy of European man is his strength, so that European women return themselves to him willingly. So long as there is those women behind the men, which root his spirit to the Earth for future generations, then he mustn't have to make any excuse for his love. The price for European man is to always be willing to be alone. (Rape is no option to any man but the spiritually handicapped, and American Christian anti-abortion laws are a testament to this handicap and rape, that they would force a woman to bear a child that she does not want.)
For 4 years now? Since I have been here, I had not seen the infection of my ego by this British-English childish conception of whiteness. The one of entitlement and rights, under law. It took Nietzsche's statelessness, as his testament against collectivism, to show me that.
I am my body foremost and Irish-Saxon second. I am North-Western European third. I am white fourth. Humanimal is the basest of my identifiers.
I realize still my right to proclaiming some of this knowledge is unearned, so i do not presume to holler it loudly. And, this follow up post is an implicit acknowledgment that I am not as clear and confident as I portrayed myself to be in my previous assessment on Nietzsche's eternal return.
Lyssa Har Har Harr
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"Everything revolutionary both obeys and enforces the law that ensures that the best part of what is opposed actually continues to endure. Revolution, above all in the spiritual realm—and every revolution is ultimately spiritual—is the rejuvenating bath of all that endures. Catiline, according to Nietzsche, is the preliminary form of existence of every Caesar: all legitimate greatness must first traverse the stage of disreputable and criminal illegality. Yet Caesar, as a type, also requires repeated baptism in the Catiline element. Caesar, as a rightful heir, always has to remember that he possesses an usurper’s power within himself so as not to wither away in mere Augustan legitimacy; yet Catiline is also Caesar’s forefather and thus even in revolt occupies a legitimate place in the order of things. Those who bring the most novel wickedness and outrage at the same time always preserve and restore what has been accepted all along. The truly revolutionary element of an epoch, that which is most genuinely novel and the most vital, is simultaneously always somehow the most deeply rooted in the ancestral past—nemo contra regem nisi rex ipse. The Catilinian bearers of the new are usually never aware of this law within themselves or become conscious of it very late, just as they are on the threshold of their own legitimacy. For no one may guess where the wind of the spirit is coming from or where it is going if it is to embolden the setting of sails for new shores. No one may suspect that sailing around his world will only lead him back to his own harbor. And it is no doubt an integral part of Nietzsche’s nature—that perplexing, very rare, and always fateful double refraction that unites, in hermaphroditic fashion, the thirst for understanding with a demonic blindness—that this Genovese spirit and seeker of the most distant seas, of the most hidden shores of knowledge and the soul, nevertheless seems to have known from early on that he was bound by the same ancestral law, that his being occupied a fixed and determined place, even that his circuit had a tragic limit. That he knew “from whence I came”— and where he would end. Perhaps the pseudo-revelation of the Eternal Return, that deceptively teasing delusional mystery imagined by the late Nietzsche, is only the symbolization of the shudder, of the vertigo one feels when faced by the inexorably closing ring, the return to the haven of oneself. The more one learns, the more one knows, the more one sees: round and round it all goes— thus the mystical warning contained in Goethe’s dictum.
The eternal return of all things within himself, the intellectual circumnavigator’s pedagogical secret, which constantly threatens to erupt in festively extravagant ecstasy, the triumphantly conscious curse of having to return to the eternally same port of origin, this seems to be only the metaphysical form, the demonic formula, of the deep ancestral feeling that from the beginning throbs in Nietzsche’s blood and mind. This man who more than any other craved, who reveled in transformation, who was more aware of his own transformations than anyone else—“only he who changes will remain akin to me”—is still bound like almost no other leader of souls and seducer of minds by the strongest inner obligation and attraction to conscious tradition, to the idea of inheritable enduring values, to the affirmation of being determined by one’s ancestors. The man who called for the destruction of the Old Tablets and advocated love for the “land of your children”—that same person expresses reverence for ancestry in everything he preaches, indeed even in the way he preaches it.
The disciple of Wagner who is intoxicated with hope, for whom the art of his master is the true “music of the future” heralding a completely new culture, that same man writes in the preliminary studies for “Richard Wagner in Bayreuth”: “I could also imagine a forward-looking art that seeks its images in the future. Why does such a thing not exist? Art is connected to piety.” What an odd image: this radical and transvaluer of values for whom “duration on earth is a value of the first order!” this glorifier of the delirious Dionysian present, of the Sacred Moment, who also declares that it is not the strength but the duration of an elevated feeling that constitutes elevated men! The same man who believed that in every respect he brought not peace but the sword, who took pride in exultation (“I swear to you that in two years we will have the earth in convulsions”), also confided to his own heart: “I want to give back to people the tranquility without which no culture can develop and endure. Even my style [should be] a reflection of this effort, a result of the most concentrated power of my nature.”
This cultural revolutionary and transvaluer—who counted Stifter’s Nachsommer (Indian summer), the most blissfully tranquil work in all of German literature, among his most beloved books—took the great, productively self-renewing dura- tion of the highest human values as his guiding dream. The mother of all human duration, however, its wellspring and guarantee, is memory. Memory created humanity, just as it has created every kind of human community. “Whoever has memory ought never to envy anyone”—Goethe confided that remark to his diary not in retrospective old age but in his pre-Weimar days. To be in the midst of the most vital moment of youth and to remain respectfully mindful of that power whose magic alone expands the moment into eternity—if that is Goethean (and Goethean too is the lack of envy both in and based on the feeling of ownership that arises from the ability to commemorate)—then it is preeminently Nietzschean as well.
Even despite the Untimely Meditation on “The Use and Disadvantage of History for Life,” a work that should be understood and interpreted as a bold cure and antidote for his own inner temptation to indulge in an exaggerated idolization of all great traditions, of all merely retrospective memorializing—a romantic temptation. (As always with Nietzsche, here too he means and opposes an adversary that is external to himself only in the superficial sphere—namely his own desiccated era, bled dry by the all-too-historical urge; at a deeper level the book, like every one of these books that arose out of greater suffering than any others during his century, was a battle with himself, a struggle with his most pressing and most cherished danger, an act of self-defense and a sacrifice.) A gratitude for memory, a deliberate, self-consciously heightened and productively interpreted dependence on the past in biological, intellectual, and spiritual terms: on this, as on a firm psychological fact, rests a significant part of Nietzsche’s intellectual life.
The only one of the Old Tablets that the laboriously and artificially hardened hammer of his will left unbroken during certain radical periods in his life was the genealogical one. Duration, continuity, reverence for tradition as the basis of all culture, spirituality, humanity—here we have the most powerful fundamental ideas that attracted the young student at Schulpforta16 to ancient philology, that transformed the free spirit of the Human, All Too Human into the visionary of Zarathustra. “Preservation of tradition is the main task,” he wrote shortly after arriving in Basel; “a magnificent, unobstructed view from the heights. Both are eminently compatible.” “In revolutions everything is forgotten,” Napoleon once said, and therefore Nietzsche hates everything revolutionary as perhaps no other person has ever hated it. The “will, instinct, and imperative” of tradition lives deep within him, which in the Twilight of the Idols he identifies as the prerequisite for every lasting institution, a will that is “anti-liberal to the point of malevolence: the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility over the course of centuries, to solidarity with generational ties stretching backward and forward ad infinitum.” Tradition—so often nothing more than a refuge and rhetorical cover for creative impotence and senility—is here passion, intoxication, even demonic possession. None of our other thinkers betrays such obsession with ancestry coupled with such individualistic isolation, virtually none shows such a strongly pronounced “thinking in terms of generations.” The old saying “woe be to you that you are a grandson” seems to be turned into its exact opposite: “Everything good is an inheritance”—those are some of the most deeply experienced words Nietzsche ever uttered, the most deeply rooted in his nature. “The good things,” he was still saying even in the Twilight of the Idols, “are immoderately costly: and the law always applies that whoever has them is someone other than the one who acquires them. Everything good is an inheritance: whatever is not inherited is imperfect, is a beginning.” It is true that Zarathustra, by contrast, knows that it is dangerous to be an heir. But, for him, danger ennobles, danger legitimizes, it proves, gives evidence of value, danger is value. The danger of inheritance: that is for Nietzsche nothing other than the happiness, the distinction of inheritance.
This double feeling for heredity—that to be an heir is a blessing and a dan- ger, that every heir is privileged and marked—is combined in a completely unparalleled fashion with Nietzsche’s peculiarly strong and willfully emphatic sense of family. Every reader of Nietzsche feels the strangely conscious adher- ence to blood, the proud fatalism of his fantastical and strict love of ancestry, which only increases all the more as the years go by (“only in the man do the typical family traits become completely visible; they are least apparent in easily excitable, suggestible adolescents. Calm must have settled over them first,” we read in the Notebooks for the Transvaluation; and there, too, even: “One is the child of one’s four grandparents much more than of one’s two parents. . . . The seeds of our grandfather’s type become ripe within us, the seeds of our parents in our children”). He thought he owed the singularity of his nature, which was in every sense so extreme, to the particular mixture in his blood of oppos- ing elements (opposed with regard to nationality, temperament, innate ethos, the degree of vitality), a biological mixture that he even amplified and stylized into something legendary, super-German, and half-German.
Inheritance from two conflicting components defines his life for him as a task, a distinction, a fate. For the person standing under the most acute tensions suffers from and experiences life as a task of reconciliation, of uniting what cannot be united. He is the storm-laden cloud born of an antagonistic polarity, which can discharge itself to bring both ruin and fruitful blessings. Ecce homo, above all, plays on this theme, whose basic motif betrays the romantic musician, as unromantic as he would like its exposition to appear. But two years earlier, in a letter to his sister, Nietzsche already drew on the same basic sentiment when he spoke of “our true family type, which excels in reconciling contrasts.” And his sister herself once offered the opinion that her brother had his ideality from his father, but his sense of reality and his skepticism toward human affairs from his maternal forebears; Nietzsche, she claimed, felt this too.
In the very first words of his autobiography, Nietzsche gave voice to a fundamental feeling of dependence on the particular ancestral mixture within him: “Why I am so wise. The good fortune of my existence, its singularity perhaps, lies in its fate: to express it in the form of a puzzle, I am already dead as my father, as my mother I am still alive and grow- ing old. This dual descent, as it were, from the highest and lowest rungs on the ladder of life, at once décadent and a beginning—this, if anything, explains that neutrality, that freedom from any partiality with respect to the entire problem of life, which perhaps distinguishes me.”
What gratitude, a few pages later, for the paternal heritage of his so extraordinary life: “I consider it a great privilege to have had such a father: it even seems to me that that explains all of the other privileges I have—not including life, the great Yes to life. Above all that there is no need for me to intend to do so, but merely to bide my time in order to enter involuntarily into a world of elevated and tender things: I am at home there, my innermost passion becomes free only there. . . . To understand even a little of my Zarathustra one must perhaps need to have a constitution similar to mine—with one foot beyond life.” For an extremely strange feeling of mystical dependence, even of a mysteriously supercausal connection, links him with the early departed existence of his father: “My father died at the age of thirty-six: he was delicate, kind, and frail, like a creature allotted only a temporary stay—more a benevolent memory of life than life itself. In the same year in which his life declined, my own also declined: in the thirty-sixth year of my life I landed at the lowest point of my vitality—I was still alive but unable to see three steps ahead of me.” This mysteriously intensified repetition of the father’s life in the life of his son is also echoed in Zarathustra: “What the father left unsaid is expressed in the son; and I have often found the son to be the father’s disclosed secret.” A letter to Gast written in Genoa just at the time he was composing Zarathustra sounds mystical: “It is pouring rain, from the distance I hear music playing. That I like this music and how I like it is something I cannot explain from my own experience, rather from that of my father. And why should not—?”—here the letter mysteriously breaks off.
And another letter from the same time admits to Overbeck: “From my childhood on, the sentence ‘my greatest danger lies in feeling pity’ has been confirmed again and again—perhaps the evil consequence of the extraordinary nature of my father, whom everyone who knew him counted more among the ‘angels’ than among human beings.” Nietzsche’s friend Deussen relates in his memoirs that during a visit to Sils Maria in August 1887 Nietzsche showed him a requiem (apparently the Hymn to Life) he had composed for his own funeral, and said: “I think that I will not last much longer; I am now at the age at which my father died, and I feel that I will succumb to the same affliction he did.”
But if such curious individual confessions tend to emphasize the danger, even the curse of his paternal heritage, the overall evaluation of this heritage still comes entirely out of a proud gratitude, out of something like a feeling of nobility. The conscious adherence to the family pride in “the racial quality of those who are named Nietzsche” accompanies him to the end of his days: “To prefer to die rather than to abandon one’s cause: now that is Nietzschean!” he writes about his sister in 1887, to whom a year later he admits: “How strongly I feel in everything you say and do that we belong to the same race: you understand more about me than do others because your body shares the same origin. That fits very well with my ‘philosophy.’” Similarly, to his brother-in-law: “in summa, a courageous future awaits my sister. In all of that she resembles me: it appears this belongs to our race.” Or to his friend Gersdorff: “Our Nietzschean way, which I have been delighted to discover even in all of my father’s siblings, takes delight only in its independence, knows how to occupy itself and sooner gives to people than asks much from them.”
The pride in his paternal race becomes materially and symbolically condensed in the legend, so dear to Nietzsche, of the Polish descent of his family. As we know, this hypothesis, which rests on extremely questionable genealogical grounds, made him, with all of its interpretive possibilities, almost touchingly happy. It seemed to distinguish and trace out his entire destiny, his mission, and his end. Nietzsche read into what was for him the certain fact of his super-German descent, of his dangerously brilliant hereditary mixture, a genealogical prophecy of himself, a shadowy “it is written,” a fate. And in Ecce homo he does so with the unmistakable accent of a supremely fatalistic satisfaction that “the scripture has been fulfilled.” The amor fati—“there is no alternative but to go on”—is also valid precisely with respect to the ancestral roots of his existence. But even as a boy he was preoccupied and enthralled by the legendary family tradition, elevated and unconsciously educated by the governing notion of a lineage that placed exceptional obligations on him. His sister explicitly attests to there having been nothing in their childhood environment that would have given rise to that idea; no one in the family, she says, attached any significance whatsoever to their noble descent. And, symptomatically enough, the only thing the young boy draws from this imaginary and lovingly cultivated ancestral legend is a morally binding conclusion. As his sister reports: “Truth and lie were, incidentally, the only mat- ters in regard to which we both (I being influenced by my brother) expressed a certain arrogant awareness of our rank: we did not lie because it was improper for us, the Counts Nietzky, to do so. Others may lie as much as they wished, what befitted the two of us was: truthfulness.” It was probably an observation of her brother that his sister added on this occasion with characteristic poise: “Perhaps a Nietzschean family trait emerged in us as class consciousness. I remember that one of our aunts once said with cool pride: ‘We Nietzsches despise lying.’” Several notes Nietzsche made during the first year he was composing Zarathustra relate the formative impression the ancestral legend had on the boy:
I was taught to trace back the origin of my blood and name to Polish nobility. . . . I do not wish to deny that as a boy I derived no small pride from this, my Pol- ish extraction. It almost seemed to me as if I essentially still remained a Pole . . . abroad, in Switzerland as well as in Italy, I was often addressed as a Pole. . . . A small notebook of mazurkas that I had composed as a boy carried the inscription “In remembrance of our forebears!”—and I did remember them in many of my judgments and prejudices. . . . It did me good to think of the right of the Polish nobleman to overturn the resolution of an assembly with his simple veto. And the Pole Copernicus seemed to me only to have made the greatest and most worthy use of this right against the conviction and visual evidence of every other human being. . . . In Chopin I especially admired that he had liberated music from all German influence.
One easily senses the peculiar satisfaction with which Nietzsche here, as in other places (in Ecce homo in particular), supports his status as a “good European,” his harsh cultural criticism, and his romantic, Hyperion-like condemnation of everything German and all-too-German with the biological legitimacy, so to speak, of his Polish descent (for which there was in truth such scant evidence and that at best had been almost absorbed by his German ancestral components), and how he attempts to lend the supreme un-Germanness of his last years the air of a venerable necessity. (In the same way, Nietzsche’s great philosophical teacher also loved to explain his so genuinely German inner universality through genealogical derivation.
Schopenhauer’s biographer even says of him: “He enjoyed no greater freedom from any other weakness than from that of national pride . . . he was ashamed, like many other great Germans before him, of being a German and was fond of recalling that his ancestors came from the Netherlands.” One sees that the apparently individualistic trait formed by Nietzsche’s cult of his foreign ances- tors is simultaneously as German as it is “philosophical.”) But just as Nietzsche is, on the other hand, still “perhaps more German than the Germans of today, than mere Imperial Germans, can ever be—he, the last antipolitical German” (Ecce homo), his pride in his maternal “very German” ancestry is also extremely characteristic. And there is something moving, sometimes almost slightly comical, about the degree to which, in Ecce homo as well as in the biographical outlines to his letters, he is at pains to align his maternal ancestors with the most important German cultural center: Weimar. “It may appear,” he says with reference to his supposed Polish descent, “that I belong only among those who have a tincture of Germanness, but my mother, Franziska Oehler, is in any case something very German; the same is true of my grandmother on my father’s side, Erdmuthe Krause. The latter lived throughout her entire youth in good old Weimar, not without contacts to Goethe’s circle.” (In a letter to Brandes that same year, he is already writing off-handedly, and in more stylized fashion: my grandmother belonged to the Schiller-Goethe circle in Weimar.) “Her brother . . . was called to Weimar as the general superintendent after Herder’s death. It is not impossible that her mother, my great grandmother, appears in the young Goethe’s diary under the name ‘Muthgen.’ She married superintendent Nietzsche in Eilenburg. On the day Napoleon entered Eilenburg with his general staff, October 10 in the great war year of 1813, she had her confinement.” (One notes here another of the countless examples of the ancestral obsession with dates and with the mysteriously prophetic confluence of events in world history with personal or family history.) “She was, as a Saxon, a great admirer of Napoleon; it could be that I am, too.”
Perhaps even more peculiar and characteristic of Nietzsche’s piety before values and criteria handed down within his family is his adherence to respect for certain dynastic ranks. He tells of his father’s activity as an educator of princesses with a satisfaction that seems almost naïve. He mentions the “deep piety” his father felt for Friedrich Wilhelm IV: “the events of 1848 greatly afflicted him.” Nietzsche himself, born on the birthday of the aforementioned king, October 15, received, “as was appropriate,” the Hohenzollern name Friedrich Wilhelm. One reads as if it were a touching anachronism in Nietzsche’s own history the little confession in Ecce homo—so strange in the mouth of the poet of Zarathustra, for “of what account are kings anymore?” —that his heart was drawn even closer to the town of Portofino and the surrounding landscape because of the great love that Emperor Friedrich III felt for it. “I was coincidentally on that coast in the fall of 1886 when he visited that little forgotten world of happiness for the last time.” And, confronted by these long-preserved emotional remnants of an inherited legitimizing piety, one recalls the orally transmitted admission of the intellectual revolutionary Nietzsche who said that basically he found “everything illegitimate, in fact, abominable.”
Legitimacy—what a sound in the mouth of the transvaluer! And yet not surprising—for it is after all a validation, a guarantee of continuity and duration. Nietzsche is indeed an admirer and proponent of legitimacy in its strongest and most original sense: in the sense of family, of blood, of ancestral lineage, even of consciously narrow and restrictive tradition, where by virtue of its one-sidedness it has an intensifying, cultivating, and preparatory effect. It appears strange only on the surface to hear Nietzsche justify pride in ancestry, the very man who proclaimed the “new nobility.” But is not pride in one’s ancestry also responsibility toward one’s ancestry? And what could sound more Nietzschean than the word “responsibility”? An early passage already emphasizes such a responsibility toward one’s ancestry: “One may be justifiably proud of an unbroken line of good ancestors down to one’s father. . . . The descent from good ancestors is what constitutes genuine hereditary nobility. A single break in that chain, one bad ancestor, cancels hereditary nobility” (Human, All Too Human). That is already terribly Nietzschean: the preciousness, the relative rarity of a good heritage rests on just this stipulation that there be an unbroken chain, a steady accumulation of a heritage through generations. “One bad ancestor cancels hereditary nobility”—perhaps no one had ever previously dared to define the concept of hereditary nobility so narrowly. But duration— that is, wholly unbroken tradition—is here, too, a value of the first importance for Nietzsche.
The Will to Power puts it even more uncompromisingly: “There is only hereditary nobility, only nobility of the blood. (I am not speaking of that little word ‘von’ in the Gotha Kalender: a parenthetical remark for idiots.) When people speak of ‘intellectual aristocrats,’ it usually means there is no shortage of reasons to keep something secret. It is, as we know, a favorite word among ambitious Jews. For intellect alone does not ennoble; rather, something else is required to ennoble intellect. What, then, is required? Blood.” But that kind of intellectual blood develops only through unbroken, continuous breeding: “There is no doubt: if a race of people has lived for generations as teachers, doctors, pastors, and role models without constantly looking out for money or honors or positions: then there finally arises a higher, finer, and more spiritual type. In this way a priest—provided that he propagates himself through strong women—is a kind of preparation for the future development of higher men”49 (Notebooks to Transvaluation).
For, as Beyond Good and Evil puts it, one cannot wipe away from the soul of a person what his ancestors had done continuously and did with gusto: “The offspring of shopkeepers are unseemly” (Notebooks to Zarathustra). “Go in the footsteps in which your fathers’ virtue has already traveled,” Zarathustra advises the higher men; “how do you propose to climb higher if the will of your fathers does not climb with you? Whoever wants to be the first should be careful that he is not also the last! And you should not wish to see saints where the vices of your fathers are!”
An autobiographical element, an analysis and appraisal of his own type, of his own ancestral history, clearly shimmer through such passages. It is significant enough that the Antichrist, who felt himself to be “the issue of entire genera- tions of Christian ministers,” sees in teachers, pastors, priests as a caste a kind of preparation for Zarathustra’s higher men of the future. Indeed, he owes himself, the higher man within himself, to this ancestral wealth accumulated over whole generations: “It occurred to me, dear friend,” he was still writing to Gast in 1881, “that the constant inner struggle with Christianity in my book (Daybreak) has to be foreign to you, even embarrassing: but it is the best example of ideal life I have encountered. Ever since I was a child I have inquired into it, looking into its every nook and crevice, and I believe that in my heart I have never been mean toward it. After all, I am the issue of entire generations of Christian ministers—forgive me this limitation!”
An ancestral piety that Zarathustra also shares with him: “There are priests here: and even if they are my enemies, go quietly past them and with sleeping sword . . . my blood is related to theirs; and I wish for my blood to be honored even in theirs.” Zarathustra is also an heir, and more of an heir than Zarathustra himself knows: a bridge backward perhaps even more than a bridge into the land of children. In the same way, an ancient priestly heritage, collected and handed down through the Old Testament, is rekindled for the last time in the most extraordinary words of his prophetic language—and then spends itself in belated rapture. But all people who live by the word, all prophets and all artists, “including orators, preachers, writers,” are for Nietzsche heirs; both heirs and accumulated inheritance at once: “they all are people,” as The Gay Science says, “who always come at the end of a long chain, in every case people born late . . . and in their essence squanderers. . . .” They squander the surplus of the power and art of expression that had slowly accumulated within entire races and generational chains, wasting “a fortune that had been gradually amassed and now awaits an heir who will lavishly spend it.” In Twilight of the Idols he takes up this idea once again: “Great men are like explosives in which an incredible force has been stored up. Their prerequisite, historically and physiologically speaking, is that there must always be a long period of collection, accumulation, saving, and conservation leading up to them—that no explosion occurs for a long time.” The ability to be profligate, or rather the necessity of being profligate, thus constitutes the heir’s happiness, his “giving virtue.” And it also constitutes his danger, insofar as he may easily turn out to be, in every respect, the end of the line; he may approach an abyss over which there are no more bridges leading to the future, except those composed of desire and delusion. To be expelled out of the accumulated inner heritage, to be made infertile for any further line, so that the youngest and richest link in the intellectual chain is also the last one—that is always the one imminent “danger of the heir.” “The danger that lies within great people and great times is extraordinary,” we read in Twilight of the Idols; “exhaustion of every sort, infertility are one step behind them. The great man is an end. . . . The genius—in his work, in his deed—is of necessity a squanderer: that he spends himself is his greatness.”
Yet for Nietzsche the other hereditary danger, more modern and less tragic, but almost even more imminent, is the possibility, even the increasing probability, of being the point of intersection between two long hereditary lines that conflict and will never inwardly merge. He grew convinced that he was falling into a problematic whirl in which two components, equally strong in their own way, are suddenly mixed. That is the specifically modern danger of the heir, and here too Nietzsche’s analysis is only superficially detached and rationally cool. Mixture—in other words, the lack of a guiding and determining heritage and procreative will, in the biological and of course in the intellectual sense as well—that is the fatal modern predicament. “Biologically, modern man represents a contradiction of values, he sits between two chairs. He says yes and no with the same breath. . . . All of us have within us, against our knowledge and against our will, values, words, phrases, morals of conflicting origins—we are, viewed physiologically, false” (The Case of Wagner). The mixture of contradictory values, in this sense, is the reason “why everything becomes play-acting—modern man lacks: a sure instinct (the result of a long, homogeneous form of activity engaged in by the same type of human being). The incapacity to produce something perfect is merely the result of that.” (Will to Power). For “even the most talented person can do no better than to experiment incessantly once the thread of development has been severed”61 (Human).
But the telltale sign of such inwardly conflicting origins, of such a struggle among heterogeneous forms of activity (whether they be within an individual, a class, or a cultural generation), and thus the stigma of modernity—is skepticism. “Skepticism,” Nietzsche announces in Beyond, “is the most intellectual expression of a certain polymorphous physiological condition . . . it always arises whenever races or social classes that have remained separate for a long time are crossed in a sudden and decisive way. Everything in this new lineage, which inherits in its blood, as it were, different standards and values, is in a state of disquiet, disruption, doubt, experimentation. The best powers have an inhibiting effect, even the virtues do not allow themselves to grow and become strong. Both body and soul lack equilibrium, gravity, perpendicular sureness. But what becomes most gravely ill and degenerate in such people of mixed-blood is the will.”
That, too, is deeply autobiographical: no doubt, Nietzsche is also speaking of himself here, of a danger he has overcome, overcome thanks to the triumph of having taught himself a long will. He senses his own inner and perilous complica- tion caused by the convergence of a long ancestral line, the inheritance of entire generations of Christian ministers, into which a sudden mixture has somehow been introduced, even if that had not occurred, as he assumed, in the more dra- matic sense of a sudden atavistic reemergence of the Polish heritage in his blood. (One thinks of what he said about “reconciling contrasts” and about the parental opposites in Ecce homo; and one also remembers the broad and still-active Slavic strain in the biological and intellectual constitution of the people in Upper Silesia and their particular character—a fact that makes the Polish hypothesis all the more unnecessary, even as an explanation of the family name, and still permits almost the same assumptions and conclusions that Nietzsche made based on his genealogical legend.) The “good” that came from the slowly accumulated inheritance, supplying the powers he gratefully received and forcefully employed, was fatefully mixed in him with skepticism, bathing all experience in twilight and delivering a heavy blow to instinctive will, which Nietzsche observed in himself and fought against.
The unprecedented shift in his intellectual and spiritual stance toward what were always the same, unchanging problems, which pursued him almost like Furies (“ . . . nothing around me except my old problems, the old pitch-black problems” ), is a simplified symbol of the conflicting nature of his being, extending down into his ancestral roots, with its constitutive mixture of rigid, unquestioning loyalty and irascibly distrustful skepticism. He is himself, and saw himself as, the typical hybrid and liminal figure, and those dangers are his own. It is not merely coincidental, but of deep symbolic significance, that Nietzsche not only perceives the forefather of his own Zarathustra—namely the early Hellenistic prophet-philosopher Empedocles (to whom he, like Hölderlin, considered dedicating a tragedy and who was, next to Heraclitus, Nietzsche’s earliest intellectual ancestor)—as the great all-loving unifier, the way Hölderlin did, but also characterizes him (in his lecture on the pre-Platonic philosophers) as a typical liminal figure in a passage that has strikingly autobiographical overtones: “He hovers between doctor and magician, between poet and rhetorician, between God and man, between scientist and artist, between politician and priest, between Pythagoras and Democritus . . .”
Two epochs struggle within him: the epoch of myth, of tragedy, of orgiastic frenzy, and that of the democratic politician, orator, enlightener, allegorist, scientific man. He has, as Nietzsche says elsewhere, a dual nature—he combines the agonistic, belligerent element with the loving one. The conscious experience of this Empedoclean discord even becomes a method of Nietzsche’s thought: Darwin’s law of atavism, of the particularly intellectual regression to prior ancestral stages and the consequences of crossbreeding such atavisms, the interpretation of an individual being or fact on the basis of its ancestry, the analysis of the heir—all of this serves as the most precious heuristic principle in Nietzsche’s physiological investigations. (And how characteristic the very title is for the Genealogy of Morals! How partial and willful the method of this book is, or, for example, that of the chapter “What is Noble?” in Beyond Good and Evil ! What genealogical investigative zeal and combinatory skepticism go into the making of the family tree of virtues and value judgments!) Indeed, he sometimes employs this means of seeing through and of hunting down things so furiously, he becomes so consumed by interpretive passion, that one can only conclude that the method is also a form of experience.
The Gay Science offers perhaps the most evidence of this methodological passion, this peering into the “hidden gardens within us.” “Many epochs seem to be entirely lacking this or that element, as do many people: but just wait until the grandchildren or great grandchildren appear, if one has the time to wait. They bring to light what lay within their grandfathers, those inner qualities of which even the grandfathers themselves were still ignorant. Often it is already the son who betrays his father: the latter understands himself better once he has had a son. We all have hidden gardens and thickets within us; and . . . we are all growing volcanoes that will have their hour of eruption.”" [Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology]
"Nietzsche does not of course see his law of heredity at work primarily in the petty and negative sphere: it is important to demonstrate that precisely what is rare and precious is an inheritance. And thus the most precious thing, the significant person, is for him in itself atavistic—as one can see, an almost romantic-reactionary train of ideas. He conceives of rare people of a period (in The Gay Science) “preferably as late offshoots of past cultures and their energies that suddenly spring up: as the atavism, so to speak, of a people and its customs. . . . Now they appear alien, exotic, extraordinary: and whoever feels these forces within himself has to nurture them, defend, honor, and cultivate them against another world that is resistant to them. And he will thus become either a great man or an insane and eccentric one, provided he does not simply die young. . . . The families and castes that conserve a people,” Nietzsche continues, still characteristically and here, too, in latently autobiographical fashion, “are prin- cipally those in which such aftergrowths of old instincts appear, whereas there is no probability that such atavism will occur where races, habits, values change too rapidly.”
Nietzsche thus defines the mission of families and castes that conserve a people in an extremely aristocratic sense—an aristocracy once-removed, as it were: they should not merely steadily preserve a precious type, they should instead maintain the possibility of the rare person, of the person who does not take after his immediate predecessors, but instead embodies a very old cultural heritage and the most distant biological memory. They should continue to enable such reemergence and regrowths of ancient, precious instincts and drives within an increasingly rapid democratic mixture of races, habits, and values. Following his favorite idea to its logical conclusion, the atavistic person thus advances to the highest category in the biological scale of values. For, according to a Notebook fragment, a family, a caste, a race can, “like any other organic form, only grow or die; there is no stasis. A race that has not died out is a race that has constantly grown. Growing means becoming perfect. Duration in the existence of a race necessarily determines how high it will develop: the oldest race must be the highest.” For that reason the rarest people are always the people with the longest inner memory. He therefore regards Jews as “the strongest race in our uncertain Europe: for they are superior to the rest owing to the length of their development”; thus “Jew [is] practically a word for superiority.” [The author only cites The Nietzsche Channel for that quote.]
That great men “come to rule over their time is solely due to the fact that they are stronger, that they are older,” The Twilight of the Idols tells us. “Between a genius and his time there exists a relationship as between . . . old and young: his time is always relatively speaking much younger, thinner, more immature, more uncertain and more childish.” For that reason, “because Napoleon was different, the heir of a stronger, longer, older civilization than the one that went up in smoke and flames in France, he became the ruler there, he was the ruler there alone.” The atavistic person is necessarily a ruler, is neces- sarily even a Caesar—that is the extreme consequence of this theory promoting the primacy of biological memory.
And it is just as logical that, within this highest caste of rare individuals, of the papabili of their time, Nietzsche also elevates philosophers into the noblest rank, implicitly aligning them with the Caesars, as those with the most compre- hensive memory (memory of blood and of mind), as the abbreviated chronicle and vital self-remembrance of humanity. On the basis of the knowledge he had gained through experience about the proud mercilessness of all inherited inner hierarchies, he categorically concluded in the section “We Scholars” in Beyond: “One must be born for every elevated world; expressed more clearly, one must be bred for it: one has a right to philosophy—taking the word in its larger sense— only by virtue of one’s descent; one’s ancestors, one’s ‘blood,’ are decisive here, too. Many generations must have preceded the emergence of a philosopher. Every one of his virtues must have been individually acquired, nurtured, passed on, internalized, and not merely the bold, light, delicate gait and course of his thoughts, but above all the readiness for great responsibilities, the majesty of a commanding gaze and overview . . . the joy and proficiency in administering grand justice . . .”
Beyond the prerequisites of blood and breeding, Nietzsche goes on to refine the idea of ancestry as an increasingly intellectual and spiritual category, so that his proud gratitude for a distinguished parental inheritance ultimately finds a magnificent transformation into a consciousness of a mystical ancestral lineage of intellectual blood. “My pride is: I have an origin”—we read in some critical personal remarks made during the Zarathustra years—“for that reason I do not need fame. I already live in the same element that moved Zarathustra, Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Plato, Brutus, Spinoza, Mirabeau, and many things are com- ing to fruition in me that slumbered embryonically for a few millennia. We are the first aristocrats in the history of the mind—the historical sense is beginning only now.” And farther on, in a variation of this idea of intellectual ancestry, he writes with the pride of a grandson: “When I speak of Plato, Pascal, Spinoza, and Goethe, I know that their blood courses through my own—I am proud when I speak the truth about them—the family is good enough not to have to invent or conceal anything: and I therefore stand by all that has happened, I am proud of humanity and proud precisely because of this absolute truthfulness.” Finally, in tightly compressed form, he sketched a last ancestral lineage during the time he was composing Zarathustra: “My ancestors Heraclitus, Empedocles, Spinoza, Goethe.”
It is the most genuine, the oldest, the most noble ancestral lineage in the world that points toward Zarathustra and advances beyond him toward the descendent constellation of the overman. Their connection is closer, older, more mysterious than that of any ancestral bloodline. For it is the creative mind, whose broad vision integrates the world into a philosophical and religious survey—which those last-named great four symbolize perhaps most purely—who is the most powerful form on earth in which the law of atavism, of the secret great-grandsondom, manifests itself; indeed he is the form of a Heraclitean return of the same in the intellectual sphere, of a Platonic recollection of a primeval vision. Beyond puts it this way: all philosophers “always follow anew the same orbital path as if under an invisible spell: they may feel as independent from each other as they wish with their critical or systematic will, something in them leads them, something pushes them along after each other in a particular order. . . . Their thinking is in fact not so much a process of discovery as it is one of recognition, remembering, a return and home-coming to a distant, ancient universal habitat of the soul. . . . In this respect, philosophizing is a kind of atavism of the first order.”
And, in a less Platonic context, a similar law applies to the artist: in Human, All Too Human we read that people will soon “regard him as a magnificent relic and pay him the kind of respect that we do not readily show people such as ourselves, because we will view him as a wondrous stranger on whose strength and beauty the happiness of earlier times depended. The best thing about us is perhaps inherited from sentiments passed down from earlier times and to which we are now almost no longer able to gain immediate access.”
How strongly and, above all, how extensively the idea of atavism dominates Nietzsche is demonstrated even more clearly, perhaps, by the minor but revealing tendencies of his associative thinking. A strange need for symbols of his intellec- tual ancestral history, for mystical harbingers and omens of his own destiny, for a legitimizing integration into a great fate, for veiled divine signs and prophesies pointing to himself, is rooted deeply in his being, to a degree that reminds one of the ancients. Many passages in his works and letters speak almost euphorically of such fragments of a pre-individual biography, of oracular clues and of coincidences fulfilling the oracles. A humanistic as well as theological intel- lectual heritage is revealed in this predilection.
No amount of evangelistic zeal can match the passion in seeking out exegetical intellectual linkages of this sort that Nietzsche displays in looking for such minor, often miniscule associations and connections with dates that, occasionally in almost Strindbergian fashion, allow him to appear to be linked in a very special way with “forces,” forces that govern his destiny. This desire to integrate himself into a mystical tradition is probably the most peculiar aspect of Nietzsche’s ancestor cult. “I was born on the battlefield of Lützen. The first name I ever heard was Gustav Adolf”81 (to Brandes, 1888). His father was born in 1813 on the same day Napoleon entered the small Saxon country town in which his grandfather worked as superintendent. Nietzsche does not fail to mention in his little résumé for Brandes that his pulse rate was as low as that of the first Napoleon: exactly sixty. (In the same way, he even “sees an abundance of symbolism and significance” in the “physiological perfidy” of his illnesses.) His great-grandmother appears in the adolescent Goethe’s diary. In 1865, he coincidentally enters his name into the registry of the University of Leipzig on the very day Goethe had inscribed his own there one hundred years before. And the twenty-three-year-old student writes two years later: “I cannot tell you what a refreshing effect this coincidental event had on me. It was definitely a good omen for my Leipzig years, and the future provided that it could rightly be called a good omen.” His first encounter with Schopenhauer’s magnum opus, which was decisive in every sense, did not take place without a demonic shadow being cast over it. He finds the book, with which he was completely unfamiliar, in a secondhand bookshop in Leipzig. “I don’t know which daemon whispered to me: take this book home with you. In any case, I did, despite my usual habit of not rushing into the purchase of a book.” This he writes when he was still a student in Leipzig. During the same time, he says to Rhode: “How much we are both really traveling down the same path was again made clear to me by a truly amusing synchrony. That is, we were both steeped in romanticism at exactly the same time and were greedily inhaling familiar and congenial fragrances without either one of us knowing about the abnormal pursuits of the other” (“abnormal”—because the date was 1868). “To call something like that a coincidence would be a sin against the sacred spirit of Schopenhauer.”
After the publication of The Birth of Tragedy: “The first notice of my book has also appeared and it is very positive—but where? In the Italian Revista Europea! That is nice and symbolic!” In later years Nietzsche thought the experience of Wagner particularly rich in such prophetic acts of providence. When the Basel-based acolyte went to Tribschen for the first time and long stood in front of the villa before entering, he heard coming from inside a painful accord, repeated again and again.
It was, as Nietzsche later discovered, the passage from the third act of Siegfried: “Verwundet hat mich, der mich erweckt” (“He wounded me who awakened me”). “By a miracle of meaning in coincidence,” on the same day he sent his Voltairean Human, All Too Human to Wagner, Nietzsche received a beautiful copy of the Parsifal score: “To his dear Friend Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Member of the Church Council.” This crossing of the two books—to him it seemed to strike an ominous note. “Did it not sound as if swords were crossing? We both certainly thought so, for we both remained silent.” The final section of Zarathustra was “finished at exactly the same sacred hour that Richard Wagner died in Venice. . . .” The overtones of his fateful connection with Wagner are still clearly audible in the few lines he wrote to Gast just after receiving word of his death: “The news of his death has just arrived from Genoa. I came here today without any reason and have just bought, as is not my custom, the evening edition of the Caffaro, which had just appeared. My first glance fell on the telegram from Venice.” He was shaken by the massive earthquake in Ischia in a particularly “horrible way: this island has been so much on my mind: when you have read Zarathustra II to the end, it will be clear to you where I sought my blissful islands. ‘Cupido dancing with the maidens’ is immediately understandable only in Ischia. . . . I had only just completed my poem, and the island collapsed onto itself.”
And, entirely under the spell of these mystical connections, he then adds: “You know that in the hour that I completed the final manuscript of the first part of Zarathustra, Wagner died. This time I received at the same hour news that so offended me that there will probably be a duel with pistols this autumn” (1883 to Gast). In the last letters from the euphoric period at the end of 1888, this mysticism intensifies: “There are no more coincidences: if I think of someone, a letter from him politely walks through the door. . . .” “In my life now there are curious instances of meaning in coincidence that have no parallel. . . .”" [Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology]
"Nietzsche also likes to view the places he chooses to live— his “residences”—as being overshadowed with ancestral significance. Indeed, he occasionally makes his choice based on the need for such significant and propitious reminiscences. In Rome, the most obscene place in the world for the poet of Zarathustra, he becomes exceedingly agitated: “I tried to get away—I wanted to go to Acquila, the antithesis of Rome, which was founded out of hostility toward Rome, just as I will found a place one day that will be a memorial to one of my closest relatives, the great Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick the Second, an atheist and enemy of the Church comme il faut. But the whole thing was a disaster: I had to go back. I finally settled for the Piazza Barberini after my efforts to find an anti-Christian area exhausted me.”“So now I am back in my good city of Turin, the city that Gobineau also loved so well—it probably resembles us both.”“In the end, there must be some element here in Turin that imparts energy: if one feels at home here, one becomes the King of Italy. . . .”
Writing to Gast from Genoa about Daybreak, which he completed there, he says not many books were as substantial: “Am I now speaking as the father of the book? I don’t think so. It seems to me that my three Genovese patron saints, Columbus, Mazzini, and Paganini, all had a slight hand in it.”When he was writing Zarathustra, he wished he could build a wooden cottage on the Chasté peninsula that juts into Lake Sils, “where a Roman camp once stood”—in reality, there is evidence only of some sparse remains of a medieval stronghold—just as the young mulus loved to visit Roman roads or the ruins of Roman forts during his first trip along the Rhine. In 1885, he wanted most of all to go to Corsica, “and in particular to Corte, my residence, or so it has seemed to me for the last four years that I have had this notion. It was there that Pasqualae Paoli, the most well-rounded man of the previous century, was lord of the island; it is the place for great conceptions (Napoleon was conceived there in 1768: he was only born in Ajaccio!)” One year later, again: “Corte is the city of Napoleon’s conception. . . . Does it not seem that a pilgrimage there would be an appropriate prepara- tion for the ‘Will to Power. Toward a Transvaluation of all Values’?”And he even perceives the Engadine landscape, “with a pleasant shudder,” as a double of himself, “inwardly familiar and related to me by blood, indeed even more than that.”
Finally, we may also recall here the many instances of back-dating that serve to stylize his own life. These efforts to push back certain impressions or intellectual experiences into the dawn of his existence are typical of Nietzsche, these attempts to make the child, in an especially intensive manifestation of Goethe’s dictum, appear to be the father of the man.
His own life is, so to speak, lengthened backward by deepening his perspective into its earliest nebulous period, plunged into the enchanted atmosphere of his own ancestry. “At an absurdly early age, at seven,” he already knew that “a human word would never reach”him. “I must be deeply related to Byron’s Manfred: I found all of those chasms within myself—I was ready for this work at thirteen.”He once wrote to his sister that even as a child he had seen the figure of his Zarathustra in a dream. On another occasion: “At twelve I saw God in his glory”—the expression of a strong, half- conscious drive toward self-stylization in the guise of legend, as the ideal type, as the founder of a religion.
Similarly, when the printing of five hundred thousand Christian hymnals delayed the publication of Zarathustra in what he thought was an act of malicious symbolism, he actually writes to Gast, only half ironically: “These are entirely the experiences of a ‘founder of religion’!”108 Even as a thirteen-year-old boy, he is pursued by the problem of the origin of evil. At an age at which one is “half preoccupied with children’s games, half with God,”109 he dedicated his first literary child’s game, his first philosophical exercise to it— “and, with regard to my ‘solution’ of the problem at the time, well, as is only fair, I gave God the honor and made him the father of evil. Was it my ‘a priori’ that wanted that from me?”
Nietzsche adds in highly characteristic fashion, “that new, immoral, at least immoralistic a priori . . . to which I have since increasingly lent an ear and not only an ear?”When he performs Parsifal for his sister in Naumburg in 1882, he is overcome by a strange sensation of encountering a double of himself. He suddenly knows that he made exactly the same kind of music as a boy, when he composed his Oratorium—“and just now I took out those old papers,” he writes excitedly to Gast, “and played them again for the first time in a long while: the identity of mood and expression was magical! A few passages, such as the Death of the Kings, seemed even more moving to us both than everything we had played from Parsifal, yet still very Parsifalesque! I admit: it was a genuine shock to realize once again how closely I am related to Wagner.”“As a boy I was a pessimist, as ridiculous as that sounds,” we read in a note from the introductory drafts written in his final years; “several lines of music from my twelfth or thirteenth year are, of all of the pitch-black music I know, fundamentally the blackest and most uncompromising.
I have never found thoughts or words by any poet or philosopher that so clearly emanated from the abyss of absolute negation.”In a retrospective note written around the same time, he even detects an early indication of a kind of turning away from Wagner: “As a boy I loved Händel and Beethoven: but when I was seventeen Tristan und Isolde came along as a world I could understand, whereas I felt that Tannhäuser and Lohengrin were already ‘beneath my taste’—boys are quite shamelessly proud in matters of taste.”
Finally, this need for such ennobling back-dating manifests itself even with regard to his relationship to his own books, about which he says in the second preface to Human in 1886: “All of my writings, with a single, albeit important, exception, should be back-dated: they always speak of a Behind-me. . . .” That is the tendency of Ecce homo, in which Nietzsche deliberately creates an artificial perspective, a conscious distance from himself in order to win the right to his own legend, so that he may already see the “I” still bound by flesh as the progenitor of his future, more spiritualized form.
This peculiar inclination and ability to think and visualize in ancestral form, above all to visualize himself, reveals, even in the smallest details, that it is a matter of instinctive will and not a retrospective pastime of the trained historian. For it is obvious that Nietzsche’s proud or reverential ancestor cult is completely different from either a merely historicizing inclination or a passively tinged determinism, a feeling of being oppressed by an ancestral fate, which during his productive years often determined fashions in public thinking under the influence of Darwinian ideas.
Even less than for Goethe, the phrase, “You must be thus, you cannot flee yourself ” contained nothing fatalistically paralyzing for Nietzsche during any of his phases. True, he becomes an increasingly determined fatalist the closer he comes to the fatum that lurks behind Ecce homo. But that is an active fatalism, it is not the resigned but the joyfully convalescent amor fati, which also characterizes his attitude toward all “illness,” all inadequacy within the course of his life.
Two things decisively elevate his belief in ancestry above mere determinism. The first is the strong imperative of the will regarding a responsibility toward time, that will to authority, to accountability for centuries hence, to solidarity with linked generations running backward and forward in time ad infinitum; the responsibility that thinks in terms of generations and creates its image in the pedagogical idol, the edifying phantasm of Zarathustra, and finds its highest and most challenging formula in the word overman. “It was also there that I picked up the word overman, and that man . . . is a bridge,”out of the affirmed past across into the greater Yes of his future. The second, however, is that every remnant of determinism in the passive, resigned sense is destroyed by the absolute attitude of the will not only to the future but also to the past, through a prophetically tinged will to redeem the past, a redemption in which everything that has been is not negated, but rather intensified. Confronted by this will, the past is not only a parable and a hesitant pre-dream of future possibilities; it is a creation of the poet-prophet himself, not merely an interpretation, but instead a true fiction.
The romantic adage that the historian is a backward-looking prophet acquires here for the first time the true depth of its meaning. And Zarathustra, who asks himself if he is someone who makes promises or fulfills them, if he is a conqueror or an heir, an autumn or a plowshare—a poet or a truth-teller, answers himself: “I walk among men as among the fragments of the future: that future which I see. And in all of my poems and works I aim to unify and gather together what has remained as fragment and riddle and horrid coincidence . . . as poet, riddle solver and redeemer of coincidence, I taught them to work on the future and thereby to redeem everything that was. . . .”To redeem the people in the past and to recast every “It was” into a “I willed it thus!”—this redemption and fulfillment of all ancestral reverence through an active fatalism, this memory that is not sentimental but volitional, makes the stance of Nietzsche the historian, of the backward-looking prophet, an entirely unique phenomenon in all of intel- lectual history. Hardly anywhere else in his work does that delirium of synthesis, the drunkenness in unifying what cannot be unified, which is his romantic heritage, appear to reach such a stirring ecstasy of will—except in relation to his own past, to illness and the deficiencies of his own self.
The synthesis-loving sense of transport from being the interpretive middle between the past and the future, the happiness of being the bridge of the high noon between what was and what will be, is peculiar to Nietzsche not only after he wrote Zarathustra, even though it is augmented and transformed to the point of rapture then and during the last year of Ecce homo. As early as in the second Untimely Meditation, he applies with perfect clarity the “measure of the middle,” that highest power of the present and of the divine moment, to the past, so that already at this point the true historian is described and proclaimed as a prophet facing backward and standing upright: “Whoever has not experienced some things more greatly and more exaltedly than everyone else will also not know how to interpret anything great and exalted from the past.
The utterances of the past are always oracular: you will understand them only if you are architects of the future, initiates of the present.” “You may interpret the past only out of the greatest power of the present.” “One ought to know today that only he who builds the future has a right to judge the past.” And, again with full clarity, The Gay Science states not the demand but the law that every great man has a retroactive power: “All history is placed in the balance again for his sake, and a thousand secrets crawl out of their hiding places into his sun. There is no end to the things that might become history again”—that is the most decisive pronouncement Nietzsche made on the philosophy of history. “The past perhaps still remains essentially undiscovered! So many more retroactive forces are still needed!” The historian does not describe history, he creates the past: history is creation, what has been is a becoming. “Zarathustra does not want to lose any of humanity’s pasts, he wants to cast everything into the mold,” reads a passage from the materials for Zarathustra; he wants “to make the old sacrifices to a new spirit, to transform the old soul through a new body.”
Yet Nietzsche’s distrustful intellectual conscience does not allow him to overlook the dangers that unavoidably grow out of such a will to dissolve and transform, out of this intense desire to interpret and uncover the past. What if the knowledge of the magical ability of this retroactive power to awaken the dead should stir the desire to possess it, if its possession would tempt him to use it as a means to personal, solely personal ends? If it eventually became, even latently, half-consciously, a magic of the most villainous ambition, a black magic to lure a thousand secrets of the past from their hiding places into none other than his own sun? What if the orphic leader of souls and abductor of shades from the Hades of the past became a cunning Pied Piper who would force all of the souls craving resurrection into the magic mountain of his own glorification? Nietzsche was not unaware of this diabolic temptation.
The intellectual history of his century offered him more than one illustrative example of the magnificent perspectival violation of the past by a powerful will, a philosophical and artistic will to interpret and resurrect, a will that believes all roads from yesteryear perspectivally converge within itself, that imperiously forces the waters of all that has been to rush through the narrows of his own ego. In the intellectual atmosphere of early romanticism, which was still close to Goethe and to which Nietzsche’s thinking is deeply indebted (without him ever realizing to what degree of inner identity), it was a fundamental tenet that, as Novalis has it, the world originally is the way I want it; that the world has an originary capacity to be animated through me. In Schopenhauer’s proudly reverential establishment of his intellectual lineage in The World as Will and Representation, which brilliantly unites Goethe and Kant, Plato and India, and even more in Hegel’s sovereign construction of a pyramid of the spiritual world from above leading up to his own standpoint at the summit—in all of these Nietzsche had the most powerful and dangerous examples imaginable of such a subjugation of the past by intellectual despots. And in his most immediate and painfully personal proximity, moreover, there was the spectacle of an artist with an insatiable desire for a legitimate intellectual ancestry, for an almost theological confirmation of his own Good News, which always needs some sort of Old Testament with prophetic figures and typological premonitions.
More than anything else: Nietzsche senses and recognizes this tempter within himself. He knows the temptations of Zarathustra, the burning, jealous desire of Catiline to see himself as Caesar, the tragic envy all predeces- sors feel toward heirs, their own heir—“If I had been my own grandson!” was Napoleon’s revealing sigh at the end of his trajectory—and from the most human proximity, he knows the nearly superhuman sacrifice that the Bible has John the Baptist perform: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He knows the inextinguishable, malevolent ambition of Macbeth, which wants to con- quer and violate not merely the future but also the past. “Above all, one must take care to secure the spirit in which history is to be written”—that was the maxim of the Corsican Caesar, Catiline. That is the most devious wisdom of ambition, which Human, All Too Human sees through: “Because people actually respect only what was established long ago and has slowly come into being, whoever wants to live on after his death must therefore ensure not only that he has offspring, but even more that he has a past, which is why tyrants of every sort (including tyrannical artists and politicians) like to do violence to history, so that it appears to be a preparation and stepladder leading to themselves.”
This magnificently purposeful will to the past, to an intellectual ancestry, is most clearly exemplified for Nietzsche, together with all of its dangers, in the figure of Wagner, that cultural Condottiere who was hungrier for the joys of legitimacy than any other artist before him. Aiming more precisely at Wagner, another passage of Human concentrates this idea further: “There are people who are so presumptuous that the only way they can think of praising a great man, whom they publicly admire, is to portray him as a preliminary stage and bridge to themselves.
Even in Zarathustra, we encounter the image of this Wagnerian thirst for power over everything great from the past, the desire to reinterpret everything that was as a bridge to oneself: “A great despot could come, a shrewd fiend, who would unconditionally force and compel the entirety of the past to submit until it became a bridge to him and portent and herald and cock’s crow.”
And thus, significantly, Zarathustra’s first gesture of compassion is toward all of the past that he sees: “it is at the mercy of—the benevolence, the spirit, the madness of every generation that is to come and that reinterprets everything that was as its own bridge!”
But a lack of ancestry, a lack of reverence for the past, immediately becomes again the other impending danger and Zarathustra’s other object of compassion: “whoever is of the rabble thinks back to his grandfather—but time ceases with his grandfather. Thus all of the past is imperiled: for it could happen one day that the rabble will be in control and all of time will drown in shallow waters.” The past can be redeemed from both dangers by one thing only: “For that reason . . . a new nobility is needed that is an adversary of both the rabble and all despots.”
This new nobility, equally distant from intellectual tyranny and spiritual ochlocracy, is embodied for Nietzsche in none other than Zarathustra, the longed-for ideal and chimera of a thousand-year predecessor and heir of himself. He sees in Zarathustra the man composed of a historical and prophetic synthe- sis, the man of the longest will and the longest memory; the new initiate who intensifies his sorrowful knowledge about all that has passed into an affirmative view of the future, the poet who uses the integrative power of his intuition to bestow the gift on the past of simplifying its indistinct aspect by raising it up into the fertile realm where the future is anticipated. Such a poet-prophet would be the actual overman that Zarathustra teaches, that is, the man of that true future humanity that, prior to Zarathustra, appears as a vision as early as in The Gay Science.
There, the first stage of that envisioned humanity is found in nothing other than the “peculiar virtue and illness called ‘the historical sense’”: the man who knows how to feel the history of mankind in its entirety as his own history. . . . The man with a horizon of millennia stretching in front of him and behind him, who is the heir, the legal heir, of the accumulated refinement from all past spiritual distinction, who is the most aristocratic of all the old noblemen and simultaneously the first-born of a new nobility, the likes of which no era has ever seen or dreamed of: to take all of this onto his soul, the most ancient and the most modern things, the losses, hopes, conquests, victories of humanity; and to have, finally, all of this in a single soul and compress it into a single feeling—that would have to result in a happiness that man has never known before—a god’s happiness full of power and love, full of tears and full of laughter . . . this divine feeling would then be called—humanity!
With that, in a last bold ascendant turn, Nietzsche achieves an ultimate triumph of the “reconciliation of contrasts” that he had found characterized his family type; it stands as one of those exemplary syntheses that allow Nietzsche to experience his most profound intellectual joys. In the idea of highest humanity he sees the unification of history and prophecy, in the image of the new aristocracy both ancestry and childhood. That is the meaning of Nietzsche’s self-characterization as the first aristocrat, it is the actual content of his paradoxical utterance that there would be a historical sense only after him (even though, in the beginning, he himself had protested against its suffocating excesses).
Prophecy directed at the past, the yearning for ancestors projected into the future—that is Nietzsche’s divine feeling of humanity. The mature individual who, conscious of his responsibility, shoulders the entire burden of human tradition, who is the highest point in the arch of the bridge spanning what was and what will be, the divine moment “on the high pass,” like Zarathustra, “between two oceans, traveling between the past and the future like a heavy cloud,”—that is Nietzsche’s man of the true future humanity.
The poet is, in his view, the creator of the past, the founder of all that remains; the philosopher, however, and the sage are the preachers and the seekers of the future: “Whoever has become wise reflecting on old origins,” Zarathustra says, “behold, he will eventually look for sources of the future and for new origins.” To redeem the past by interpreting it affirmatively as the cradle of the future; to work at constructing the future by building a vaulted crypt that will provide a permanent sanctuary for the pow- ers of belief throughout centuries—with that, the grand fusion takes place that merges Nietzsche’s early “philological” ideals with the Dionysian ecstatic dream of Zarathustra’s demanding will. There occurs a marriage, not a compromise, of apparent opposites, in the final sense of that pure “humanistic” humanity in which Nietzsche’s earliest education began and back into which the best aspects of his influence flowed and lived on: memory, that most noble, atavistic power that alone elevates us to the height of Platonic recollection, uniting us both backward and forward with the timelessly divine." [Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology]
I am my body foremost and Irish-Saxon second. I am North-Western European third. I am white fourth. Humanimal is the basest of my identifiers.
Waves come pushing back the mud at the shore.
Waves come taking away the mud into itself.
The Self moves in con-centric circles, and cycles.
A Self that stops at its self/body, or a self that stops at the animal or the star-dust, are both base. Heightened discrimination not just concentrates inwards, but also meditates and pushes itself outward.
You have take into yourself the farthest past and re-fine it by filtering, cutting, distancing, selecting, joining, combining. And throw this refined self like a net cast over the world, and pull back more in, and re-fine again. And then cast over again.
The Self not only has to be sharp, but also wide/deep.
Nietzsche's individual is not Stirner's atomic individual; it is a link covering the whole organic past of humanity. The Self is not only the personal body, but also and must also be body of the world, the historical body, the organic body of the growing life itself.
Zarathustra too has to constantly go up and down the mountain to the market-place.
You have take into yourself the farthest past and re-fine it by filtering, cutting, distancing, selecting, joining, combining. And throw this refined self like a net cast over the world, and pull back more in, and re-fine again. And then cast over again.
The Self not only has to be sharp, but also wide/deep.
Nietzsche's individual is not Stirner's atomic individual; it is a link covering the whole organic past of humanity. The Self is not only the personal body, but also and must also be body of the world, the historical body, the organic body of the growing life itself.
Zarathustra too has to constantly go up and down the mountain to the market-place.
Yea, I have kept my net cast wide and never had it return to its shore for what it collects to be integrated, processed. This is the inflated ego. Always collecting in quantity, hoping and searching for a diamond which makes the inordinate amount of rough worth the cost. Never taking the diamonds found, inward, keeping them distant to save the dirty aspects of self you don't want to cut away and let go.
In my case, I found the dirt I held onto was that of state power. Europeans are scared to fight each other once again. The Jews are talkers, political commentators. They mimetically test and infect what degree of nihilism a society has accepted. To hate them and rid yourself of them violently is to also ignore what value they bring in refining you.
I would understand some resentment sent my way that I speak so.. simplistically.. while having read so little, so my understanding is not complete.
Lyssa Har Har Harr
Gender : Posts : 9031 Join date : 2012-03-01 Location : The Cockpit
Bossuet writes: justice is a kind of martyrdom. It is symbolic of Nietzsche’s thought, which always finds ways to martyr itself anew, that he is compelled to take such self-tormenting, brooding, rigorous pains in making repeated at- tempts to solve the problem: “How justice (theoretical and moral) is possible— rather: how justice must be understood in order to be possible?—for it has to be possible.” And there is something moving, after his constantly renewed struggle with the problem of justice over the course of many years, in still encountering words such as we find in this very late passage in the Notebooks:
“It happened late that I figured out what was actually still entirely lacking in me: namely, justice. ‘What is justice? And is it possible? And if it should not be possible, how then would life be tolerable?’ I incessantly asked myself such ques- tions. I was deeply alarmed to discover that wherever I dug down within myself I found only passions, only partiality, only the absence of scruples to be expected in someone who lacks even the preconditions for justice. . . .”
Justice becomes an ineluctable question and decision to this degree and in this tone of severity only when a danger is present; where life itself, where the will to self-preservation and self-overcoming enters, with its inherent injustice, into the ancient, tragic contradiction with the ingrained need for justice that is both inherited and ac- quired. Where the thinker’s desire for justice, the scholar’s circumspect conscience encounters the need to be unjust in the artist, in the prophetic person who wants the future because he is the future. But the future is always and inescapably somehow unjust and wrong with regard to the form of any present. This is, with symbolic precision, the case and fate of Nietzsche.
The question of conscience—“How is justice possible?”—is first articulated in the second Untimely Meditation (first at least in theoretically pronounced form; he had already thrown an anticipatory light on the problem of justice and of the theodicy of Great Crime in a passage about Aeschylus’s Prometheus in The Birth of Tragedy). Here, in the essay “On the Use and Disadvantage of History for Life,” the two major tendencies of Nietzsche’s approach meet for the first time: the will to justice of the historian, of the thinker trained to be conscientious in the exercise of theoretical judgment, who wants to see “what was and what is,” and the already unstoppable will to vital injustice of the artist and prophet, who must see “what shall be.”
But even here, where the young Nietzsche acts with Schopenhauerian earnestness and Wagnerian willful passion as an advocate of life and of the necessity for “perspectival injustice” against the “purely objective” historical or historically packaged mere-justice of his all-too-historically aware century, even here he still makes great efforts to remove the concept of justice from the dangerous dilemma, and yet at the same time somehow to give it precedence over that seemingly inescapable antithesis: “life or justice.” A basic sentiment, a basic need of Nietzsche is expressed in this glorification of justice, which still clearly betrays the influence of ancient moralists and the looming shadow of Schopenhauer:
“Truly, no one has a greater claim to our admiration than the person who possesses the instinct and energy for justice. For in justice the highest and rarest virtues are combined and concealed as if in an unfathomable sea that receives currents from all sides and assimilates them into itself. The hand of the just man who is entitled to sit in judgment no longer trembles when it holds the scale; merciless toward himself, he places one weight on top of another, his eye remains clear as the pans rise and fall and his voice sounds neither hard nor broken when he pronounces his judgment.”
Whoever “rises up from the rare virtue of magnanimity to the rarest one of justice” reaches a lonely height “as the most honorable example of the human species.”
“Only insofar as the truthful man has the unconditional will to be just is there anything great about the pursuit of truth everyone so thoughtlessly glorifies.”
“Although the world seems to be full of people who ‘serve the truth,’ the virtue of justice is still rarely present, even more rarely recognized and almost always hated to death.”9 (Human adds that justice is a quality of genius, and the genius of justice should in no way be deemed inferior to any other philosophical, political, or artistic expression of genius.)
Immediately, however, he rejects the commingling, the contamination of this— very moralistic—ideal of justice with the “historical objectivity” of the nineteenth century that was so eminently conscious of its exalted impartiality, and he asks the searching question whether “the historical virtuoso of the present is the most just man of his time?” Whether only the rapt observer, the passive recipient and great mirror—as Schopenhauer’s pupil might have thought obvious—was the model of the wise and just judge, in line with the often-cited statement by Goethe that no one has a conscience except he who observes? Here Nietzsche phrases it with the decisiveness of his final years: “Objectivity and justice have nothing to do with each other.” (Zarathustra later puts it this way: “I do not like your cold justice.”
“ . . . The greatest thing you can experience is the hour in which you say: ‘What does my justice matter! I see that I am not fire and flame. But the just man is fire and flame.’” And in the Notebooks to Zarathustra, in a related confession: “You all struggle not for the law, you just ones, but rather that your images of man shall prevail. And that all of your images of man shall be shattered by my image of the overman: behold, that is Zarathustra’s will to the law.”)
Justice, as Nietzsche already conceives of it here, is a thoroughly and supremely active virtue. It is a mark of strength, it is strength. Most historians, it is true, “manage to achieve only tolerance, a ‘letting be’ of what cannot be denied or wished away, a tailoring and a reasonable, benevolent glossing over of things in the shrewd assumption that the inexperienced will interpret it as a virtue of justice when the story of the past is told without harsh accents and without an expression of hate. But only a superior power can judge, the weak have to tolerate it if they do not want to feign strength and thus turn justice into an actress on the judge’s bench.”
“You may interpret the past only out of the greatest power of the present”—Nietzsche emphasizes this sentence in his text, as the confession and the heart of his observation; and again: “Today one ought to know that only he who builds the future has a right to judge the past.”
This thought, that only the person who establishes values may negate values, only the upright may pronounce on what is right, this Zarathustra sentiment is thus already present and fully formed in Nietzsche very early. In the same way, in the period after Zarathustra, in the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche unconditionally defends this conception of justice as proof of the strength “to search for the origin of justice, in contrast to recent attempts, in an entirely different arena— namely in that of ressentiment.”
Against this derivation of justice from revenge, Nietzsche, with clear reference to the Untimely, observes the following: “To be just is always a positive way of acting . . . the active person, the person who attacks, charges ahead, is still a hundred steps closer to justice than the reactive person. . . . Indeed, for that reason the aggressive person, as the stronger, bolder, nobler one, has throughout history also had the freer eye, the better conscience on his side.”
Here Nietzsche clearly approaches the biologically determined, dialectically refined conception of justice that the Greek sophist Thrasymachus advances in Plato’s Republic when he defines what is just as that which benefits the stronger and what is unjust as something more powerful, noble, and mighty than justice. But Human already finds that socialistic justice is possible only as an active gesture, not as a principle or demand, “only within the ruling class, which in this case performs justice with sacrifice and renunciation. To demand justice, on the other hand, as the Socialists do, is never a product of justice, but of covetousness.”
The active, even “aggressive,” character of justice that Nietzsche so strongly emphasizes and exaggerates thus contains and demands as its prerequisite the ability to embrace and absorb within itself the inherent injustice of all existence and becoming. That was already present in the Untimely, but with the undertone of a still genuinely Schopenhauerian sorrow, which is so entirely foreign to the Genealogy of Morals, over the unremitting injustice of “this world,” but with the robust resolve of the affirmative “Nevertheless.
“Man has to have, and from time to time use, the strength to crush and dissolve a past in order to be able to live: he achieves this by putting it on trial, carefully examining it and finally condemning it; every past is worth being condemned—for that is how it is with human affairs: in them, human violence and weakness have always been powerful. It is not justice that sits in judgment here: but rather life itself, that dark, surging, insatiably self-desiring power. Its sentence is always unkind, always unjust, because it has never flowed out of a pure fountain of knowledge; but in most cases the sentence would turn out to be the same if justice itself were to pronounce it.”
If justice itself were to pronounce it—with that, the germ of his later concept of justice, still in modest form, is already adumbrated: namely, that life, even in its apparently most unjust guise, and the highest justice must in the end be somehow mysteriously identical. This idea gradually matures in Nietzsche into the amor fati, the yea-saying love for one’s predetermined fate, that characterizes his final years.
“Justice originates among people of approximately equal power, as Thucydides correctly understood (in the terrible dialogue between the Athenian and Melian envoys): where there is no clearly recognizable superiority of power and a struggle would lead to fruitless mutual harm, the idea arises to communicate and to negotiate over the conflicting claims: the character of exchange is the originary character of justice. . . . It is thus reprisal and exchange with the precondition of an approximately equal balance of power . . . it naturally harks back to the perspective of prudent self-preservation, that is, to the egoism of the consideration: ‘Why should I injure myself needlessly and perhaps still not achieve my goal?’”
Or Nietzsche sometimes seems merely to play the role of advocate for the anti-justice of life, against the “just eye”: “You should learn to grasp the necessary injustice in every Pro and Contra, injustice as inextricable from life, life itself as determined by perspective and its injustice.”
“For an artist or thinker to perfect his practice, he probably has to possess that belief which is an injustice and narrowness toward the belief of others. For he must see more in it and something greater than it is: otherwise he will not employ all of his energy.”
He sees even the possibility of knowledge, the highest concept of value during this period, as fundamentally endangered by justice; the two great opponents “knowledge” and “life” from Nietzsche’s last phase threaten here to ally themselves against justice: “As soon as we take justice too far,” he writes in the Notebook sketches from the time of Daybreak, “and the bedrock of our individuality crumbles, causing us to give up our firm unjust point of departure, then we give up the possibility of knowledge: then that thing is missing to which everything stands in relation (including a just relation).” Justice even becomes a disintegrating principle, it becomes a dangerous inclination toward chaos: “To give everyone his due would be to want justice and to achieve chaos,” a passage in the paralipomena to Zarathustra warns, and Zarathustra says resignedly: “But how could I have wanted to be just from the outset! How can I give everyone his due! This shall be enough for me: I give everyone my due.”
But in the antithesis of justice and love that frequently arises during this period and culminates in Zarathustra’s painful question: “Tell me, where is that justice to be found which is love with seeing eyes?”—in this “greatest and most indissoluble disharmony of existence” a distinct glimmer shines through of the old moralistic homesickness for justice as something more difficult, more noble: “Justice is more difficult than devotion and love.” The modification of this idea into the theological realm is charac- teristic for the intellectual ancestry of the problem in Nietzsche’s thought: “If God wanted to become an object of love, then he first would have had to give up judging and justice: a judge, and even a merciful judge, is not an object of love.”
Even in this skeptical period, Nietzsche’s thinking still cannot abide the unconditional equation and opposition of the two great opponents “love” and “justice.” The office of the just man here, too, turns into an inflated authority that enables us to compromise and reconcile what has been antagonistically divided, to love with seeing eyes. The division, the tragic mixture of Nietzsche’s own being combining mind and fire seeks and finds its ultimate unity solely in the hope for possible justice: “We whose beings are mixed and are now enflamed by fire, now chilled by mind, want to kneel before justice as before the sole Goddess we acknowledge above us.”
And this veneration, which grew entirely out of his most individual experi- ence, this thoroughly personal sensibility was also decisive in determining (as is so often the case) Nietzsche’s theoretical stance. His justice must be able to assimilate everything vital—everything vital in him—every origin and every future, all knowledge and all conscience; and because this justice is compelled to do so out of an innermost necessity, it is thus able to. This ability to do so is its touchstone and ultimate meaning. The seeker of justice, as Nietzsche sees it, travels through stages of individual injustices to attain finally a highest level that comprehends all previous ones within the achieved height and view. Thus the partial injustices during the ascent, for man and human history, become neces- sary conditions for a vital, living, highest justice. They are transformations and masks, preexisting forms, as it were, of justice itself.
“Do you want to become a universal just eye? Then you must do so as one who has gone through many individuals and whose last individual requires all the previous ones as functions.” “We occasionally demand the truth by way of a double injustice, namely when we see and portray both sides of something in succession that we are unable to see together, but in such a way that we always misunderstand or deny the other side in the delusion that what we see is the entire truth.”
This is the same development in the theoretical sphere, namely toward a kind of theodicy of evil, within this “justice of the unjust,” as in Nietzsche’s stance toward his own personal suffering: an interpretively open, Hegelian affirmative enthusiasm, not so much for what has become as for what is becoming, for what should be, which, like all becoming, is a violation of boundaries, an injustice and profanation toward being. Injustice becomes a bridge to justice for this active fatalism; for, as a passage in the Notebooks to Zarathustra reads, the future is just as much a condition for the present as is the past: “What shall be and must be is the basis of what is.” And it looks like a strange premonition, like a Second Vision of his own fate, when Nietzsche’s earliest work, The Birth of Tragedy from the winter of 1870–71, which is so oddly rich in self-prophetic pronouncements, interprets Aeschylus’s Prometheus thus:
“Let me now contrast the glory of passivity (in Sophocles’s Oedipus) to the glory of activity that illuminates Aeschylus’s Prometheus. What the thinker Aeschylus had to say to us here, but what he as poet lets us only imagine through his symbolic image, the youthful Goethe was able to reveal to us in the daring words of his ‘Prometheus’: ‘Here I sit, forming men in my image / A race that would be equal to me. . . . ’
The most wonderful aspect of the Prometheus poem . . . however, is the deep Aeschylean pull toward justice: the immeasurable suffering of the bold ‘individual’ on the one hand and the divine predicament, even an intimation of a twilight of the gods on the other . . . all of that most strongly recalls the center and fundamental principle of the Aeschylean view of the world, which envisions Moira reigning over the gods and men as eternal justice. . . . The best and highest things that humanity can obtain are acquired through sacrilege and we must now accept its consequences, namely the entire flood of suffering and sorrows with which the offended gods must afflict the nobly aspiring human race. . . . This titanic drive is the element shared by the Promethean and the Dionysian. In this regard, Aeschylus’s Prometheus is a Dionysian mask, whereas the aforementioned tug toward justice betrays to the discerning observer Aeschylus’s paternal descent from Apollo, the god of individuation and of the boundaries of justice. And thus the dual character of Aeschylus’s Prometheus, his simultaneously Dionysian and Apollonian nature, could be expressed in the following conceptual form: ‘Everything that exists is just and unjust and in both cases equally justified.’”
But this is where the ancient tragic interpretation of justice turns back into the metaphysical one, into that early Hellenic metaphysics of justice that unmistakably sustains Nietzsche’s broadly conceived idea of justice, indeed is basically identical with it—the metaphysics of Heraclitus of Ephesus. “Aeschylus’s heroes are related to Heraclitus,” Nietzsche once remarked; thus the tragic justice of Aeschylus’s Prometheus also shares a deep commonality with the Heraclitean justification of the world, out of the experience of which Nietzsche’s Zarathustra emerged. As we know, Heraclitus was for Nietzsche the most Greek among all the Greek philosophers.
And if Nietzsche (in his outlines for “Homer’s Competition”) finds that the entire notion of justice is taken much more seriously by the Greeks than by us (for “Christianity does not know any justice”) because the idea of competition, of envy, had been so much stronger in them, then Heraclitus’s view of the world is also more Greek than the others because it grants the highest, world-forming, world-judging status and meaning to justice, Dike, the daughter of Zeus. “I perceive,” Nietzsche has Heraclitus say, “the entire world as a spectacle of justice prevailing.” With a sense of delight in which aesthetic enjoyment is intertwined with the ethical, Nietzsche, in perhaps the most beautiful of all of his unpublished fragments (in the torso of “Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks,” from 1872–73), fashions a poetic rendering of the imperious intuition of Heraclitean metaphysics, the most Greek of all conceptions of the world, as a mixing bowl that has to be constantly stirred so that it does not disaggregate, that great mixed beverage that, as honey combines bitter and sweet, consists of the most diametrically opposed elements, and exists precisely through this opposition:
All becoming arises out of the war of opposites. . . . This struggle continues through all eternity. Everything happens in accordance with this conflict, and this very conflict reveals eternal justice. It is a wonderful notion, drawn from the purest founts of the Hellenic spirit, which views the conflict as a continuous prevailing justice that remains consistent, severe, and bound to eternal laws. Only a Greek was capable of seeing this idea as the foundation of a cosmodicy; it is the good Eris of Hesiod, transfigured into a world principle, it is the notion of competition shared by the individual Greek and the Greek state . . . translated into the most general terms so that now the gears of the cosmos turn within it. . . . Things themselves do not actually exist at all, they are the flash and spark of drawn swords, they are the glint of victory in the struggle of opposing qualities.
And out of this imagining of the world as a site of joyful battle in which “the judges themselves seem to do battle, the fighters themselves seem to judge,” out of this perception of a single prevailing justice Heraclitus dares, in Nietzsche’s words, to formulate the “even higher intuition,” the proposition of a first philosophy of identity: “The conflict of the many itself is the one justice!”
“Above all of the resounding individuals and the conflict of their passions, above the whole vortex of antagonisms there hovers, with utmost calm, an over-whelming, symphonic understanding that continuously produces unity out of the struggle: Wagner’s music as a whole is a representation of the world as it was understood by the great Ephesian philosopher, as a harmony that conflict bore out of itself, as a union of justice and hostility.” That is poetically, musically the same fundamentally Greek experience Nietzsche had as a seeker of justice, which the later transvaluer would voluntaristically, imperiously formulate in a brief passage in the Notebooks in an image and command of austere nakedness:
“Justice as a constructive, expulsive, destructive way of thinking . . . : the supreme representative of life itself.” [Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology]
Did Nietzsche write about this in detail? Or what did he mean by this:
And if Nietzsche (in his outlines for “Homer’s Competition”) finds that the entire notion of justice is taken much more seriously by the Greeks than by us (for “Christianity does not know any justice”)
Lyssa Har Har Harr
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Did Nietzsche write about this in detail? Or what did he mean by this:
And if Nietzsche (in his outlines for “Homer’s Competition”) finds that the entire notion of justice is taken much more seriously by the Greeks than by us (for “Christianity does not know any justice”)
Particular quote is from his Notebooks, which I dont have at hand, but reference: Notebooks, Summer 1871–Spring 1872 16; KSA 7, 403
Most of it is elaborated in the Will to Power, and the Antichrist.
By positing a god as already loving and erasing all distinctions, how can there by any idea of justice, when injustice occurs because of inequalities?
Erasing away any reality that pains them, and Christ carrying their suffering for them, theoretically, they have no sense for suffering and therefore for any notion of justice. What does earthly injustice matter, when the otherworldly justice shall be delievered by the just god, by the redeemer?
"Primitive Christianity is abolition of the state: forbids oaths, war service, courts of justice, self-defense and the defense of any kind of community, the distinction between fellow countrymen and foreigners, and also the differentiation of classes.
Christianity is also abolition of society: it prefers all that society counts of little worth, it grows up among outcasts and the condemned, among lepers of all kinds, "sinners," "publicans," prostitutes, the most stupid folk (the "fishers"); it disdains the rich, the learned, the noble, the virtuous, the "correct."[WTP, 207]
When all distinctions are abolished, their idea of justice really means condemning and levelling everyone and the meaning of suffering itself, to their suffering of reality.
"Christianity as a denaturalization of herd-animal morality: accompanied by absolute misunderstanding and self-deception. Democratization is a more natural form of it, one less mendacious.
Datum: the oppressed, the lowly, the great masses of slaves and semi-slaves desire power.
First step: they make themselves free-they ransom themselves, in imagination at first, they recognize one another, they prevail.
Second step: they enter into battle, they demand recognition, equal rights, "justice."
Third step: they demand privileges (-they draw the representatives of power over to their side).
Fourth step: they demand exclusive power, and they get it-
In Christianity, three elements must be distinguished:
(a) the oppressed of all kinds,
(b) the mediocre of all kinds,
(c) the discontented and sick of all kinds.
With the first element Christianity fights against the political nobility and its ideal; with the second clement, against the exceptional and privileged (spiritually, physically - ) of all kinds; with the third element, against the natural instinct of the healthy and happy.
When a victory is won, the second element steps into the fore- ground; This mediocre nature at last grows so conscious of itself (-acquires courage for itself-) that it arrogates even political power to itself-
Democracy is Christianity made natural: -" [WTP, 215]
"When the socialist with a fine indignation demands "justice," "right," "equal rights," he is merely acting under the impress of his inadequate culture that cannot explain why he is suffering: on the other hand, he enjoys himself; if he felt better he would refrain from crying out: he would then find pleasure in other things. The same applies to the Christian: he condemns, disparages, curses the "world"-himself not excluded. But that is no reason for taking his clamor seriously. In both cases we are in the presence of invalids who feel better for crying out, for whom defamation is a relief." [WTP, 373]
"Nietzsche, who disdained Mörike and who thought “the highest notion of a poet” was represented not by Goethe or Hölderlin but by Heine’s “sweet and passionate music and divine malice,”loved Adalbert Stifter—that is one of those symbolic paradoxes, sometimes themselves almost malicious, that even superficially give his life the allure of extremism, of romantic inconsistency. It was not an early attachment of Nietzsche, like the love for Schumann he later disavowed and bitterly ridiculed, whose music is so close to the writer of the early Studies, the “The Condor” and “Wild Flowers” (both artists occupy a province in the great kingdom of Jean Paul)—but rather a love of the mature Nietzsche, and it was directed solely at the autumnal poet who wrote Indian Summer (Der Nachsommer).
The oft-quoted passage from Human is well known, where Nietzsche enumerates the few books of German prose that deserve to be read and reread; apart from Goethe’s words, and particularly the conversations with Eckermann—“the best German book there is”—what does he mention? Four books by minds that were worlds apart from each other but who were all linked to him by deep consanguineous ties: the skeptical aphorisms of his moralistic predecessor Lichtenberg, the pietistically devout youth of Jung-Stilling, the Epicurean golden laughter of the Higher Man in the People of Seldwyla—and Adalbert Stifter’s transfiguration of homesickness in a super-German community seen through the lens of a stylized antiquity at the end of Goethe’s century.
One of those guiding coincidences that occur so frequently in Nietzsche’s reading led him to this so-little-known book, which even today still has an almost apocryphal afterlife (often the fate of the most fervent German creations and compositions), indeed which to this day is still considered inaccessible even in the unmutilated original form in which Nietzsche read it: a friend of Nietzsche discovered in it the most beautiful love story he had ever read—and from that point on, a deep elective affinity united the poet of Zarathustra with the sculptor of a post-Goethean, late, melancholy happiness. Letters to his musician friend give testimony to this elective affinity: “As soon as I imagine you reading ‘Indian Summer,’ I am happy,” Nietzsche writes to Gast; “I had actually wanted to save it until we were together; ever since I got to know the book, I had intended it for you.”
Even eight years after this letter, he still describes the “lion’s music” of his “Venetian maestro” as refreshing, restorative, sincere, cheerful, radiant, comparing it to Goethe’s Novella of 1826 and Stifter’s Indian Summer. “In this direction,” Nietzsche adds, “there is still an entire world of beauty.” For a “delightful adagio” by Gast, he suggests the title “Indian Summer Music”—his friend’s Venetian music and the Austrian writer’s late work are in his eyes delights from the same world of a new beauty. And he writes to Gast that he would like to get to the bottom of why that is so.
Why did Nietzsche love this book so much, this book by a poet who is so unlike Nietzsche himself? Why did it become a parable in his eyes? Does not such a love, like all love, also reflect on the character of the lover? There is more than just one congruity in the characters of these two poets, who appear to stand on opposite ends of the broad spectrum of the German character. There is a hidden confraternity of souls that often binds precisely the most hostile minds together—such a confraternity united the poet of Indian Summer with the sage of Sils-Maria. In what could it have been rooted?
An innate autumnal mood of the soul, a profound October serenity—to take up a word of Nietzsche’s—is obvious in Nietzsche’s character from the beginning, and that is what predestines him to the kind of Indian summerly pleasures that Stifter’s mature art radiates most magically of all. (In German literature the magic of Indian summer finds a similarly intensive expression in perhaps only one other work, if of a completely different sort—in certain autumnal poems in The Year of the Soul.)
Even as a student at Schulpforta he had already written to his mother (in September 1863): “I love the autumn very much, even if I know it more through my memory and though my poems” (the qualification is highly characteristic for the non-experiential, but rather predestinational nature of the young Nietzsche’s love of autumn!); “but the air is so crystal-clear, one can see so freely from earth to the heavens, that the world seems to be lying naked in front of one’s eyes.”
Six years later, in autumn letters to Rohde, Nietzsche is even more deeply aware of the significance and implications of his innate autumnal blissfulness. In September 1869, he writes, for instance: “ . . . Zeus knows, as does the pure autumn sky, that I am so powerfully lifted up into the positive realm at precisely this time, that I experience so many rich hours of abundant insight and true vividness. . . .” “It is a pure, blue, cool autumn morning, one entirely forgets the stunted volatility of one’s soul.” And one month later he returns to the theme, now sounded in a deeper, more classical, more Nietzschean vein:
“Outside, before the windows, lies the thoughtful autumn,” (thoughtful!) “bathed in clear, mildly warm sunshine, the northern autumn that I love as I love my best friends, because it is so mature and unconsciously lacking all desire. Fruit falls from the tree without a breath of wind.
“And thus it is with the love of friends: without admonition, without shak- ing, in perfect calm it descends and pleases. It desires nothing for itself and gives everything of itself. . . .
“I should also think that someone who truly loves autumn, a few friends, and solitude may also be permitted to predict for himself a great, productive, and happy autumn of life:
Thus allow that one of the Fates Shall spin my autumn for me, lovely and long, Out of half-cooled sunshine And leisure
“But you know what leisure we mean: we have already experienced it together, as true scolastikoi,j that is, as idlers.”
That is already the tone of late, halcyon happiness that is repeatedly struck in Nietzsche’s works and letters from then on, and is always a reflection of his most grateful, most intensive moments; it is already a prophetic presentiment of the highest moment in the great, productive, and happy autumn of his life, when he strolls in the high “idleness of a god along the Po,” when, in the introductory words of Ecce homo, he looks back on his life “on this perfect day when everything is ripening and not only the grape is turning brown”: “I looked back, I look out, I never saw so much and so many good things at once. . . . How could I not be grateful to my entire life?”
And it is already an anticipation of the profound October gratefulness that flows forth in a letter to his friend during his last autumn: “The purest light of October everywhere. . . . I am now the most grateful person in the world—in an autumnal frame of mind in every good sense of the word: it is my great time of harvest. Everything is becoming easy for me, everything I do is turning out well, although it is doubtful that anyone has ever had such great things entrusted to him before. . . .”
And even the idea of “idleness” is already circumscribed here, that “Greek” idleness that is glorified in both Zarathustra and in Ecce homo, and whose actual transfiguration is represented in Stifter’s Indian Summer as in no other literary work in the German language; a reflection of Arcadian, ancient happiness of the gentlest Epicureanism, the symbol of which Nietzsche loved in Claude Lorrain’s paintings. (But Stifter also especially loved Claude Lorrain’s “quiet greatness and dignity.”)
The “perfect autumn day” that rests in its plenitude, a “Claude Lorrain thought into infinity,”21 remains a favorite conception of Nietzsche in his role as both poet and composer. His lecture “On the Future of our Educational Institutions,” which often strikes a poetic register, presents a philosophical conversation of an invented sage (in Schopenhauer’s mask) taking place on such an Arcadian day at Rolandseck: “It was one of those perfect days which are only possible, at least in our climate, at the very end of summer: heaven and earth calmly flowing in harmony next to each other, a wonderful combination arising from the warmth of the sun, the freshness of fall, and blue infinity” (here, too, one hears even in the choice of words the details of his last autumn in Turin).
And twelve years later, abstracted into Zarathustra’s twelve happy isles: “Autumn is upon us and a pure sky and afternoon. See what plenitude surrounds us! And it is good to look out of such abundance toward distant seas.”24 And in the essay on “Richard Wagner in Bayreuth,” even the pleasure in Wagner’s music, which he still thought of as an art of the future, is given an autumnal twist and experienced as an inner autumn: “We have a feeling of great distance, as if Siegfried were narrating his deeds: the profound sadness of late summer is woven into the most moving happiness of remembrance, and the whole of nature lies quietly in the yellow evening light.”
Nietzsche’s own musical production still pays homage to the god of autumn as his patron muse: a letter to Gersdorff in the fall of 1871 reports a larger composition for four hands that reverberates with all the sounds of a beautiful, sun-filled autumn: “I had not composed anything for six years and this autumn stimulated me again!”
Finally, this inner autumn, both poetically enchanted and enchanting, resounds most purely in the Dionysus Dithyramb “The Sun Sets”:
. . . You will not thirst much longer, Parched heart! There is promise in the air . . . The great chill is coming . . .
Hail to thee . . . you cool spirits of the afternoon.
My life’s day! It inclines toward evening . . . Golden cheerfulness, come! You most secret, sweetest foretaste Of death . . . My raft now stands idle.
How it forgets storm and sail! Hopes and wishes have drowned, Sea and soul lie flat.
Seventh solitude! Never have I felt Sweet security nearer to me, or More warmly the glance of the sun . . .
The golden cheerfulness of such inner autumnal happiness, into which the portent of the great chill and the most mysterious foretaste of death are woven: that is, above all, what drew Nietzsche to Stifter’s poem of autumn….
All the masks that a preordained autumn of the soul had used to seduce Nietzsche are collected here. Here there reigns, to quote the words of Hesperus again, that “inner windless calm which is never so great and so magical as in souls that have been tossed back and forth by churning hurricanes.” Here the magical image of a life that has been raised up to an ultimate Epicurean ripeness and ethereal modesty, as it first appears as “Muses’s Monastery” in the early correspondence with Rohde and, seen with the eyes of love, became something like reality for Nietzsche perhaps only once as the days in Tribschen.
One feels the seduction of an extreme aristocratic conception of life here, an almost childlike refusal to cast even a glance at the vast social substructure that supports and enables the life of his Higher Men, this life of tranquil beauty, of grateful proximity to nature and ancient leisure, of the most refined humanistic culture, of the transcendent peacefulness of evening. It was an ideal that filled Nietzsche’s hopes and dreams; during his first years in Basel he writes—years before he got to know Indian Summer—that he had only one wish: not to become hurried, “and such cheerful late-summer weather preaches this doctrine in the most vivid manner, colored blue and gold”; that he loves Basel so because it allows him to live quietly, as if on a small country estate. And in Sorrento, in that same fall and winter of 1876–77, he actually attempted to realize, beyond the real world, such a shared humanistic Indian summer happiness.
A deeper, purer love for the works of the ancients, a love that flows out of the most profound masculine homesickness, makes this lover of the Greeks feel grateful, as only a shared cult of love can make one feel grateful and allied. One recalls the incomparable passages on the Greek statue, the Cumaean Girl, in the stairwell of Asperhof, or the cameos. Even the amateurish art historical musings, which as such were the last thing Nietzsche was interested in, still give off a hint of that atmosphere he associated with Eckermann, indeed with Burckhardt, and had to strike him as familiar: the delicate sensuous humanism and historicism that surrounded him in Basel as well, the truly Stifterian philol- ogy of the eye, which in Nietzsche merely retreated into de-sensualized, more abstract intellectual regions of sight.
But something must have affected Nietzsche more strongly than the Ecker- mann mood of this late classicism and humanism, which Nietzsche knew was coming to an end, whose melancholy transfiguration Indian Summer is intended to be; this work must have affected him even more strongly as an entirely unique pedagogical utopia—for the book presents itself as such, which even within a literary tradition that is so “pedantic,” so pedagogically serious as is the German one, has a parallel only in Wilhelm Meister’s Travels, at most in certain parts of Gottfried Keller’s work (which not coincidentally was also one of Nietzsche’s favorites).
Nietzsche singles out Indian Summer for special honor among German works of prose. The aphorism about the poet of the future clearly arose under the lasting impression of Stifter’s pedagogical late work. “Just as, in former times, artists constructed their tales around the images of the gods, so too will the poet construct his tale around the image of beautiful humanity, and search out those instances where . . . a great beautiful soul can even today be incorporated into harmonious, well-proportioned circumstances through which it acquires visibility, permanence and exemplarity and thus, by exciting imitation and envy, helps to create the future.
Literary works by writers of this sort” (here the proximity of Stifter becomes especially clear) “would distinguish themselves by appearing to be closed and inaccessible to the heat and flame of passion: the irremediable mistake, the demolition of the entire human enterprise, derisive laughter and the gnashing of teeth, and everything tragic and comic in the old customary sense would be perceived next to this new art as . . . a coarsening of the human image. Strength, kindness, mildness, purity and unforced, innate moderation in people and their endeavors: a smoothed ground that offers the foot rest and delight: a brilliant sky reflected in their faces and actions . . . all of this would be the inclusive, universal, gilded background against which the gentle differences among the embodied ideals would form the actual portrait—that of the continual growth of human majesty.” That is, knowingly or not, a portrait of Indian Summer, without a doubt.
But the conclusion of this aphorism sounds as if it has been taken out of Stifter’s aesthetic writings, as when he writes: “Many a path leads from Goethe to this poetry of the future: but one needs competent guides and above all a much greater power than the current writers possess, those unthinking portraitists of those brutes and immaturity and immoderation which they confuse with strength and nature.” (One recalls here Stifter’s preface to Bunte Steine [Colorful Stones] and his letters to Heckenast from the 1850s.)
But beneath the secret sign of autumn, this pedagogical-poetic signpost also points the way into a Goethean future. For the educational passion (and Nietzsche knew this through painful experience, even if he sought to deny it himself ) always awakens at the first hint of autumn, of the great chill, of the end. That passion stands, finally and secretly, under the sign of death, like everything that serves what is to come more passionately than it serves itself; it is a promise that hangs in the air and is almost itself a form of the end. It becomes a dominant obsession only when someone knows that he stands at the edge of life, indeed “with one foot beyond life.”
It becomes a passion and natural urge to form, to immortalize, at that moment in which a living being recognizes itself to be an end, an extreme point that no longer serves any chain as a natural link, but rather must posit itself as the first link in a more spiritual chain if it does not want to feel annihilated—and such “moments” can assume the form of an entire human life (the most inward meaning of priestly celibacy, and the ultimate cause of that deep sympathetic mistrust, that reserve which arises from a perpetually renewed mixture of contempt and respect with which a vital living being, a being that knows itself to be part of a chain, looks both at and up to those who posses a pronounced pedagogical and didactic nature). Stifter’s pedagogical passion, which fills all of his literary works—none so completely as Indian Summer—was entirely of this kind. It came from an initially unconscious, later painfully distinct, feeling of an innate and predetermined “childlessness,” a feeling of representing an end, of being an end. Stifter gave the most profoundly moving expression to that feeling in “Der Hagestolz” (The Bachelor)
But all of his works are basically an expression of this basic experience; this fatum of the end extends even into his narrative technique. And this is what Nietzsche experienced in Indian Sum- mer as something deeply related to his own destiny, he who is also “childless,” an exit and final chorus, as a mask of the end and nearly a will to the end, as passionately as he—the great, exemplary willed sacrifice of his life—interpreted himself into the opposite. (There is an eminently Stifteresque sound to the motifs of “Ahasverus” and “Hagestolz” in the deeply earnest letters to Rohde from 18 July 1876 and 22 February 1884. “No, wanderer, no! I shall not greet you in that tone. I sing because the night is so beautiful: but you shall go forever more And never shall you understand my song! Go, go hence—And if your step shall sound from afar I shall raise my night song again. . . . Farewell, you poor wanderer!” . . . “Oh, friend, what an odd, silent life I lead! So alone, alone! So without ‘children’!”)
He, too, is an educator by fate and passion, a dreamer of the most noble forms of human cultural community and of a happiness brought on by eagerly assumed responsibility and willing sacrifice. Over him, too, in him, there is something of that indescribable autumnal Edenic glow, the magic of the end, which constitutes the most profound spell cast by Stifter’s works and, perhaps, will one day emanate from the entire phenomenon of Nietzsche. Nietzsche knew (and with deep emotion recognized in Indian Summer) the gratefully resigned, twilight happiness of an innate season of the soul that sings its last in song and that perhaps does not know but senses it has arrived at the end…
The Gay Science that speaks of this Epicurean happiness could also not have arisen without a glance at the gentle melancholy of Indian Summer: “Such happiness could have been invented only by someone who constantly suffered, the happiness of an eye before which the ocean of ex- istence has become calm, and now cannot look long enough at its surface and at this colored, gentle trembling skin of the ocean: never before was there such modesty of delight.” That the noblest happiness is an autumnal fruit on the tree of suffering—this favorite notion of Nietzsche, so redolent of late antiquity, is also the perfect motto for the Indian summer world of his favorite literary work.
But the innermost identity that Nietzsche’s elective affinity with Stifter displays rests no doubt on an ultimate homesickness, on the most unquenchable kind there is: on the homesickness both felt for perfection. After the autumnally serene rest on the seventh day, in the Sunday stillness of creative leisure and a wishless presence, after the nuptial “And, behold, it was very good,” with which Indian Summer closes and into which Nietzsche also had the poem of his life flow, in the high October happiness of his Ecce homo. Perfection—that, too, like the educational ideal, is a dream-form of death, indeed its closest, most immediate pre-form, the figure of Hermes, in which it leads and seduces the death-ready soul to the underworld—perfection, not for nothing the favorite word of the late, already secretly death-drunk Nietzsche (“On this perfect day”50 [Ecce homo]. “Yesterday and the day before the highest perfection on earth and the Engadine” [August 1888]. “What we miss in Wagner: . . . the shimmering light of the south, the smooth sea—perfection” [The Case of Wagner].
“What alone can restore us?—The sight of perfection” [Notebooks to Transfiguration])—and the earnest symbol of his inner insatiability, of his great dissatisfaction with himself, of his Greek homesickness—perfection is also the guiding dream and painful ardor of Adalbert Stifter, who labored like almost no other German artist did on the verbal realization of his homesick dreams that were unsullied by reality, who worked on his half ancient, half monkish vision, to use Nietzsche’s expression, as if on a sculpture, and who movingly lived his life according to Hölderlin’s appeal to young poets to “Be only pious, like the Greeks were!”
But no matter how Nietzsche interpreted himself, to what heights he raised himself, to what degree he transformed himself, whether he felt himself to be the Föhn55 storm, the thaw heralding new, hotter summers of humanity, as an impudent mistral,56 or as a stifling, high-noon brooding decision—there is always nevertheless, as in his Ecce homo, as in his favorite Claude, something in the innermost landscape of his being that is mournfully mindful of the end, but in this consciousness itself an all the more intense present-embracing afternoon light, an autumnal happiness of the highest moment in the presentiment of the great chill, but of a moment “thought into infinity,” mature and mature-making, with a grateful and transfiguring eye (“I never saw so much and so many good things all at once,” “I never thought such a thing was possible on earth”), an autumnal happiness singing a blue, serenely profound late music (“what I really want from music: that it be serene and profound, like an afternoon in October”), and full of a perhaps deadly but “unbridled” and purest perfection." [Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology]
"In a mood that is strangely reminiscent of Flaubert’s letters, he writes to Rohde immediately after the outbreak of the war: “Our entire threadbare culture is throwing itself on the breast of the most horrible daemon. What will we experience! . . . What are our goals? We might already be at the beginning of the end! What desolation! We will need monasteries again. And we will be the first fratres.”
That this monastic reveling in extreme hopelessness was not merely the expression of a momentary cultural despair over the sudden glimpse of chaos is proven by similar statements during the subsequent period. The alliance of Wagner and Schopenhauer reveals to him (in the Notebooks to “Richard Wagner in Bayreuth”) “that perhaps at some point soon, culture will continue to exist only in the form of monastically secluded sects that reject the surrounding world.” The letter to Rohde from December 15, 1870, contains a comprehensive plan of a half-Greek, half-monastic academy. From Basel he writes:
Something truly revolutionary will never be able to emerge from university wisdom. We can become real teachers only by levering ourselves by all available means out of the atmosphere of this time. . . In that way, we will eventually cast off this yoke, of that I am entirely convinced. And then we will form a new Greek academy. . . . Even if we attract a few like-minded people, I still believe that we will reach a small island. . . . We will then be our mutual teachers, our books will be fishing hooks to garner recruits for our monastic-artistic brotherhood. . . . To show you how serious I am, I have already begun to limit my requirements in order to save a small portion of my fortune. . . . Shouldn’t we be able to bring a new form of academy into the world “and should I, filled with mightiest yearning, Not bring to life the most exquisite figure?” . . . Our philosophers’ school is certainly no historical reminiscence or an arbitrary caprice—are we not driven to take this path by necessity?
Elsewhere he speaks of a kind of order of higher men, of a plan for a “Yearbook of Friends”—although “nothing is further from my mind than to compete with such pitiful rubbish as the Bayreuther Blätter” (1878).
“Where do we want to renew Epicurus’s garden?” he writes to Gast in 1879. The idea of a community of the chosen grows far beyond “Bayreuth” and into the Greek sphere as it slowly rises toward the Platonic vision of Zarathustra. As early as “in ‘Richard Wagner in Bayreuth,’ the ‘idea of Bayreuth’ had changed into something that will not be a puzzling notion to the readers of my Zarathustra: into that great midday where the most elect are consecrated for the greatest of all missions—who knows? The vision of a celebration that I will still experience . . .” (Ecce homo).
In the chapter of Zarathustra called “Of Endowing Virtue,” one finds mention of this vision, Bayreuth’s last embodiment, as a final word of farewell to the disciples: “I will then love all of you with another love. And one day you will have become my friends and the children of a single hope: then I will be with you for a third time, so that I will celebrate the great midday with you. And the great midday is when man stands at the midpoint of his path between animal and overman and celebrates his journey to the evening as his highest hope: for it is the journey to a new morning.”
The young Nietzsche enjoyed the happiness of discipleship—but the celebration of the High Midday with like-minded friends who were his peers (“perfect friendship exists only inter pares”) was not granted to him. The aftersong to Beyond, “From High Mountains,” called out for the last time for these friends, for this Platonic “bliss inter pares,” for this celebration of the High Midday:
Oh, midday of life! Solemn time! Oh, summer garden! Restless happiness in standing and watching and waiting— I await friends, ready night and day, Where are you, friends? Come! It is time, it is time!
. . . In the highest, my table was set for you— Who lives so close
To the stars, so close to the horrible distances of the abyss? My realm—what realm has been more vast? And my honey—who has tasted it?
. . . There you are, friends!—Woe, it is not I Whom you sought? . . . I became another? And strange to myself? . . . You turn away?—Oh, heart, you have borne enough, Your hopes remained strong: Keep the door open to new friends! . . . It drove them away that they became old: Only he who changes remains akin to me.
Oh, midday of life! Second time of youth! Oh, summer garden! Restless happiness in standing and watching and waiting— I await friends, ready night and day, New friends? Come! It is time, it is time!87
But “this song is over—the sweet song of yearning Died in my mouth”88—for his friend Zarathustra came, the “guest of the guests,” with whom alone he now celebrates, transformed from One to Two, the feast of the High Midday, “the feast of feasts.”
From then on there was for Nietzsche only the third stage of Socratic existence: the stage of his own mastery, the pedagogical glance cast downward, the joy of great responsibility. After he had been disciple and friend, he becomes the third and most difficult thing: teacher and master. Nietzsche was granted a descent in a great man. The phantom of a cultural community of friends, of those decisive hundred men on whom all great cultures were erected according to his philosophy of history (which was also Burckhardt’s), that notion had helped him bear the years until Zarathustra. Now, at the pinnacle, he is only one thing: the great teacher, the genius of education, the Socratic master, whose image Nietzsche had attempted to draw prematurely in his lecture “On the Future of our Educational Institutions.” The great responsibility of pedagogy has now become his conscious guiding ideal, as it had secretly been at the core of his nature from the time he was a child (we recall the many little “pedagogical” anecdotes that survive from Nietzsche’s childhood and youth).
The classical, truly Socratic relationship of the pupil to his master, of the master to his pupil, is a fundamental problem that preoccupies him in all of his writings. “Whoever is fundamentally a teacher takes all things seriously only with respect to his pupils—even himself ” (Beyond). “Whoever is a teacher, is usually incapable of doing something for his own good, he is always thinking of the good of his pupils, and everything he learns makes him happy only in so far as he can teach it” (Human). “Part of the humanity of a master is to warn his pupils of himself” (Daybreak). “The apprentice loves the master in one way, the master loves the master in another” (Human).
At the height of his enthusiasm for Schopenhauer, the student, in a letter, already passes judgment on the philosopher’s “obtuse followers”: “Pupils such as Frauenstädt are basically an insulting vulgarity toward the master.”
And, like the relationship between pupil and master, the relationship among the ideal pupils themselves preoccupies him continuously as well. He views it in a thoroughly Socratic, thoroughly Greek fashion: as the noble agon, the competition for the prize of most distinguished pupil. He sees the mark of true mastery in that it knows how to awaken the good Eris, the noble envy among those on whom she has an effect—thus, the youths of Athens thronged in dialectic rivalry around the derisively clever, provocatively questioning satyr’s countenance that seemed to be constantly looking for the “best and most just” among their number.
Envious—that is how Nietzsche saw the ideal pupil and the ideal Greek. Nietzsche mentions this fruitful Greek envy probably for the first time in the study “Homer’s Competition” (1871/72) while referring to Hesiod’s notion of Eris as two goddesses. Not only Aristotle, but all of Greek antiquity thought differently about envy than we do.
“The Greek is envious and does not perceive this quality as a flaw, but rather as the effect of a benevolent divinity: what a chasm of ethical judgment between us and him! . . . The greater and more superior a Greek is, the brighter the ambitious flame shoots out of him, consuming everyone who travels on the same path with him. . . . Every great Hellene passes on the torch of competition; every great virtue ignites a new greatness.”
In a way that is entirely consistent with his principal preoccupation, Nietzsche traces the pedagogical effect and use of this basic Hellenic drive. “Greek popular pedagogy stipulates that every talent has to unfold in struggle: whereas modern educators fear nothing so much as unleashing so-called ambition. . . . ‘The artist, too, is resentful of the artist.’ And modern man fears nothing so much in an artist as the personal impulse to fight, whereas the Greek knows the artist only as being in a personal battle. Where a modern man senses the weakness of a work of art, the Hellene seeks the source of his greatest power!!. . . Competition alone turns Plato into a poet, a sophist, an orator. What a problem is solved for us when we inquire into the relationship between competition and the conception of a work of art!”
In Daybreak there is still a warning based on the notion of competition as the most important pedagogical law: “The best way to ruin an adolescent is to teach him to respect someone who thinks the same way he does more highly than someone who thinks differently.”
Competition—even with the master himself—that remains the Socratic ideal. Socrates’s highest renown rested on his ability to educate a pupil like Plato beyond himself, just as Plato created a Socrates beyond Socrates. “One repays a teacher poorly if one always remains merely a pupil,” Zarathustra cautions, “and why shouldn’t you all want to pick at my wreath? You venerate me; but what if your veneration were to collapse one day? Take care that a statue does not crush you!”
(The metaphor is a reminiscence of the passage in Aristotle in which he says that to be crushed by a statue is an untragic death.)
The pride and pleasure in responsibility felt by every born Great Teacher pour forth from these and all other statements by Zarathustra. Significantly, in the year of his estrangement from Wagner, the consciousness of the meaning of his own being as that of a new example and model asserted itself for the first time: “In the main, I have realized this much: the only thing that people of all kinds truly acknowledge and to which they defer, is the high-minded deed. Not for anything in the world even a nod toward accommodation! One can achieve great success only if one remains true to oneself. I see what influence I already have now, and I would harm or destroy not only myself, but also many people growing with me, if I wanted to become weaker and skeptical” (1876 to Gersdorff).
But he also knows the sudden fear of responsibility in the great teacher. A decade later, he is terrified by the thought that one day illegitimate and wholly unqualified readers will appeal to his authority. “But that is the anguish of every great teacher of humanity: he knows that he, under certain circumstances and accidents, can become as much a catastrophe for humanity as a blessing” (1884).
For the great teacher, just as he is the strongest transformative reality among people, is at the same time unavoidably a phantom as well, the most distant from reality among all of humanity’s phantoms of love. Early on, Nietzsche knows that “the active person is a phantom, not a reality”: “the significant man gradually learns that he is, insofar as he is active, a phantom in the minds of others, and he will possibly fall into the subtle mental torture of asking himself whether he ought not to uphold the phantom of himself for the good of his fellow human beings” (Human). Such mental torture, this notion of a duty toward a pedagogical lie, acquires a growing influence on Nietzsche’s philosophical stance. It slowly be- comes his real Socratic principle. What one keeps to oneself reveals to Nietzsche the master of education, as it had revealed to Schiller the master of style.
“It is the form of my humanity to live nicely silent about my ultimate intentions; and, in addition, it is a matter of prudence and self-preservation. Who wouldn’t run away from me!—if people figured out what duties grow out of my way of thinking . . . I would break the one and ruin the other . . . it is very possible that one day I will fall silent out of love of humanity!” (1884 to Malwida).
That is the pedagogical love of Socrates, the lie as the human kindness of the knowing (as he writes in the Notebooks to Zarathustra), the keeping of a last, destructive secret against all the temptations of the relief that a confession would bring, that ultimate silence that even the young Nietzsche attributes to none other than Socrates.
The masked self-avowal in the aphorism “The Dying Socrates” in The Gay Science refers to that silence—perhaps the boldest, certainly the most Nietzschean exegesis of the image of the dying Socrates that so deeply unsettled Nietzsche. “I admire,” we read there,
the courage and wisdom of Socrates in all that he did, said—and did not say. This derisive and enamored fiend and pied-piper of Athens, who made the most spirited youths tremble and sob, was not only the wisest chatterbox there has ever been: he was just as great in being silent. I wish he would have also been silent in the last moment of his life—perhaps then he would count among an even higher order of spirits. Whether it was death itself or poison or piety or malice—at that moment something loosened his tongue and he said:
“Oh Crito, I owe Asclepios a rooster.” These ridiculous and terrible “last words” mean for the person who has ears: “’O Crito, life is a disease!” Is it possible! A man like him, who lived cheerfully and like a soldier before everyone’s eyes—was a pessimist! He had merely put on a brave face toward life and all his life concealed his final judgment, his innermost feeling! Socrates, Socrates suffered from life! And he took his revenge for it—with those veiled, horrible, pious and blasphemous words! Did Socrates need to take revenge? Was a grain of generosity too much for his abundant virtue? Alas, friends! We have to overcome the Greeks as well!
And for the last time, The Will to Power mysteriously, discreetly, Socratically praises the notion of great mastery: “If one imagines a philosopher as a great educator, powerful enough to pull up long chains of generations up to his lonely heights: then one also has to grant him the enormous privileges of a great educator. An educator never says what he thinks himself: rather only what he thinks about a matter in relation to the usefulness it has for those he is educating. One may not suspect him of this pretence; it is part of his mastery that others believe in his honesty. . . . Such an educator is beyond good and evil; but no one is al- lowed to know that.”
Together with the previous aphorism from The Gay Science, this fragment from the field of rubble that is his last work offers something like a final Socratic self-portrait, like an eerie mirror phantom. The philosopher as great educator to whom one must grant the enormous privileges of a great educator; who cannot be found out in the mastery of his pretence, inwardly beyond good and evil, but unrecognized by those closest to him: that is, undoubtedly, the image of the dying Socrates as The Gay Science had portrayed him five years earlier—but of a Socrates in whom even the Greeks have been overcome, who, unlike Nietzsche’s Socrates who “avenges himself on life” at the last moment, knows how to go over silently and thereby takes his place “in a higher order of spirits.”
At the same time, however, just as indubitably, it is the image of Zarathustra-Nietzsche, who alone believes himself to be, like Socrates, powerful enough to pull up long chains of generations up to his lonely heights. What does this encounter between Zarathustra and the dying Socrates in one and the same image mean? In the image of the one whose last act was to let his soul sing but let his word fall mute and magnanimously take a final secret with him? Is Nietzsche not offering a confession here, veiled three times in extreme reserve? Was he the more high-minded Socrates who did not share with any Crito those ridiculous and horrible “last words” that indicated that life was an illness? Did he, who had lived cheerfully and like a soldier before everyone’s eyes, keep silent that he, too, was a pessimist, that he, too, had merely put on a brave face toward life and all his life had concealed his final judgment, his innermost feeling? Was it his silence, that enormous privilege of the great educator, who never says what he thinks himself but only what he thinks about a matter in relation to the usefulness it has for those he is educating? Was just this pretense, which no one was permitted to suspect, the mastery that fostered belief in his honesty? Was he beyond good and evil, that is: beyond life (in which he stood with one foot, as he admitted in Ecce homo)? Was his ultimate Dionysian panegyric to life, and only to life, the form of silence under the guise of which a great educator for life did not believe in life? And did he not indeed finally take his revenge with that veiled, horrible, pious and blasphemous gesture, Ecce homo? “But no one is allowed to know that.”
Only one thing is certain: if Nietzsche, in and despite all of his proud and horrible solitude, truly was this Socratic philosopher in The Will to Power, the philosopher as a born great educator, then he occupied that role as an equally born tragic hero, for owing to his contradictory Nordic-Hellenic nature he was unable to find or to keep the personal pupils he so desperately sought all his life. And perhaps this impossibility is rooted in what his last words kept silent, what “no one could know.” It has been said, as a way of explaining away the spectacle of this awful contradiction, that Nietzsche’s extreme individualism fundamentally spurned the category of “disciple,” just as, despite Zarathustra, he rejected the name of “prophet” or “religious leader” for himself. Unlike even the solitary Schopenhauer, so goes this claim, he studiously refused any kind of discipleship.
As evidence for this view, people have pointed to passages in which the rigorous will to the absolute solitude of intellectual reclusion appears to have overcome all other inclinations and temptations; in which he speaks with contempt of any sort of discipleship. For instance, in the truly ghastly letter to his sister from Nice in March 1885:
“Do you really believe that Stein’s writings, which I would not have done even during the period of my worst Wagnerianism and Schopenhauer- mania, possess anything resembling the importance of the enormous task that rests on me? . . . Or do you think that it befits my dignity to beg for his friendship? I am much too proud ever to believe that a person could love me. For that would presuppose that he would know who I am. Nor do I believe that I will ever love anyone: this would presuppose that—miracle of miracles!—I would one day find a person of my rank. . . . I have never had a confidant and friend for what preoccupies, troubles, uplifts me: it is too bad that there is no God so that at least Someone would know.”
Or, more quietly and less Byronically, in letters to friends: “It cannot be quiet and high and solitary enough around me for me to hear my innermost voices!” (1883 to Gersdorff).
“I have no one who knows about my work: no one, whom I would consider strong enough to help me. . . . I would destroy the one and ruin the other: just leave me in my solitude!!! . . . It was foolish of me recently to go ‘among the people’: I should have known beforehand what I would find there” (1884 to Malwida).
“I feel condemned to my solitude and fortress. There is no longer any choice. What still commands me to live, namely an unusual and difficult mission, also commands me to avoid people and to form no more human attachments. It may be because of the extreme scrupulousness which that very mission has forced on me that I can no longer stand ‘people,’ least of all ‘young people,’ who very often plague me (—oh, they are demanding and clumsy, like puppies!)” (1887 to Malwida).
A rebuff that appears, in stylized form, in Zarathustra’s farewell at the conclusion of the first part and recurs at the end of the foreword to Ecce homo: “I am going now alone, my disciples! You, too, are now going away and alone! That is how I want it.
“Verily, I say unto you: go forth from me . . . perhaps Zarathustra has deceived you.
“You say you believe in Zarathustra? But what does Zarathustra matter? You are my believers; but what do all the believers matter? . . .
“Now I command you, lose me and find yourselves. And only when you have all forsaken me do I intend to return to you.”
That is certainly the most anti-Socratic attitude of an exemplary man one can imagine.
The letters to Gast document this Socratic envy of the Sophistic Wagner: “It disgusts me that Zarathustra has entered the world as a book of entertainment; who is serious enough for it! If I had the authority of the ‘final Wagner,’ things would be better. But now no one can save me from being thrown to the ‘belletrists.’”
“With respect to the real Wagner, I still want to be in large measure his heir. . . . Last summer I felt that he had taken from me all the people in Germany on whom it made any sense to have an effect . . .”(1883 to Gast).
That is not how someone speaks who, in exalted self-sufficiency, consoles himself with posthumous mastery; only the Socratic man speaks thus, for whom life without a person-to-person effect in the present is a mistake. With almost Socratic words, Nietzsche expresses his Socratic destiny as early as the year of his decisive separation from his once revered master, exactly at the moment his own masterly maturity begins: he calls himself, as Socrates might have done, a man hunter.
“I am always on the hunt for men, like a Corsair; but not to sell these men into slavery, but to sell me with them into freedom” (1876 to Seydlitz). “If a man has no sons, then he does not fully have the right to have a say concerning the needs of a single political body,” he had already written in Human.
“To have descendents—only then does a man become steady, consistent and capable of making sacrifices: it is the best education. . . . Only our works and pupils lend the ship of our life its compass and great direction,” in the Notebooks to The Gay Science. But only after the moment that his former master closes his eyes does Nietzsche feel he is his legitimate heir and successor (“Wagner’s death is a great relief to me”), and precisely from that moment on, ever since the Zarathustra year, which is not entirely coincidentally the year of Wagner’s death, there is also in Nietzsche’s most personal utterances a proliferation of calls for pupils and heirs to his life, testimony of a consuming desire for an immediate human effect:
“What I envy Epicurus are his pupils in his garden; indeed, there one can already forget noble Greece, and there one might forget ignoble Germany! And thus my fury ever since I understood, in the broadest sense, what pathetic means (disparaging my reputation, my character, my intentions) suffice to rob me of the confidence and thus the possibility of pupils. I trust that you will believe that I have not written one line ‘for the sake of fame’: but I thought my writings could be a good bait. For in the end: the urge to teach is strong in me. And for that reason I need even fame so that I will obtain pupils . . .” (1883 to Gast).
“Put briefly, I need disciples while I am still alive: and if my previous books do not act as fishing rods, then they have ‘missed their calling.’ The best and essential things can be communicated only from person to person, they cannot and should not be ‘public’” (1884 to Overbeck).
“My desire for pupils and heirs occasionally makes me impatient and has, it seems, led me to some imbecilities in the last few years that were extremely dangerous” (1885 to Overbeck).
“It may be that I always secretly believed that at the point in my life that I have reached I would no longer be alone: that by then I would have received vows and oaths from many people, that I would have something to found and to organize, and similar thoughts with which I consoled myself over periods of terrible loneliness. In the interim, everything turned out differently. It is all still too early . . .”(1884 to Overbeck).
Even the unconditional surrender that, particularly with regard to Wagner’s following, had so often appeared suspect to him, even that he no longer scorns, in fact, he would encourage it. If he had already written in Human, characteristically enough, but still impersonally, that the influence of a man and his work had never been great without blindly devoted pupils, if the young Nietzsche during the Tribschen period thinks that all cultivation begins with obedience, now this demand becomes deeply personally tinged: “By ‘disciple,’” he writes to Malwida in 1884, “I would understand a person who would make an unconditional vow to me—and there would have to be a long trial period and difficult tests.”
When, after Zarathustra, it seemed for a moment as if he had found this unconditionally devoted disciple during the visit in Engadin in the summer of 1884 by the young Wagner-enthusiast Heinrich von Stein, what a transport of happiness! What moving gratitude for the deceptive momentary image of a life’s work and mission in the practical educative role of teaching and forming someone face-to-face! “The experience of the summer was the visit by Baron Stein,” Nietzsche writes to Overbeck; “he is a splendid example of a human being and a man, and I understand and like him because of his fundamentally heroic temper. Finally, finally someone new who belongs to me and instinctively feels reverence for me! . . . In his presence I always keenly felt what kind of practical task would be part of my life’s mission if only I had enough younger people of a very particular quality!—in the meantime, it is still impossible to speak of it, as indeed I have not spoken of it to anyone.
It was the mask of his own Dionysian-Socratic mastery, the mask of the disciple-seeking god, whose mastery lies in knowing how to seem. But it was at the same time the coveted phantom of being a genius of the heart that lived in him only as a wish and painfully distant dream, not as an ability and divine presence. For, to be sure, these disciples, these Socratic pupils of his dreams, were forever denied to Nietzsche because they were necessarily denied to him, owing to an inner barrier that he was unable to transform into a threshold, owing to an ultimate individualism, that is, an ultimate indivisibility, an incommunicability of the individual, of which Nietzsche possessed a melancholy awareness." [Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology]
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was one of the most forceful philosophical writers of modern times, influencing many philosophers as well as figures in the creative arts, literature, and politics. He virtually originated concepts like nihilism, the will to power, and eternal recurrence. This is not the place to analyze Nietzsche's thought and writing but to explore his concept and use of solitude and his presentation of the solitary as a new thinker on the horizon of history.
Solitude in Nietzsche can be approached in at least three ways: 1) as an aspect of his personal and professional life, voluntary and involuntary, 2) Nietzsche's personal use of solitude as a creative person, and 3) his concept of solitude as a philosophical and existential state of being for the individual. The first two approaches tend to converge. All three will be touched upon here.
Nietzsche was not a philosopher by profession but a brilliant student first, then for ten years professor of philology in a university before his retirement due to health problems that were to plague him through his mental collapse in 1889. Studying in a rigorous boarding school where Greek and Latin were not only taught but read, written, and spoken by the students, and a brilliant university student and professor, Nietzsche was to have little patience with the philosophers he read, and turned to ancient modes of thought and expression for his models. His writings range from deductive , discursive and aphoristic essays, to the grand drama of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, to autobiographical sketches in Ecce Homo, his last lucid work. His chief works are Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals. The writings are characterized by scintillating insight, wit, logic, and irony, and filled with many literary devices and layers of creative masks or personas. Nietzsche is complex and subtle but forceful and provocative. He is easily misunderstood and taken to represent whatever caricature many modern abusers have contrived to find in his concepts of nihilism, will to power, and the Ubermensch or Overman.
The personal and creative aspects of Nietzsche's solitude are clearly described by him. His pastor father died when Nietzsche was five, and the widow and her young children (son and daughter) lost their ancestral home. Young Friedrich grew up among female relatives with whom he shared little. He was a studious but friendless youth. Nietzsche was to later make statements of an unmitigated misogynist; he never married, plunging into his creative work while plagued with racking migraines that forced his retirement on a modest pension and separated him from social circles.
That his personal solitude involved a hidden and solitary aspect of his outward and literary persona was observed by psychologist Carl Jung in speaking of himself:
I was held back by a secret fear that I might perhaps be like him [Nietzsche], at least in regard to the "secret" which had isolated him from his environment. Perhaps, who knows? he had had inner experiences, insights which he had unfortunately talked about, and had found out that no one understood him.
But Sigmund Freud, in rare praise, noted that Nietzsche "had a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any other man who ever lived or was ever likely to live." Nietzsche's sincerity in pursuing all the paths and possibilities of the mind, of reason and insight, and of the makings of himself, characterizes thorough-going and inevitable solitude. This personal solitude is built in part on his physical maladies and his unorthodox ideas as much as on his personality, and presents a heroic uniqueness among philosophers and thinkers in general.
Nietzsche himself was acutely aware of his psychological isolation, and joked to a correspondent that he was the "hermit of Sils-Maria," referring to the Swiss town of his summer residence during most of the last ten years of his lucid life. To another correspondent, however, he was more sober:
I go into solitude so as not to drink out of everybody's cistern. When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think I really think. After a time it always seems as if they want to banish my self from myself and rob me of my soul.
In autobiographical passages, the mingling of personality and creativity is clear, as when Nietzsche writes positively of the energy to choose absolute solitude and lead the life to which I had become accustomed ... I need solitude, which is to say, recovery, return to my self, the breath of a free, light, playful air.
Solitude safeguarded Nietzsche's inspirational and creative source, his "hidden aspect," as Jung noted. Moreover, solitude naturally complemented his personality. One must avoid chance and outside stimuli as much as possible; a kind of walling oneself in belongs among the foremost instinctive precautions of spiritual pregnancy.
Safeguarding "spiritual pregnancy" or the creative spirit was a priority for Nietzsche as it would be for any creative person. Certainly this was necessary for writing and studying. But on clear mornings (his favorite time was between ten o'clock and noon), Nietzsche thought it foolish to languish indoors reading a book, and he often walked vigorously for exercise in the mountains of Switzerland and northern Italy, where he lived. He claimed to have a careful diet, too, and was scrupulously clean, bathing at least daily.
But the unnamed sickness that provoked unrelieved headaches, eye pain, and stomach troubles, and which culminated in madness during his last twelve years, cannot be attributed to either his ideas or his solitary nature, attractive as these views have been to Nietzsche's enemies. But the tantalizing speculation that having done all he could at the end of his lucid days, Nietzsche deliberately or unconsciously entered irreversibly into a complete mental solitude was first fueled by the remark of a friend and contemporary who, upon visiting Nietzsche during his later years wondered:
I cannot escape the ghastly suspicion ... that his madness is simulated. This impression can be explained only by the experiences I have had of Nietzsche's self-concealments, of his spiritual masks.
Or, as Nietzsche wrote in a draft of one of his last works: "I am solitude become man."
Solitude and philosophy
Nietzsche transformed personal and creative solitude into a philosophical instrument to critique and unmask the premises of tradition, culture, and society. As he put it in his autobiographical Ecce Homo: "I turned my will to health, my will to life, into philosophy." No longer a personal philosophy but neither a systematic philosophy in the style of Kant or Hegel, Nietzsche projected solitude as the model of thought and being for what he conceived to be a new category of thinker.
This new thinker of the future he calls the "free spirit." Eventually, the free spirit becomes the Higher Man or Overman -- the better translation of Ubermensche than Superman, with its image of savage power. In one sense, this new thinker is an informal member of a new Academy or Stoa, privileged by self-realization to be what Nietzsche calls one of the "born, sworn, jealous friends of solitude" (BG&E 51). And while the new thinker challenges all traditional thought and morality, Nietzsche does not omit an ethos for his new solitude, who is no mere libertine.
As for the meaning of the dangerous formula "beyond good and evil," with which we guard against being mistaken for others: we are something different from "freethinkers," and whatever else the goodly advocates of "modern ideas" like to call themselves (BG&E 44). Instead of projecting his ideas outward to culture and society, Nietzsche would have his model thinker turn inwardly. He considers his contemporaries "levelers" -- not in the social or even moral sense but in the intellectual and psychological. They are, as he puts it, "men without solitude, without personal solitude." They parrot culture and society in their ideas and writings and daily lives because they lack the ability or will to plumb their own being and derive meaning and ideas from a thorough-going examination of self -- which can only be achieved by cultivating solitude. In this such people are "slaves."
This does not mean that solitude is psychological remorse or resentment, or a way of punishing others or self. Nietzsche is keenly aware of false motives that can poison the soul of the solitary, as will be seen. As the commentator Horst Hutter succinctly puts it in his Shaping the Future: Nietzsche's New Regime of the Soul and Its Ascetic Practices, referring to Nietzsche's methodology:
Temporary retreats into solitude are the main part of the deconstructive aspect of self-shaping in which one could begin to dissolve one's own entrapment in a "slavish" identity. Withdrawals into solitude would make free spirits realize how they are caught in resentment and the desire for revenge that inform the institutions and interaction rituals of modern societies. Solitude would permit someone to avoid being continually re-infected by these strong negative emotions. It would open an individual's deeply rooted line of fate and would show the means by which a "slavish" self could be dissolved.
Nietzsche's bold ideas and provocative language were not meant to equip a tyrannical elite but to free the individual by legitimizing solitude. Thus when Nietzsche spoke of "slavish" morality, or of contemporary Europe's "herding-animal morality," or of the "timidity of the herd" and the need for new "commanders and law-givers" and of "Viking morality" -- when he concluded that "Wherever is the crowd is a common denominator of stench" -- he gives provocative vent to his repugnance at what culture has done in the name of morality. He repudiates society's abhorrence of the solitary who dares to point this out, its abhorrence of the free spirit, of the one who questions society's rituals and its hypocrisies of class, ranks, and morals. The solitary is he who challenges society's desire to turn the human being into an "absolutely gregarious animal."
Living as a solitary
Thus Nietzsche not only advocated solitude as a psychological utility or even a life-style but perceived solitude as the logical position of anyone who had unmasked society. As he puts it in his essay "Schopenhauer as Educator," first reflecting on personal and "professional" solitude:
No one who possesses true friends knows what true solitude is, even though he have the whole world around him for his enemies. Ah, I well understand that you [the reader] do not know what solitude is. Where there have been powerful societies, governments, religions, public opinions, in short , wherever there has been tyranny, there the solitary philosopher has been hated, for philosophy offers an asylum to a man into which no tyranny can force its way, the inward cave, the labyrinth of the heart, and that annoys the tyrants.
There is great risk in wanting to live and think like a solitary, for outwardly, the solitary is expected to conform to culture and popular opinion, to ties of "blood, residence, education, fatherland, chance, the importunity of others." For this reason, the solitary's temptation is resentment and revenge-taking, as already mentioned.
The solitary can emerge from a cave wearing a "terrifying aspect." This is why society resents, isolates, and stigmatizes the solitary. Nietzsche points to the inevitable persecution of the Christian mystics by Church authorities. As he writes in Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "Man is the cruelest of animals. At tragedies, bullfights, and crucifixions has he hitherto been happiest on earth. And when he invented his hell, behold, that was his heaven on earth" (Zarathustra 224).
Yet it is the solitary who is free, while the masses have renounced their will and allowed themselves to become "slavish." To bolster the struggle of the solitary, commentator Hutter extrapolates Nietzsche's recommendations.
In solitude, the three mechanisms by which slavishness is maintained would become visible and their dissolution would become possible. These mechanisms are: a) the quite natural identification of a self with all its negative emotions, b) a self's constant anxious considering of the opinions that others hold of it, and c) a self's captivity in the fast and furious pace of modern life that pressures everyone into becoming a workaholic busybody. Solitude makes again possible the practices of contemplation, which puts a self in touch with its own deep sources of wellness.
In describing the free spirit, Nietzsche sometimes appears to simply be safeguarding personal autonomy or independence. This lengthy passage (BG&E 41, broken down here into numbered points) outlines fundamental practices that amount to prerequisites for cultivating and strengthening solitude, not merely safeguarding it.
1. Not to cleave to a person, not even the most beloved. Everyone is a prison and a nook [i.e., a terminating point]. 2. Not to cleave to a fatherland, not even the most suffering and needful. It is even less difficult to sever one's heart from a victorious fatherland. 3. Not to remain stuck in pitying or sympathizing, not even sympathizing higher men [i.e., free spirits], into whose peculiar torture and helplessness chance has given us an insight. 4. Not to cleave to a science though it entice with its great discoveries seemingly reserved just for oneself. 5. Not to cling to one's own liberation or detachment, to that voluptuous remoteness of the bird that ever flies further aloft in order to see more below it -- the danger of the flier. 6. Not to cleave to one's own virtues nor become as a whole a victim to any one of our characteristics, such as hospitality - the danger of dangers for highly developed souls, rich souls who expend themselves lavishly in apparent indifference to themselves, making of their virtue of generosity a vice.
Concludes Nietzsche in this passage: "One must know how to conserve oneself: the hardest test of independence."
For Nietzsche, then, solitude is the foil against corrupt society and the asserting of a higher level of values. In this passage, sympathy refers to appreciation.
To remain master of one's four virtues: courage, insight, sympathy, and solitude. For solitude is a virtue with us, as a sublime bent and bias to purity, which divines that in the contact of man and man, in society, it must be unavoidably impure. All society makes one somehow, somewhere, or sometime, common (BG&E, 284).
But having achieved a level of solitude not merely utilitarian but what Nietzsche calls a virtue, he can point to a process or state of what today would be called self-realization or self-actualization. "Choose the solitude," he recommends, "the free, playful, light solitude, that gives you, too, the right to remain good in some sense." Nietzsche elaborates: Some people are so used to solitude with themselves that they never compare themselves to others but spin forth their monologue of a life in a calm, joyous mood, holding good conversations with themselves, even laughing.
The key to a stable solitude is what psychology simply calls self-esteem. One of the reasons Nietzsche inveighs so vigorously against authority and tyranny, even against society and popular morality, is society's constant attempt to destroy individual self-esteem and capture it for its own uses. The result is alienation and the fragmentation of self, with all its attendant psychological problems. Solitaries must recognize this and strengthen themselves against it. But if they are made to compare themselves with others, they tend to a brooding underestimation of their selves, so that they have to be forced to learn again from others to have a good, fair opinion of themselves. And even from this learned opinion they will always want to detract or reduce something. ... Thus one must grant certain men their solitude and not be foolish enough, as often happens, to pity them for it (Human, All Too Human, 6250). The tension, therefore, is between self and society, which is often turned by society into the conflict of selves against selves, for its own nefarious purposes. As Nietzsche wrote in Mixed Opinions:
The origins of mores may be found in two thoughts" "Society is worth more than the individual," and "enduring advantage is to be preferred to ephemeral advantage." A true solitary, Nietzsche never thought of his work as something intended to change the world. "The last thing I should promise would be to 'improve' mankind," he remarked. "I smash no idols." Referring to his persona of Zarathustra, Nietzsche comments:
It is no fanatic that speaks here; this is not "preaching"; no faith is demanded here: from an infinite abundance of light and depth of happiness falls drop upon drop, word upon word. But solitary path can be the burden of knowing well, of seeing clearly in the ways of society and the world. In the preface to Joyful Wisdom, Nietzsche concedes that the trials of "this radical retreat into solitude as a self-defense against a contempt for men that had become pathologically clairvoyant." He admits of the "undiscovered solitude that among us is called life but might just as well be called death" (Joyful Wisdom, 365).
Even as he descended into the darkness of mental illness, after suffering years of physical agony, Nietzsche was able to write:
On this perfect day, when everything is ripening and not only the grape turns brown, the eye of the sun just fell upon my life: I looked back, I looked forward, and never saw so many and such good things at once. ... How could I fail to be grateful to my whole life?
Nietzsche is a complex and provocative thinker, but he is a clear advocate of the role of solitude in every level of human activity, from philosophical and psychological to creative and societal. He was profoundly insightful of human psychology, in part because he was not engulfed in society or ideology, and could see clearly and in a detached but engaged way. His fearless clarity and willingness to explore topics to their logical endpoint makes his contribution to the concept and practice of solitude unique, valuable, and enduring.
Gender : Posts : 21911 Join date : 2009-08-24 Age : 54 Location : Flux
Convoluted language games, the desire to seem complex so as to mask your simplicity and to merely reinvent what has been tried and failed, so as to seem unique and innovative, obfuscating and misusing words, trying to mystify and recruit the weakness in the audience to feed into your empty ego-driven vanity...are all symptoms of degeneracy.
Anyone who uses symbols/words to cloud rather than clarify, is a hypocrite and a lair, hiding his insecurity, anxiety and inner void in insinuating linguistic mind-games.
Intellectual integrity in philosophy is about clarifying the muddy waters of the mind, not to add to the murkiness with more dirt. The proper usage of symbols/words so that they connect the noumenon, the mind to the phenomenon, the apparent, the world, is the process of clarifying, and clearing the mind of ignorance, emotionalism, and anxiety driven delusions. Those who practice such deplorable womanly methods have no right to call themselves "philosophers". they might be convincing actors, sellers of goods, clever manipulators, priests of the lowest kind, or politicians, but they certainty are not philosophers of any merit.
_________________ γνῶθι σεαυτόν μηδέν άγαν
Gender : Posts : 2398 Join date : 2012-04-28 Age : 28 Location : A stone.
In our youthful years we still venerate and despise without the art of NUANCE, which is the best gain of life, and we have rightly to do hard penance for having fallen upon men and things with Yea and Nay. Everything is so arranged that the worst of all tastes, THE TASTE FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL, is cruelly befooled and abused, until a man learns to introduce a little art into his sentiments, and prefers to try conclusions with the artificial, as do the real artists of life. The angry and reverent spirit peculiar to youth appears to allow itself no peace, until it has suitably falsified men and things, to be able to vent its passion upon them: youth in itself even, is something falsifying and deceptive. Later on, when the young soul, tortured by continual disillusions, finally turns suspiciously against itself--still ardent and savage even in its suspicion and remorse of conscience: how it upbraids itself, how impatiently it tears itself, how it revenges itself for its long self-blinding, as though it had been a voluntary blindness! In this transition one punishes oneself by distrust of one's sentiments; one tortures one's enthusiasm with doubt, one feels even the good conscience to be a danger, as if it were the self-concealment and lassitude of a more refined uprightness; and above all, one espouses upon principle the cause AGAINST "youth."--A decade later, and one comprehends that all this was also still--youth!
A youthful mind says yes and no. Nuance is a mature countenance of the world, such to know your own place within and to recognize the potential for good or ill in all. The binary yea/nay is coincidental with absent absolutes. Its only by fully paying the price for a principle or pride, that one can say they have no naive conception. When liberals today say they pay a price for their communism, they mean that a society at large of which they are a part of pays the price and so they do, personally. (Minds)
This said.. I tried to take this quote as someone saying to lighten up on my own sentiment. And how could it be wrong? My sentiment is no more absolute than I am. Personification and anthropogenic features are abundant in even imagery of gods and deities.
A Christian conception would say to bear the costs of a greater standard, even if it means humiliation and dishonor, because in the future it will be heaven. But it appears the idea of a resurrection means we will be hedonist in our spirit and not our own apotheosis, funneling the glory away from what choice we had except to that who was the last martyr.
Gender : Posts : 2622 Join date : 2013-01-09 Age : 34 Location : Gleichgewicht
Every sarcasm has truth to it, and where was his response, if he was not serious? One can connect language to reality as a method of killing the overly sickening comfort and flattery the Jew speaks by its own self-abasement, and strive for it - but language is not governed by a divine power which preserves itself in the minds of a collective. The belief that one can, without associative anger to lying affronts to the social/language commons, prevent the frame of demand for inversion or annihilation of the associated concepts without aggressive pushback (when immature), is to doom it to that flipped or annihilated result. After maturity, sure, there can be the growls of masculine threat which acts as a linguistic bulwark - pinging or dematerializing deceptions away like a ship's forcefield does minute rocks; but all structures of indifference have an active structure, a history of an active one, behind/below supporting it.
Jews did not have a presence behind the frontlines of European pre-Christendom, so their 'ancientness' is not so much more ancient than holdover Pagan tradition.