The Birth of Tragedy

Posted by: Candace Elizabeth Brooks (a.k.a. Ariadne Phoenix Levinson), Uptown Dallas Art Collective Editor in Chief

Posted by: Candace Elizabeth Brooks (a.k.a. Ariadne Phoenix Levinson), Uptown Dallas Art Collective Editor in Chief

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Birth of Tragedy, by Friedrich Nietzsche This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you’ll have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook. Title: The Birth of Tragedy or Hellenism and Pessimism Author: Friedrich Nietzsche Editor: Oscar Levy Translator: William August Haussmann Release Date: March 4, 2016 [EBook #51356] Language: English Character set encoding: UTF-8 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY *** Produced by Marc D’Hooghe at http://www.freeliterature.org (Images generously made available by the Hathi Trust.)

THE

BIRTH OF TRAGEDY

OR

HELLENISM AND PESSIMISM

By

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

TRANSLATED BY

WM. A. HAUSSMANN, PH.D.

The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche

The First Complete and Authorised English Translation

Edited by Dr Oscar Levy

Volume One

T.N. FOULIS

13 & 15 FREDERICK STREET

EDINBURGH: AND LONDON

1910


CONTENTS.
BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION
AN ATTEMPT AT SELF-CRITICISM
FOREWORD TO RICHARD WAGNER
THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY


INTRODUCTION.[1]

Frederick Nietzsche was born at Röcken near Lützen, in the Prussian province of Saxony, on the 15th of October 1844, at 10 a.m. The day happened to be the anniversary of the birth of Frederick-William IV., then King of Prussia, and the peal of the local church-bells which was intended to celebrate this event, was, by a happy coincidence, just timed to greet my brother on his entrance into the world. In 1841, at the time when our father was tutor to the Altenburg Princesses, Theresa of Saxe-Altenburg, Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Olden-burg, and Alexandra, Grand Duchess Constantine of Russia, he had had the honour of being presented to his witty and pious sovereign. The meeting seems to have impressed both parties very favourably; for, very shortly after it had taken place, our father received his living at Röcken “by supreme command.” His joy may well be imagined, therefore, when a first son was born to him on his beloved[Pg i] and august patron’s birthday, and at the christening ceremony he spoke as follows:—”Thou blessed month of October!—for many years the most decisive events in my life have occurred within thy thirty-one days, and now I celebrate the greatest and most glorious of them all by baptising my little boy! O blissful moment! O exquisite festival! O unspeakably holy duty! In the Lord’s name I bless thee!—With all my heart I utter these words: Bring me this, my beloved child, that I may consecrate it unto the Lord. My son, Frederick William, thus shalt thou be named on earth, as a memento of my royal benefactor on whose birthday thou wast born!”

Our father was thirty-one years of age, and our mother not quite nineteen, when my brother was born. Our mother, who was the daughter of a clergyman, was good-looking and healthy, and was one of a very large family of sons and daughters. Our paternal grandparents, the Rev. Oehler and his wife, in Pobles, were typically healthy people. Strength, robustness, lively dispositions, and a cheerful outlook on life, were among the qualities which every one was pleased to observe in them. Our grandfather Oehler was a bright, clever man, and quite the old style of comfortable country parson, who thought it no sin to go hunting. He scarcely had a day’s illness in his life, and would certainly not have met with his end as early as he did—that is to say, before his seventieth year—if his careless disregard of all caution, where his health was concerned, had not led to his catching a severe and fatal cold. In regard to our[Pg ii] grand-mother Oehler, who died in her eighty-second year, all that can be said is, that if all German women were possessed of the health she enjoyed, the German nation would excel all others from the standpoint of vitality. She bore our grandfather eleven children; gave each of them the breast for nearly the whole of its first year, and reared them all It is said that the sight of these eleven children, at ages varying from nineteen years to one month, with their powerful build, rosy cheeks, beaming eyes, and wealth of curly locks, provoked the admiration of all visitors. Of course, despite their extraordinarily good health, the life of this family was not by any means all sunshine. Each of the children was very spirited, wilful, and obstinate, and it was therefore no simple matter to keep them in order. Moreover, though they always showed the utmost respect and most implicit obedience to their parents—even as middle-aged men and women—misunderstandings between themselves were of constant occurrence. Our Oehler grandparents were fairly well-to-do; for our grandmother hailed from a very old family, who had been extensive land-owners in the neighbourhood of Zeitz for centuries, and her father owned the baronial estate of Wehlitz and a magnificent seat near Zeitz in Pacht. When she married, her father gave her carriages and horses, a coachman, a cook, and a kitchenmaid, which for the wife of a German minister was then, and is still, something quite exceptional. As a result of the wars in the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, our great-grandfather lost the greater part of his property.

[Pg iii]

Our father’s family was also in fairly comfortable circumstances, and likewise very large. Our grandfather Dr. Nietzsche (D.D. and Superintendent) married twice, and had in all twelve children, of whom three died young. Our grandfather on this side, whom I never knew, must certainly have been a distinguished, dignified, very learned and reserved man; his second wife—our beloved grandmother—was an active-minded, intelligent, and exceptionally good-natured woman. The whole of our father’s family, which I only got to know when they were very advanced in years, were remarkable for their great power of self-control, their lively interest in intellectual matters, and a strong sense of family unity, which manifested itself both in their splendid readiness to help one another and in their very excellent relations with each other. Our father was the youngest son, and, thanks to his uncommonly lovable disposition, together with other gifts, which only tended to become more marked as he grew older, he was quite the favourite of the family. Blessed with a thoroughly sound constitution, as all averred who knew him at the convent-school in Rossleben, at the University, or later at the ducal court of Altenburg, he was tall and slender, possessed an undoubted gift for poetry and real musical talent, and was moreover a man of delicate sensibilities, full of consideration for his whole family, and distinguished in his manners.

My brother often refers to his Polish descent, and in later years he even instituted research-work with the view of establishing it, which met with partial success. I know nothing definite concerning these[Pg iv] investigations, because a large number of valuable documents were unfortunately destroyed after his breakdown in Turin. The family tradition was that a certain Polish nobleman Nicki (pronounced Nietzky) had obtained the special favour of Augustus the Strong, King of Poland, and had received the rank of Earl from him. When, however, Stanislas Leszcysski the Pole became king, our supposed ancestor became involved in a conspiracy in favour of the Saxons and Protestants. He was sentenced to death; but, taking flight, according to the evidence of the documents, he was ultimately befriended by a certain Earl of Brühl, who gave him a small post in an obscure little provincial town. Occasionally our aged aunts would speak of our great-grandfather Nietzsche, who was said to have died in his ninety-first year, and words always seemed to fail them when they attempted to describe his handsome appearance, good breeding, and vigour. Our ancestors, both on the Nietzsche and the Oehler side, were very long-lived. Of the four pairs of great-grandparents, one great-grandfather reached the age of ninety, five great-grandmothers and-fathers died between eighty-two and eighty-six years of age, and two only failed to reach their seventieth year.

The sorrow which hung as a cloud over our branch of the family was our father’s death, as the result of a heavy fall, at the age of thirty-eight. One night, upon leaving some friends whom he had accompanied home, he was met at the door of the vicarage by our little dog. The little animal must have got between his feet, for he stumbled and fell[Pg v] backwards down seven stone steps on to the paving-stones of the vicarage courtyard. As a result of this fall, he was laid up with concussion of the brain, and, after a lingering illness, which lasted eleven months, he died on the 30th of July 1849. The early death of our beloved and highly-gifted father spread gloom over the whole of our childhood. In 1850 our mother withdrew with us to Naumburg on the Saale, where she took up her abode with our widowed grandmother Nietzsche; and there she brought us up with Spartan severity and simplicity, which, besides being typical of the period, was quite de rigeur in her family. Of course, Grand-mamma Nietzsche helped somewhat to temper her daughter-in-law’s severity, and in this respect our Oehler grandparents, who were less rigorous with us, their eldest grandchildren, than with their own children, were also very influential. Grandfather Oehler was the first who seems to have recognised the extraordinary talents of his eldest grandchild.

From his earliest childhood upwards, my brother was always strong and healthy; he often declared that he must have been taken for a peasant-boy throughout his childhood and youth, as he was so plump, brown, and rosy. The thick fair hair which fell picturesquely over his shoulders tended somewhat to modify his robust appearance. Had he not possessed those wonderfully beautiful, large, and expressive eyes, however, and had he not been so very ceremonious in his manner, neither his teachers nor his relatives would ever have noticed anything at all remarkable about the boy; for he was both modest and reserved.

[Pg vi]

He received his early schooling at a preparatory school, and later at a grammar school in Naumburg. In the autumn of 1858, when he was fourteen years of age, he entered the Pforta school, so famous for the scholars it has produced. There, too, very severe discipline prevailed, and much was exacted from the pupils, with the view of inuring them to great mental and physical exertions. Thus, if my brother seems to lay particular stress upon the value of rigorous training, free from all sentimentality, it should be remembered that he speaks from experience in this respect. At Pforta he followed the regular school course, and he did not enter a university until the comparatively late age of twenty. His extraordinary gifts manifested themselves chiefly in his independent and private studies and artistic efforts. As a boy his musical talent had already been so noticeable, that he himself and other competent judges were doubtful as to whether he ought not perhaps to devote himself altogether to music. It is, however, worth noting that everything he did in his later years, whether in Latin, Greek, or German work, bore the stamp of perfection—subject of course to the limitation imposed upon him by his years. His talents came very suddenly to the fore, because he had allowed them to grow for such a long time in concealment. His very first performance in philology, executed while he was a student under Ritschl, the famous philologist, was also typical of him in this respect, seeing that it was ordered to be printed for the Rheinische Museum. Of course this was done amid general and grave expressions of doubt; for, as Dr. Ritschl often declared,[Pg vii] it was an unheard-of occurrence for a student in his third term to prepare such an excellent treatise.

Being a great lover of out-door exercise, such as swimming, skating, and walking, he developed into a very sturdy lad. Rohde gives the following description of him as a student: with his healthy complexion, his outward and inner cleanliness, his austere chastity and his solemn aspect, he was the image of that delightful youth described by Adalbert Stifter.

Though as a child he was always rather serious, as a lad and a man he was ever inclined to see the humorous side of things, while his whole being, and everything he said or did, was permeated by an extraordinary harmony. He belonged to the very few who could control even a bad mood and conceal it from others. All his friends are unanimous in their praise of his exceptional evenness of temper and behaviour, and his warm, hearty, and pleasant laugh that seemed to come from the very depths of his benevolent and affectionate nature. In him it might therefore be said, nature had produced a being who in body and spirit was a harmonious whole: his unusual intellect was fully in keeping with his uncommon bodily strength.

The only abnormal thing about him, and something which we both inherited from our father, was short-sightedness, and this was very much aggravated in my brother’s case, even in his earliest schooldays, owing to that indescribable anxiety to learn which always characterised him. When one listens to accounts given by his friends and schoolfellows, one is startled by the multiplicity of his studies even in his schooldays.

[Pg viii]

In the autumn of 1864, he began his university life in Bonn, and studied philology and theology; at the end of six months he gave up theology, and in the autumn of 1865 followed his famous teacher Ritschl to the University of Leipzig. There he became an ardent philologist, and diligently sought to acquire a masterly grasp of this branch of knowledge. But in this respect it would be unfair to forget that the school of Pforta, with its staff of excellent teachers—scholars that would have adorned the chairs of any University—had already afforded the best of preparatory trainings to any one intending to take up philology as a study, more particularly as it gave all pupils ample scope to indulge any individual tastes they might have for any particular branch of ancient history. The last important Latin thesis which my brother wrote for the Landes-Schule, Pforta, dealt with the Megarian poet Theognis, and it was in the rôle of a lecturer on this very subject that, on the 18th January 1866, he made his first appearance in public before the philological society he had helped to found in Leipzig. The paper he read disclosed his investigations on the subject of Theognis the moralist and aristocrat, who, as is well known, described and dismissed the plebeians of his time in terms of the heartiest contempt The aristocratic ideal, which was always so dear to my brother, thus revealed itself for the first time. Moreover, curiously enough, it was precisely this scientific thesis which was the cause of Ritschl’s recognition of my brother and fondness for him.

The whole of his Leipzig days proved of the[Pg ix] utmost importance to my brother’s career. There he was plunged into the very midst of a torrent of intellectual influences which found an impressionable medium in the fiery youth, and to which he eagerly made himself accessible. He did not, however, forget to discriminate among them, but tested and criticised the currents of thought he encountered, and selected accordingly. It is certainly of great importance to ascertain what those influences precisely were to which he yielded, and how long they maintained their sway over him, and it is likewise necessary to discover exactly when the matured mind threw off these fetters in order to work out its own salvation.

The influences that exercised power over him in those days may be described in the three following terms: Hellenism, Schopenhauer, Wagner. His love of Hellenism certainly led him to philology; but, as a matter of fact, what concerned him most was to obtain a wide view of things in general, and this he hoped to derive from that science; philology in itself, with his splendid method and thorough way of going to work, served him only as a means to an end.

If Hellenism was the first strong influence which already in Pforta obtained a sway over my brother, in the winter of 1865-66, a completely new, and therefore somewhat subversive, influence was introduced into his life with Schopenhauer’s philosophy. When he reached Leipzig in the autumn of 1865, he was very downcast; for the experiences that had befallen him during his one year of student life in Bonn had deeply depressed him. He had[Pg x] sought at first to adapt himself to his surroundings there, with the hope of ultimately elevating them to his lofty views on things; but both these efforts proved vain, and now he had come to Leipzig with the purpose of framing his own manner of life. It can easily be imagined how the first reading of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Idea worked upon this man, still stinging from the bitterest experiences and disappointments. He writes: “Here I saw a mirror in which I espied the world, life, and my own nature depicted with frightful grandeur.” As my brother, from his very earliest childhood, had always missed both the parent and the educator through our father’s untimely death, he began to regard Schopenhauer with almost filial love and respect. He did not venerate him quite as other men did; Schopenhauer’s personality was what attracted and enchanted him. From the first he was never blind to the faults in his master’s system, and in proof of this we have only to refer to an essay he wrote in the autumn of 1867, which actually contains a criticism of Schopenhauer’s philosophy.

Now, in the autumn of 1865, to these two influences, Hellenism and Schopenhauer, a third influence was added—one which was to prove the strongest ever exercised over my brother—and it began with his personal introduction to Richard Wagner. He was introduced to Wagner by the latter’s sister, Frau Professor Brockhaus, and his description of their first meeting, contained in a letter to Erwin Rohde, is really most affecting. For years, that is to say, from the time Billow’s[Pg xi] arrangement of Tristan and Isolde for the pianoforte, had appeared, he had already been a passionate admirer of Wagner’s music; but now that the artist himself entered upon the scene of his life, with the whole fascinating strength of his strong will, my brother felt that he was in the presence of a being whom he, of all modern men, resembled most in regard to force of character.

Again, in the case of Richard Wagner, my brother, from the first, laid the utmost stress upon the man’s personality, and could only regard his works and views as an expression of the artist’s whole being, despite the fact that he by no means understood every one of those works at that time. My brother was the first who ever manifested such enthusiastic affection for Schopenhauer and Wagner, and he was also the first of that numerous band of young followers who ultimately inscribed the two great names upon their banner. Whether Schopenhauer and Wagner ever really corresponded to the glorified pictures my brother painted of them, both in his letters and other writings, is a question which we can no longer answer in the affirmative. Perhaps what he saw in them was only what he himself wished to be some day.

The amount of work my brother succeeded in accomplishing, during his student days, really seems almost incredible. When we examine his record for the years 1865-67, we can scarcely believe it refers to only two years’ industry, for at a guess no one would hesitate to suggest four years at least. But in those days, as he himself[Pg xii] declares, he still possessed the constitution of a bear. He knew neither what headaches nor indigestion meant, and, despite his short sight, his eyes were able to endure the greatest strain without giving him the smallest trouble. That is why, regardless of seriously interrupting his studies, he was so glad at the thought of becoming a soldier in the forthcoming autumn of 1867; for he was particularly anxious to discover some means of employing his bodily strength.

He discharged his duties as a soldier with the utmost mental and physical freshness, was the crack rider among the recruits of his year, and was sincerely sorry when, owing to an accident, he was compelled to leave the colours before the completion of his service. As a result of this accident he had his first dangerous illness.

While mounting his horse one day, the beast, which was an uncommonly restive one, suddenly reared, and, causing him to strike his chest sharply against the pommel of the saddle, threw him to the ground. My brother then made a second attempt to mount, and succeeded this time, notwithstanding the fact that he had severely sprained and torn two muscles in his chest, and had seriously bruised the adjacent ribs. For a whole day he did his utmost to pay no heed to the injury, and to overcome the pain it caused him; but in the end he only swooned, and a dangerously acute inflammation of the injured tissues was the result. Ultimately he was obliged to consult the famous specialist, Professor Volkmann, in Halle, who quickly put him right.

[Pg xiii]

In October 1868, my brother returned to his studies in Leipzig with double joy. These were his plans: to get his doctor’s degree as soon as possible; to proceed to Paris, Italy, and Greece, make a lengthy stay in each place, and then to return to Leipzig in order to settle there as a privat docent. All these plans were, however, suddenly frustrated owing to his premature call to the University of Bale, where he was invited to assume the duties of professor. Some of the philological essays he had written in his student days, and which were published by the Rheinische Museum, had attracted the attention of the Educational Board at Bale. Ratsherr Wilhelm Vischer, as representing this body, appealed to Ritschl for fuller information. Now Ritschl, who had early recognised my brother’s extraordinary talents, must have written a letter of such enthusiastic praise (“Nietzsche is a genius: he can do whatever he chooses to put his mind to”), that one of the more cautious members of the council is said to have observed: “If the proposed candidate be really such a genius, then it were better did we not appoint him; for, in any case, he would only stay a short time at the little University of Bale.” My brother ultimately accepted the appointment, and, in view of his published philological works, he was immediately granted the doctor’s degree by the University of Leipzig. He was twenty-four years and six months old when he took up his position as professor in Bale,—and it was with a heavy heart that he proceeded there, for he knew “the golden[Pg xiv] period of untrammelled activity” must cease. He was, however, inspired by the deep wish of being able “to transfer to his pupils some of that Schopenhauerian earnestness which is stamped on the brow of the sublime man.” “I should like to be something more than a mere trainer of capable philologists: the present generation of teachers, the care of the growing broods,—all this is in my mind. If we must live, let us at least do so in such wise that others may bless our life once we have been peacefully delivered from its toils.”

When I look back upon that month of May 1869, and ask both of friends and of myself, what the figure of this youthful University professor of four-and-twenty meant to the world at that time, the reply is naturally, in the first place: that he was one of Ritschl’s best pupils; secondly, that he was an exceptionally capable exponent of classical antiquity with a brilliant career before him; and thirdly, that he was a passionate adorer of Wagner and Schopenhauer. But no one has any idea of my brother’s independent attitude to the science he had selected, to his teachers and to his ideals, and he deceived both himself and us when he passed as a “disciple” who really shared all the views of his respected master.

On the 28th May 1869, my brother delivered his inaugural address at Bale University, and it is said to have deeply impressed the authorities. The subject of the address was “Homer and Classical Philology.”

Musing deeply, the worthy councillors and[Pg xv] professors walked homeward. What had they just heard? A young scholar discussing the very justification of his own science in a cool and philosophically critical spirit! A man able to impart so much artistic glamour to his subject, that the once stale and arid study of philology suddenly struck them—and they were certainly not impressionable men—as the messenger of the gods: “and just as the Muses descended upon the dull and tormented Boeotian peasants, so philology comes into a world full of gloomy colours and pictures, full of the deepest, most incurable woes, and speaks to men comfortingly of the beautiful and brilliant godlike figure of a distant, blue, and happy fairyland.”

“We have indeed got hold of a rare bird, Herr Ratsherr,” said one of these gentlemen to his companion, and the latter heartily agreed, for my brother’s appointment had been chiefly his doing.

Even in Leipzig, it was reported that Jacob Burckhardt had said: “Nietzsche is as much an artist as a scholar.” Privy-Councillor Ritschl told me of this himself, and then he added, with a smile: “I always said so; he can make his scientific discourses as palpitatingly interesting as a French novelist his novels.”

“Homer and Classical Philology”—my brother’s inaugural address at the University—was by no means the first literary attempt he had made; for we have already seen that he had had papers published by theRheinische Museum; still, this particular discourse is important,[Pg xvi] seeing that it practically contains the programme of many other subsequent essays. I must, however, emphasise this fact here, that neither “Homer and Classical Philology,” nor The Birth of Tragedy, represents a beginning in my brother’s career. It is really surprising to see how very soon he actually began grappling with the questions which were to prove the problems of his life. If a beginning to his intellectual development be sought at all, then it must be traced to the years 1865-67 in Leipzig. The Birth of Tragedy, his maiden attempt at book-writing, with which he began his twenty-eighth year, is the last link of a long chain of developments, and the first fruit that was a long time coming to maturity. Nietzsche’s was a polyphonic nature, in which the most different and apparently most antagonistic talents had come together. Philosophy, art, and science—in the form of philology, then—each certainly possessed a part of him. The most wonderful feature—perhaps it might even be called the real Nietzschean feature—of this versatile creature, was the fact that no eternal strife resulted from the juxtaposition of these inimical traits, that not one of them strove to dislodge, or to get the upper hand of, the others. When Nietzsche renounced the musical career, in order to devote himself to philology, and gave himself up to the most strenuous study, he did not find it essential completely to suppress his other tendencies: as before, he continued both to compose and derive pleasure from music, and[Pg xvii] even studied counterpoint somewhat seriously. Moreover, during his years at Leipzig, when he consciously gave himself up to philological research, he began to engross himself in Schopenhauer, and was thereby won by philosophy for ever. Everything that could find room took up its abode in him, and these juxtaposed factors, far from interfering with one another’s existence, were rather mutually fertilising and stimulating. All those who have read the first volume of the biography with attention must have been struck with the perfect way in which the various impulses in his nature combined in the end to form one general torrent, and how this flowed with ever greater force in the direction of a single goal. Thus science, art, and philosophy developed and became ever more closely related in him, until, in The Birth of Tragedy, they brought forth a “centaur,” that is to say, a work which would have been an impossible achievement to a man with only a single, special talent. This polyphony of different talents, all coming to utterance together and producing the richest and boldest of harmonies, is the fundamental feature not only of Nietzsche’s early days, but of his whole development. It is once again the artist, philosopher, and man of science, who as one man in later years, after many wanderings, recantations, and revulsions of feeling, produces that other and rarer Centaur of highest rank—Zarathustra.

The Birth of Tragedy requires perhaps a little explaining—more particularly as we have now[Pg xviii] ceased to use either Schopenhauerian or Wagnerian terms of expression. And it was for this reason that five years after its appearance, my brother wrote an introduction to it, in which he very plainly expresses his doubts concerning the views it contains, and the manner in which they are presented. The kernel of its thought he always recognised as perfectly correct; and all he deplored in later days was that he had spoiled the grand problem of Hellenism, as he understood it, by adulterating it with ingredients taken from the world of most modern ideas. As time went on, he grew ever more and more anxious to define the deep meaning of this book with greater precision and clearness. A very good elucidation of its aims, which unfortunately was never published, appears among his notes of the year 1886, and is as follows:—

“Concerning The Birth of Tragedy.—A book consisting of mere experiences relating to pleasurable and unpleasurable æsthetic states, with a metaphysico-artistic background. At the same time the confession of a romanticist the sufferer feels the deepest longing for beauty—he begets it; finally, a product of youth, full of youthful courage and melancholy.

“Fundamental psychological experiences: the word ‘Apollonian’ stands for that state of rapt repose in the presence of a visionary world, in the presence of the world of beautiful appearance designed as a deliverance from becoming; the word Dionysos, on the other hand, stands for strenuous becoming, grown self-conscious, in the[Pg xix] form of the rampant voluptuousness of the creator, who is also perfectly conscious of the violent anger of the destroyer.

“The antagonism of these two attitudes and the desires that underlie them. The first-named would have the vision it conjures up eternal: in its light man must be quiescent, apathetic, peaceful, healed, and on friendly terms with himself and all existence; the second strives after creation, after the voluptuousness of wilful creation, i.e. constructing and destroying. Creation felt and explained as an instinct would be merely the unremitting inventive action of a dissatisfied being, overflowing with wealth and living at high tension and high pressure,—of a God who would overcome the sorrows of existence by means only of continual changes and transformations,—appearance as a transient and momentary deliverance; the world as an apparent sequence of godlike visions and deliverances.

“This metaphysico-artistic attitude is opposed to Schopenhauer’s one-sided view which values art, not from the artist’s standpoint but from the spectator’s, because it brings salvation and deliverance by means of the joy produced by unreal as opposed to the existing or the real (the experience only of him who is suffering and is in despair owing to himself and everything existing).—Deliverance in the form and its eternity (just as Plato may have pictured it, save that he rejoiced in a complete subordination of all too excitable sensibilities, even in the idea itself). To this is opposed the second point of view—art regarded[Pg xx] as a phenomenon of the artist, above all of the musician; the torture of being obliged to create, as a Dionysian instinct.

“Tragic art, rich in both attitudes, represents the reconciliation of Apollo and Dionysos. Appearance is given the greatest importance by Dionysos; and yet it will be denied and cheerfully denied. This is directed against Schopenhauer’s teaching of Resignation as the tragic attitude towards the world.

“Against Wagner’s theory that music is a means and drama an end.

“A desire for tragic myth (for religion and even pessimistic religion) as for a forcing frame in which certain plants flourish.

“Mistrust of science, although its ephemerally soothing optimism be strongly felt; the ‘serenity’ of the theoretical man.

“Deep antagonism to Christianity. Why? The degeneration of the Germanic spirit is ascribed to its influence.

“Any justification of the world can only be an æsthetic one. Profound suspicions about morality (—it is part and parcel of the world of appearance).

“The happiness of existence is only possible as the happiness derived from appearance. (‘Being’ is a fiction invented by those who suffer from becoming.)

“Happiness in becoming is possible only in the annihilation of the real, of the ‘existing,’ of the beautifully visionary,—in the pessimistic dissipation of illusions:—with the annihilation[Pg xxi] of the most beautiful phenomena in the world of appearance, Dionysian happiness reaches its zenith.”

The Birth of Tragedy is really only a portion of a much greater work on Hellenism, which my brother had always had in view from the time of his student days. But even the portion it represents was originally designed upon a much larger scale than the present one; the reason probably being, that Nietzsche desired only to be of service to Wagner. When a certain portion of the projected work on Hellenism was ready and had received the title Greek Cheerfulness, my brother happened to call upon Wagner at Tribschen in April 1871, and found him very low-spirited in regard to the mission of his life. My brother was very anxious to take some decisive step to help him, and, laying the plans of his great work on Greece aside, he selected a small portion from the already completed manuscript—a portion dealing with one distinct side of Hellenism,—to wit, its tragic art. He then associated Wagner’s music with it and the name Dionysos, and thus took the first step towards that world-historical view through which we have since grown accustomed to regard Wagner.

From the dates of the various notes relating to it, The Birth of Tragedy must have been written between the autumn of 1869 and November 1871—a period during which “a mass of æsthetic questions and answers” was fermenting in Nietzsche’s mind. It was first published in January 1872 by E. W. Fritsch, in Leipzig,[Pg xxii] under the title The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music. Later on the title was changed to The Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism.

ELIZABETH FORSTER-NIETZSCHE.

WEIMAR, September 1905.

[1]This Introduction by E. Förster-Nietzsche, which appears in the front of the first volume of Naumann’s Pocket Edition of Nietzsche, has been translated and arranged by Mr. A. M. Ludovici.


[Pg 1]

AN ATTEMPT AT SELF-CRITICISM.

I.

Whatever may lie at the bottom of this doubtful book must be a question of the first rank and attractiveness, moreover a deeply personal question,—in proof thereof observe the time in which it originated, in spite of which it originated, the exciting period of the Franco-German war of 1870-71. While the thunder of the battle of Wörth rolled over Europe, the ruminator and riddle-lover, who had to be the parent of this book, sat somewhere in a nook of the Alps, lost in riddles and ruminations, consequently very much concerned and unconcerned at the same time, and wrote down his meditations on the Greeks,—the kernel of the curious and almost inaccessible book, to which this belated prologue (or epilogue) is to be devoted. A few weeks later: and he found himself under the walls of Metz, still wrestling with the notes of interrogation he had set down concerning the alleged “cheerfulness” of the Greeks and of Greek art; till at last, in that month of[Pg 2] deep suspense, when peace was debated at Versailles, he too attained to peace with himself, and, slowly recovering from a disease brought home from the field, made up his mind definitely regarding the “Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music.”—From music? Music and Tragedy? Greeks and tragic music? Greeks and the Art-work of pessimism? A race of men, well-fashioned, beautiful, envied, life-inspiring, like no other race hitherto, the Greeks—indeed? The Greeks were in need of tragedy? Yea—of art? Wherefore—Greek art?…

We can thus guess where the great note of interrogation concerning the value of existence had been set. Is pessimism necessarily the sign of decline, of decay, of failure, of exhausted and weakened instincts?—as was the case with the Indians, as is, to all appearance, the case with us “modern” men and Europeans? Is there a pessimism of strength? An intellectual predilection for what is hard, awful, evil, problematical in existence, owing to well-being, to exuberant health, to fullness of existence? Is there perhaps suffering in overfullness itself? A seductive fortitude with the keenest of glances, which yearns for the terrible, as for the enemy, the worthy enemy, with whom it may try its strength? from whom it is willing to learn what “fear” is? What means tragic myth to the Greeks of the best, strongest, bravest era? And the prodigious phenomenon of the Dionysian? And that which was born thereof, tragedy?—And again: that of which tragedy died, the Socratism of morality, the dialectics,[Pg 3] contentedness and cheerfulness of the theoretical man—indeed? might not this very Socratism be a sign of decline, of weariness, of disease, of anarchically disintegrating instincts? And the “Hellenic cheerfulness” of the later Hellenism merely a glowing sunset? The Epicurean will counter to pessimism merely a precaution of the sufferer? And science itself, our science—ay, viewed as a symptom of life, what really signifies all science? Whither, worse still, whence—all science? Well? Is scientism perhaps only fear and evasion of pessimism? A subtle defence against—truth! Morally speaking, something like falsehood and cowardice? And, unmorally speaking, an artifice? O Socrates, Socrates, was this perhaps thysecret? Oh mysterious ironist, was this perhaps thine—irony?…

2.

What I then laid hands on, something terrible and dangerous, a problem with horns, not necessarily a bull itself, but at all events a new problem: I should say to-day it was the problem of science itself—science conceived for the first time as problematic, as questionable. But the book, in which my youthful ardour and suspicion then discharged themselves—what an impossible book must needs grow out of a task so disagreeable to youth. Constructed of nought but precocious, unripened self-experiences, all of which lay close to the threshold of the communicable, based on the groundwork of[Pg 4] art—for the problem of science cannot be discerned on the groundwork of science,—a book perhaps for artists, with collateral analytical and retrospective aptitudes (that is, an exceptional kind of artists, for whom one must seek and does not even care to seek …), full of psychological innovations and artists’ secrets, with an artists’ metaphysics in the background, a work of youth, full of youth’s mettle and youth’s melancholy, independent, defiantly self-sufficient even when it seems to bow to some authority and self-veneration; in short, a firstling-work, even in every bad sense of the term; in spite of its senile problem, affected with every fault of youth, above all with youth’s prolixity and youth’s “storm and stress”: on the other hand, in view of the success it had (especially with the great artist to whom it addressed itself, as it were, in a duologue, Richard Wagner) a demonstrated book, I mean a book which, at any rate, sufficed “for the best of its time.” On this account, if for no other reason, it should be treated with some consideration and reserve; yet I shall not altogether conceal how disagreeable it now appears to me, how after sixteen years it stands a total stranger before me,—before an eye which is more mature, and a hundred times more fastidious, but which has by no means grown colder nor lost any of its interest in that self-same task essayed for the first time by this daring book,—to view science through the optics of the artist, and art moreover through the optics of life….

[Pg 5]

3.

I say again, to-day it is an impossible book to me,—I call it badly written, heavy, painful, image-angling and image-entangling, maudlin, sugared at times even to femininism, uneven in tempo, void of the will to logical cleanliness, very convinced and therefore rising above the necessity of demonstration, distrustful even of the propriety of demonstration, as being a book for initiates, as “music” for those who are baptised with the name of Music, who are united from the beginning of things by common ties of rare experiences in art, as a countersign for blood-relations in artibus.—a haughty and fantastic book, which from the very first withdraws even more from the profanum vulgus of the “cultured” than from the “people,” but which also, as its effect has shown and still shows, knows very well how to seek fellow-enthusiasts and lure them to new by-ways and dancing-grounds. Here, at any rate—thus much was acknowledged with curiosity as well as with aversion—a strange voice spoke, the disciple of a still “unknown God,” who for the time being had hidden himself under the hood of the scholar, under the German’s gravity and disinclination for dialectics, even under the bad manners of the Wagnerian; here was a spirit with strange and still nameless needs, a memory bristling with questions, experiences and obscurities, beside which stood the name Dionysos like one more note of interrogation; here spoke—people said to themselves with misgivings—[Pg 6] something like a mystic and almost mænadic soul, which, undecided whether it should disclose or conceal itself, stammers with an effort and capriciously as in a strange tongue. It should have sung, this “new soul”—and not spoken! What a pity, that I did not dare to say what I then had to say, as a poet: I could have done so perhaps! Or at least as a philologist:—for even at the present day well-nigh everything in this domain remains to be discovered and disinterred by the philologist! Above all the problem, that here there is a problem before us,—and that, so long as we have no answer to the question “what is Dionysian?” the Greeks are now as ever wholly unknown and inconceivable….

4.

Ay, what is Dionysian?—In this book may be found an answer,—a “knowing one” speaks here, the votary and disciple of his god. Perhaps I should now speak more guardedly and less eloquently of a psychological question so difficult as the origin of tragedy among the Greeks. A fundamental question is the relation of the Greek to pain, his degree of sensibility,—did this relation remain constant? or did it veer about?—the question, whether his ever-increasing longing for beauty, for festivals, gaieties, new cults, did really grow out of want, privation, melancholy, pain? For suppose even this to be true—and Pericles (or Thucydides) intimates as much in the great Funeral Speech:—whence then the opposite[Pg 7] longing, which appeared first in the order of time, the longing for the ugly, the good, resolute desire of the Old Hellene for pessimism, for tragic myth, for the picture of all that is terrible, evil, enigmatical, destructive, fatal at the basis of existence,—whence then must tragedy have sprung? Perhaps from joy, from strength, from exuberant health, from over-fullness. And what then, physiologically speaking, is the meaning of that madness, out of which comic as well as tragic art has grown, the Dionysian madness? What? perhaps madness is not necessarily the symptom of degeneration, of decline, of belated culture? Perhaps there are—a question for alienists—neuroses of health? of folk-youth and youthfulness? What does that synthesis of god and goat in the Satyr point to? What self-experience what “stress,” made the Greek think of the Dionysian reveller and primitive man as a satyr? And as regards the origin of the tragic chorus: perhaps there were endemic ecstasies in the eras when the Greek body bloomed and the Greek soul brimmed over with life? Visions and hallucinations, which took hold of entire communities, entire cult-assemblies? What if the Greeks in the very wealth of their youth had the will to be tragic and were pessimists? What if it was madness itself, to use a word of Plato’s, which brought the greatest blessings upon Hellas? And what if, on the other hand and conversely, at the very time of their dissolution and weakness, the Greeks became always more optimistic, more superficial, more histrionic, also more ardent for logic and the[Pg 8] logicising of the world,—consequently at the same time more “cheerful” and more “scientific”? Ay, despite all “modern ideas” and prejudices of the democratic taste, may not the triumph of optimism, the common sense that has gained the upper hand, the practical and theoretical utilitarianism, like democracy itself, with which it is synchronous—be symptomatic of declining vigour, of approaching age, of physiological weariness? And not at all—pessimism? Was Epicurus an optimist—because a sufferer?… We see it is a whole bundle of weighty questions which this book has taken upon itself,—let us not fail to add its weightiest question! Viewed through the optics of life, what is the meaning of—morality?…

5.

Already in the foreword to Richard Wagner, art—-and not morality—is set down as the properly metaphysical activity of man; in the book itself the piquant proposition recurs time and again, that the existence of the world is justified only as an æsthetic phenomenon. Indeed, the entire book recognises only an artist-thought and artist-after-thought behind all occurrences,—a “God,” if you will, but certainly only an altogether thoughtless and unmoral artist-God, who, in construction as in destruction, in good as in evil, desires to become conscious of his own equable joy and sovereign glory; who, in creating worlds, frees himself from the anguish of fullness and overfullness, from the suffering of the contradictions[Pg 9] concentrated within him. The world, that is, the redemption of God attained at every moment, as the perpetually changing, perpetually new vision of the most suffering, most antithetical, most contradictory being, who contrives to redeem himself only in appearance: this entire artist-metaphysics, call it arbitrary, idle, fantastic, if you will,—the point is, that it already betrays a spirit, which is determined some day, at all hazards, to make a stand against the moral interpretation and significance of life. Here, perhaps for the first time, a pessimism “Beyond Good and Evil” announces itself, here that “perverseness of disposition” obtains expression and formulation, against which Schopenhauer never grew tired of hurling beforehand his angriest imprecations and thunderbolts,—a philosophy which dares to put, derogatorily put, morality itself in the world of phenomena, and not only among “phenomena” (in the sense of the idealistic terminus technicus), but among the “illusions,” as appearance, semblance, error, interpretation, accommodation, art. Perhaps the depth of this antimoral tendency may be best estimated from the guarded and hostile silence with which Christianity is treated throughout this book,—Christianity, as being the most extravagant burlesque of the moral theme to which mankind has hitherto been obliged to listen. In fact, to the purely æsthetic world-interpretation and justification taught in this book, there is no greater antithesis than the Christian dogma, which is only and will be only moral, and which, with its absolute standards, for instance, its truthfulness[Pg 10] of God, relegates—that is, disowns, convicts, condemns—art, all art, to the realm of falsehood. Behind such a mode of thought and valuation, which, if at all genuine, must be hostile to art, I always experienced what was hostile to life, the wrathful, vindictive counterwill to life itself: for all life rests on appearance, art, illusion, optics, necessity of perspective and error. From the very first Christianity was, essentially and thoroughly, the nausea and surfeit of Life for Life, which only disguised, concealed and decked itself out under the belief in “another” or “better” life. The hatred of the “world,” the curse on the affections, the fear of beauty and sensuality, another world, invented for the purpose of slandering this world the more, at bottom a longing for. Nothingness, for the end, for rest, for the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”—all this, as also the unconditional will of Christianity to recognise only moral values, has always appeared to me as the most dangerous and ominous of all possible forms of a “will to perish”; at the least, as the symptom of a most fatal disease, of profoundest weariness, despondency, exhaustion, impoverishment of life,—for before the tribunal of morality (especially Christian, that is, unconditional morality) life must constantly and inevitably be the loser, because life is something essentially unmoral,—indeed, oppressed with the weight of contempt and the everlasting No, life must finally be regarded as unworthy of desire, as in itself unworthy. Morality itself what?—may not morality be a “will to disown life,” a secret instinct for annihilation, a principle[Pg 11] of decay, of depreciation, of slander, a beginning of the end? And, consequently, the danger of dangers?… It was against morality, therefore, that my instinct, as an intercessory-instinct for life, turned in this questionable book, inventing for itself a fundamental counter—dogma and counter-valuation of life, purely artistic, purely anti-Christian. What should I call it? As a philologist and man of words I baptised it, not without some liberty—for who could be sure of the proper name of the Antichrist?—with the name of a Greek god: I called it Dionysian.

6.

You see which problem I ventured to touch upon in this early work?… How I now regret, that I had not then the courage (or immodesty?) to allow myself, in all respects, the use of an individual language for such individual contemplations and ventures in the field of thought—that I laboured to express, in Kantian and Schopenhauerian formulæ, strange and new valuations, which ran fundamentally counter to the spirit of Kant and Schopenhauer, as well as to their taste! What, forsooth, were Schopenhauer’s views on tragedy? “What gives”—he says in Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, II. 495—”to all tragedy that singular swing towards elevation, is the awakening of the knowledge that the world, that life, cannot satisfy us thoroughly, and consequently is not worthy of our attachment In this consists the tragic spirit: it therefore leads to resignation.” Oh, how[Pg 12] differently Dionysos spoke to me! Oh how far from me then was just this entire resignationism!—But there is something far worse in this book, which I now regret even more than having obscured and spoiled Dionysian anticipations with Schopenhauerian formulæ: to wit, that, in general, I spoiled the grand Hellenic problem, as it had opened up before me, by the admixture of the most modern things! That I entertained hopes, where nothing was to be hoped for, where everything pointed all-too-clearly to an approaching end! That, on the basis of our latter-day German music, I began to fable about the “spirit of Teutonism,” as if it were on the point of discovering and returning to itself,—ay, at the very time that the German spirit which not so very long before had had the will to the lordship over Europe, the strength to lead and govern Europe, testamentarily and conclusively resigned and, under the pompous pretence of empire-founding, effected its transition to mediocritisation, democracy, and “modern ideas.” In very fact, I have since learned to regard this “spirit of Teutonism” as something to be despaired of and unsparingly treated, as also our present German music, which is Romanticism through and through and the most un-Grecian of all possible forms of art: and moreover a first-rate nerve-destroyer, doubly dangerous for a people given to drinking and revering the unclear as a virtue, namely, in its twofold capacity of an intoxicating and stupefying narcotic. Of course, apart from all precipitate hopes and faulty applications[Pg 13] to matters specially modern, with which I then spoiled my first book, the great Dionysian note of interrogation, as set down therein, continues standing on and on, even with reference to music: how must we conceive of a music, which is no longer of Romantic origin, like the German; but of Dionysian?…

7.

—But, my dear Sir, if your book is not Romanticism, what in the world is? Can the deep hatred of the present, of “reality” and “modern ideas” be pushed farther than has been done in your artist-metaphysics?—which would rather believe in Nothing, or in the devil, than in the “Now”? Does not a radical bass of wrath and annihilative pleasure growl on beneath all your contrapuntal vocal art and aural seduction, a mad determination to oppose all that “now” is, a will which is not so very far removed from practical nihilism and which seems to say: “rather let nothing be true, than that you should be in the right, than that your truth should prevail!” Hear, yourself, my dear Sir Pessimist and art-deifier, with ever so unlocked ears, a single select passage of your own book, that not ineloquent dragon-slayer passage, which may sound insidiously rat-charming to young ears and hearts. What? is not that the true blue romanticist-confession of 1830 under the mask of the pessimism of 1850? After which, of course, the usual romanticist finale at once strikes up,—rupture, collapse, return and prostration before an old belief, before the old God….[Pg 14] What? is not your pessimist book itself a piece of anti-Hellenism and Romanticism, something “equally intoxicating and befogging,” a narcotic at all events, ay, a piece of music, of German music? But listen:

Let us imagine a rising generation with this undauntedness of vision, with this heroic impulse towards the prodigious, let us imagine the bold step of these dragon-slayers, the proud daring with which they turn their backs on all the effeminate doctrines of optimism, in order “to live resolutely” in the Whole and in the Full: would it not be necessary for the tragic man of this culture, with his self-discipline to earnestness and terror, to desire a new art, the art of metaphysical comfort, tragedy as the Helena belonging to him, and that he should exclaim with Faust:

“Und sollt ich nicht, sehnsüchtigster Gewalt,
In’s Leben ziehn die einzigste Gestalt?”[1]

“Would it not be necessary?” … No, thrice no! ye young romanticists: it would not be necessary! But it is very probable, that things may end thus, that ye may end thus, namely “comforted,” as it is written, in spite of all self-discipline to earnestness and terror; metaphysically comforted, in short, as Romanticists are wont to end, as Christians…. No! ye should first of all learn the art of earthly comfort, ye should learn to laugh, my young friends, if ye are at all determined to remain pessimists: if so, you[Pg 15] will perhaps, as laughing ones, eventually send all metaphysical comfortism to the devil—and metaphysics first of all! Or, to say it in the language of that Dionysian ogre, called Zarathustra:

“Lift up your hearts, my brethren, high, higher! And do not forget your legs! Lift up also your legs, ye good dancers—and better still if ye stand also on your heads!

“This crown of the laughter, this rose-garland crown—I myself have put on this crown; I myself have consecrated my laughter. No one else have I found to-day strong enough for this.

“Zarathustra the dancer, Zarathustra the light one, who beckoneth with his pinions, one ready for flight, beckoning unto all birds, ready and prepared, a blissfully light-spirited one:—

“Zarathustra the soothsayer, Zarathustra the sooth-laugher, no impatient one, no absolute one, one who loveth leaps and side-leaps: I myself have put on this crown!

“This crown of the laughter, this rose-garland crown—to you my brethren do I cast this crown! Laughing have I consecrated: ye higher men, learn, I pray you—to laugh!”

Thus spake Zarathustra, lxxiii. 17, 18, and 20.

SILS-MARIA, OBERENGADIN, August 1886.

[1]

And shall not I, by mightiest desire,
In living shape that sole fair form acquire?
SWANWICK, trans. of Faust.


[Pg 18]

THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY

FROM THE SPIRIT OF MUSIC


[Pg 19]

FOREWORD TO RICHARD WAGNER.

In order to keep at a distance all the possible scruples, excitements, and misunderstandings to which the thoughts gathered in this essay will give occasion, considering the peculiar character of our æsthetic publicity, and to be able also Co write the introductory remarks with the same contemplative delight, the impress of which, as the petrifaction of good and elevating hours, it bears on every page, I form a conception of the moment when you, my highly honoured friend, will receive this essay; how you, say after an evening walk in the winter snow, will behold the unbound Prometheus on the title-page, read my name, and be forthwith convinced that, whatever this essay may contain, the author has something earnest and impressive to say, and, moreover, that in all his meditations he communed with you as with one present and could thus write only what befitted your presence. You will thus remember that it was at the same time as your magnificent dissertation on Beethoven originated, viz., amidst[Pg 20] the horrors and sublimities of the war which had just then broken out, that I collected myself for these thoughts. But those persons would err, to whom this collection suggests no more perhaps than the antithesis of patriotic excitement and æsthetic revelry, of gallant earnestness and sportive delight. Upon a real perusal of this essay, such readers will, rather to their surprise, discover how earnest is the German problem we have to deal with, which we properly place, as a vortex and turning-point, in the very midst of German hopes. Perhaps, however, this same class of readers will be shocked at seeing an æsthetic problem taken so seriously, especially if they can recognise in art no more than a merry diversion, a readily dispensable court-jester to the “earnestness of existence”: as if no one were aware of the real meaning of this confrontation with the “earnestness of existence.” These earnest ones may be informed that I am convinced that art is the highest task and the properly metaphysical activity of this life, as it is understood by the man, to whom, as my sublime protagonist on this path, I would now dedicate this essay.

BASEL, end of the year 1871.


[Pg 21]

THE BIRTH OF TRAGEDY.

1.

We shall have gained much for the science of æsthetics, when once we have perceived not only by logical inference, but by the immediate certainty of intuition, that the continuous development of art is bound up with the duplexity of the Apollonian and the Dionysian: in like manner as procreation is dependent on the duality of the sexes, involving perpetual conflicts with only periodically intervening reconciliations. These names we borrow from the Greeks, who disclose to the intelligent observer the profound mysteries of their view of art, not indeed in concepts, but in the impressively clear figures of their world of deities. It is in connection with Apollo and Dionysus, the two art-deities of the Greeks, that we learn that there existed in the Grecian world a wide antithesis, in origin and aims, between the art of the shaper, the Apollonian, and the non-plastic art of music, that of Dionysus: both these so heterogeneous tendencies run parallel to each other, for the most part openly at variance, and continually inciting each other to new and more powerful births, to perpetuate in[Pg 22] them the strife of this antithesis, which is but seemingly bridged over by their mutual term “Art”; till at last, by a metaphysical miracle of the Hellenic will, they appear paired with each other, and through this pairing eventually generate the equally Dionysian and Apollonian art-work of Attic tragedy.

In order to bring these two tendencies within closer range, let us conceive them first of all as the separate art-worlds of dreamland and drunkenness; between which physiological phenomena a contrast may be observed analogous to that existing between the Apollonian and the Dionysian. In dreams, according to the conception of Lucretius, the glorious divine figures first appeared to the souls of men, in dreams the great shaper beheld the charming corporeal structure of superhuman beings, and the Hellenic poet, if consulted on the mysteries of poetic inspiration, would likewise have suggested dreams and would have offered an explanation resembling that of Hans Sachs in the Meistersingers:—

Mein Freund, das grad’ ist Dichters Werk,
dass er sein Träumen deut’ und merk’.
Glaubt mir, des Menschen wahrster Wahn
wird ihm im Traume aufgethan:
all’ Dichtkunst und Poeterei
ist nichts als Wahrtraum-Deuterei.[1]

[Pg 23]

The beauteous appearance of the dream-worlds, in the production of which every man is a perfect artist, is the presupposition of all plastic art, and in fact, as we shall see, of an important half of poetry also. We take delight in the immediate apprehension of form; all forms speak to us; there is nothing indifferent, nothing superfluous. But, together with the highest life of this dream-reality we also have, glimmering through it, the sensation of its appearance: such at least is my experience, as to the frequency, ay, normality of which I could adduce many proofs, as also the sayings of the poets. Indeed, the man of philosophic turn has a foreboding that underneath this reality in which we live and have our being, another and altogether different reality lies concealed, and that therefore it is also an appearance; and Schopenhauer actually designates the gift of occasionally regarding men and things as mere phantoms and dream-pictures as the criterion of philosophical ability. Accordingly, the man susceptible to art stands in the same relation to the reality of dreams as the philosopher to the reality of existence; he is a close and willing observer, for from these pictures he reads the meaning of life, and by these processes he trains himself for life. And it is perhaps not only the agreeable and friendly pictures that he realises in himself with such perfect understanding: the earnest, the troubled, the dreary, the gloomy, the sudden checks, the tricks of fortune, the uneasy presentiments, in short, the whole “Divine Comedy” of life, and the Inferno, also pass before him, not merely like[Pg 24] pictures on the wall—for he too lives and suffers in these scenes,—and yet not without that fleeting sensation of appearance. And perhaps many a one will, like myself, recollect having sometimes called out cheeringly and not without success amid the dangers and terrors of dream-life: “It is a dream! I will dream on!” I have likewise been told of persons capable of continuing the causality of one and the same dream for three and even more successive nights: all of which facts clearly testify that our innermost being, the common substratum of all of us, experiences our dreams with deep joy and cheerful acquiescence.

This cheerful acquiescence in the dream-experience has likewise been embodied by the Greeks in their Apollo: for Apollo, as the god of all shaping energies, is also the soothsaying god. He, who (as the etymology of the name indicates) is the “shining one,” the deity of light, also rules over the fair appearance of the inner world of fantasies. The higher truth, the perfection of these states in contrast to the only partially intelligible everyday world, ay, the deep consciousness of nature, healing and helping in sleep and dream, is at the same time the symbolical analogue of the faculty of soothsaying and, in general, of the arts, through which life is made possible and worth living. But also that delicate line, which the dream-picture must not overstep—lest it act pathologically (in which case appearance, being reality pure and simple, would impose upon us)—must not be wanting in the picture of Apollo: that measured limitation, that freedom[Pg 25] from the wilder emotions, that philosophical calmness of the sculptor-god. His eye must be “sunlike,” according to his origin; even when it is angry and looks displeased, the sacredness of his beauteous appearance is still there. And so we might apply to Apollo, in an eccentric sense, what Schopenhauer says of the man wrapt in the veil of Mâyâ[2]Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, I. p. 416: “Just as in a stormy sea, unbounded in every direction, rising and falling with howling mountainous waves, a sailor sits in a boat and trusts in his frail barque: so in the midst of a world of sorrows the individual sits quietly supported by and trusting in his principium individuationis.” Indeed, we might say of Apollo, that in him the unshaken faith in this principium and the quiet sitting of the man wrapt therein have received their sublimest expression; and we might even designate Apollo as the glorious divine image of the principium individuationis, from out of the gestures and looks of which all the joy and wisdom of “appearance,” together with its beauty, speak to us.

In the same work Schopenhauer has described to us the stupendous awe which seizes upon man, when of a sudden he is at a loss to account for the cognitive forms of a phenomenon, in that the principle of reason, in some one of its manifestations, seems to admit of an exception. Add to this awe the blissful ecstasy which rises from the[Pg 26] innermost depths of man, ay, of nature, at this same collapse of the principium individuationis,and we shall gain an insight into the being of the Dionysian, which is brought within closest ken perhaps by the analogy of drunkenness. It is either under the influence of the narcotic draught, of which the hymns of all primitive men and peoples tell us, or by the powerful approach of spring penetrating all nature with joy, that those Dionysian emotions awake, in the augmentation of which the subjective vanishes to complete self-forgetfulness. So also in the German Middle Ages singing and dancing crowds, ever increasing in number, were borne from place to place under this same Dionysian power. In these St. John’s and St. Vitus’s dancers we again perceive the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, with their previous history in Asia Minor, as far back as Babylon and the orgiastic Sacæa. There are some, who, from lack of experience or obtuseness, will turn away from such phenomena as “folk-diseases” with a smile of contempt or pity prompted by the consciousness of their own health: of course, the poor wretches do not divine what a cadaverous-looking and ghastly aspect this very “health” of theirs presents when the glowing life of the Dionysian revellers rushes past them.

Under the charm of the Dionysian not only is the covenant between man and man again established, but also estranged, hostile or subjugated nature again celebrates her reconciliation with her lost son, man. Of her own accord earth proffers her gifts, and peacefully the beasts of[Pg 27] prey approach from the desert and the rocks. The chariot of Dionysus is bedecked with flowers and garlands: panthers and tigers pass beneath his yoke. Change Beethoven’s “jubilee-song” into a painting, and, if your imagination be equal to the occasion when the awestruck millions sink into the dust, you will then be able to approach the Dionysian. Now is the slave a free man, now all the stubborn, hostile barriers, which necessity, caprice, or “shameless fashion” has set up between man and man, are broken down. Now, at the evangel of cosmic harmony, each one feels himself not only united, reconciled, blended with his neighbour, but as one with him, as if the veil of Mâyâ has been torn and were now merely fluttering in tatters before the mysterious Primordial Unity. In song and in dance man exhibits himself as a member of a higher community, he has forgotten how to walk and speak, and is on the point of taking a dancing flight into the air. His gestures bespeak enchantment. Even as the animals now talk, and as the earth yields milk and honey, so also something super-natural sounds forth from him: he feels himself a god, he himself now walks about enchanted and elated even as the gods whom he saw walking about in his dreams. Man is no longer an artist, he has become a work of art: the artistic power of all nature here reveals itself in the tremors of drunkenness to the highest gratification of the Primordial Unity. The noblest clay, the costliest marble, namely man, is here kneaded and cut, and the chisel strokes of[Pg 28] the Dionysian world-artist are accompanied with the cry of the Eleusinian mysteries: “Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen? Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?”[3]

[1]

My friend, just this is poet’s task:
His dreams to read and to unmask.
Trust me, illusion’s truths thrice sealed
In dream to man will be revealed.
All verse-craft and poetisation
Is but soothdream interpretation.

[2]Cf. World and Will as Idea, 1. 455 ff., trans, by Haldane and Kemp.

[3]

Te bow in the dust, oh millions?
Thy maker, mortal, dost divine?
Cf. Schiller’s “Hymn to Joy”; and Beethoven, Ninth Symphony.—TR. 

2.

Thus far we have considered the Apollonian and his antithesis, the Dionysian, as artistic powers, which burst forth from nature herself, without the mediation of the human artist, and in which her art-impulses are satisfied in the most immediate and direct way: first, as the pictorial world of dreams, the perfection of which has no connection whatever with the intellectual height or artistic culture of the unit man, and again, as drunken reality, which likewise does not heed the unit man, but even seeks to destroy the individual and redeem him by a mystic feeling of Oneness. Anent these immediate art-states of nature every artist is either an “imitator,” to wit, either an Apollonian, an artist in dreams, or a Dionysian, an artist in ecstasies, or finally—as for instance in Greek tragedy—an artist in both dreams and ecstasies: so we may perhaps picture him, as in his Dionysian drunkenness and mystical self-abnegation, lonesome and apart from the revelling choruses, he sinks down, and how now, through Apollonian dream-inspiration, his own state, i.e.,[Pg 29] his oneness with the primal source of the universe, reveals itself to him in a symbolical dream-picture.

After these general premisings and contrastings, let us now approach the Greeks in order to learn in what degree and to what height these art-impulses of nature were developed in them: whereby we shall be enabled to understand and appreciate more deeply the relation of the Greek artist to his archetypes, or, according to the Aristotelian expression, “the imitation of nature.” In spite of all the dream-literature and the numerous dream-anecdotes of the Greeks, we can speak only conjecturally, though with a fair degree of certainty, of their dreams. Considering the incredibly precise and unerring plastic power of their eyes, as also their manifest and sincere delight in colours, we can hardly refrain (to the shame of every one born later) from assuming for their very dreams a logical causality of lines and contours, colours and groups, a sequence of scenes resembling their best reliefs, the perfection of which would certainly justify us, if a comparison were possible, in designating the dreaming Greeks as Homers and Homer as a dreaming Greek: in a deeper sense than when modern man, in respect to his dreams, ventures to compare himself with Shakespeare.

On the other hand, we should not have to speak conjecturally, if asked to disclose the immense gap which separated the Dionysian Greek from the Dionysian barbarian. From all quarters of the Ancient World—to say nothing of the modern—from Rome as far as Babylon, we can[Pg 30] prove the existence of Dionysian festivals, the type of which bears, at best, the same relation to the Greek festivals as the bearded satyr, who borrowed his name and attributes from the goat, does to Dionysus himself. In nearly every instance the centre of these festivals lay in extravagant sexual licentiousness, the waves of which overwhelmed all family life and its venerable traditions; the very wildest beasts of nature were let loose here, including that detestable mixture of lust and cruelty which has always seemed to me the genuine “witches’ draught.” For some time, however, it would seem that the Greeks were perfectly secure and guarded against the feverish agitations of these festivals (—the knowledge of which entered Greece by all the channels of land and sea) by the figure of Apollo himself rising here in full pride, who could not have held out the Gorgon’s head to a more dangerous power than this grotesquely uncouth Dionysian. It is in Doric art that this majestically-rejecting attitude of Apollo perpetuated itself. This opposition became more precarious and even impossible, when, from out of the deepest root of the Hellenic nature, similar impulses finally broke forth and made way for themselves: the Delphic god, by a seasonably effected reconciliation, was now contented with taking the destructive arms from the hands of his powerful antagonist. This reconciliation marks the most important moment in the history of the Greek cult: wherever we turn our eyes we may observe the revolutions resulting from this event. It was the reconciliation of two antagonists,[Pg 31] with the sharp demarcation of the boundary-lines to be thenceforth observed by each, and with periodical transmission of testimonials;—in reality, the chasm was not bridged over. But if we observe how, under the pressure of this conclusion of peace, the Dionysian power manifested itself, we shall now recognise in the Dionysian orgies of the Greeks, as compared with the Babylonian Sacæa and their retrogression of man to the tiger and the ape, the significance of festivals of world-redemption and days of transfiguration. Not till then does nature attain her artistic jubilee; not till then does the rupture of the principium individuationis become an artistic phenomenon. That horrible “witches’ draught” of sensuality and cruelty was here powerless: only the curious blending and duality in the emotions of the Dionysian revellers reminds one of it—just as medicines remind one of deadly poisons,—that phenomenon, to wit, that pains beget joy, that jubilation wrings painful sounds out of the breast. From the highest joy sounds the cry of horror or the yearning wail over an irretrievable loss. In these Greek festivals a sentimental trait, as it were, breaks forth from nature, as if she must sigh over her dismemberment into individuals. The song and pantomime of such dually-minded revellers was something new and unheard-of in the Homeric-Grecian world; and the Dionysian music in particular excited awe and horror. If music, as it would seem, was previously known as an Apollonian art, it was, strictly speaking, only as the wave-beat of rhythm, the formative power of[Pg 32] which was developed to the representation of Apollonian conditions. The music of Apollo was Doric architectonics in tones, but in merely suggested tones, such as those of the cithara. The very element which forms the essence of Dionysian music (and hence of music in general) is carefully excluded as un-Apollonian; namely, the thrilling power of the tone, the uniform stream of the melos, and the thoroughly incomparable world of harmony. In the Dionysian dithyramb man is incited to the highest exaltation of all his symbolic faculties; something never before experienced struggles for utterance—the annihilation of the veil of Mâyâ, Oneness as genius of the race, ay, of nature. The essence of nature is now to be expressed symbolically; a new world of symbols is required; for once the entire symbolism of the body, not only the symbolism of the lips, face, and speech, but the whole pantomime of dancing which sets all the members into rhythmical motion. Thereupon the other symbolic powers, those of music, in rhythmics, dynamics, and harmony, suddenly become impetuous. To comprehend this collective discharge of all the symbolic powers, a man must have already attained that height of self-abnegation, which wills to express itself symbolically through these powers: the Dithyrambic votary of Dionysus is therefore understood only by those like himself! With what astonishment must the Apollonian Greek have beheld him! With an astonishment, which was all the greater the more it was mingled with the shuddering suspicion that all this was in[Pg 33] reality not so very foreign to him, yea, that, like unto a veil, his Apollonian consciousness only hid this Dionysian world from his view.

3.

In order to comprehend this, we must take down the artistic structure of the Apollonian culture, as it were, stone by stone, till we behold the foundations on which it rests. Here we observe first of all the glorious Olympian figures of the gods, standing on the gables of this structure, whose deeds, represented in far-shining reliefs, adorn its friezes. Though Apollo stands among them as an individual deity, side by side with others, and without claim to priority of rank, we must not suffer this fact to mislead us. The same impulse which embodied itself in Apollo has, in general, given birth to this whole Olympian world, and in this sense we may regard Apollo as the father thereof. What was the enormous need from which proceeded such an illustrious group of Olympian beings?

Whosoever, with another religion in his heart, approaches these Olympians and seeks among them for moral elevation, even for sanctity, for incorporeal spiritualisation, for sympathetic looks of love, will soon be obliged to turn his back on them, discouraged and disappointed. Here nothing suggests asceticism, spirituality, or duty: here only an exuberant, even triumphant life speaks to us, in which everything existing is deified, whether good or bad. And so the[Pg 34] spectator will perhaps stand quite bewildered before this fantastic exuberance of life, and ask himself what magic potion these madly merry men could have used for enjoying life, so that, wherever they turned their eyes, Helena, the ideal image of their own existence “floating in sweet sensuality,” smiled upon them. But to this spectator, already turning backwards, we must call out: “depart not hence, but hear rather what Greek folk-wisdom says of this same life, which with such inexplicable cheerfulness spreads out before thee.” There is an ancient story that king Midas hunted in the forest a long time for the wise Silenus, the companion of Dionysus, without capturing him. When at last he fell into his hands, the king asked what was best of all and most desirable for man. Fixed and immovable, the demon remained silent; till at last, forced by the king, he broke out with shrill laughter into these words: “Oh, wretched race of a day, children of chance and misery, why do ye compel me to say to you what it were most expedient for you not to hear? What is best of all is for ever beyond your reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. The second best for you, however, is soon to die.”

How is the Olympian world of deities related to this folk-wisdom? Even as the rapturous vision of the tortured martyr to his sufferings.

Now the Olympian magic mountain opens, as it were, to our view and shows to us its roots. The Greek knew and felt the terrors and horrors of existence: to be able to live at all, he had to[Pg 35] interpose the shining dream-birth of the Olympian world between himself and them. The excessive distrust of the titanic powers of nature, the Moira throning inexorably over all knowledge, the vulture of the great philanthropist Prometheus, the terrible fate of the wise Œdipus, the family curse of the Atridæ which drove Orestes to matricide; in short, that entire philosophy of the sylvan god, with its mythical exemplars, which wrought the ruin of the melancholy Etruscans—was again and again surmounted anew by the Greeks through the artistic middle world of the Olympians, or at least veiled and withdrawn from sight. To be able to live, the Greeks had, from direst necessity, to create these gods: which process we may perhaps picture to ourselves in this manner: that out of the original Titan thearchy of terror the Olympian thearchy of joy was evolved, by slow transitions, through the Apollonian impulse to beauty, even as roses break forth from thorny bushes. How else could this so sensitive people, so vehement in its desires, so singularly qualified for sufferings have endured existence, if it had not been exhibited to them in their gods, surrounded with a higher glory? The same impulse which calls art into being, as the complement and consummation of existence, seducing to a continuation of life, caused also the Olympian world to arise, in which the Hellenic “will” held up before itself a transfiguring mirror. Thus do the gods justify the life of man, in that they themselves live it—the only satisfactory Theodicy! Existence under the bright sunshine[Pg 36] of such gods is regarded as that which is desirable in itself, and the real grief of the Homeric men has reference to parting from it, especially to early parting: so that we might now say of them, with a reversion of the Silenian wisdom, that “to die early is worst of all for them, the second worst is—some day to die at all.” If once the lamentation is heard, it will ring out again, of the short-lived Achilles, of the leaf-like change and vicissitude of the human race, of the decay of the heroic age. It is not unworthy of the greatest hero to long for a continuation of life, ay, even as a day-labourer. So vehemently does the “will,” at the Apollonian stage of development, long for this existence, so completely at one does the Homeric man feel himself with it, that the very lamentation becomes its song of praise.

Here we must observe that this harmony which is so eagerly contemplated by modern man, in fact, this oneness of man with nature, to express which Schiller introduced the technical term “naïve,” is by no means such a simple, naturally resulting and, as it were, inevitable condition, which must be found at the gate of every culture leading to a paradise of man: this could be believed only by an age which sought to picture to itself Rousseau’s Émile also as an artist, and imagined it had found in Homer such an artist Émile, reared at Nature’s bosom. Wherever we meet with the “naïve” in art, it behoves us to recognise the highest effect of the Apollonian culture, which in the first place has always to overthrow some Titanic empire and slay monsters, and[Pg 37] which, through powerful dazzling representations and pleasurable illusions, must have triumphed over a terrible depth of world-contemplation and a most keen susceptibility to suffering. But how seldom is the naïve—that complete absorption, in the beauty of appearance—attained! And hence how inexpressibly sublime is Homer, who, as unit being, bears the same relation to this Apollonian folk-culture as the unit dream-artist does to the dream-faculty of the people and of Nature in general. The Homeric “naïveté” can be comprehended only as the complete triumph of the Apollonian illusion: it is the same kind of illusion as Nature so frequently employs to compass her ends. The true goal is veiled by a phantasm: we stretch out our hands for the latter, while Nature attains the former through our illusion. In the Greeks the “will” desired to contemplate itself in the transfiguration of the genius and the world of art; in order to glorify themselves, its creatures had to feel themselves worthy of glory; they had to behold themselves again in a higher sphere, without this consummate world of contemplation acting as an imperative or reproach. Such is the sphere of beauty, in which, as in a mirror, they saw their images, the Olympians. With this mirroring of beauty the Hellenic will combated its talent—correlative to the artistic—for suffering and for the wisdom of suffering: and, as a monument of its victory, Homer, the naïve artist, stands before us.

[Pg 38]

4.

Concerning this naïve artist the analogy of dreams will enlighten us to some extent. When we realise to ourselves the dreamer, as, in the midst of the illusion of the dream-world and without disturbing it, he calls out to himself: “it is a dream, I will dream on”; when we must thence infer a deep inner joy in dream-contemplation; when, on the other hand, to be at all able to dream with this inner joy in contemplation, we must have completely forgotten the day and its terrible obtrusiveness, we may, under the direction of the dream-reading Apollo, interpret all these phenomena to ourselves somewhat as follows. Though it is certain that of the two halves of life, the waking and the dreaming, the former appeals to us as by far the more preferred, important, excellent and worthy of being lived, indeed, as that which alone is lived: yet, with reference to that mysterious ground of our being of which we are the phenomenon, I should, paradoxical as it may seem, be inclined to maintain the very opposite estimate of the value of dream life. For the more clearly I perceive in nature those all-powerful art impulses, and in them a fervent longing for appearance, for redemption through appearance, the more I feel myself driven to the metaphysical assumption that the Verily-Existent and Primordial Unity, as the Eternally Suffering and Self-Contradictory, requires the rapturous vision, the joyful appearance, for its continuous salvation: which appearance we, who are completely wrapt[Pg 39] in it and composed of it, must regard as the Verily Non-existent,—i.e., as a perpetual unfolding in time, space and causality,—in other words, as empiric reality. If we therefore waive the consideration of our own “reality” for the present, if we conceive our empiric existence, and that of the world generally, as a representation of the Primordial Unity generated every moment, we shall then have to regard the dream as an appearance of appearance, hence as a still higher gratification of the primordial desire for appearance. It is for this same reason that the innermost heart of Nature experiences that indescribable joy in the naïve artist and in the naïve work of art, which is likewise only “an appearance of appearance.” In a symbolic painting, Raphael, himself one of these immortal “naïve” ones, has represented to us this depotentiating of appearance to appearance, the primordial process of the naïve artist and at the same time of Apollonian culture. In his Transfiguration, the lower half, with the possessed boy, the despairing bearers, the helpless, terrified disciples, shows to us the reflection of eternal primordial pain, the sole basis of the world: the “appearance” here is the counter-appearance of eternal Contradiction, the father of things. Out of this appearance then arises, like an ambrosial vapour, a visionlike new world of appearances, of which those wrapt in the first appearance see nothing—a radiant floating in purest bliss and painless Contemplation beaming from wide-open eyes. Here there is presented to our view, in the highest symbolism of art, that Apollonian world of beauty and its substratum,[Pg 40] the terrible wisdom of Silenus, and we comprehend, by intuition, their necessary interdependence. Apollo, however, again appears to us as the apotheosis of the principium individuationis, in which alone the perpetually attained end of the Primordial Unity, its redemption through appearance, is consummated: he shows us, with sublime attitudes, how the entire world of torment is necessary, that thereby the individual may be impelled to realise the redeeming vision, and then, sunk in contemplation thereof, quietly sit in his fluctuating barque, in the midst of the sea.

This apotheosis of individuation, if it be at all conceived as imperative and laying down precepts, knows but one law—the individual, i.e., the observance of the boundaries of the individual, measure in the Hellenic sense. Apollo, as ethical deity, demands due proportion of his disciples, and, that this may be observed, he demands self-knowledge. And thus, parallel to the æsthetic necessity for beauty, there run the demands “know thyself” and “not too much,” while presumption and undueness are regarded as the truly hostile demons of the non-Apollonian sphere, hence as characteristics of the pre-Apollonian age, that of the Titans, and of the extra-Apollonian world, that of the barbarians. Because of his Titan-like love for man, Prometheus had to be torn to pieces by vultures; because of his excessive wisdom, which solved the riddle of the Sphinx, Œdipus had to plunge into a bewildering vortex of monstrous crimes: thus did the Delphic god interpret the Grecian past.

[Pg 41]

So also the effects wrought by the Dionysian appeared “titanic” and “barbaric” to the Apollonian Greek: while at the same time he could not conceal from himself that he too was inwardly related to these overthrown Titans and heroes. Indeed, he had to recognise still more than this: his entire existence, with all its beauty and moderation, rested on a hidden substratum of suffering and of knowledge, which was again disclosed to him by the Dionysian. And lo! Apollo could not live without Dionysus! The “titanic” and the “barbaric” were in the end not less necessary than the Apollonian. And now let us imagine to ourselves how the ecstatic tone of the Dionysian festival sounded in ever more luring and bewitching strains into this artificially confined world built on appearance and moderation, how in these strains all the undueness of nature, in joy, sorrow, and knowledge, even to the transpiercing shriek, became audible: let us ask ourselves what meaning could be attached to the psalmodising artist of Apollo, with the phantom harp-sound, as compared with this demonic folk-song! The muses of the arts of “appearance” paled before an art which, in its intoxication, spoke the truth, the wisdom of Silenus cried “woe! woe!” against the cheerful Olympians. The individual, with all his boundaries and due proportions, went under in the self-oblivion of the Dionysian states and forgot the Apollonian precepts. The Undueness revealed itself as truth, contradiction, the bliss born of pain, declared itself but of the heart of nature. And thus, wherever the Dionysian prevailed, the Apollonian was[Pg 42] routed and annihilated. But it is quite as certain that, where the first assault was successfully withstood, the authority and majesty of the Delphic god exhibited itself as more rigid and menacing than ever. For I can only explain to myself the Doric state and Doric art as a permanent war-camp of the Apollonian: only by incessant opposition to the titanic-barbaric nature of the Dionysian was it possible for an art so defiantly-prim, so encompassed with bulwarks, a training so warlike and rigorous, a constitution so cruel and relentless, to last for any length of time.

Up to this point we have enlarged upon the observation made at the beginning of this essay: how the Dionysian and the Apollonian, in ever new births succeeding and mutually augmenting one another, controlled the Hellenic genius: how from out the age of “bronze,” with its Titan struggles and rigorous folk-philosophy, the Homeric world develops under the fostering sway of the Apollonian impulse to beauty, how this “naïve” splendour is again overwhelmed by the inbursting flood of the Dionysian, and how against this new power the Apollonian rises to the austere majesty of Doric art and the Doric view of things. If, then, in this way, in the strife of these two hostile principles, the older Hellenic history falls into four great periods of art, we are now driven to inquire after the ulterior purpose of these unfoldings and processes, unless perchance we should regard the last-attained period, the period of Doric art, as the end and aim of these artistic impulses: and here the sublime and highly celebrated art-work of[Pg 43] Attic tragedy and dramatic dithyramb presents itself to our view as the common goal of both these impulses, whose mysterious union, after many and long precursory struggles, found its glorious consummation in such a child,—which is at once Antigone and Cassandra.

5.

We now approach the real purpose of our investigation, which aims at acquiring a knowledge of the Dionyso-Apollonian genius and his art-work, or at least an anticipatory understanding of the mystery of the aforesaid union. Here we shall ask first of all where that new germ which subsequently developed into tragedy and dramatic dithyramb first makes itself perceptible in the Hellenic world. The ancients themselves supply the answer in symbolic form, when they place Homer and Archilochus as the forefathers and torch-bearers of Greek poetry side by side on gems, sculptures, etc., in the sure conviction that only these two thoroughly original compeers, from whom a stream of fire flows over the whole of Greek posterity, should be taken into consideration. Homer, the aged dreamer sunk in himself, the type of the Apollonian naïve artist, beholds now with astonishment the impassioned genius of the warlike votary of the muses, Archilochus, violently tossed to and fro on the billows of existence: and modern æsthetics could only add by way of interpretation, that here the “objective” artist is confronted by the first “subjective” artist.[Pg 44] But this interpretation is of little service to us, because we know the subjective artist only as the poor artist, and in every type and elevation of art we demand specially and first of all the conquest of the Subjective, the redemption from the “ego” and the cessation of every individual will and desire; indeed, we find it impossible to believe in any truly artistic production, however insignificant, without objectivity, without pure, interestless contemplation. Hence our æsthetics must first solve the problem as to how the “lyrist” is possible as an artist: he who according to the experience of all ages continually says “I” and sings off to us the entire chromatic scale of his passions and desires. This very Archilochus appals us, alongside of Homer, by his cries of hatred and scorn, by the drunken outbursts of his desire. Is not just he then, who has been called the first subjective artist, the non-artist proper? But whence then the reverence which was shown to him—the poet—in very remarkable utterances by the Delphic oracle itself, the focus of “objective” art?

Schiller has enlightened us concerning his poetic procedure by a psychological observation, inexplicable to himself, yet not apparently open to any objection. He acknowledges that as the preparatory state to the act of poetising he had not perhaps before him or within him a series of pictures with co-ordinate causality of thoughts, but rather a musical mood (“The perception with me is at first without a clear and definite object; this forms itself later. A certain musical mood of[Pg 45] mind precedes, and only after this does the poetical idea follow with me.”) Add to this the most important phenomenon of all ancient lyric poetry, the union, regarded everywhere as natural, of the lyrist with the musician, their very identity, indeed,—compared with which our modern lyric poetry is like the statue of a god without a head,—and we may now, on the basis of our metaphysics of æsthetics set forth above, interpret the lyrist to ourselves as follows. As Dionysian artist he is in the first place become altogether one with the Primordial Unity, its pain and contradiction, and he produces the copy of this Primordial Unity as music, granting that music has been correctly termed a repetition and a recast of the world; but now, under the Apollonian dream-inspiration, this music again becomes visible to him as in a symbolic dream-picture. The formless and intangible reflection of the primordial pain in music, with its redemption in appearance, then generates a second mirroring as a concrete symbol or example. The artist has already surrendered his subjectivity in the Dionysian process: the picture which now shows to him his oneness with the heart of the world, is a dream-scene, which embodies the primordial contradiction and primordial pain, together with the primordial joy, of appearance. The “I” of the lyrist sounds therefore from the abyss of being: its “subjectivity,” in the sense of the modern æsthetes, is a fiction. When Archilochus, the first lyrist of the Greeks, makes known both his mad love and his contempt to the daughters of Lycambes, it is not his passion which[Pg 46] dances before us in orgiastic frenzy: we see Dionysus and the Mænads, we see the drunken reveller Archilochus sunk down to sleep—as Euripides depicts it in the Bacchæ, the sleep on the high Alpine pasture, in the noonday sun:—and now Apollo approaches and touches him with the laurel. The Dionyso-musical enchantment of the sleeper now emits, as it were, picture sparks, lyrical poems, which in their highest development are called tragedies and dramatic dithyrambs.

The plastic artist, as also the epic poet, who is related to him, is sunk in the pure contemplation of pictures. The Dionysian musician is, without any picture, himself just primordial pain and the primordial re-echoing thereof. The lyric genius is conscious of a world of pictures and symbols—growing out of the state of mystical self-abnegation and oneness,—which has a colouring causality and velocity quite different from that of the world of the plastic artist and epic poet. While the latter lives in these pictures, and only in them, with joyful satisfaction, and never grows tired of contemplating them with love, even in their minutest characters, while even the picture of the angry Achilles is to him but a picture, the angry expression of which he enjoys with the dream-joy in appearance—so that, by this mirror of appearance, he is guarded against being unified and blending with his figures;—the pictures of the lyrist on the other hand are nothing but his very self and, as it were, only different projections of himself, on account of which he as the moving centre of this world is entitled to say “I”: only[Pg 47] of course this self is not the same as that of the waking, empirically real man, but the only verily existent and eternal self resting at the basis of things, by means of the images whereof the lyric genius sees through even to this basis of things. Now let us suppose that he beholds himself also among these images as non-genius, i.e., his subject, the whole throng of subjective passions and impulses of the will directed to a definite object which appears real to him; if now it seems as if the lyric genius and the allied non-genius were one, and as if the former spoke that little word “I” of his own accord, this appearance will no longer be able to lead us astray, as it certainly led those astray who designated the lyrist as the subjective poet. In truth, Archilochus, the passionately inflamed, loving and hating man, is but a vision of the genius, who by this time is no longer Archilochus, but a genius of the world, who expresses his primordial pain symbolically in the figure of the man Archilochus: while the subjectively willing and desiring man, Archilochus, can never at any time be a poet. It is by no means necessary, however, that the lyrist should see nothing but the phenomenon of the man Archilochus before him as a reflection of eternal being; and tragedy shows how far the visionary world of the lyrist may depart from this phenomenon, to which, of course, it is most intimately related.

Schopenhauer, who did not shut his eyes to the difficulty presented by the lyrist in the philosophical contemplation of art, thought he had found a way out of it, on which, however, I cannot[Pg 48] accompany him; while he alone, in his profound metaphysics of music, held in his hands the means whereby this difficulty could be definitely removed: as I believe I have removed it here in his spirit and to his honour. In contrast to our view, he describes the peculiar nature of song as follows[4] (Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, I. 295):—”It is the subject of the will, i.e., his own volition, which fills the consciousness of the singer; often as an unbound and satisfied desire (joy), but still more often as a restricted desire (grief), always as an emotion, a passion, or an agitated frame of mind. Besides this, however, and along with it, by the sight of surrounding nature, the singer becomes conscious of himself as the subject of pure will-less knowing, the unbroken, blissful peace of which now appears, in contrast to the stress of desire, which is always restricted and always needy. The feeling of this contrast, this alternation, is really what the song as a whole expresses and what principally constitutes the lyrical state of mind. In it pure knowing comes to us as it were to deliver us from desire and the stress thereof: we follow, but only for an instant; for desire, the remembrance of our personal ends, tears us anew from peaceful contemplation; yet ever again the next beautiful surrounding in which the pure will-less knowledge presents itself to us, allures us away from desire. Therefore, in song and in the lyrical mood, desire[Pg 49] (the personal interest of the ends) and the pure perception of the surrounding which presents itself, are wonderfully mingled with each other; connections between them are sought for and imagined; the subjective disposition, the affection of the will, imparts its own hue to the contemplated surrounding, and conversely, the surroundings communicate the reflex of their colour to the will. The true song is the expression of the whole of this mingled and divided state of mind.”

Who could fail to see in this description that lyric poetry is here characterised as an imperfectly attained art, which seldom and only as it were in leaps arrives at its goal, indeed, as a semi-art, the essence of which is said to consist in this, that desire and pure contemplation, i.e., the unæsthetic and the æsthetic condition, are wonderfully mingled with each other? We maintain rather, that this entire antithesis, according to which, as according to some standard of value, Schopenhauer, too, still classifies the arts, the antithesis between the subjective and the objective, is quite out of place in æsthetics, inasmuch as the subject i.e., the desiring individual who furthers his own egoistic ends, can be conceived only as the adversary, not as the origin of art. In so far as the subject is the artist, however, he has already been released from his individual will, and has become as it were the medium, through which the one verily existent Subject celebrates his redemption in appearance. For this one thing must above all be clear to us, to our humiliation and exaltation, that the entire comedy of art is not at all performed,[Pg 50] say, for our betterment and culture, and that we are just as little the true authors of this art-world: rather we may assume with regard to ourselves, that its true author uses us as pictures and artistic projections, and that we have our highest dignity in our significance as works of art—for only as an æsthetic phenomenon is existence and the world eternally justified:—while of course our consciousness of this our specific significance hardly differs from the kind of consciousness which the soldiers painted on canvas have of the battle represented thereon. Hence all our knowledge of art is at bottom quite illusory, because, as knowing persons we are not one and identical with the Being who, as the sole author and spectator of this comedy of art, prepares a perpetual entertainment for himself. Only in so far as the genius in the act of artistic production coalesces with this primordial artist of the world, does he get a glimpse of the eternal essence of art, for in this state he is, in a marvellous manner, like the weird picture of the fairy-tale which can at will turn its eyes and behold itself; he is now at once subject and object, at once poet, actor, and spectator.

[4]World as Will and Idea, I. 323, 4th ed. of Haldane and Kemp’s translation. Quoted with a few changes.

6.

With reference to Archilochus, it has been established by critical research that he introduced the folk-song into literature, and, on account thereof, deserved, according to the general estimate of the Greeks, his unique position alongside of Homer. But what is this popular folk-song in[Pg 51] contrast to the wholly Apollonian epos? What else but the perpetuum vestigium of a union of the Apollonian and the Dionysian? Its enormous diffusion among all peoples, still further enhanced by ever new births, testifies to the power of this artistic double impulse of nature: which leaves its vestiges in the popular song in like manner as the orgiastic movements of a people perpetuate themselves in its music. Indeed, one might also furnish historical proofs, that every period which is highly productive in popular songs has been most violently stirred by Dionysian currents, which we must always regard as the substratum and prerequisite of the popular song.

First of all, however, we regard the popular song as the musical mirror of the world, as the Original melody, which now seeks for itself a parallel dream-phenomenon and expresses it in poetry. Melody is therefore primary and universal, and as such may admit of several objectivations, in several texts. Likewise, in the naïve estimation of the people, it is regarded as by far the more important and necessary. Melody generates the poem out of itself by an ever-recurring process. The strophic form of the popular song points to the same phenomenon, which I always beheld with astonishment, till at last I found this explanation. Any one who in accordance with this theory examines a collection of popular songs, such as “Des Knaben Wunderhorn,” will find innumerable instances of the perpetually productive melody scattering picture sparks all around: which in their variegation, their abrupt change,[Pg 52] their mad precipitance, manifest a power quite unknown to the epic appearance and its steady flow. From the point of view of the epos, this unequal and irregular pictorial world of lyric poetry must be simply condemned: and the solemn epic rhapsodists of the Apollonian festivals in the age of Terpander have certainly done so.

Accordingly, we observe that in the poetising of the popular song, language is strained to its utmost to imitate music; and hence a new world of poetry begins with Archilochus, which is fundamentally opposed to the Homeric. And in saying this we have pointed out the only possible relation between poetry and music, between word and tone: the word, the picture, the concept here seeks an expression analogous to music and now experiences in itself the power of music. In this sense we may discriminate between two main currents in the history of the language of the Greek people, according as their language imitated either the world of phenomena and of pictures, or the world of music. One has only to reflect seriously on the linguistic difference with regard to colour, syntactical structure, and vocabulary in Homer and Pindar, in order to comprehend the significance of this contrast; indeed, it becomes palpably clear to us that in the period between Homer and Pindar the orgiastic flute tones of Olympus must have sounded forth, which, in an age as late as Aristotle’s, when music was infinitely more developed, transported people to drunken enthusiasm, and which, when their influence was first felt, undoubtedly incited all the poetic means of[Pg 53] expression of contemporaneous man to imitation. I here call attention to a familiar phenomenon of our own times, against which our æsthetics raises many objections. We again and again have occasion to observe how a symphony of Beethoven compels the individual hearers to use figurative speech, though the appearance presented by a collocation of the different pictorial world generated by a piece of music may be never so fantastically diversified and even contradictory. To practise its small wit on such compositions, and to overlook a phenomenon which is certainly worth explaining, is quite in keeping with this æsthetics. Indeed, even if the tone-poet has spoken in pictures concerning a composition, when for instance he designates a certain symphony as the “pastoral” symphony, or a passage therein as “the scene by the brook,” or another as the “merry gathering of rustics,” these are likewise only symbolical representations born out of music—and not perhaps the imitated objects of music—representations which can give us no information whatever concerning the Dionysian content of music, and which in fact have no distinctive value of their own alongside of other pictorical expressions. This process of a discharge of music in pictures we have now to transfer to some youthful, linguistically productive people, to get a notion as to how the strophic popular song originates, and how the entire faculty of speech is stimulated by this new principle of imitation of music.

If, therefore, we may regard lyric poetry as the effulguration of music in pictures and concepts,[Pg 54] we can now ask: “how does music appear in the mirror of symbolism and conception?” It appears as will, taking the word in the Schopenhauerian sense, i.e., as the antithesis of the æsthetic, purely contemplative, and passive frame of mind. Here, however, we must discriminate as sharply as possible between the concept of essentiality and the concept of phenominality; for music, according to its essence, cannot be will, because as such it would have to be wholly banished from the domain of art—for the will is the unæsthetic-in-itself;—yet it appears as will. For in order to express the phenomenon of music in pictures, the lyrist requires all the stirrings of passion, from the whispering of infant desire to the roaring of madness. Under the impulse to speak of music in Apollonian symbols, he conceives of all nature, and himself therein, only as the eternally willing, desiring, longing existence. But in so far as he interprets music by means of pictures, he himself rests in the quiet calm of Apollonian contemplation, however much all around him which he beholds through the medium of music is in a state of confused and violent motion. Indeed, when he beholds himself through this same medium, his own image appears to him in a state of unsatisfied feeling: his own willing, longing, moaning and rejoicing are to him symbols by which he interprets music. Such is the phenomenon of the lyrist: as Apollonian genius he interprets music through the image of the will, while he himself, completely released from the avidity of the will, is the pure, undimmed eye of day.

[Pg 55]

Our whole disquisition insists on this, that lyric poetry is dependent on the spirit of music just as music itself in its absolute sovereignty does not require the picture and the concept, but only endures them as accompaniments. The poems of the lyrist can express nothing which has not already been contained in the vast universality and absoluteness of the music which compelled him to use figurative speech. By no means is it possible for language adequately to render the cosmic symbolism of music, for the very reason that music stands in symbolic relation to the primordial contradiction and primordial pain in the heart of the Primordial Unity, and therefore symbolises a sphere which is above all appearance and before all phenomena. Rather should we say that all phenomena, compared with it, are but symbols: hence language, as the organ and symbol of phenomena, cannot at all disclose the innermost essence, of music; language can only be in superficial contact with music when it attempts to imitate music; while the profoundest significance of the latter cannot be brought one step nearer to us by all the eloquence of lyric poetry.

7.

We shall now have to avail ourselves of all the principles of art hitherto considered, in order to find our way through the labyrinth, as we must designate the origin of Greek tragedy. I shall not be charged with absurdity in saying that the[Pg 56] problem of this origin has as yet not even been seriously stated, not to say solved, however often the fluttering tatters of ancient tradition have been sewed together in sundry combinations and torn asunder again. This tradition tells us in the most unequivocal terms, that tragedy sprang from the tragic chorus, and was originally only chorus and nothing but chorus: and hence we feel it our duty to look into the heart of this tragic chorus as being the real proto-drama, without in the least contenting ourselves with current art-phraseology—according to which the chorus is the ideal spectator, or represents the people in contrast to the regal side of the scene. The latter explanatory notion, which sounds sublime to many a politician—that the immutable moral law was embodied by the democratic Athenians in the popular chorus, which always carries its point over the passionate excesses and extravagances of kings—may be ever so forcibly suggested by an observation of Aristotle: still it has no bearing on the original formation of tragedy, inasmuch as the entire antithesis of king and people, and, in general, the whole politico-social sphere, is excluded from the purely religious beginnings of tragedy; but, considering the well-known classical form of the chorus in Æschylus and Sophocles, we should even deem it blasphemy to speak here of the anticipation of a “constitutional representation of the people,” from which blasphemy others have not shrunk, however. The ancient governments knew of no constitutional representation of the people in praxi, and it is to[Pg 57] be hoped that they did not even so much as “anticipate” it in tragedy.

Much more celebrated than this political explanation of the chorus is the notion of A. W. Schlegel, who advises us to regard the chorus, in a manner, as the essence and extract of the crowd of spectators,—as the “ideal spectator.” This view when compared with the historical tradition that tragedy was originally only chorus, reveals itself in its true character, as a crude, unscientific, yet brilliant assertion, which, however, has acquired its brilliancy only through its concentrated form of expression, through the truly Germanic bias in favour of whatever is called “ideal,” and through our momentary astonishment. For we are indeed astonished the moment we compare our well-known theatrical public with this chorus, and ask ourselves if it could ever be possible to idealise something analogous to the Greek chorus out of such a public. We tacitly deny this, and now wonder as much at the boldness of Schlegel’s assertion as at the totally different nature of the Greek public. For hitherto we always believed that the true spectator, be he who he may, had always to remain conscious of having before him a work of art, and not an empiric reality: whereas the tragic chorus of the Greeks is compelled to recognise real beings in the figures of the stage. The chorus of the Oceanides really believes that it sees before it the Titan Prometheus, and considers itself as real as the god of the scene. And are we to own that he is the highest and purest type of spectator, who, like the Oceanides, regards Prometheus as[Pg 58] real and present in body? And is it characteristic of the ideal spectator that he should run on the stage and free the god from his torments? We had believed in an æsthetic public, and considered the individual spectator the better qualified the more he was capable of viewing a work of art as art, that is, æsthetically; but now the Schlegelian expression has intimated to us, that the perfect ideal spectator does not at all suffer the world of the scenes to act æsthetically on him, but corporeo-empirically. Oh, these Greeks! we have sighed; they will upset our æsthetics! But once accustomed to it, we have reiterated the saying of Schlegel, as often as the subject of the chorus has been broached.

But the tradition which is so explicit here speaks against Schlegel: the chorus as such, without the stage,—the primitive form of tragedy,—and the chorus of ideal spectators do not harmonise. What kind of art would that be which was extracted from the concept of the spectator, and whereof we are to regard the “spectator as such” as the true form? The spectator without the play is something absurd. We fear that the birth of tragedy can be explained neither by the high esteem for the moral intelligence of the multitude nor by the concept of the spectator without the play; and we regard the problem as too deep to be even so much as touched by such superficial modes of contemplation.

An infinitely more valuable insight into the signification of the chorus had already been displayed by Schiller in the celebrated Preface to his[Pg 59] Bride of Messina, where he regarded the chorus as a living wall which tragedy draws round herself to guard her from contact with the world of reality, and to preserve her ideal domain and poetical freedom.

It is with this, his chief weapon, that Schiller combats the ordinary conception of the natural, the illusion ordinarily required in dramatic poetry. He contends that while indeed the day on the stage is merely artificial, the architecture only symbolical, and the metrical dialogue purely ideal in character, nevertheless an erroneous view still prevails in the main: that it is not enough to tolerate merely as a poetical license that which is in reality the essence of all poetry. The introduction of the chorus is, he says, the decisive step by which war is declared openly and honestly against all naturalism in art.—It is, methinks, for disparaging this mode of contemplation that our would-be superior age has coined the disdainful catchword “pseudo-idealism.” I fear, however, that we on the other hand with our present worship of the natural and the real have landed at the nadir of all idealism, namely in the region of cabinets of wax-figures. An art indeed exists also here, as in certain novels much in vogue at present: but let no one pester us with the claim that by this art the Schiller-Goethian “Pseudo-idealism” has been vanquished.

It is indeed an “ideal” domain, as Schiller rightly perceived, upon—which the Greek satyric chorus, the chorus of primitive tragedy, was wont to walk, a domain raised far above the actual path[Pg 60] of mortals. The Greek framed for this chorus the suspended scaffolding of a fictitious natural state and placed thereon fictitious natural beings. It is on this foundation that tragedy grew up, and so it could of course dispense from the very first with a painful portrayal of reality. Yet it is, not an arbitrary world placed by fancy betwixt heaven and earth; rather is it a world possessing the same reality and trustworthiness that Olympus with its dwellers possessed for the believing Hellene. The satyr, as being the Dionysian chorist, lives in a religiously acknowledged reality under the sanction of the myth and cult. That tragedy begins with him, that the Dionysian wisdom of tragedy speaks through him, is just as surprising a phenomenon to us as, in general, the derivation of tragedy from the chorus. Perhaps we shall get a starting-point for our inquiry, if I put forward the proposition that the satyr, the fictitious natural being, is to the man of culture what Dionysian music is to civilisation. Concerning this latter, Richard Wagner says that it is neutralised by music even as lamplight by daylight. In like manner, I believe, the Greek man of culture felt himself neutralised in the presence of the satyric chorus: and this is the most immediate effect of the Dionysian tragedy, that the state and society, and, in general, the gaps between man and man give way to an overwhelming feeling of oneness, which leads back to the heart of nature. The metaphysical comfort,—with which, as I have here intimated, every true tragedy dismisses us—that, in spite of the perpetual change of phenomena,[Pg 61] life at bottom is indestructibly powerful and pleasurable, this comfort appears with corporeal lucidity as the satyric chorus, as the chorus of natural beings, who live ineradicable as it were behind all civilisation, and who, in spite of the ceaseless change of generations and the history of nations, remain for ever the same.

With this chorus the deep-minded Hellene, who is so singularly qualified for the most delicate and severe suffering, consoles himself:—he who has glanced with piercing eye into the very heart of the terrible destructive processes of so-called universal history, as also into the cruelty of nature, and is in danger of longing for a Buddhistic negation of the will. Art saves him, and through art life saves him—for herself.

For we must know that in the rapture of the Dionysian state, with its annihilation of the ordinary bounds and limits of existence, there is a lethargic element, wherein all personal experiences of the past are submerged. It is by this gulf of oblivion that the everyday world and the world of Dionysian reality are separated from each other. But as soon as this everyday reality rises again in consciousness, it is felt as such, and nauseates us; an ascetic will-paralysing mood is the fruit of these states. In this sense the Dionysian man may be said to resemble Hamlet: both have for once seen into the true nature of things, —they have perceived, but they are loath to act; for their action cannot change the eternal nature of things; they regard it as shameful or ridiculous that one should require of them to set aright the[Pg 62] time which is out of joint. Knowledge kills action, action requires the veil of illusion—it is this lesson which Hamlet teaches, and not the cheap wisdom of John-a-Dreams who from too much reflection, as it were from a surplus of possibilities, does not arrive at action at all. Not reflection, no!—true knowledge, insight into appalling truth, preponderates over all motives inciting to action, in Hamlet as well as in the Dionysian man. No comfort avails any longer; his longing goes beyond a world after death, beyond the gods themselves; existence with its glittering reflection in the gods, or in an immortal other world is abjured. In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence, he now understands the symbolism in the fate of Ophelia, he now discerns the wisdom of the sylvan god Silenus: and loathing seizes him.

Here, in this extremest danger of the will, art approaches, as a saving and healing enchantress; she alone is able to transform these nauseating reflections on the awfulness or absurdity of existence into representations wherewith it is possible to live: these are the representations of the sublime as the artistic subjugation of the awful, and the comic as the artistic delivery from the nausea of the absurd. The satyric chorus of dithyramb is the saving deed of Greek art; the paroxysms described above spent their force in the intermediary world of these Dionysian followers.

[Pg 63]

8.

The satyr, like the idyllic shepherd of our more recent time, is the offspring of a longing after the Primitive and the Natural; but mark with what firmness and fearlessness the Greek embraced the man of the woods, and again, how coyly and mawkishly the modern man dallied with the flattering picture of a tender, flute-playing, soft-natured shepherd! Nature, on which as yet no knowledge has been at work, which maintains unbroken barriers to culture—this is what the Greek saw in his satyr, which still was not on this account supposed to coincide with the ape. On the contrary: it was the archetype of man, the embodiment of his highest and strongest emotions, as the enthusiastic reveller enraptured By the proximity of his god, as the fellow-suffering companion in whom the suffering of the god repeats itself, as the herald of wisdom speaking from the very depths of nature, as the emblem of the sexual omnipotence of nature, which the Greek was wont to contemplate with reverential awe. The satyr was something sublime and godlike: he could not but appear so, especially to the sad and wearied eye of the Dionysian man. He would have been offended by our spurious tricked-up shepherd, while his eye dwelt with sublime satisfaction on the naked and unstuntedly magnificent characters of nature: here the illusion of culture was brushed away from the archetype of man; here the true man, the bearded satyr, revealed himself, who shouts joyfully to his god. Before[Pg 64] him the cultured man shrank to a lying caricature. Schiller is right also with reference to these beginnings of tragic art: the chorus is a living bulwark against the onsets of reality, because it—the satyric chorus—portrays existence more truthfully, more realistically, more perfectly than the cultured man who ordinarily considers himself as the only reality. The sphere of poetry does not lie outside the world, like some fantastic impossibility of a poet’s imagination: it seeks to be the very opposite, the unvarnished expression of truth, and must for this very reason cast aside the false finery of that supposed reality of the cultured man. The contrast between this intrinsic truth of nature and the falsehood of culture, which poses as the only reality, is similar to that existing between the eternal kernel of things, the thing in itself, and the collective world of phenomena. And even as tragedy, with its metaphysical comfort, points to the eternal life of this kernel of existence, notwithstanding the perpetual dissolution of phenomena, so the symbolism of the satyric chorus already expresses figuratively this primordial relation between the thing in itself and phenomenon. The idyllic shepherd of the modern man is but a copy of the sum of the illusions of culture which he calls nature; the Dionysian Greek desires truth and nature in their most potent form;—he sees himself metamorphosed into the satyr.

The revelling crowd of the votaries of Dionysus rejoices, swayed by such moods and perceptions, the power of which transforms them before their[Pg 65] own eyes, so that they imagine they behold themselves as reconstituted genii of nature, as satyrs. The later constitution of the tragic chorus is the artistic imitation of this natural phenomenon, which of course required a separation of the Dionysian spectators from the enchanted Dionysians. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that the public of the Attic tragedy rediscovered itself in the chorus of the orchestra, that there was in reality no antithesis of public and chorus: for all was but one great sublime chorus of dancing and singing satyrs, or of such as allowed themselves to be represented by the satyrs. The Schlegelian observation must here reveal itself to us in a deeper sense. The chorus is the “ideal spectator”[5] in so far as it is the only beholder,[6] the beholder of the visionary world of the scene. A public of spectators, as known to us, was unknown to the Greeks. In their theatres the terraced structure of the spectators’ space rising in concentric arcs enabled every one, in the strictest sense, to overlook the entire world of culture around him, and in surfeited contemplation to imagine himself a chorist. According to this view, then, we may call the chorus in its primitive stage in proto-tragedy, a self-mirroring of the Dionysian man: a phenomenon which may be best exemplified by the process of the actor, who, if he be truly gifted, sees hovering before his eyes with almost tangible perceptibility the character he is to represent. The satyric chorus is first of all a[Pg 66] vision of the Dionysian throng, just as the world of the stage is, in turn, a vision of the satyric chorus: the power of this vision is great enough to render the eye dull and insensible to the impression of “reality,” to the presence of the cultured men occupying the tiers of seats on every side. The form of the Greek theatre reminds one of a lonesome mountain-valley: the architecture of the scene appears like a luminous cloud-picture which the Bacchants swarming on the mountains behold from the heights, as the splendid encirclement in the midst of which the image of Dionysus is revealed to them.

Owing to our learned conception of the elementary artistic processes, this artistic proto-phenomenon, which is here introduced to explain the tragic chorus, is almost shocking: while nothing can be more certain than that the poet is a poet only in that he beholds himself surrounded by forms which live and act before him, into the innermost being of which his glance penetrates. By reason of a strange defeat in our capacities, we modern men are apt to represent to ourselves the æsthetic proto-phenomenon as too complex and abstract. For the true poet the metaphor is not a rhetorical figure, but a vicarious image which actually hovers before him in place of a concept. The character is not for him an aggregate composed of a studied collection of particular traits, but an irrepressibly live person appearing before his eyes, and differing only from the corresponding vision of the painter by its ever continued life and action. Why is it that[Pg 67] Homer sketches much more vividly[7] than all the other poets? Because he contemplates[8] much more. We talk so abstractly about poetry, because we are all wont to be bad poets. At bottom the æsthetic phenomenon is simple: let a man but have the faculty of perpetually seeing a lively play and of constantly living surrounded by hosts of spirits, then he is a poet: let him but feel the impulse to transform himself and to talk from out the bodies and souls of others, then he is a dramatist.

The Dionysian excitement is able to impart to a whole mass of men this artistic faculty of seeing themselves surrounded by such a host of spirits, with whom they know themselves to be inwardly one. This function of the tragic chorus is the dramatic proto-phenomenon: to see one’s self transformed before one’s self, and then to act as if one had really entered into another body, into another character. This function stands at the beginning of the development of the drama. Here we have something different from the rhapsodist, who does not blend with his pictures, but only sees them, like the painter, with contemplative eye outside of him; here we actually have a surrender of the individual by his entering into another nature. Moreover this phenomenon appears in the form of an epidemic: a whole throng feels itself metamorphosed in this wise. Hence it is that the dithyramb is essentially different from every other variety of the choric song. The virgins, who with[Pg 68] laurel twigs in their hands solemnly proceed to the temple of Apollo and sing a processional hymn, remain what they are and retain their civic names: the dithyrambic chorus is a chorus of transformed beings, whose civic past and social rank are totally forgotten: they have become the timeless servants of their god that live aloof from all the spheres of society. Every other variety of the choric lyric of the Hellenes is but an enormous enhancement of the Apollonian unit-singer: while in the dithyramb we have before us a community of unconscious actors, who mutually regard themselves as transformed among one another.

This enchantment is the prerequisite of all dramatic art. In this enchantment the Dionysian reveller sees himself as a satyr, and as satyr he in turn beholds the god, that is, in his transformation he sees a new vision outside him as the Apollonian consummation of his state. With this new vision the drama is complete.

According to this view, we must understand Greek tragedy as the Dionysian chorus, which always disburdens itself anew in an Apollonian world of pictures. The choric parts, therefore, with which tragedy is interlaced, are in a manner the mother-womb of the entire so-called dialogue, that is, of the whole stage-world, of the drama proper. In several successive outbursts does this primordial basis of tragedy beam forth the vision of the drama, which is a dream-phenomenon throughout, and, as such, epic in character: on the other hand, however, as objectivation of a[Pg 69] Dionysian state, it does not represent the Apollonian redemption in appearance, but, conversely, the dissolution of the individual and his unification with primordial existence. Accordingly, the drama is the Apollonian embodiment of Dionysian perceptions and influences, and is thereby separated from the epic as by an immense gap.

The chorus of Greek tragedy, the symbol of the mass of the people moved by Dionysian excitement, is thus fully explained by our conception of it as here set forth. Whereas, being accustomed to the position of a chorus on the modern stage, especially an operatic chorus, we could never comprehend why the tragic chorus of the Greeks should be older, more primitive, indeed, more important than the “action” proper,—as has been so plainly declared by the voice of tradition; whereas, furthermore, we could not reconcile with this traditional paramount importance and primitiveness the fact of the chorus’ being composed only of humble, ministering beings; indeed, at first only of goatlike satyrs; whereas, finally, the orchestra before the scene was always a riddle to us; we have learned to comprehend at length that the scene, together with the action, was fundamentally and originally conceived only as a vision, that the only reality is just the chorus, which of itself generates the vision and speaks thereof with the entire symbolism of dancing, tone, and word. This chorus beholds in the vision its lord and master Dionysus, and is thus for ever the serving chorus: it sees how he, the god, suffers and glorifies himself, and therefore does not itself act.[Pg 70] But though its attitude towards the god is throughout the attitude of ministration, this is nevertheless the highest expression, the Dionysian expression of Nature, and therefore, like Nature herself, the chorus utters oracles and wise sayings when transported with enthusiasm: as fellow-sufferer it is also the sage proclaiming truth from out the heart of Nature. Thus, then, originates the fantastic figure, which seems so shocking, of the wise and enthusiastic satyr, who is at the same time “the dumb man” in contrast to the god: the image of Nature and her strongest impulses, yea, the symbol of Nature, and at the same time the herald of her art and wisdom: musician, poet, dancer, and visionary in one person.

Agreeably to this view, and agreeably to tradition, Dionysus, the proper stage-hero and focus of vision, is not at first actually present in the oldest period of tragedy, but is only imagined as present: i.e., tragedy is originally only “chorus” and not “drama.” Later on the attempt is made to exhibit the god as real and to display the visionary figure together with its glorifying encirclement before the eyes of all; it is here that the “drama” in the narrow sense of the term begins. To the dithyrambic chorus is now assigned the task of exciting the minds of the hearers to such a pitch of Dionysian frenzy, that, when the tragic hero appears on the stage, they do not behold in him, say, the unshapely masked man, but a visionary figure, born as it were of their own ecstasy. Let us picture Admetes thinking[Pg 71] in profound meditation of his lately departed wife Alcestis, and quite consuming himself in spiritual contemplation thereof—when suddenly the veiled figure of a woman resembling her in form and gait is led towards him: let us picture his sudden trembling anxiety, his agitated comparisons, his instinctive conviction—and we shall have an analogon to the sensation with which the spectator, excited to Dionysian frenzy, saw the god approaching on the stage, a god with whose sufferings he had already become identified. He involuntarily transferred the entire picture of the god, fluttering magically before his soul, to this masked figure and resolved its reality as it were into a phantasmal unreality. This is the Apollonian dream-state, in which the world of day is veiled, and a new world, clearer, more intelligible, more striking than the former, and nevertheless more shadowy, is ever born anew in perpetual change before our eyes. We accordingly recognise in tragedy a thorough-going stylistic contrast: the language, colour, flexibility and dynamics of the dialogue fall apart in the Dionysian lyrics of the chorus on the one hand, and in the Apollonian dream-world of the scene on the other, into entirely separate spheres of expression. The Apollonian appearances, in which Dionysus objectifies himself, are no longer “ein ewiges Meer, ein wechselnd Weben, ein glühend Leben,”[9] as is the music of the chorus,[Pg 72] they are no longer the forces merely felt, but not condensed into a picture, by which the inspired votary of Dionysus divines the proximity of his god: the clearness and firmness of epic form now speak to him from the scene, Dionysus now no longer speaks through forces, but as an epic hero, almost in the language of Homer.

[5]Zuschauer.

[6]Schauer.

[7]Anschaulicher.

[8]Anschaut.

[9]An eternal sea, A weaving, flowing, Life, all glowing. Faust, trans. of Bayard Taylor.—TR.

9.

Whatever rises to the surface in the dialogue of the Apollonian part of Greek tragedy, appears simple, transparent, beautiful. In this sense the dialogue is a copy of the Hellene, whose nature reveals itself in the dance, because in the dance the greatest energy is merely potential, but betrays itself nevertheless in flexible and vivacious movements. The language of the Sophoclean heroes, for instance, surprises us by its Apollonian precision and clearness, so that we at once imagine we see into the innermost recesses of their being, and marvel not a little that the way to these recesses is so short. But if for the moment we disregard the character of the hero which rises to the surface and grows visible—and which at bottom is nothing but the light-picture cast on a dark wall, that is, appearance through and through,—if rather we enter into the myth which projects itself in these bright mirrorings, we shall of a sudden experience a phenomenon which bears a reverse relation to one familiar in optics. When, after a vigorous effort to gaze into the sun, we turn away blinded,[Pg 73] we have dark-coloured spots before our eyes as restoratives, so to speak; while, on the contrary, those light-picture phenomena of the Sophoclean hero,—in short, the Apollonian of the mask,—are the necessary productions of a glance into the secret and terrible things of nature, as it were shining spots to heal the eye which dire night has seared. Only in this sense can we hope to be able to grasp the true meaning of the serious and significant notion of “Greek cheerfulness”; while of course we encounter the misunderstood notion of this cheerfulness, as resulting from a state of unendangered comfort, on all the ways and paths of the present time.

The most sorrowful figure of the Greek stage, the hapless Œdipus, was understood by Sophocles as the noble man, who in spite of his wisdom was destined to error and misery, but nevertheless through his extraordinary sufferings ultimately exerted a magical, wholesome influence on all around him, which continues effective even after his death. The noble man does not sin; this is what the thoughtful poet wishes to tell us: all laws, all natural order, yea, the moral world itself, may be destroyed through his action, but through this very action a higher magic circle of influences is brought into play, which establish a new world on the ruins of the old that has been overthrown. This is what the poet, in so far as he is at the same time a religious thinker, wishes to tell us: as poet, he shows us first of all a wonderfully complicated legal mystery, which the judge slowly unravels, link by link, to his own destruction.[Pg 74] The truly Hellenic delight at this dialectical loosening is so great, that a touch of surpassing cheerfulness is thereby communicated to the entire play, which everywhere blunts the edge of the horrible presuppositions of the procedure. In the “Œdipus at Colonus” we find the same cheerfulness, elevated, however, to an infinite transfiguration: in contrast to the aged king, subjected to an excess of misery, and exposed solely as a sufferer to all that befalls him, we have here a supermundane cheerfulness, which descends from a divine sphere and intimates to us that in his purely passive attitude the hero attains his highest activity, the influence of which extends far beyond his life, while his earlier conscious musing and striving led him only to passivity. Thus, then, the legal knot of the fable of Œdipus, which to mortal eyes appears indissolubly entangled, is slowly unravelled—and the profoundest human joy comes upon us in the presence of this divine counterpart of dialectics. If this explanation does justice to the poet, it may still be asked whether the substance of the myth is thereby exhausted; and here it turns out that the entire conception of the poet is nothing but the light-picture which healing nature holds up to us after a glance into the abyss. Œdipus, the murderer of his father, the husband of his mother, Œdipus, the interpreter of the riddle of the Sphinx! What does the mysterious triad of these deeds of destiny tell us? There is a primitive popular belief, especially in Persia, that a wise Magian can be born only of incest: which we have forthwith to interpret to ourselves with reference to the riddle-solving[Pg 75] and mother-marrying Œdipus, to the effect that when the boundary of the present and future, the rigid law of individuation and, in general, the intrinsic spell of nature, are broken by prophetic and magical powers, an extraordinary counter-naturalness—as, in this case, incest—must have preceded as a cause; for how else could one force nature to surrender her secrets but by victoriously opposing her, i.e., by means of the Unnatural? It is this intuition which I see imprinted in the awful triad of the destiny of Œdipus: the very man who solves the riddle of nature—that double-constituted Sphinx—must also, as the murderer of his father and husband of his mother, break the holiest laws of nature. Indeed, it seems as if the myth sought to whisper into our ears that wisdom, especially Dionysian wisdom, is an unnatural abomination, and that whoever, through his knowledge, plunges nature into an abyss of annihilation, must also experience the dissolution of nature in himself. “The sharpness of wisdom turns round upon the sage: wisdom is a crime against nature”: such terrible expressions does the myth call out to us: but the Hellenic poet touches like a sunbeam the sublime and formidable Memnonian statue of the myth, so that it suddenly begins to sound—in Sophoclean melodies.

With the glory of passivity I now contrast the glory of activity which illuminates the Prometheus of Æschylus. That which Æschylus the thinker had to tell us here, but which as a poet he only allows us to surmise by his symbolic picture, the youthful Goethe succeeded[Pg 76] in disclosing to us in the daring words of his Prometheus:—

“Hier sitz’ ich, forme Menschen
Nach meinem Bilde,
Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei,
Zu leiden, zu weinen,
Zu geniessen und zu freuen sich,
Und dein nicht zu achten,
Wie ich!”[10]

Man, elevating himself to the rank of the Titans, acquires his culture by his own efforts, and compels the gods to unite with him, because in his self-sufficient wisdom he has their existence and their limits in his hand. What is most wonderful, however, in this Promethean form, which according to its fundamental conception is the specific hymn of impiety, is the profound Æschylean yearning for justice: the untold sorrow of the bold “single-handed being” on the one hand, and the divine need, ay, the foreboding of a twilight of the gods, on the other, the power of these two worlds of suffering constraining to reconciliation, to metaphysical oneness—all this suggests most forcibly the central and main position of the Æschylean[Pg 77] view of things, which sees Moira as eternal justice enthroned above gods and men. In view of the astonishing boldness with which Æschylus places the Olympian world on his scales of justice, it must be remembered that the deep-minded Greek had an immovably firm substratum of metaphysical thought in his mysteries, and that all his sceptical paroxysms could be discharged upon the Olympians. With reference to these deities, the Greek artist, in particular, had an obscure feeling as to mutual dependency: and it is just in the Prometheus of Æschylus that this feeling is symbolised. The Titanic artist found in himself the daring belief that he could create men and at least destroy Olympian deities: namely, by his superior wisdom, for which, to be sure, he had to atone by eternal suffering. The splendid “can-ing” of the great genius, bought too cheaply even at the price of eternal suffering, the stern pride of the artist: this is the essence and soul of Æschylean poetry, while Sophocles in his Œdipus preludingly strikes up the victory-song of the saint. But even this interpretation which Æschylus has given to the myth does not fathom its astounding depth of terror; the fact is rather that the artist’s delight in unfolding, the cheerfulness of artistic creating bidding defiance to all calamity, is but a shining stellar and nebular image reflected in a black sea of sadness. The tale of Prometheus is an original possession of the entire Aryan family of races, and documentary evidence of their capacity for the profoundly tragic; indeed, it is not improbable that this myth has the same characteristic significance[Pg 78] for the Aryan race that the myth of the fall of man has for the Semitic, and that there is a relationship between the two myths like that of brother and sister. The presupposition of the Promethean myth is the transcendent value which a naïve humanity attach to fire as the true palladium of every ascending culture: that man, however, should dispose at will of this fire, and should not receive it only as a gift from heaven, as the igniting lightning or the warming solar flame, appeared to the contemplative primordial men as crime and robbery of the divine nature. And thus the first philosophical problem at once causes a painful, irreconcilable antagonism between man and God, and puts as it were a mass of rock at the gate of every culture. The best and highest that men can acquire they obtain by a crime, and must now in their turn take upon themselves its consequences, namely the whole flood of sufferings and sorrows with which the offended celestials must visit the nobly aspiring race of man: a bitter reflection, which, by the dignity it confers on crime, contrasts strangely with the Semitic myth of the fall of man, in which curiosity, beguilement, seducibility, wantonness,—in short, a whole series of pre-eminently feminine passions,—were regarded as the origin of evil. What distinguishes the Aryan representation is the sublime view of active sin as the properly Promethean virtue, which suggests at the same time the ethical basis of pessimistic tragedy as the justification of human evil—of human guilt as well as of the suffering incurred thereby. The misery in the essence of things—which[Pg 79] the contemplative Aryan is not disposed to explain away—the antagonism in the heart of the world, manifests itself to him as a medley of different worlds, for instance, a Divine and a human world, each of which is in the right individually, but as a separate existence alongside of another has to suffer for its individuation. With the heroic effort made by the individual for universality, in his attempt to pass beyond the bounds of individuation and become the one universal being, he experiences in himself the primordial contradiction concealed in the essence of things, i.e., he trespasses and suffers. Accordingly crime[11] is understood by the Aryans to be a man, sin[12] by the Semites a woman; as also, the original crime is committed by man, the original sin by woman. Besides, the witches’ chorus says:

“Wir nehmen das nicht so genau:
Mit tausend Schritten macht’s die Frau;
Doch wie sie auch sich eilen kann
Mit einem Sprunge macht’s der Mann.”[13]

He who understands this innermost core of the tale of Prometheus—namely the necessity of crime imposed on the titanically striving individual—will at once be conscious of the un-Apollonian nature of this pessimistic representation: for Apollo seeks to pacify individual beings precisely by drawing[Pg 80] boundary lines between them, and by again and again calling attention thereto, with his requirements of self-knowledge and due proportion, as the holiest laws of the universe. In order, however, to prevent the form from congealing to Egyptian rigidity and coldness in consequence of this Apollonian tendency, in order to prevent the extinction of the motion of the entire lake in the effort to prescribe to the individual wave its path and compass, the high tide of the Dionysian tendency destroyed from time to time all the little circles in which the one-sided Apollonian “will” sought to confine the Hellenic world. The suddenly swelling tide of the Dionysian then takes the separate little wave-mountains of individuals on its back, just as the brother of Prometheus, the Titan Atlas, does with the earth. This Titanic impulse, to become as it were the Atlas of all individuals, and to carry them on broad shoulders higher and higher, farther and farther, is what the Promethean and the Dionysian have in common. In this respect the Æschylean Prometheus is a Dionysian mask, while, in the afore-mentioned profound yearning for justice, Æschylus betrays to the intelligent observer his paternal descent from Apollo, the god of individuation and of the boundaries of justice. And so the double-being of the Æschylean Prometheus, his conjoint Dionysian and Apollonian nature, might be thus expressed in an abstract formula: “Whatever exists is alike just and unjust, and equally justified in both.”

Das ist deine Welt! Das heisst eine Welt![14]

[10]

“Here sit I, forming mankind
In my image,
A race resembling me,—
To sorrow and to weep,
To taste, to hold, to enjoy,
And not have need of thee,
As I!”
(Translation in Hæckel’s History of the Evolution of Man.)

[11]Der Frevel.

[12]Die Sünde.

[13]

We do not measure with such care:
Woman in thousand steps is there,
But howsoe’er she hasten may.
Man in one leap has cleared the way.
Faust, trans. of Bayard Taylor.—TR.

[14]This is thy world, and what a world!—Faust.

[Pg 81]

10.

It is an indisputable tradition that Greek tragedy in its earliest form had for its theme only the sufferings of Dionysus, and that for some time the only stage-hero therein was simply Dionysus himself. With the same confidence, however, we can maintain that not until Euripides did Dionysus cease to be the tragic hero, and that in fact all the celebrated figures of the Greek stage—Prometheus, Œdipus, etc.—are but masks of this original hero, Dionysus. The presence of a god behind all these masks is the one essential cause of the typical “ideality,” so oft exciting wonder, of these celebrated figures. Some one, I know not whom, has maintained that all individuals are comic as individuals and are consequently un-tragic: from whence it might be inferred that the Greeks in general could not endure individuals on the tragic stage. And they really seem to have had these sentiments: as, in general, it is to be observed that the Platonic discrimination and valuation of the “idea” in contrast to the “eidolon,” the image, is deeply rooted in the Hellenic being. Availing ourselves of Plato’s terminology, however, we should have to speak of the tragic figures of the Hellenic stage somewhat as follows. The one truly real Dionysus appears in a multiplicity of forms, in the mask of a fighting hero and entangled, as it were, in the net of an individual will. As the visibly appearing god now talks and acts, he resembles an erring, striving, suffering[Pg 82] individual: and that, in general, he appears with such epic precision and clearness, is due to the dream-reading Apollo, who reads to the chorus its Dionysian state through this symbolic appearance. In reality, however, this hero is the suffering Dionysus of the mysteries, a god experiencing in himself the sufferings of individuation, of whom wonderful myths tell that as a boy he was dismembered by the Titans and has been worshipped in this state as Zagreus:[15] whereby is intimated that this dismemberment, the properly Dionysian suffering, is like a transformation into air, water, earth, and fire, that we must therefore regard the state of individuation as the source and primal cause of all suffering, as something objectionable in itself. From the smile of this Dionysus sprang the Olympian gods, from his tears sprang man. In his existence as a dismembered god, Dionysus has the dual nature of a cruel barbarised demon, and a mild pacific ruler. But the hope of the epopts looked for a new birth of Dionysus, which we have now to conceive of in anticipation as the end of individuation: it was for this coming third Dionysus that the stormy jubilation-hymns of the epopts resounded. And it is only this hope that sheds a ray of joy upon the features of a world torn asunder and shattered into individuals: as is symbolised in the myth by Demeter sunk in eternal sadness, who rejoices again only when told[Pg 83] that she may once more give birth to Dionysus In the views of things here given we already have all the elements of a profound and pessimistic contemplation of the world, and along with these we have the mystery doctrine of tragedy: the fundamental knowledge of the oneness of all existing things, the consideration of individuation as the primal cause of evil, and art as the joyous hope that the spell of individuation may be broken, as the augury of a restored oneness.

It has already been intimated that the Homeric epos is the poem of Olympian culture, wherewith this culture has sung its own song of triumph over the terrors of the war of the Titans. Under the predominating influence of tragic poetry, these Homeric myths are now reproduced anew, and show by this metempsychosis that meantime the Olympian culture also has been vanquished by a still deeper view of things. The haughty Titan Prometheus has announced to his Olympian tormentor that the extremest danger will one day menace his rule, unless he ally with him betimes. In Æschylus we perceive the terrified Zeus, apprehensive of his end, in alliance with the Titan. Thus, the former age of the Titans is subsequently brought from Tartarus once more to the light of day. The philosophy of wild and naked nature beholds with the undissembled mien of truth the myths of the Homeric world as they dance past: they turn pale, they tremble before the lightning glance of this goddess—till the powerful fist[16] of[Pg 84] the Dionysian artist forces them into the service of the new deity. Dionysian truth takes over the entire domain of myth as symbolism of its knowledge, which it makes known partly in the public cult of tragedy and partly in the secret celebration of the dramatic mysteries, always, however, in the old mythical garb. What was the power, which freed Prometheus from his vultures and transformed the myth into a vehicle of Dionysian wisdom? It is the Heracleian power of music: which, having reached its highest manifestness in tragedy, can invest myths with a new and most profound significance, which we have already had occasion to characterise as the most powerful faculty of music. For it is the fate of every myth to insinuate itself into the narrow limits of some alleged historical reality, and to be treated by some later generation as a solitary fact with historical claims: and the Greeks were already fairly on the way to restamp the whole of their mythical juvenile dream sagaciously and arbitrarily into a historico-pragmatical juvenile history. For this is the manner in which religions are wont to die out: when of course under the stern, intelligent eyes of an orthodox dogmatism, the mythical presuppositions of a religion are systematised as a completed sum of historical events, and when one begins apprehensively to defend the credibility of the myth, while at the same time opposing all continuation of their natural vitality and luxuriance; when, accordingly, the feeling for myth dies out, and its place is taken by the claim of religion to historical[Pg 85] foundations. This dying myth was now seized by the new-born genius of Dionysian music, in whose hands it bloomed once more, with such colours as it had never yet displayed, with a fragrance that awakened a longing anticipation of a metaphysical world. After this final effulgence it collapses, its leaves wither, and soon the scoffing Lucians of antiquity catch at the discoloured and faded flowers which the winds carry off in every direction. Through tragedy the myth attains its profoundest significance, its most expressive form; it rises once more like a wounded hero, and the whole surplus of vitality, together with the philosophical calmness of the Dying, burns in its eyes with a last powerful gleam.

What meantest thou, oh impious Euripides, in seeking once more to enthral this dying one? It died under thy ruthless hands: and then thou madest use of counterfeit, masked myth, which like the ape of Heracles could only trick itself out in the old finery. And as myth died in thy hands, so also died the genius of music; though thou couldst covetously plunder all the gardens of music—thou didst only realise a counterfeit, masked music. And because thou hast forsaken Dionysus. Apollo hath also forsaken thee; rout up all the passions from their haunts and conjure them into thy sphere, sharpen and polish a sophistical dialectics for the speeches of thy heroes—thy very heroes have only counterfeit, masked passions, and speak only counterfeit, masked music.

[15]See article by Mr. Arthur Symons in The Academy, 30th August 1902.

[16]Die mächtige Faust.—Cf. Faust, Chorus of Spirits.—TR.

[Pg 86]

11.

Greek tragedy had a fate different from that of all her older sister arts: she died by suicide, in consequence of an irreconcilable conflict; accordingly she died tragically, while they all passed away very calmly and beautifully in ripe old age. For if it be in accordance with a happy state of things to depart this life without a struggle, leaving behind a fair posterity, the closing period of these older arts exhibits such a happy state of things: slowly they sink out of sight, and before their dying eyes already stand their fairer progeny, who impatiently lift up their heads with courageous mien. The death of Greek tragedy, on the other hand, left an immense void, deeply felt everywhere. Even as certain Greek sailors in the time of Tiberius once heard upon a lonesome island the thrilling cry, “great Pan is dead”: so now as it were sorrowful wailing sounded through the Hellenic world: “Tragedy is dead! Poetry itself has perished with her! Begone, begone, ye stunted, emaciated epigones! Begone to Hades, that ye may for once eat your fill of the crumbs of your former masters!”

But when after all a new Art blossomed forth which revered tragedy as her ancestress and mistress, it was observed with horror that she did indeed bear the features of her mother, but those very features the latter had exhibited in her long death-struggle. It was Euripides who fought this death-struggle of tragedy; the later art is known as the New Attic Comedy. In it the degenerate[Pg 87] form of tragedy lived on as a monument of the most painful and violent death of tragedy proper.

This connection between the two serves to explain the passionate attachment to Euripides evinced by the poets of the New Comedy, and hence we are no longer surprised at the wish of Philemon, who would have got himself hanged at once, with the sole design of being able to visit Euripides in the lower regions: if only he could be assured generally that the deceased still had his wits. But if we desire, as briefly as possible, and without professing to say aught exhaustive on the subject, to characterise what Euripides has in common with Menander and Philemon, and what appealed to them so strongly as worthy of imitation: it will suffice to say that the spectator was brought upon the stage by Euripides. He who has perceived the material of which the Promethean tragic writers prior to Euripides formed their heroes, and how remote from their purpose it was to bring the true mask of reality on the stage, will also know what to make of the wholly divergent tendency of Euripides. Through him the commonplace individual forced his way from the spectators’ benches to the stage itself; the mirror in which formerly only great and bold traits found expression now showed the painful exactness that conscientiously reproduces even the abortive lines of nature. Odysseus, the typical Hellene of the Old Art, sank, in the hands of the new poets, to the figure of the Græculus, who, as the good-naturedly cunning domestic slave, stands henceforth in the centre of dramatic[Pg 88] interest. What Euripides takes credit for in the Aristophanean “Frogs,” namely, that by his household remedies he freed tragic art from its pompous corpulency, is apparent above all in his tragic heroes. The spectator now virtually saw and heard his double on the Euripidean stage, and rejoiced that he could talk so well. But this joy was not all: one even learned of Euripides how to speak: he prides himself upon this in his contest with Æschylus: how the people have learned from him how to observe, debate, and draw conclusions according to the rules of art and with the cleverest sophistications. In general it may be said that through this revolution of the popular language he made the New Comedy possible. For it was henceforth no longer a secret, how—and with what saws—the commonplace could represent and express itself on the stage. Civic mediocrity, on which Euripides built all his political hopes, was now suffered to speak, while heretofore the demigod in tragedy and the drunken satyr, or demiman, in comedy, had determined the character of the language. And so the Aristophanean Euripides prides himself on having portrayed the common, familiar, everyday life and dealings of the people, concerning which all are qualified to pass judgment. If now the entire populace philosophises, manages land and goods with unheard-of circumspection, and conducts law-suits, he takes all the credit to himself, and glories in the splendid results of the wisdom with which he inoculated the rabble.

It was to a populace prepared and enlightened[Pg 89] in this manner that the New Comedy could now address itself, of which Euripides had become as it were the chorus-master; only that in this case the chorus of spectators had to be trained. As soon as this chorus was trained to sing in the Euripidean key, there arose that chesslike variety of the drama, the New Comedy, with its perpetual triumphs of cunning and artfulness. But Euripides—the chorus-master—was praised incessantly: indeed, people would have killed themselves in order to learn yet more from him, had they not known that tragic poets were quite as dead as tragedy. But with it the Hellene had surrendered the belief in his immortality; not only the belief in an ideal past, but also the belief in an ideal future. The saying taken from the well-known epitaph, “as an old man, frivolous and capricious,” applies also to aged Hellenism. The passing moment, wit, levity, and caprice, are its highest deities; the fifth class, that of the slaves, now attains to power, at least in sentiment: and if we can still speak at all of “Greek cheerfulness,” it is the cheerfulness of the slave who has nothing of consequence to answer for, nothing great to strive for, and cannot value anything of the past or future higher than the present. It was this semblance of “Greek cheerfulness” which so revolted the deep-minded and formidable natures of the first four centuries of Christianity: this womanish flight from earnestness and terror, this cowardly contentedness with easy pleasure, was not only contemptible to them, but seemed to be a specifically anti-Christian sentiment. And we must ascribe[Pg 90] it to its influence that the conception of Greek antiquity, which lived on for centuries, preserved with almost enduring persistency that peculiar hectic colour of cheerfulness—as if there had never been a Sixth Century with its birth of tragedy, its Mysteries, its Pythagoras and Heraclitus, indeed as if the art-works of that great period did not at all exist, which in fact—each by itself—can in no wise be explained as having sprung from the soil of such a decrepit and slavish love of existence and cheerfulness, and point to an altogether different conception of things as their source.

The assertion made a moment ago, that Euripides introduced the spectator on the stage to qualify him the better to pass judgment on the drama, will make it appear as if the old tragic art was always in a false relation to the spectator: and one would be tempted to extol the radical tendency of Euripides to bring about an adequate relation between art-work and public as an advance on Sophocles. But, as things are, “public” is merely a word, and not at all a homogeneous and constant quantity. Why should the artist be under obligations to accommodate himself to a power whose strength is merely in numbers? And if by virtue of his endowments and aspirations he feels himself superior to every one of these spectators, how could he feel greater respect for the collective expression of all these subordinate capacities than for the relatively highest-endowed individual spectator? In truth, if ever a Greek artist treated his public throughout a long life with presumptuousness and self-sufficiency, it was Euripides, who,[Pg 91] even when the masses threw themselves at his feet, with sublime defiance made an open assault on his own tendency, the very tendency with which he had triumphed over the masses. If this genius had had the slightest reverence for the pandemonium of the public, he would have broken down long before the middle of his career beneath the weighty blows of his own failures. These considerations here make it obvious that our formula—namely, that Euripides brought the spectator upon the stage, in order to make him truly competent to pass judgment—was but a provisional one, and that we must seek for a deeper understanding of his tendency. Conversely, it is undoubtedly well known that Æschylus and Sophocles, during all their lives, indeed, far beyond their lives, enjoyed the full favour of the people, and that therefore in the case of these predecessors of Euripides the idea of a false relation between art-work and public was altogether excluded. What was it that thus forcibly diverted this highly gifted artist, so incessantly impelled to production, from the path over which shone the sun of the greatest names in poetry and the cloudless heaven of popular favour? What strange consideration for the spectator led him to defy, the spectator? How could he, owing to too much respect for the public —dis-respect the public?

Euripides—and this is the solution of the riddle just propounded—felt himself, as a poet, undoubtedly superior to the masses, but not to two of his spectators: he brought the masses upon the stage; these two spectators he revered as the[Pg 92] only competent judges and masters of his art: in compliance with their directions and admonitions, he transferred the entire world of sentiments, passions, and experiences, hitherto present at every festival representation as the invisible chorus on the spectators’ benches, into the souls of his stage-heroes; he yielded to their demands when he also sought for these new characters the new word and the new tone; in their voices alone he heard the conclusive verdict on his work, as also the cheering promise of triumph when he found himself condemned as usual by the justice of the public.

Of these two, spectators the one is—Euripides himself, Euripides as thinker, not as poet. It might be said of him, that his unusually large fund of critical ability, as in the case of Lessing, if it did not create, at least constantly fructified a productively artistic collateral impulse. With this faculty, with all the clearness and dexterity of his critical thought, Euripides had sat in the theatre and striven to recognise in the masterpieces of his great predecessors, as in faded paintings, feature and feature, line and line. And here had happened to him what one initiated in the deeper arcana of Æschylean tragedy must needs have expected: he observed something incommensurable in every feature and in every line, a certain deceptive distinctness and at the same time an enigmatic profundity, yea an infinitude, of background. Even the clearest figure had always a comet’s tail attached to it, which seemed to suggest the uncertain and the inexplicable. The same twilight shrouded the structure of the drama, especially the significance[Pg 93] of the chorus. And how doubtful seemed the solution of the ethical problems to his mind! How questionable the treatment of the myths! How unequal the distribution of happiness and misfortune! Even in the language of the Old Tragedy there was much that was objectionable to him, or at least enigmatical; he found especially too much pomp for simple affairs, too many tropes and immense things for the plainness of the characters. Thus he sat restlessly pondering in the theatre, and as a spectator he acknowledged to himself that he did not understand his great predecessors. If, however, he thought the understanding the root proper of all enjoyment and productivity, he had to inquire and look about to see whether any one else thought as he did, and also acknowledged this incommensurability. But most people, and among them the best individuals, had only a distrustful smile for him, while none could explain why the great masters were still in the right in face of his scruples and objections. And in this painful condition he found that other spectator, who did not comprehend, and therefore did not esteem, tragedy. In alliance with him he could venture, from amid his lonesomeness, to begin the prodigious struggle against the art of Æschylus and Sophocles—not with polemic writings, but as a dramatic poet, who opposed his own conception of tragedy to the traditional one.

[Pg 94]

12.

Before we name this other spectator, let us pause here a moment in order to recall our own impression, as previously described, of the discordant and incommensurable elements in the nature of Æschylean tragedy. Let us think of our own astonishment at the chorus and the tragic hero of that type of tragedy, neither of which we could reconcile with our practices any more than with tradition—till we rediscovered this duplexity itself as the origin and essence of Greek tragedy, as the expression of two interwoven artistic impulses, the Apollonian and the Dionysian.

To separate this primitive and all-powerful Dionysian element from tragedy, and to build up a new and purified form of tragedy on the basis of a non-Dionysian art, morality, and conception of things—such is the tendency of Euripides which now reveals itself to us in a clear light.

In a myth composed in the eve of his life, Euripides himself most urgently propounded to his contemporaries the question as to the value and signification of this tendency. Is the Dionysian entitled to exist at all? Should it not be forcibly rooted out of the Hellenic soil? Certainly, the poet tells us, if only it were possible: but the god Dionysus is too powerful; his most intelligent adversary—like Pentheus in the “Bacchæ”—is unwittingly enchanted by him, and in this enchantment meets his fate. The judgment of the two old sages, Cadmus and Tiresias, seems to be also the judgment of the[Pg 95] aged poet: that the reflection of the wisest individuals does not overthrow old popular traditions, nor the perpetually propagating worship of Dionysus, that in fact it behoves us to display at least a diplomatically cautious concern in the presence of such strange forces: where however it is always possible that the god may take offence at such lukewarm participation, and finally change the diplomat—in this case Cadmus—into a dragon. This is what a poet tells us, who opposed Dionysus with heroic valour throughout a long life—in order finally to wind up his career with a glorification of his adversary, and with suicide, like one staggering from giddiness, who, in order to escape the horrible vertigo he can no longer endure, casts himself from a tower. This tragedy—the Bacchæ—is a protest against the practicability of his own tendency; alas, and it has already been put into practice! The surprising thing had happened: when the poet recanted, his tendency had already conquered. Dionysus had already been scared from the tragic stage, and in fact by a demonic power which spoke through Euripides. Even Euripides was, in a certain sense, only a mask: the deity that spoke through him was neither Dionysus nor Apollo, but an altogether new-born demon, called Socrates. This is the new antithesis: the Dionysian and the Socratic, and the art-work of Greek tragedy was wrecked on it. What if even Euripides now seeks to comfort us by his recantation? It is of no avail: the most magnificent temple lies in ruins. What avails the lamentation of the destroyer, and his[Pg 96] confession that it was the most beautiful of all temples? And even that Euripides has been changed into a dragon as a punishment by the art-critics of all ages—who could be content with this wretched compensation?

Let us now approach this Socratic tendency with which Euripides combated and vanquished Æschylean tragedy.

We must now ask ourselves, what could be the ulterior aim of the Euripidean design, which, in the highest ideality of its execution, would found drama exclusively on the non-Dionysian? What other form of drama could there be, if it was not to be born of the womb of music, in the mysterious twilight of the Dionysian? Only the dramatised epos: in which Apollonian domain of art the tragic effect is of course unattainable. It does not depend on the subject-matter of the events here represented; indeed, I venture to assert that it would have been impossible for Goethe in his projected “Nausikaa” to have rendered tragically effective the suicide of the idyllic being with which he intended to complete the fifth act; so extraordinary is the power of the epic-Apollonian representation, that it charms, before our eyes, the most terrible things by the joy in appearance and in redemption through appearance. The poet of the dramatised epos cannot completely blend with his pictures any more than the epic rhapsodist. He is still just the calm, unmoved embodiment of Contemplation whose wide eyes see the picture before them. The actor in this dramatised epos still remains intrinsically rhapsodist: the consecration[Pg 97] of inner dreaming is on all his actions, so that he is never wholly an actor.

How, then, is the Euripidean play related to this ideal of the Apollonian drama? Just as the younger rhapsodist is related to the solemn rhapsodist of the old time. The former describes his own character in the Platonic “Ion” as follows: “When I am saying anything sad, my eyes fill with tears; when, however, what I am saying is awful and terrible, then my hair stands on end through fear, and my heart leaps.” Here we no longer observe anything of the epic absorption in appearance, or of the unemotional coolness of the true actor, who precisely in his highest activity is wholly appearance and joy in appearance. Euripides is the actor with leaping heart, with hair standing on end; as Socratic thinker he designs the plan, as passionate actor he executes it. Neither in the designing nor in the execution is he an artist pure and simple. And so the Euripidean drama is a thing both cool and fiery, equally capable of freezing and burning; it is impossible for it to attain the Apollonian, effect of the epos, while, on the other hand, it has severed itself as much as possible from Dionysian elements, and now, in order to act at all, it requires new stimulants, which can no longer lie within the sphere of the two unique art-impulses, the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The stimulants are cool, paradoxical thoughts, in place of Apollonian intuitions—and fiery passions—in place Dionysean ecstasies; and in fact, thoughts and passions very realistically copied, and not at all steeped in the ether of art.

[Pg 98]

Accordingly, if we have perceived this much, that Euripides did not succeed in establishing the drama exclusively on the Apollonian, but that rather his non-Dionysian inclinations deviated into a naturalistic and inartistic tendency, we shall now be able to approach nearer to the character æsthetic Socratism. supreme law of which reads about as follows: “to be beautiful everything must be intelligible,” as the parallel to the Socratic proposition, “only the knowing is one virtuous.” With this canon in his hands Euripides measured all the separate elements of the drama, and rectified them according to his principle: the language, the characters, the dramaturgic structure, and the choric music. The poetic deficiency and retrogression, which we are so often wont to impute to Euripides in comparison with Sophoclean tragedy, is for the most part the product of this penetrating critical process, this daring intelligibility. The Euripidian prologue may serve us as an example of the productivity of this, rationalistic method. Nothing could be more opposed to the technique of our stage than the prologue in the drama of Euripides. For a single person to appear at the outset of the play telling us who he is, what precedes the action, what has happened thus far, yea, what will happen in the course of the play, would be designated by a modern playwright as a wanton and unpardonable abandonment of the effect of suspense. Everything that is about to happen is known beforehand; who then cares to wait for it actually to happen?—considering, moreover, that here there is not by any means the exciting relation of a predicting dream to a reality[Pg 99] taking place later on. Euripides speculated quite differently. The effect of tragedy never depended on epic suspense, on the fascinating uncertainty as to what is to happen now and afterwards: but rather on the great rhetoro-lyric scenes in which the passion and dialectics of the chief hero swelled to a broad and mighty stream. Everything was arranged for pathos, not for action: and whatever was not arranged for pathos was regarded as objectionable. But what interferes most with the hearer’s pleasurable satisfaction in such scenes is a missing link, a gap in the texture of the previous history. So long as the spectator has to divine the meaning of this or that person, or the presuppositions of this or that conflict of inclinations and intentions, his complete absorption in the doings and sufferings of the chief persons is impossible, as is likewise breathless fellow-feeling and fellow-fearing. The Æschyleo-Sophoclean tragedy employed the most ingenious devices in the first scenes to place in the hands of the spectator as if by chance all the threads requisite for understanding the whole: a trait in which that noble artistry is approved, which as it were masks the inevitably formal, and causes it to appear as something accidental. But nevertheless Euripides thought he observed that during these first scenes the spectator was in a strange state of anxiety to make out the problem of the previous history, so that the poetic beauties and pathos of the exposition were lost to him. Accordingly he placed the prologue even before the exposition, and put it in the mouth of a person who could be trusted: some deity had often[Pg 100] as it were to guarantee the particulars of the tragedy to the public and remove every doubt as to the reality of the myth: as in the case of Descartes, who could only prove the reality of the empiric world by an appeal to the truthfulness of God and His inability to utter falsehood. Euripides makes use of the same divine truthfulness once more at the close of his drama, in order to ensure to the public the future of his heroes; this is the task of the notorious deus ex machina. Between the preliminary and the additional epic spectacle there is the dramatico-lyric present, the “drama” proper.

Thus Euripides as a poet echoes above all his own conscious knowledge; and it is precisely on this account that he occupies such a notable position in the history of Greek art. With reference to his critico-productive activity, he must often have felt that he ought to actualise in the drama the words at the beginning of the essay of Anaxagoras: “In the beginning all things were mixed together; then came the understanding and created order.” And if Anaxagoras with his “νοῡς” seemed like the first sober person among nothing but drunken philosophers, Euripides may also have conceived his relation to the other tragic poets under a similar figure. As long as the sole ruler and disposer of the universe, the νοῡς, was still excluded from artistic activity, things were all mixed together in a chaotic, primitive mess;—it is thus Euripides was obliged to think, it is thus he was obliged to condemn the “drunken” poets as the first “sober” one among them. What Sophocles said of Æschylus, that he did what was[Pg 101] right, though unconsciously, was surely not in the mind of Euripides: who would have admitted only thus much, that Æschylus, because he wrought unconsciously, did what was wrong. So also the divine Plato speaks for the most part only ironically of the creative faculty of the poet, in so far as it is not conscious insight, and places it on a par with the gift of the soothsayer and dream-interpreter; insinuating that the poet is incapable of composing until he has become unconscious and reason has deserted him. Like Plato, Euripides undertook to show to the world the reverse of the “unintelligent” poet; his æsthetic principle that “to be beautiful everything must be known” is, as I have said, the parallel to the Socratic “to be good everything must be known.” Accordingly we may regard Euripides as the poet of æsthetic Socratism. Socrates, however, was that second spectator who did not comprehend and therefore did not esteem the Old Tragedy; in alliance with him Euripides ventured to be the herald of a new artistic activity. If, then, the Old Tragedy was here destroyed, it follows that æsthetic Socratism was the murderous principle; but in so far as the struggle is directed against the Dionysian element in the old art, we recognise in Socrates the opponent of Dionysus, the new Orpheus who rebels against Dionysus; and although destined to be torn to pieces by the Mænads of the Athenian court, yet puts to flight the overpowerful god himself, who, when he fled from Lycurgus, the king of Edoni, sought refuge in the depths of the ocean—namely, in the mystical flood of a secret cult which gradually overspread the earth.

[Pg 102]

13.

That Socrates stood in close relationship to Euripides in the tendency of his teaching, did not escape the notice of contemporaneous antiquity; the most eloquent expression of this felicitous insight being the tale current in Athens, that Socrates was accustomed to help Euripides in poetising. Both names were mentioned in one breath by the adherents of the “good old time,” whenever they came to enumerating the popular agitators of the day: to whose influence they attributed the fact that the old Marathonian stalwart capacity of body and soul was more and more being sacrificed to a dubious enlightenment, involving progressive degeneration of the physical and mental powers. It is in this tone, half indignantly and half contemptuously, that Aristophanic comedy is wont to speak of both of them—to the consternation of modern men, who would indeed be willing enough to give up Euripides, but cannot suppress their amazement that Socrates should appear in Aristophanes as the first and head sophist, as the mirror and epitome of all sophistical tendencies; in connection with which it offers the single consolation of putting Aristophanes himself in the pillory, as a rakish, lying Alcibiades of poetry. Without here defending the profound instincts of Aristophanes against such attacks, I shall now indicate, by means of the sentiments of the time, the close connection between Socrates and Euripides. With this purpose in view, it is especially to be[Pg 103] remembered that Socrates, as an opponent of tragic art, did not ordinarily patronise tragedy, but only appeared among the spectators when a new play of Euripides was performed. The most noted thing, however, is the close juxtaposition of the two names in the Delphic oracle, which designated Socrates as the wisest of men, but at the same time decided that the second prize in the contest of wisdom was due to Euripides.

Sophocles was designated as the third in this scale of rank; he who could pride himself that, in comparison with Æschylus, he did what was right, and did it, moreover, because he knew what was right. It is evidently just the degree of clearness of this knowledge, which distinguishes these three men in common as the three “knowing ones” of their age.

The most decisive word, however, for this new and unprecedented esteem of knowledge and insight was spoken by Socrates when he found that he was the only one who acknowledged to himself that he knew nothingwhile in his critical pilgrimage through Athens, and calling on the greatest statesmen, orators, poets, and artists, he discovered everywhere the conceit of knowledge. He perceived, to his astonishment, that all these celebrities were without a proper and accurate insight, even with regard to their own callings, and practised them only by instinct. “Only by instinct”: with this phrase we touch upon the heart and core of the Socratic tendency. Socratism condemns therewith existing art as well as existing ethics; wherever Socratism turns its[Pg 104] searching eyes it beholds the lack of insight and the power of illusion; and from this lack infers the inner perversity and objectionableness of existing conditions. From this point onwards, Socrates believed that he was called upon to, correct existence; and, with an air of disregard and superiority, as the precursor of an altogether different culture, art, and morality, he enters single-handed into a world, of which, if we reverently touched the hem, we should count it our greatest happiness.

Here is the extraordinary hesitancy which always seizes upon us with regard to Socrates, and again and again invites us to ascertain the sense and purpose of this most questionable phenomenon of antiquity. Who is it that ventures single-handed to disown the Greek character, which, as Homer, Pindar, and Æschylus, as Phidias, as Pericles, as Pythia and Dionysus, as the deepest abyss and the highest height, is sure of our wondering admiration? What demoniac power is it which would presume to spill this magic draught in the dust? What demigod is it to whom the chorus of spirits of the noblest of mankind must call out: “Weh! Weh! Du hast sie zerstört, die schöne Welt, mit mächtiger Faust; sie stürzt, sie zerfällt!”[17]

[Pg 105]

A key to the character of Socrates is presented to us by the surprising phenomenon designated as the “daimonion” of Socrates. In special circumstances, when his gigantic intellect began to stagger, he got a secure support in the utterances of a divine voice which then spake to him. This voice, whenever it comes, always dissuades. In this totally abnormal nature instinctive wisdom only appears in order to hinder the progress of conscious perception here and there. While in all productive men it is instinct which is the creatively affirmative force, consciousness only comporting itself critically and dissuasively; with Socrates it is instinct which becomes critic; it is consciousness which becomes creator—a perfect monstrosity per defectum! And we do indeed observe here a monstrous defectus of all mystical aptitude, so that Socrates might be designated as the specific non-mystic, in whom the logical nature is developed, through a superfoetation, to the same excess as instinctive wisdom is developed in the mystic. On the other hand, however, the logical instinct which appeared in Socrates was absolutely prohibited from turning against itself; in its unchecked flow it manifests a native power such as we meet with, to our shocking surprise, only among the very greatest instinctive forces. He who has experienced even a breath of the divine naïveté and security of the Socratic course of life in the Platonic writings, will also feel that the enormous driving-wheel of logical Socratism is in motion, as it were, behind Socrates, and that it must be viewed through Socrates as through a[Pg 106] shadow. And that he himself had a boding of this relation is apparent from the dignified earnestness with which he everywhere, and even before his judges, insisted on his divine calling. To refute him here was really as impossible as to approve of his instinct-disintegrating influence. In view of this indissoluble conflict, when he had at last been brought before the forum of the Greek state, there was only one punishment demanded, namely exile; he might have been sped across the borders as something thoroughly enigmatical, irrubricable and inexplicable, and so posterity would have been quite unjustified in charging the Athenians with a deed of ignominy. But that the sentence of death, and not mere exile, was pronounced upon him, seems to have been brought about by Socrates himself, with perfect knowledge of the circumstances, and without the natural fear of death: he met his death with the calmness with which, according to the description of Plato, he leaves the symposium at break of day, as the last of the revellers, to begin a new day; while the sleepy companions remain behind on the benches and the floor, to dream of Socrates, the true eroticist. The dying Socrates became the new ideal of the noble Greek youths,—an ideal they had never yet beheld,—and above all, the typical Hellenic youth, Plato, prostrated himself before this scene with all the fervent devotion of his visionary soul.

[17]

Woe! Woe!
Thou hast it destroyed,
The beautiful world;
With powerful fist;
In ruin ’tis hurled!
Faust, trans. of Bayard Taylor.—TR.

[Pg 107]

14.

Let us now imagine the one great Cyclopean eye of Socrates fixed on tragedy, that eye in which the fine frenzy of artistic enthusiasm had never glowed—let us think how it was denied to this eye to gaze with pleasure into the Dionysian abysses—what could it not but see in the “sublime and greatly lauded” tragic art, as Plato called it? Something very absurd, with causes that seemed to be without effects, and effects apparently without causes; the whole, moreover, so motley and diversified that it could not but be repugnant to a thoughtful mind, a dangerous incentive, however, to sensitive and irritable souls. We know what was the sole kind of poetry which he comprehended: the Æsopian fable: and he did this no doubt with that smiling complaisance with which the good honest Gellert sings the praise of poetry in the fable of the bee and the hen:—

“Du siehst an mir, wozu sie nützt,
Dem, der nicht viel Verstand besitzt,
Die Wahrheit durch ein Bild zu sagen.”[18]

But then it seemed to Socrates that tragic art did not even “tell the truth”: not to mention the fact that it addresses itself to him who “hath but little wit”; consequently not to the philosopher: a twofold reason why it should be avoided. Like[Pg 108] Plato, he reckoned it among the seductive arts which only represent the agreeable, not the useful, and hence he required of his disciples abstinence and strict separation from such unphilosophical allurements; with such success that the youthful tragic poet Plato first of all burned his poems to be able to become a scholar of Socrates. But where unconquerable native capacities bore up against the Socratic maxims, their power, together with the momentum of his mighty character, still sufficed to force poetry itself into new and hitherto unknown channels.

An instance of this is the aforesaid Plato: he, who in the condemnation of tragedy and of art in general certainly did not fall short of the naïve cynicism of his master, was nevertheless constrained by sheer artistic necessity to create a form of art which is inwardly related even to the then existing forms of art which he repudiated. Plato’s main objection to the old art—that it is the imitation of a phantom,[19] and hence belongs to a sphere still lower than the empiric world—could not at all apply to the new art: and so we find Plato endeavouring to go beyond reality and attempting to represent the idea which underlies this pseudo-reality. But Plato, the thinker, thereby arrived by a roundabout road just at the point where he had always been at home as poet, and from which Sophocles and all the old artists had solemnly protested against that objection. If tragedy absorbed into itself all the[Pg 109] earlier varieties of art, the same could again be said in an unusual sense of Platonic dialogue, which, engendered by a mixture of all the then existing forms and styles, hovers midway between narrative, lyric and drama, between prose and poetry, and has also thereby broken loose from the older strict law of unity of linguistic form; a movement which was carried still farther by the cynic writers, who in the most promiscuous style, oscillating to and fro betwixt prose and metrical forms, realised also the literary picture of the “raving Socrates” whom they were wont to represent in life. Platonic dialogue was as it were the boat in which the shipwrecked ancient poetry saved herself together with all her children: crowded into a narrow space and timidly obsequious to the one steersman, Socrates, they now launched into a new world, which never tired of looking at the fantastic spectacle of this procession. In very truth, Plato has given to all posterity the prototype of a new form of art, the prototype of the novel which must be designated as the infinitely evolved Æsopian fable, in which poetry holds the same rank with reference to dialectic philosophy as this same philosophy held for many centuries with reference to theology: namely, the rank of ancilla. This was the new position of poetry into which Plato forced it under the pressure of the demon-inspired Socrates.

Here philosophic thought overgrows art and compels it to cling close to the trunk of dialectics. The Apollonian tendency has chrysalised in the logical schematism; just as something analogous[Pg 110] in the case of Euripides (and moreover a translation of the Dionysian into the naturalistic emotion) was forced upon our attention. Socrates, the dialectical hero in Platonic drama, reminds us of the kindred nature of the Euripidean hero, who has to defend his actions by arguments and counter-arguments, and thereby so often runs the risk of forfeiting our tragic pity; for who could mistake the optimistic element in the essence of dialectics, which celebrates a jubilee in every conclusion, and can breathe only in cool clearness and consciousness: the optimistic element, which, having once forced its way into tragedy, must gradually overgrow its Dionysian regions, and necessarily impel it to self-destruction—even to the death-leap into the bourgeois drama. Let us but realise the consequences of the Socratic maxims: “Virtue is knowledge; man only sins from ignorance; he who is virtuous is happy”: these three fundamental forms of optimism involve the death of tragedy. For the virtuous hero must now be a dialectician; there must now be a necessary, visible connection between virtue and knowledge, between belief and morality; the transcendental justice of the plot in Æschylus is now degraded to the superficial and audacious principle of poetic justice with its usual deus ex machina.

How does the chorus, and, in general, the entire Dionyso-musical substratum of tragedy, now appear in the light of this new Socrato-optimistic stage-world? As something accidental, as a readily dispensable reminiscence of the origin[Pg 111] of tragedy; while we have in fact seen that the chorus can be understood only as the cause of tragedy, and of the tragic generally. This perplexity with respect to the chorus first manifests itself in Sophocles—an important sign that the Dionysian basis of tragedy already begins to disintegrate with him. He no longer ventures to entrust to the chorus the main share of the effect, but limits its sphere to such an extent that it now appears almost co-ordinate with the actors, just as if it were elevated from the orchestra into the scene: whereby of course its character is completely destroyed, notwithstanding that Aristotle countenances this very theory of the chorus. This alteration of the position of the chorus, which Sophocles at any rate recommended by his practice, and, according to tradition, even by a treatise, is the first step towards the annihilation of the chorus, the phases of which follow one another with alarming rapidity in Euripides, Agathon, and the New Comedy. Optimistic dialectics drives, music out of tragedy with the scourge of its syllogisms: that is, it destroys the essence of tragedy, which can be explained only as a manifestation and illustration of Dionysian states, as the visible symbolisation of music, as the dream-world of Dionysian ecstasy.

If, therefore, we are to assume an anti-Dionysian tendency operating even before Socrates, which received in him only an unprecedentedly grand expression, we must not shrink from the question as to what a phenomenon like that of Socrates indicates: whom in view of the[Pg 112] Platonic dialogues we are certainly not entitled to regard as a purely disintegrating, negative power. And though there can be no doubt whatever that the most immediate effect of the Socratic impulse tended to the dissolution of Dionysian tragedy, yet a profound experience of Socrates’ own life compels us to ask whether there is necessarily only an antipodal relation between Socratism and art, and whether the birth of an “artistic Socrates” is in general something contradictory in itself.

For that despotic logician had now and then the feeling of a gap, or void, a sentiment of semi-reproach, as of a possibly neglected duty with respect to art. There often came to him, as he tells his friends in prison, one and the same dream-apparition, which kept constantly repeating to him: “Socrates, practise music.” Up to his very last days he solaces himself with the opinion that his philosophising is the highest form of poetry, and finds it hard to believe that a deity will remind him of the “common, popular music.” Finally, when in prison, he consents to practise also this despised music, in order thoroughly to unburden his conscience. And in this frame of mind he composes a poem on Apollo and turns a few Æsopian fables into verse. It was something similar to the demonian warning voice which urged him to these practices; it was because of his Apollonian insight that, like a barbaric king, he did not understand the noble image of a god and was in danger of sinning against a deity—through ignorance. The prompting voice of the Socratic[Pg 113] dream-vision is the only sign of doubtfulness as to the limits of logical nature. “Perhaps “—thus he had to ask himself—”what is not intelligible to me is not therefore unreasonable? Perhaps there is a realm of wisdom from which the logician is banished? Perhaps art is even a necessary correlative of and supplement to science?”

[18]

In me thou seest its benefit,—
To him who hath but little wit,
Through parables to tell the truth.

[19]Scheinbild = ειδολον.—TR.

15.

In the sense of these last portentous questions it must now be indicated how the influence of Socrates (extending to the present moment, indeed, to all futurity) has spread over posterity like an ever-increasing shadow in the evening sun, and how this influence again and again necessitates a regeneration of art,—yea, of art already with metaphysical, broadest and profoundest sense,—and its own eternity guarantees also the eternity of art.

Before this could be perceived, before the intrinsic dependence of every art on the Greeks, the Greeks from Homer to Socrates, was conclusively demonstrated, it had to happen to us with regard to these Greeks as it happened to the Athenians with regard to Socrates. Nearly every age and stage of culture has at some time or other sought with deep displeasure to free itself from the Greeks, because in their presence everything self-achieved, sincerely admired and apparently quite original, seemed all of a sudden to lose life and colour and shrink to an abortive copy, even to caricature. And so hearty indignation breaks forth time after time against[Pg 114]this presumptuous little nation, which dared to designate as “barbaric” for all time everything not native: who are they, one asks one’s self, who, though they possessed only an ephemeral historical splendour, ridiculously restricted institutions, a dubious excellence in their customs, and were even branded with ugly vices, yet lay claim to the dignity and singular position among the peoples to which genius is entitled among the masses. What a pity one has not been so fortunate as to find the cup of hemlock with which such an affair could be disposed of without ado: for all the poison which envy, calumny, and rankling resentment engendered within themselves have not sufficed to destroy that self-sufficient grandeur! And so one feels ashamed and afraid in the presence of the Greeks: unless one prize truth above all things, and dare also to acknowledge to one’s self this truth, that the Greeks, as charioteers, hold in their hands the reins of our own and of every culture, but that almost always chariot and horses are of too poor material and incommensurate with the glory of their guides, who then will deem it sport to run such a team into an abyss: which they themselves clear with the leap of Achilles.

In order to assign also to Socrates the dignity of such a leading position, it will suffice to recognise in him the type of an unheard-of form of existence, the type of the theoretical man, with regard to whose meaning and purpose it will be our next task to attain an insight. Like the artist, the theorist also finds an infinite satisfaction in[Pg 115] what is and, like the former, he is shielded by this satisfaction from the practical ethics of pessimism with its lynx eyes which shine only in the dark. For if the artist in every unveiling of truth always cleaves with raptured eyes only to that which still remains veiled after the unveiling, the theoretical man, on the other hand, enjoys and contents himself with the cast-off veil, and finds the consummation of his pleasure in the process of a continuously successful unveiling through his own unaided efforts. There would have been no science if it had only been concerned about that one naked goddess and nothing else. For then its disciples would have been obliged to feel like those who purposed to dig a hole straight through the earth: each one of whom perceives that with the utmost lifelong exertion he is able to excavate only a very little of the enormous depth, which is again filled up before his eyes by the labours of his successor, so that a third man seems to do well when on his own account he selects a new spot for his attempts at tunnelling. If now some one proves conclusively that the antipodal goal cannot be attained in this direct way, who will still care to toil on in the old depths, unless he has learned to content himself in the meantime with finding precious stones or discovering natural laws? For that reason Lessing, the most honest theoretical man, ventured to say that he cared more for the search after truth than for truth itself: in saying which he revealed the fundamental secret of science, to the astonishment, and indeed, to the vexation of scientific men. Well,[Pg 116] to be sure, there stands alongside of this detached perception, as an excess of honesty, if not of presumption, a profound illusion which first came to the world in the person of Socrates, the imperturbable belief that, by means of the clue of causality, thinking reaches to the deepest abysses of being, and that thinking is able not only to perceive being but even to correct it. This sublime metaphysical illusion is added as an instinct to science and again and again leads the latter to its limits, where it must change into art; which is really the end, to be attained by this mechanism.

If we now look at Socrates in the light of this thought, he appears to us as the first who could not only live, but—what is far more—also die under the guidance of this instinct of science: and hence the picture of the dying, Socrates, as the man delivered from the fear of death by knowledge and argument, is the escutcheon, above the entrance to science which reminds every one of its mission, namely, to make existence appear to be comprehensible, and therefore to be justified: for which purpose, if arguments do not suffice, myth also must be used, which I just now designated even as the necessary consequence, yea, as the end of science.

He who once makes intelligible to himself how, after the death of Socrates, the mystagogue of science, one philosophical school succeeds another, like wave upon wave,—how an entirely unfore-shadowed universal development of the thirst for knowledge in the widest compass of the cultured world (and as the specific task for every one[Pg 117] highly gifted) led science on to the high sea from which since then it has never again been able to be completely ousted; how through the universality of this movement a common net of thought was first stretched over the entire globe, with prospects, moreover, of conformity to law in an entire solar system;—he who realises all this, together with the amazingly high pyramid of our present-day knowledge, cannot fail to see in Socrates the turning-point and vortex of so-called universal history. For if one were to imagine the whole incalculable sum of energy which has been used up by that universal tendency,—employed, not in the service of knowledge, but for the practical, i.e., egoistical ends of individuals and peoples,—then probably the instinctive love of life would be so much weakened in universal wars of destruction and incessant migrations of peoples, that, owing to the practice of suicide, the individual would perhaps feel the last remnant of a sense of duty, when, like the native of the Fiji Islands, as son he strangles his parents and, as friend, his friend: a practical pessimism which might even give rise to a horrible ethics of general slaughter out of pity—which, for the rest, exists and has existed wherever art in one form or another, especially as science and religion, has not appeared as a remedy and preventive of that pestilential breath.

In view of this practical pessimism, Socrates is the archetype of the theoretical optimist, who in the above-indicated belief in the fathomableness of the nature of things, attributes to knowledge and perception the power of a universal medicine, and[Pg 118] sees in error and evil. To penetrate into the depths of the nature of things, and to separate true perception from error and illusion, appeared to the Socratic man the noblest and even the only truly human calling: just as from the time of Socrates onwards the mechanism of concepts, judgments, and inferences was prized above all other capacities as the highest activity and the most admirable gift of nature. Even the sublimest moral acts, the stirrings of pity, of self-sacrifice, of heroism, and that tranquillity of soul, so difficult of attainment, which the Apollonian Greek called Sophrosyne, were derived by Socrates, and his like-minded successors up to the present day, from the dialectics of knowledge, and were accordingly designated as teachable. He who has experienced in himself the joy of a Socratic perception, and felt how it seeks to embrace, in constantly widening circles, the entire world of phenomena, will thenceforth find no stimulus which could urge him to existence more forcible than the desire to complete that conquest and to knit the net impenetrably close. To a person thus minded the Platonic Socrates then appears as the teacher of an entirely new form of “Greek cheerfulness” and felicity of existence, which seeks to discharge itself in actions, and will find its discharge for the most part in maieutic and pedagogic influences on noble youths, with a view to the ultimate production of genius.

But now science, spurred on by its powerful illusion, hastens irresistibly to its limits, on which its optimism, hidden in the essence of logic, is wrecked. For the periphery of the circle of[Pg 119] science has an infinite number of points, and while there is still no telling how this circle can ever be completely measured, yet the noble and gifted man, even before the middle of his career, inevitably comes into contact with those extreme points of the periphery where he stares at the inexplicable. When he here sees to his dismay how logic coils round itself at these limits and finally bites its own tail—then the new form of perception discloses itself, namely tragic perception, which, in order even to be endured, requires art as a safeguard and remedy.

If, with eyes strengthened and refreshed at the sight of the Greeks, we look upon the highest spheres of the world that surrounds us, we behold the avidity of the insatiate optimistic knowledge, of which Socrates is the typical representative, transformed into tragic resignation and the need of art: while, to be sure, this same avidity, in its lower stages, has to exhibit itself as antagonistic to art, and must especially have an inward detestation of Dionyso-tragic art, as was exemplified in the opposition of Socratism to Æschylean tragedy.

Here then with agitated spirit we knock at the gates of the present and the future: will that “transforming” lead to ever new configurations of genius, and especially of the music-practising Socrates? Will the net of art which is spread over existence, whether under the name of religion or of science, be knit always more closely and delicately, or is it destined to be torn to shreds under the restlessly barbaric activity and whirl which is called “the present day”?—Anxious,[Pg 120] yet not disconsolate, we stand aloof for a little while, as the spectators who are permitted to be witnesses of these tremendous struggles and transitions. Alas! It is the charm of these struggles that he who beholds them must also fight them!

16.

By this elaborate historical example we have endeavoured to make it clear that tragedy perishes as surely by evanescence of the spirit of music as it can be born only out of this spirit. In order to qualify the singularity of this assertion, and, on the other hand, to disclose the source of this insight of ours, we must now confront with clear vision the analogous phenomena of the present time; we must enter into the midst of these struggles, which, as I said just now, are being carried on in the highest spheres of our present world between the insatiate optimistic perception and the tragic need of art. In so doing I shall leave out of consideration all other antagonistic tendencies which at all times oppose art, especially tragedy, and which at present again extend their sway triumphantly, to such an extent that of the theatrical arts only the farce and the ballet, for example, put forth their blossoms, which perhaps not every one cares to smell, in tolerably rich luxuriance. I will speak only of the Most Illustrious Opposition to the tragic conception of things—and by this I mean essentially optimistic science, with its ancestor Socrates at the head of it. Presently also the forces will be designated[Pg 121] which seem to me to guarantee a re-birth of tragedy—and who knows what other blessed hopes for the German genius!

Before we plunge into the midst of these struggles, let us array ourselves in the armour of our hitherto acquired knowledge. In contrast to all those who are intent on deriving the arts from one exclusive principle, as the necessary vital source of every work of art, I keep my eyes fixed on the two artistic deities of the Greeks, Apollo and Dionysus, and recognise in them the living and conspicuous representatives of two worlds of art which differ in their intrinsic essence and in their highest aims. Apollo stands before me as the transfiguring genius of the principium individuationis through which alone the redemption in appearance is to be truly attained, while by the mystical cheer of Dionysus the spell of individuation is broken, and the way lies open to the Mothers of Being,[20] to the innermost heart of things. This extraordinary antithesis, which opens up yawningly between plastic art as the Apollonian and music as the Dionysian art, has become manifest to only one of the great thinkers, to such an extent that, even without this key to the symbolism of the Hellenic divinities, he allowed to music a different character and origin in advance of all the other arts, because, unlike them, it is not a copy of the phenomenon, but a direct copy of the will itself, and therefore represents the metaphysical of everything physical in the[Pg 122] world, the thing-in-itself of every phenomenon. (Schopenhauer, Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, I. 310.) To this most important perception of æsthetics (with which, taken in a serious sense, æsthetics properly commences), Richard Wagner, by way of confirmation of its eternal truth, affixed his seal, when he asserted in his Beethoven that music must be judged according to æsthetic principles quite different from those which apply to the plastic arts, and not, in general, according to the category of beauty: although an erroneous æsthetics, inspired by a misled and degenerate art, has by virtue of the concept of beauty prevailing in the plastic domain accustomed itself to demand of music an effect analogous to that of the works of plastic art, namely the suscitating delight in beautiful forms. Upon perceiving this extraordinary antithesis, I felt a strong inducement to approach the essence of Greek tragedy, and, by means of it, the profoundest revelation of Hellenic genius: for I at last thought myself to be in possession of a charm to enable me—far beyond the phraseology of our usual æsthetics—to represent vividly to my mind the primitive problem of tragedy: whereby such an astounding insight into the Hellenic character was afforded me that it necessarily seemed as if our proudly comporting classico-Hellenic science had thus far contrived to subsist almost exclusively on phantasmagoria and externalities.

Perhaps we may lead up to this primitive problem with the question: what æsthetic effect results when the intrinsically separate art-powers,[Pg 123] the Apollonian and the Dionysian, enter into concurrent actions? Or, in briefer form: how is music related to image and concept?—Schopenhauer, whom Richard Wagner, with especial reference to this point, accredits with an unsurpassable clearness and perspicuity of exposition, expresses himself most copiously on the subject in the following passage which I shall cite here at full length[21] (Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, I. p. 309): “According to all this, we may regard the phenomenal world, or nature, and music as two different expressions of the same thing,[20] which is therefore itself the only medium of the analogy between these two expressions, so that a knowledge of this medium is required in order to understand that analogy. Music, therefore, if regarded as an expression of the world, is in the highest degree a universal language, which is related indeed to the universality of concepts, much as these are related to the particular things. Its universality, however, is by no means the empty universality of abstraction, but of quite a different kind, and is united with thorough and distinct definiteness. In this respect it resembles geometrical figures and numbers, which are the universal forms of all possible objiects of experience and applicable to them all a priori, and yet are not abstract but perceptiple and thoroughly determinate. All possible efforts, excitements[Pg 124] and manifestations of will, all that goes on in the heart of man and that reason includes in the wide, negative concept of feeling, may be expressed by the infinite number of possible melodies, but always in the universality of mere form, without the material, always according to the thing-in-itself, not the phenomenon,—of which they reproduce the very soul and essence as it were, without the body. This deep relation which music bears to the true nature of all things also explains the fact that suitable music played to any scene, action, event, or surrounding seems to disclose to us its most secret meaning, and appears as the most accurate and distinct commentary upon it; as also the fact that whoever gives himself up entirely to the impression of a symphony seems to see all the possible events of life and the world take place in himself: nevertheless upon reflection he can find no likeness between the music and the things that passed before his mind. For, as we have said, music is distinguished from all the other arts by the fact that it is not a copy of the phenomenon, or, more accurately, the adequate objectivity of the will, but the direct copy of the will itself, and therefore represents the metaphysical of everything physical in the world, and the thing-in-itself of every phenomenon. We might, therefore, just as well call the world embodied music as embodied will: and this is the reason why music makes every picture, and indeed every scene of real life and of the world, at once appear with higher significance; all the more so, to be sure, in proportion as its[Pg 125] melody is analogous to the inner spirit of the given phenomenon. It rests upon this that we are able to set a poem to music as a song, or a perceptible representation as a pantomime, or both as an opera. Such particular pictures of human life, set to the universal language of music, are never bound to it or correspond to it with stringent necessity, but stand to it only in the relation of an example chosen at will to a general concept. In the determinateness of the real they represent that which music expresses in the universality of mere form. For melodies are to a certain extent, like general concepts, an abstraction from the actual. This actual world, then, the world of particular things, affords the object of perception, the special and the individual, the particular case, both to the universality of concepts and to the universality of the melodies. But these two universalities are in a certain respect opposed to each other; for the concepts contain only the forms, which are first of all abstracted from perception,—the separated outward shell of things, as it were,—and hence they are, in the strictest sense of the term, abstracta; music, on the other hand, gives the inmost kernel which precedes all forms, or the heart of things. This relation may be very well expressed in the language of the schoolmen, by saying: the concepts are the universalia post rem, but music gives the universalia ante rem, and the real world the universalia in re.—But that in general a relation is possible between a composition and a perceptible representation rests, as we have said, upon the[Pg 126] fact that both are simply different expressions of the same inner being of the world. When now, in the particular case, such a relation is actually given, that is to say, when the composer has been able to express in the universal language of music the emotions of will which constitute the heart of an event, then the melody of the song, the music of the opera, is expressive. But the analogy discovered by the composer between the two must have proceeded from the direct knowledge of the nature of the world unknown to his reason, and must not be an imitation produced with conscious intention by means of conceptions; otherwise the music does not express the inner nature of the will itself, but merely gives an inadequate imitation of its phenomenon: all specially imitative music does this.”

We have therefore, according to the doctrine of Schopenhauer, an immediate understanding of music as the language of the will, and feel our imagination stimulated to give form to this invisible and yet so actively stirred spirit-world which speaks to us, and prompted to embody it in an analogous example. On the other hand, image and concept, under the influence of a truly conformable music, acquire a higher significance. Dionysian art therefore is wont to exercise—two kinds of influences, on the Apollonian art-faculty: music firstly incites to the symbolic intuition of Dionysian universality, and, secondly, it causes the symbolic image to stand forth in its fullest significance. From these facts, intelligible in themselves and not inaccessible to profounder observation,[Pg 127] I infer the capacity of music to give birth to myth, that is to say, the most significant exemplar, and precisely tragic myth: the myth which speaks of Dionysian knowledge in symbols. In the phenomenon of the lyrist, I have set forth that in him music strives to express itself with regard to its nature in Apollonian images. If now we reflect that music in its highest potency must seek to attain also to its highest symbolisation, we must deem it possible that it also knows how to find the symbolic expression of its inherent Dionysian wisdom; and where shall we have to seek for this expression if not in tragedy and, in general, in the conception of the tragic?

From the nature of art, as it is ordinarily conceived according to the single category of appearance and beauty, the tragic cannot be honestly deduced at all; it is only through the spirit of music that we understand the joy in the annihilation of the individual. For in the particular examples of such annihilation only is the eternal phenomenon of Dionysian art made clear to us, which gives expression to the will in its omnipotence, as it were, behind the principium individuationis, the eternal life beyond all phenomena, and in spite of all annihilation. The metaphysical delight in the tragic is a translation of the instinctively unconscious Dionysian wisdom into the language of the scene: the hero, the highest manifestation of the will, is disavowed for our pleasure, because he is only phenomenon, and because the eternal life of the will is not affected by his annihilation. “We believe in eternal life,”[Pg 128] tragedy exclaims; while music is the proximate idea of this life. Plastic art has an altogether different object: here Apollo vanquishes the suffering of the individual by the radiant glorification of the eternity of the phenomenon; here beauty triumphs over the suffering inherent in life; pain is in a manner surreptitiously obliterated from the features of nature. In Dionysian art and its tragic symbolism the same nature speaks to us with its true undissembled voice: “Be as I am! Amidst the ceaseless change of phenomena the eternally creative primordial mother, eternally impelling to existence, self-satisfying eternally with this change of phenomena!”

[20]Cf. World and Will as Idea, I. p. 339, trans. by Haldane and Kemp.

[21]That is “the will” as understood by Schopenhauer.—TR.

17.

Dionysian art, too, seeks to convince us of the eternal joy of existence: only we are to seek this joy not in phenomena, but behind phenomena. We are to perceive how all that comes into being must be ready for a sorrowful end; we are compelled to look into the terrors of individual existence—yet we are not to become torpid: a metaphysical comfort tears us momentarily from the bustle of the transforming figures. We are really for brief moments Primordial Being itself, and feel its indomitable desire for being and joy in existence; the struggle, the pain, the destruction of phenomena, now appear to us as something necessary, considering the surplus of innumerable forms of existence which throng and push one another into life, considering the exuberant fertility of the universal will. We are pierced by the maddening sting of[Pg 129] these pains at the very moment when we have become, as it were, one with the immeasurable primordial joy in existence, and when we anticipate, in Dionysian ecstasy, the indestructibility and eternity of this joy. In spite of fear and pity, we are the happy living beings, not as individuals, but as the one living being, with whose procreative joy we are blended.

The history of the rise of Greek tragedy now tells us with luminous precision that the tragic art of the Greeks was really born of the spirit of music: with which conception we believe we have done justice for the first time to the original and most astonishing significance of the chorus. At the same time, however, we must admit that the import of tragic myth as set forth above never became transparent with sufficient lucidity to the Greek poets, let alone the Greek philosophers; their heroes speak, as it were, more superficially than they act; the myth does not at all find its adequate objectification in the spoken word. The structure of the scenes and the conspicuous images reveal a deeper wisdom than the poet himself can put into words and concepts: the same being also observed in Shakespeare, whose Hamlet, for instance, in an analogous manner talks more superficially than he acts, so that the previously mentioned lesson of Hamlet is to be gathered not from his words, but from a more profound contemplation and survey of the whole. With respect to Greek tragedy, which of course presents itself to us only as word-drama, I have even intimated that the incongruence between myth and expression might[Pg 130] easily tempt us to regard it as shallower and less significant than it really is, and accordingly to postulate for it a more superficial effect than it must have had according to the testimony of the ancients: for how easily one forgets that what the word-poet did not succeed in doing, namely realising the highest spiritualisation and ideality of myth, he might succeed in doing every moment as creative musician! We require, to be sure, almost by philological method to reconstruct for ourselves the ascendency of musical influence in order to receive something of the incomparable comfort which must be characteristic of true tragedy. Even this musical ascendency, however, would only have been felt by us as such had we been Greeks: while in the entire development of Greek music—as compared with the infinitely richer music known and familiar to us—we imagine we hear only the youthful song of the musical genius intoned with a feeling of diffidence. The Greeks are, as the Egyptian priests say, eternal children, and in tragic art also they are only children who do not know what a sublime play-thing has originated under their hands and—is being demolished.

That striving of the spirit of music for symbolic and mythical manifestation, which increases from the beginnings of lyric poetry to Attic tragedy, breaks off all of a sudden immediately after attaining luxuriant development, and disappears, as it were, from the surface of Hellenic art: while the Dionysian view of things born of this striving lives on in Mysteries and, in its strangest metamorphoses[Pg 131] and debasements, does not cease to attract earnest natures. Will it not one day rise again as art out of its mystic depth?

Here the question occupies us, whether the power by the counteracting influence of which tragedy perished, has for all time strength enough to prevent the artistic reawaking of tragedy and of the tragic view of things. If ancient tragedy was driven from its course by the dialectical desire for knowledge and the optimism of science, it might be inferred that there is an eternal conflict between the theoretic and the tragic view of things,and only after the spirit of science has been led to its boundaries, and its claim to universal validity has been destroyed by the evidence of these boundaries, can we hope for a re-birth of tragedy: for which form of culture we should have to use the symbol of the music-practising Socrates in the sense spoken of above. In this contrast, I understand by the spirit of science the belief which first came to light in the person of Socrates,—the belief in the fathomableness of nature and in knowledge as a panacea.

He who recalls the immediate consequences of this restlessly onward-pressing spirit of science will realise at once that myth was annihilated by it, and that, in consequence of this annihilation, poetry was driven as a homeless being from her natural ideal soil. If we have rightly assigned to music the capacity to reproduce myth from itself, we may in turn expect to find the spirit of science on the path where it inimically opposes this mythopoeic power of music. This takes place in the development of the New Attic Dithyramb, the music of[Pg 132] which no longer expressed the inner essence, the will itself, but only rendered the phenomenon insufficiently, in an imitation by means of concepts; from which intrinsically degenerate music the truly musical natures turned away with the same repugnance that they felt for the art-destroying tendency of Socrates. The unerring instinct of Aristophanes surely did the proper thing when it comprised Socrates himself, the tragedy of Euripides, and the music of the new Dithyrambic poets in the same feeling of hatred, and perceived in all three phenomena the symptoms of a degenerate culture. By this New Dithyramb, music has in an outrageous manner been made the imitative portrait of phenomena, for instance, of a battle or a storm at sea, and has thus, of course, been entirely deprived of its mythopoeic power. For if it endeavours to excite our delight only by compelling us to seek external analogies between a vital or natural process and certain rhythmical figures and characteristic sounds of music; if our understanding is expected to satisfy itself with the perception of these analogies, we are reduced to a frame of mind in which the reception of the mythical is impossible; for the myth as a unique exemplar of generality and truth towering into the infinite, desires to be conspicuously perceived. The truly Dionysean music presents itself to us as such a general mirror of the universal will: the conspicuous event which is refracted in this mirror expands at once for our consciousness to the copy of an eternal truth. Conversely, such a conspicious event is at once divested of every mythical[Pg 133] character by the tone-painting of the New Dithyramb; music has here become a wretched copy of the phenomenon, and therefore infinitely poorer than the phenomenon itself: through which poverty it still further reduces even the phenomenon for our consciousness, so that now, for instance, a musically imitated battle of this sort exhausts itself in marches, signal-sounds, etc., and our imagination is arrested precisely by these superficialities. Tone-painting is therefore in every respect the counterpart of true music with its mythopoeic power: through it the phenomenon, poor in itself, is made still poorer, while through an isolated Dionysian music the phenomenon is evolved and expanded into a picture of the world. It was an immense triumph of the non-Dionysian spirit, when, in the development of the New Dithyramb, it had estranged music from itself and reduced it to be the slave of phenomena. Euripides, who, albeit in a higher sense, must be designated as a thoroughly unmusical nature, is for this very reason a passionate adherent of the New Dithyrambic Music, and with the liberality of a freebooter employs all its effective turns and mannerisms.

In another direction also we see at work the power of this un-Dionysian, myth-opposing spirit, when we turn our eyes to the prevalence of character representation and psychological refinement from Sophocles onwards. The character must no longer be expanded into an eternal type, but, on the contrary, must operate individually through artistic by-traits and shadings, through the nicest precision of all lines, in such a manner[Pg 134]that the spectator is in general no longer conscious of the myth, but of the mighty nature-myth and the imitative power of the artist. Here also we observe the victory of the phenomenon over the Universal, and the delight in the particular quasi-anatomical preparation; we actually breathe the air of a theoretical world, in which scientific knowledge is valued more highly than the artistic reflection of a universal law. The movement along the line of the representation of character proceeds rapidly: while Sophocles still delineates complete characters and employs myth for their refined development, Euripides already delineates only prominent individual traits of character, which can express themselves in violent bursts of passion; in the New Attic Comedy, however, there are only masks with one expression: frivolous old men, duped panders, and cunning slaves in untiring repetition. Where now is the mythopoeic spirit of music? What is still left now of music is either excitatory music or souvenir music, that is, either a stimulant for dull and used-up nerves, or tone-painting. As regards the former, it hardly matters about the text set to it: the heroes and choruses of Euripides are already dissolute enough when once they begin to sing; to what pass must things have come with his brazen successors?

The new un-Dionysian spirit, however, manifests itself most clearly in the dénouements of the new dramas. In the Old Tragedy one could feel at the close the metaphysical comfort, without which the delight in tragedy cannot be explained at all; the conciliating tones from another world sound purest,[Pg 135] perhaps, in the Œdipus at Colonus. Now that the genius of music has fled from tragedy, tragedy is, strictly speaking, dead: for from whence could one now draw the metaphysical comfort? One sought, therefore, for an earthly unravelment of the tragic dissonance; the hero, after he had been sufficiently tortured by fate, reaped a well-deserved reward through a superb marriage or divine tokens of favour. The hero had turned gladiator, on whom, after being liberally battered about and covered with wounds, freedom was occasionally bestowed. The deus ex machinatook the place of metaphysical comfort. I will not say that the tragic view of things was everywhere completely destroyed by the intruding spirit of the un-Dionysian: we only know that it was compelled to flee from art into the under-world as it were, in the degenerate form of a secret cult. Over the widest extent of the Hellenic character, however, there raged the consuming blast of this spirit, which manifests itself in the form of “Greek cheerfulness,” which we have already spoken of as a senile, unproductive love of existence; this cheerfulness is the counterpart of the splendid “naïveté” of the earlier Greeks, which, according to the characteristic indicated above, must be conceived as the blossom of the Apollonian culture growing out of a dark abyss, as the victory which the Hellenic will, through its mirroring of beauty, obtains over suffering and the wisdom of suffering. The noblest manifestation of that other form of “Greek cheerfulness,” the Alexandrine, is the cheerfulness of the theoretical man: it exhibits the same symptomatic characteristics as I have just inferred[Pg 136] concerning the spirit of the un-Dionysian:—it combats Dionysian wisdom and art, it seeks to dissolve myth, it substitutes for metaphysical comfort an earthly consonance, in fact, a deus ex machina of its own, namely the god of machines and crucibles, that is, the powers of the genii of nature recognised and employed in the service of higher egoism; it believes in amending the world by knowledge, in guiding life by science, and that it can really confine the individual within a narrow sphere of solvable problems, where he cheerfully says to life: “I desire thee: it is worth while to know thee.”

18.

It is an eternal phenomenon: the avidious will can always, by means of an illusion spread over things, detain its creatures in life and compel them to live on. One is chained by the Socratic love of knowledge and the vain hope of being able thereby to heal the eternal wound of existence; another is ensnared by art’s seductive veil of beauty fluttering before his eyes; still another by the metaphysical comfort that eternal life flows on indestructibly beneath the whirl of phenomena: to say nothing of the more ordinary and almost more powerful illusions which the will has always at hand. These three specimens of illusion are on the whole designed only for the more nobly endowed natures, who in general feel profoundly the weight and burden of existence, and must be deluded into forgetfulness of their displeasure by exquisite stimulants. All that we call culture is made up of these stimulants;[Pg 137] and, according to the proportion of the ingredients, we have either a specially Socratic or artistic or tragic culture: or, if historical exemplifications are wanted, there is either an Alexandrine or a Hellenic or a Buddhistic culture.

Our whole modern world is entangled in the meshes of Alexandrine culture, and recognises as its ideal the theorist equipped with the most potent means of knowledge, and labouring in the service of science, of whom the archetype and progenitor is Socrates. All our educational methods have originally this ideal in view: every other form of existence must struggle onwards wearisomely beside it, as something tolerated, but not intended. In an almost alarming manner the cultured man was here found for a long time only in the form of the scholar: even our poetical arts have been forced to evolve from learned imitations, and in the main effect of the rhyme we still recognise the origin of our poetic form from artistic experiments with a non-native and thoroughly learned language. How unintelligible must Faust, the modern cultured man, who is in himself intelligible, have appeared to a true Greek,—Faust, storming discontentedly through all the faculties, devoted to magic and the devil from a desire for knowledge, whom we have only to place alongside of Socrates for the purpose of comparison, in order to see that modern man begins to divine the boundaries of this Socratic love of perception and longs for a coast in the wide waste of the ocean of knowledge. When Goethe on one occasion said to Eckermann with reference to Napoleon: “Yes, my good friend, there is also a productiveness of[Pg 138] deeds,” he reminded us in a charmingly naïve manner that the non-theorist is something incredible and astounding to modern man; so that the wisdom of Goethe is needed once more in order to discover that such a surprising form of existence is comprehensible, nay even pardonable.

Now, we must not hide from ourselves what is concealed in the heart of this Socratic culture: Optimism, deeming itself absolute! Well, we must not be alarmed if the fruits of this optimism ripen,—if society, leavened to the very lowest strata by this kind of culture, gradually begins to tremble through wanton agitations and desires, if the belief in the earthly happiness of all, if the belief in the possibility of such a general intellectual culture is gradually transformed into the threatening demand for such an Alexandrine earthly happiness, into the conjuring of a Euripidean deus ex machina. Let us mark this well: the Alexandrine culture requires a slave class, to be able to exist permanently: but, in its optimistic view of life, it denies the necessity of such a class, and consequently, when the effect of its beautifully seductive and tranquillising utterances about the “dignity of man” and the “dignity of labour” is spent, it gradually drifts towards a dreadful destination. There is nothing more terrible than a barbaric slave class, who have learned to regard their existence as an injustice, and now prepare to take vengeance, not only for themselves, but for all generations. In the face of such threatening storms, who dares to appeal with confident spirit to our pale and exhausted religions, which even in their foundations have degenerated into[Pg 139] scholastic religions?—so that myth, the necessary prerequisite of every religion, is already paralysed everywhere, and even in this domain the optimistic spirit—which we have just designated as the annihilating germ of society—has attained the mastery.

While the evil slumbering in the heart of theoretical culture gradually begins to disquiet modern man, and makes him anxiously ransack the stores of his experience for means to avert the danger, though not believing very much in these means; while he, therefore, begins to divine the consequences his position involves: great, universally gifted natures have contrived, with an incredible amount of thought, to make use of the apparatus of science itself, in order to point out the limits and the relativity of knowledge generally, and thus definitely to deny the claim of science to universal validity and universal ends: with which demonstration the illusory notion was for the first time recognised as such, which pretends, with the aid of causality, to be able to fathom the innermost essence of things. The extraordinary courage and wisdom of Kant and Schopenhauerhave succeeded in gaining the most, difficult, victory, the victory over the optimism hidden in the essence of logic, which optimism in turn is the basis of our culture. While this optimism, resting on apparently unobjectionable æterna veritates, believed in the intelligibility and solvability of all the riddles of the world, and treated space, time, and causality as totally unconditioned laws of the most universal validity, Kant, on the other hand, showed that these served in reality only to elevate the mere[Pg 140] phenomenon, the work of Mâyâ, to the sole and highest reality, putting it in place of the innermost and true essence of things, thus making the actual knowledge of this essence impossible, that is, according to the expression of Schopenhauer, to lull the dreamer still more soundly asleep (Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, I. 498). With this knowledge a culture is inaugurated which I venture to designate as a tragic culture; the most important characteristic of which is that wisdom takes the place of science as the highest end,—wisdom, which, uninfluenced by the seductive distractions of the sciences, turns with unmoved eye to the comprehensive view of the world, and seeks to apprehend therein the eternal suffering as its own with sympathetic feelings of love. Let us imagine a rising generation with this undauntedness of vision, with this heroic desire for the prodigious, let us imagine the bold step of these dragon-slayers, the proud and daring spirit with which they turn their backs on all the effeminate doctrines of optimism in order “to live resolutely” in the Whole and in the Full: would it not be necessary for the tragic man of this culture, with his self-discipline to earnestness and terror, to desire a new art, the art of metaphysical comfort,—namely, tragedy, as the Hellena belonging to him, and that he should exclaim with Faust:

Und sollt’ ich nicht, sehnsüchtigster Gewalt,
In’s Leben ziehn die einzigste Gestalt?[21]

[Pg 141]

But now that the Socratic culture has been shaken from two directions, and is only able to hold the sceptre of its infallibility with trembling hands,—once by the fear of its own conclusions which it at length begins to surmise, and again, because it is no longer convinced with its former naïve trust of the eternal validity of its foundation, —it is a sad spectacle to behold how the dance of its thought always rushes longingly on new forms, to embrace them, and then, shuddering, lets them go of a sudden, as Mephistopheles does the seductive Lamiæ. It is certainly the symptom of the “breach” which all are wont to speak of as the primordial suffering of modern culture that the theoretical man, alarmed and dissatisfied at his own conclusions, no longer dares to entrust himself to the terrible ice-stream of existence: he runs timidly up and down the bank. He no longer wants to have anything entire, with all the natural cruelty of things, so thoroughly has he been spoiled by his optimistic contemplation. Besides, he feels that a culture built up on the principles of science must perish when it begins to grow illogical, that is, to avoid its own conclusions. Our art reveals this universal trouble: in vain does one seek help by imitating all the great productive periods and natures, in vain does one accumulate the entire “world-literature” around modern man for his comfort, in vain does one place one’s self in the midst of the art-styles and artists of all ages, so that one may give names to them as Adam did to the beasts: one still continues the eternal hungerer, the “critic” without joy and energy, the[Pg 142] Alexandrine man, who is in the main a librarian and corrector of proofs, and who, pitiable wretch goes blind from the dust of books and printers’ errors.

[21]Cf. Introduction, p. 14.

19.

We cannot designate the intrinsic substance of Socratic culture more distinctly than by calling it the culture of the opera: for it is in this department that culture has expressed itself with special naïveté concerning its aims and perceptions, which is sufficiently surprising when we compare the genesis of the opera and the facts of operatic development with the eternal truths of the Apollonian and Dionysian. I call to mind first of all the origin of the stilo rappresentativo and the recitative. Is it credible that this thoroughly externalised operatic music, incapable of devotion, could be received and cherished with enthusiastic favour, as a re-birth, as it were, of all true music, by the very age in which the ineffably sublime and sacred music of Palestrina had originated? And who, on the other hand, would think of making only the diversion-craving luxuriousness of those Florentine circles and the vanity of their dramatic singers responsible for the love of the opera which spread with such rapidity? That in the same age, even among the same people, this passion for a half-musical mode of speech should awaken alongside of the vaulted structure of Palestrine harmonies which the entire Christian Middle Age had been building up, I can explain[Pg 143] to myself only by a co-operating extra-artistic tendency in the essence of the recitative.

The listener, who insists on distinctly hearing the words under the music, has his wishes met by the singer in that he speaks rather than sings, and intensifies the pathetic expression of the words in this half-song: by this intensification of the pathos he facilitates the understanding of the words and surmounts the remaining half of the music. The specific danger which now threatens him is that in some unguarded moment he may give undue importance to music, which would forthwith result in the destruction of the pathos of the speech and the distinctness of the words: while, on the other hand, he always feels himself impelled to musical delivery and to virtuose exhibition of vocal talent. Here the “poet” comes to his aid, who knows how to provide him with abundant opportunities for lyrical interjections, repetitions of words and sentences, etc.,—at which places the singer, now in the purely musical element, can rest himself without minding the words. This alternation of emotionally impressive, yet only half-sung speech and wholly sung interjections, which is characteristic of the stilo rappresentativo, this rapidly changing endeavour to operate now on the conceptional and representative faculty of the hearer, now on his musical sense, is something so thoroughly unnatural and withal so intrinsically contradictory both to the Apollonian and Dionysian artistic impulses, that one has to infer an origin of the recitative foreign to all artistic instincts. The[Pg 144] recitative must be defined, according to this description, as the combination of epic and lyric delivery, not indeed as an intrinsically stable combination which could not be attained in the case of such totally disparate elements, but an entirely superficial mosaic conglutination, such as is totally unprecedented in the domain of nature and experience. But this was not the opinion of the inventors of the recitative: they themselves, and their age with them, believed rather that the mystery of antique music had been solved by this stilo rappresentativo, in which, as they thought, the only explanation of the enormous influence of an Orpheus, an Amphion, and even of Greek tragedy was to be found. The new style was regarded by them as the re-awakening of the most effective music, the Old Greek music: indeed, with the universal and popular conception of the Homeric world as the primitive world,they could abandon themselves to the dream of having descended once more into the paradisiac beginnings of mankind, wherein music also must needs have had the unsurpassed purity, power, and innocence of which the poets could give such touching accounts in their pastoral plays. Here we see into the internal process of development of this thoroughly modern variety of art, the opera: a powerful need here acquires an art, but it is a need of an unæsthetic kind: the yearning for the idyll, the belief in the prehistoric existence of the artistic, good man. The recitative was regarded as the rediscovered language of this primitive man; the opera as the recovered land of this[Pg 145] idyllically or heroically good creature, who in every action follows at the same time a natural artistic impulse, who sings a little along with all he has to say, in order to sing immediately with full voice on the slightest emotional excitement. It is now a matter of indifference to us that the humanists of those days combated the old ecclesiastical representation of man as naturally corrupt and lost, with this new-created picture of the paradisiac artist: so that opera may be understood as the oppositional dogma of the good man, whereby however a solace was at the same time found for the pessimism to which precisely the seriously-disposed men of that time were most strongly incited, owing to the frightful uncertainty of all conditions of life. It is enough to have perceived that the intrinsic charm, and therefore the genesis, of this new form of art lies in the gratification of an altogether unæsthetic need, in the optimistic glorification of man as such, in the conception of the primitive man as the man naturally good and artistic: a principle of the opera which has gradually changed into a threatening and terrible demand, which, in face of the socialistic movements of the present time, we can no longer ignore. The “good primitive man” wants his rights: what paradisiac prospects!

I here place by way of parallel still another equally obvious confirmation of my view that opera is built up on the same principles as our Alexandrine culture. Opera is the birth of the theoretical man, of the critical layman, not of the artist: one of the most surprising facts in the[Pg 146] whole history of art. It was the demand of thoroughly unmusical hearers that the words must above all be understood, so that according to them a re-birth of music is only to be expected when some mode of singing has been discovered in which the text-word lords over the counterpoint as the master over the servant. For the words, it is argued, are as much nobler than the accompanying harmonic system as the soul is nobler than the body. It was in accordance with the laically unmusical crudeness of these views that the combination of music, picture and expression was effected in the beginnings of the opera: in the spirit of this æsthetics the first experiments were also made in the leading laic circles of Florence by the poets and singers patronised there. The man incapable of art creates for himself a species of art precisely because he is the inartistic man as such. Because he does not divine the Dionysian depth of music, he changes his musical taste into appreciation of the understandable word-and-tone-rhetoric of the passions in the stilo rappresentativo, and into the voluptuousness of the arts of song; because he is unable to behold a vision, he forces the machinist and the decorative artist into his service; because he cannot apprehend the true nature of the artist, he conjures up the “artistic primitive man” to suit his taste, that is, the man who sings and recites verses under the influence of passion. He dreams himself into a time when passion suffices to generate songs and poems: as if emotion had ever been able to create anything artistic. The postulate of the opera is a false[Pg 147] belief concerning the artistic process, in fact, the idyllic belief that every sentient man is an artist. In the sense of this belief, opera is the expression of the taste of the laity in art, who dictate their laws with the cheerful optimism of the theorist.

Should we desire to unite in one the two conceptions just set forth as influential in the origin of opera, it would only remain for us to speak of an idyllic tendency of the opera: in which connection we may avail ourselves exclusively of the phraseology and illustration of Schiller.[22] “Nature and the ideal,” he says, “are either objects of grief, when the former is represented as lost, the latter unattained; or both are objects of joy, in that they are represented as real. The first case furnishes the elegy in its narrower signification, the second the idyll in its widest sense.” Here we must at once call attention to the common characteristic of these two conceptions in operatic genesis, namely, that in them the ideal is not regarded as unattained or nature as lost Agreeably to this sentiment, there was a primitive age of man when he lay close to the heart of nature, and, owing to this naturalness, had attained the ideal of mankind in a paradisiac goodness and artist-organisation: from which perfect primitive man all of us were supposed to be descended; whose faithful copy we were in fact still said to be: only we had to cast off some few things in order to recognise ourselves once more as this primitive man, on the strength of a voluntary renunciation of superfluous learnedness, of super-abundant[Pg 148]culture. It was to such a concord of nature and the ideal, to an idyllic reality, that the cultured man of the Renaissance suffered himself to be led back by his operatic imitation of Greek tragedy; he made use of this tragedy, as Dante made use of Vergil, in order to be led up to the gates of paradise: while from this point he went on without assistance and passed over from an imitation of the highest form of Greek art to a “restoration of all things,” to an imitation of man’s original art-world. What delightfully naïve hopefulness of these daring endeavours, in the very heart of theoretical culture!—solely to be explained by the comforting belief, that “man-in-himself” is the eternally virtuous hero of the opera, the eternally fluting or singing shepherd, who must always in the end rediscover himself as such, if he has at any time really lost himself; solely the fruit of the optimism, which here rises like a sweetishly seductive column of vapour out of the depth of the Socratic conception of the world.

The features of the opera therefore do not by any means exhibit the elegiac sorrow of an eternal loss, but rather the cheerfulness of eternal rediscovery, the indolent delight in an idyllic reality which one can at least represent to one’s self each moment as real: and in so doing one will perhaps surmise some day that this supposed reality is nothing but a fantastically silly dawdling, concerning which every one, who could judge it by the terrible earnestness of true nature and compare it with the actual primitive scenes of the beginnings of mankind, would have to call out with loathing: Away with[Pg 149] the phantom! Nevertheless one would err if one thought it possible to frighten away merely by a vigorous shout such a dawdling thing as the opera, as if it were a spectre. He who would destroy the opera must join issue with Alexandrine cheerfulness, which expresses itself so naïvely therein concerning its favourite representation; of which in fact it is the specific form of art. But what is to be expected for art itself from the operation of a form of art, the beginnings of which do not at all lie in the æsthetic province; which has rather stolen over from a half-moral sphere into the artistic domain, and has been able only now and then to delude us concerning this hybrid origin? By what sap is this parasitic opera-concern nourished, if not by that of true art? Must we not suppose that the highest and indeed the truly serious task of art—to free the eye from its glance into the horrors of night and to deliver the “subject” by the healing balm of appearance from the spasms of volitional agitations—will degenerate under the influence of its idyllic seductions and Alexandrine adulation to an empty dissipating tendency, to pastime? What will become of the eternal truths of the Dionysian and Apollonian in such an amalgamation of styles as I have exhibited in the character of the stilo rappresentativo? where music is regarded as the servant, the text as the master, where music is compared with the body, the text with the soul? where at best the highest aim will be the realisation of a paraphrastic tone-painting, just as formerly in the New Attic Dithyramb? where music is[Pg 150] completely alienated from its true dignity of being, the Dionysian mirror of the world, so that the only thing left to it is, as a slave of phenomena, to imitate the formal character thereof, and to excite an external pleasure in the play of lines and proportions. On close observation, this fatal influence of the opera on music is seen to coincide absolutely with the universal development of modern music; the optimism lurking in the genesis of the opera and in the essence of culture represented thereby, has, with alarming rapidity, succeeded in divesting music of its Dionyso-cosmic mission and in impressing on it a playfully formal and pleasurable character: a change with which perhaps only the metamorphosis of the Æschylean man into the cheerful Alexandrine man could be compared.

If, however, in the exemplification herewith indicated we have rightly associated the evanescence of the Dionysian spirit with a most striking, but hitherto unexplained transformation and degeneration of the Hellene—what hopes must revive in us when the most trustworthy auspices guarantee the reverse process, the gradual awakening of the Dionysian spirit in our modern world! It is impossible for the divine strength of Herakles to languish for ever in voluptuous bondage to Omphale. Out of the Dionysian root of the German spirit a power has arisen which has nothing in common with the primitive conditions of Socratic culture, and can neither be explained nor excused thereby, but is rather regarded by this culture as something terribly inexplicable and overwhelmingly hostile,mdash;namely, German music as we have to understand[Pg 151] it, especially in its vast solar orbit from Bach to Beethoven, from Beethoven to Wagner. What even under the most favourable circumstances can the knowledge-craving Socratism of our days do with this demon rising from unfathomable depths? Neither by means of the zig-zag and arabesque work of operatic melody, nor with the aid of the arithmetical counting board of fugue and contrapuntal dialectics is the formula to be found, in the trebly powerful light[23] of which one could subdue this demon and compel it to speak. What a spectacle, when our æsthetes, with a net of “beauty” peculiar to themselves, now pursue and clutch at the genius of music romping about before them with incomprehensible life, and in so doing display activities which are not to be judged by the standard of eternal beauty any more than by the standard of the sublime. Let us but observe these patrons of music as they are, at close range, when they call out so indefatigably “beauty! beauty!” to discover whether they have the marks of nature’s darling children who are fostered and fondled in the lap of the beautiful, or whether they do not rather seek a disguise for their own rudeness, an æsthetical pretext for their own unemotional insipidity: I am thinking here, for instance, of Otto Jahn. But let the liar and the hypocrite beware of our German music: for in the midst of all our culture it is really the only genuine, pure and purifying fire-spirit from which and towards which, as in the teaching of the great[Pg 152] Heraclitus of Ephesus, all things move in a double orbit-all that we now call culture, education, civilisation, must appear some day before the unerring judge, Dionysus.

Let us recollect furthermore how Kant and Schopenhauer made it possible for the spirit of German philosophy streaming from the same sources to annihilate the satisfied delight in existence of scientific Socratism by the delimitation of the boundaries thereof; how through this delimitation an infinitely profounder and more serious view of ethical problems and of art was inaugurated, which we may unhesitatingly designate as Dionysian wisdom comprised in concepts. To what then does the mystery of this oneness of German music and philosophy point, if not to a new form of existence, concerning the substance of which we can only inform ourselves presentiently from Hellenic analogies? For to us who stand on the boundary line between two different forms of existence, the Hellenic prototype retains the immeasurable value, that therein all these transitions and struggles are imprinted in a classically instructive form: except that we, as it were, experience analogically in reverse order the chief epochs of the Hellenic genius, and seem now, for instance, to pass backwards from the Alexandrine age to the period of tragedy. At the same time we have the feeling that the birth of a tragic age betokens only a return to itself of the German spirit, a blessed self-rediscovering after excessive and urgent external influences have for a long time compelled it, living as it did in[Pg 153] helpless barbaric formlessness, to servitude under their form. It may at last, after returning to the primitive source of its being, venture to stalk along boldly and freely before all nations without hugging the leading-strings of a Romanic civilisation: if only it can learn implicitly of one people—the Greeks, of whom to learn at all is itself a high honour and a rare distinction. And when did we require these highest of all teachers more than at present, when we experience a re-birth of tragedy and are in danger alike of not knowing whence it comes, and of being unable to make clear to ourselves whither it tends.

[22]Essay on Elegiac Poetry.—TR.

[23]See Faust, Part 1.1. 965—TR.

20.

It may be weighed some day before an impartial judge, in what time and in what men the German spirit has thus far striven most resolutely to learn of the Greeks: and if we confidently assume that this unique praise must be accorded to the noblest intellectual efforts of Goethe, Schiller, and Winkelmann, it will certainly have to be added that since their time, and subsequently to the more immediate influences of these efforts, the endeavour to attain to culture and to the Greeks by this path has in an incomprehensible manner grown feebler and feebler. In order not to despair altogether of the German spirit, must we not infer therefrom that possibly, in some essential matter, even these champions could not penetrate into the core of the Hellenic nature, and were unable to establish a permanent[Pg 154] friendly alliance between German and Greek culture? So that perhaps an unconscious perception of this shortcoming might raise also in more serious minds the disheartening doubt as to whether after such predecessors they could advance still farther on this path of culture, or could reach the goal at all. Accordingly, we see the opinions concerning the value of Greek contribution to culture degenerate since that time in the most alarming manner; the expression of compassionate superiority may be heard in the most heterogeneous intellectual and non-intellectual camps, and elsewhere a totally ineffective declamation dallies with “Greek harmony,” “Greek beauty,” “Greek cheerfulness.” And in the very circles whose dignity it might be to draw indefatigably from the Greek channel for the good of German culture, in the circles of the teachers in the higher educational institutions, they have learned best to compromise with the Greeks in good time and on easy terms, to the extent often of a sceptical abandonment of the Hellenic ideal and a total perversion of the true purpose of antiquarian studies. If there be any one at all in these circles who has not completely exhausted himself in the endeavour to be a trustworthy corrector of old texts or a natural-history microscopist of language, he perhaps seeks also to appropriate Grecian antiquity “historically” along with other antiquities, and in any case according to the method and with the supercilious air of our present cultured historiography. When, therefore, the intrinsic efficiency of the higher educational[Pg 155]institutions has never perhaps been lower or feebler than at present, when the “journalist,” the paper slave of the day, has triumphed over the academic teacher in all matters pertaining to culture, and there only remains to the latter the often previously experienced metamorphosis of now fluttering also, as a cheerful cultured butterfly, in the idiom of the journalist, with the “light elegance” peculiar thereto—with what painful confusion must the cultured persons of a period like the present gaze at the phenomenon (which can perhaps be comprehended analogically only by means of the profoundest principle of the hitherto unintelligible Hellenic genius) of the reawakening of the Dionysian spirit and the re-birth of tragedy? Never has there been another art-period in which so-called culture and true art have been so estranged and opposed, as is so obviously the case at present. We understand why so feeble a culture hates true art; it fears destruction thereby. But must not an entire domain of culture, namely the Socratic-Alexandrine, have exhausted its powers after contriving to culminate in such a daintily-tapering point as our present culture? When it was not permitted to heroes like Goethe and Schiller to break open the enchanted gate which leads into the Hellenic magic mountain, when with their most dauntless striving they did not get beyond the longing gaze which the Goethean Iphigenia cast from barbaric Tauris to her home across the ocean, what could the epigones of such heroes hope for, if the gate should not open to them[Pg 156] suddenly of its own accord, in an entirely different position, quite overlooked in all endeavours of culture hitherto—amidst the mystic tones of reawakened tragic music.

Let no one attempt to weaken our faith in an impending re-birth of Hellenic antiquity; for in it alone we find our hope of a renovation and purification of the German spirit through the fire-magic of music. What else do we know of amidst the present desolation and languor of culture, which could awaken any comforting expectation for the future? We look in vain for one single vigorously-branching root, for a speck of fertile and healthy soil: there is dust, sand, torpidness and languishing everywhere! Under such circumstances a cheerless solitary wanderer could choose for himself no better symbol than the Knight with Death and the Devil, as Dürer has sketched him for us, the mail-clad knight, grim and stern of visage, who is able, unperturbed by his gruesome companions, and yet hopelessly, to pursue his terrible path with horse and hound alone. Our Schopenhauer was such a Dürerian knight: he was destitute of all hope, but he sought the truth. There is not his equal.

But how suddenly this gloomily depicted wilderness of our exhausted culture changes when the Dionysian magic touches it! A hurricane seizes everything decrepit, decaying, collapsed, and stunted; wraps it whirlingly into a red cloud of dust; and carries it like a vulture into the air. Confused thereby, our glances seek for what has vanished: for what they see is something risen to[Pg 157] the golden light as from a depression, so full and green, so luxuriantly alive, so ardently infinite. Tragedy sits in the midst of this exuberance of life, sorrow and joy, in sublime ecstasy; she listens to a distant doleful song—it tells of the Mothers of Being, whose names are: Wahn, Wille, Wehe[21]—Yes, my friends, believe with me in Dionysian life and in the re-birth of tragedy. The time of the Socratic man is past: crown yourselves with ivy, take in your hands the thyrsus, and do not marvel if tigers and panthers lie down fawning at your feet. Dare now to be tragic men, for ye are to be redeemed! Ye are to accompany the Dionysian festive procession from India to Greece! Equip yourselves for severe conflict, but believe in the wonders of your god!

21.

Gliding back from these hortative tones into the mood which befits the contemplative man, I repeat that it can only be learnt from the Greeks what such a sudden and miraculous awakening of tragedy must signify for the essential basis of a people’s life. It is the people of the tragic mysteries who fight the battles with the Persians: and again, the people who waged such wars required tragedy as a necessary healing potion. Who would have imagined that there was still such a uniformly powerful effusion of the simplest political sentiments, the most natural domestic[Pg 158] instincts and the primitive manly delight in strife in this very people after it had been shaken to its foundations for several generations by the most violent convulsions of the Dionysian demon? If at every considerable spreading of the Dionysian commotion one always perceives that the Dionysian loosing from the shackles of the individual makes itself felt first of all in an increased encroachment on the political instincts, to the extent of indifference, yea even hostility, it is certain, on the other hand, that the state-forming Apollo is also the genius of the principium individuationis, and that the state and domestic sentiment cannot live without an assertion of individual personality. There is only one way from orgasm for a people,—the way to Indian Buddhism, which, in order to be at all endured with its longing for nothingness, requires the rare ecstatic states with their elevation above space, time, and the individual; just as these in turn demand a philosophy which teaches how to overcome the indescribable depression of the intermediate states by means of a fancy. With the same necessity, owing to the unconditional dominance of political impulses, a people drifts into a path of extremest secularisation, the most magnificent, but also the most terrible expression of which is the Roman imperium.

Placed between India and Rome, and constrained to a seductive choice, the Greeks succeeded in devising in classical purity still a third form of life, not indeed for long private use, but just on that account for immortality. For it[Pg 159] holds true in all things that those whom the gods love die young, but, on the other hand, it holds equally true that they then live eternally with the gods. One must not demand of what is most noble that it should possess the durable toughness of leather; the staunch durability, which, for instance, was inherent in the national character of the Romans, does not probably belong to the indispensable predicates of perfection. But if we ask by what physic it was possible for the Greeks, in their best period, notwithstanding the extraordinary strength of their Dionysian and political impulses, neither to exhaust themselves by ecstatic brooding, nor by a consuming scramble for empire and worldly honour, but to attain the splendid mixture which we find in a noble, inflaming, and contemplatively disposing wine, we must remember the enormous power of tragedy, exciting, purifying, and disburdening the entire life of a people; the highest value of which we shall divine only when, as in the case of the Greeks, it appears to us as the essence of all the prophylactic healing forces, as the mediator arbitrating between the strongest and most inherently fateful characteristics of a people.

Tragedy absorbs the highest musical orgasm into itself, so that it absolutely brings music to perfection among the Greeks, as among ourselves; but it then places alongside thereof tragic myth and the tragic hero, who, like a mighty Titan, takes the entire Dionysian world on his shoulders and disburdens us thereof; while, on the other hand, it is able by means of this same tragic[Pg 160] myth, in the person of the tragic hero, to deliver us from the intense longing for this existence, and reminds us with warning hand of another existence and a higher joy, for which the struggling hero prepares himself presentiently by his destruction, not by his victories. Tragedy sets a sublime symbol, namely the myth between the universal authority of its music and the receptive Dionysian hearer, and produces in him the illusion that music is only the most effective means for the animation of the plastic world of myth. Relying upon this noble illusion, she can now move her limbs for the dithyrambic dance, and abandon herself unhesitatingly to an orgiastic feeling of freedom, in which she could not venture to indulge as music itself, without this illusion. The myth protects us from the music, while, on the other hand, it alone gives the highest freedom thereto. By way of return for this service, music imparts to tragic myth such an impressive and convincing metaphysical significance as could never be attained by word and image, without this unique aid; and the tragic spectator in particular experiences thereby the sure presentiment of supreme joy to which the path through destruction and negation leads; so that he thinks he hears, as it were, the innermost abyss of things speaking audibly to him.

If in these last propositions I have succeeded in giving perhaps only a preliminary expression, intelligible to few at first, to this difficult representation, I must not here desist from stimulating my friends to a further attempt, or[Pg 161] cease from beseeching them to prepare themselves, by a detached example of our common experience, for the perception of the universal proposition. In this example I must not appeal to those who make use of the pictures of the scenic processes, the words and the emotions of the performers, in order to approximate thereby to musical perception; for none of these speak music as their mother-tongue, and, in spite of the aids in question, do not get farther than the precincts of musical perception, without ever being allowed to touch its innermost shrines; some of them, like Gervinus, do not even reach the precincts by this path. I have only to address myself to those who, being immediately allied to music, have it as it were for their mother’s lap, and are connected with things almost exclusively by unconscious musical relations. I ask the question of these genuine musicians: whether they can imagine a man capable of hearing the third act of Tristan und Isolde without any aid of word or scenery, purely as a vast symphonic period, without expiring by a spasmodic distention of all the wings of the soul? A man who has thus, so to speak, put his ear to the heart-chamber of the cosmic will, who feels the furious desire for existence issuing therefrom as a thundering stream or most gently dispersed brook, into all the veins of the world, would he not collapse all at once? Could he endure, in the wretched fragile tenement of the human individual, to hear the re-echo of countless cries of joy and sorrow from the “vast void of cosmic night,” without flying irresistibly[Pg 162] towards his primitive home at the sound of this pastoral dance-song of metaphysics? But if, nevertheless, such a work can be heard as a whole, without a renunciation of individual existence, if such a creation could be created without demolishing its creator—where are we to get the solution of this contradiction?

Here there interpose between our highest musical excitement and the music in question the tragic myth and the tragic hero—in reality only as symbols of the most universal facts, of which music alone can speak directly. If, however, we felt as purely Dionysian beings, myth as a symbol would stand by us absolutely ineffective and unnoticed, and would never for a moment prevent us from giving ear to the re-echo of the universalia ante rem. Here, however, the Apollonian power, with a view to the restoration of the well-nigh shattered individual, bursts forth with the healing balm of a blissful illusion: all of a sudden we imagine we see only Tristan, motionless, with hushed voice saying to himself: “the old tune, why does it wake me?” And what formerly interested us like a hollow sigh from the heart of being, seems now only to tell us how “waste and void is the sea.” And when, breathless, we thought to expire by a convulsive distention of all our feelings, and only a slender tie bound us to our present existence, we now hear and see only the hero wounded to death and still not dying, with his despairing cry: “Longing! Longing! In dying still longing! for longing not dying!” And if formerly, after such a surplus and superabundance of consuming[Pg 163] agonies, the jubilation of the born rent our hearts almost like the very acme of agony, the rejoicing Kurwenal now stands between us and the “jubilation as such,” with face turned toward the ship which carries Isolde. However powerfully fellow-suffering encroaches upon us, it nevertheless delivers us in a manner from the primordial suffering of the world, just as the symbol-image of the myth delivers us from the immediate perception of the highest cosmic idea, just as the thought and word deliver us from the unchecked effusion of the unconscious will. The glorious Apollonian illusion makes it appear as if the very realm of tones presented itself to us as a plastic cosmos, as if even the fate of Tristan and Isolde had been merely formed and moulded therein as out of some most delicate and impressible material.

Thus does the Apollonian wrest us from Dionysian universality and fill us with rapture for individuals; to these it rivets our sympathetic emotion, through these it satisfies the sense of beauty which longs for great and sublime forms; it brings before us biographical portraits, and incites us to a thoughtful apprehension of the essence of life contained therein. With the immense potency of the image, the concept, the ethical teaching and the sympathetic emotion—the Apollonian influence uplifts man from his orgiastic self-annihilation, and beguiles him concerning the universality of the Dionysian process into the belief that he is seeing a detached picture of the world, for instance, Tristan and Isolde,[Pg 164] and that, through music, he will be enabled to see it still more clearly and intrinsically. What can the healing magic of Apollo not accomplish when it can even excite in us the illusion that the Dionysian is actually in the service of the Apollonian, the effects of which it is capable of enhancing; yea, that music is essentially the representative art for an Apollonian substance?

With the pre-established harmony which obtains between perfect drama and its music, the drama attains the highest degree of conspicuousness, such as is usually unattainable in mere spoken drama. As all the animated figures of the scene in the independently evolved lines of melody simplify themselves before us to the distinctness of the catenary curve, the coexistence of these lines is also audible in the harmonic change which sympathises in a most delicate manner with the evolved process: through which change the relations of things become immediately perceptible to us in a sensible and not at all abstract manner, as we likewise perceive thereby that it is only in these relations that the essence of a character and of a line of melody manifests itself clearly. And while music thus compels us to see more extensively and more intrinsically than usual, and makes us spread out the curtain of the scene before ourselves like some delicate texture, the world of the stage is as infinitely expanded for our spiritualised, introspective eye as it is illumined outwardly from within. How can the word-poet furnish anything analogous, who strives to attain this internal[Pg 165] expansion and illumination of the visible stage-world by a much more imperfect mechanism and an indirect path, proceeding as he does from word and concept? Albeit musical tragedy likewise avails itself of the word, it is at the same time able to place alongside thereof its basis and source, and can make the unfolding of the word, from within outwards, obvious to us.

Of the process just set forth, however, it could still be said as decidedly that it is only a glorious appearance, namely the afore-mentioned Apollonian illusion, through the influence of which we are to be delivered from the Dionysian obtrusion and excess. In point of fact, the relation of music to drama is precisely the reverse; music is the adequate idea of the world, drama is but the reflex of this idea, a detached umbrage thereof. The identity between the line of melody and the lining form, between the harmony and the character-relations of this form, is true in a sense antithetical to what one would suppose on the contemplation of musical tragedy. We may agitate and enliven the form in the most conspicuous manner, and enlighten it from within, but it still continues merely phenomenon, from which there is no bridge to lead us into the true reality, into the heart of the world. Music, however, speaks out of this heart; and though countless phenomena of the kind might be passing manifestations of this music, they could never exhaust its essence, but would always be merely its externalised copies. Of course, as regards the intricate relation of music and drama, nothing can be explained,[Pg 166] while all may be confused by the popular and thoroughly false antithesis of soul and body; but the unphilosophical crudeness of this antithesis seems to have become—who knows for what reasons—a readily accepted Article of Faith with our æstheticians, while they have learned nothing concerning an antithesis of phenomenon and thing-in-itself, or perhaps, for reasons equally unknown, have not cared to learn anything thereof.

Should it have been established by our analysis that the Apollonian element in tragedy has by means of its illusion gained a complete victory over the Dionysian primordial element of music, and has made music itself subservient to its end, namely, the highest and clearest elucidation of the drama, it would certainly be necessary to add the very important restriction: that at the most essential point this Apollonian illusion is dissolved and annihilated. The drama, which, by the aid of music, spreads out before us with such inwardly illumined distinctness in all its movements and figures, that we imagine we see the texture unfolding on the loom as the shuttle flies to and fro,—attains as a whole an effect which transcends all Apollonian artistic effects. In the collective effect of tragedy, the Dionysian gets the upper hand once more; tragedy ends with a sound which could never emanate from the realm of Apollonian art. And the Apollonian illusion is thereby found to be what it is,—the assiduous veiling during the performance of tragedy of the intrinsically Dionysian effect: which, however, is so powerful, that it[Pg 167] finally forces the Apollonian drama itself into a sphere where it begins to talk with Dionysian wisdom, and even denies itself and its Apollonian conspicuousness. Thus then the intricate relation of the Apollonian and the Dionysian in tragedy must really be symbolised by a fraternal union of the two deities: Dionysus speaks the language of Apollo; Apollo, however, finally speaks the language of Dionysus; and so the highest goal of tragedy and of art in general is attained.

22.

Let the attentive friend picture to himself purely and simply, according to his experiences, the effect of a true musical tragedy. I think I have so portrayed the phenomenon of this effect in both its phases that he will now be able to interpret his own experiences. For he will recollect that with regard to the myth which passed before him he felt himself exalted to a kind of omniscience, as if his visual faculty were no longer merely a surface faculty, but capable of penetrating into the interior, and as if he now saw before him, with the aid of music, the ebullitions of the will, the conflict of motives, and the swelling stream of the passions, almost sensibly visible, like a plenitude of actively moving lines and figures, and could thereby dip into the most tender secrets of unconscious emotions. While he thus becomes conscious of the highest exaltation of his instincts for conspicuousness and transfiguration, he nevertheless feels with equal[Pg 168] definitiveness that this long series of Apollonian artistic effects still does not generate the blissful continuance in will-less contemplation which the plasticist and the epic poet, that is to say, the strictly Apollonian artists, produce in him by their artistic productions: to wit, the justification of the world of the individuatio attained in this contemplation,—which is the object and essence of Apollonian art. He beholds the transfigured world of the stage and nevertheless denies it. He sees before him the tragic hero in epic clearness and beauty, and nevertheless delights in his annihilation. He comprehends the incidents of the scene in all their details, and yet loves to flee into the incomprehensible. He feels the actions of the hero to be justified, and is nevertheless still more elated when these actions annihilate their originator. He shudders at the sufferings which will befall the hero, and yet anticipates therein a higher and much more overpowering joy. He sees more extensively and profoundly than ever, and yet wishes to be blind. Whence must we derive this curious internal dissension, this collapse of the Apollonian apex, if not from the Dionysian spell, which, though apparently stimulating the Apollonian emotions to their highest pitch, can nevertheless force this superabundance of Apollonian power into its service? Tragic myth is to be understood only as a symbolisation of Dionysian wisdom by means of the expedients of Apollonian art: the mythus conducts the world of phenomena to its boundaries, where it denies itself, and seeks to flee back again into the bosom of the true and only reality; where it then, like[Pg 169]Isolde, seems to strike up its metaphysical swan-song:—

In des Wonnemeeres
wogendem Schwall,
in der Duft-Wellen
tönendem Schall,
in des Weltathems
wehendem All—
ertrinken—versinken
unbewusst—höchste Lust![24]

We thus realise to ourselves in the experiences of the truly æsthetic hearer the tragic artist himself when he proceeds like a luxuriously fertile divinity of individuation to create his figures (in which sense his work can hardly be understood as an “imitation of nature”)—and when, on the other hand, his vast Dionysian impulse then absorbs the entire world of phenomena, in order to anticipate beyond it, and through its annihilation, the highest artistic primal joy, in the bosom of the Primordial Unity. Of course, our æsthetes have nothing to say about this return in fraternal union of the two art-deities to the original home, nor of either the Apollonian or Dionysian excitement of the hearer,[Pg 170] while they are indefatigable in characterising the struggle of the hero with fate, the triumph of the moral order of the world, or the disburdenment of the emotions through tragedy, as the properly Tragic: an indefatigableness which makes me think that they are perhaps not æsthetically excitable men at all, but only to be regarded as moral beings when hearing tragedy. Never since Aristotle has an explanation of the tragic effect been proposed, by which an æsthetic activity of the hearer could be inferred from artistic circumstances. At one time fear and pity are supposed to be forced to an alleviating discharge through the serious procedure, at another time we are expected to feel elevated and inspired at the triumph of good and noble principles, at the sacrifice of the hero in the interest of a moral conception of things; and however certainly I believe that for countless men precisely this, and only this, is the effect of tragedy, it as obviously follows therefrom that all these, together with their interpreting æsthetes, have had no experience of tragedy as the highest art. The pathological discharge, the catharsis of Aristotle, which philologists are at a loss whether to include under medicinal or moral phenomena, recalls a remarkable anticipation of Goethe. “Without a lively pathological interest,” he says, “I too have never yet succeeded in elaborating a tragic situation of any kind, and hence I have rather avoided than sought it. Can it perhaps have been still another of the merits of the ancients that the deepest pathos was with them merely æsthetic play, whereas with us the truth of nature must[Pg 171] co-operate in order to produce such a work?” We can now answer in the affirmative this latter profound question after our glorious experiences, in which we have found to our astonishment in the case of musical tragedy itself, that the deepest pathos can in reality be merely æsthetic play: and therefore we are justified in believing that now for the first time the proto-phenomenon of the tragic can be portrayed with some degree of success. He who now will still persist in talking only of those vicarious effects proceeding from ultra-æsthetic spheres, and does not feel himself raised above the pathologically-moral process, may be left to despair of his æsthetic nature: for which we recommend to him, by way of innocent equivalent, the interpretation of Shakespeare after the fashion of Gervinus, and the diligent search for poetic justice.

Thus with the re-birth of tragedy the æsthetic hearer is also born anew, in whose place in the theatre a curious quid pro quo was wont to sit with half-moral and half-learned pretensions,—the “critic.” In his sphere hitherto everything has been artificial and merely glossed over with a semblance of life. The performing artist was in fact at a loss what to do with such a critically comporting hearer, and hence he, as well as the dramatist or operatic composer who inspired him, searched anxiously for the last remains of life in a being so pretentiously barren and incapable of enjoyment. Such “critics,” however, have hitherto constituted the public; the student, the school-boy, yea, even the most harmless womanly creature,[Pg 172] were already unwittingly prepared by education and by journals for a similar perception of works of art. The nobler natures among the artists counted upon exciting the moral-religious forces in such a public, and the appeal to a moral order of the world operated vicariously, when in reality some powerful artistic spell should have enraptured the true hearer. Or again, some imposing or at all events exciting tendency of the contemporary political and social world was presented by the dramatist with such vividness that the hearer could forget his critical exhaustion and abandon himself to similar emotions, as, in patriotic or warlike moments, before the tribune of parliament, or at the condemnation of crime and vice:—an estrangement of the true aims of art which could not but lead directly now and then to a cult of tendency. But here there took place what has always taken place in the case of factitious arts, an extraordinary rapid depravation of these tendencies, so that for instance the tendency to employ the theatre as a means for the moral education of the people, which in Schiller’s time was taken seriously, is already reckoned among the incredible antiquities of a surmounted culture. While the critic got the upper hand in the theatre and concert-hall, the journalist in the school, and the press in society, art degenerated into a topic of conversation of the most trivial kind, and æsthetic criticism was used as the cement of a vain, distracted, selfish and moreover piteously unoriginal sociality, the significance of which is suggested by the Schopenhauerian parable of the porcupines, so that there[Pg 173] has never been so much gossip about art and so little esteem for it. But is it still possible to have intercourse with a man capable of conversing on Beethoven or Shakespeare? Let each answer this question according to his sentiments: he will at any rate show by his answer his conception of “culture,” provided he tries at least to answer the question, and has not already grown mute with astonishment.

On the other hand, many a one more nobly and delicately endowed by nature, though he may have gradually become a critical barbarian in the manner described, could tell of the unexpected as well as totally unintelligible effect which a successful performance of Lohengrin, for example, exerted on him: except that perhaps every warning and interpreting hand was lacking to guide him; so that the incomprehensibly heterogeneous and altogether incomparable sensation which then affected him also remained isolated and became extinct, like a mysterious star after a brief brilliancy. He then divined what the æsthetic hearer is.

[24]

In the sea of pleasure’s
Billowing roll,
In the ether-waves
Knelling and toll,
In the world-breath’s
Wavering whole—
To drown in, go down in—
Lost in swoon—greatest boon!

23.

He who wishes to test himself rigorously as to how he is related to the true æsthetic hearer, or whether he belongs rather to the community of the Socrato-critical man, has only to enquire sincerely concerning the sentiment with which he accepts the wonder represented on the stage: whether he feels his historical sense, which insists on strict psychological causality, insulted by it,[Pg 174] whether with benevolent concession he as it were admits the wonder as a phenomenon intelligible to childhood, but relinquished by him, or whether he experiences anything else thereby. For he will thus be enabled to determine how far he is on the whole capable of understanding myth, that is to say, the concentrated picture of the world, which, as abbreviature of phenomena, cannot dispense with wonder. It is probable, however, that nearly every one, upon close examination, feels so disintegrated by the critico-historical spirit of our culture, that he can only perhaps make the former existence of myth credible to himself by learned means through intermediary abstractions. Without myth, however, every culture loses its healthy, creative natural power: it is only a horizon encompassed with myths which rounds off to unity a social movement. It is only by myth that all the powers of the imagination and of the Apollonian dream are freed from their random rovings. The mythical figures have to be the invisibly omnipresent genii, under the care of which the young soul grows to maturity, by the signs of which the man gives a meaning to his life and struggles: and the state itself knows no more powerful unwritten law than the mythical foundation which vouches for its connection with religion and its growth from mythical ideas.

Let us now place alongside thereof the abstract man proceeding independently of myth, the abstract education, the abstract usage, the abstract right, the abstract state: let us picture to ourselves the lawless roving of the artistic imagination,[Pg 175] not bridled by any native myth: let us imagine a culture which has no fixed and sacred primitive seat, but is doomed to exhaust all its possibilities, and has to nourish itself wretchedly from the other cultures—such is the Present, as the result of Socratism, which is bent on the destruction of myth. And now the myth-less man remains eternally hungering among all the bygones, and digs and grubs for roots, though he have to dig for them even among the remotest antiquities. The stupendous historical exigency of the unsatisfied modern culture, the gathering around one of countless other cultures, the consuming desire for knowledge—what does all this point to, if not to the loss of myth, the loss of the mythical home, the mythical source? Let us ask ourselves whether the feverish and so uncanny stirring of this culture is aught but the eager seizing and snatching at food of the hungerer—and who would care to contribute anything more to a culture which cannot be appeased by all it devours, and in contact with which the most vigorous and wholesome nourishment is wont to change into “history and criticism”?

We should also have to regard our German character with despair and sorrow, if it had already become inextricably entangled in, or even identical with this culture, in a similar manner as we can observe it to our horror to be the case in civilised France; and that which for a long time was the great advantage of France and the cause of her vast preponderance, to wit, this very identity of people and culture, might compel us at the sight thereof[Pg 176] to congratulate ourselves that this culture of ours, which is so questionable, has hitherto had nothing in common with the noble kernel of the character of our people. All our hopes, on the contrary, stretch out longingly towards the perception that beneath this restlessly palpitating civilised life and educational convulsion there is concealed a glorious, intrinsically healthy, primeval power, which, to be sure, stirs vigorously only at intervals in stupendous moments, and then dreams on again in view of a future awakening. It is from this abyss that the German Reformation came forth: in the choral-hymn of which the future melody of German music first resounded. So deep, courageous, and soul-breathing, so exuberantly good and tender did this chorale of Luther sound,—as the first Dionysian-luring call which breaks forth from dense thickets at the approach of spring. To it responded with emulative echo the solemnly wanton procession of Dionysian revellers, to whom we are indebted for German music—and to whom we shall be indebted for the re-birth of German myth.

I know that I must now lead the sympathising and attentive friend to an elevated position of lonesome contemplation, where he will have but few companions, and I call out encouragingly to him that we must hold fast to our shining guides, the Greeks. For the rectification of our æsthetic knowledge we previously borrowed from them the two divine figures, each of which sways a separate realm of art, and concerning whose mutual contact and exaltation we have acquired[Pg 177] a notion through Greek tragedy. Through a remarkable disruption of both these primitive artistic impulses, the ruin of Greek tragedy seemed to be necessarily brought about: with which process a degeneration and a transmutation of the Greek national character was strictly in keeping, summoning us to earnest reflection as to how closely and necessarily art and the people, myth and custom, tragedy and the state, have coalesced in their bases. The ruin of tragedy was at the same time the ruin of myth. Until then the Greeks had been involuntarily compelled immediately to associate all experiences with their myths, indeed they had to comprehend them only through this association: whereby even the most immediate present necessarily appeared to them sub specie æterni and in a certain sense as timeless. Into this current of the timeless, however, the state as well as art plunged in order to find repose from the burden and eagerness of the moment. And a people—for the rest, also a man—is worth just as much only as its ability to impress on its experiences the seal of eternity: for it is thus, as it were, desecularised, and reveals its unconscious inner conviction of the relativity of time and of the true, that is, the metaphysical significance of life. The contrary happens when a people begins to comprehend itself historically and to demolish the mythical bulwarks around it: with which there is usually connected a marked secularisation, a breach with the unconscious metaphysics of its earlier existence, in all ethical consequences. Greek art and especially Greek tragedy delayed[Pg 178] above all the annihilation of myth: it was necessary to annihilate these also to be able to live detached from the native soil, unbridled in the wilderness of thought, custom, and action. Even in such circumstances this metaphysical impulse still endeavours to create for itself a form of apotheosis (weakened, no doubt) in the Socratism of science urging to life: but on its lower stage this same impulse led only to a feverish search, which gradually merged into a pandemonium of myths and superstitions accumulated from all quarters: in the midst of which, nevertheless, the Hellene sat with a yearning heart till he contrived, as Græculus, to mask his fever with Greek cheerfulness and Greek levity, or to narcotise himself completely with some gloomy Oriental superstition.

We have approached this condition in the most striking manner since the reawakening of the Alexandro—Roman antiquity in the fifteenth century, after a long, not easily describable, interlude. On the heights there is the same exuberant love of knowledge, the same insatiate happiness of the discoverer, the same stupendous secularisation, and, together with these, a homeless roving about, an eager intrusion at foreign tables, a frivolous deification of the present or a dull senseless estrangement, all sub speci sæculi, of the present time: which same symptoms lead one to infer the same defect at the heart of this culture, the annihilation of myth. It seems hardly possible to transplant a foreign myth with permanent success, without dreadfully injuring the tree through this transplantation: which is perhaps[Pg 179] occasionally strong enough and sound enough to eliminate the foreign element after a terrible struggle; but must ordinarily consume itself in a languishing and stunted condition or in sickly luxuriance. Our opinion of the pure and vigorous kernel of the German being is such that we venture to expect of it, and only of it, this elimination of forcibly ingrafted foreign elements, and we deem it possible that the German spirit will reflect anew on itself. Perhaps many a one will be of opinion that this spirit must begin its struggle with the elimination of the Romanic element: for which it might recognise an external preparation and encouragement in the victorious bravery and bloody glory of the late war, but must seek the inner constraint in the emulative zeal to be for ever worthy of the sublime protagonists on this path, of Luther as well as our great artists and poets. But let him never think he can fight such battles without his household gods, without his mythical home, without a “restoration” of all German things I And if the German should look timidly around for a guide to lead him back to his long-lost home, the ways and paths of which he knows no longer—let him but listen to the delightfully luring call of the Dionysian bird, which hovers above him, and would fain point out to him the way thither.

24.

Among the peculiar artistic effects of musical tragedy we had to emphasise an Apollonian illusion, through which we are to be saved from[Pg 180] immediate oneness with the Dionysian music, while our musical excitement is able to discharge itself on an Apollonian domain and in an interposed visible middle world. It thereby seemed to us that precisely through this discharge the middle world of theatrical procedure, the drama generally, became visible and intelligible from within in a degree unattainable in the other forms of Apollonian art: so that here, where this art was as it were winged and borne aloft by the spirit of music, we had to recognise the highest exaltation of its powers, and consequently in the fraternal union of Apollo and Dionysus the climax of the Apollonian as well as of the Dionysian artistic aims.

Of course, the Apollonian light-picture did not, precisely with this inner illumination through music, attain the peculiar effect of the weaker grades of Apollonian art. What the epos and the animated stone can do—constrain the contemplating eye to calm delight in the world of the individuatio—could not be realised here, notwithstanding the greater animation and distinctness. We contemplated the drama and penetrated with piercing glance into its inner agitated world of motives—and yet it seemed as if only a symbolic picture passed before us, the profoundest significance of which we almost believed we had divined, and which we desired to put aside like a curtain in order to behold the original behind it. The greatest distinctness of the picture did not suffice us: for it seemed to reveal as well as veil something; and while it seemed, with its symbolic[Pg 181] revelation, to invite the rending of the veil for the disclosure of the mysterious background, this illumined all-conspicuousness itself enthralled the eye and prevented it from penetrating more deeply He who has not experienced this,—to have to view, and at the same time to have a longing beyond the viewing,—will hardly be able to conceive how clearly and definitely these two processes coexist in the contemplation of tragic myth and are felt to be conjoined; while the truly æsthetic spectators will confirm my assertion that among the peculiar effects of tragedy this conjunction is the most noteworthy. Now let this phenomenon of the æsthetic spectator be transferred to an analogous process in the tragic artist, and the genesis of tragic myth will have been understood. It shares with the Apollonian sphere of art the full delight in appearance and contemplation, and at the same time it denies this delight and finds a still higher satisfaction in the annihilation of the visible world of appearance. The substance of tragic myth is first of all an epic event involving the glorification of the fighting hero: but whence originates the essentially enigmatical trait, that the suffering in the fate of the hero, the most painful victories, the most agonising contrasts of motives, in short, the exemplification of the wisdom of Silenus, or, æsthetically expressed, the Ugly and Discordant, is always represented anew in such countless forms with such predilection, and precisely in the most youthful and exuberant age of a people, unless there is really a higher delight experienced in all this?

[Pg 182]

For the fact that things actually take such a tragic course would least of all explain the origin of a form of art; provided that art is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside thereof for its conquest. Tragic myth, in so far as it really belongs to art, also fully participates in this transfiguring metaphysical purpose of art in general: What does it transfigure, however, when it presents the phenomenal world in the guise of the suffering hero? Least of all the “reality” of this phenomenal world, for it says to us: “Look at this! Look carefully! It is your life! It is the hour-hand of your clock of existence!”

And myth has displayed this life, in order thereby to transfigure it to us? If not, how shall we account for the æsthetic pleasure with which we make even these representations pass before us? I am inquiring concerning the æsthetic pleasure, and am well aware that many of these representations may moreover occasionally create even a moral delectation, say under the form of pity or of a moral triumph. But he who would derive the effect of the tragic exclusively from these moral sources, as was usually the case far too long in æsthetics, let him not think that he has done anything for Art thereby; for Art must above all insist on purity in her domain. For the explanation of tragic myth the very first requirement is that the pleasure which characterises it must be sought in the purely æsthetic sphere, without encroaching on the domain of pity, fear, or the morally-sublime.[Pg 183] How can the ugly and the discordant, the substance of tragic myth, excite an æsthetic pleasure?

Here it is necessary to raise ourselves with a daring bound into a metaphysics of Art. I repeat, therefore, my former proposition, that it is only as an æsthetic phenomenon that existence and the world, appear justified: and in this sense it is precisely the function of tragic myth to convince us that even the Ugly and Discordant is an artistic game which the will, in the eternal fulness of its joy, plays with itself. But this not easily comprehensible proto-phenomenon of Dionysian Art becomes, in a direct way, singularly intelligible, and is immediately apprehended in the wonderful significance of musical dissonance: just as in general it is music alone, placed in contrast to the world, which can give us an idea as to what is meant by the justification of the world as an æsthetic phenomenon. The joy that the tragic myth excites has the same origin as the joyful sensation of dissonance in music. The Dionysian, with its primitive joy experienced in pain itself, is the common source of music and tragic myth.

Is it not possible that by calling to our aid the musical relation of dissonance, the difficult problem of tragic effect may have meanwhile been materially facilitated? For we now understand what it means to wish to view tragedy and at the same time to have a longing beyond the viewing: a frame of mind, which, as regards the artistically employed dissonance, we should simply have to characterise by saying that we desire to hear and at the same time have a longing beyond the hearing. That striving[Pg 184] for the infinite, the pinion-flapping of longing, accompanying the highest delight in the clearly-perceived reality, remind one that in both states we have to recognise a Dionysian phenomenon, which again and again reveals to us anew the playful up-building and demolishing of the world of individuals as the efflux of a primitive delight, in like manner as when Heraclitus the Obscure compares the world-building power to a playing child which places stones here and there and builds sandhills only to overthrow them again.

Hence, in order to form a true estimate of the Dionysian capacity of a people, it would seem that we must think not only of their music, but just as much of their tragic myth, the second witness of this capacity. Considering this most intimate relationship between music and myth, we may now in like manner suppose that a degeneration and depravation of the one involves a deterioration of the other: if it be true at all that the weakening of the myth is generally expressive of a debilitation of the Dionysian capacity. Concerning both, however, a glance at the development of the German genius should not leave us in any doubt; in the opera just as in the abstract character of our myth-less existence, in an art sunk to pastime just as in a life guided by concepts, the inartistic as well as life-consuming nature of Socratic optimism had revealed itself to us. Yet there have been indications to console us that nevertheless in some inaccessible abyss the German spirit still rests and dreams, undestroyed, in glorious health, profundity, and Dionysian strength, like a knight sunk in[Pg 185]slumber: from which abyss the Dionysian song rises to us to let us know that this German knight even still dreams his primitive Dionysian myth in blissfully earnest visions. Let no one believe that the German spirit has for ever lost its mythical home when it still understands so obviously the voices of the birds which tell of that home. Some day it will find itself awake in all the morning freshness of a deep sleep: then it will slay the dragons, destroy the malignant dwarfs, and waken Brünnhilde—and Wotan’s spear itself will be unable to obstruct its course!

My friends, ye who believe in Dionysian music, ye know also what tragedy means to us. There we have tragic myth, born anew from music,—and in this latest birth ye can hope for everything and forget what is most afflicting. What is most afflicting to all of us, however, is—the prolonged degradation in which the German genius has lived estranged from house and home in the service of malignant dwarfs. Ye understand my allusion—as ye will also, in conclusion, understand my hopes.

25.

Music and tragic myth are equally the expression of the Dionysian capacity of a people, and are inseparable from each other. Both originate in an ultra Apollonian sphere of art; both transfigure a region in the delightful accords of which all dissonance, just like the terrible picture of the world, dies charmingly away; both play with the sting of displeasure, trusting to their most potent magic;[Pg 186] both justify thereby the existence even of the “worst world.” Here the Dionysian, as compared with the Apollonian, exhibits itself as the eternal and original artistic force, which in general calls into existence the entire world of phenomena: in the midst of which a new transfiguring appearance becomes necessary, in order to keep alive the animated world of individuation. If we could conceive an incarnation of dissonance—and what is man but that?—then, to be able to live this dissonance would require a glorious illusion which would spread a veil of beauty over its peculiar nature. This is the true function of Apollo as deity of art: in whose name we comprise all the countless manifestations of the fair realm of illusion, which each moment render life in general worth living and make one impatient for the experience of the next moment.

At the same time, just as much of this basis of all existence—the Dionysian substratum of the world—is allowed to enter into the consciousness of human beings, as can be surmounted again by the Apollonian transfiguring power, so that these two art-impulses are constrained to develop their powers in strictly mutual proportion, according to the law of eternal justice. When the Dionysian powers rise with such vehemence as we experience at present, there can be no doubt that, veiled in a cloud, Apollo has already descended to us; whose grandest beautifying influences a coming generation will perhaps behold.

That this effect is necessary, however, each one would most surely perceive by intuition, if once he found himself carried back—even in a dream—into[Pg 187] an Old-Hellenic existence. In walking under high Ionic colonnades, looking upwards to a horizon defined by clear and noble lines, with reflections of his transfigured form by his side in shining marble, and around him solemnly marching or quietly moving men, with harmoniously sounding voices and rhythmical pantomime, would he not in the presence of this perpetual influx of beauty have to raise his hand to Apollo and exclaim: “Blessed race of Hellenes! How great Dionysus must be among you, when the Delian god deems such charms necessary to cure you of your dithyrambic madness!”—To one in this frame of mind, however, an aged Athenian, looking up to him with the sublime eye of Æschylus, might answer: “Say also this, thou curious stranger: what sufferings this people must have undergone, in order to be able to become thus beautiful! But now follow me to a tragic play, and sacrifice with me in the temple of both the deities!”


[Pg 189]

APPENDIX.

[Late in the year 1888, not long before he was overcome by his sudden attack of insanity, Nietzsche wrote down a few notes concerning his early work, the Birth of Tragedy. These were printed in his sister’s biography (Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsches, vol. ii. pt. i. pp. 102 ff.), and are here translated as likely to be of interest to readers of this remarkable work. They also appear in the Ecce Homo.—TRANSLATOR’S NOTE.]

“To be just to the Birth of Tragedy(1872), one will have to forget some few things. It has wrought effects, it even fascinated through that wherein it was amiss—through its application to Wagnerism, just as if this Wagnerism were symptomatic of a rise and going up. And just on that account was the book an event in Wagner’s life: from thence and only from thence were great hopes linked to the name of Wagner. Even to-day people remind me, sometimes right in the midst of a talk on Parsifal, that I and none other have it on my conscience that such a high opinion of the cultural value of this movement came to the top. More than once have I found the book referred to as ‘the Re-birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music’: one only had an ear for a new formula of Wagner’s art, aim, task,—and failed to hear[Pg 190] withal what was at bottom valuable therein. ‘Hellenism and Pessimism’ had been a more unequivocal title: namely, as a first lesson on the way in which the Greeks got the better of pessimism,—on the means whereby they overcame it. Tragedy simply proves that the Greeks were no pessimists: Schopenhauer was mistaken here as he was mistaken in all other things. Considered with some neutrality, the Birth of Tragedy appears very unseasonable: one would not even dream that it was begun amid the thunders of the battle of Wörth. I thought these problems through and through before the walls of Metz in cold September nights, in the midst of the work of nursing the sick; one might even believe the book to be fifty years older. It is politically indifferent—un-German one will say to-day,—it smells shockingly Hegelian, in but a few formulæ does it scent of Schopenhauer’s funereal perfume. An ‘idea’—the antithesis of ‘Dionysian versus Apollonian’—translated into metaphysics; history itself as the evolution of this ‘idea’; the antithesis dissolved into oneness in Tragedy; through this optics things that had never yet looked into one another’s face, confronted of a sudden, and illumined and comprehended through one another: for instance, Opera and Revolution. The two decisive innovations of the book are, on the one hand, the comprehension of the Dionysian phenomenon among the Greeks (it gives the first psychology thereof, it sees therein the One root of all Grecian art); on the other, the comprehension of Socratism: Socrates diagnosed for the first time as the tool[Pg 191] of Grecian dissolution, as a typical decadent. ‘Rationality’ against instinct! ‘Rationality’ at any price as a dangerous, as a life-undermining force! Throughout the whole book a deep hostile silence on Christianity: it is neither Apollonian nor Dionysian; it negatives all æsthetic values (the only values recognised by the Birth of Tragedy), it is in the widest sense nihilistic, whereas in the Dionysian symbol the utmost limit of affirmation is reached. Once or twice the Christian priests are alluded to as a ‘malignant kind of dwarfs,’ as ‘subterraneans.'”

2.

“This beginning is singular beyond measure. I had for my own inmost experience discovered the only symbol and counterpart of history,—I had just thereby been the first to grasp the wonderful phenomenon of the Dionysian. And again, through my diagnosing Socrates as a decadent, I had given a wholly unequivocal proof of how little risk the trustworthiness of my psychological grasp would run of being weakened by some moralistic idiosyncrasy—to view morality itself as a symptom of decadence is an innovation, a novelty of the first rank in the history of knowledge. How far I had leaped in either case beyond the smug shallow-pate-gossip of optimism contra pessimism! I was the first to see the intrinsic antithesis: here, the degenerating instinct which, with subterranean vindictiveness, turns against life (Christianity, the philosophy of Schopenhauer, in a certain sense already the philosophy of Plato, all idealistic[Pg 192] systems as typical forms), and there, a formula of highest affirmation, born of fullness and overfullness, a yea-saying without reserve to suffering’s self, to guilt’s self, to all that is questionable and strange in existence itself. This final, cheerfullest, exuberantly mad-and-merriest Yea to life is not only the highest insight, it is also the deepest, it is that which is most rigorously confirmed and upheld by truth and science. Naught that is, is to be deducted, naught is dispensable; the phases of existence rejected by the Christians and other nihilists are even of an infinitely higher order in the hierarchy of values than that which the instinct of decadence sanctions, yea durst sanction. To comprehend this courage is needed, and, as a condition thereof, a surplus of strength: for precisely in degree as courage dares to thrust forward, precisely according to the measure of strength, does one approach truth. Perception, the yea-saying to reality, is as much a necessity to the strong as to the weak, under the inspiration of weakness, cowardly shrinking, and flight from reality—the ‘ideal.’ … They are not free to perceive: the decadents have need of the lie,—it is one of their conditions of self-preservation. Whoso not only comprehends the word Dionysian, but also grasps his self in this word, requires no refutation of Plato or of Christianity or of Schopenhauer—he smells the putrefaction.

3.

“To what extent I had just thereby found the concept ‘tragic,’ the definitive perception of the [Pg 193]psychology of tragedy, I have but lately stated in the Twilight of the Idols, page 139 (1st edit.): ‘The affirmation of life, even in its most unfamiliar and severe problems, the will to life, enjoying its own inexhaustibility in the sacrifice of its highest types,—that is what I called Dionysian, that is what I divined as the bridge to a psychology of the tragic poet. Not in order to get rid of terror and pity, not to purify from a dangerous passion by its vehement discharge (it was thus that Aristotle misunderstood it); but, beyond terror and pity, to realise in fact the eternal delight of becoming, that delight which even involves in itself the joy of annihilating![1] In this sense I have the right to understand myself to be the first tragic philosopher—that is, the utmost antithesis and antipode to a pessimistic philosopher. Prior to myself there is no such translation of the Dionysian into the philosophic pathos: there lacks the tragic wisdom,—I have sought in vain for an indication thereof even among the great Greeks of philosophy, the thinkers of the two centuries before Socrates. A doubt still possessed me as touching Heraclitus, in whose proximity I in general begin to feel warmer and better than anywhere else. The affirmation of transiency and annihilation, to wit the decisive factor in a Dionysian philosophy, the yea-saying to antithesis and war, to becoming, with radical rejection even of the concept ‘being,‘—that I must directly acknowledge as, of all thinking hitherto, the nearest to my own. The doctrine of[Pg 194] ‘eternal recurrence,’ that is, of the unconditioned and infinitely repeated cycle of all things—this doctrine of Zarathustra’s mightafter all have been already taught by Heraclitus. At any rate the portico[2] which inherited well-nigh all its fundamental conceptions from Heraclitus, shows traces thereof.”

Facsimile of Nietzsches handwriting.

4.

“In this book speaks a prodigious hope. In fine, I see no reason whatever for taking back my hope of a Dionysian future for music. Let us cast a glance a century ahead, let us suppose my assault upon two millenniums of anti-nature and man-vilification succeeds! That new party of life which will take in hand the greatest of all tasks, the upbreeding of mankind to something higher,—add thereto the relentless annihilation of all things degenerating and parasitic, will again make possible on earth that too-much of life, from which there also must needs grow again the Dionysian state. I promise a tragic age: the highest art in the yea-saying to life, tragedy, will be born anew, when mankind have behind them the consciousness of the hardest but most necessary wars, without suffering therefrom. A psychologist might still add that what I heard in my younger years in Wagnerian music had in general naught to do with Wagner; that when I described Wagnerian music I described what I had heard, that I had instinctively to translate and transfigure all into the new spirit which I bore within myself….”

[1]Mr. Common’s translation, pp. 227-28.

[2]Greek: στοά.


[Pg 196]

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE.

While the translator flatters himself that this version of Nietzsche’s early work—having been submitted to unsparingly scrutinising eyes—is not altogether unworthy of the original, he begs to state that he holds twentieth-century English to be a rather unsatisfactory vehicle for philosophical thought. Accordingly, in conjunction with his friend Dr. Ernest Lacy, he has prepared a second, more unconventional translation,—in brief, a translation which will enable one whose knowledge of English extends to, say, the period of Elizabeth, to appreciate Nietzsche in more forcible language, because the language of a stronger age. It is proposed to provide this second translation with an appendix, containing many references to the translated writings of Wagner and Schopenhauer; to the works of Pater, Browning, Burckhardt, Rohde, and others, and a summmary and index.

For help in preparing the present translation, the translator wishes to express his thanks to his friends Dr. Ernest Lacy, Litt.D.; Dr. James Waddell Tupper, Ph.D.; Prof. Harry Max Ferren; Mr. James M’Kirdy, Pittsburg; and Mr. Thomas Common, Edinburgh.

WILLIAM AUGUST HAUSSMANN, A.B., Ph.D.

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Human, All Too Human, Part II

Posted by: Candace Elizabeth Brooks (a.k.a. Ariadne Phoenix Levinson), Uptown Dallas Art Collective Editor in Chief

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Human, All-Too-Human, Part II by Friedrich Nietzsche

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at http://www.gutenberg.org/license

Title: Human, All-Too-Human, Part II

Author: Friedrich Nietzsche

Release Date: October 24, 2011 [Ebook #37841]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8

***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HUMAN, ALL-TOO-HUMAN, PART II***
Friedrich Nietzsche

Human

All-Too-Human

A Book For Free Spirits

Part II

Translated By

Paul V. Cohn, B.A.

New York

The MacMillan Company

1913

Contents

Translator’s Introduction.
Preface.
Part I. Miscellaneous Maxims And Opinions.
Part II. The Wanderer And His Shadow.
Footnotes
[pg vii]
Translator’s Introduction.

The publication of Human, all-too-Human extends over the period 1878-1880. Of the two divisions which constitute the Second Part, “Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions” appeared in 1879, and “The Wanderer and his Shadow” in 1880, Nietzsche being then in his thirty-sixth year. The Preface was added in 1886. The whole book forms Nietzsche’s first lengthy contribution to literature. His previous works comprise only the philological treatises, The Birth of Tragedy, and the essays on Strauss, Schopenhauer, and Wagner in Thoughts out of Season.

With the volumes of Human, all-too-Human Nietzsche appears for the first time in his true colours as philosopher. His purely scholarly publications, his essays in literary and musical criticism—especially the essay on Richard Wagner at Bayreuth—had, of course, foreshadowed his work as a thinker.

These efforts, however, had been mere fragments, from which hardly any one could observe that a new philosophical star had arisen on the horizon. But by 1878 the period of transition had definitely set in. Outwardly, the new departure is marked by Nietzsche’s resignation in that year of his professorship [pg viii] at Bâle—a resignation due partly to ill-health, and partly to his conviction that his was a voice that should speak not merely to students of philology, but to all mankind.

Nietzsche himself characterises Human, all-too-Human as “the monument of a crisis.” He might as fitly have called it the first-fruits of a new harvest. Now, for the first time, he practises the form which he was to make so peculiarly his own. We are told—and we may well believe—that the book came as a surprise even to his most intimate friends. Wagner had already seen how matters stood at the publication of the first part, and the gulf between the two probably widened on the appearance of the Second Part.

Several aphorisms are here, varying in length as in subject, and ranging over the whole human province—the emotions and aspirations, the religions and cultures and philosophies, the arts and literatures and politics of mankind. Equally varied is the range of style, the incisive epigram and the passage of pure poetry jostling each other on the same page. In this curious power of alternating between cynicism and lyricism, Nietzsche appears as the prose counterpart of Heine.

One or two of the aphorisms are of peculiar interest to English readers. The essay (as it may almost be called) on Sterne (p. 60, No. 113) does ample justice, if not more than justice, to that wayward genius. The allusion to Milton (p. 77, No. 150) will come as somewhat of a shock to English readers, especially to those who hold that in Milton Art triumphed over Puritanism. It [pg ix] should be remembered, however, that Nietzsche’s view coincides with Goethe’s. The dictum that Shakespeare’s gold is to be valued for its quantity rather than its quality (p. 81, No. 162) also betrays a certain exclusiveness—a legacy from that eighteenth-century France which appealed so strongly to Nietzsche on its intellectual side. To Nietzsche, as to Voltaire, Shakespeare is after all “the great barbarian.”

The title of the book may be explained from a phrase in Thus Spake Zarathustra: “Verily, even the greatest I found—all-too-human.” The keynote of these volumes is indeed disillusion and destruction. Nor is this to be wondered at, for all men must sweep away the rubbish before they can build. Hence we find here little of the constructive philosophy of Nietzsche—so far as he had a constructive philosophy. The Superman appears but faintly, the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence not at all. For this very reason, Human, all-too-Human is perhaps the best starting-point for the study of Nietzsche. The difficulties in style and thought of the later work—difficulties that at times become well-nigh insuperable in Thus Spake Zarathustra—are here practically absent. The book may, in fact, almost be described as “popular,” bearing the same relation to Nietzsche’s later productions as Wagner’s Tannhäuser and Lohengrin bear to the Ring.

The translator’s thanks are due to Mr. Thomas Common for his careful revision of the manuscript and many valuable suggestions.

P. V. C.

[pg 001]
Preface.

1.

One should only speak where one cannot remain silent, and only speak of what one has conquered—the rest is all chatter, “literature,” bad breeding. My writings speak only of my conquests, “I” am in them, with all that is hostile to me, ego ipsissimus, or, if a more haughty expression be permitted, ego ipsissimum. It may be guessed that I have many below me…. But first I always needed time, convalescence, distance, separation, before I felt the stirrings of a desire to flay, despoil, lay bare, “represent” (or whatever one likes to call it) for the additional knowledge of the world, something that I had lived through and outlived, something done or suffered. Hence all my writings,—with one exception, important, it is true,—must be ante-dated—they always tell of a “behind-me.” Some even, like the first three Thoughts out of Season, must be thrown back before the period of creation and experience of a previously published book (The Birth of Tragedy in the case cited, as any one with subtle powers of observation and comparison could not fail to perceive). That wrathful outburst against the Germanism, smugness, and raggedness of speech of old David Strauss, the [pg 002] contents of the first Thought out of Season, gave a vent to feelings that had inspired me long before, as a student, in the midst of German culture and cultured Philistinism (I claim the paternity of the now much used and misused phrase “cultured Philistinism”). What I said against the “historical disease” I said as one who had slowly and laboriously recovered from that disease, and who was not at all disposed to renounce “history” in the future because he had suffered from her in the past. When in the third Thought out of Season I gave expression to my reverence for my first and only teacher, the great Arthur Schopenhauer—I should now give it a far more personal and emphatic voice—I was for my part already in the throes of moral scepticism and dissolution, that is, as much concerned with the criticism as with the study of all pessimism down to the present day. I already did not believe in “a blessed thing,” as the people say, not even in Schopenhauer. It was at this very period that an unpublished essay of mine, “On Truth and Falsehood in an Extra-Moral Sense,” came into being. Even my ceremonial oration in honour of Richard Wagner, on the occasion of his triumphal celebration at Bayreuth in 1876—Bayreuth signifies the greatest triumph that an artist has ever won—a work that bears the strongest stamp of “individuality,” was in the background an act of homage and gratitude to a bit of the past in me, to the fairest but most perilous calm of my sea-voyage … and as a matter of fact a severance and a farewell. (Was Richard Wagner mistaken on this point? I do not think so. So long as we still love, we do not paint such pictures, [pg 003] we do not yet “examine,” we do not place ourselves so far away as is essential for one who “examines.” “Examining needs at least a secret antagonism, that of an opposite point of view,” it is said on page 46 of the above-named work itself, with an insidious, melancholy application that was perhaps understood by few.) The composure that gave me the power to speak after many intervening years of solitude and abstinence, first came with the book, Human, All-too Human, to which this second preface and apologia1 is dedicated. As a book for “free spirits” it shows some trace of that almost cheerful and inquisitive coldness of the psychologist, who has behind him many painful things that he keeps under him, and moreover establishes them for himself and fixes them firmly as with a needle-point. Is it to be wondered at that at such sharp, ticklish work blood flows now and again, that indeed the psychologist has blood on his fingers and not only on his fingers?

2.

The Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions were in the first place, like The Wanderer and His Shadow, published separately as continuations and appendices to the above-mentioned human, all-too human Book for Free Spirits: and at the same time, as a continuation and confirmation of an intellectual cure, consisting in a course of anti-romantic self-treatment, such as my instinct, which had always remained [pg 004] healthy, had itself discovered and prescribed against a temporary attack of the most dangerous form of romantics. After a convalescence of six years I may well be permitted to collect these same writings and publish them as a second volume of Human, All-too Human. Perhaps, if surveyed together, they will more clearly and effectively teach their lesson—a lesson of health that may be recommended as a disciplina voluntatis to the more intellectual natures of the rising generation. Here speaks a pessimist who has often leaped out of his skin but has always returned into it, thus, a pessimist with goodwill towards pessimism—at all events a romanticist no longer. And has not a pessimist, who possesses this serpentine knack of changing his skin, the right to read a lecture to our pessimists of to-day, who are one and all still in the toils of romanticism? Or at least to show them how it is—done?

3.

It was then, in fact, high time to bid farewell, and I soon received proof. Richard Wagner, who seemed all-conquering, but was in reality only a decayed and despairing romantic, suddenly collapsed, helpless and broken, before the Christian Cross…. Was there not a single German with eyes in his head and sympathy in his heart for this appalling spectacle? Was I the only one whom he caused—suffering? In any case, the unexpected event illumined for me in one lightning flash the place that I had abandoned, and also the horror that is felt by every one who is unconscious of a great danger until he has passed [pg 005] through it. As I went forward alone, I shuddered, and not long afterwards I was ill, or rather more than ill—weary: weary from my ceaseless disappointment about all that remained to make us modern men enthusiastic, at the thought of the power, work, hope, youth, love, flung to all the winds: weary from disgust at the effeminacy and undisciplined rhapsody of this romanticism, at the whole tissue of idealistic lies and softening of conscience, which here again had won the day over one of the bravest of men: last, and not least, weary from the bitterness of an inexorable suspicion—that after this disappointment I was doomed to mistrust more thoroughly, to despise more thoroughly, to be alone more thoroughly than ever before. My task—whither had it flown? Did it not look now as if my task were retreating from me and as if I should for a long future period have no more right to it? What was I to do to endure this most terrible privation?—I began by entirely forbidding myself all romantic music, that ambiguous, pompous, stifling art, which robs the mind of its sternness and its joyousness and provides a fertile soil for every kind of vague yearning and spongy sensuality. “Cave musicam” is even to-day my advice to all who are enough of men to cling to purity in matters of the intellect. Such music enervates, softens, feminises, its “eternal feminine” draws us—down!2 My first suspicion, my most immediate precaution, was directed against romantic music. If I hoped for anything at all from music, it [pg 006] was in the expectation of the coming of a musician bold, subtle, malignant, southern, healthy enough to take an immortal revenge upon that other music.

4.

Lonely now and miserably self-distrustful, I took sides, not without resentment, against myself and for everything that hurt me and was hard to me. Thus I once more found the way to that courageous pessimism that is the antithesis of all romantic fraud, and, as it seems to me to-day, the way to “myself,” to my task. That hidden masterful Something, for which we long have no name until at last it shows itself as our task—that tyrant in us exacts a terrible price for every attempt that we make to escape him or give him the slip, for every premature act of self-constraint, for every reconciliation with those to whom we do not belong, for every activity, however reputable, which turns us aside from our main purpose, yes, even for every virtue that would fain protect us from the cruelty of our most individual responsibility. “Disease” is always the answer when we wish to have doubts of our rights to our own task, when we begin to make it easier for ourselves in any way. How strange and how terrible! It is our very alleviations for which we have to make the severest atonement! And if we want to return to health, we have no choice left—we must load ourselves more heavily than we were ever laden before.

5.

It was then that I learnt the hermitical habit of [pg 007] speech acquired only by the most silent and suffering. I spoke without witnesses, or rather indifferent to the presence of witnesses, so as not to suffer from silence, I spoke of various things that did not concern me in a style that gave the impression that they did. Then, too, I learnt the art of showing myself cheerful, objective, inquisitive in the presence of all that is healthy and evil—is this, in an invalid, as it seems to me, his “good taste”? Nevertheless, a more subtle eye and sympathy will not miss what perhaps gives a charm to these writings—the fact that here speaks one who has suffered and abstained in such a way as if he had never suffered or abstained. Here equipoise, composure, even gratitude towards life shall be maintained, here rules a stern, proud, ever vigilant, ever susceptible will, which has undertaken the task of defending life against pain and snapping off all conclusions that are wont to grow like poisonous fungi from pain, disappointment, satiety, isolation and other morasses. Perhaps this gives our pessimists a hint to self-examination? For it was then that I hit upon the aphorism, “a sufferer has as yet no right to pessimism,” and that I engaged in a tedious, patient campaign against the unscientific first principles of all romantic pessimism, which seeks to magnify and interpret individual, personal experiences into “general judgments,” universal condemnations—it was then, in short, that I sighted a new world. Optimism for the sake of restitution, in order at some time to have the right to become a pessimist—do you understand that? Just as a physician transfers his patient to totally strange surroundings, in order to displace [pg 008] him from his entire “past,” his troubles, friends, letters, duties, stupid mistakes and painful memories, and teaches him to stretch out hands and senses towards new nourishment, a new sun, a new future: so I, as physician and invalid in one, forced myself into an utterly different and untried zone of the soul, and particularly into an absorbing journey to a strange land, a strange atmosphere, into a curiosity for all that was strange. A long process of roaming, seeking, changing followed, a distaste for fixity of any kind—a dislike for clumsy affirmation and negation: and at the same time a dietary and discipline which aimed at making it as easy as possible for the soul to fly high, and above all constantly to fly away. In fact a minimum of life, an unfettering from all coarser forms of sensuality, an independence in the midst of all marks of outward disfavour, together with the pride in being able to live in the midst of all this disfavour: a little cynicism perhaps, a little of the “tub of Diogenes,” a good deal of whimsical happiness, whimsical gaiety, much calm, light, subtle folly, hidden enthusiasm—all this produced in the end a great spiritual strengthening, a growing joy and exuberance of health. Life itself rewards us for our tenacious will to life, for such a long war as I waged against the pessimistic weariness of life, even for every observant glance of our gratitude, glances that do not miss the smallest, most delicate, most fugitive gifts…. In the end we receive Life’s great gifts, perhaps the greatest it can bestow—we regain our task.

[pg 009]
6.

Should my experience—the history of an illness and a convalescence, for it resulted in a convalescence—be only my personal experience? and merely just my “Human, All-too-human”? To-day I would fain believe the reverse, for I am becoming more and more confident that my books of travel were not penned for my sole benefit, as appeared for a time to be the case. May I, after six years of growing assurance, send them once more on a journey for an experiment?—May I commend them particularly to the ears and hearts of those who are afflicted with some sort of a “past,” and have enough intellect left to suffer even intellectually from their past? But above all would I commend them to you whose burden is heaviest, you choice spirits, most encompassed with perils, most intellectual, most courageous, who must be the conscience of the modern soul and as such be versed in its science:3 in whom is concentrated all of disease, poison or danger that can exist to-day: whose lot decrees that you must be more sick than any individual because you are not “mere individuals”: whose consolation it is to know and, ah! to walk the path to a new health, a health of to-morrow and the day after: you men of destiny, triumphant, conquerors of time, the healthiest and the strongest, you good Europeans!

7.

To express finally in a single formula my opposition [pg 010] to the romantic pessimism of the abstinent, the unfortunate, the conquered: there is a will to the tragic and to pessimism, which is a sign as much of the severity as of the strength of the intellect (taste, emotion, conscience). With this will in our hearts we do not fear, but we investigate ourselves the terrible and the problematical elements characteristic of all existence. Behind such a will stand courage and pride and the desire for a really great enemy. That was my pessimistic outlook from the first—a new outlook, methinks, an outlook that even at this day is new and strange? To this moment I hold to it firmly and (if it will be believed) not only for myself but occasionally against myself…. You would prefer to have that proved first? Well, what else does all this long preface—prove?

Sils-Maria, Upper Engadine,
September, 1886.
[pg 011]
Part I. Miscellaneous Maxims And Opinions.

[pg 013]
1.

To the Disillusioned in Philosophy.—If you hitherto believed in the highest value of life and now find yourselves disillusioned, must you immediately get rid of life at the lowest possible price?

2.

Overnice.—One can even become overnice as regards the clearness of concepts. How disgusted one is then at having truck with the half-clear, the hazy, the aspiring, the doubting! How ridiculous and yet not mirth-provoking is their eternal fluttering and straining without ever being able to fly or to grasp!

3.

The Wooers of Reality.—He who realises at last how long and how thoroughly he has been befooled, embraces out of spite even the ugliest reality. So that in the long run of the world’s history the best men have always been wooers of reality, for the best have always been longest and most thoroughly deceived.

[pg 014]
4.

Advance of Freethinking.—The difference between past and present freethinking cannot better be characterised than by that aphorism for the recognition and expression of which all the fearlessness of the eighteenth century was needed, and which even then, if measured by our modern view, sinks into an unconscious naïveté. I mean Voltaire’s aphorism, “croyez-moi, mon ami, l’erreur aussi a son mérite.”

5.

A Hereditary Sin of Philosophers.—Philosophers have at all times appropriated and corrupted the maxims of censors of men (moralists), by taking them over without qualification and trying to prove as necessary what the moralists only meant as a rough indication or as a truth suited to their fellow-countrymen or fellow-townsmen for a single decade. Moreover, the philosophers thought that they were thereby raising themselves above the moralists! Thus it will be found that the celebrated teachings of Schopenhauer as to the supremacy of the will over the intellect, of the immutability of character, the negativity of pleasure—all errors, in the sense in which he understands them—rest upon principles of popular wisdom enunciated by the moralists. Take the very word “will,” which Schopenhauer twisted so as to become a common denotation of several human conditions and with which he filled a gap in the language (to his own great advantage, in so far as he was a moralist, for he became free to [pg 015] speak of the will as Pascal had spoken of it). In the hands of its creator, Schopenhauer’s “will,” through the philosophic craze for generalisation, already turned out to be a bane to knowledge. For this will was made into a poetic metaphor, when it was held that all things in nature possess will. Finally, that it might be applied to all kinds of disordered mysticism, the word was misused by a fraudulent convention. So now all our fashionable philosophers repeat it and seem to be perfectly certain that all things have a will and are in fact One Will. According to the description generally given of this All-One-Will, this is much as if one should positively try to have the stupid Devil for one’s God.

6.

Against Visionaries.—The visionary denies the truth to himself, the liar only to others.

7.

Enmity to Light.—If we make it clear to any one that, strictly, he can never speak of truth, but only of probability and of its degrees, we generally discover, from the undisguised joy of our pupil, how greatly men prefer the uncertainty of their intellectual horizon, and how in their heart of hearts they hate truth because of its definiteness.—Is this due to a secret fear felt by all that the light of truth may at some time be turned too brightly upon themselves? To their wish to be of some consequence, and accordingly their concealment from the world of [pg 016] what they are? Or is it to be traced to their horror of the all-too brilliant light, to which their crepuscular, easily dazzled, bat-like souls are not accustomed, so that hate it they must?

8.

Christian Scepticism.—Pilate, with his question, “What is Truth?” is now gleefully brought on the scene as an advocate of Christ, in order to cast suspicion on all that is known or knowable as being mere appearance, and to erect the Cross on the appalling background of the Impossibility of Knowledge.

9.

“Natural Law,” a Phrase of Superstition.—When you talk so delightedly of Nature acting according to law, you must either assume that all things in Nature follow their law from a voluntary obedience imposed by themselves—in which case you admire the morality of Nature: or you are enchanted with the idea of a creative mechanician, who has made a most cunning watch with human beings as accessory ornaments.—Necessity, through the expression, “conformity to law,” then becomes more human and a coign of refuge in the last instance for mythological reveries.

10.

Fallen Forfeit to History.—All misty philosophers and obscurers of the world, in other words all metaphysicians of coarse or refined texture [pg 017] are seized with eyeache, earache, and toothache when they begin to suspect that there is truth in the saying: “All philosophy has from now fallen forfeit to history.” In view of their aches and pains we may pardon them for throwing stones and filth at him who talks like this, but this teaching may itself thereby become dirty and disreputable for a time and lose in effect.

11.

The Pessimist of the Intellect.—He whose intellect is really free will think freely about the intellect itself, and will not shut his eyes to certain terrible aspects of its source and tendency. For this reason others will perhaps designate him the bitterest opponent of free thought and give him that dreadful, abusive name of “pessimist of the intellect”: accustomed as they are to typify a man not by his strong point, his pre-eminent virtue, but by the quality that is most foreign to his nature.

12.

The Metaphysicians’ Knapsack.—To all who talk so boastfully of the scientific basis of their metaphysics it is best to make no reply. It is enough to tug at the bundle that they rather shyly keep hidden behind their backs. If one succeeds in lifting it, the results of that “scientific basis” come to light, to their great confusion: a dear little “God,” a genteel immortality, perhaps a little spiritualism, and in any case [pg 018] a complicated mass of poor-sinners’-misery and pharisee-arrogance.

13.

Occasional Harmfulness of Knowledge.—The utility involved in the unchecked investigation of knowledge is so constantly proved in a hundred different ways that one must remember to include in the bargain the subtler and rarer damage which individuals must suffer on that account. The chemist cannot avoid occasionally being poisoned or burnt at his experiments. What applies to the chemist, is true of the whole of our culture. This, it may be added, clearly shows that knowledge should provide itself with healing balsam against burns and should always have antidotes ready against poisons.

14.

The Craving of the Philistine.—The Philistine thinks that his most urgent need is a purple patch or turban of metaphysics, nor will he let it slip. Yet he would look less ridiculous without this adornment.

15.

Enthusiasts.—With all that enthusiasts say in favour of their gospel or their master they are defending themselves, however much they comport themselves as the judges and not the accused: because they are involuntarily reminded almost at every moment that they are exceptions and have to assert their legitimacy.

[pg 019]
16.

The Good Seduces to Life.—All good things, even all good books that are written against life, are strong means of attraction to life.

17.

The Happiness of the Historian.—“When we hear the hair-splitting metaphysicians and prophets of the after-world speak, we others feel indeed that we are the ‘poor in spirit,’ but that ours is the heavenly kingdom of change, with spring and autumn, summer and winter, and theirs the after-world, with its grey, everlasting frosts and shadows.” Thus soliloquised a man as he walked in the morning sunshine, a man who in his pursuit of history has constantly changed not only his mind but his heart. In contrast to the metaphysicians, he is happy to harbour in himself not an “immortal soul” but many mortal souls.

18.

Three Varieties of Thinkers.—There are streaming, flowing, trickling mineral springs, and three corresponding varieties of thinkers. The layman values them by the volume of the water, the expert by the contents of the water—in other words, by the elements in them that are not water.

19.

The Picture of Life.—The task of painting the picture of life, often as it has been attempted [pg 020] by poets and philosophers, is nevertheless irrational. Even in the hands of the greatest artist-thinkers, pictures and miniatures of one life only—their own—have come into being, and indeed no other result is possible. While in the process of developing, a thing that develops, cannot mirror itself as fixed and permanent, as a definite object.

20.

Truth will have no Gods before it.—The belief in truth begins with the doubt of all truths in which one has previously believed.

21.

Where Silence is Required.—If we speak of freethinking as of a highly dangerous journey over glaciers and frozen seas, we find that those who do not care to travel on this track are offended, as if they had been reproached with cowardice and weak knees. The difficult, which we find to be beyond our powers, must not even be mentioned in our presence.

22.

Historia in Nuce.—The most serious parody I ever heard was this: “In the beginning was the nonsense, and the nonsense was with God, and the nonsense was God.”4

[pg 021]
23.

Incurable.—The idealist is incorrigible: if he be thrown out of his Heaven, he makes himself a suitable ideal out of Hell. Disillusion him, and lo! he will embrace disillusionment with no less ardour than he recently embraced hope. In so far as his impulse belongs to the great incurable impulses of human nature, he can bring about tragic destinies and later become a subject for tragedy himself, for such tragedies as deal with the incurable, implacable, inevitable in the lot and character of man.

24.

Applause Itself as the Continuation of the Play.—Sparkling eyes and an amiable smile are the tributes of applause paid to all the great comedy of world and existence—but this applause is a comedy within a comedy, meant to tempt the other spectators to a plaudite amici.

25.

Courage for Tedium.—He who has not the courage to allow himself and his work to be considered tedious, is certainly no intellect of the first rank, whether in the arts or in the sciences.—A scoffer, who happened for once in a way to be a thinker, might add, with a glance at the world and at history: “God did not possess this courage, for he wanted to make and he made all things so interesting.”

[pg 022]
26.

From the Most Intimate Experience of the Thinker.—Nothing is harder for a man than to conceive of an object impersonally, I mean to see in it an object and not a person. One may even ask whether it is possible for him to dispense for a single moment with the machinery of his instinct to create and construct a personality. After all, he associates with his thoughts, however abstract they may be, as with individuals, against whom he must fight or to whom he must attach himself, whom he must protect, support and nourish. Let us watch or listen to ourselves at the moment when we hear or discover a new idea. Perhaps it displeases us because it is so defiant and so autocratic, and we unconsciously ask ourselves whether we cannot place a contradiction of it by its side as an enemy, or fasten on to it a “perhaps” or a “sometimes”: the mere little word “probably” gives us a feeling of satisfaction, for it shatters the oppressive tyranny of the unconditional. If, on the other hand, the new idea enters in gentle shape, sweetly patient and humble, and falling at once into the arms of contradiction, we put our autocracy to the test in another way. Can we not come to the aid of this weak creature, stroke it and feed it, give it strength and fulness, and truth and even unconditionality? Is it possible for us to show ourselves parental or chivalrous or compassionate towards our idea?—Then again, we see here a judgment and there a judgment, sundered from each other, never looking at or making any movement [pg 023] towards each other. So we are tickled by the thought, whether it be not here feasible to make a match, to draw a conclusion, with the anticipation that if a consequence follows this conclusion it is not only the two judgments united in wedlock but the matchmakers that will gain honour. If, however, we cannot acquire a hold upon that thought either on the path of defiance and ill-will or on that of good-will (if we hold it to be true)—then we submit to it and do homage to it as a leader and a prince, give it a chair of honour, and speak not of it without a flourish of trumpets: for we are bright in its brightness. Woe to him who tries to dim this brightness! Perhaps we ourselves one day grow suspicious of our idea. Then we, the indefatigable “king-makers” of the history of the intellect, cast it down from its throne and immediately exalt its adversary. Surely if this be considered and thought out a little further, no one will speak of an “absolute impulse to knowledge”!

Why, then, does man prefer the true to the untrue, in this secret combat with thought-personalities, in this generally clandestine match-making of thoughts, constitution-founding of thoughts, child-rearing of thoughts, nursing and almsgiving of thoughts? For the same reason that he practises honesty in intercourse with real persons: now from habit, heredity, and training, originally because the true, like the fair and the just, is more expedient and more reputable than the untrue. For in the realm of thought it is difficult to assume a power and glory that are built on error or on falsehood. The feeling that such an edifice might at some time collapse is [pg 024] humiliating to the self-esteem of the architect—he is ashamed of the fragility of the material, and, as he considers himself more important than the rest of the world, he would fain construct nothing that is less durable than the rest of the world. In his longing for truth he embraces the belief in a personal immortality, the most arrogant and defiant idea that exists, closely allied as it is to the underlying thought, pereat mundus, dum ego salvus sim! His work has become his “ego,” he transforms himself into the Imperishable with its universal challenge. It is his immeasurable pride that will only employ the best and hardest stones for the work—truths, or what he holds for such. Arrogance has always been justly called the “vice of the sage”; yet without this vice, fruitful in impulses, Truth and her status on earth would be in a parlous plight. In our propensity to fear our thoughts, concepts and words, and yet to honour ourselves in them, unconsciously to ascribe to them the power of rewarding, despising, praising, and blaming us, and so to associate with them as with free intellectual personalities, as with independent powers, as with our equals—herein lie the roots of the remarkable phenomenon which I have called “intellectual conscience.” Thus something of the highest moral species has bloomed from a black root.

27.

The Obscurantists.—The essential feature of the black art of obscurantism is not its intention of clouding the brain, but its attempt to darken [pg 025] the picture of the world and cloud our idea of existence. It often employs the method of thwarting all illumination of the intellect, but at times it uses the very opposite means, seeking by the highest refinement of the intellect to induce a satiety of the intellect’s fruits. Hair-splitting metaphysicians, who pave the way for scepticism and by their excessive acumen provoke a distrust of acumen, are excellent instruments of the more subtle form of obscurantism.—Is it possible that even Kant may be applied to this purpose? Did he even intend something of the sort, for a time at least, to judge from his own notorious exposition: “to clear the way for belief by setting limitations to knowledge”?—Certainly he did not succeed, nor did his followers, on the wolf and fox tracks of this highly refined and dangerous form of obscurantism—the most dangerous of all, for the black art here appears in the garb of light.

28.

By what Kind of Philosophy Art is Corrupted.—When the mists of a metaphysical-mystical philosophy succeed in making all æsthetic phenomena opaque, it follows that these phenomena cannot be comparatively valued, inasmuch as each becomes individually inexplicable. But when once they cannot be compared for the sake of valuation, there arises an entire absence-of-criticism, a blind indulgence. From this source springs a continual diminution of the enjoyment of art (which is only distinguished from the crude satisfaction of a need [pg 026] by the highest refinement of taste and appreciation). The more taste diminishes, the more does the desire for art change and revert to a vulgar hunger, which the artist henceforth seeks to appease by ever coarser fare.

29.

On Gethsemane.—The most painful thing a thinker can say to artists is: “Could ye not watch with me one hour?”

30.

At the Loom.—There are many (artists and women, for instance) who work against the few that take a pleasure in untying the knot of things and unravelling their woof. The former always want to weave the woof together again and entangle it and so turn the conceived into the unconceived and if possible inconceivable. Whatever the result may be, the woof and knot always look rather untidy, because too many hands are working and tugging at them.

31.

In the Desert of Science.—As the man of science proceeds on his modest and toilsome wanderings, which must often enough be journeys in the desert, he is confronted with those brilliant mirages known as “philosophic systems.” With magic powers of deception they show him that the solution of all riddles and the most refreshing draught of true water of life are close at hand. His weary heart rejoices, and he well-nigh touches with [pg 027] his lips the goal of all scientific endurance and hardship, so that almost unconsciously he presses forward. Other natures stand still, as if spellbound by the beautiful illusion: the desert swallows them up, they become lost to science. Other natures, again, that have often experienced these subjective consolations, become very disheartened and curse the salty taste which these mirages leave behind in the mouth and from which springs a raging thirst—without one’s having come one step nearer to any sort of a spring.

32.

The So-called “Real Reality.”—When the poet depicts the various callings—such as those of the warrior, the silk-weaver, the sailor—he feigns to know all these things thoroughly, to be an expert. Even in the exposition of human actions and destinies he behaves as if he had been present at the spinning of the whole web of existence. In so far he is an impostor. He practises his frauds on pure ignoramuses, and that is why he succeeds. They praise him for his deep, genuine knowledge, and lead him finally into the delusion that he really knows as much as the individual experts and creators, yes, even as the great world-spinners themselves. In the end, the impostor becomes honest, and actually believes in his own sincerity. Emotional people say to his very face that he has the “higher” truth and sincerity—for they are weary of reality for the time being, and accept the poetic dream as a pleasant relaxation and a night’s rest for head and heart. The visions of the dream [pg 028] now appear to them of more value, because, as has been said, they find them more beneficial, and mankind has always held that what is apparently of more value is more true, more real. All that is generally called reality, the poets, conscious of this power, proceed with intention to disparage and to distort into the uncertain, the illusory, the spurious, the impure, the sinful, sorrowful, and deceitful. They make use of all doubts about the limits of knowledge, of all sceptical excesses, in order to spread over everything the rumpled veil of uncertainty. For they desire that when this darkening process is complete their wizardry and soul-magic may be accepted without hesitation as the path to “true truth” and “real reality.”

33.

The Wish to be Just and the Wish to be a Judge.—Schopenhauer, whose profound understanding of what is human and all-too-human and original sense for facts was not a little impaired by the bright leopard-skin of his metaphysic (the skin must first be pulled off him if one wants to find the real moralist genius beneath)—Schopenhauer makes this admirable distinction, wherein he comes far nearer the mark than he would himself dare to admit: “Insight into the stern necessity of human actions is the boundary line that divides philosophic from other brains.” He worked against that wonderful insight of which he was sometimes capable by the prejudice that he had in common with the moral man (not the moralist), a prejudice that he expresses quite guilelessly and devoutly as [pg 029] follows: “The ultimate and true explanation of the inner being of the entirety of things must of necessity be closely connected with that about the ethical significance of human actions.” This connection is not “necessary” at all: such a connection must rather be rejected by that principle of the stern necessity of human actions, that is, the unconditioned non-freedom and non-responsibility of the will. Philosophic brains will accordingly be distinguished from others by their disbelief in the metaphysical significance of morality. This must create between the two kinds of brain a gulf of a depth and unbridgeableness of which the much-deplored gulf between “cultured” and “uncultured” scarcely gives a conception. It is true that many back doors, which the “philosophic brains,” like Schopenhauer’s own, have left for themselves, must be recognised as useless. None leads into the open, into the fresh air of the free will, but every door through which people had slipped hitherto showed behind it once more the gleaming brass wall of fate. For we are in a prison, and can only dream of freedom, not make ourselves free. That the recognition of this fact cannot be resisted much longer is shown by the despairing and incredible postures and grimaces of those who still press against it and continue their wrestling-bout with it. Their attitude at present is something like this: “So no one is responsible for his actions? And all is full of guilt and the consciousness of guilt? But some one must be the sinner. If it is no longer possible or permissible to accuse and sentence the individual, the one poor wave in the inevitable rough-and-tumble of the [pg 030] waves of development—well, then, let this stormy sea, this development itself, be the sinner. Here is free will: this totality can be accused and sentenced, can atone and expiate. So let God be the sinner and man his redeemer. Let the world’s history be guilt, expiation, and self-murder. Let the evil-doer be his own judge, the judge his own hangman.” This Christianity strained to its limits—for what else is it?—is the last thrust in the fencing-match between the teaching of unconditioned morality and the teaching of unconditioned non-freedom. It would be quite horrible if it were anything more than a logical pose, a hideous grimace of the underlying thought, perhaps the death-convulsion of the heart that seeks a remedy in its despair, the heart to which delirium whispers: “Behold, thou art the lamb which taketh away the sin of God.” This error lies not only in the feeling, “I am responsible,” but just as much in the contradiction, “I am not responsible, but some one must be.” That is simply not true. Hence the philosopher must say, like Christ, “Judge not,” and the final distinction between the philosophic brains and the others would be that the former wish to be just and the latter wish to be judges.

34.

Sacrifice.—You hold that sacrifice is the hallmark of moral action?—Just consider whether in every action that is done with deliberation, in the best as in the worst, there be not a sacrifice.

[pg 031]
35.

Against the “Triers of the Reins” of Morality.—One must know the best and the worst that a man is capable of in theory and in practice before one can judge how strong his moral nature is and can be. But this is an experiment that one can never carry out.

36.

Serpent’s Tooth.—Whether we have a serpent’s tooth or not we cannot know before some one has set his heel upon our necks. A wife or a mother could say: until some one has put his heel upon the neck of our darling, our child.—Our character is determined more by the absence of certain experiences than by the experiences we have undergone.

37.

Deception in Love.—We forget and purposely banish from our minds a good deal of our past. In other words, we wish our picture, that beams at us from the past, to belie us, to flatter our vanity—we are constantly engaged in this self-deception. And you who talk and boast so much of “self-oblivion in love,” of the “absorption of the ego in the other person”—you hold that this is something different? So you break the mirror, throw yourselves into another personality that you admire, and enjoy the new portrait of your ego, though calling it by the other person’s name—and this [pg 032] whole proceeding is not to be thought self-deception, self-seeking, you marvellous beings?—It seems to me that those who hide something of themselves from themselves, or hide their whole selves from themselves, are alike committing a theft from the treasury of knowledge. It is clear, then, against what transgression the maxim “Know thyself” is a warning.

38.

To the Denier of his Vanity.—He who denies his own vanity usually possesses it in so brutal a form that he instinctively shuts his eyes to avoid the necessity of despising himself.

39.

Why the Stupid so often Become Malignant.—To those arguments of our adversary against which our head feels too weak our heart replies by throwing suspicion on the motives of his arguments.

40.

The Art of Moral Exceptions.—An art that points out and glorifies the exceptional cases of morality—where the good becomes bad and the unjust just—should rarely be given a hearing: just as now and again we buy something from gipsies, with the fear that they are diverting to their own pockets much more than their mere profit from the purchase.

[pg 033]
41.

Enjoyment and Non-enjoyment of Poisons.—The only decisive argument that has always deterred men from drinking a poison is not that it is deadly, but that it has an unpleasant taste.

42.

The World without Consciousness of Sin.—If men only committed such deeds as do not give rise to a bad conscience, the human world would still look bad and rascally enough, but not so sickly and pitiable as at present.—Enough wicked men without conscience have existed at all times, and many good honest folk lack the feeling of pleasure in a good conscience.

43.

The Conscientious.—It is more convenient to follow one’s conscience than one’s intelligence, for at every failure conscience finds an excuse and an encouragement in itself. That is why there are so many conscientious and so few intelligent people.

44.

Opposite Means of Avoiding Bitterness.—One temperament finds it useful to be able to give vent to its disgust in words, being made sweeter by speech. Another reaches its full bitterness only by speaking out: it is more advisable for it to have to gulp down something—the restraint that men of this [pg 034] stamp place upon themselves in the presence of enemies and superiors improves their character and prevents it from becoming too acrid and sour.

45.

Not to be Too Dejected.—To get bed-sores is unpleasant, but no proof against the merits of the cure that prescribes that you should take to your bed. Men who have long lived outside themselves, and have at last devoted themselves to the inward philosophic life, know that one can also get sores of character and intellect. This, again, is on the whole no argument against the chosen way of life, but necessitates a few small exceptions and apparent relapses.

46.

The Human “Thing in Itself.”—The most vulnerable and yet most unconquerable of things is human vanity: nay, through being wounded its strength increases and can grow to giant proportions.

47.

The Farce of Many Industrious Persons.—By an excess of effort they win leisure for themselves, and then they can do nothing with it but count the hours until the tale is ended.

48.

The Possession of Joy Abounding.—He that has joy abounding must be a good man, but perhaps [pg 035] he is not the cleverest of men, although he has reached the very goal towards which the cleverest man is striving with all his cleverness.

49.

In the Mirror of Nature.—Is not a man fairly well described, when we are told that he likes to walk between tall fields of golden corn: that he prefers the forest and flower colours of sere and chilly autumn to all others, because they point to something more beautiful than Nature has ever attained: that he feels as much at home under big broad-leaved walnut trees as among his nearest kinsfolk: that in the mountains his greatest joy is to come across those tiny distant lakes from which the very eyes of solitude seem to peer at him: that he loves that grey calm of the misty twilight that steals along the windows on autumn and early winter evenings and shuts out all soulless sounds as with velvet curtains: that in unhewn stones he recognises the last remaining traces of the primeval age, eager for speech, and honours them from childhood upwards: that, lastly, the sea with its shifting serpent skin and wild-beast beauty is, and remains to him, unfamiliar?—Yes, something of the man is described herewith, but the mirror of Nature does not say that the same man, with (and not even “in spite of”) all his idyllic sensibilities, might be disagreeable, stingy, and conceited. Horace, who was a good judge of such matters, in his famous beatus ille qui procul negotiis puts the tenderest feeling for country life into the mouth of a Roman money-lender.

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50.

Power without Victory.—The strongest cognition (that of the complete non-freedom of the human will) is yet the poorest in results, for it has always had the mightiest of opponents—human vanity.

51.

Pleasure and Error.—A beneficial influence on friends is exerted by one man unconsciously, through his nature; by another consciously, through isolated actions. Although the former nature is held to be the higher, the latter alone is allied to good conscience and pleasure—the pleasure in justification by good works, which rests upon a belief in the volitional character of our good and evil doing—that is to say, upon a mistake.

52.

The Folly of Committing Injustice.—The injustice we have inflicted ourselves is far harder to bear than the injustice inflicted upon us by others (not always from moral grounds, be it observed). After all, the doer is always the sufferer—that is, if he be capable of feeling the sting of conscience or of perceiving that by his action he has armed society against himself and cut himself off. For this reason we should beware still more of doing than of suffering injustice, for the sake of our own inward happiness—so as not to lose our feeling of well-being—quite apart from any consideration of the precepts of religion and morality. For in suffering injustice we have [pg 037] the consolation of a good conscience, of hope and of revenge, together with the sympathy and applause of the just, nay of the whole of society, which is afraid of the evil-doer. Not a few are skilled in the impure self-deception that enables them to transform every injustice of their own into an injustice inflicted upon them from without, and to reserve for their own acts the exceptional right to the plea of self-defence. Their object, of course, is to make their own burden lighter.

53.

Envy with or without a Mouthpiece.—Ordinary envy is wont to cackle when the envied hen has laid an egg, thereby relieving itself and becoming milder. But there is a yet deeper envy that in such a case becomes dead silent, desiring that every mouth should be sealed and always more and more angry because this desire is not gratified. Silent envy grows in silence.

54.

Anger as a Spy.—Anger exhausts the soul and brings its very dregs to light. Hence, if we know no other means of gaining certainty, we must understand how to arouse anger in our dependents and adversaries, in order to learn what is really done and thought to our detriment.

55.

Defence Morally more Difficult than Attack.—The true heroic deed and masterpiece of [pg 038] the good man does not lie in attacking opinions and continuing to love their propounders, but in the far harder task of defending his own position without causing or intending to cause bitter heartburns to his opponent. The sword of attack is honest and broad, the sword of defence usually runs out to a needle point.

56.

Honest towards Honesty.—One who is openly honest towards himself ends by being rather conceited about this honesty. He knows only too well why he is honest—for the same reason that another man prefers outward show and hypocrisy.

57.

Coals of Fire.—The heaping of coals of fire on another’s head is generally misunderstood and falls flat, because the other knows himself to be just as much in the right, and on his side too has thought of collecting coals.

58.

Dangerous Books.—A man says: “Judging from my own case, I find that this book is harmful.” Let him but wait, and perhaps one day he will confess that the book did him a great service by thrusting forward and bringing to light the hidden disease of his soul.—Altered opinions alter not at all (or very little) the character of a man: but they illuminate individual facets of his personality, which hitherto, in another constellation of opinions, had remained dark and unrecognisable.

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59.

Simulated Pity.—We simulate pity when we wish to show ourselves superior to the feeling of animosity, but generally in vain. This point is not noticed without a considerable enhancement of that feeling of animosity.

60.

Open Contradiction often Conciliatory.—At the moment when a man openly makes known his difference of opinion from a well-known party leader, the whole world thinks that he must be angry with the latter. Sometimes, however, he is just on the point of ceasing to be angry with him. He ventures to put himself on the same plane as his opponent, and is free from the tortures of suppressed envy.

61.

Seeing our Light Shining.—In the darkest hour of depression, sickness, and guilt, we are still glad to see others taking a light from us and making use of us as of the disk of the moon. By this roundabout route we derive some light from our own illuminating faculty.

62.

Fellowship in Joy.5—The snake that stings us means to hurt us and rejoices in so doing: the lowest animal can picture to itself the pain of others. [pg 040] But to picture to oneself the joy of others and to rejoice thereat is the highest privilege of the highest animals, and again, amongst them, is the property only of the most select specimens—accordingly a rare “human thing.” Hence there have been philosophers who denied fellowship in joy.

63.

Supplementary Pregnancy.—Those who have arrived at works and deeds are in an obscure way, they know not how, all the more pregnant with them, as if to prove supplementarily that these are their children and not those of chance.

64.

Hard-hearted from Vanity.—Just as justice is so often a cloak for weakness, so men who are fairly intelligent, but weak, sometimes attempt dissimulation from ambitious motives and purposely show themselves unjust and hard, in order to leave behind them the impression of strength.

65.

Humiliation.—If in a large sack of profit we find a single grain of humiliation we still make a wry face even at our good luck.

66.

Extreme Herostratism.6—There might be [pg 041] Herostratuses who set fire to their own temple, in which their images are honoured.

67.

A World of Diminutives.—The fact that all that is weak and in need of help appeals to the heart induces in us the habit of designating by diminutive and softening terms all that appeals to our hearts—and accordingly making such things weak and clinging to our imaginations.

68.

The Bad Characteristic of Sympathy.—Sympathy has a peculiar impudence for its companion. For, wishing to help at all costs, sympathy is in no perplexity either as to the means of assistance or as to the nature and cause of the disease, and goes on courageously administering all its quack medicines to restore the health and reputation of the patient.

69.

Importunacy.—There is even an importunacy in relation to works, and the act of associating oneself from early youth on an intimate footing with the illustrious works of all times evinces an entire absence of shame.—Others are only importunate from ignorance, not knowing with whom they have to do—for instance classical scholars young and old in relation to the works of the Greeks.

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70.

The Will is Ashamed of the Intellect.—In all coolness we make reasonable plans against our passions. But we make the most serious mistake in this connection in being often ashamed, when the design has to be carried out, of the coolness and calculation with which we conceived it. So we do just the unreasonable thing, from that sort of defiant magnanimity that every passion involves.

71.

Why the Sceptics Offend Morality.—He who takes his morality solemnly and seriously is enraged against the sceptics in the domain of morals. For where he lavishes all his force, he wishes others to marvel but not to investigate and doubt. Then there are natures whose last shred of morality is just the belief in morals. They behave in the same way towards sceptics, if possible still more passionately.

72.

Shyness.—All moralists are shy, because they know they are confounded with spies and traitors, so soon as their penchant is noticed. Besides, they are generally conscious of being impotent in action, for in the midst of work the motives of their activity almost withdraw their attention from the work.

73.

A Danger to Universal Morality.—People who are at the same time noble and honest come [pg 043] to deify every devilry that brings out their honesty, and to suspend for a time the balance of their moral judgment.

74.

The Saddest Error.—It is an unpardonable offence when one discovers that where one was convinced of being loved, one is only regarded as a household utensil and decoration, whereby the master of the house can find an outlet for his vanity before his guests.

75.

Love and Duality.—What else is love but understanding and rejoicing that another lives, works, and feels in a different and opposite way to ourselves? That love may be able to bridge over the contrasts by joys, we must not remove or deny those contrasts. Even self-love presupposes an irreconcileable duality (or plurality) in one person.

76.

Signs from Dreams.—What one sometimes does not know and feel accurately in waking hours—whether one has a good or a bad conscience as regards some person—is revealed completely and unambiguously by dreams.

77.

Debauchery.—Not joy but joylessness is the mother of debauchery.

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78.

Reward and Punishment.—No one accuses without an underlying notion of punishment and revenge, even when he accuses his fate or himself. All complaint is accusation, all self-congratulation is praise. Whether we do one or the other, we always make some one responsible.

79.

Doubly Unjust.—We sometimes advance truth by a twofold injustice: when we see and represent consecutively the two sides of a case which we are not in a position to see together, but in such a way that every time we mistake or deny the other side, fancying that what we see is the whole truth.

80.

Mistrust.—Self-mistrust does not always proceed uncertainly and shyly, but sometimes in a furious rage, having worked itself into a frenzy in order not to tremble.

81.

Philosophy of Parvenus.—If you want to be a personality you must even hold your shadow in honour.

82.

Knowing how to Wash Oneself Clean.—We must know how to emerge cleaner from unclean conditions, and, if necessary, how to wash ourselves even with dirty water.

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83.

Letting Yourself Go.—The more you let yourself go, the less others let you go.

84.

The Innocent Rogue.—There is a slow, gradual path to vice and rascality of every description. In the end, the traveller is quite abandoned by the insect-swarms of a bad conscience, and although a thorough scoundrel he walks in innocence.

85.

Making Plans.—Making plans and conceiving projects involves many agreeable sentiments. He that had the strength to be nothing but a contriver of plans all his life would be a happy man. But one must occasionally have a rest from this activity by carrying a plan into execution, and then comes anger and sobriety.

86.

Wherewith We See the Ideal.—Every efficient man is blocked by his efficiency and cannot look out freely from its prison. Had he not also a goodly share of imperfection, he could, by reason of his virtue, never arrive at an intellectual or moral freedom. Our shortcomings are the eyes with which we see the ideal.

87.

Dishonest Praise.—Dishonest praise causes many more twinges of conscience than dishonest [pg 046] blame, probably only because we have exposed our capacity for judgment far more completely through excessive praise than through excessive and unjust blame.

88.

How One Dies is Indifferent.—The whole way in which a man thinks of death during the prime of his life and strength is very expressive and significant for what we call his character. But the hour of death itself, his behaviour on the death-bed, is almost indifferent. The exhaustion of waning life, especially when old people die, the irregular or insufficient nourishment of the brain during this last period, the occasionally violent pain, the novel and untried nature of the whole position, and only too often the ebb and flow of superstitious impressions and fears, as if dying were of much consequence and meant the crossing of bridges of the most terrible kind—all this forbids our using death as a testimony concerning the living. Nor is it true that the dying man is generally more honest than the living. On the contrary, through the solemn attitude of the bystanders, the repressed or flowing streams of tears and emotions, every one is inveigled into a comedy of vanity, now conscious, now unconscious. The serious way in which every dying man is treated must have been to many a poor despised devil the highest joy of his whole life and a sort of compensation and repayment for many privations.

89.

Morality and its Sacrifice.—The origin of morality may be traced to two ideas: “The community [pg 047] is of more value than the individual,” and “The permanent interest is to be preferred to the temporary.” The conclusion drawn is that the permanent interest of the community is unconditionally to be set above the temporary interest of the individual, especially his momentary well-being, but also his permanent interest and even the prolongation of his existence. Even if the individual suffers by an arrangement that suits the mass, even if he is depressed and ruined by it, morality must be maintained and the victim brought to the sacrifice. Such a trend of thought arises, however, only in those who are not the victims—for in the victim’s case it enforces the claim that the individual might be worth more than the many, and that the present enjoyment, the “moment in paradise,”7 should perhaps be rated higher than a tame succession of untroubled or comfortable circumstances. But the philosophy of the sacrificial victim always finds voice too late, and so victory remains with morals and morality: which are really nothing more than the sentiment for the whole concept of morals under which one lives and has been reared—and reared not as an individual but as a member of the whole, as a cipher in a majority. Hence it constantly happens that the individual makes himself into a majority by means of his morality.

90.

The Good and the Good Conscience.—You hold that all good things have at all times had a [pg 048] good conscience? Science, which is certainly a very good thing, has come into the world without such a conscience and quite free from all pathos, rather clandestinely, by roundabout ways, walking with shrouded or masked face like a sinner, and always with the feeling at least of being a smuggler. Good conscience has bad conscience for its stepping-stone, not for its opposite. For all that is good has at one time been new and consequently strange, against morals, immoral, and has gnawed like a worm at the heart of the fortunate discoverer.

91.

Success Sanctifies the Intentions.—We should not shrink from treading the road to a virtue, even when we see clearly that nothing but egotism, and accordingly utility, personal comfort, fear, considerations of health, reputation, or glory, are the impelling motives. These motives are styled ignoble and selfish. Very well, but if they stimulate us to some virtue—for example, self-denial, dutifulness, order, thrift, measure, and moderation—let us listen to them, whatever their epithets may be! For if we reach the goal to which they summon us, then the virtue we have attained, by means of the pure air it makes us breathe and the spiritual well-being it communicates, ennobles the remoter impulses of our action, and afterwards we no longer perform those actions from the same coarse motives that inspired us before.—Education should therefore force the virtues on the pupil, as far as possible, according to his disposition. Then virtue, the sunshine and [pg 049] summer atmosphere of the soul, can contribute her own share of work and add mellowness and sweetness.

92.

Dabblers in Christianity, not Christians.—So that is your Christianity!—To annoy humanity you praise “God and His Saints,” and again when you want to praise humanity you go so far that God and His Saints must be annoyed.—I wish you would at least learn Christian manners, as you are so deficient in the civility of the Christian heart.

93.

The Religious and Irreligious Impression of Nature.—A true believer must be to us an object of veneration, but the same holds good of a true, sincere, convinced unbeliever. With men of the latter stamp we are near to the high mountains where mighty rivers have their source, and with believers we are under vigorous, shady, restful trees.

94.

Judicial Murder.—The two greatest judicial murders8 in the world’s history are, to speak without exaggeration, concealed and well-concealed suicide. In both cases a man willed to die, and in both cases he let his breast be pierced by the sword in the hand of human injustice.

95.

“Love.”—The finest artistic conception wherein Christianity had the advantage over other religious [pg 050] systems lay in one word—Love. Hence it became the lyric religion (whereas in its two other creations Semitism bestowed heroico-epical religions upon the world). In the word “love” there is so much meaning, so much that stimulates and appeals to memory and hope, that even the meanest intelligence and the coldest heart feel some glimmering of its sense. The cleverest woman and the lowest man think of the comparatively unselfish moments of their whole life, even if with them Eros never soared high: and the vast number of beings who miss love from their parents or children or sweethearts, especially those whose sexual instincts have been refined away, have found their heart’s desire in Christianity.

96.

The Fulfilment of Christianity.—In Christianity there is also an Epicurean trend of thought, starting from the idea that God can only demand of man, his creation and his image, what it is possible for man to fulfil, and accordingly that Christian virtue and perfection are attainable and often attained. Now, for instance, the belief in loving one’s enemies—even if it is only a belief or fancy, and by no means a psychological reality (a real love)—gives unalloyed happiness, so long as it is genuinely believed. (As to the reason of this, psychologist and Christian might well differ.) Hence earthly life, through the belief, I mean the fancy, that it satisfies not only the injunction to love our enemies, but all the other injunctions of Christianity, and that it has really assimilated [pg 051] and embodied in itself the Divine perfection according to the command, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” might actually become a holy life. Thus error can make Christ’s promise come true.

97.

Of the Future of Christianity.—We may be allowed to form a conjecture as to the disappearance of Christianity and as to the places where it will be the slowest to retreat, if we consider where and for what reasons Protestantism spread with such startling rapidity. As is well known, Protestantism promised to do far more cheaply all that the old Church did, without costly masses, pilgrimages, and priestly pomp and circumstance. It spread particularly among the Northern nations, which were not so deeply rooted as those of the South in the old Church’s symbolism and love of ritual. In the South the more powerful pagan religion survived in Christianity, whereas in the North Christianity meant an opposition to and a break with the old-time creed, and hence was from the first more thoughtful and less sensual, but for that very reason, in times of peril, more fanatical and more obstinate. If from the standpoint of thought we succeed in uprooting Christianity, we can at once know the point where it will begin to disappear—the very point at which it will be most stubborn in defence. In other places it will bend but not break, lose its leaves but burst into leaf afresh, because the senses, and not thought, have gone over to its side. But it is the senses [pg 052] that maintain the belief that with all its expensive outlay the Church is more cheaply and conveniently managed than under the stern conditions of work and wages. Yet what does one hold leisure (or semi-idleness) to be worth, when once one has become accustomed to it? The senses plead against a dechristianised world, saying that there would be too much work to do in it and an insufficient supply of leisure. They take the part of magic—that is, they let God work himself (oremus nos, Deus laboret).

98.

Theatricality and Honesty of Unbelievers.—There is no book that contains in such abundance or expresses so faithfully all that man occasionally finds salutary—ecstatic inward happiness, ready for sacrifice or death in the belief in and contemplation of his truth—as the book that tells of Christ. From that book a clever man may learn all the means whereby a book can be made into a world-book, a vade-mecum for all, and especially that master-means of representing everything as discovered, nothing as future and uncertain. All influential books try to leave the same impression, as if the widest intellectual horizon were circumscribed here and as if about the sun that shines here every constellation visible at present or in the future must revolve.—Must not then all purely scientific books be poor in influence on the same grounds as such books are rich in influence? Is not the book fated to live humble and among humble folk, in order to be crucified in the end and never resurrected? In relation to what the [pg 053] religious inform us of their “knowledge” and their “holy spirit,” are not all upright men of science “poor in spirit”? Can any religion demand more self-denial and draw the selfish out of themselves more inexorably than science?—This and similar things we may say, in any case with a certain theatricality, when we have to defend ourselves against believers, for it is impossible to conduct a defence without a certain amount of theatricality. But between ourselves our language must be more honest, and we employ a freedom that those believers are not even allowed, in their own interests, to understand. Away, then, with the monastic cowl of self-denial, with the appearance of humility! Much more and much better—so rings our truth! If science were not linked with the pleasure of knowledge, the utility of the thing known, what should we care for science? If a little faith, love, and hope did not lead our souls to knowledge, what would attract us to science? And if in science the ego means nothing, still the inventive, happy ego, every upright and industrious ego, means a great deal in the republic of the men of science. The homage of those who pay homage, the joy of those whom we wish well or honour, in some cases glory and a fair share of immortality, is the personal reward for every suppression of personality: to say nothing here of meaner views and rewards, although it is just on this account that the majority have sworn and always continue to swear fidelity to the laws of the republic and of science. If we had not remained in some degree unscientific, what would science matter to us? Taking everything together and [pg 054] speaking in plain language: “To a purely knowing being knowledge would be indifferent.”—Not the quality but the quantity of faith and devoutness distinguishes us from the pious, the believers. We are content with less. But should one of them cry out to us: “Be content and show yourselves contented!” we could easily answer: “As a matter of fact, we do not belong to the most discontented class. But you, if your faith makes you happy, show yourselves to be happy. Your faces have always done more harm to your faith than our reasons! If that glad message of your Bible were written in your faces, you would not need to demand belief in the authority of that book in such stiff-necked fashion. Your words, your actions should continually make the Bible superfluous—in fact, through you a new Bible should continually come into being. As it is, your apologia for Christianity is rooted in your unchristianity, and with your defence you write your own condemnation. If you, however, should wish to emerge from your dissatisfaction with Christianity, you should ponder over the experience of two thousand years, which, clothed in the modest form of a question, may be voiced as follows: ‘If Christ really intended to redeem the world, may he not be said to have failed?’ ”

99.

The Poet as Guide to the Future.—All the surplus poetical force that still exists in modern humanity, but is not used under our conditions of life, should (without any deduction) be devoted to [pg 055] a definite goal—not to depicting the present nor to reviving and summarising the past, but to pointing the way to the future. Nor should this be so done as if the poet, like an imaginative political economist, had to anticipate a more favourable national and social state of things and picture their realisation. Rather will he, just as the earlier poets portrayed the images of the Gods, portray the fair images of men. He will divine those cases where, in the midst of our modern world and reality (which will not be shirked or repudiated in the usual poetic fashion), a great, noble soul is still possible, where it may be embodied in harmonious, equable conditions, where it may become permanent, visible, and representative of a type, and so, by the stimulus to imitation and envy, help to create the future. The poems of such a poet would be distinguished by appearing secluded and protected from the heated atmosphere of the passions. The irremediable failure, the shattering of all the strings of the human instrument, the scornful laughter and gnashing of teeth, and all tragedy and comedy in the usual old sense, would appear by the side of this new art as mere archaic lumber, a blurring of the outlines of the world-picture. Strength, kindness, gentleness, purity, and an unsought, innate moderation in the personalities and their action: a levelled soil, giving rest and pleasure to the foot: a shining heaven mirrored in faces and events: science and art welded into a new unity: the mind living together with her sister, the soul, without arrogance or jealousy, and enticing from contrasts the grace of seriousness, not the impatience of discord—all [pg 056] this would be the general environment, the background on which the delicate differences of the embodied ideals would make the real picture, that of ever-growing human majesty. Many roads to this poetry of the future start from Goethe, but the quest needs good pathfinders and above all a far greater strength than is possessed by modern poets, who unscrupulously represent the half-animal and the immaturity and intemperance that are mistaken by them for power and naturalness.

100.

The Muse as Penthesilea.9—“Better to rot than to be a woman without charm.” When once the Muse thinks thus, the end of her art is again at hand. But it can be a tragic and also a comic finale.

101.

The Circuitous Path to the Beautiful.—If the beautiful is to be identified with that which gives pleasure—and thus sang the Muses once—the useful is often the necessary circuitous path to the beautiful, and has a perfect right to spurn the short-sighted censure of men who live for the moment, who will not wait, and who think that they can reach all good things without ever taking a circuitous path.

102.

An Excuse for many a Transgression.—The ceaseless desire to create, the eternal looking outward [pg 057] of the artist, hinders him from becoming better and more beautiful as a personality: unless his craving for glory be great enough to compel him to exhibit in his relations with other men a growth corresponding to the growing beauty and greatness of his works. In any case he has but a limited measure of strength, and how could the proportion of strength that he spends on himself be of any benefit to his work—or vice versa?

103.

Satisfying the Best People.—If we have satisfied the best people of our time with our art, it is a sign that we shall not satisfy the best people of the succeeding period. We have indeed “lived for all time,” and the applause of the best people ensures our fame.10

104.

Of One Substance.—If we are of one substance with a book or a work of art, we think in our heart of hearts that it must be excellent, and are offended if others find it ugly, over-spiced, or pretentious.

105.

Speech and Emotion.—That speech is not given to us to communicate our emotions may be seen from the fact that all simple men are ashamed to seek for words to express their deeper feelings. These [pg 058] feelings are expressed only in actions, and even here such men blush if others seem to divine their motives. After all, among poets, to whom God generally denies this shame, the more noble are more monosyllabic in the language of emotion, and evince a certain constraint: whereas the real poets of emotion are for the most part shameless in practical life.

106.

A Mistake about a Privation.—He that has not for a long time been completely weaned from an art, and is still always at home in it, has no idea how small a privation it is to live without that art.

107.

Three-quarter Strength.—A work that is meant to give an impression of health should be produced with three-quarters, at the most, of the strength of its creator. If he has gone to his farthest limit, the work excites the observer and disconcerts him by its tension. All good things have something lazy about them and lie like cows in the meadow.

108.

Refusing to have Hunger as a Guest.—As refined fare serves a hungry man as well as and no better than coarser food, the more pretentious artist will not dream of inviting the hungry man to his meal.

109.

Living without Art and Wine.—It is with works of art as with wine—it is better if one can do [pg 059] without both and keep to water, and if from the inner fire and inner sweetness of the soul the water spontaneously changes again into wine.

110.

The Pirate-Genius.—The pirate-genius in art, who even knows how to deceive subtle minds, arises when some one unscrupulously and from youth upwards regards all good things, that are not protected by law, as the property of a particular person, as his legitimate spoil. Now all the good things of past ages and masters lie free around us, hedged about and protected by the reverential awe of the few who know them. To these few our robber-genius, by the force of his impudence, bids defiance and accumulates for himself a wealth that once more calls forth homage and awe.

111.

To the Poets of Great Towns.—In the gardens of modern poetry it will clearly be observed that the sewers of great towns are too near. With the fragrance of flowers is mingled something that betrays abomination and putrescence. With pain I ask: “Must you poets always request wit and dirt to stand godfather, when an innocent and beautiful sensation has to be christened by you? Are you obliged to dress your noble goddess in a hood of devilry and caricature? But whence this necessity, this obligation?” The reason is—because you live too near the sewers.

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112.

Of the Salt of Speech.—No one has ever explained why the Greek writers, having at command such an unparalleled wealth and power of language, made so sparing a use of their resources that every post-classical Greek book appears by comparison crude, over-coloured, and extravagant. It is said that towards the North Polar ice and in the hottest countries salt is becoming less and less used, whereas on the other hand the dwellers on the plains and by the coast in the more temperate zones use salt in great abundance. Is it possible that the Greeks from a twofold reason—because their intellect was colder and clearer but their fundamental passionate nature far more tropical than ours—did not need salt and spice to the same extent that we do?

113.

The Freest Writer.—In a book for free spirits one cannot avoid mention of Laurence Sterne, the man whom Goethe honoured as the freest spirit of his century. May he be satisfied with the honour of being called the freest writer of all times, in comparison with whom all others appear stiff, square-toed, intolerant, and downright boorish! In his case we should not speak of the clear and rounded but of “the endless melody”—if by this phrase we arrive at a name for an artistic style in which the definite form is continually broken, thrust aside and transferred to the realm of the indefinite, so that it signifies one and the other at the same time. Sterne is the great master of double entendre, this phrase [pg 061] being naturally used in a far wider sense than is commonly done when one applies it to sexual relations. We may give up for lost the reader who always wants to know exactly what Sterne thinks about a matter, and whether he be making a serious or a smiling face (for he can do both with one wrinkling of his features; he can be and even wishes to be right and wrong at the same moment, to interweave profundity and farce). His digressions are at once continuations and further developments of the story, his maxims contain a satire on all that is sententious, his dislike of seriousness is bound up with a disposition to take no matter merely externally and on the surface. So in the proper reader he arouses a feeling of uncertainty whether he be walking, lying, or standing, a feeling most closely akin to that of floating in the air. He, the most versatile of writers, communicates something of this versatility to his reader. Yes, Sterne unexpectedly changes the parts, and is often as much reader as author, his book being like a play within a play, a theatre audience before another theatre audience. We must surrender at discretion to the mood of Sterne, although we can always expect it to be gracious. It is strangely instructive to see how so great a writer as Diderot has affected this double entendre of Sterne’s—to be equally ambiguous throughout is just the Sternian super-humour. Did Diderot imitate, admire, ridicule, or parody Sterne in his Jacques le Fataliste? One cannot be exactly certain, and this uncertainty was perhaps intended by the author. This very doubt makes the French unjust to the work of one of their first masters, one [pg 062] who need not be ashamed of comparison with any of the ancients or moderns. For humour (and especially for this humorous attitude towards humour itself) the French are too serious. Is it necessary to add that of all great authors Sterne is the worst model, in fact the inimitable author, and that even Diderot had to pay for his daring? What the worthy Frenchmen and before them some Greeks and Romans aimed at and attained in prose is the very opposite of what Sterne aims at and attains. He raises himself as a masterly exception above all that artists in writing demand of themselves—propriety, reserve, character, steadfastness of purpose, comprehensiveness, perspicuity, good deportment in gait and feature. Unfortunately Sterne the man seems to have been only too closely related to Sterne the writer. His squirrel-soul sprang with insatiable unrest from branch to branch; he knew what lies between sublimity and rascality; he had sat on every seat, always with unabashed watery eyes and mobile play of feature. He was—if language does not revolt from such a combination—of a hard-hearted kindness, and in the midst of the joys of a grotesque and even corrupt imagination he showed the bashful grace of innocence. Such a carnal and spiritual hermaphroditism, such untrammelled wit penetrating into every vein and muscle, was perhaps never possessed by any other man.

114.

A Choice Reality.—Just as the good prose writer only takes words that belong to the language of daily intercourse, though not by a long way all [pg 063] its words—whence arises a choice style—so the good poet of the future will only represent the real and turn his eyes away from all fantastic, superstitious, half-voiced, forgotten stories, to which earlier poets devoted their powers. Only reality, though by a long way not every reality—but a choice reality.

115.

Degenerate Species of Art.—Side by side with the genuine species of art, those of great repose and great movement, there are degenerate species—weary, blasé art and excited art. Both would have their weakness taken for strength and wish to be confounded with the genuine species.

116.

A Hero Impossible from Lack of Colour.—The typical poets and artists of our age like to compose their pictures upon a background of shimmering red, green, grey, and gold, on the background of nervous sensuality—a condition well understood by the children of this century. The drawback comes when we do not look at these pictures with the eyes of our century. Then we see that the great figures painted by these artists have something flickering, tremulous, and dizzy about them, and accordingly we do not ascribe to them heroic deeds, but at best mock-heroic, swaggering misdeeds.

117.

Overladen Style.—The overladen style is a consequence of the impoverishment of the organising [pg 064] force together with a lavish stock of expedients and intentions. At the beginnings of art the very reverse conditions sometimes appear.

118.

Pulchrum est paucorum hominum.—History and experience tell us that the significant grotesqueness that mysteriously excites the imagination and carries one beyond everyday reality, is older and grows more luxuriantly than the beautiful and reverence for the beautiful in art: and that it begins to flourish exceedingly when the sense for beauty is on the wane. For the vast majority of mankind this grotesque seems to be a higher need than the beautiful, presumably because it contains a coarser narcotic.

119.

Origins of Taste in Works of Art.—If we consider the primary germs of the artistic sense, and ask ourselves what are the various kinds of joy produced by the firstlings of art—as, for example, among savage tribes—we find first of all the joy of understanding what another means. Art in this case is a sort of conundrum, which causes its solver pleasure in his own quick and keen perceptions.—Then the roughest works of art remind us of the pleasant things we have actually experienced, and so give joy—as, for example, when the artist alludes to a chase, a victory, a wedding.—Again, the representation may cause us to feel excited, touched, inflamed, as for instance in the glorification of revenge [pg 065] and danger. Here the enjoyment lies in the excitement itself, in the victory over tedium.—The memory, too, of unpleasant things, so far as they have been overcome or make us appear interesting to the listener as subjects for art (as when the singer describes the mishaps of a daring seaman), can inspire great joy, the credit for which is given to art.—A more subtle variety is the joy that arises at the sight of all that is regular and symmetrical in lines, points, and rhythms. For by a certain analogy is awakened the feeling for all that is orderly and regular in life, which one has to thank alone for all well-being. So in the cult of symmetry we unconsciously do homage to rule and proportion as the source of our previous happiness, and the joy in this case is a kind of hymn of thanksgiving. Only when a certain satiety of the last-mentioned joy arises does a more subtle feeling step in, that enjoyment might even lie in a violation of the symmetrical and regular. This feeling, for example, impels us to seek reason in apparent unreason, and the sort of æsthetic riddle-guessing that results is in a way the higher species of the first-named artistic joy.—He who pursues this speculation still further will know what kind of hypotheses for the explanation of æsthetic phenomena are hereby fundamentally rejected.

120.

Not too Near.—It is a disadvantage for good thoughts when they follow too closely on one another, for they hide the view from each other. [pg 066] That is why great artists and writers have made an abundant use of the mediocre.

121.

Roughness and Weakness.—Artists of all periods have made the discovery that in roughness lies a certain strength, and that not every one can be rough who wants to be: also that many varieties of weakness have a powerful effect on the emotions. From this source are derived many artistic substitutes, which not even the greatest and most conscientious artists can abstain from using.

122.

Good Memory.—Many a man fails to become a thinker for the sole reason that his memory is too good.

123.

Arousing instead of Appeasing Hunger.—Great artists fancy that they have taken full possession of a soul. In reality, and often to their painful disappointment, that soul has only been made more capacious and insatiable, so that a dozen greater artists could plunge into its depths without filling it up.

124.

Artists’ Anxiety.—The anxiety lest people may not believe that their figures are alive can mislead many artists of declining taste to portray these figures so that they appear as if mad. From the [pg 067] same anxiety, on the other hand, Greek artists of the earliest ages gave even dead and sorely wounded men that smile which they knew as the most vivid sign of life—careless of the actual forms bestowed by nature on life at its last gasp.

125.

The Circle must be Completed.—He who follows a philosophy or a genre of art to the end of its career and beyond, understands from inner experience why the masters and disciples who come after have so often turned, with a depreciatory gesture, into a new groove. The circle must be described—but the individual, even the greatest, sits firm on his point of the circumference, with an inexorable look of obstinacy, as if the circle ought never to be completed.

126.

The Older Art and the Soul of the Present.—Since every art becomes more and more adapted to the expression of spiritual states, of the more lively, delicate, energetic, and passionate states, the later masters, spoilt by these means of expression, do not feel at their ease in the presence of the old-time works of art. They feel as if the ancients had merely been lacking in the means of making their souls speak clearly, also perhaps in some necessary technical preliminaries. They think that they must render some assistance in this quarter, for they believe in the similarity or even unity of all souls. In truth, however, measure, symmetry, a [pg 068] contempt for graciousness and charm, an unconscious severity and morning chilliness, an evasion of passion, as if passion meant the death of art—such are the constituents of sentiment and morality in all old masters, who selected and arranged their means of expression not at random but in a necessary connection with their morality. Knowing this, are we to deny those that come after the right to animate the older works with their soul? No, for these works can only survive through our giving them our soul, and our blood alone enables them to speak to us. The real “historic” discourse would talk ghostly speech to ghosts. We honour the great artists less by that barren timidity that allows every word, every note to remain intact than by energetic endeavours to aid them continually to a new life.—True, if Beethoven were suddenly to come to life and hear one of his works performed with that modern animation and nervous refinement that bring glory to our masters of execution, he would probably be silent for a long while, uncertain whether he should raise his hand to curse or to bless, but perhaps say at last: “Well, well! That is neither I nor not-I, but a third thing—it seems to me, too, something right, if not just the right thing. But you must know yourselves what to do, as in any case it is you who have to listen. As our Schiller says, ‘the living man is right.’ So have it your own way, and let me go down again.”

127.

Against the Disparagers of Brevity.—A brief dictum may be the fruit and harvest of long [pg 069] reflection. The reader, however, who is a novice in this field and has never considered the case in point, sees something embryonic in all brief dicta, not without a reproachful hint to the author, requesting him not to serve up such raw and ill-prepared food.

128.

Against the Short-Sighted.—Do you think it is piece-work because it is (and must be) offered you in pieces?

129.

Readers of Aphorisms.—The worst readers of aphorisms are the friends of the author, if they make a point of referring the general to the particular instance to which the aphorism owes its origin. This namby-pamby attitude brings all the author’s trouble to naught, and instead of a philosophic lesson and a philosophic frame of mind, they deservedly gain nothing but the satisfaction of a vulgar curiosity.

130.

Readers’ Insults.—The reader offers a two-fold insult to the author by praising his second book at the expense of his first (or vice versa) and by expecting the author to be grateful to him on that account.

131.

The Exciting Element in the History of Art.—We fall into a state of terrible tension when we follow the history of an art—as, for example, that [pg 070] of Greek oratory—and, passing from master to master, observe their increasing precautions to obey the old and the new laws and all these self-imposed limitations. We see that the bow must snap, and that the so-called “loose” composition, with the wonderful means of expression smothered and concealed (in this particular case the florid style of Asianism), was once necessary and almost beneficial.

132.

To the Great in Art.—That enthusiasm for some object which you, O great man, introduce into this world causes the intelligence of the many to be stunted. The knowledge of this fact spells humiliation. But the enthusiast wears his hump with pride and pleasure, and you have the consolation of feeling that you have increased the world’s happiness.

133.

Conscienceless Æsthetes.—The real fanatics of an artistic school are perhaps those utterly inartistic natures that are not even grounded in the elements of artistic study and creation, but are impressed with the strongest of all the elementary influences of an art. For them there is no æsthetic conscience—hence nothing to hold them back from fanaticism.

134.

How the Soul should be Moved by the New Music.—The artistic purpose followed by the new music, in what is now forcibly but none too [pg 071] lucidly termed “endless melody,” can be understood by going into the sea, gradually losing one’s firm tread on the bottom, and finally surrendering unconditionally to the fluid element. One has to swim. In the previous, older music one was forced, with delicate or stately or impassioned movement, to dance. The measure necessary for dancing, the observance of a distinct balance of time and force in the soul of the hearer, imposed a continual self-control. Through the counteraction of the cooler draught of air which came from this caution and the warmer breath of musical enthusiasm, that music exercised its spell.—Richard Wagner aimed at a different excitation of the soul, allied, as above said, to swimming and floating. This is perhaps the most essential of his innovations. His famous method, originating from this aim and adapted to it—the “endless melody”—strives to break and sometimes even to despise all mathematical equilibrium of time and force. He is only too rich in the invention of such effects, which sound to the old school like rhythmic paradoxes and blasphemies. He dreads petrifaction, crystallisation, the development of music into the architectural. He accordingly sets up a three-time rhythm in opposition to the double-time, not infrequently introduces five-time and seven-time, immediately repeats a phrase, but with a prolation, so that its time is again doubled and trebled. From an easy-going imitation of such art may arise a great danger to music, for by the side of the superabundance of rhythmic emotion demoralisation and decadence lurk in ambush. The danger will become very great if such music comes to associate itself [pg 072] more and more closely with a quite naturalistic art of acting and pantomime, trained and dominated by no higher plastic models; an art that knows no measure in itself and can impart no measure to the kindred element, the all-too-womanish nature of music.

135.

Poet and Reality.—The Muse of the poet who is not in love with reality will not be reality, and will bear him children with hollow eyes and all too tender bones.

136.

Means and End.—In art the end does not justify the means, but holy means can justify the end.

137.

The Worst Readers.—The worst readers are those who act like plundering soldiers. They take out some things that they might use, cover the rest with filth and confusion, and blaspheme about the whole.

138.

Signs of a Good Writer.—Good writers have two things in common: they prefer being understood to being admired, and they do not write for the critical and over-shrewd reader.

139.

The Mixed Species.—The mixed species in art bear witness to their authors’ distrust of their own [pg 073] strength. They seek auxiliary powers, advocates, hiding-places—such is the case with the poet who calls in philosophy, the musician who calls in the drama, and the thinker who calls in rhetoric to his aid.

140.

Shutting One’s Mouth.—When his book opens its mouth, the author must shut his.

141.

Badges of Rank.—All poets and men of letters who are in love with the superlative want to do more than they can.

142.

Cold Books.—The deep thinker reckons on readers who feel with him the happiness that lies in deep thinking. Hence a book that looks cold and sober, if seen in the right light, may seem bathed in the sunshine of spiritual cheerfulness and become a genuine soul-comforter.

143.

A Knack of the Slow-Witted.—The slow-witted thinker generally allies himself with loquacity and ceremoniousness. By the former he thinks he is gaining mobility and fluency, by the latter he gives his peculiarity the appearance of being a result of free will and artistic purpose, with a view to dignity, which needs slow movement.

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144.

Le Style Baroque.11—He who as thinker and writer is not born or trained to dialectic and the consecutive arrangement of ideas, will unconsciously turn to the rhetoric and dramatic forms. For, after all, his object is to make himself understood and to carry the day by force, and he is indifferent whether, as shepherd, he honestly guides to himself the hearts of his fellow-men, or, as robber, he captures them by surprise. This is true of the plastic arts as of music: where the feeling of insufficient dialectic or a deficiency in expression or narration, together with an urgent, over-powerful impulse to form, gives birth to that species of style known as “baroque.” Only the ill-educated and the arrogant will at once find a depreciatory force in this word. The baroque style always arises at the time of decay of a great art, when the demands of art in classical expression have become too great. It is a natural phenomenon which will be observed with melancholy—for it is a forerunner of the night—but at the same time with admiration for its peculiar compensatory arts of expression and narration. To this style belongs already a choice of material and subjects of the highest dramatic tension, at which the heart trembles even when there is no art, because heaven and hell are all too near the emotions: then, the oratory of strong passion and gestures, of ugly sublimity, of great [pg 075] masses, in fact of absolute quantity per se (as is shown in Michael Angelo, the father or grandfather of the Italian baroque stylists): the lights of dusk, illumination and conflagration playing upon those strongly moulded forms: ever-new ventures in means and aims, strongly underscored by artists for artists, while the layman must fancy he sees an unconscious overflowing of all the horns of plenty of an original nature-art: all these characteristics that constitute the greatness of that style are neither possible nor permitted in the earlier ante-classical and classical periods of a branch of art. Such luxuries hang long on the tree like forbidden fruit. Just now, when music is passing into this last phase, we may learn to know the phenomenon of the baroque style in peculiar splendour, and, by comparison, find much that is instructive for earlier ages. For from Greek times onward there has often been a baroque style, in poetry, oratory, prose writing, sculpture, and, as is well known, in architecture. This style, though wanting in the highest nobility,—the nobility of an innocent, unconscious, triumphant perfection,—has nevertheless given pleasure to many of the best and most serious minds of their time. Hence, as aforesaid, it is presumptuous to depreciate it without reserve, however happy we may feel because our taste for it has not made us insensible to the purer and greater style.

145.

The Value of Honest Books.—Honest books make the reader honest, at least by exciting his hatred and aversion, which otherwise cunning cleverness [pg 076] knows so well how to conceal. Against a book, however, we let ourselves go, however restrained we may be in our relations with men.

146.

How Art makes Partisans.—Individual fine passages, an exciting general tenor, a moving and absorbing finale—so much of a work of art is accessible even to most laymen. In an art period when it is desired to win over the great majority of the laymen to the side of the artists and to make a party perhaps for the very preservation of art, the creative artist will do well to offer nothing more than the above. Then he will not be a squanderer of his strength, in spheres where no one is grateful to him. For to perform the remaining functions, the imitation of Nature in her organic development and growth, would in that case be like sowing seeds in water.

147.

Becoming Great to the Detriment of History.—Every later master who leads the taste of art-lovers into his channel unconsciously gives rise to a selection and revaluation of the older masters and their works. Whatever in them is conformable and akin to him, and anticipates and foreshadows him, appears henceforth as the only important element in them and their works—a fruit in which a great error usually lies hidden like a worm.

148.

How an Epoch becomes Lured to Art.—If we teach people by all the enchantments of artists [pg 077] and thinkers to feel reverence for their defects, their intellectual poverty, their absurd infatuations and passions (as it is quite possible to do); if we show them only the lofty side of crime and folly, only the touching and appealing element in weakness and flabbiness and blind devotion (that too has often enough been done):—we have employed the means for inspiring even an unphilosophical and inartistic age with an ecstatic love of philosophy and art (especially of thinkers and artists as personalities) and, in the worst case, perhaps with the only means of defending the existence of such tender and fragile beings.

149.

Criticism and Joy.—Criticism, one-sided and unjust as well as intelligent criticism, gives so much pleasure to him who exercises it that the world is indebted to every work and every action that inspires much criticism and many critics. For criticism draws after it a glittering train of joyousness, wit, self-admiration, pride, instruction, designs of improvement.—The God of joy created the bad and the mediocre for the same reason that he created the good.

150.

Beyond his Limits.—When an artist wants to be more than an artist—for example, the moral awakener of his people—he at last falls in love, as a punishment, with a monster of moral substance. The Muse laughs, for, though a kind-hearted Goddess, she can also be malignant from jealousy. Milton and Klopstock are cases in point.

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151.

A Glass Eye.—The tendency of a talent towards moral subjects, characters, motives, towards the “beautiful soul” of the work of art, is often only a glass eye put on by the artist who lacks a beautiful soul. It may result, though rarely, that his eye finally becomes living Nature, if indeed it be Nature with a somewhat troubled look. But the ordinary result is that the whole world thinks it sees Nature where there is only cold glass.

152.

Writing and Desire for Victory.—Writing should always indicate a victory, indeed a conquest of oneself which must be communicated to others for their behoof. There are, however, dyspeptic authors who only write when they cannot digest something, or when something has remained stuck in their teeth. Through their anger they try unconsciously to disgust the reader too, and to exercise violence upon him—that is, they desire victory, but victory over others.

153.

A Good Book Needs Time.—Every good book tastes bitter when it first comes out, for it has the defect of newness. Moreover, it suffers damage from its living author, if he is well known and much talked about. For all the world is accustomed to confuse the author with his work. Whatever of profundity, sweetness, and brilliance the work may contain must be developed as the years go by, [pg 079] under the care of growing, then old, and lastly traditional reverence. Many hours must pass, many a spider must have woven its web about the book. A book is made better by good readers and clearer by good opponents.

154.

Extravagance as an Artistic Means.—Artists well understand the idea of using extravagance as an artistic means in order to convey an impression of wealth. This is one of those innocent wiles of soul-seduction that the artist must know, for in his world, which has only appearance in view, the means to appearance need not necessarily be genuine.

155.

The Hidden Barrel-Organ.—Genius, by virtue of its more ample drapery, knows better than talent how to hide its barrel-organ. Yet after all it too can only play its seven old pieces over and over again.

156.

The Name on the Title-Page.—It is now a matter of custom and almost of duty for the author’s name to appear on the book, and this is a main cause of the fact that books have so little influence. If they are good, they are worth more than the personalities of their authors, of which they are the quintessences. But as soon as the author makes himself known on the title-page, the quintessence, from the reader’s point of view, becomes [pg 080] diluted with the personal, the most personal element, and the aim of the book is frustrated. It is the ambition of the intellect no longer to appear individual.

157.

The Most Cutting Criticism.—We make the most cutting criticism of a man or a book when we indicate his or its ideal.

158.

Little or no Love.—Every good book is written for a particular reader and men of his stamp, and for that very reason is looked upon unfavourably by all other readers, by the vast majority. Its reputation accordingly rests on a narrow basis and must be built up by degrees.—The mediocre and bad book is mediocre and bad because it seeks to please, and does please, a great number.

159.

Music and Disease.—The danger of the new music lies in the fact that it puts the cup of rapture and exaltation to the lips so invitingly, and with such a show of moral ecstasy, that even the noble and temperate man always drinks a drop too much. This minimum of intemperance, constantly repeated, can in the end bring about a deeper convulsion and destruction of mental health than any coarse excess could do. Hence nothing remains but some day to fly from the grotto of the nymph, and through perils and billowy seas to forge one’s way to the [pg 081] smoke of Ithaca and the embraces of a simpler and more human spouse.

160.

Advantage for Opponents.—A book full of intellect communicates something thereof even to its opponents.

161.

Youth and Criticism.—To criticise a book means, for the young, not to let oneself be touched by a single productive thought therefrom, and to protect one’s skin with hands and feet. The youngster lives in opposition to all novelty that he cannot love in the lump, in a position of self-defence, and in this connection he commits, as often as he can, a superfluous sin.

162.

Effect of Quantity.—The greatest paradox in the history of poetic art lies in this: that in all that constitutes the greatness of the old poets a man may be a barbarian, faulty and deformed from top to toe, and still remain the greatest of poets. This is the case with Shakespeare, who, as compared with Sophocles, is like a mine of immeasurable wealth in gold, lead, and rubble, whereas Sophocles is not merely gold, but gold in its noblest form, one that almost makes us forget the money-value of the metal. But quantity in its highest intensity has the same effect as quality. That is a good thing for Shakespeare.

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163.

All Beginning is Dangerous.—The Poet can choose whether to raise emotion from one grade to another, and so finally to exalt it to a great height—or to try a surprise attack, and from the start to pull the bell-rope with might and main. Both processes have their danger—in the first case his hearer may run away from him through boredom, in the second through terror.

164.

In Favour of Critics.—Insects sting, not from malice, but because they too want to live. It is the same with our critics—they desire our blood, not our pain.

165.

Success of Aphorisms.—The inexperienced, when an aphorism at once illuminates their minds with its naked truth, always think that it is old and well known. They look askance at the author, as if he had wanted to steal the common property of all, whereas they enjoy highly spiced half-truths, and give the author to understand as much. He knows how to appreciate the hint, and easily guesses thereby where he has succeeded and failed.

166.

The Desire for Victory.—An artist who exceeds the limit of his strength in all that he undertakes will end by carrying the multitude along with him through the spectacle of violent [pg 083] wrestling that he affords. Success is not always the accompaniment only of victory, but also of the desire for victory.

167.

Sibi Scribere.—The sensible author writes for no other posterity than his own—that is, for his age—so as to be able even then to take pleasure in himself.

168.

Praise of the Aphorism.—A good aphorism is too hard for the tooth of time, and is not worn away by all the centuries, although it serves as food for every epoch. Hence it is the greatest paradox in literature, the imperishable in the midst of change, the nourishment which always remains highly valued, as salt does, and never becomes stupid like salt.

169.

The Art-Need of the Second Order.—The people may have something of what can be called art-need, but it is small, and can be cheaply satisfied. On the whole, the remnant of art (it must be honestly confessed) suffices for this need. Let us consider, for example, the kind of melodies and songs in which the most vigorous, unspoiled, and true-hearted classes of the population find genuine delight; let us live among shepherds, cowherds, peasants, huntsmen, soldiers, and sailors, and give ourselves the answer. And in the country town, just in the houses that are the homes of inherited civic virtue, is it not the worst music at present produced [pg 084] that is loved and, one might say, cherished? He who speaks of deeper needs and unsatisfied yearnings for art among the people, as it is, is a crank or an impostor. Be honest! Only in exceptional men is there now an art-need in the highest sense—because art is once more on the down-grade, and human powers and hopes are for the time being directed to other matters.—Apart from this, outside the populace, there exists indeed, in the higher and highest strata of society, a broader and more comprehensive art-need, but of the second order. Here there is a sort of artistic commune, which possibly means to be sincere. But let us look at the elements! They are in general the more refined malcontents, who attain no genuine pleasure in themselves; the cultured, who have not become free enough to dispense with the consolations of religion, and yet do not find its incense sufficiently fragrant; the half-aristocratic, who are too weak to combat by a heroic conversion or renunciation the one fundamental error of their lives or the pernicious bent of their characters; the highly gifted, who think themselves too dignified to be of service by modest activity, and are too lazy for real, self-sacrificing work; girls who cannot create for themselves a satisfactory sphere of duties; women who have tied themselves by a light-hearted or nefarious marriage, and know that they are not tied securely enough; scholars, physicians, merchants, officials who specialised too early and never gave their lives a free enough scope—who do their work efficiently, it is true, but with a worm gnawing at their hearts; finally, all imperfect artists—these are nowadays the true needers of art! [pg 085] What do they really desire from art? Art is to drive away hours and moments of discomfort, boredom, half-bad conscience, and, if possible, transform the faults of their lives and characters into faults of world-destiny. Very different were the Greeks, who realised in their art the outflow and overflow of their own sense of well-being and health, and loved to see their perfection once more from a standpoint outside themselves. They were led to art by delight in themselves; our contemporaries—by disgust of themselves.

170.

The Germans in the Theatre.—The real theatrical talent of the Germans was Kotzebue. He and his Germans, those of higher as well as those of middle-class society, were necessarily associated, and his contemporaries should have said of him in all seriousness, “in him we live and move and have our being.” Here was nothing—no constraint, pretence, or half-enjoyment: what he could and would do was understood. Yes, until now the honest theatrical success on the German stage has been in the hands of the shamefaced or unashamed heirs of Kotzebue’s methods and influence—that is, as far as comedy still flourishes at all. The result is that much of the Germanism of that age, sometimes far off from the great towns, still survives. Good-natured; incontinent in small pleasures; always ready for tears; with the desire, in the theatre at any rate, to be able to get rid of their innate sobriety and strict attention to duty and exercise; a smiling, nay, a laughing indulgence; confusing goodness and sympathy [pg 086] and welding them into one, as is the essential characteristic of German sentimentality; exceedingly happy at a noble, magnanimous action; for the rest, submissive towards superiors, envious of each other, and yet in their heart of hearts thoroughly self-satisfied—such were they and such was he.—The second dramatic talent was Schiller. He discovered a class of hearers which had hitherto never been taken into consideration: among the callow German youth of both sexes. His poetry responded to their higher, nobler, more violent if more confused emotions, their delight in the jingle of moral words (a delight that begins to disappear when we reach the thirties). Thus he won for himself, by virtue of the passionateness and partisanship of the young, a success which gradually reacted with advantage upon those of riper years. Generally speaking, Schiller rejuvenated the Germans. Goethe stood and still stands above the Germans in every respect. To them he will never belong. How could a nation in well-being and well-wishing come up to the intellectuality of Goethe? Beethoven composed and Schopenhauer philosophised above the heads of the Germans, and it was above their heads, in the same way, that Goethe wrote his Tasso, his Iphigenie. He was followed by a small company of highly cultured persons, who were educated by antiquity, life, and travel, and had grown out of German ways of thought. He himself did not wish it to be otherwise.—When the Romantics set up their well-conceived Goethe cult; when their amazing skill in appreciation was passed on to the disciples of Hegel, the real educators of the Germans [pg 087] of this century; when the awakening national ambition turned out advantageous to the fame of the German poets; when the real standard of the nation, as to whether it could honestly find enjoyment in anything, became inexorably subordinated to the judgment of individuals and to that national ambition,—that is, when people began to enjoy by compulsion,—then arose that false, spurious German culture which was ashamed of Kotzebue; which brought Sophocles, Calderon, and even the Second Part of Goethe’s Faust on the stage; and which, on account of its foul tongue and congested stomach, no longer knows now what it likes and what it finds tedious.—Happy are those who have taste, even if it be a bad taste! Only by this characteristic can one be wise as well as happy. Hence the Greeks, who were very refined in such matters, designated the sage by a word that means “man of taste,” and called wisdom, artistic as well as scientific, “taste” (sophia).

171.

Music as a Late-Comer in every Culture.—Among all the arts that are accustomed to grow on a definite culture-soil and under definite social and political conditions, music is the last plant to come up, arising in the autumn and fading-season of the culture to which it belongs. At the same time, the first signs and harbingers of a new spring are usually already noticeable, and sometimes music, like the language of a forgotten age, rings out into a new, astonished world, and comes too late. In the art of the Dutch and Flemish musicians the soul [pg 088] of the Christian middle ages at last found its fullest tone: their sound-architecture is the posthumous but legitimate and equal sister of Gothic. Not until Handel’s music was heard the note of the best in the soul of Luther and his kin, the great Judæo-heroical impulse that created the whole Reformation movement. Mozart first expressed in golden melody the age of Louis xiv. and the art of Racine and Claude Lorrain. The eighteenth century—that century of rhapsody, of broken ideals and transitory happiness—only sang itself out in the music of Beethoven and Rossini. A lover of sentimental similes might say that all really important music was a swan-song.—Music is, in fact, not a universal language for all time, as is so often said in its praise, but responds exactly to a particular period and warmth of emotion which involves a quite definite, individual culture, determined by time and place, as its inner law. The music of Palestrina would be quite unintelligible to a Greek; and again, what would the music of Rossini convey to Palestrina?—It may be that our most modern German music, with all its pre-eminence and desire of pre-eminence, will soon be no longer understood. For this music sprang from a culture that is undergoing a rapid decay, from the soil of that epoch of reaction and restoration in which a certain Catholicism of feeling, as well as a delight in all indigenous, national, primitive manners, burst into bloom and scattered a blended perfume over Europe. These two emotional tendencies, adopted in their greatest strength and carried to their farthest limits, found final expression in the music of Wagner. Wagner’s predilection for the old [pg 089] native sagas, his free idealisation of their unfamiliar gods and heroes,—who are really sovereign beasts of prey with occasional fits of thoughtfulness, magnanimity, and boredom,—his re-animation of those figures, to which he gave in addition the mediæval Christian thirst for ecstatic sensuality and spiritualisation—all this Wagnerian give-and-take with regard to materials, souls, figures, and words—would clearly express the spirit of his music, if it could not, like all music, speak quite unambiguously of itself. This spirit wages the last campaign of reaction against the spirit of illumination which passed into this century from the last, and also against the super-national ideas of French revolutionary romanticism and of English and American insipidity in the reconstruction of state and society.—But is it not evident that the spheres of thought and emotion apparently suppressed by Wagner and his school have long since acquired fresh strength, and that his late musical protest against them generally rings into ears that prefer to hear different and opposite notes; so that one day that high and wonderful art will suddenly become unintelligible and will be covered by the spider’s web of oblivion?—In considering this state of affairs we must not let ourselves be led astray by those transitory fluctuations which arise like a reaction within a reaction, as a temporary sinking of the mountainous wave in the midst of the general upheaval. Thus, this decade of national war, ultramontane martyrdom, and socialistic unrest may, in its remoter after-effect, even aid the Wagnerian art to acquire a sudden halo, without guaranteeing that it “has a future” or that it [pg 090] has the future. It is in the very nature of music that the fruits of its great culture-vintage should lose their taste and wither earlier than the fruits of the plastic arts or those that grow on the tree of knowledge. Among all the products of the human artistic sense ideas are the most solid and lasting.

172.

The Poet no longer a Teacher.—Strange as it may sound to our time, there were once poets and artists whose soul was above the passions with their delights and convulsions, and who therefore took their pleasure in purer materials, worthier men, more delicate complications and dénouements. If the artists of our day for the most part unfetter the will, and so are under certain circumstances for that very reason emancipators of life, those were tamers of the will, enchanters of animals, creators of men. In fact, they moulded, re-moulded, and new-moulded life, whereas the fame of poets of our day lies in unharnessing, unchaining, and shattering.—The ancient Greeks demanded of the poet that he should be the teacher of grown men. How ashamed the poet would be now if this demand were made of him! He is not even a good student of himself, and so never himself becomes a good poem or a fine picture. Under the most favourable circumstances he remains the shy, attractive ruin of a temple, but at the same time a cavern of cravings, overgrown like a ruin with flowers, nettles, and poisonous weeds, inhabited and haunted by snakes, worms, spiders, and birds; an object for sad reflection as to why the noblest and most precious must grow up at once [pg 091] like a ruin, without the past and future of perfection.

173.

Looking Forward and Backward.—An art like that which streams out of Homer, Sophocles, Theocritus, Calderon, Racine, Goethe, as the superabundance of a wise and harmonious conduct of life—that is the true art, at which we grasp when we have ourselves become wiser and more harmonious. It is not that barbaric, if ever so delightful, outpouring of hot and highly coloured things from an undisciplined, chaotic soul, which is what we understood by “art” in our youth. It is obvious from the nature of the case that for certain periods of life an art of overstrain, excitement, antipathy to the orderly, monotonous, simple, logical, is an inevitable need, to which artists must respond, lest the soul of such periods should unburden itself in other ways, through all kinds of disorder and impropriety. Hence youths as they generally are, full, fermenting, tortured above all things by boredom, and women who lack work that fully occupies their soul, require that art of delightful disorder. All the more violently on that account are they inflamed with a desire for satisfaction without change, happiness without stupor and intoxication.

174.

Against the Art of Works of Art.—Art is above all and first of all meant to embellish life, to make us ourselves endurable and if possible agreeable in the eyes of others. With this task in view, [pg 092] art moderates us and holds us in restraint, creates forms of intercourse, binds over the uneducated to laws of decency, cleanliness, politeness, well-timed speech and silence. Hence art must conceal or transfigure everything that is ugly—the painful, terrible, and disgusting elements which in spite of every effort will always break out afresh in accordance with the very origin of human nature. Art has to perform this duty especially in regard to the passions and spiritual agonies and anxieties, and to cause the significant factor to shine through unavoidable or unconquerable ugliness. To this great, super-great task the so-called art proper, that of works of art, is a mere accessary. A man who feels within himself a surplus of such powers of embellishment, concealment, and transfiguration will finally seek to unburden himself of this surplus in works of art. The same holds good, under special circumstances, of a whole nation.—But as a rule we nowadays begin art at the end, hang on to its tail, and think that works of art constitute art proper, and that life should be improved and transformed by this means—fools that we are! If we begin a dinner with dessert, and try sweet after sweet, small wonder that we ruin our digestions and even our appetites for the good, hearty, nourishing meal to which art invites us!

175.

Continued Existence of Art.—Why, really, does a creative art nowadays continue to exist? Because the majority who have hours of leisure (and such an art is for them only) think that they cannot [pg 093] fill up their time without music, theatres and picture-galleries, novels and poetry. Granted that one could keep them from this indulgence, either they would strive less eagerly for leisure, and the invidious sight of the rich would be less common (a great gain for the stability of society), or they would have leisure, but would learn to reflect on what can be learnt and unlearnt: on their work, for instance, their associations, the pleasure they could bestow. All the world, with the exception of the artist, would in both cases reap the advantage.—Certainly, there are many vigorous, sensible readers who could take objection to this. Still, it must be said on behalf of the coarse and malignant that the author himself is concerned with this protest, and that there is in his book much to be read that is not actually written down therein.

176.

The Mouthpiece of the Gods.—The poet expresses the universal higher opinions of the nation, he is its mouthpiece and flute; but by virtue of metre and all other artistic means he so expresses them that the nation regards them as something quite new and wonderful, and believes in all seriousness that he is the mouthpiece of the Gods. Yes, under the clouds of creation the poet himself forgets whence he derives all his intellectual wisdom—from father and mother, from teachers and books of all kinds, from the street and particularly from the priest. He is deceived by his own art, and really believes, in a naïve period, that a God is speaking through him, that he is creating in a [pg 094] state of religious inspiration. As a matter of fact, he is only saying what he has learnt, a medley of popular wisdom and popular foolishness. Hence, so far as a poet is really vox populi he is held to be vox dei.

177.

What all Art wants to Do and Cannot.—The last and hardest task of the artist is the presentment of what remains the same, reposes in itself, is lofty and simple and free from the bizarre. Hence the noblest forms of moral perfection are rejected as inartistic by weaker artists, because the sight of these fruits is too painful for their ambition. The fruit gleams at them from the topmost branches of art, but they lack the ladder, the courage, the grip to venture so high. In himself a Phidias is quite possible as a poet, but, if modern strength be taken into consideration, almost solely in the sense that to God nothing is impossible. The desire for a poetical Claude Lorrain is already an immodesty at present, however earnestly one man’s heart may yearn for such a consummation.—The presentment of the highest man, the most simple and at the same time the most complete, has hitherto been beyond the scope of all artists. Perhaps, however, the Greeks, in the ideal of Athene, saw farther than any men did before or after their time.

178.

Art and Restoration.—The retrograde movements in history, the so-called periods of restoration, which try to revive intellectual and social [pg 095] conditions that existed before those immediately preceding,—and seem really to succeed in giving them a brief resurrection,—have the charm of sentimental recollection, ardent longing for what is almost lost, hasty embracing of a transitory happiness. It is on account of this strange trend towards seriousness that in such transient and almost dreamy periods art and poetry find a natural soil, just as the tenderest and rarest plants grow on mountain-slopes of steep declivity.—Thus many a good artist is unwittingly impelled to a “restoration” way of thinking in politics and society, for which, on his own account, he prepares a quiet little corner and garden. Here he collects about himself the human remains of the historical epoch that appeals to him, and plays his lyre to many who are dead, half-dead, and weary to death, perhaps with the above-mentioned result of a brief resurrection.

179.

Happiness of the Age.—In two respects our age is to be accounted happy. With respect to the past, we enjoy all cultures and their productions, and nurture ourselves on the noblest blood of all periods. We stand sufficiently near to the magic of the forces from whose womb these periods are born to be able in passing to submit to their spell with pleasure and terror; whereas earlier cultures could only enjoy themselves, and never looked beyond themselves, but were rather overarched by a bell of broader or narrower dome, through which indeed light streamed down to them, but which their gaze could not pierce. With respect to the future, [pg 096] there opens out to us for the first time a mighty, comprehensive vista of human and economic purposes engirdling the whole inhabited globe. At the same time, we feel conscious of a power ourselves to take this new task in hand without presumption, without requiring supernatural aids. Yes, whatever the result of our enterprise, however much we may have overestimated our strength, at any rate we need render account to no one but ourselves, and mankind can henceforth begin to do with itself what it will.—There are, it is true, peculiar human bees, who only know how to suck the bitterest and worst elements from the chalice of every flower. It is true that all flowers contain something that is not honey, but these bees may be allowed to feel in their own way about the happiness of our time, and continue to build up their hive of discomfort.

180.

A Vision.—Hours of instruction and meditation for adults, even the most mature, and such institutions visited without compulsion but in accordance with the moral injunction of the whole community; the churches as the meeting-places most worthy and rich in memories for the purpose; at the same time daily festivals in honour of the reason that is attained and attainable by man; a newer and fuller budding and blooming of the ideal of the teacher, in which the clergyman, the artist and the physician, the man of science and the sage are blended, and their individual virtues should come to the fore as [pg 097] a collective virtue in their teaching itself, in their discourses, in their method—this is my ever-recurring vision, of which I firmly believe that it has raised a corner of the veil of the future.

181.

Education a Distortion.—The extraordinary haphazardness of the whole system of education, which leads every adult to say nowadays that his sole educator was chance, and the weathercock-nature of educational methods and aims, may be explained as follows. The oldest and the newest culture-powers, as in a turbulent mass-meeting, would rather be heard than understood, and wish to prove at all costs by their outcries and clamourings that they still exist or already exist. The poor teachers and educators are first dazed by this senseless noise, then become silent and finally apathetic, allowing anything to be done to them just as they in their turn allow anything to be done to their pupils. They are not trained themselves, so how are they to train others? They are themselves no straight-growing, vigorous, succulent trees, and he who wishes to attach himself to them must wind and bend himself and finally become distorted and deformed as they.

182.

Philosophers and Artists of the Age.—Rhapsody and frigidity, burning desires and waning of the heart’s glow—this wretched medley is to be found in the picture of the highest European society of the present day. There the artist thinks [pg 098] that he is achieving a great deal when through his art he lights the torch of the heart as well as the torch of desire. The philosopher has the same notion, when in the chilliness of his heart, which he has in common with his age, he cools hot desires in himself and his following by his world-denying judgments.

183.

Not To Be a Soldier of Culture Without Necessity.—At last people are learning what it costs us so dear not to know in our youth—that we must first do superior actions and secondly seek the superior wherever and under whatever names it is to be found; that we must at once go out of the way of all badness and mediocrity without fighting it; and that even doubt as to the excellence of a thing (such as quickly arises in one of practised taste) should rank as an argument against it and a reason for completely avoiding it. We must not shrink from the danger of occasionally making a mistake and confounding the less accessible good with the bad and imperfect. Only he who can do nothing better should attack the world’s evils as the soldier of culture. But those who should support culture and spread its teachings ruin themselves if they go about armed, and by precautions, night-watches, and bad dreams turn the peace of their domestic and artistic life into sinister unrest.

184.

How Natural History Should Be Expounded.—Natural history, like the history of the [pg 099] war and victory of moral and intellectual forces in the campaign against anxiety, self-delusion, laziness, superstition, folly, should be so expounded that every reader or listener may be continually aroused to strive after mental and physical health and soundness, after the feeling of joy, and be awakened to the desire to be the heir and continuator of mankind, to an ever nobler adventurous impulse. Hitherto natural history has not found its true language, because the inventive and eloquent artists—who are needed for this purpose—never rid themselves of a secret mistrust of it, and above all never wish to learn from it a thorough lesson. Nevertheless it must be conceded to the English that their scientific manuals for the lower strata of the people have made admirable strides towards that ideal. But then such books are written by their foremost men of learning, full, complete, and inspiring natures, and not, as among us, by mediocre investigators.

185.

Genius in Humanity.—If genius, according to Schopenhauer’s observation, lies in the coherent and vivid recollection of our own experience, a striving towards genius in humanity collectively might be deduced from the striving towards knowledge of the whole historic past—which is beginning to mark off the modern age more and more as compared with earlier ages and has for the first time broken down the barriers between nature and spirit, men and animals, morality and physics. A perfectly conceived history would be cosmic self-consciousness.

[pg 100]
186.

The Cult of Culture.—On great minds is bestowed the terrifying all-too-human of their natures, their blindnesses, deformities, and extravagances, so that their more powerful, easily all-too-powerful influence may be continually held within bounds through the distrust aroused by such qualities. For the sum-total of all that humanity needs for its continued existence is so comprehensive, and demands powers so diverse and so numerous, that for every one-sided predilection, whether in science or politics or art or commerce, to which such natures would persuade us, mankind as a whole has to pay a heavy price. It has always been a great disaster to culture when human beings are worshipped. In this sense we may understand the precept of Mosaic law which forbids us to have any other gods but God.—Side by side with the cult of genius and violence we must always place, as its complement and remedy, the cult of culture. This cult can find an intelligent appreciation even for the material, the inferior, the mean, the misunderstood, the weak, the imperfect, the one-sided, the incomplete, the untrue, the apparent, even the wicked and horrible, and can grant them the concession that all this is necessary. For the continued harmony of all things human, attained by amazing toil and strokes of luck, and just as much the work of Cyclopes and ants as of geniuses, shall never be lost. How, indeed, could we dispense with that deep, universal, and often uncanny [pg 101] bass, without which, after all, melody cannot be melody?

187.

The Antique World and Pleasure.—The man of the antique world understood better how to rejoice, we understand better how to grieve less. They continually found new motives for feeling happy, for celebrating festivals, being inventive with all their wealth of shrewdness and reflection. We, on the other hand, concentrate our intellect rather on the solving of problems which have in view painlessness and the removal of sources of discomfort. With regard to suffering existence, the ancients sought to forget or in some way to convert the sensation into a pleasant one, thus trying to supply palliatives. We attack the causes of suffering, and on the whole prefer to use prophylactics.—Perhaps we are only building upon a foundation whereon a later age will once more set up the temple of joy.

188.

The Muses as Liars.—“We know how to tell many lies,” so sang the Muses once, when they revealed themselves to Hesiod.—The conception of the artist as deceiver, once grasped, leads to important discoveries.

189.

How Paradoxical Homer can be.—Is there anything more desperate, more horrible, more incredible, shining over human destiny like a winter sun, than that idea of Homer’s:

[pg 102]
“So the decree of the Gods willed it, and doomed man to perish, that it might be a matter for song even to distant generations”?

In other words, we suffer and perish so that poets may not lack material, and this is the dispensation of those very Gods of Homer who seem much concerned about the joyousness of generations to come, but very little about us men of the present. To think that such ideas should ever have entered the head of a Greek!

190.

Supplementary Justification of Existence.—Many ideas have come into the world as errors and fancies but have turned out truths, because men have afterwards given them a genuine basis to rest upon.

191.

Pro and Con Necessary.—He who has not realised that every great man must not only be encouraged but also, for the sake of the common welfare, opposed, is certainly still a great child—or himself a great man.

192.

Injustice of Genius.—Genius is most unjust towards geniuses, if they be contemporary. Either it thinks it has no need of them and considers them superfluous (for it can do without them), or their influence crosses the path of its electric current, in which case it even calls them pernicious.

[pg 103]
193.

The Saddest Destiny of a Prophet.—He has worked twenty years to convince his contemporaries, and succeeds at last, but in the meantime his adversaries have also succeeded—he is no longer convinced of himself.

194.

Three Thinkers like one Spider.—In every philosophical school three thinkers follow one another in this relation: the first produces from himself sap and seed, the second draws it out in threads and spins a cunning web, the third waits in this web for the victims who are caught in it—and tries to live upon this philosophy.

195.

From Association with Authors.—It is as bad a habit to go about with an author grasping him by the nose as grasping him by the horn (and every author has his horn).

196.

A Team of Two.—Vagueness of thought and outbursts of sentimentality are as often wedded to the reckless desire to have one’s own way by hook or by crook, to make oneself alone of any consequence, as a genuinely helpful, gracious, and kindly spirit is wedded to the impulse towards clearness [pg 104] and purity of thought and towards emotional moderation and self-restraint.

197.

Binding and Separating Forces.—Surely it is in the heads of men that there arises the force that binds them—an understanding of their common interest or the reverse; and in their hearts the force that separates them—a blind choosing and groping in love and hate, a devotion to one at the expense of all, and a consequent contempt for the common utility.

198.

Marksmen and Thinkers.—There are curious marksmen who miss their mark, but leave the shooting-gallery with secret pride in the fact that their bullet at any rate flew very far (beyond the mark, it is true), or that it did not hit the mark but hit something else. There are thinkers of the same stamp.

199.

Attack from Two Sides.—We act as enemies towards an intellectual tendency or movement when we are superior to it and disapprove of its aim, or when its aim is too high and unrecognisable to our eye—in other words, when it is superior to us. So the same party may be attacked from two sides, from above and from below. Not infrequently the assailants, from common hatred, form an alliance which is more repulsive than all that they hate.

[pg 105]
200.

Original.—Original minds are distinguished not by being the first to see a new thing, but by seeing the old, well-known thing, which is seen and overlooked by every one, as something new. The first discoverer is usually that quite ordinary and unintellectual visionary—chance.

201.

Error of Philosophers.—The philosopher believes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the structure. Posterity finds it in the stone with which he built and with which, from that time forth, men will build oftener and better—in other words, in the fact that the structure may be destroyed and yet have value as material.

202.

Wit.—Wit is the epitaph of an emotion.

203.

The Moment before Solution.—In science it occurs every day and every hour that a man, immediately before the solution, remains stuck, being convinced that his efforts have been entirely in vain—like one who, in untying a noose, hesitates at the moment when it is nearest to coming loose, because at that very moment it looks most like a knot.

204.

Among the Visionaries.—The thoughtful man, and he who is sure of his intelligence, may [pg 106] profitably consort with visionaries for a decade and abandon himself in their torrid zone to a moderate insanity. He will thus have travelled a good part of the road towards that cosmopolitanism of the intellect which can say without presumption, “Nothing intellectual is alien to me.”

205.

Keen Air.—The best and healthiest element in science as amid the mountains is the keen air that plays about it.—Intellectual molly-coddles (such as artists) dread and abuse science on account of this atmosphere.

206.

Why Savants are Nobler than Artists.—Science requires nobler natures than does poetry; natures that are more simple, less ambitious, more restrained, calmer, that think less of posthumous fame and can bury themselves in studies which, in the eye of the many, scarcely seem worthy of such a sacrifice of personality. There is another loss of which they are conscious. The nature of their occupation, its continual exaction of the greatest sobriety, weakens their will; the fire is not kept up so vigorously as on the hearths of poetic minds. As such, they often lose their strength and prime earlier than artists do—and, as has been said, they are aware of their danger. Under all circumstances they seem less gifted because they shine less, and thus they will always be rated below their value.

[pg 107]
207.

How Far Piety Obscures.—In later centuries the great man is credited with all the great qualities and virtues of his century. Thus all that is best is continually obscured by piety, which treats the picture as a sacred one, to be surrounded with all manner of votive offerings. In the end the picture is completely veiled and covered by the offerings, and thenceforth is more an object of faith than of contemplation.

208.

Standing on One’s Head.—If we make truth stand on its head, we generally fail to notice that our own head, too, is not in its right position.

209.

Origin and Utility of Fashion.—The obvious satisfaction of the individual with his own form excites imitation and gradually creates the form of the many—that is, fashion. The many desire, and indeed attain, that same comforting satisfaction with their own form. Consider how many reasons every man has for anxiety and shy self-concealment, and how, on this account, three-fourths of his energy and goodwill is crippled and may become unproductive! So we must be very grateful to fashion for unfettering that three-fourths and communicating self-confidence and the power of cheerful compromise to those who feel themselves bound to each other by its law. Even foolish laws give freedom [pg 108] and calm of the spirit, so long as many persons have submitted to their sway.

210.

Looseners of Tongues.—The value of many men and books rests solely on their faculty for compelling all to speak out the most hidden and intimate things. They are looseners of tongues and crowbars to open the most stubborn teeth. Many events and misdeeds which are apparently only sent as a curse to mankind possess this value and utility.

211.

Intellectual Freedom of Domicile.12—Who of us could dare to call himself a “free spirit” if he could not render homage after his fashion, by taking on his own shoulders a portion of that burden of public dislike and abuse, to men to whom this name is attached as a reproach? We might as well call ourselves in all seriousness “spirits free of domicile” (Freizügig) (and without that arrogant or high-spirited defiance) because we feel the impulse to freedom (Zug zur Freiheit) as the strongest instinct of our minds and, in contrast to fixed and limited minds, practically see our ideal in an intellectual nomadism—to use a modest and almost depreciatory expression.

[pg 109]
212.

Yes, the Favour of the Muses!—What Homer says on this point goes right to our heart, so true, so terrible is it:

“The Muse loved him with all her heart and gave him good and evil, for she took away his eyes and vouchsafed him sweet song.”

This is an endless text for thinking men: she gives good and evil, that is her manner of loving with all her heart and soul! And each man will interpret specially for himself why we poets and thinkers have to give up our eyes in her service.13

213.

Against the Cultivation of Music.—The artistic training of the eye from childhood upwards by means of drawing, painting, landscape-sketching, figures, scenes, involves an estimable gain in life, making the eyesight keen, calm, and enduring in the observation of men and circumstances. No similar secondary advantage arises from the artistic cultivation of the ear, whence public schools will generally do well to give the art of the eye a preference over that of the ear.

214.

The Discoverers of Trivialities.—Subtle minds, from which nothing is farther than trivialities, often discover a triviality after taking all manner of [pg 110] circuitous routes and mountain paths, and, to the astonishment of the non-subtle, rejoice exceedingly.

215.

Morals of Savants.—A regular and rapid advance in the sciences is only possible when the individual is compelled to be not so distrustful as to test every calculation and assertion of others, in fields which are remote from his own. A necessary condition, however, is that every man should have competitors in his own sphere, who are extremely distrustful and keep a sharp eye upon him. From this juxtaposition of “not too distrustful” and “extremely distrustful” arises sincerity in the republic of learning.

216.

Reasons for Sterility.—There are highly gifted minds which are always sterile only because, from temperamental weakness, they are too impatient to wait for their pregnancy.

217.

The Perverted World of Tears.—The manifold discomforts which the demands of higher culture cause to man finally pervert his nature to such an extent that he usually keeps himself stoical and unbending. Thus he has tears in reserve only for rare occasions of happiness, so that many must weep even at the enjoyment of painlessness—only when happy does his heart still beat.

[pg 111]
218.

The Greeks as Interpreters.—When we speak of the Greeks we unwittingly speak of to-day and yesterday; their universally known history is a blank mirror, always reflecting something that is not in the mirror itself. We enjoy the freedom of speaking about them in order to have the right of being silent about others—so that these Greeks themselves may whisper something in the ear of the reflective reader. Thus the Greeks facilitate to modern men the communication of much that is debatable and hard to communicate.

219.

Of the Acquired Character of the Greeks.—We are easily led astray by the renowned Greek clearness, transparency, simplicity, and order, by their crystal-like naturalness and crystal-like art, into believing that all these gifts were bestowed on the Greeks—for instance, that they could not but write well, as Lichtenberg expressed it on one occasion. Yet no statement could be more hasty and more untenable. The history of prose from Gorgias to Demosthenes shows a course of toiling and wrestling towards light from the obscure, overloaded, and tasteless, reminding one of the labour of heroes who had to construct the first roads through forest and bog. The dialogue of tragedy was the real achievement of the dramatist, owing to its uncommon clearness and precision, whereas the national tendency was to riot in symbolism and innuendo, a tendency expressly fostered by the great choral [pg 112] lyric. Similarly it was the achievement of Homer to liberate the Greeks from Asiatic pomp and gloom, and to have attained the clearness of architecture in details great and small. Nor was it by any means thought easy to say anything in a pure and illuminating style. How else should we account for the great admiration for the epigram of Simonides, which shows itself so simple, with no gilded points or arabesques of wit, but says all that it has to say plainly and with the calm of the sun, not with the straining after effect of the lightning. Since the struggle towards light from an almost native twilight is Greek, a thrill of jubilation runs through the people when they hear a laconic sentence, the language of elegy or the maxims of the Seven Wise Men. Hence they were so fond of giving precepts in verse, a practice that we find objectionable. This was the true Apolline task of the Hellenic spirit, with the aim of rising superior to the perils of metre and the obscurity which is otherwise characteristic of poetry. Simplicity, flexibility, and sobriety were wrestled for and not given by nature to this people. The danger of a relapse into Asianism constantly hovered over the Greeks, and really overtook them from time to time like a murky, overflowing tide of mystical impulses, primitive savagery and darkness. We see them plunge in; we see Europe, as it were, flooded, washed away—for Europe was very small then; but they always emerge once more to the light, good swimmers and divers that they are, those fellow-countrymen of Odysseus.

[pg 113]
220.

The Pagan Characteristic.—Perhaps there is nothing more astonishing to the observer of the Greek world than to discover that the Greeks from time to time held festivals, as it were, for all their passions and evil tendencies alike, and in fact even established a kind of series of festivals, by order of the State, for their “all-too-human.” This is the pagan characteristic of their world, which Christianity has never understood and never can understand, and has always combated and despised.—They accepted this all-too-human as unavoidable, and preferred, instead of railing at it, to give it a kind of secondary right by grafting it on to the usages of society and religion. All in man that has power they called divine, and wrote it on the walls of their heaven. They do not deny this natural instinct that expresses itself in evil characteristics, but regulate and limit it to definite cults and days, so as to turn those turbulent streams into as harmless a course as possible, after devising sufficient precautionary measures. That is the root of all the moral broad-mindedness of antiquity. To the wicked, the dubious, the backward, the animal element, as to the barbaric, pre-Hellenic and Asiatic, which still lived in the depths of Greek nature, they allowed a moderate outflow, and did not strive to destroy it utterly. The whole system was under the domain of the State, which was built up not on individuals or castes, but on common human qualities. In the structure of the State the Greeks show that wonderful sense for typical facts which later on enabled them to become investigators of Nature, historians, geographers, and [pg 114] philosophers. It was not a limited moral law of priests or castes, which had to decide about the constitution of the State and State worship, but the most comprehensive view of the reality of all that is human. Whence do the Greeks derive this freedom, this sense of reality? Perhaps from Homer and the poets who preceded him. For just those poets whose nature is generally not the most wise or just possess, in compensation, that delight in reality and activity of every kind, and prefer not to deny even evil. It suffices for them if evil moderates itself, does not kill or inwardly poison everything—in other words, they have similar ideas to those of the founders of Greek constitutions, and were their teachers and forerunners.

221.

Exceptional Greeks.—In Greece, deep, thorough, serious minds were the exception. The national instinct tended rather to regard the serious and thorough as a kind of grimace. To borrow forms from a foreign source, not to create but to transform into the fairest shapes—that is Greek. To imitate, not for utility but for artistic illusion, ever and anon to gain the mastery over forced seriousness, to arrange, beautify, simplify—that is the continual task from Homer to the Sophists of the third and fourth centuries of our era, who are all outward show, pompous speech, declamatory gestures, and address themselves to shallow souls that care only for appearance, sound, and effect. And now let us estimate the greatness of those exceptional Greeks, who created science! Whoever tells of them, tells the most heroic story of the human mind!

[pg 115]
222.

Simplicity not the First nor the Last Thing in Point of Time.—In the history of religious ideas many errors about development and false gradations are made in matters which in reality are not consecutive outgrowths but contemporary yet separate phenomena. In particular, simplicity has still far too much the reputation of being the oldest, the initial thing. Much that is human arises by subtraction and division, and not merely by doubling, addition, and unification.—For instance, men still believe in a gradual development of the idea of God from those unwieldy stones and blocks of wood up to the highest forms of anthropomorphism. Yet the fact is that so long as divinity was attributed to and felt in trees, logs of wood, stones, and beasts, people shrank from humanising their forms as from an act of godlessness. First of all, poets, apart from all considerations of cult and the ban of religious shame, have had to make the inner imagination of man accustomed and compliant to this notion. Wherever more pious periods and phases of thought gained the upper hand, this liberating influence of poets fell into the background, and sanctity remained, after as before, on the side of the monstrous, uncanny, quite peculiarly inhuman. And then, much of what the inner imagination ventures to picture to itself would exert a painful influence if externally and corporeally represented. The inner eye is far bolder and more shameless than the outer (whence the well-known difficulty and, to some extent, impossibility, of [pg 116] working epic material into dramatic form). The religious imagination for a long time entirely refuses to believe in the identity of God with an image: the image is meant to fix the numen of the Deity, actually and specifically, although in a mysterious and not altogether intelligible way. The oldest image of the Gods is meant to shelter and at the same time to hide14 the God—to indicate him but not to expose him to view. No Greek really looked upon his Apollo as a pointed pillar of wood, his Eros as a lump of stone. These were symbols, which were intended to inspire dread of the manifestation of the God. It was the same with those blocks of wood out of which individual limbs, generally in excessive number, were fashioned with the scantiest of carving—as, for instance, a Laconian Apollo with four hands and four ears. In the incomplete, symbolical, or excessive lies a terrible sanctity, which is meant to prevent us from thinking of anything human or similar to humanity. It is not an embryonic stage of art in which such things are made—as if they were not able to speak more plainly and portray more sensibly in the age when such images were honoured! Rather, men are afraid of just one thing—direct speaking out. Just as the cella hides and conceals in a mysterious twilight, yet not completely, the holy of holies, the real numen of the Deity; just as, again, the peripteric temple hides the cella, protecting it from indiscreet eyes as with a screen and a veil, yet not completely—so it is with the image of the Deity, and at the same time the concealment of [pg 117] the Deity.—Only when outside the cult, in the profane world of athletic contest, the joy in the victor had risen so high that the ripples thus started reacted upon the lake of religious emotion, was the statue of the victor set up before the temple. Then the pious pilgrim had to accustom his eye and his soul, whether he would or no, to the inevitable sight of human beauty and super-strength, so that the worship of men and Gods melted into each other from physical and spiritual contact. Then too for the first time the fear of really humanising the figures of the Gods is lost, and the mighty arena for great plastic art is opened—even now with the limitation that wherever there is to be adoration the primitive form and ugliness are carefully preserved and copied. But the Hellene, as he dedicates and makes offerings, may now with religious sanction indulge in his delight in making God become a man.

223.

Whither We must Travel.—Immediate self-observation is not enough, by a long way, to enable us to learn to know ourselves. We need history, for the past continues to flow through us in a hundred channels. We ourselves are, after all, nothing but our own sensation at every moment of this continued flow. Even here, when we wish to step down into the stream of our apparently most peculiar and personal development, Heraclitus’ aphorism, “You cannot step twice into the same river,” holds good.—This is a piece of wisdom which has, indeed, gradually become trite, but nevertheless has remained as [pg 118] strong and true as it ever was. It is the same with the saying that, in order to understand history, we must scrutinise the living remains of historical periods; that we must travel, as old Herodotus travelled, to other nations, especially to those so-called savage or half-savage races in regions where man has doffed or not yet donned European garb. For they are ancient and firmly established steps of culture on which we can stand. There is, however, a more subtle art and aim in travelling, which does not always necessitate our passing from place to place and going thousands of miles away. Very probably the last three centuries, in all their colourings and refractions of culture, survive even in our vicinity, only they have to be discovered. In some families, or even in individuals, the strata are still superimposed on each other, beautifully and perceptibly; in other places there are dispersions and displacements of the structure which are harder to understand. Certainly in remote districts, in less known mountain valleys, circumscribed communities have been able more easily to maintain an admirable pattern of a far older sentiment, a pattern that must here be investigated. On the other hand, it is improbable that such discoveries will be made in Berlin, where man comes into the world washed-out and sapless. He who after long practice of this art of travel has become a hundred-eyed Argus will accompany his Io—I mean his ego—everywhere, and in Egypt and Greece, Byzantium and Rome, France and Germany, in the age of wandering or settled races, in Renaissance or Reformation, at home and abroad, in sea, forest, plant, and mountain, will again [pg 119] light upon the travel-adventure of this ever-growing, ever-altered ego.—Thus self-knowledge becomes universal knowledge as regards the entire past, and, by another chain of observation, which can only be indicated here, self-direction and self-training in the freest and most far-seeing spirits might become universal direction as regards all future humanity.

224.

Balm and Poison.—We cannot ponder too deeply on this fact: Christianity is the religion of antiquity grown old; it presupposes degenerate old culture-stocks, and on them it had, and still has, power to work like balm. There are periods when ears and eyes are full of slime, so that they can no longer hear the voice of reason and philosophy or see the wisdom that walks in bodily shape, whether it bears the name of Epictetus or of Epicurus. Then, perhaps, the erection of the martyr’s cross and the “trumpet of the last judgment” may have the effect of still inspiring such races to end their lives decently. If we think of Juvenal’s Rome, of that poisonous toad with the eyes of Venus, we understand what it means to make the sign of the Cross before the world, we honour the silent Christian community and are grateful for its having stifled the Greco-Roman Empire. If, indeed, most men were then born in spiritual slavery, with the sensuality of old men, what a pleasure to meet beings who were more soul than body, and who seemed to realise the Greek idea of the shades of the under-world—shy, scurrying, chirping, kindly creatures, with a reversion [pg 120] on the “better life,” and therefore so unassuming, so secretly scornful, so proudly patient!—This Christianity, as the evening chime of the good antiquity, with cracked, weary and yet melodious bell, is balm in the ears even to one who only now traverses those centuries historically. What must it have been to those men themselves!—To young and fresh barbarian nations, on the other hand, Christianity is a poison. For to implant the teaching of sinfulness and damnation in the heroic, childlike, and animal soul of the old Germans is nothing but poisoning. An enormous chemical fermentation and decomposition, a medley of sentiments and judgments, a rank growth of adventurous legend, and hence in the long run a fundamental weakening of such barbarian peoples, was the inevitable result. True, without this weakening what should we have left of Greek culture, of the whole cultured past of the human race? For the barbarians untouched by Christianity knew very well how to make a clean sweep of old cultures, as was only too clearly shown by the heathen conquerors of Romanised Britain. Thus Christianity, against its will, was compelled to aid in making “the antique world” immortal.—There remains, however, a counter-question and the possibility of a counter-reckoning. Without this weakening through the poisoning referred to, would any of those fresh stocks—the Germans, for instance—have been in a position gradually to find by themselves a higher, a peculiar, a new culture, of which the most distant conception would therefore have been lost to humanity?—In this, as in every case, we do not know, Christianly speaking, whether God owes the [pg 121] devil or the devil God more thanks for everything having turned out as it has.

225.

Faith makes Holy and Condemns.—A Christian who happened upon forbidden paths of thought might well ask himself on some occasion whether it is really necessary that there should be a God, side by side with a representative Lamb, if faith in the existence of these beings suffices to produce the same influences? If they do exist after all, are they not superfluous beings? For all that is given by the Christian religion to the human soul, all that is beneficent, consoling, and edifying, just as much as all that depresses and crushes, emanates from that faith and not from the objects of that faith. It is here as in another well-known case—there were indeed no witches, but the terrible effects of the belief in witches were the same as if they really had existed. For all occasions where the Christian awaits the immediate intervention of a God, though in vain (for there is no God), his religion is inventive enough to find subterfuges and reasons for tranquillity. In so far Christianity is an ingenious religion.—Faith, indeed, has up to the present not been able to move real mountains, although I do not know who assumed that it could. But it can put mountains where there are none.

226.

The Tragi-Comedy of Regensburg.—Here and there we see with terrible clearness the harlequinade of Fortune, how she fastens the rope, on [pg 122] which she wills that succeeding centuries should dance, on to a few days, one place, the condition and opinions of one brain. Thus the fate of modern German history lies in the days of that disputation at Regensburg: the peaceful settlement of ecclesiastical and moral affairs, without religious wars or a counter-reformation, and also the unity of the German nation, seemed assured: the deep, gentle spirit of Contarini hovered for one moment over the theological squabble, victorious, as representative of the riper Italian piety, reflecting the morning glory of intellectual freedom. But Luther’s hard head, full of suspicions and strange misgivings, showed resistance. Because justification by grace appeared to him his greatest motto and discovery, he did not believe the phrase in the mouth of Italians; whereas, in point of fact, as is well known, they had invented it much earlier and spread it throughout Italy in deep silence. In this apparent agreement Luther saw the tricks of the devil, and hindered the work of peace as well as he could, thereby advancing to a great extent the aims of the Empire’s foes.—And now, in order to have a still stronger idea of the dreadful farcicality of it all, let us add that none of the principles about which men then disputed in Regensburg—neither that of original sin, nor that of redemption by proxy, nor that of justification by faith—is in any way true or even has any connection with truth: that they are now all recognised as incapable of being discussed. Yet on this account the world was set on fire—that is to say, by opinions which correspond to no things or realities; whereas as regards purely philological questions—as, for instance, [pg 123] that of the sacramental words in the Eucharist—discussion at any rate is permitted, because in this case the truth can be said. But “where nothing is, even truth has lost her right.”15—Lastly, it only remains to be said that it is true these principles give rise to sources of power so mighty that without them all the mills of the modern world could not be driven with such force. And it is primarily a matter of force, only secondarily of truth (and perhaps not even secondarily)—is it not so, my dear up-to-date friends?

227.

Goethe’s Errors.—Goethe is a signal exception among great artists in that he did not live within the limited confines of his real capacity, as if that must be the essential, the distinctive, the unconditional, and the last thing in him and for all the world. Twice he intended to possess something higher than he really possessed—and went astray in the second half of his life, where he seems quite convinced that he is one of the great scientific discoverers and illuminators. So too in the first half of his life he demanded of himself something higher than the poetic art seemed to him—and here already he made a mistake. That nature wished to make him a plastic artist,—this was his inwardly glowing and scorching secret, which finally drove him to Italy, that he might give vent to his mania in this direction and make to it every possible sacrifice. At last, shrewd as he was, and honestly averse to [pg 124] any mental perversion in himself, he discovered that a tricksy elf of desire had attracted him to the belief in this calling, and that he must free himself of the greatest passion of his heart and bid it farewell. The painful conviction, tearing and gnawing at his vitals, that it was necessary to bid farewell, finds full expression in the character of Tasso. Over Tasso, that Werther intensified, hovers the premonition of something worse than death, as when one says: “Now it is over, after this farewell: how shall I go on living without going mad?” These two fundamental errors of his life gave Goethe, in face of a purely literary attitude towards poetry (the only attitude then known to the world), such an unembarrassed and apparently almost arbitrary position. Not to speak of the period when Schiller (poor Schiller, who had no time himself and left no time to others) drove away his shy dread of poetry, his fear of all literary life and craftsmanship, Goethe appears like a Greek who now and then visits his beloved, doubting whether she be not a Goddess to whom he can give no proper name. In all his poetry one notices the inspiring neighbourhood of plastic art and Nature. The features of these figures that floated before him—and perhaps he always thought he was on the track of the metamorphoses of one Goddess—became, without his will or knowledge, the features of all the children of his art. Without the extravagances of error he would not have been Goethe—that is, the only German artist in writing who has not yet become out of date—just because he desired as little to be a writer as a German by vocation.

[pg 125]
228.

Travellers and their Grades.—Among travellers we may distinguish five grades. The first and lowest grade is of those who travel and are seen—they become really travelled and are, as it were, blind. Next come those who really see the world. The third class experience the results of their seeing. The fourth weave their experience into their life and carry it with them henceforth. Lastly, there are some men of the highest strength who, as soon as they have returned home, must finally and necessarily work out in their lives and productions all the things seen that they have experienced and incorporated in themselves.—Like these five species of travellers, all mankind goes through the whole pilgrimage of life, the lowest as purely passive, the highest as those who act and live out their lives without keeping back any residue of inner experiences.

229.

In Climbing Higher.—So soon as we climb higher than those who hitherto admired us, we appear to them as sunken and fallen. For they imagined that under all circumstances they were on the heights in our company (maybe also through our agency).

230.

Measure and Moderation.—Of two quite lofty things, measure and moderation, it is best never to speak. A few know their force and significance, [pg 126] from the mysterious paths of inner experiences and conversions: they honour in them something quite godlike, and are afraid to speak aloud. All the rest hardly listen when they are spoken about, and think the subjects under discussion are tedium and mediocrity. We must perhaps except those who have once heard a warning note from that realm but have stopped their ears against the sound. The recollection of it makes them angry and exasperated.

231.

Humanity of Friendship and Comradeship.—“If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right,”16 that feeling is the hall-mark of humanity in intimate intercourse, and without that feeling every friendship, every band of apostles or disciples, sooner or later becomes a fraud.

232.

The Profound.—Men of profound thought appear to themselves in intercourse with others like comedians, for in order to be understood they must always simulate superficiality.

233.

For the Scorners of “Herd-Humanity.”—He who regards human beings as a herd, and flies from them as fast as he can, will certainly be caught up by them and gored upon their horns.

[pg 127]
234.

The Main Transgression against the Vain.—In society, he who gives another an opportunity of favourably setting forth his knowledge, sentiments, and experience sets himself above him. Unless he is felt by the other to be a superior being without limitation, he is guilty of an attack upon his vanity, while what he aimed at was the gratification of the other man’s vanity.

235.

Disappointment.—When a long life of action distinguished by speeches and writings gives publicity to a man’s personality, personal intercourse with him is generally disappointing on two grounds. Firstly, one expects too much from a brief period of intercourse (namely, all that the thousand and one opportunities of life can alone bring out). Secondly, no recognised person gives himself the trouble to woo recognition in individual cases. He is too careless, and we are at too high a tension.

236.

Two Sources of Kindness.—To treat all men with equal good-humour, and to be kind without distinction of persons, may arise as much from a profound contempt for mankind as from an ingrained love of humanity.

237.

The Wanderer in the Mountains to Himself.—There are certain signs that you have gone [pg 128] farther and higher. There is a freer, wider prospect before you, the air blows cooler yet milder in your face (you have unlearned the folly of confounding mildness with warmth), your gait is more firm and vigorous, courage and discretion have waxed together. On all these grounds your journey may now be more lonely and in any case more perilous than heretofore, if indeed not to the extent believed by those who from the misty valley see you, the roamer, striding on the mountains.

238.

With the Exception of Our Neighbour.—I admit that my head is set wrong on my neck only, for every other man, as is well known, knows better than I what I should do or leave alone. The only one who cannot help me is myself, poor beggar! Are we not all like statues on which false heads have been placed? Eh, dear neighbour?—Ah no; you, just you, are the exception!

239.

Caution.—We must either not go about at all with people who are lacking in the reverence for personalities, or inexorably fetter them beforehand with the manacles of convention.

240.

The Wish to Appear Vain.—In conversation with strangers or little-known acquaintances, to express only selected thoughts, to speak of one’s famous acquaintances, and important experiences [pg 129] and travels, is a sign that one is not proud, or at least would not like to appear proud. Vanity is the polite mask of pride.

241.

Good Friendship.—A good friendship arises when the one man deeply respects the other, more even than himself; loves him also, though not so much as himself; and finally, to facilitate intercourse, knows how to add the delicate bloom and veneer of intimacy, but at the same time wisely refrains from a true, real intimacy, from the confounding of meum and tuum.

242.

Friends as Ghosts.—If we change ourselves vitally, our friends, who have not changed, become ghosts of our own past: their voice sounds shadowy and dreadful to us, as if we heard our own voice speaking, but younger, harder, less mellow.

243.

One Eye and Two Glances.—The same people whose eyes naturally plead for favours and indulgences are accustomed, from their frequent humiliations and cravings for revenge, to assume a shameless glance as well.

244.

The Haze of Distance.—A child throughout life—that sounds very touching, but is only the verdict from the distance. Seen and known close at hand, he is always called “puerile throughout life.”

[pg 130]
245.

Advantage and Disadvantage in the Same Misunderstanding.—The mute perplexity of the subtle brain is usually understood by the non-subtle as a silent superiority, and is much dreaded whereas the perception of perplexity would produce good will.

246.

The Sage giving Himself out to be a Fool.—The philanthropy of the sage sometimes makes him decide to pretend to be excited, enraged, or delighted, so that he may not hurt his surroundings by the coldness and rationality of his true nature.

247.

Forcing Oneself to Attention.—So soon as we note that any one in intercourse and conversation with us has to force himself to attention, we have adequate evidence that he loves us not, or loves us no longer.

248.

The Way to a Christian Virtue.—Learning from one’s enemies is the best way to love them, for it inspires us with a grateful mood towards them.

249.

Stratagem of the Importunate.—The importunate man gives us gold coins as change for our convention coins, and thereby tries to force us afterwards to treat our convention as an oversight and him as an exception.

[pg 131]
250.

Reason for Dislike.—We become hostile to many an artist or writer, not because we notice in the end that he has duped us, but because he did not find more subtle means necessary to entrap us.

251.

In Parting.—Not by the way one soul approaches another, but by the way it separates, do I recognise its relationship and homogeneity with the other.

252.

Silentium.—We must not speak about our friends, or we renounce the sentiment of friendship.

253.

Impoliteness.—Impoliteness is often the sign of a clumsy modesty, which when taken by surprise loses its head and would fain hide the fact by means of rudeness.

254.

Honesty’s Miscalculation.—Our newest acquaintances are sometimes the first to learn what we have hitherto kept dark. We have the foolish notion that our proof of confidence is the strongest fetter wherewith to hold them fast. But they do not know enough about us to feel so strongly the sacrifice involved in our speaking out, and betray our secrets to others without any idea of betrayal. Hereby we possibly lose our old friends.

[pg 132]
255.

In the Ante-Chamber of Favour.—All men whom we let stand long in the ante-chamber of our favour get into a state of fermentation or become bitter.

256.

Warning to the Despised.—When we have sunk unmistakably in the estimation of mankind we should cling tooth and nail to modesty in intercourse, or we shall betray to others that we have sunk in our own estimation as well. Cynicism in intercourse is a sign that a man, when alone, treats himself too as a dog.

257.

Ignorance often Ennobles.—With regard to the respect of those who pay respect, it is an advantage ostensibly not to understand certain things. Ignorance, too, confers privileges.

258.

The Opponent of Grace.—The impatient and arrogant man does not care for grace, feeling it to be a corporeal, visible reproach against himself. For grace is heartfelt toleration in movement and gesture.

259.

On Seeing Again.—When old friends see each other again after a long separation, it often happens that they affect an interest in matters to which they [pg 133] have long since become indifferent. Sometimes both remark this, but dare not raise the veil—from a mournful doubt. Hence arise conversations as in the realm of the dead.

260.

Making Friends only with the Industrious.—The man of leisure is dangerous to his friends, for, having nothing to do, he talks of what his friends are doing or not doing, interferes, and finally makes himself a nuisance. The clever man will only make friends with the industrious.

261.

One Weapon twice as Much as Two.—It is an unequal combat when one man defends his cause with head and heart, the other with head alone. The first has sun and wind against him, as it were, and his two weapons interfere with each other: he loses the prize—in the eyes of truth. True, the victory of the second, with his one weapon, is seldom a victory after the hearts of all the other spectators, and makes him unpopular.

262.

Depth and Troubled Waters.—The public easily confounds him who fishes in troubled waters with him who pumps up from the depths.

263.

Demonstrating One’s Vanity to Friend and Foe.—Many a man, from vanity, maltreats [pg 134] even his friends, when in the presence of witnesses to whom he wishes to make his own preponderance clear. Others exaggerate the merits of their enemies, in order to point proudly to the fact that they are worthy of such foes.

264.

Cooling Off.—The over-heating of the heart is generally allied with illness of the head and judgment. He who is concerned for a time with the health of his head must know what he has to cool, careless of the future of his heart. For if we are capable at all of giving warmth, we are sure to become warm again and then have our summer.

265.

Mingled Feelings.—Towards science women and self-seeking artists entertain a feeling that is composed of envy and sentimentality.

266.

Where Danger is Greatest.—We seldom break our leg so long as life continues a toilsome upward climb. The danger comes when we begin to take things easily and choose the convenient paths.

267.

Not too Early.—We must beware of becoming sharp too early, or we shall also become thin too early.

268.

Joy in Refractoriness.—The good teacher knows cases where he is proud that his pupil remains [pg 135] true to himself in opposition to him—at times when the youth must not understand the man or would be harmed by understanding him.

269.

The Experiment of Honesty.—Young men, who wish to be more honest than they have been, seek as victim some one acknowledged to be honest, attacking him first with an attempt to reach his height by abuse—with the underlying notion that this first experiment at any rate is void of danger. For just such a one has no right to chastise the impudence of the honest man.

270.

The Eternal Child.—We think, short-sighted that we are, that fairy-tales and games belong to childhood. As if at any age we should care to live without fairy-tales and games! Our words and sentiments are indeed different, but the essential fact remains the same, as is proved by the child himself looking on games as his work and fairy-tales as his truth. The shortness of life ought to preserve us from a pedantic distinction between the different ages—as if every age brought something new—and a poet ought one day to portray a man of two hundred, who really lives without fairy-tales and games.

271.

Every Philosophy is the Philosophy of a Period of Life.—The period of life in which a philosopher finds his teaching is manifested by his [pg 136] teaching; he cannot avoid that, however elevated above time and hour he may feel himself. Thus, Schopenhauer’s philosophy remains a mirror of his hot and melancholy youth—it is no mode of thought for older men. Plato’s philosophy reminds one of the middle thirties, when a warm and a cold current generally rush together, so that spray and delicate clouds and, under favourable circumstances and glimpses of sunshine, enchanting rainbow-pictures result.

272.

Of the Intellect of Women.—The intellectual strength of a woman is best proved by the fact that she offers her own intellect as a sacrifice out of love for a man and his intellect, and that nevertheless in the new domain, which was previously foreign to her nature, a second intellect at once arises as an aftergrowth, to which the man’s mind impels her.

273.

Raising and Lowering in the Sexual Domain.—The storm of desire will sometimes carry a man up to a height where all desire is silenced, where he really loves and lives in a better state of being rather than in a better state of choice. On the other hand, a good woman, from true love, often climbs down to desire, and lowers herself in her own eyes. The latter action in particular is one of the most pathetic sensations which the idea of a good marriage can involve.

[pg 137]
274.

Man Promises, Woman Fulfils.—By woman Nature shows how far she has hitherto achieved her task of fashioning humanity, by man she shows what she has had to overcome and what she still proposes to do for humanity.—The most perfect woman of every age is the holiday-task of the Creator on every seventh day of culture, the recreation of the artist from his work.

275.

Transplanting.—If we have spent our intellect in order to gain mastery over the intemperance of the passions, the sad result often follows that we transfer the intemperance to the intellect, and from that time forth are extravagant in thought and desire of knowledge.

276.

Laughter as Treachery.—How and when a woman laughs is a sign of her culture, but in the ring of laughter her nature reveals itself, and in highly cultured women perhaps even the last insoluble residue of their nature. Hence the psychologist will say with Horace, though from different reasons: “Ridete puellae.”

277.

From the Youthful Soul.—Youths varyingly show devotion and impudence towards the same person, because at bottom they only despise or admire themselves in that other person, and between [pg 138] the two feelings but stagger to and fro in themselves, so long as they have not found in experience the measure of their will and ability.

278.

For the Amelioration of the World.—If we forbade the discontented, the sullen, and the atrabilious to propagate, we might transform the world into a garden of happiness.—This aphorism belongs to a practical philosophy for the female sex.

279.

Not to Distrust your Emotions.—The feminine phrase “Do not distrust your emotions” does not mean much more than “Eat what tastes good to you.” This may also, especially for moderate natures, be a good everyday rule. But other natures must live according to another maxim: “You must eat not only with your mouth but also with your brain, in order that the greediness of your mouth may not prove your undoing.”

280.

A Cruel Fancy of Love.—Every great love involves the cruel thought of killing the object of love, so that it may be removed once for all from the mischievous play of change. For love is more afraid of change than of destruction.

281.

Doors.—In everything that is learnt or experienced, the child, just like the man, sees doors; [pg 139] but for the former they are places to go to, for the latter to go through.

282.

Sympathetic Women.—The sympathy of women, which is talkative, takes the sick-bed to market.

283.

Early Merit.—He who acquires merit early in life tends to forget all reverence for age and old people, and accordingly, greatly to his disadvantage, excludes himself from the society of the mature, those who confer maturity. Thus in spite of his early merit he remains green, importunate, and boyish longer than others.

284.

Souls All of a Piece.—Women and artists think that where we do not contradict them we cannot. Reverence on ten counts and silent disapproval on ten others appears to them an impossible combination, because their souls are all of a piece.

285.

Young Talents.—With respect to young talents we must strictly follow Goethe’s maxim, that we should often avoid harming error in order to avoid harming truth. Their condition is like the diseases of pregnancy, and involves strange appetites. These appetites should be satisfied and humoured as far as possible, for the sake of the fruit they may be expected to produce. It is true that, as nurse of these [pg 140] remarkable invalids, one must learn the difficult art of voluntary self-abasement.

286.

Disgust with Truth.—Women are so constituted that all truth (in relation to men, love, children, society, aim of life) disgusts them—and that they try to be revenged on every one who opens their eyes.

287.

The Source of Great Love.—Whence arises the sudden passion of a man for a woman, a passion so deep, so vital? Least of all from sensuality only: but when a man finds weakness, need of help, and high spirits united in the same creature, he suffers a sort of overflowing of soul, and is touched and offended at the same moment. At this point arises the source of great love.

288.

Cleanliness.—In the child, the sense for cleanliness should be fanned into a passion, and then later on he will raise himself, in ever new phases, to almost every virtue, and will finally appear, in compensation for all talent, as a shining cloud of purity, temperance, gentleness, and character, happy in himself and spreading happiness around.

289.

Of Vain Old Men.—Profundity of thought belongs to youth, clarity of thought to old age. [pg 141] When, in spite of this, old men sometimes speak and write in the manner of the profound, they do so from vanity, imagining that they thereby assume the charm of juvenility, enthusiasm, growth, apprehensiveness, hopefulness.

290.

Enjoyment of Novelty.—Men use a new lesson or experience later on as a ploughshare or perhaps also as a weapon, women at once make it into an ornament.

291.

How both Sexes behave when in the Right.—If it is conceded to a woman that she is right, she cannot deny herself the triumph of setting her heel on the neck of the vanquished; she must taste her victory to the full. On the other hand, man towards man in such a case is ashamed of being right. But then man is accustomed to victory; with woman it is an exception.

292.

Abnegation in the Will to Beauty.—In order to become beautiful, a woman must not desire to be considered pretty. That is to say, in ninety-nine out of a hundred cases where she could please she must scorn and put aside all thoughts of pleasing. Only then can she ever reap the delight of him whose soul’s portal is wide enough to admit the great.

293.

Unintelligible, Unendurable.—A youth cannot understand that an old man has also had [pg 142] his delights, his dawns of feeling, his changings and soarings of thought. It offends him to think that such things have existed before. But it makes him very bitter to hear that, to become fruitful, he must lose those buds and dispense with their fragrance.

294.

The Party with the Air of Martyrdom.—Every party that can assume an air of martyrdom wins good-natured souls over to its side and thereby itself acquires an air of good nature—greatly to its advantage.

295.

Assertions surer than Arguments.—An assertion has, with the majority of men at any rate, more effect than an argument, for arguments provoke mistrust. Hence demagogues seek to strengthen the arguments of their party by assertions.

296.

The Best Concealers.—All regularly successful men are profoundly cunning in making their faults and weaknesses look like manifestations of strength. This proves that they must know their defects uncommonly well.

297.

From Time to Time.—He sat in the city gateway and said to one who passed through that this was the city gate. The latter replied that this was true, but that one must not be too much in the [pg 143] right if one expected to be thanked for it. “Oh,” answered the other, “I don’t want thanks, but from time to time it is very pleasant not merely to be in the right but to remain in the right.”

298.

Virtue was not Invented by the Germans.—Goethe’s nobleness and freedom from envy, Beethoven’s fine hermitical resignation, Mozart’s cheerfulness and grace of heart, Handel’s unbending manliness and freedom under the law, Bach’s confident and luminous inner life, such as does not even need to renounce glamour and success—are these qualities peculiarly German?—If they are not, they at least prove to what goal Germans should strive and to what they can attain.

299.

Pia Fraus or Something Else.—I hope I am mistaken, but I think that in Germany of to-day a twofold sort of hypocrisy is set up as the duty of the moment for every one. From imperial-political misgivings Germanism is demanded, and from social apprehensions Christianity—but both only in words and gestures, and particularly in ability to keep silent. It is the veneer that nowadays costs so much and is paid for so highly; and for the benefit of the spectators the face of the nation assumes German and Christian wrinkles.

300.

How far even in the Good the Half may be More than the Whole.—In all things that [pg 144] are constructed to last and demand the service of many hands, much that is less good must be made a rule, although the organiser knows what is better and harder very well. He will calculate that there will never be a lack of persons who can correspond to the rule, and he knows that the middling good is the rule.—The youth seldom sees this point, and as an innovator thinks how marvellously he is in the right and how strange is the blindness of others.

301.

The Partisan.—The true partisan learns nothing more, he only experiences and judges. It is significant that Solon, who was never a partisan but pursued his aims above and apart from parties or even against them, was the father of that simple phrase wherein lies the secret of the health and vitality of Athens: “I grow old, but I am always learning.”

302.

What is German according to Goethe.—They are really intolerable people of whom one cannot even accept the good, who have freedom of disposition but do not remark that they are lacking in freedom of taste and spirit. Yet just this, according to Goethe’s well-weighed judgment, is German.—His voice and his example indicate that the German should be more than a German if he wishes to be useful or even endurable to other nations—and which direction his striving should take, in order that he may rise above and beyond himself.

[pg 145]
303.

When it is Necessary to Remain Stationary.—When the masses begin to rage, and reason is under a cloud, it is a good thing, if the health of one’s soul is not quite assured, to go under a doorway and look out to see what the weather is like.

304.

The Revolution-Spirit and the Possession-Spirit.—The only remedy against Socialism that still lies in your power is to avoid provoking Socialism—in other words, to live in moderation and contentment, to prevent as far as possible all lavish display, and to aid the State as far as possible in its taxing of all superfluities and luxuries. You do not like this remedy? Then, you rich bourgeois who call yourselves “Liberals,” confess that it is your own inclination that you find so terrible and menacing in Socialists, but allow to prevail in yourselves as unavoidable, as if with you it were something different. As you are constituted, if you had not your fortune and the cares of maintaining it, this bent of yours would make Socialists of you. Possession alone differentiates you from them. If you wish to conquer the assailants of your prosperity, you must first conquer yourselves.—And if that prosperity only meant well-being, it would not be so external and provocative of envy; it would be more generous, more benevolent, more compensatory, more helpful. But the spurious, histrionic element in your pleasures, which lie more in the feeling of contrast (because others have them not, and feel envious) [pg 146] than in feelings of realised and heightened power—your houses, dresses, carriages, shops, the demands of your palates and your tables, your noisy operatic and musical enthusiasm; lastly your women, formed and fashioned but of base metal, gilded but without the ring of gold, chosen by you for show and considering themselves meant for show—these are the things that spread the poison of that national disease, which seizes the masses ever more and more as a Socialistic heart-itch, but has its origin and breeding-place in you. Who shall now arrest this epidemic?

305.

Party Tactics.—When a party observes that a previous member has changed from an unqualified to a qualified adherent, it endures it so ill that it irritates and mortifies him in every possible way with the object of forcing him to a decisive break and making him an opponent. For the party suspects that the intention of finding a relative value in its faith, a value which admits of pro and con, of weighing and discarding, is more dangerous than downright opposition.

306.

For the Strengthening of Parties.—Whoever wishes to strengthen a party internally should give it an opportunity of being forcibly treated with obvious injustice. The party thus acquires a capital of good conscience, which hitherto it perhaps lacked.

[pg 147]
307.

To Provide for One’s Past.—As men after all only respect the old-established and slowly developed, he who would survive after his death must not only provide for posterity but still more for the past. Hence tyrants of every sort (including tyrannical artists and politicians) like to do violence to history, so that history may seem a preparation and a ladder up to them.

308.

Party Writers.—The beating of drums, which delights young writers who serve a party, sounds to him who does not belong to the party like a rattling of chains, and excites sympathy rather than admiration.

309.

Taking Sides against Ourselves.—Our followers never forgive us for taking sides against ourselves, for we seem in their eyes not only to be spurning their love but to be exposing them to the charge of lack of intelligence.

310.

Danger in Wealth.—Only a man of intellect should hold property: otherwise property is dangerous to the community. For the owner, not knowing how to make use of the leisure which his possessions might secure to him, will continue to strive after more property. This strife will be his occupation, his strategy in the war with ennui. So in the end [pg 148] real wealth is produced from the moderate property that would be enough for an intellectual man. Such wealth, then, is the glittering outcrop of intellectual dependence and poverty, but it looks quite different from what its humble origin might lead one to expect, because it can mask itself with culture and art—it can, in fact, purchase the mask. Hence it excites envy in the poor and uncultured—who at bottom always envy culture and see no mask in the mask—and gradually paves the way for a social revolution. For a gilded coarseness and a histrionic blowing of trumpets in the pretended enjoyment of culture inspires that class with the thought, “It is only a matter of money,” whereas it is indeed to some extent a matter of money, but far more of intellect.

311.

Joy in Commanding and Obeying.—Commanding is a joy, like obeying; the former when it has not yet become a habit, the latter just when it has become a habit. Old servants under new masters advance each other mutually in giving pleasure.

312.

Ambition for a Forlorn Hope.—There is an ambition for a forlorn hope which forces a party to place itself at the post of extreme danger.

313.

When Asses are Needed.—We shall not move the crowd to cry “Hosanna!” until we have ridden into the city upon an ass.

[pg 149]
314.

Party Usage.—Every party attempts to represent the important elements that have sprung up outside it as unimportant, and if it does not succeed, it attacks those elements the more bitterly, the more excellent they are.

315.

Becoming Empty.—Of him who abandons himself to the course of events, a smaller and smaller residue is continually left. Great politicians may therefore become quite empty men, although they were once full and rich.

316.

Welcome Enemies.—The Socialistic movements are nowadays becoming more and more agreeable rather than terrifying to the dynastic governments, because by these movements they are provided with a right and a weapon for making exceptional rules, and can thus attack their real bogies, democrats and anti-dynasts.—Towards all that such governments professedly detest they feel a secret cordiality and inclination. But they are compelled to draw the veil over their soul.

317.

Possession Possesses.—Only up to a certain point does possession make men feel freer and more independent; one step farther, and possession becomes lord, the possessor a slave. The latter must [pg 150] sacrifice his time, his thoughts to the former, and feels himself compelled to an intercourse, nailed to a spot, incorporated with the State—perhaps quite in conflict with his real and essential needs.

318.

Of the Mastery of Them that Know.—It is easy, ridiculously easy, to set up a model for the choice of a legislative body. First of all the honest and reliable men of the nation, who at the same time are masters and experts in some one branch, have to become prominent by mutual scenting-out and recognition. From these, by a narrower process of selection, the learned and expert of the first rank in each individual branch must again be chosen, also by mutual recognition and guarantee. If the legislative body be composed of these, it will finally be necessary, in each individual case, that only the voices and judgments of the most specialised experts should decide; the honesty of all the rest should have become so great that it is simply a matter of decency to leave the voting also in the hands of these men. The result would be that the law, in the strictest sense, would emanate from the intelligence of the most intelligent.—As things now are, voting is done by parties, and at every division there must be hundreds of uneasy consciences among the ill-taught, the incapable of judgment, among those who merely repeat, imitate, and go with the tide. Nothing lowers the dignity of a new law so much as this inherent shamefaced feeling of insincerity that necessarily results at every [pg 151] party division. But, as has been said, it is easy, ridiculously easy, to set up such a model: no power on earth is at present strong enough to realise such an ideal—unless the belief in the highest utility of knowledge, and of those that know, at last dawns even upon the most hostile minds and is preferred to the prevalent belief in majorities. In the sense of such a future may our watchword be: “More reverence for them that know, and down with all parties!”

319.

Of the “Nation of Thinkers” (or of Bad Thinking).—The vague, vacillating, premonitory, elementary, intuitive elements—to choose obscure names for obscure things—that are attributed to the German nature would be, if they really still existed, a proof that our culture has remained several stages behind and is still surrounded by the spell and atmosphere of the Middle Ages.—It is true that in this backwardness there are certain advantages: by these qualities the Germans (if, as has been said before, they still possess them) would possess the capacity, which other nations have now lost, for doing certain things and particularly for understanding certain things. Much undoubtedly is lost if the lack of sense—which is just the common factor in all those qualities—is lost. Here too, however, there are no losses without the highest compensatory gains, so that no reason is left for lamenting, granting that we do not, like children, and gourmands, wish to enjoy at once the fruits of all seasons of the year.

[pg 152]
320.

Carrying Coals to Newcastle.—The governments of the great States have two instruments for keeping the people dependent, in fear and obedience: a coarser, the army, and a more refined, the school. With the aid of the former they win over to their side the ambition of the higher strata and the strength of the lower, so far as both are characteristic of active and energetic men of moderate or inferior gifts. With the aid of the latter they win over gifted poverty, especially the intellectually pretentious semi-poverty of the middle classes. Above all, they make teachers of all grades into an intellectual court looking unconsciously “towards the heights.” By putting obstacle after obstacle in the way of private schools and the wholly distasteful individual tuition they secure the disposal of a considerable number of educational posts, towards which numerous hungry and submissive eyes are turned to an extent five times as great as can ever be satisfied. These posts, however, must support the holder but meagrely, so that he maintains a feverish thirst for promotion and becomes still more closely attached to the views of the government. For it is always more advantageous to foster moderate discontent than contentment, the mother of courage, the grandmother of free thought and exuberance. By means of this physically and mentally bridled body of teachers, the youth of the country is as far as possible raised to a certain level of culture that is useful to the State and arranged on a suitable sliding-scale. Above all, the immature [pg 153] and ambitious minds of all classes are almost imperceptibly imbued with the idea that only a career which is recognised and hall-marked by the State can lead immediately to social distinction. The effect of this belief in government examinations and titles goes so far that even men who have remained independent and have risen by trade or handicraft still feel a pang of discontent in their hearts until their position too is marked and acknowledged by a gracious bestowal of rank and orders from above—until one becomes a “somebody.” Finally the State connects all these hundreds of offices and posts in its hands with the obligation of being trained and hallmarked in these State schools if one ever wishes to enter this charmed circle. Honour in society, daily bread, the possibility of a family, protection from above, the feeling of community in a common culture—all this forms a network of hopes into which every young man walks: how should he feel the slightest breath of mistrust? In the end, perhaps, the obligation of being a soldier for one year has become with every one, after the lapse of a few generations, an unreflecting habit, an understood thing, with an eye to which we construct the plan of our lives quite early. Then the State can venture on the master-stroke of weaving together school and army, talent, ambition and strength by means of common advantages—that is, by attracting the more highly gifted on favourable terms to the army and inspiring them with the military spirit of joyful obedience; so that finally, perhaps, they become attached permanently to the flag and endow it by their talents with an ever new and more brilliant [pg 154] lustre. Then nothing more is wanted but an opportunity for great wars. These are provided from professional reasons (and so in all innocence) by diplomats, aided by newspapers and Stock Exchanges. For “the nation,” as a nation of soldiers, need never be supplied with a good conscience in war—it has one already.

321.

The Press.—If we consider how even to-day all great political transactions glide upon the stage secretly and stealthily; how they are hidden by unimportant events, and seem small when close at hand; how they only show their far-reaching effect, and leave the soil still quaking, long after they have taken place;—what significance can we attach to the Press in its present position, with its daily expenditure of lung-power in order to bawl, to deafen, to excite, to terrify? Is it anything more than an everlasting false alarm, which tries to lead our ears and our wits into a false direction?

322.

After a Great Event.—A nation and a man whose soul has come to light through some great event generally feel the immediate need of some act of childishness or coarseness, as much from shame as for purposes of recreation.

323.

To be a Good German means to de-Germanise Oneself.—National differences consist, [pg 155] far more than has hitherto been observed, only in the differences of various grades of culture, and are only to a very small extent permanent (nor even that in a strict sense). For this reason all arguments based on national character are so little binding on one who aims at the alteration of convictions—in other words, at culture. If, for instance, we consider all that has already been German, we shall improve upon the hypothetical question, “What is German?” by the counter-question, “What is now German?” and every good German will answer it practically, by overcoming his German characteristics. For when a nation advances and grows, it bursts the girdle previously given to it by its national outlook. When it remains stationary or declines, its soul is surrounded by a fresh girdle, and the crust, as it becomes harder and harder, builds a prison around, with walls growing ever higher. Hence if a nation has much that is firmly established, this is a sign that it wishes to petrify and would like to become nothing but a monument. This happened, from a definite date, in the case of Egypt. So he who is well-disposed towards the Germans may for his part consider how he may more and more grow out of what is German. The tendency to be un-German has therefore always been a mark of efficient members of our nation.

324.

Foreignisms.—A foreigner who travelled in Germany found favour or the reverse by certain assertions of his, according to the districts in which he stayed. All intelligent Suabians, he used to say, [pg 156] are coquettish.—The other Suabians still believed that Uhland was a poet and Goethe immoral.—The best about German novels now in vogue was that one need not read them, for one knew already what they contained.—The native of Berlin seemed more good-humoured than the South German, for he was all too fond of mocking, and so could endure mockery himself, which the South German could not.—The intellect of the Germans was kept down by their beer and their newspapers: he recommended them tea and pamphlets, of course as a cure.—He advised us to contemplate the different nations of worn-out Europe and see how well each displayed some particular quality of old age, to the delight of those who sit before the great spectacle: how the French successfully represent the cleverness and amiability of old age, the English the experience and reserve, the Italians the innocence and candour. Can the other masks of old age be wanting? Where is the proud old man, the domineering old man, the covetous old man?—The most dangerous region in Germany was Saxony and Thuringia: nowhere else was there more mental nimbleness, more knowledge of men, side by side with freedom of thought; and all this was so modestly veiled by the ugly dialect and the zealous officiousness of the inhabitants that one hardly noticed that one here had to deal with the intellectual drill-sergeants of Germany, her teachers for good or evil.—The arrogance of the North Germans was kept in check by their tendency to obey, that of the South Germans by their tendency—to make themselves comfortable.—It appeared to him that [pg 157] in their women German men possessed awkward but self-opinionated housewives, who belauded themselves so perseveringly that they had almost persuaded the world, and at any rate their husbands, of their peculiarly German housewifely virtue.—When the conversation turned on Germany’s home and foreign policy, he used to say (he called it “betray the secret”) that Germany’s greatest statesman did not believe in great statesmen.—The future of Germany he found menaced and menacing, for Germans had forgotten how to enjoy themselves (an art that the Italians understood so well), but, by the great games of chance called wars and dynastic revolutions, had accustomed themselves to emotionalism, and consequently would one day have an émeute. For that is the strongest emotion that a nation can procure for itself.—The German Socialist was all the more dangerous because impelled by no definite necessity: his trouble lay in not knowing what he wanted; so, even if he attained many of his objects, he would still pine away from desire in the midst of delights, just like Faust, but presumably like a very vulgar Faust. “For the Faust-Devil,” he finally exclaimed, “by whom cultured Germans were so much plagued, was exorcised by Bismarck; but now the Devil has entered into the swine,17 and is worse than ever!”

325.

Opinions.—Most men are nothing and count for nothing until they have arrayed themselves in [pg 158] universal convictions and public opinions. This is in accordance with the tailors’ philosophy, “The apparel makes the man.” Of exceptional men, however, it must be said, “The wearer primarily makes the apparel.” Here opinions cease to be public, and become something else than masks, ornament, and disguise.

326.

Two Kinds of Sobriety.—In order not to confound the sobriety arising from mental exhaustion with that arising from moderation, one must remark that the former is peevish, the latter cheerful.

327.

Debasement of Joy.—To call a thing good not a day longer than it appears to us good, and above all not a day earlier—that is the only way to keep joy pure. Otherwise, joy all too easily becomes insipid and rotten to the taste, and counts, for whole strata of the people, among the adulterated foodstuffs.

328.

The Scapegoat of Virtue.—When a man does his very best, those who mean well towards him, but are not capable of appreciating him, speedily seek a scapegoat to immolate, thinking it is the scapegoat of sin—but it is the scapegoat of virtue.

329.

Sovereignty.—To honour and acknowledge even the bad, when it pleases one, and to have no [pg 159] conception of how one could be ashamed of being pleased thereat, is the mark of sovereignty in things great and small.

330.

Influence a Phantom, not a Reality.—The man of mark gradually learns that so far as he has influence he is a phantom in other brains, and perhaps he falls into a state of subtle vexation of soul, in which he asks himself whether he must not maintain this phantom of himself for the benefit of his fellow-men.

331.

Giving and Taking.—When one takes away (or anticipates) the smallest thing that another possesses, the latter is blind to the fact that he has been given something greater, nay, even the greatest thing.

332.

Good Ploughland.—All rejection and negation betoken a deficiency in fertility. If we were good ploughland, we should allow nothing to be unused or lost, and in every thing, event, or person we should welcome manure, rain, or sunshine.

333.

Intercourse as an Enjoyment.—If a man renounces the world and intentionally lives in solitude, he may come to regard intercourse with others, which he enjoys but seldom, as a special delicacy.

[pg 160]
334.

To Know how to Suffer in Public.—We must advertise our misfortunes and from time to time heave audible sighs and show visible marks of impatience. For if we could let others see how assured and happy we are in spite of pain and privation, how envious and ill-tempered they would become at the sight!—But we must take care not to corrupt our fellow-men; besides, if they knew the truth, they would levy a heavy toll upon us. At any rate our public misfortune is our private advantage.

335.

Warmth on the Heights.—On the heights it is warmer than people in the valleys suppose, especially in winter. The thinker recognises the full import of this simile.

336.

To Will the Good and be Capable of the Beautiful.—It is not enough to practise the good one must have willed it, and, as the poet says, include the Godhead in our will. But the beautiful we must not will, we must be capable of it, in innocence and blindness, without any psychical curiosity. He that lights his lantern to find perfect men should remember the token by which to know them. They are the men who always act for the sake of the good and in so doing always attain to the beautiful without thinking of the beautiful. Many better and nobler men, from impotence or from want of beauty in their souls, remain unrefreshing [pg 161] and ugly to behold, with all their good will and good works. They rebuff and injure even virtue through the repulsive garb in which their bad taste arrays her.

337.

Danger of Renunciation.—We must beware of basing our lives on too narrow a foundation of appetite. For if we renounce all the joys involved in positions, honours, associations, revels, creature comforts, and arts, a day may come when we perceive that this repudiation has led us not to wisdom but to satiety of life.

338.

Final Opinion on Opinions.—Either we should hide our opinions or hide ourselves behind our opinions. Whoever does otherwise, does not know the way of the world, or belongs to the order of pious fire-eaters.

339.

“Gaudeamus Igitur.”—Joy must contain edifying and healing forces for the moral nature of man. Otherwise, how comes it that our soul, as soon as it basks in the sunshine of joy, unconsciously vows to itself, “I will be good!” “I will become perfect!” and is at once seized by a premonition of perfection that is like a shudder of religious awe?

340.

To One who is Praised.—So long as you are praised, believe that you are not yet on your own course but on that of another.

[pg 162]
341.

Loving the Master.—The apprentice and the master love the master in different ways.

342.

All-too-Beautiful and Human.—“Nature is too beautiful for thee, poor mortal,” one often feels. But now and then, at a profound contemplation of all that is human, in its fulness, vigour, tenderness, and complexity, I have felt as if I must say, in all humility, “Man also is too beautiful for the contemplation of man!” Nor did I mean the moral man alone, but every one.

343.

Real and Personal Estate.—When life has treated us in true robber fashion, and has taken away all that it could of honour, joys, connections, health, and property of every kind, we perhaps discover in the end, after the first shock, that we are richer than before. For now we know for the first time what is so peculiarly ours that no robber hand can touch it, and perhaps, after all the plunder and devastation, we come forward with the airs of a mighty real estate owner.

344.

Involuntarily Idealised.—The most painful feeling that exists is finding out that we are always taken for something higher than we really are. For we must thereby confess to ourselves, “There is in [pg 163] you some element of fraud—your speech, your expression, your bearing, your eye, your dealings; and this deceitful something is as necessary as your usual honesty, but constantly destroys its effect and its value.”

345.

Idealist and Liar.—We must not let ourselves be tyrannised even by that finest faculty of idealising things: otherwise, truth will one day part company from us with the insulting remark: “Thou arch-liar, what have I to do with thee?”

346.

Being Misunderstood.—When one is misunderstood generally, it is impossible to remove a particular misunderstanding. This point must be recognised, to save superfluous expenditure of energy in self-defence.

347.

The Water-Drinker Speaks.—Go on drinking your wine, which has refreshed you all your life—what affair is it of yours if I have to be a water-drinker? Are not wine and water peaceable, brotherly elements, that can live side by side without mutual recriminations?

348.

From Cannibal Country.—In solitude the lonely man is eaten up by himself, among crowds by the many. Choose which you prefer.

[pg 164]
349.

The Freezing-Point of the Will.—“Some time the hour will come at last, the hour that will envelop you in the golden cloud of painlessness; when the soul enjoys its own weariness and, happy in patient playing with patience, resembles the waves of a lake, which on a quiet summer day, in the reflection of a many-hued evening sky, sip and sip at the shore and again are hushed—without end, without purpose, without satiety, without need—all calm rejoicing in change, all ebb and flow of Nature’s pulse.” Such is the feeling and talk of all invalids, but if they attain that hour, a brief period of enjoyment is followed by ennui. But this is the thawing-wind of the frozen will, which awakes, stirs, and once more begets desire upon desire.—Desire is a sign of convalescence or recovery.

350.

The Disclaimed Ideal.—It happens sometimes by an exception that a man only reaches the highest when he disclaims his ideal. For this ideal previously drove him onward too violently, so that in the middle of the track he regularly got out of breath and had to rest.

351.

A Treacherous Inclination.—It should be regarded as a sign of an envious but aspiring man, when he feels himself attracted by the thought that with regard to the eminent there is but one salvation—love.

[pg 165]
352.

Staircase Happiness.—Just as the wit of many men does not keep pace with opportunity (so that opportunity has already passed through the door while wit still waits on the staircase outside), so others have a kind of staircase happiness, which walks too slowly to keep pace with swift-footed Time. The best that it can enjoy of an experience, of a whole span of life, falls to its share long afterwards, often only as a weak, spicy fragrance, giving rise to longing and sadness—as if “it might have been possible”—some time or other—to drink one’s fill of this element: but now it is too late.

353.

Worms.—The fact that an intellect contains a few worms does not detract from its ripeness.

354.

The Seat of Victory.—A good seat on horseback robs an opponent of his courage, the spectator of his heart—why attack such a man? Sit like one who has been victorious!

355.

Danger in Admiration.—From excessive admiration for the virtues of others one can lose the sense of one’s own, and finally, through lack of practice, lose these virtues themselves, without retaining the alien virtues as compensation.

[pg 166]
356.

Uses of Sickliness.—He who is often ill not only has a far greater pleasure in health, on account of his so often getting well, but acquires a very keen sense of what is healthy or sickly in actions and achievements, both his own and others’. Thus, for example, it is just the writers of uncertain health—among whom, unfortunately, nearly all great writers must be classed—who are wont to have a far more even and assured tone of health in their writings, because they are better versed than are the physically robust in the philosophy of psychical health and convalescence and in their teachers—morning, sunshine, forest, and fountain.

357.

Disloyalty a Condition of Mastery.—It cannot be helped—every master has but one pupil, and he becomes disloyal to him, for he also is destined for mastery.

358.

Never in Vain.—In the mountains of truth you never climb in vain. Either you already reach a higher point to-day, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher to-morrow.

359.

Through Grey Window-Panes.—Is what you see through this window of the world so beautiful that you do not wish to look through any other [pg 167] window—ay, and even try to prevent others from so doing?

360.

A Sign of Radical Changes.—When we dream of persons long forgotten or dead, it is a sign that we have suffered radical changes, and that the soil on which we live has been completely undermined. The dead rise again, and our antiquity becomes modernity.

361.

Medicine of the Soul.—To lie still and think little is the cheapest medicine for all diseases of the soul, and, with the aid of good-will, becomes pleasanter every hour that it is used.

362.

Intellectual Order of Precedence.—You rank far below others when you try to establish the exception and they the rule.

363.

The Fatalist.—You must believe in fate—science can compel you thereto. All that develops in you out of that belief—cowardice, devotion or loftiness, and uprightness—bears witness to the soil in which the grain was sown, but not to the grain itself, for from that seed anything and everything can grow.

364.

The Reason for Much Fretfulness.—He that prefers the beautiful to the useful in life will [pg 168] undoubtedly, like children who prefer sweetmeats to bread, destroy his digestion and acquire a very fretful outlook on the world.

365.

Excess as a Remedy.—We can make our own talent once more acceptable to ourselves by honouring and enjoying the opposite talent for some time to excess.—Using excess as a remedy is one of the more refined devices in the art of life.

366.

“Will a Self.”—Active, successful natures act, not according to the maxim, “Know thyself,” but as if always confronted with the command, “Will a self, so you will become a self.”—Fate seems always to have left them a choice. Inactive, contemplative natures, on the other hand, reflect on how they have chosen their self “once for all” at their entry into life.

367.

To Live as Far as Possible without a Following.—How small is the importance of followers we first grasp when we have ceased to be the followers of our followers.

368.

Obscuring Oneself.—We must understand how to obscure ourselves in order to get rid of the gnat-swarms of pestering admirers.

[pg 169]
369.

Ennui.—There is an ennui of the most subtle and cultured brains, to which the best that the world can offer has become stale. Accustomed to eat ever more and more recherché fare and to feel disgust at coarser diet, they are in danger of dying of hunger. For the very best exists but in small quantities, and has sometimes become inaccessible or hard as stone, so that even good teeth can no longer bite it.

370.

The Danger in Admiration.—The admiration of a quality or of an art may be so strong as to deter us from aspiring to possess that quality or art.

371.

What is Required of Art.—One man wants to enjoy himself by means of art, another for a time to get out of or above himself.—To meet both requirements there exists a twofold species of artists.

372.

Secessions.—Whoever secedes from us offends not us, perhaps, but certainly our adherents.

373.

After Death.—It is only long after the death of a man that we find it inconceivable that he should be missed—in the case of really great men, only after decades. Those who are honest usually think when [pg 170] any one dies that he is not much missed, and that the pompous funeral oration is a piece of hypocrisy. Necessity first teaches the necessariness of an individual, and the proper epitaph is a belated sigh.

374.

Leaving in Hades.—We must leave many things in the Hades of half-conscious feeling, and not try to release them from their shadow-existence, or else they will become, as thoughts and words, our demoniacal tyrants, with cruel lust after our blood.

375.

Near to Beggary.—Even the richest intellect sometimes mislays the key to the room in which his hoarded treasures repose. He is then like the poorest of the poor, who must beg to get a living.

376.

Chain-Thinkers.—To him who has thought a great deal, every new thought that he hears or reads at once assumes the form of a chain.

377.

Pity.—In the gilded sheath of pity is sometimes hidden the dagger of envy.

378.

What is Genius?—To aspire to a lofty aim and to will the means to that aim.

[pg 171]
379.

Vanity of Combatants.—He who has no hope of victory in a combat, or who is obviously worsted, is all the more desirous that his style of fighting should be admired.

380.

The Philosophic Life Misinterpreted.—At the moment when one is beginning to take philosophy seriously, the whole world fancies that one is doing the reverse.

381.

Imitation.—By imitation, the bad gains, the good loses credit—especially in art.

382.

Final Teaching of History.—“Oh that I had but lived in those times!” is the exclamation of foolish and frivolous men. At every period of history that we seriously review, even if it be the most belauded era of the past, we shall rather cry out at the end, “Anything but a return to that! The spirit of that age would oppress you with the weight of a hundred atmospheres, the good and beautiful in it you would not enjoy, its evil you could not digest.” Depend upon it, posterity will pass the same verdict on our own epoch, and say that it was unbearable, that life under such conditions was intolerable. “And yet every one can endure his own times?” Yes, because the spirit of [pg 172] his age not only lies upon him but is in him. The spirit of the age offers resistance to itself and can bear itself.

383.

Greatness as a Mask.—By greatness in our comportment we embitter our foes; by envy that we do not conceal we almost reconcile them to us. For envy levels and makes equal; it is an unconscious, plaintive variety of modesty.—It may be indeed that here and there, for the sake of the above-named advantage, envy has been assumed as a mask by those who are not envious. Certainly, however, greatness in comportment is often used as the mask of envy by ambitious men who would rather suffer drawbacks and embitter their foes than let it be seen that they place them on an equal footing with themselves.

384.

Unpardonable.—You gave him an opportunity of displaying the greatness of his character, and he did not make use of the opportunity. He will never forgive you for that.

385.

Contrasts.—The most senile thought ever conceived about men lies in the famous saying, “The ego is always hateful,” the most childish in the still more famous saying, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”—With the one knowledge of men has ceased, with the other it has not yet begun.

[pg 173]
386.

A Defective Ear.—“We still belong to the mob so long as we always shift the blame on to others; we are on the track of wisdom when we always make ourselves alone responsible; but the wise man finds no one to blame, neither himself nor others.”—Who said that? Epictetus, eighteen hundred years ago.—The world has heard but forgotten the saying.—No, the world has not heard and not forgotten it: everything is not forgotten. But we had not the necessary ear, the ear of Epictetus.—So he whispered it into his own ear?—Even so: wisdom is the whispering of the sage to himself in the crowded market-place.

387.

A Defect of Standpoint, not of Vision.—We always stand a few paces too near ourselves and a few paces too far from our neighbour. Hence we judge him too much in the lump, and ourselves too much by individual, occasional, insignificant features and circumstances.

388.

Ignorance about Weapons.—How little we care whether another knows a subject or not!—whereas he perhaps sweats blood at the bare idea that he may be considered ignorant on the point. Yes, there are exquisite fools, who always go about with a quiverful of mighty, excommunicatory utterances, ready to shoot down any one who shows freely that there are matters in which their judgment is not taken into account.

[pg 174]
389.

At the Drinking-Table of Experience.—People whose innate moderation leads them to drink but the half of every glass, will not admit that everything in the world has its lees and sediment.

390.

Singing-Birds.—The followers of a great man often put their own eyes out, so that they may be the better able to sing his praise.

391.

Beyond our Ken.—The good generally displeases us when it is beyond our ken.

392.

Rule as Mother or as Child.—There is one condition that gives birth to rules, another to which rules give birth.

393.

Comedy.—We sometimes earn honour or love for actions and achievements which we have long since sloughed as the snake sloughs his skin. We are hereby easily seduced into becoming the comic actors of our own past, and into throwing the old skin once more about our shoulders—and that not merely from vanity, but from good-will towards our admirers.

394.

A Mistake of Biographers.—The small force that is required to launch a boat into the stream [pg 175] must not be confounded with the force of the stream that carries the boat along. Yet this mistake is made in nearly all biographies.

395.

Not Buying too Dear.—The things that we buy too dear we generally turn to bad use, because we have no love for them but only a painful recollection. Thus they involve a twofold drawback.

396.

The Philosophy that Society always Needs.—The pillars of the social structure rest upon the fundamental fact that every one cheerfully contemplates all that he is, does, and attempts, his sickness or health, his poverty or affluence, his honour or insignificance, and says to himself, “After all, I would not change places with any one!”—Whoever wishes to add a stone to the social structure should always try to implant in mankind this cheerful philosophy of contentment and refusal to change places.

397.

The Mark of a Noble Soul.—A noble soul is not that which is capable of the highest flights, but that which rises little and falls little, living always in a free and bright atmosphere and altitude.

398.

Greatness and its Contemplator.—The noblest effect of greatness is that it gives the contemplator [pg 176] a power of vision that magnifies and embellishes.

399.

Being Satisfied.—We show that we have attained maturity of understanding when we no longer go where rare flowers lurk under the thorniest hedges of knowledge, but are satisfied with gardens, forests, meadows, and ploughlands, remembering that life is too short for the rare and uncommon.

400.

Advantage in Privation.—He who always lives in the warmth and fulness of the heart, and, as it were, in the summer air of the soul, cannot form an idea of that fearful delight which seizes more wintry natures, who for once in a way are kissed by the rays of love and the milder breath of a sunny February day.

401.

Recipe for the Sufferer.—You find the burden of life too heavy? Then you must increase the burden of your life. When the sufferer finally thirsts after and seeks the river of Lethe, then he must become a hero to be certain of finding it.

402.

The Judge.—He who has seen another’s ideal becomes his inexorable judge, and as it were his evil conscience.

403.

The Utility of Great Renunciation.—The useful thing about great renunciation is that it invests [pg 177] us with that youthful pride through which we can thenceforth easily demand of ourselves small renunciations.

404.

How Duty Acquires a Glamour.—You can change a brazen duty into gold in the eyes of all by always performing something more than you have promised.

405.

Prayer to Mankind.—“Forgive us our virtues”—so should we pray to mankind.

406.

They that Create and They that Enjoy.—Every one who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed.—Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.

407.

The Glory of all Great Men.—What is the use of genius if it does not invest him who contemplates and reveres it with such freedom and loftiness of feeling that he no longer has need of genius?—To make themselves superfluous is the glory of all great men.

408.

The Journey to Hades.—I too have been in the underworld, even as Odysseus, and I shall often be there again. Not sheep alone have I sacrificed, [pg 178] that I might be able to converse with a few dead souls, but not even my own blood have I spared. There were four pairs who responded to me in my sacrifice: Epicurus and Montaigne, Goethe and Spinoza, Plato and Rousseau, Pascal and Schopenhauer. With them I have to come to terms. When I have long wandered alone, I will let them prove me right or wrong; to them will I listen, if they prove each other right or wrong. In all that I say, conclude, or think out for myself and others, I fasten my eyes on those eight and see their eyes fastened on mine.—May the living forgive me if I look upon them at times as shadows, so pale and fretful, so restless and, alas! so eager for life. Those eight, on the other hand, seem to me so living that I feel as if even now, after their death, they could never become weary of life. But eternal vigour of life is the important point: what matters “eternal life,” or indeed life at all?

[pg 181]
Part II. The Wanderer And His Shadow.

The Shadow: It is so long since I heard you speak that I should like to give you an opportunity of talking.

The Wanderer: I hear a voice—where? whose? I almost fancied that I heard myself speaking, but with a voice yet weaker than my own.

The Shadow (after a pause): Are you not glad to have an opportunity of speaking?

The Wanderer: By God and everything else in which I disbelieve, it is my shadow that speaks. I hear it, but I do not believe it.

The Shadow: Let us assume that it exists, and think no more about it. In another hour all will be over.

The Wanderer: That is just what I thought when in a forest near Pisa I saw first two and then five camels.

The Shadow: It is all the better if we are both equally forbearing towards each other when for once our reason is silent. Thus we shall avoid losing our tempers in conversation, and shall not at once apply mutual thumb-screws in the event of any word sounding for once unintelligible to us. If one does not know exactly how to answer, it is enough to [pg 182] say something. Those are the reasonable terms on which I hold conversation with any person. During a long talk the wisest of men becomes a fool once and a simpleton thrice.

The Wanderer: Your moderation is not flattering to those to whom you confess it.

The Shadow: Am I, then, to flatter?

The Wanderer: I thought a man’s shadow was his vanity. Surely vanity would never say, “Am I, then, to flatter?”

The Shadow: Nor does human vanity, so far as I am acquainted with it, ask, as I have done twice, whether it may speak. It simply speaks.

The Wanderer: Now I see for the first time how rude I am to you, my beloved shadow. I have not said a word of my supreme delight in hearing and not merely seeing you. You must know that I love shadows even as I love light. For the existence of beauty of face, clearness of speech, kindliness and firmness of character, the shadow is as necessary as the light. They are not opponents—rather do they hold each other’s hands like good friends; and when the light vanishes, the shadow glides after it.

The Shadow: Yes, and I hate the same thing that you hate—night. I love men because they are votaries of life. I rejoice in the gleam of their eyes when they recognise and discover, they who never weary of recognising and discovering. That shadow which all things cast when the sunshine of knowledge falls upon them—that shadow too am I.

The Wanderer: I think I understand you, although you have expressed yourself in somewhat [pg 183] shadowy terms. You are right. Good friends give to each other here and there, as a sign of mutual understanding, an obscure phrase which to any third party is meant to be a riddle. And we are good friends, you and I. So enough of preambles! Some few hundred questions oppress my soul, and the time for you to answer them is perchance but short. Let us see how we may come to an understanding as quickly and peaceably as possible.

The Shadow: But shadows are more shy than men. You will not reveal to any man the manner of our conversation?

The Wanderer: The manner of our conversation? Heaven preserve me from wire-drawn, literary dialogues! If Plato had found less pleasure in spinning them out, his readers would have found more pleasure in Plato. A dialogue that in real life is a source of delight, when turned into writing and read, is a picture with nothing but false perspectives. Everything is too long or too short.—Yet perhaps I may reveal the points on which we have come to an understanding?

The Shadow: With that I am content. For every one will only recognise your views once more, and no one will think of the shadow.

The Wanderer: Perhaps you are wrong, my friend! Hitherto they have observed in my views more of the shadow than of me.

The Shadow: More of the shadow than of the light? Is that possible?

The Wanderer: Be serious, dear fool! My very first question demands seriousness.

[pg 184]
1.

Of the Tree of Knowledge.—Probability, but no truth; the semblance of freedom, but no freedom—these are the two fruits by virtue of which the tree of knowledge cannot be confounded with the tree of life.

2.

The World’s Reason.—That the world is not the abstract essence of an eternal reasonableness is sufficiently proved by the fact that that bit of the world which we know—I mean our human reason—is none too reasonable. And if this is not eternally and wholly wise and reasonable, the rest of the world will not be so either. Here the conclusion a minori ad majus, a parte ad totum holds good, and that with decisive force.

3.

“In the Beginning was.”—To glorify the origin—that is the metaphysical after-shoot which sprouts again at the contemplation of history, and absolutely makes us imagine that in the beginning of things lies all that is most valuable and essential.

4.

Standard for the Value of Truth.—The difficulty of climbing mountains is no gauge of their height. Yet in the case of science it is different!—we are told by certain persons who wish to be considered “the initiated,”—the difficulty in finding [pg 185] truth is to determine the value of truth! This insane morality originates in the idea that “truths” are really nothing more than gymnastic appliances, with which we have to exercise ourselves until we are thoroughly tired. It is a morality for the athletes and gymnasts of the intellect.

5.

Use of Words and Reality.—There exists a simulated contempt for all the things that mankind actually holds most important, for all everyday matters. For instance, we say “we only eat to live”—an abominable lie, like that which speaks of the procreation of children as the real purpose of all sexual pleasure. Conversely, the reverence for “the most important things” is hardly ever quite genuine. The priests and metaphysicians have indeed accustomed us to a hypocritically exaggerated use of words regarding these matters, but they have not altered the feeling that these most important things are not so important as those despised “everyday matters.” A fatal consequence of this twofold hypocrisy is that we never make these everyday matters (such as eating, housing, clothes, and intercourse) the object of a constant unprejudiced and universal reflection and revision, but, as such a process appears degrading, we divert from them our serious intellectual and artistic side. Hence in such matters habit and frivolity win an easy victory over the thoughtless, especially over inexperienced youth. On the other hand, our continual transgressions of the simplest laws of body and mind reduce us all, young [pg 186] and old, to a disgraceful state of dependence and servitude—I mean to that fundamentally superfluous dependence upon physicians, teachers and clergymen, whose dead-weight still lies heavy upon the whole of society.

6.

Earthly Infirmities and their Main Cause.—If we look about us, we are always coming across men who have eaten eggs all their lives without observing that the oblong-shaped taste the best; who do not know that a thunder-storm is beneficial to the stomach; that perfumes are most fragrant in cold, clear air; that our sense of taste varies in different parts of our mouths; that every meal at which we talk well or listen well does harm to the digestion. If we are not satisfied with these examples of defective powers of observation, we shall concede all the more readily that the everyday matters are very imperfectly seen and rarely observed by the majority. Is this a matter of indifference?—Let us remember, after all, that from this defect are derived nearly all the bodily and spiritual infirmities of the individual. Ignorance of what is good and bad for us, in the arrangement of our mode of life, the division of our day, the selection of our friends and the time we devote to them, in business and leisure, commanding and obeying, our feeling for nature and for art, our eating, sleeping, and meditation; ignorance and lack of keen perceptions in the smallest and most ordinary details—this it is that makes the world “a vale of tears” for so many. Let us not say that here [pg 187] as everywhere the fault lies with human unreason. Of reason there is enough and to spare, but it is wrongly directed and artificially diverted from these little intimate things. Priests and teachers, and the sublime ambition of all idealists, coarser and subtler, din it even into the child’s ears that the means of serving mankind at large depend upon altogether different things—upon the salvation of the soul, the service of the State, the advancement of science, or even upon social position and property; whereas the needs of the individual, his requirements great and small during the twenty-four hours of the day, are quite paltry or indifferent.—Even Socrates attacked with all his might this arrogant neglect of the human for the benefit of humanity, and loved to indicate by a quotation from Homer the true sphere and conception of all anxiety and reflection: “All that really matters,” he said, “is the good and evil hap I find at home.”

7.

Two Means of Consolation.—Epicurus, the soul-comforter of later antiquity, said, with that marvellous insight which to this very day is so rarely to be found, that for the calming of the spirit the solution of the final and ultimate theoretical problems is by no means necessary. Hence, instead of raising a barren and remote discussion of the final question, whether the Gods existed, it sufficed him to say to those who were tormented by “fear of the Gods”: “If there are Gods, they do not concern themselves with us.” The latter position is far stronger and [pg 188] more favourable, for, by conceding a few points to the other, one makes him readier to listen and to take to heart. But as soon as he sets about proving the opposite (that the Gods do concern themselves with us), into what thorny jungles of error must the poor man fall, quite of his own accord, and without any cunning on the part of his interlocutor! The latter must only have enough subtlety and humanity to conceal his sympathy with this tragedy. Finally, the other comes to feel disgust—the strongest argument against any proposition—disgust with his own hypothesis. He becomes cold, and goes away in the same frame of mind as the pure atheist who says, “What do the Gods matter to me? The devil take them!”—In other cases, especially when a half-physical, half-moral assumption had cast a gloom over his spirit, Epicurus did not refute the assumption. He agreed that it might be true, but that there was a second assumption to explain the same phenomenon, and that it could perhaps be maintained in other ways. The plurality of hypotheses (for example, that concerning the origin of conscientious scruples) suffices even in our time to remove from the soul the shadows that arise so easily from pondering over a hypothesis which is isolated, merely visible, and hence overvalued a hundredfold.—Thus whoever wishes to console the unfortunate, the criminal, the hypochondriac, the dying, may call to mind the two soothing suggestions of Epicurus, which can be applied to a great number of problems. In their simplest form they would run: firstly, granted the thing is so, it does not concern us; secondly, the thing may be so, but it may also be otherwise.

[pg 189]
8.

In the Night.—So soon as night begins to fall our sensations concerning everyday matters are altered. There is the wind, prowling as if on forbidden paths, whispering as if in search of something, fretting because he cannot find it. There is the lamplight, with its dim red glow, its weary look, unwillingly fighting against night, a sullen slave to wakeful man. There are the breathings of the sleeper, with their terrible rhythm, to which an ever-recurring care seems to blow the trumpet-melody—we do not hear it, but when the sleeper’s bosom heaves we feel our heart-strings tighten; and when the breath sinks and almost dies away into a deathly stillness, we say to ourselves, “Rest awhile, poor troubled spirit!” All living creatures bear so great a burden that we wish them an eternal rest; night invites to death.—If human beings were deprived of the sun and resisted night by means of moonlight and oil-lamps, what a philosophy would cast its veil over them! We already see only too plainly how a shadow is thrown over the spiritual and intellectual nature of man by that moiety of darkness and sunlessness that envelops life.

9.

Origin of the Doctrine of Free Will.—Necessity sways one man in the shape of his passions, another as a habit of hearing and obeying, a third as a logical conscience, a fourth as a caprice and a mischievous delight in evasions. These four, [pg 190] however, seek the freedom of their will at the very point where they are most securely fettered. It is as if the silkworm sought freedom of will in spinning. What is the reason? Clearly this, that every one thinks himself most free where his vitality is strongest; hence, as I have said, now in passion, now in duty, now in knowledge, now in caprice. A man unconsciously imagines that where he is strong, where he feels most thoroughly alive, the element of his freedom must lie. He thinks of dependence and apathy, independence and vivacity as forming inevitable pairs.—Thus an experience that a man has undergone in the social and political sphere is wrongly transferred to the ultimate metaphysical sphere. There the strong man is also the free man, there the vivid feeling of joy and sorrow, the high hopes, the keen desires, the powerful hates are the attributes of the ruling, independent natures, while the thrall and the slave live in a state of dazed oppression.—The doctrine of free will is an invention of the ruling classes.

10.

Absence of Feeling of New Chains.—So long as we do not feel that we are in some way dependent, we consider ourselves independent—a false conclusion that shows how proud man is, how eager for dominion. For he hereby assumes that he would always be sure to observe and recognise dependence so soon as he suffered it, the preliminary hypothesis being that he generally lives in independence, and that, should he lose that independence for once in a way, he would immediately detect a contrary sensation.—Suppose, [pg 191] however, the reverse to be true—that he is always living in a complex state of dependence, but thinks himself free where, through long habit, he no longer feels the weight of the chain? He only suffers from new chains, and “free will” really means nothing more than an absence of feeling of new chains.

11.

Freedom of the Will and the Isolation of Facts.—Our ordinary inaccurate observation takes a group of phenomena as one and calls them a fact. Between this fact and another we imagine a vacuum, we isolate each fact. In reality, however, the sum of our actions and cognitions is no series of facts and intervening vacua, but a continuous stream. Now the belief in free will is incompatible with the idea of a continuous, uniform, undivided, indivisible flow. This belief presupposes that every single action is isolated and indivisible; it is an atomic theory as regards volition and cognition.—We misunderstand facts as we misunderstand characters, speaking of similar characters and similar facts, whereas both are non-existent. Further, we bestow praise and blame only on this false hypothesis, that there are similar facts, that a graduated order of species of facts exists, corresponding to a graduated order of values. Thus we isolate not only the single fact, but the groups of apparently equal facts (good, evil, compassionate, envious actions, and so forth). In both cases we are wrong.—The word and the concept are the most obvious reason for our belief in this isolation of groups of actions. We do not [pg 192] merely thereby designate the things; the thought at the back of our minds is that by the word and the concept we can grasp the essence of the actions. We are still constantly led astray by words and actions, and are induced to think of things as simpler than they are, as separate, indivisible, existing in the absolute. Language contains a hidden philosophical mythology, which, however careful we may be, breaks out afresh at every moment. The belief in free will—that is to say, in similar facts and isolated facts—finds in language its continual apostle and advocate.

12.

The Fundamental Errors.—A man cannot feel any psychical pleasure or pain unless he is swayed by one of two illusions. Either he believes in the identity of certain facts, certain sensations, and in that case finds spiritual pleasure and pain in comparing present with past conditions and in noting their similarity or difference (as is invariably the case with recollection); or he believes in the freedom of the will, perhaps when he reflects, “I ought not to have done this,” “This might have turned out differently,” and from these reflections likewise he derives pleasure and pain. Without the errors that are rife in every psychical pain and pleasure, humanity would never have developed. For the root idea of humanity is that man is free in a world of bondage—man, the eternal wonder-worker, whether his deeds be good or evil—man, the amazing exception, the super-beast, the quasi-God, the mind of creation, the indispensable, the key-word [pg 193] to the cosmic riddle, the mighty lord of nature and despiser of nature, the creature that calls its history “the history of the world”! Vanitas vanitatum homo.

13.

Repetition.—It is an excellent thing to express a thing consecutively in two ways, and thus provide it with a right and a left foot. Truth can stand indeed on one leg, but with two she will walk and complete her journey.

14.

Man as the Comic Actor of the World.—It would require beings more intellectual than men to relish to the full the humorous side of man’s view of himself as the goal of all existence and of his serious pronouncement that he is satisfied only with the prospect of fulfilling a world-mission. If a God created the world, he created man to be his ape, as a perpetual source of amusement in the midst of his rather tedious eternities. The music of the spheres surrounding the world would then presumably be the mocking laughter of all the other creatures around mankind. God in his boredom uses pain for the tickling of his favourite animal, in order to enjoy his proudly tragic gestures and expressions of suffering, and, in general, the intellectual inventiveness of the vainest of his creatures—as inventor of this inventor. For he who invented man as a joke had more intellect and more joy in intellect than has man.—Even here, where our human nature is willing to humble itself, our vanity again plays us a trick, in that we men should like in this vanity at [pg 194] least to be quite marvellous and incomparable. Our uniqueness in the world! Oh, what an improbable thing it is! Astronomers, who occasionally acquire a horizon outside our world, give us to understand that the drop of life on the earth is without significance for the total character of the mighty ocean of birth and decay; that countless stars present conditions for the generation of life similar to those of the earth—and yet these are but a handful in comparison with the endless number that have never known, or have long been cured, of the eruption of life; that life on each of these stars, measured by the period of its existence, has been but an instant, a flicker, with long, long intervals afterwards—and thus in no way the aim and final purpose of their existence. Possibly the ant in the forest is quite as firmly convinced that it is the aim and purpose of the existence of the forest, as we are convinced in our imaginations (almost unconsciously) that the destruction of mankind involves the destruction of the world. It is even modesty on our part to go no farther than this, and not to arrange a universal twilight of the world and the Gods as the funeral ceremony of the last man. Even to the eye of the most unbiassed astronomer a lifeless world can scarcely appear otherwise than as a shining and swinging star wherein man lies buried.

15.

The Modesty of Man.—How little pleasure is enough for the majority to make them feel that life is good! How modest is man!

[pg 195]
16.

Where Indifference is Necessary.—Nothing would be more perverse than to wait for the truths that science will finally establish concerning the first and last things, and until then to think (and especially to believe) in the traditional way, as one is so often advised to do. The impulse that bids us seek nothing but certainties in this domain is a religious offshoot, nothing better—a hidden and only apparently sceptical variety of the “metaphysical need,” the underlying idea being that for a long time no view of these ultimate certainties will be obtainable, and that until then the “believer” has the right not to trouble himself about the whole subject. We have no need of these certainties about the farthermost horizons in order to live a full and efficient human life, any more than the ant needs them in order to be a good ant. Rather must we ascertain the origin of that troublesome significance that we have attached to these things for so long. For this we require the history of ethical and religious sentiments, since it is only under the influence of such sentiments that these most acute problems of knowledge have become so weighty and terrifying. Into the outermost regions to which the mental eye can penetrate (without ever penetrating into them), we have smuggled such concepts as guilt and punishment (everlasting punishment, too!). The darker those regions, the more careless we have been. For ages men have let their imaginations run riot where they [pg 196] could establish nothing, and have induced posterity to accept these fantasies as something serious and true, with this abominable lie as their final trump-card: that faith is worth more than knowledge. What we need now in regard to these ultimate things is not knowledge as against faith, but indifference as against faith and pretended knowledge in these matters!—Everything must lie nearer to us than what has hitherto been preached to us as the most important thing, I mean the questions: “What end does man serve?” “What is his fate after death?” “How does he make his peace with God?” and all the rest of that bag of tricks. The problems of the dogmatic philosophers, be they idealists, materialists, or realists, concern us as little as do these religious questions. They all have the same object in view—to force us to a decision in matters where neither faith nor knowledge is needed. It is better even for the most ardent lover of knowledge that the territory open to investigation and to reason should be encircled by a belt of fog-laden, treacherous marshland, a strip of ever watery, impenetrable, and indeterminable country. It is just by the comparison with the realm of darkness on the edge of the world of knowledge that the bright, accessible region of that world rises in value.—We must once more become good friends of the “everyday matters,” and not, as hitherto, despise them and look beyond them at clouds and monsters of the night. In forests and caverns, in marshy tracts and under dull skies, on the lowest rungs of the ladder of culture, man has lived for æons, and lived in poverty. There he has learnt to despise the present, his neighbours, [pg 197] his life, and himself, and we, the inhabitants of the brighter fields of Nature and mind, still inherit in our blood some taint of this contempt for everyday matters.

17.

Profound Interpretations.—He who has interpreted a passage in an author “more profoundly” than was intended, has not interpreted the author but has obscured him. Our metaphysicians are in the same relation, or even in a worse relation, to the text of Nature. For, to apply their profound interpretations, they often alter the text to suit their purpose—or, in other words, corrupt the text. A curious example of the corruption and obscuration of an author’s text is furnished by the ideas of Schopenhauer on the pregnancy of women. “The sign of a continuous will to life in time,” he says, “is copulation; the sign of the light of knowledge which is associated anew with this will and holds the possibility of a deliverance, and that too in the highest degree of clearness, is the renewed incarnation of the will to life. This incarnation is betokened by pregnancy, which is therefore frank and open, and even proud, whereas copulation hides itself like a criminal.” He declares that every woman, if surprised in the sexual act, would be likely to die of shame, but “displays her pregnancy without a trace of shame, nay even with a sort of pride.” Now, firstly, this condition cannot easily be displayed more aggressively than it displays itself, and when [pg 198] Schopenhauer gives prominence only to the intentional character of the display, he is fashioning his text to suit the interpretation. Moreover, his statement of the universality of the phenomenon is not true. He speaks of “every woman.” Many women, especially the younger, often appear painfully ashamed of their condition, even in the presence of their nearest kinsfolk. And when women of riper years, especially in the humbler classes, do actually appear proud of their condition, it is because they would give us to understand that they are still desirable to their husbands. That a neighbour on seeing them or a passing stranger should say or think “Can it be possible?”—that is an alms always acceptable to the vanity of women of low mental capacity. In the reverse instance, to conclude from Schopenhauer’s proposition, the cleverest and most intelligent women would tend more than any to exult openly in their condition. For they have the best prospect of giving birth to an intellectual prodigy, in whom “the will” can once more “negative” itself for the universal good. Stupid women, on the other hand, would have every reason to hide their pregnancy more modestly than anything they hide.—It cannot be said that this view corresponds to reality. Granted, however, that Schopenhauer was right on the general principle that women show more self-satisfaction when pregnant than at any other time, a better explanation than this lies to hand. One might imagine the clucking of a hen even before she lays an egg, saying, “Look! look! I shall lay an egg! I shall lay an egg!”

[pg 199]
18.

The Modern Diogenes.—Before we look for man, we must have found the lantern.—Will it have to be the Cynic’s lantern?

19.

Immoralists.—Moralists must now put up with being rated as immoralists, because they dissect morals. He, however, who would dissect must kill, but only in order that we may know more, judge better, live better, not in order that all the world may dissect. Unfortunately, men still think that every moralist in his every action must be a pattern for others to imitate. They confound him with the preacher of morality. The older moralists did not dissect enough and preached too often, whence that confusion and the unpleasant consequences for our latter-day moralists are derived.

20.

A Caution against Confusion.—There are moralists who treat the strong, noble, self-denying attitude of such beings as the heroes of Plutarch, or the pure, enlightened, warmth-giving state of soul peculiar to truly good men and women, as difficult scientific problems. They investigate the origin of such phenomena, indicating the complex element in the apparent simplicity, and directing their gaze to the tangled skein of motives, the delicate web of conceptual illusions, and the sentiments of individuals or of groups, that are a legacy of ancient [pg 200] days gradually increased. Such moralists are very different from those with whom they are most commonly confounded, from those petty minds that do not believe at all in these modes of thought and states of soul, and imagine their own poverty to be hidden somewhere behind the glamour of greatness and purity. The moralists say, “Here are problems,” and these pitiable creatures say, “Here are impostors and deceptions.” Thus the latter deny the existence of the very things which the former are at pains to explain.

21.

Man as the Measurer.—Perhaps all human morality had its origin in the tremendous excitement that seized primitive man when he discovered measure and measuring, scales and weighing (for the word Mensch [man] means “the measurer”—he wished to name himself after his greatest discovery!). With these ideas they mounted into regions that are quite beyond all measuring and weighing, but did not appear to be so in the beginning.

22.

The Principle of Equilibrium.—The robber and the man of power who promises to protect a community from robbers are perhaps at bottom beings of the same mould, save that the latter attains his ends by other means than the former—that is to say, through regular imposts paid to him by the community, and no longer through forced contributions. (The same relation exists between [pg 201] merchant and pirate, who for a long period are one and the same person: where the one function appears to them inadvisable, they exercise the other. Even to-day mercantile morality is really nothing but a refinement on piratical morality—buying in the cheapest market, at prime cost if possible, and selling in the dearest.) The essential point is that the man of power promises to maintain the equilibrium against the robber, and herein the weak find a possibility of living. For either they must group themselves into an equivalent power, or they must subject themselves to some one of equivalent power (i.e. render service in return for his efforts). The latter course is generally preferred, because it really keeps two dangerous beings in check—the robber through the man of power, and the man of power through the standpoint of advantage; for the latter profits by treating his subjects with graciousness and tolerance, in order that they may support not only themselves but their ruler. As a matter of fact, conditions may still be hard and cruel enough, yet in comparison with the complete annihilation that was formerly always a possibility, men breathe freely.—The community is at first the organisation of the weak to counterbalance menacing forces. An organisation to outweigh those forces would be more advisable, if its members grew strong enough to destroy the adverse power: and when it is a question of one mighty oppressor, the attempt will certainly be made. But if the one man is the head of a clan, or if he has a large following, a rapid and decisive annihilation is improbable, and a long or permanent feud is only to be expected. This feud, [pg 202] however, involves the least desirable condition for the community, for it thereby loses the time to provide for its means of subsistence with the necessary regularity, and sees the product of all work hourly threatened. Hence the community prefers to raise its power of attack and defence to the exact plane on which the power of its dangerous neighbour stands, and to give him to understand that an equal weight now lies in its own side of the scales—so why not be good friends?—Thus equilibrium is a most important conception for the understanding of the ancient doctrines of law and morals. Equilibrium is, in fact, the basis of justice. When justice in ruder ages says, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” it presupposes the attainment of this equilibrium and tries to maintain it by means of this compensation; so that, when crime is committed, the injured party will not take the revenge of blind anger. By means of the jus talionis the equilibrium of the disturbed relations of power is restored, for in such primitive times an eye or an arm more means a bit more power, more weight.—In a community where all consider themselves equal, disgrace and punishment await crime—that is, violations of the principle of equilibrium. Disgrace is thrown into the scale as a counter-weight against the encroaching individual, who has gained profit by his encroachment, and now suffers losses (through disgrace) which annul and outweigh the previous profits. Punishment, in the same way, sets up a far greater counter-weight against the preponderance which every criminal hopes to obtain—imprisonment as against a deed of violence, restitution [pg 203] and fines as against theft. Thus the sinner is reminded that his action has excluded him from the community and from its moral advantages, since the community treats him as an inferior, a weaker brother, an outsider. For this reason punishment is not merely retaliation, but has something more, something of the cruelty of the state of nature, and of this it would serve as a reminder.

23.

Whether the Adherents of the Doctrine of Free Will have a Right to Punish?—Men whose vocation it is to judge and punish try to establish in every case whether an evil-doer is really responsible for his act, whether he was able to apply his reasoning powers, whether he acted with motives and not unconsciously or under constraint. If he is punished, it is because he preferred the worse to the better motives, which he must consequently have known. Where this knowledge is wanting, man is, according to the prevailing view, not responsible—unless his ignorance, e.g. his ignorantia legis, be the consequence of an intentional neglect to learn what he ought: in that case he already preferred the worse to the better motives at the time when he refused to learn, and must now pay the penalty of his unwise choice. If, on the other hand, perhaps through stupidity or shortsightedness, he has never seen the better motives, he is generally not punished, for people say that he made a wrong choice, he acted like a brute beast. The intentional rejection of the better reason is now needed before we [pg 204] treat the offender as fit to be punished. But how can any one be intentionally more unreasonable than he ought to be? Whence comes the decision, if the scales are loaded with good and bad motives? So the origin is not error or blindness, not an internal or external constraint? (It should furthermore be remembered that every so-called “external constraint” is nothing more than the internal constraint of fear and pain.) Whence? is the repeated question. So reason is not to be the cause of action, because reason cannot decide against the better motives? Thus we call “free will” to our aid. Absolute discretion is to decide, and a moment is to intervene when no motive exercises an influence, when the deed is done as a miracle, resulting from nothing. This assumed discretion is punished in a case where no discretion should rule. Reason, which knows law, prohibition, and command, should have left no choice, they say, and should have acted as a constraint and a higher power. Hence the offender is punished because he makes use of “free will”—in other words, has acted without motive where he should have been guided by motives. But why did he do it? This question must not even be asked; the deed was done without a “Why?” without motive, without origin, being a thing purposeless, unreasoned.—However, according to the above-named preliminary condition of punishability, such a deed should not be punished at all! Moreover, even this reason for punishing should not hold good, that in this case something had not been done, had been omitted, that reason had not been used at all: for at any rate the omission was unintentional, [pg 205] and only intentional omission is considered punishable. The offender has indeed preferred the worse to the better motives, but without motive and purpose: he has indeed failed to apply his reason, but not exactly with the object of not applying it. The very assumption made in the case of punishable crime, that the criminal intentionally renounced his reason, is removed by the hypothesis of “free will.” According to your own principles, you must not punish, you adherents of the doctrine of free will!—These principles are, however, nothing but a very marvellous conceptual mythology, and the hen that hatched them has brooded on her eggs far away from all reality.

24.

Judging the Criminal and his Judge.—The criminal, who knows the whole concatenation of circumstances, does not consider his act so far beyond the bounds of order and comprehension as does his judge. His punishment, however, is measured by the degree of astonishment that seizes the judge when he finds the crime incomprehensible.—If the defending counsel’s knowledge of the case and its previous history extends far enough, the so-called extenuating circumstances which he duly pleads must end by absolving his client from all guilt. Or, to put it more plainly, the advocate will, step by step, tone down and finally remove the astonishment of the judge, by forcing every honest listener to the tacit avowal, “He was bound to act as he did, and if we punished, we should be punishing eternal Necessity.”—Measuring the [pg 206] punishment by the degree of knowledge we possess or can obtain of the previous history of the crime—is that not in conflict with all equity?

25.

Exchange and Equity.—In an exchange, the only just and honest course would be for either party to demand only so much as he considers his commodity to be worth, allowance being made for trouble in acquisition, scarcity, time spent and so forth, besides the subjective value. As soon as you make your price bear a relation to the other’s need, you become a refined sort of robber and extortioner.—If money is the sole medium of exchange, we must remember that a shilling is by no means the same thing in the hands of a rich heir, a farm labourer, a merchant, and a university student. It would be equitable for every one to receive much or little for his money, according as he has done much or little to earn it. In practice, as we all know, the reverse is the case. In the world of high finance the shilling of the idle rich man can buy more than that of the poor, industrious man.

26.

Legal Conditions as Means.—Law, where it rests upon contracts between equals, holds good so long as the power of the parties to the contract remains equal or similar. Wisdom created law to end all feuds and useless expenditure among men on an equal footing. Quite as definite an end is put to this waste, however, when one party has [pg 207] become decidedly weaker than the other. Subjection enters and law ceases, but the result is the same as that attained by law. For now it is the wisdom of the superior which advises to spare the inferior and not uselessly to squander his strength. Thus the position of the inferior is often more favourable than that of the equal.—Hence legal conditions are temporary means counselled by wisdom, and not ends.

27.

Explanation of Malicious Joy.—Malicious joy arises when a man consciously finds himself in evil plight and feels anxiety or remorse or pain. The misfortune that overtakes B. makes him equal to A., and A. is reconciled and no longer envious.—If A. is prosperous, he still hoards up in his memory B.’s misfortune as a capital, so as to throw it in the scale as a counter-weight when he himself suffers adversity. In this case too he feels “malicious joy” (Schadenfreude). The sentiment of equality thus applies its standard to the domain of luck and chance. Malicious joy is the commonest expression of victory and restoration of equality, even in a higher state of civilisation. This emotion has only been in existence since the time when man learnt to look upon another as his equal—in other words, since the foundation of society.

28.

The Arbitrary Element in the Award of Punishment.—To most criminals punishment [pg 208] comes just as illegitimate children come to women. They have done the same thing a hundred times without any bad consequences. Suddenly comes discovery, and with discovery punishment. Yet habit should make the deed for which the criminal is punished appear more excusable, for he has developed a propensity that is hard to resist. Instead of this, the criminal is punished more severely if the suspicion of habitual crime rests on him, and habit is made a valid reason against all extenuation. On the other hand, a model life, wherein crime shows up in more terrible contrast, should make the guilt appear more heavy! But here the custom is to soften the punishment. Everything is measured not from the standpoint of the criminal but from that of society and its losses and dangers. The previous utility of an individual is weighed against his one nefarious action, his previous criminality is added to that recently discovered, and punishment is thus meted out as highly as possible. But if we thus punish or reward a man’s past (for in the former case the diminution of punishment is a reward) we ought to go farther back and punish and reward the cause of his past—I mean parents, teachers, society. In many instances we shall then find the judges somehow or other sharing in the guilt. It is arbitrary to stop at the criminal himself when we punish his past: if we will not grant the absolute excusability of every crime, we should stop at each individual case and probe no farther into the past—in other words, isolate guilt and not connect it with previous actions. Otherwise we sin against [pg 209] logic. The teachers of free will should draw the inevitable conclusion from their doctrine of “free will” and boldly decree: “No action has a past.”

29.

Envy and her Nobler Sister.—Where equality is really recognised and permanently established, we see the rise of that propensity that is generally considered immoral, and would scarcely be conceivable in a state of nature—envy. The envious man is susceptible to every sign of individual superiority to the common herd, and wishes to depress every one once more to the level—or raise himself to the superior plane. Hence arise two different modes of action, which Hesiod designated good and bad Eris. In the same way, in a condition of equality there arises indignation if A. is prosperous above and B. unfortunate beneath their deserts and equality. These latter, however, are emotions of nobler natures. They feel the want of justice and equity in things that are independent of the arbitrary choice of men—or, in other words, they desire the equality recognised by man to be recognised as well by Nature and chance. They are angry that men of equal merits should not have equal fortune.

30.

The Envy of the Gods.—“The envy of the Gods” arises when a despised person sets himself on an equality with his superior (like Ajax), or is made equal with him by the favour of fortune [pg 210] (like Niobe, the too favoured mother). In the social class system this envy demands that no one shall have merits above his station, that his prosperity shall be on a level with his position, and especially that his self-consciousness shall not outgrow the limits of his rank. Often the victorious general, or the pupil who achieves a masterpiece, has experienced “the envy of the gods.”

31.

Vanity as an Anti-Social Aftergrowth.—As men, for the sake of security, have made themselves equal in order to found communities, but as also this conception is imposed by a sort of constraint and is entirely opposed to the instincts of the individual, so, the more universal security is guaranteed, the more do new offshoots of the old instinct for predominance appear. Such offshoots appear in the setting-up of class distinctions, in the demand for professional dignities and privileges, and, generally speaking, in vanity (manners, dress, speech, and so forth). So soon as danger to the community is apparent, the majority, who were unable to assert their preponderance in a time of universal peace, once more bring about the condition of equality, and for the time being the absurd privileges and vanities disappear. If the community, however, collapses utterly and anarchy reigns supreme, there arises the state of nature: an absolutely ruthless inequality as recounted by Thucydides in the case of Corcyra. Neither a natural justice nor a natural injustice exists.

[pg 211]
32.

Equity.—Equity is a development of justice, and arises among such as do not come into conflict with the communal equality. This more subtle recognition of the principle of equilibrium is applied to cases where nothing is prescribed by law. Equity looks forwards and backwards, its maxim being, “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.” Aequum means: “This principle is conformable to our equality; it tones down even our small differences to an appearance of equality, and expects us to be indulgent in cases where we are not compelled to pardon.”

33.

Elements of Revenge.—The word “revenge” is spoken so quickly that it almost seems as if it could not contain more than one conceptual and emotional root. Hence we are still at pains to find this root. Our economists, in the same way, have never wearied of scenting a similar unity in the word “value,” and of hunting after the primitive root idea of value. As if all words were not pockets, into which this or that or several things have been stuffed at once! So “revenge” is now one thing, now another, and sometimes more composite. Let us first distinguish that defensive counter-blow, which we strike, almost unconsciously, even at inanimate objects (such as machinery in motion) that have hurt us. The notion is to set a check to the object that has hurt us, by bringing the machine to [pg 212] a stop. Sometimes the force of this counter-blow, in order to attain its object, will have to be strong enough to shatter the machine. If the machine be too strong to be disorganised by one man, the latter will all the same strike the most violent blow he can—as a sort of last attempt. We behave similarly towards persons who hurt us, at the immediate sensation of the hurt. If we like to call this an act of revenge, well and good: but we must remember that here self-preservation alone has set its cog-wheels of reason in motion, and that after all we do not think of the doer of the injury but only of ourselves. We act without any idea of doing injury in return, only with a view to getting away safe and sound.—It needs time to pass in thought from oneself to one’s adversary and ask oneself at what point he is most vulnerable. This is done in the second variety of revenge, the preliminary idea of which is to consider the vulnerability and susceptibility of the other. The intention then is to give pain. On the other hand, the idea of securing himself against further injury is in this case so entirely outside the avenger’s horizon, that he almost regularly brings about his own further injury and often foresees it in cold blood. If in the first sort of revenge it was the fear of a second blow that made the counter-blow as strong as possible, in this case there is an almost complete indifference to what one’s adversary will do: the strength of the counter-blow is only determined by what he has already done to us. Then what has he done? What profit is it to us if he is now suffering, after we have suffered through him? This is a case of readjustment, whereas the [pg 213] first act of revenge only serves the purpose of self-preservation. It may be that through our adversary we have lost property, rank, friends, children—these losses are not recovered by revenge, the readjustment only concerns a subsidiary loss which is added to all the other losses. The revenge of readjustment does not preserve one from further injury, it does not make good the injury already suffered—except in one case. If our honour has suffered through our adversary, revenge can restore it. But in any case honour has suffered an injury if intentional harm has been done us, because our adversary proved thereby that he was not afraid of us. By revenge we prove that we are not afraid of him either, and herein lies the settlement, the readjustment. (The intention of showing their complete lack of fear goes so far in some people that the dangers of revenge—loss of health or life or other losses—are in their eyes an indispensable condition of every vengeful act. Hence they practise the duel, although the law also offers them aid in obtaining satisfaction for what they have suffered. They are not satisfied with a safe means of recovering their honour, because this would not prove their fearlessness.)—In the first-named variety of revenge it is just fear that strikes the counter-blow; in the second case it is the absence of fear, which, as has been said, wishes to manifest itself in the counter-blow.—Thus nothing appears more different than the motives of the two courses of action which are designated by the one word “revenge.” Yet it often happens that the avenger is not precisely certain as to what really prompted his deed: perhaps he struck the counterblow [pg 214] from fear and the instinct of self-preservation, but in the background, when he has time to reflect upon the standpoint of wounded honour, he imagines that he has avenged himself for the sake of his honour—this motive is in any case more reputable than the other. An essential point is whether he sees his honour injured in the eyes of others (the world) or only in the eyes of his offenders: in the latter case he will prefer secret, in the former open revenge. Accordingly, as he enters strongly or feebly into the soul of the doer and the spectator, his revenge will be more bitter or more tame. If he is entirely lacking in this sort of imagination, he will not think at all of revenge, as the feeling of “honour” is not present in him, and accordingly cannot be wounded. In the same way, he will not think of revenge if he despises the offender and the spectator; because as objects of his contempt they cannot give him honour, and accordingly cannot rob him of honour. Finally, he will forego revenge in the not uncommon case of his loving the offender. It is true that he then suffers loss of honour in the other’s eyes, and will perhaps become less worthy of having his love returned. But even to renounce all requital of love is a sacrifice that love is ready to make when its only object is to avoid hurting the beloved object: this would mean hurting oneself more than one is hurt by the sacrifice.—Accordingly, every one will avenge himself, unless he be bereft of honour or inspired by contempt or by love for the offender. Even if he turns to the law-courts, he desires revenge as a private individual; but also, as a thoughtful, prudent man of society, he desires the [pg 215] revenge of society upon one who does not respect it. Thus by legal punishment private honour as well as that of society is restored—that is to say, punishment is revenge. Punishment undoubtedly contains the first-mentioned element of revenge, in as far as by its means society helps to preserve itself, and strikes a counter-blow in self-defence. Punishment desires to prevent further injury, to scare other offenders. In this way the two elements of revenge, different as they are, are united in punishment, and this may perhaps tend most of all to maintain the above-mentioned confusion of ideas, thanks to which the individual avenger generally does not know what he really wants.

34.

The Virtues that Damage Us.—As members of communities we think we have no right to exercise certain virtues which afford us great honour and some pleasure as private individuals (for example, indulgence and favour towards miscreants of all kinds)—in short, every mode of action whereby the advantage of society would suffer through our virtue. No bench of judges, face to face with its conscience, may permit itself to be gracious. This privilege is reserved for the king as an individual, and we are glad when he makes use of it, proving that we should like to be gracious individually, but not collectively. Society recognises only the virtues profitable to her, or at least not injurious to her—virtues like justice, which are exercised without loss, or, in fact, at compound interest. The virtues that damage us cannot have [pg 216] originated in society, because even now opposition to them arises in every small society that is in the making. Such virtues are therefore those of men of unequal standing, invented by the superior individuals; they are the virtues of rulers, and the idea underlying them is: “I am mighty enough to put up with an obvious loss; that is a proof of my power.” Thus they are virtues closely akin to pride.

35.

The Casuistry of Advantage.—There would be no moral casuistry if there were no casuistry of advantage. The most free and refined intelligence is often incapable of choosing between two alternatives in such a way that his choice necessarily involves the greater advantage. In such cases we choose because we must, and afterwards often feel a kind of emotional sea-sickness.

36.

Turning Hypocrite.—Every beggar turns hypocrite, like every one who makes his living out of indigence, be it personal or public.—The beggar does not feel want nearly so keenly as he must make others feel it, if he wishes to make a living by mendicancy.

37.

A Sort of Cult of the Passions.—You hypochondriacs, you philosophic blind-worms talk of the formidable nature of human passions, in order to inveigh against the dreadsomeness of the [pg 217] whole world-structure. As if the passions were always and everywhere formidable! As if this sort of terror must always exist in the world!—Through a carelessness in small matters, through a deficiency in observation of self and of the rising generation, you have yourselves allowed your passions to develop into such unruly monsters that you are frightened now at the mere mention of the word “passion”! It rests with you and it rests with us to divest the passions of their formidable features and so to dam them that they do not become devastating floods.—We must not exalt our errors into eternal fatalities. Rather shall we honestly endeavour to convert all the passions of humanity into sources of joy.18

38.

The Sting of Conscience.—The sting of conscience, like the gnawing of a dog at a stone, is mere foolishness.

39.

Origin of Rights.—Rights may be traced to traditions, traditions to momentary agreements. At some time or other men were mutually content with the consequences of making an agreement, and, again, too indolent formally to renew it. Thus they went on living as if it had constantly been renewed, and gradually, when oblivion cast its [pg 218] veil over the origin, they thought they possessed a sacred, unalterable foundation on which every generation would be compelled to build. Tradition was now a constraint, even if it no more involved the profit originally derived from making the agreement.—Here the weak have always found their strong fortress. They are inclined to immortalise the momentary agreement, the single act of favour shown towards them.

40.

The Significance of Oblivion in Moral Sentiment.—The same actions that in primitive society first aimed at the common advantage were later on performed from other motives: from fear or reverence of those who demanded and recommended them; or from habit, because men had seen them done about them from childhood upwards; or from kindness, because the practising of them caused delight and approving looks on all sides; or from vanity, because they were praised. Such actions, in which the fundamental motive, that of utility, has been forgotten, are then called moral; not, indeed, because they are done from those other motives, but because they are not done with a conscious purpose of utility.—Whence the hatred of utility that suddenly manifests itself here, and by which all praiseworthy actions formally exclude all actions for the sake of utility?—Clearly society, the rallying-point of all morality and of all maxims in praise of moral action, has had to battle too long and too fiercely with the selfishness and obstinacy of the individual not to rate every [pg 219] motive morally higher than utility. Hence it looks as if morals had not sprung from utility, whereas in fact morals are originally the public utility, which had great difficulty in prevailing over the interests of the unit and securing a loftier reputation.

41.

The Heirs to the Wealth of Morality.—Even in the domain of morals there is an inherited wealth, which is owned by the gentle, the good-tempered, the compassionate, the indulgent. They have inherited from their forefathers their gentle mode of action, but not common sense (the source of that mode of action). The pleasant thing about this wealth is that one must always bestow and communicate a portion of it, if its presence is to be felt at all. Thus this wealth unconsciously aims at bridging the gulf between the morally rich and the morally poor, and, what is its best and most remarkable feature, not for the sake of a future mean between rich and poor, but for the sake of a universal prosperity and superfluity.—Such may be the prevailing view of inherited moral wealth, but it seems to me that this view is maintained more in majorem gloriam of morality than in honour of truth. Experience at least establishes a maxim which must serve, if not as a refutation, at any rate as an important check upon that generalisation. Without the most exquisite intelligence, says experience, without the most refined capacity for choice and a strong propensity to observe the mean, the morally rich will become spendthrifts of morality. [pg 220] For by abandoning themselves without restraint to their compassionate, gentle, conciliatory, harmonising instincts, they make all about them more careless, more covetous, and more sentimental. The children of these highly moral spendthrifts easily and (sad to relate) at best become pleasant but futile wasters.

42.

The Judge and Extenuating Circumstances.—“One should behave as a man of honour even towards the devil and pay his debts,” said an old soldier, when the story of Faust had been related to him in rather fuller detail. “Hell is the right place for Faust!” “You are terrible, you men!” cried his wife; “how can that be? After all, his only fault was having no ink in his ink-stand! It is indeed a sin to write with blood, but surely for that such a handsome man ought not to burn in Hell-fire?”

43.

Problem of the Duty of Truth.—Duty is an imperious sentiment that forces us to action. We call it good, and consider it outside the pale of discussion. The origin, limits, and justification of duty we will not debate or allow to be debated. But the thinker considers everything an evolution and every evolution a subject for discussion, and is accordingly without duty so long as he is merely a thinker. As such, he would not recognise the duty of seeing and speaking the truth; he would not feel the sentiment at all. He asks, whence comes it and whither will it go? But even this [pg 221] questioning appears to him questionable. Surely, however, the consequence would be that the thinker’s machinery would no longer work properly if he could really feel himself unencumbered by duty in the search for knowledge? It would appear, then, that for fuel the same element is necessary as must be investigated by means of the machine.—Perhaps the formula will be: granted there were a duty of recognising truth, what is then the truth in regard to every other kind of duty?—But is not a hypothetical sense of duty a contradiction in terms?

44.

Grades of Morals.—Morality is primarily a means of preserving the community and saving it from destruction. Next it is a means of maintaining the community on a certain plane and in a certain degree of benevolence. Its motives are fear and hope, and these in a more coarse, rough, and powerful form, the more the propensity towards the perverse, one-sided, and personal still persists. The most terrible means of intimidation must be brought into play so long as milder forms have no effect and that twofold species of preservation cannot be attained. (The strongest intimidation, by the way, is the invention of a hereafter with a hell everlasting.) For this purpose we must have racks and torturers of the soul. Further grades of morality, and accordingly means to the end referred to, are the commandments of a God (as in the Mosaic law). Still further and higher are the commandments of an absolute sense of duty with [pg 222] a “Thou shalt”—all rather roughly hewn yet broad steps, because on the finer, narrower steps men cannot yet set their feet. Then comes a morality of inclination, of taste, finally of insight—which is beyond all the illusory motives of morality, but has convinced itself that humanity for long periods could be allowed no other.

45.

The Morality of Pity in the Mouths of The Intemperate.—All those who are not sufficiently masters of themselves and do not know morality as a self-control and self-conquest continuously exercised in things great and small, unconsciously come to glorify the good, compassionate, benevolent impulses of that instinctive morality which has no head, but seems merely to consist of a heart and helpful hands. It is to their interest even to cast suspicion upon a morality of reason and to set up the other as the sole morality.

46.

Sewers of the Soul.—Even the soul must have its definite sewers, through which it can allow its filth to flow off: for this purpose it may use persons, relations, social classes, its native country, or the world, or finally—for the wholly arrogant (I mean our modern “pessimists”)—le bon Dieu.

47.

A Kind of Rest and Contemplation.—Beware lest your rest and contemplation resemble that [pg 223] of a dog before a butcher’s stall, prevented by fear from advancing and by greed from retiring, and opening its eyes wide as though they were mouths.

48.

Prohibitions without Reasons.—A prohibition, the reason of which we do not understand or admit, is almost a command, not only for the stiff-necked but for the thirster after knowledge. We at once make an experiment in order to learn why the prohibition was made. Moral prohibitions, like those of the Decalogue, are only suited to ages when reason lies vanquished. Nowadays a prohibition like “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” laid down without reasons, would have an injurious rather than a beneficial effect.

49.

Character Portrait.—What sort of a man is it that can say of himself: “I despise very easily, but never hate. I at once find out in every man something which can be honoured and for which I honour him: the so-called amiable qualities attract me but little”?

50.

Pity and Contempt.—The expression of pity is regarded as a sign of contempt, because one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one becomes an object of pity. One has sunk below the level of the equilibrium. For this equilibrium does not satisfy human vanity, which is only satisfied [pg 224] by the feeling that one is imposing respect and awe. Hence it is difficult to explain why pity is so highly prized, just as we need to explain why the unselfish man, who is originally despised or feared as being artful, is praised.

51.

The Capacity of Being Small.—We must be as near to flowers, grasses, and butterflies as a child, that is, not much bigger than they. We adults have grown up beyond them and have to stoop to them. I think the grasses hate us when we confess our love for them.—He who would have a share in all good things must understand at times how to be small.

52.

The Sum-Total of Conscience.—The sum-total of our conscience is all that has regularly been demanded of us, without reason, in the days of our childhood, by people whom we respected or feared. From conscience comes that feeling of obligation (“This I must do, this omit”) which does not ask, Why must I?—In all cases where a thing is done with “because” and “why,” man acts without conscience, but not necessarily on that account against conscience.—The belief in authority is the source of conscience; which is therefore not the voice of God in the heart of man, but the voice of some men in man.

53.

Conquest of the Passions.—The man who has overcome his passions has entered into possession [pg 225] of the most fruitful soil, like the colonist who has become lord over bogs and forests. To sow the seed of spiritual good works on the soil of the vanquished passions is the next and most urgent task. The conquest itself is a means, not an end: if it be not so regarded, all kind of weeds and devil’s crop quickly spring up upon the fertile soil that has been cleared, and soon the growth is all wilder and more luxuriant than before.

54.

Skill in Service.—All so-called practical men have skill in service, whether it be serving others or themselves; this is what makes them practical. Robinson owned a servant even better than Friday—his name was Crusoe.

55.

Danger in Speech to Intellectual Freedom.—Every word is a preconceived judgment.

56.

Intellect and Boredom.—The proverb, “The Hungarian is far too lazy to feel bored,” gives food for thought. Only the highest and most active animals are capable of being bored.—The boredom of God on the seventh day of Creation would be a subject for a great poet.

57.

Intercourse with Animals.—The origin of our morality may still be observed in our relations [pg 226] with animals. Where advantage or the reverse do not come into play, we have a feeling of complete irresponsibility. For example, we kill or wound insects or let them live, and as a rule think no more about it. We are so clumsy that even our gracious acts towards flowers and small animals are almost always murderous: this does not in the least detract from our pleasure in them.—To-day is the festival of the small animals, the most sultry day of the year. There is a swarming and crawling around us, and we, without intention, but also without reflection, crush here and there a little fly or winged beetle.—If animals do us harm, we strive to annihilate them in every possible way. The means are often cruel enough, even without our really intending them to be so—it is the cruelty of thoughtlessness. If they are useful, we turn them to advantage, until a more refined wisdom teaches us that certain animals amply reward a different mode of treatment, that of tending and breeding. Here responsibility first arises. Torturing is avoided in the case of the domestic animal. One man is indignant if another is cruel to his cow, quite in accordance with the primitive communal morality, which sees the commonwealth in danger whenever an individual does wrong. He who perceives any transgression in the community fears indirect harm to himself. Thus we fear in this case for the quality of meat, agriculture, and means of communication if we see the domestic animals ill-treated. Moreover, he who is harsh to animals awakens a suspicion that he is also harsh to men who are weak, inferior, and incapable of revenge. He is held to be ignoble [pg 227] and deficient in the finer form of pride. Thus arises a foundation of moral judgments and sentiments, but the greatest contribution is made by superstition. Many animals incite men by glances, tones, and gestures to transfer themselves into them in imagination, and some religions teach us, under certain circumstances, to see in animals the dwelling-place of human and divine souls: whence they recommend a nobler caution or even a reverential awe in intercourse with animals. Even after the disappearance of this superstition the sentiments awakened by it continue to exercise their influence, to ripen and to blossom.—Christianity, as is well known, has shown itself in this respect a poor and retrograde religion.

58.

New Actors.—Among human beings there is no greater banality than death. Second in order, because it is possible to die without being born, comes birth, and next comes marriage. But these hackneyed little tragi-comedies are always presented, at each of their unnumbered and innumerable performances, by new actors, and accordingly do not cease to find interested spectators: whereas we might well believe that the whole audience of the world-theatre had long since hanged themselves to every tree from sheer boredom at these performances. So much depends on new actors, so little on the piece.

59.

What is “Being Obstinate”?—The shortest way is not the straightest possible, but that wherein [pg 228] favourable winds swell our sails. So says the wisdom of seamen. Not to follow his course is obstinate, firmness of character being then adulterated by stupidity.

60.

The Word “Vanity.”—It is annoying that certain words, with which we moralists positively cannot dispense, involve in themselves a kind of censorship of morals, dating from the times when the most ordinary and natural impulses were denounced. Thus that fundamental conviction that on the waves of society we either find navigable waters or suffer shipwreck far more through what we appear than through what we are (a conviction that must act as guiding principle of all action in relation to society) is branded with the general word “vanity.” In other words, one of the most weighty and significant of qualities is branded with an expression which denotes it as essentially empty and negative: a great thing is designated by a diminutive, ay, even slandered by the strokes of caricature. There is no help for it; we must use such words, but then we must shut our ears to the insinuations of ancient habits.

61.

The Fatalism of the Turk.—The fatalism of the Turk has this fundamental defect, that it contrasts man and fate as two distinct things. Man, says this doctrine, may struggle against fate and try to baffle it, but in the end fate will always gain the victory. Hence the most rational course is to [pg 229] resign oneself or to live as one pleases. As a matter of fact, every man is himself a piece of fate. When he thinks that he is struggling against fate in this way, fate is accomplishing its ends even in that struggle. The combat is a fantasy, but so is the resignation in fate—all these fantasies are included in fate.—The fear felt by most people of the doctrine that denies the freedom of the will is a fear of the fatalism of the Turk. They imagine that man will become weakly resigned and will stand before the future with folded hands, because he cannot alter anything of the future. Or that he will give a free rein to his caprices, because the predestined cannot be made worse by that course. The follies of men are as much a piece of fate as are his wise actions, and even that fear of belief in fate is a fatality. You yourself, you poor timid creature, are that indomitable Moira, which rules even the Gods; whatever may happen, you are a curse or a blessing, and in any case the fetters wherein the strongest lies bound: in you the whole future of the human world is predestined, and it is no use for you to be frightened of yourself.

62.

The Advocate of the Devil.—“Only by our own suffering do we become wise, only by others’ suffering do we become good”—so runs that strange philosophy which derives all morality from pity and all intellectuality from the isolation of the individual. Herein this philosophy is the unconscious pleader for all human deterioration. For pity needs suffering, and isolation contempt of others.

[pg 230]
63.

The Moral Character-Masks.—In ages when the character-masks of different classes are definitely fixed, like the classes themselves, moralists will be seduced into holding the moral character-masks, too, as absolute, and in delineating them accordingly. Thus Molière is intelligible as the contemporary of the society of Louis XIV.: in our society of transitions and intermediate stages he would seem an inspired pedant.

64.

The Most Noble Virtue.—In the first era of the higher humanity courage is accounted the most noble virtue, in the next justice, in the third temperance, in the fourth wisdom. In which era do we live? In which do you live?

65.

A Necessary Preliminary.—A man who will not become master of his irritability, his venomous and vengeful feelings, and his lust, and attempts to become master in anything else, is as stupid as the farmer who lays out his field beside a torrent without guarding against that torrent.

66.

What is Truth?—Schwarzert (Melanchthon): We often preach our faith when we have lost it, and leave not a stone unturned to find it—and then we often do not preach worst!

[pg 231]
Luther: Brother, you are really speaking like an angel to-day.

Schwarzert: But that is the idea of your enemies, and they apply it to you.

Luther: Then it would be a lie from the devil’s hind-quarters.

67.

The Habit of Contrasts.—Superficial, inexact observation sees contrasts everywhere in nature (for instance, “hot and cold”), where there are no contrasts, only differences of degree. This bad habit has induced us to try to understand and interpret even the inner nature, the intellectual and moral world, in accordance with such contrasts. An infinite amount of cruelty, arrogance, harshness, estrangement, and coldness has entered into human emotion, because men imagined they saw contrasts where there were only transitions.

68.

Can We Forgive?—How can we forgive them at all, if they know not what they do? We have nothing to forgive. But does a man ever fully know what he is doing? And if this point at least remains always debatable, men never have anything to forgive each other, and indulgence is for the reasonable man an impossible thing. Finally, if the evil-doers had really known what they did, we should still only have a right to forgive if we had a right to accuse and to punish. But we have not that right.

[pg 232]
69.

Habitual Shame.—Why do we feel shame when some virtue or merit is attributed to us which, as the saying goes, “we have not deserved”? Because we appear to have intruded upon a territory to which we do not belong, from which we should be excluded, as from a holy place or holy of holies, which ought not to be trodden by our foot. Through the errors of others we have, nevertheless, penetrated to it, and we are now swayed partly by fear, partly by reverence, partly by surprise; we do not know whether we ought to fly or to enjoy the blissful moment with all its gracious advantages. In all shame there is a mystery, which seems desecrated or in danger of desecration through us. All favour begets shame.—But if it be remembered that we have never really “deserved” anything, this feeling of shame, provided that we surrender ourselves to this point of view in a spirit of Christian contemplation, becomes habitual, because upon such a one God seems continually to be conferring his blessing and his favours. Apart from this Christian interpretation, the state of habitual shame will be possible even to the entirely godless sage, who clings firmly to the basic non-responsibility and non-meritoriousness of all action and being. If he be treated as if he had deserved this or that, he will seem to have won his way into a higher order of beings, who do actually deserve something, who are free and can really bear the burden of responsibility for their own volition and capacity. Whoever says to him, “You have deserved it,” appears to cry [pg 233] out to him, “You are not a human being, but a God.”

70.

The Most Unskilful Teacher.—In one man all his real virtues are implanted on the soil of his spirit of contradiction, in another on his incapacity to say “no”—in other words, on his spirit of acquiescence. A third has made all his morality grow out of his pride as a solitary, a fourth from his strong social instinct. Now, supposing that the seeds of the virtues in these four cases, owing to mischance or unskilful teachers, were not sown on the soil of their nature, which provides them with the richest and most abundant mould, they would become weak, unsatisfactory men (devoid of morality). And who would have been the most unskilful of teachers, the evil genius of these men? The moral fanatic, who thinks that the good can only grow out of the good and on the soil of the good.

71.

The Cautious Style.—A. But if this were known to all, it would be injurious to the majority. You yourself call your opinions dangerous to those in danger, and yet you make them public?

B. I write so that neither the mob, nor the populi, nor the parties of all kinds can read me. So my opinions will never be “public opinions.”

A. How do you write, then?

B. Neither usefully nor pleasantly—for the three classes I have mentioned.

[pg 234]
72.

Divine Missionaries.—Even Socrates feels himself to be a divine missionary, but I am not sure whether we should not here detect a tincture of that Attic irony and fondness for jesting whereby this odious, arrogant conception would be toned down. He talks of the fact without unction—his images of the gadfly and the horse are simple and not sacerdotal. The real religious task which he has set himself—to test God in a hundred ways and see whether he spoke the truth—betrays a bold and free attitude, in which the missionary walked by the side of his God. This testing of God is one of the most subtle compromises between piety and free-thinking that has ever been devised.—Nowadays we do not even need this compromise any longer.

73.

Honesty in Painting.—Raphael, who cared a great deal for the Church (so far as she could pay him), but, like the best men of his time, cared little for the objects of the Church’s belief, did not advance one step to meet the exacting, ecstatic piety of many of his patrons. He remained honest even in that exceptional picture which was originally intended for a banner in a procession—the Sistine Madonna. Here for once he wished to paint a vision, but such a vision as even noble youths without “faith” may and will have—the vision of the future wife, a wise, high-souled, silent, and very beautiful woman, carrying her first-born in her arms. Let men of an older generation, accustomed to prayer and devotion, find [pg 235] here, like the worthy elder on the left, something superhuman to revere. We younger men (so Raphael seems to call to us) are occupied with the beautiful maiden on the right, who says to the spectator of the picture, with her challenging and by no means devout look, “The mother and her child—is not that a pleasant, inviting sight?” The face and the look are reflected in the joy in the faces of the beholders. The artist who devised all this enjoys himself in this way, and adds his own delight to the delight of the art-lover. As regards the “messianic” expression in the face of the child, Raphael, honest man, who would not paint any state of soul in which he did not believe, has amiably cheated his religious admirers. He painted that freak of nature which is very often found, the man’s eye in the child’s face, and that, too, the eye of a brave, helpful man who sees distress. This eye should be accompanied by a beard. The fact that a beard is wanting, and that two different ages are seen in one countenance, is the pleasing paradox which believers have interpreted in accordance with their faith in miracles. The artist could only expect as much from their art of exposition and interpretation.

74.

Prayer.—On two hypotheses alone is there any sense in prayer, that not quite extinct custom of olden times. It would have to be possible either to fix or alter the will of the godhead, and the devotee would have to know best himself what he needs and should really desire. Both hypotheses, [pg 236] axiomatic and traditional in all other religions, are denied by Christianity. If Christianity nevertheless maintained prayer side by side with its belief in the all-wise and all-provident divine reason (a belief that makes prayer really senseless and even blasphemous), it showed here once more its admirable “wisdom of the serpent.” For an outspoken command, “Thou shalt not pray,” would have led Christians by way of boredom to the denial of Christianity. In the Christian ora et labora ora plays the rôle of pleasure. Without ora what could those unlucky saints who renounced labora have done? But to have a chat with God, to ask him for all kinds of pleasant things, to feel a slight amusement at one’s own folly in still having any wishes at all, in spite of so excellent a father—all that was an admirable invention for saints.

75.

A Holy Lie.—The lie that was on Arria’s lips when she died (Paete, non dolet19) obscures all the truths that have ever been uttered by the dying. It is the only holy lie that has become famous, whereas elsewhere the odour of sanctity has clung only to errors.

76.

The Most Necessary Apostle.—Among twelve apostles one must always be hard as stone, in order that upon him the new church may be built.

[pg 237]
77.

Which is more Transitory, the Body or the Spirit?—In legal, moral, and religious institutions the external and concrete elements—in other words, rites, gestures, and ceremonies—are the most permanent. They are the body to which a new spirit is constantly being superadded. The cult, like an unchangeable text, is ever interpreted anew. Concepts and emotions are fluid, customs are solid.

78.

The Belief in Disease qua Disease.—Christianity first painted the devil on the wall of the world. Christianity first brought the idea of sin into the world. The belief in the remedies, which is offered as an antidote, has gradually been shaken to its very foundations. But the belief in the disease, which Christianity has taught and propagated, still exists.

79.

Speech and Writings of Religious Men.—If the priest’s style and general expression, both in speaking and writing, do not clearly betray the religious man, we need no longer take his views upon religion and his pleading for religion seriously. These opinions have become powerless for him if, judging by his style, he has at command irony, arrogance, malice, hatred, and all the changing eddies of mood, just like the most irreligious of men—how far more powerless will they be for his [pg 238] hearers and readers! In short, he will serve to make the latter still more irreligious.

80.

The Danger in Personality.—The more God has been regarded as a personality in himself, the less loyal have we been to him. Men are far more attached to their thought-images than to their best beloved. That is why they sacrifice themselves for State, Church, and even for God—so far as he remains their creation, their thought, and is not too much looked upon as a personality. In the latter case they almost always quarrel with him. After all, it was the most pious of men who let slip that bitter cry: “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

81.

Worldly Justice.—It is possible to unhinge worldly justice with the doctrine of the complete non-responsibility and innocence of every man. An attempt has been made in the same direction on the basis of the opposite doctrine of the full responsibility and guilt of every man. It was the founder of Christianity who wished to abolish worldly justice and banish judgment and punishment from the world. For he understood all guilt as “sin”—that is, an outrage against God and not against the world. On the other hand, he considered every man in a broad sense, and almost in every sense, a sinner. The guilty, however, are not to be the judges of their peers—so his rules [pg 239] of equity decided. Thus all dispensers of worldly justice were in his eyes as culpable as those they condemned, and their air of guiltlessness appeared to him hypocritical and pharisaical. Moreover, he looked to the motives and not to the results of actions, and thought that only one was keen-sighted enough to give a verdict on motives—himself or, as he expressed it, God.

82.

An Affectation in Parting.—He who wishes to sever his connection with a party or a creed thinks it necessary for him to refute it. This is a most arrogant notion. The only thing necessary is that he should clearly see what tentacles hitherto held him to this party or creed and no longer hold him, what views impelled him to it and now impel him in some other directions. We have not joined the party or creed on strict grounds of knowledge. We should not affect this attitude on parting from it either.

83.

Saviour and Physician.—In his knowledge of the human soul the founder of Christianity was, as is natural, not without many great deficiencies and prejudices, and, as physician of the soul, was addicted to that disreputable, laical belief in a universal medicine. In his methods he sometimes resembles that dentist who wishes to heal all pain by extracting the tooth. Thus, for example, he assails sensuality with the advice: “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out.”—Yet there still remains the distinction [pg 240] that the dentist at least attains his object—painlessness for the patient—although in so clumsy a fashion that he becomes ridiculous; whereas the Christian who follows that advice and thinks he has killed his sensuality, is wrong, for his sensuality still lives in an uncanny, vampire form, and torments him in hideous disguises.

84.

Prisoners.—One morning the prisoners entered the yard for work, but the warder was not there. Some, as their manner was, set to work at once; others stood idle and gazed defiantly around. Then one of them strode forward and cried, “Work as much as you will or do nothing, it all comes to the same. Your secret machinations have come to light; the warder has been keeping his eye on you of late, and will cause a terrible judgment to be passed upon you in a few days’ time. You know him—he is of a cruel and resentful disposition. But now, listen: you have mistaken me hitherto. I am not what I seem, but far more—I am the son of the warder, and can get anything I like out of him. I can save you—nay, I will save you. But remember this: I will only save those of you who believe that I am the son of the prison warder. The rest may reap the fruits of their unbelief.” “Well,” said an old prisoner after an interval of silence, “what can it matter to you whether we believe you or not? If you are really the son, and can do what you say, then put in a good word for us all. That would be a real kindness on your part. But have done with all talk of belief and [pg 241] unbelief!” “What is more,” cried a younger man, “I don’t believe him: he has only got a bee in his bonnet. I’ll wager that in a week’s time we shall find ourselves in the same place as we are to-day, and the warder will know nothing.” “And if the warder ever knew anything, he knows it no longer,” said the last of the prisoners, coming down into the yard at that moment, “for he has just died suddenly.” “Ah ha!” cried several in confusion, “ah ha! Sir Son, Sir Son, how stands it now with your title? Are we by any chance your prisoners now?” “I told you,” answered the man gently, “I will set free all who believe in me, as surely as my father still lives.”—The prisoners did not laugh, but shrugged their shoulders and left him to himself.

85.

The Persecutors of God.—Paul conceived and Calvin followed up the idea that countless creatures have been predestined to damnation from time immemorial, and that this fair world was made in order that the glory of God might be manifested therein. So heaven and hell and mankind merely exist to satisfy the vanity of God! What a cruel, insatiable vanity must have smouldered in the soul of the first or second thinker of such a thought!—Paul, then, after all, remained Saul—the persecutor of God.

86.

Socrates.—If all goes well, the time will come when, in order to advance themselves on the path [pg 242] of moral reason, men will rather take up the Memorabilia of Socrates than the Bible, and when Montaigne and Horace will be used as pioneers and guides for the understanding of Socrates, the simplest and most enduring of interpretative sages. In him converge the roads of the most different philosophic modes of life, which are in truth the modes of the different temperaments, crystallised by reason and habit and all ultimately directed towards the delight in life and in self. The apparent conclusion is that the most peculiar thing about Socrates was his share in all the temperaments. Socrates excels the founder of Christianity by virtue of his merry style of seriousness and by that wisdom of sheer roguish pranks which constitutes the best state of soul in a man. Moreover, he had a superior intelligence.

87.

Learning to Write Well.—The age of good speaking is over, because the age of city-state culture is over. The limit allowed by Aristotle to the great city—in which the town-crier must be able to make himself heard by the whole assembled community—troubles us as little as do any city-communities, us who even wish to be understood beyond the boundaries of nations. Therefore every one who is of a good European turn of mind must learn to write well, and to write better and better. He cannot help himself, he must learn that: even if he was born in Germany, where bad writing is looked upon as a national privilege. Better writing means better thinking; always to [pg 243] discover matter more worthy of communication; to be able to communicate it properly; to be translateable into the tongues of neighbouring nations; to make oneself comprehensible to foreigners who learn our language; to work with the view of making all that is good common property, and of giving free access everywhere to the free; finally, to pave the way for that still remote state of things, when the great task shall come for good Europeans—guidance and guardianship of the universal world-culture.—Whoever preaches the opposite doctrine of not troubling about good writing and good reading (both virtues grow together and decline together) is really showing the peoples a way of becoming more and more national. He is intensifying the malady of this century, and is a foe to good Europeans, a foe to free spirits.

88.

The Theory of the Best Style.—The theory of the best style may at one time be the theory of finding the expression by which we transfer every mood of ours to the reader and the listener. At another, it may be the theory of finding expressions for the more desirable human moods, the communication and transference of which one desires most—for the mood of a man moved from the depth of his heart, intellectually cheerful, bright, and sincere, who has conquered his passions. This will be the theory of the best style, a theory that corresponds to the good man.

[pg 244]
89.

Paying Attention to Movement.—The movement of the sentences shows whether the author be tired. Individual expressions may nevertheless be still strong and good, because they were invented earlier and for their own sake, when the thought first flashed across the author’s mind. This is frequently the case with Goethe, who too often dictated when he was tired.

90.

“Already” and “Still.”—A. German prose is still very young. Goethe declares that Wieland is its father.

B. So young and already so ugly!

C. But, so far as I am aware, Bishop Ulfilas already wrote German prose, which must therefore be fifteen hundred years old.

B. So old and still so ugly!

91.

Original German.—German prose, which is really not fashioned on any pattern and must be considered an original creation of German taste, should give the eager advocate of a future original German culture an indication of how real German dress, German society, German furniture, German meals would look without the imitation of models.—Some one who had long reflected on these vistas finally cried in great horror, “But, Heaven help us, perhaps we already have that original culture—only we don’t like to talk about it!”

[pg 245]
92.

Forbidden Books.—One should never read anything written by those arrogant wiseacres and puzzle-brains who have the detestable vice of logical paradox. They apply logical formulæ just where everything is really improvised at random and built in the air. (“Therefore” with them means, “You idiot of a reader, this ‘therefore’ does not exist for you, but only for me.” The answer to this is: “You idiot of a writer, then why do you write?”)

93.

Displaying One’s Wit.—Every one who wishes to display his wit thereby proclaims that he has also a plentiful lack of wit. That vice which clever Frenchmen have of adding a touch of dédain to their best ideas arises from a desire to be considered richer than they really are. They wish to be carelessly generous, as if weary of continual spending from overfull treasuries.

94.

French and German Literature.—The misfortune of the French and German literature of the last hundred years is that the Germans ran away too early from the French school, and the French, later on, went too early to the German school.

95.

Our Prose.—None of the present-day cultured nations has so bad a prose as the German. When [pg 246] clever, blasé Frenchmen say, “There is no German prose,” we ought really not to be angry, for this criticism is more polite than we deserve. If we look for reasons, we come at last to the strange phenomenon that the German knows only improvised prose and has no conception of any other. He simply cannot understand the Italian, who says that prose is as much harder than poetry as the representation of naked beauty is harder to the sculptor than that of draped beauty. Verse, images, rhythm, and rhyme need honest effort—that even the German realises, and he is not inclined to set a very high value on extempore poetry. But the notion of working at a page of prose as at a statue sounds to him like a tale from fairyland.

96.

The Grand Style.—The grand style comes into being when the beautiful wins a victory over the monstrous.

97.

Dodging.—We do not realise, in the case of distinguished minds, wherein lies the excellence of their expression, their turn of phrase, until we can say what word every mediocre writer would inevitably have hit upon in expressing the same idea. All great artists, in steering their car, show themselves prone to dodge and leave the track, but never to fall over.

98.

Something like Bread.—Bread neutralises and takes out the taste of other food, and is therefore [pg 247] necessary to every long meal. In all works of art there must be something like bread, in order that they may produce divers effects. If these effects followed one another without occasional pauses and intervals, they would soon make us weary and provoke disgust—in fact, a long meal of art would then be impossible.

99.

Jean Paul.—Jean Paul knew a great deal, but had no science; understood all manner of tricks of art, but had no art; found almost everything enjoyable, but had no taste; possessed feeling and seriousness, but in dispensing them poured over them a nauseous sauce of tears; had even wit, but, unfortunately for his ardent desire for it, far too little—whence he drives the reader to despair by his very lack of wit. In short, he was the bright, rank-smelling weed that shot up overnight in the fair pleasaunces of Schiller and Goethe. He was a good, comfortable man, and yet a destiny, a destiny in a dressing-gown.20

100.

Palate for Opposites.—In order to enjoy a work of the past as its contemporaries enjoyed it, one must have a palate for the prevailing taste of the age which it attacked.

[pg 248]
101.

Spirits-of-Wine Authors.—Many writers are neither spirit nor wine, but spirits of wine. They can flare up, and then they give warmth.

102.

The Interpretative Sense.—The sense of taste, as the true interpretative sense, often talks the other senses over to its point of view and imposes upon them its laws and customs. At table one can receive disclosures about the most subtle secrets of the arts; it suffices to observe what tastes good and when and after what and how long it tastes good.

103.

Lessing.—Lessing had a genuine French talent, and, as writer, went most assiduously to the French school. He knows well how to arrange and display his wares in his shop-window. Without this true art his thoughts, like the objects of them, would have remained rather in the dark, nor would the general loss be great. His art, however, has taught many (especially the last generation of German scholars) and has given enjoyment to a countless number. It is true his disciples had no need to learn from him, as they often did, his unpleasant tone with its mingling of petulance and candour.—Opinion is now unanimous on Lessing as “lyric poet,” and will some day be unanimous on Lessing as “dramatic poet.”

104.

Undesirable Readers.—How an author is vexed by those stolid, awkward readers who always [pg 249] fall at every place where they stumble, and always hurt themselves when they fall!

105.

Poets’ Thoughts.—Real thoughts of real poets always go about with a veil on, like Egyptian women; only the deep eye of thought looks out freely through the veil.—Poets’ thoughts are as a rule not of such value as is supposed. We have to pay for the veil and for our own curiosity into the bargain.

106.

Write Simply and Usefully.—Transitions, details, colour in depicting the passions—we make a present of all these to the author because we bring them with us and set them down to the credit of his book, provided he makes us some compensation.

107.

Wieland.—Wieland wrote German better than any one else, and had the genuine adequacies and inadequacies of the master. His translations of the letters of Cicero and Lucian are the best in the language. His ideas, however, add nothing to our store of thought. We can endure his cheerful moralities as little as his cheerful immoralities, for both are very closely connected. The men who enjoyed them were at bottom better men than we are, but also a good deal heavier. They needed an author of this sort. The Germans did not need Goethe, and therefore cannot make proper use of him. We have [pg 250] only to consider the best of our statesmen and artists in this light. None of them had or could have had Goethe as their teacher.

108.

Rare Festivals.—Pithy conciseness, repose, and maturity—where you find these qualities in an author, cry halt and celebrate a great festival in the desert. It will be long before you have such a treat again.

109.

The Treasure of German Prose.—Apart from Goethe’s writings and especially Goethe’s conversations with Eckermann (the best German book in existence), what German prose literature remains that is worth reading over and over again? Lichtenberg’s Aphorisms, the first book of Jung-Stilling’s Story of My Life, Adalbert Stifter’s St. Martin’s Summer and Gottfried Keller’s People of Seldwyla—and there, for the time being, it comes to an end.

110.

Literary and Colloquial Style.—The art of writing demands, first and foremost, substitutions for the means of expression which speech alone possesses—in other words, for gestures, accent, intonation, and look. Hence literary style is quite different from colloquial style, and far more difficult, because it has to make itself as intelligible as the latter with fewer accessaries. Demosthenes delivered his speeches differently from what we read; he [pg 251] worked them up for reading purposes.—Cicero’s speeches ought to be “demosthenised” with the same object, for at present they contain more of the Roman Forum than we can endure.

111.

Caution in Quotation.—Young authors do not know that a good expression or idea only looks well among its peers; that an excellent quotation may spoil whole pages, nay the whole book; for it seems to cry warningly to the reader, “Mark you, I am the precious stone, and round about me is lead—pale, worthless lead!” Every word, every idea only desires to live in its own company—that is the moral of a choice style.

112.

How should Errors be Enunciated?—We may dispute whether it be more injurious for errors to be enunciated badly or as well as the best truths. It is certain that in the former case they are doubly harmful to the brain and are less easily removed from it. But, on the other hand, they are not so certain of effect as in the latter case. They are, in fact, less contagious.

113.

Limiting and Widening.—Homer limited and diminished the horizon of his subject, but allowed individual scenes to expand and blossom out. Later, the tragedians are constantly renewing this process. Each takes his material in ever smaller and smaller fragments than his predecessor did, but [pg 252] each attains a greater wealth of blooms within the narrow hedges of these sequestered garden enclosures.

114.

Literature and Morality Mutually Explanatory.—We can show from Greek literature by what forces the Greek spirit developed, how it entered upon different channels, and where it became enfeebled. All this also depicts to us how Greek morality proceeded, and how all morality will proceed: how it was at first a constraint and displayed cruelty, then became gradually milder; how a pleasure in certain actions, in certain forms and conventions arose, and from this again a propensity for solitary exercise, for solitary possession; how the track becomes crowded and overcrowded with competitors; how satiety enters in, new objects of struggle and ambition are sought, and forgotten aims are awakened to life; how the drama is repeated, and the spectators become altogether weary of looking on, because the whole gamut seems to have been run through—and then comes a stoppage, an expiration, and the rivulets are lost in the sand. The end, or at any rate an end, has come.

115.

What Landscapes give Permanent Delight.—Such and such a landscape has features eminently suited for painting, but I cannot find the formula for it; it remains beyond my grasp as a whole. I notice that all landscapes which please me permanently have a simple geometrical scheme [pg 253] of lines underneath all their complexity. Without such a mathematical substratum no scenery becomes artistically pleasing. Perhaps this rule may be applied symbolically to human beings.

116.

Reading Aloud.—The ability to read aloud involves of necessity the ability to declaim. Everywhere we must apply pale tints, but we must determine the degree of pallor in close relation to the richly and deeply coloured background, that always hovers before our eyes and acts as our guide—in other words, in accordance with the way in which we should declaim the same passages. That is why we must be able to declaim.

117.

The Dramatic Sense.—He who has not the four subtler senses of art tries to understand everything with the fifth sense, which is the coarsest of all—the dramatic sense.

118.

Herder.—Herder fails to be all that he made people think he was and himself wished to think he was. He was no great thinker or discoverer, no newly fertile soil with the unexhausted strength of a virgin forest. But he possessed in the highest degree the power of scenting the future, he saw and picked the first-fruits of the seasons earlier than all others, and they then believed that he had made them grow. Between darkness and light, youth and age, [pg 254] his mind was like a hunter on the watch, looking everywhere for transitions, depressions, convulsions, the outward and visible signs of internal growth. The unrest of spring drove him to and fro, but he was himself not the spring.—At times, indeed, he had some inkling of this, and yet would fain not have believed it—he, the ambitious priest, who would have so gladly been the intellectual pope of his epoch! This is his despair. He seems to have lived long as a pretender to several kingdoms or even to a universal monarchy. He had his following which believed in him, among others the young Goethe. But whenever crowns were really distributed, he was passed over. Kant, Goethe, and then the first true German historians and scholars robbed him of what he thought he had reserved for himself (although in silence and secret he often thought the reverse). Just when he doubted in himself, he gladly clothed himself in dignity and enthusiasm: these were often in him mere garments, which had to hide a great deal and also to deceive and comfort him. He really had fire and enthusiasm, but his ambition was far greater! It blew impatiently at the fire, which flickered, crackled, and smoked—his style flickers, crackles, and smokes—but he yearned for the great flame which never broke out. He did not sit at the table of the genuine creators, and his ambition did not admit of his sitting modestly among those who simply enjoy. Thus he was a restless spirit, the taster of all intellectual dishes, which were collected by the Germans from every quarter and every age in the course of half a century. Never really happy and satisfied, Herder was also [pg 255] too often ill, and then at times envy sat by his bed, and hypocrisy paid her visit as well. He always had an air of being scarred and crippled, and he lacked simple, stalwart manliness more completely than any of the so-called “classical writers.”

119.

Scent of Words.—Every word has its scent; there is a harmony and discord of scents, and so too of words.

120.

The Far-Fetched Style.—The natural style is an offence to the lover of the far-fetched style.

121.

A Vow.—I will never again read an author of whom one can suspect that he wanted to make a book, but only those writers whose thoughts unexpectedly became a book.

122.

The Artistic Convention.—Three-fourths of Homer is convention, and the same is the case with all the Greek artists, who had no reason for falling into the modern craze for originality. They had no fear of convention, for after all convention was a link between them and their public. Conventions are the artistic means acquired for the understanding of the hearer; the common speech, learnt with much toil, whereby the artist can really communicate his ideas. All the more when he wishes, like [pg 256] the Greek poets and musicians, to conquer at once with each of his works (since he is accustomed to compete publicly with one or two rivals), the first condition is that he must be understood at once, and this is only possible by means of convention. What the artist devises beyond convention he offers of his own free will and takes a risk, his success at best resulting in the setting-up of a new convention. As a rule originality is marvelled at, sometimes even worshipped, but seldom understood. A stubborn avoidance of convention means a desire not to be understood. What, then, is the object of the modern craze for originality?

123.

Artists’ Affectation of Scientific Method.—Schiller, like other German artists, fancied that if a man had intellect he was entitled to improvise even with the pen on all difficult subjects. So there we see his prose essays—in every way a model of how not to attack scientific questions of æsthetics and ethics, and a danger for young readers who, in their admiration for Schiller the poet, have not the courage to think meanly of Schiller the thinker and author.—The temptation to traverse for once the forbidden paths, and to have his say in science as well, is easy and pardonable in the artist. For even the ablest artist from time to time finds his handicraft and his workshop unendurable. This temptation is so strong that it makes the artist show all the world what no one wishes to see, that his little chamber of thought is cramped and untidy. Why [pg 257] not, indeed? He does not live there. He proceeds to show that the storeroom of his knowledge is partly empty, partly filled with lumber. Why not, indeed? This condition does not really become the artist-child badly. In particular, the artist shows that for the very easiest exercises of scientific method, which are accessible even to beginners, his joints are too stiff and untrained. Even of that he need not really be ashamed! On the other hand, he often develops no mean art in imitating all the mistakes, vices, and base pedantries that are practised in the scientific community, in the belief that these belong to the appearance of the thing, if not to the thing itself. This is the very point that is so amusing in artists’ writing, that the artist involuntarily acts as his vocation demands: he parodies the scientific and inartistic natures. Towards science he should show no attitude but that of parody, in so far as he is an artist and only an artist.

124.

The Faust-Idea.—A little sempstress is seduced and plunged into despair: a great scholar of all the four Faculties is the evil-doer. That cannot have happened in the ordinary course, surely? No, certainly not! Without the aid of the devil incarnate, the great scholar would never have achieved the deed.—Is this really destined to be the greatest German “tragic idea,” as one hears it said among Germans?—But for Goethe even this idea was too terrible. His kind heart could not avoid placing the little sempstress, “the good soul that forgot [pg 258] itself but once,” near to the saints, after her involuntary death. Even the great scholar, “the good man” with “the dark impulse,” is brought into heaven in the nick of time, by a trick which is played upon the devil at the decisive moment. In heaven the lovers find themselves again. Goethe once said that his nature was too conciliatory for really tragic subjects.

125.

Are there “German Classics”?—Sainte-Beuve observes somewhere that the word “classic” does not suit the genius of certain literatures. For instance, nobody could talk seriously of “German classics.”—What do our German publishers, who are about to add fifty more to the fifty German classics we are told to accept, say to that? Does it not almost seem as if one need only have been dead for the last thirty years, and lie a lawful prey to the public,21 in order to hear suddenly and unexpectedly the trumpet of resurrection as a “Classic”? And this in an age and a nation where at least five out of the six great fathers of its literature are undoubtedly antiquated or becoming antiquated—without there being any need for the age or the nation to be ashamed of this. For those writers have given way before the strength of our time—let that be considered in all fairness!—Goethe, as I have indicated, I do not include. He belongs to a higher species than “national literatures”: hence life, revival, [pg 259] and decay do not enter into the reckoning in his relations with his countrymen. He lived and now lives but for the few; for the majority he is nothing but a flourish of vanity which is trumpeted from time to time across the border into foreign ears. Goethe, not merely a great and good man, but a culture, is in German history an interlude without a sequel. Who, for instance, would be able to point to any trace of Goethe’s influence in German politics of the last seventy years (whereas the influence, certainly of Schiller, and perhaps of Lessing, can be traced in the political world)? But what of those five others? Klopstock, in a most honourable way, became out of date even in his own lifetime, and so completely that the meditative book of his later years, The Republic of Learning, has never been taken seriously from that day to this. Herder’s misfortune was that his writings were always either new or antiquated. Thus for stronger and more subtle minds (like Lichtenberg) even Herder’s masterpiece, his Ideas for the History of Mankind, was in a way antiquated at the very moment of its appearance. Wieland, who lived to the full and made others live likewise, was clever enough to anticipate by death the waning of his influence. Lessing, perhaps, still lives to-day—but among a young and ever younger band of scholars. Schiller has fallen from the hands of young men into those of boys, of all German boys. It is a well-known sign of obsolescence when a book descends to people of less and less mature age.—Well, what is it that has thrust these five into the background, so that well-educated men of affairs no longer read [pg 260] them? A better taste, a riper knowledge, a higher reverence for the real and the true: in other words, the very virtues which these five (and ten or twenty others of lesser repute) first re-planted in Germany, and which now, like a mighty forest, cast over their graves not only the shadow of awe, but something of the shadow of oblivion.—But classical writers are not planters of intellectual and literary virtues. They bring those virtues to perfection and are their highest luminous peaks, and being brighter, freer, and purer than all that surrounds them, they remain shining above the nations when the nations themselves perish. There may come an elevated stage of humanity, in which the Europe of the peoples is a dark, forgotten thing, but Europe lives on in thirty books, very old but never antiquated—in the classics.

126.

Interesting, but not Beautiful.—This countryside conceals its meaning, but it has one that we should like to guess. Everywhere that I look, I read words and hints of words, but I do not know where begins the sentence that solves the riddle of all these hints. So I get a stiff neck in trying to discover whether I should start reading from this or that point.

127.

Against Innovators in Language.—The use of neologisms or archaisms, the preference for the rare and the bizarre, the attempt to enrich rather than to limit the vocabulary, are always signs either [pg 261] of an immature or of a corrupted taste. A noble poverty but a masterly freedom within the limits of that modest wealth distinguishes the Greek artists in oratory. They wish to have less than the people has—for the people is richest in old and new—but they wish to have that little better. The reckoning up of their archaic and exotic forms is soon done, but we never cease marvelling if we have an eye for their light and delicate manner in handling the commonplace and apparently long outworn elements in word and phrase.

128.

Gloomy and Serious Authors.—He who commits his sufferings to paper becomes a gloomy author, but he becomes a serious one if he tells us what he has suffered and why he is now enjoying a pleasurable repose.

129.

Healthiness of Taste.—How is it that health is less contagious than disease—generally, and particularly in matters of taste? Or are there epidemics of health?

130.

A Resolution.—Never again to read a book that is born and christened (with ink) at the same moment.

131.

Improving our Ideas.—Improving our style means improving our ideas, and nothing else. He [pg 262] who does not at once concede this can never be convinced of the point.

132.

Classical Books.—The weakest point in every classical book is that it is written too much in the mother tongue of its author.

133.

Bad Books.—The book should demand pen, ink, and desk, but usually it is pen, ink, and desk that demand the book. That is why books are of so little account at present.

134.

Presence of Sense.—When the public reflects on paintings, it becomes a poet; when on poems, an investigator. At the moment when the artist summons it it is always lacking in the right sense, and accordingly in presence of sense, not in presence of mind.

135.

Choice Ideas.—The choice style of a momentous period does not only select its words but its ideas—and both from the customary and prevailing usage. Venturesome ideas, that smell too fresh, are to the maturer taste no less repugnant than new and reckless images and phrases. Later on both choice ideas and choice words soon smack of mediocrity, because the scent of the choice vanishes quickly, and then nothing but the customary and commonplace element is tasted.

[pg 263]
136.

Main Reason for Corruption of Style.—The desire to display more sentiment than one really feels for a thing corrupts style, in language and in all art. All great art shows rather the opposite tendency. Like every man of moral significance, it loves to check emotion on its way and not let it run its course to the very end. This modesty of letting emotion but half appear is most clearly to be observed, for example, in Sophocles. The features of sentiment seem to become beautified when sentiment feigns to be more shy than it really is.

137.

An Excuse for the Heavy Style.—The lightly uttered phrase seldom falls on the ear with the full weight of the subject. This is, however, due to the bad training of the ear, which by education must pass from what has hitherto been called music to the school of the higher harmony—in other words, to conversation.

138.

Bird’s-Eye Views.—Here torrents rush from every side into a ravine: their movement is so swift and stormy, and carries the eye along so quickly, that the bare or wooded mountain slopes around seem not to sink down but to fly down. We are in an agonised tension at the sight, as if behind all this were hidden some hostile element, before which all must fly, and against which the abyss alone gave protection. This landscape cannot be painted, unless [pg 264] we hover above it like a bird in the open air. Here for once the so-called bird’s-eye view is not an artistic caprice, but the sole possibility.

139.

Rash Comparisons.—If rash comparisons are not proofs of the wantonness of the writer, they are proofs of the exhaustion of his imagination. In any case they bear witness to his bad taste.

140.

Dancing in Chains.—In the case of every Greek artist, poet, or writer we must ask: What is the new constraint which he imposes upon himself and makes attractive to his contemporaries, so as to find imitators? For the thing called “invention” (in metre, for example) is always a self-imposed fetter of this kind. “Dancing in chains”—to make that hard for themselves and then to spread a false notion that it is easy—that is the trick that they wish to show us. Even in Homer we may perceive a wealth of inherited formulæ and laws of epic narration, within the circle of which he had to dance, and he himself created new conventions for them that came after. This was the discipline of the Greek poets: first to impose upon themselves a manifold constraint by means of the earlier poets; then to invent in addition a new constraint, to impose it upon themselves and cheerfully to overcome it, so that constraint and victory are perceived and admired.

[pg 265]
141.

Authors’ Copiousness.—The last quality that a good author acquires is copiousness: whoever has it to begin with will never become a good author. The noblest racehorses are lean until they are permitted to rest from their victories.

142.

Wheezing Heroes.—Poets and artists who suffer from a narrow chest of the emotions generally make their heroes wheeze. They do not know what easy breathing means.

143.

The Short-Sighted.22—The short-sighted are the deadly foes of all authors who let themselves go. These authors should know the wrath with which these people shut the book in which they observe that its creator needs fifty pages to express five ideas. And the cause of their wrath is that they have endangered what remains of their vision almost without compensation. A short-sighted person said, “All authors let themselves go.” “Even the Holy Ghost?” “Even the Holy Ghost.” But he had a right to, for he wrote for those who had lost their sight altogether.

144.

The Style of Immortality.—Thucydides and Tacitus both imagined immortal life for their works when they executed them. That might be guessed [pg 266] (if not known otherwise) from their style. The one thought to give permanence to his ideas by salting them, the other by boiling them down; and neither, it seems, made a miscalculation.

145.

Against Images and Similes.—By images and similes we convince, but we do not prove. That is why science has such a horror of images and similes. Science does not want to convince or make plausible, and rather seeks to provoke cold distrust by its mode of expression, by the bareness of its walls. For distrust is the touchstone for the gold of certainty.

146.

Caution.—In Germany, he who lacks thorough knowledge should beware of writing. The good German does not say in that case “he is ignorant,” but “he is of doubtful character.”—This hasty conclusion, by the way, does great credit to the Germans.

147.

Painted Skeletons.—Painted skeletons are those authors who try to make up for their want of flesh by artistic colourings.

148.

The Grand Style and Something Better.—It is easier to learn how to write the grand style than how to write easily and simply. The reasons for this are inextricably bound up with morality.

[pg 267]
149.

Sebastian Bach.—In so far as we do not hear Bach’s music as perfect and experienced connoisseurs of counterpoint and all the varieties of the fugal style (and accordingly must dispense with real artistic enjoyment), we shall feel in listening to his music—in Goethe’s magnificent phrase—as if “we were present at God’s creation of the world.” In other words, we feel here that something great is in the making but not yet made—our mighty modern music, which by conquering nationalities, the Church, and counterpoint has conquered the world. In Bach there is still too much crude Christianity, crude Germanism, crude scholasticism. He stands on the threshold of modern European music, but turns from thence to look at the Middle Ages.

150.

Händel.—Händel, who in the invention of his music was bold, original, truthful, powerful, inclined to and akin to all the heroism of which a nation is capable, often proved stiff, cold, nay even weary of himself in composition. He applied a few well-tried methods of execution, wrote copiously and quickly, and was glad when he had finished—but that joy was not the joy of God and other creators in the eventide of their working day.

151.

Haydn.—So far as genius can exist in a man who is merely good, Haydn had genius. He went [pg 268] just as far as the limit which morality sets to intellect, and only wrote music that has “no past.”

152.

Beethoven and Mozart.—Beethoven’s music often appears like a deeply emotional meditation on unexpectedly hearing once more a piece long thought to be forgotten, “Tonal Innocence”: it is music about music. In the song of the beggar and child in the street, in the monotonous airs of vagrant Italians, in the dance of the village inn or in carnival nights he discovers his melodies. He stores them together like a bee, snatching here and there some notes or a short phrase. To him these are hallowed memories of “the better world,” like the ideas of Plato.—Mozart stands in quite a different relation to his melodies. He finds his inspiration not in hearing music but in gazing at life, at the most stirring life of southern lands. He was always dreaming of Italy, when he was not there.

153.

Recitative.—Formerly recitative was dry, but now we live in the age of moist recitative. It has fallen into the water, and the waves carry it whithersoever they list.

154.

“Cheerful” Music.—If for a long time we have heard no music, it then goes like a heavy southern wine all too quickly into the blood and leaves behind it a soul dazed with narcotics, half-awake, [pg 269] longing for sleep. This is particularly the case with cheerful music, which inspires in us bitterness and pain, satiety and home-sickness together, and forces us to sip again and again as at a sweetened draught of poison. The hall of gay, noisy merriment then seems to grow narrow, the light to lose its brightness and become browner. At last we feel as if this music were penetrating to a prison where a poor wretch cannot sleep for home-sickness.

155.

Franz Schubert.—Franz Schubert, inferior as an artist to the other great musicians, had nevertheless the largest share of inherited musical wealth. He spent it with a free hand and a kind heart, so that for a few centuries musicians will continue to nibble at his ideas and inspirations. In his works we find a store of unused inventions; the greatness of others will lie in making use of those inventions. If Beethoven may be called the ideal listener for a troubadour, Schubert has a right to be called the ideal troubadour.

156.

Modern Musical Execution.—Great tragic or dramatic execution of music acquires its character by imitating the gesture of the great sinner, such as Christianity conceives and desires him: the slow-stepping, passionately brooding man, distracted by the agonies of conscience, now flying in terror, now clutching with delight, now standing still in despair—and all the other marks of great sinfulness. [pg 270] Only on the Christian assumption that all men are great sinners and do nothing but sin could we justify the application of this style of execution to all music. So far, music would be the reflection of all the actions and impulses of man, and would continually have to express by gestures the language of the great sinner. At such a performance, a listener who was not enough of a Christian to understand this logic might indeed cry out in horror, “For the love of Heaven, how did sin find its way into music?”

157.

Felix Mendelssohn.—Felix Mendelssohn’s music is the music of the good taste that enjoys all the good things that have ever existed. It always points behind. How could it have much “in front,” much of a future?—But did he want it to have a future? He possessed a virtue rare among artists, that of gratitude without arrière-pensée. This virtue, too, always points behind.

158.

A Mother of Arts.—In our sceptical age, real devotion requires almost a brutal heroism of ambition. Fanatical shutting of the eyes and bending of the knee no longer suffice. Would it not be possible for ambition—in its eagerness to be the last devotee of all the ages—to become the begetter of a final church music, as it has been the begetter of the final church architecture? (They call it the Jesuit style.)

[pg 271]
159.

Freedom in Fetters—a Princely Freedom.—Chopin, the last of the modern musicians, who gazed at and worshipped beauty, like Leopardi; Chopin, the Pole, the inimitable (none that came before or after him has a right to this name)—Chopin had the same princely punctilio in convention that Raphael shows in the use of the simplest traditional colours. The only difference is that Chopin applies them not to colour but to melodic and rhythmic traditions. He admitted the validity of these traditions because he was born under the sway of etiquette. But in these fetters he plays and dances as the freest and daintiest of spirits, and, be it observed, he does not spurn the chain.

160.

Chopin’s Barcarolle.—Almost all states and modes of life have a moment of rapture, and good artists know how to discover that moment. Such a moment there is even in life by the seashore—that dreary, sordid, unhealthy existence, dragged out in the neighbourhood of a noisy and covetous rabble. This moment of rapture Chopin in his Barcarolle expressed in sound so supremely that Gods themselves, when they heard it, might yearn to lie long summer evenings in a boat.

161.

Robert Schumann.—“The Stripling,” as the romantic songsters of Germany and France of the [pg 272] first three decades of this century imagined him—this stripling was completely translated into song and melody by Robert Schumann, the eternal youth, so long as he felt himself in full possession of his powers. There are indeed moments when his music reminds one of the eternal “old maid.”

162.

Dramatic Singers.—“Why does this beggar sing?” “Probably he does not know how to wail.” “Then he does right.” But our dramatic singers, who wail because they do not know how to sing—are they also in the right?

163.

Dramatic Music.—For him who does not see what is happening on the stage, dramatic music is a monstrosity, just as the running commentary to a lost text is a monstrosity. Such music requires us to have ears where our eyes are. This, however, is doing violence to Euterpe, who, poor Muse, wants to have her eyes and ears where the other Muses have theirs.

164.

Victory and Reasonableness.—Unfortunately in the æsthetic wars, which artists provoke by their works and apologias for their works, just as is the case in real war, it is might and not reason that decides. All the world now assumes as a historical fact that, in his dispute with Piccini, Gluck was in the right. At any rate, he was victorious, and had might on his side.

[pg 273]
165.

Of the Principle of Musical Execution.—Do the modern musical performers really believe that the supreme law of their art is to give every piece as much high-relief as is possible, and to make it speak at all costs a dramatic language? Is not this principle, when applied for example to Mozart, a veritable sin against the spirit—the gay, sunny, airy, delicate spirit—of Mozart, whose seriousness was of a kindly and not awe-inspiring order, whose pictures do not try to leap from the wall and drive away the beholder in panic? Or do you think that all Mozart’s music is identical with the statue-music in Don Juan? And not only Mozart’s, but all music?—You reply that the advantage of your principle lies in its greater effect. You would be right if there did not remain the counter-question, “On whom has the effect operated, and on whom should an artist of the first rank desire to produce his effect?” Never on the populace! Never on the immature! Never on the morbidly sensitive! Never on the diseased! And above all—never on the blasé!

166.

The Music of To-Day.—This ultra-modern music, with its strong lungs and weak nerves, is frightened above all things of itself.

167.

Where Music is at Home.—Music reaches its high-water mark only among men who have not the [pg 274] ability or the right to argue. Accordingly, its chief promoters are princes, whose aim is that there should be not much criticism nor even much thought in their neighbourhood. Next come societies which, under some pressure or other (political or religious), are forced to become habituated to silence, and so feel all the greater need of spells to charm away emotional ennui—these spells being generally eternal love-making and eternal music. Thirdly, we must reckon whole nations in which there is no “society,” but all the greater number of individuals with a bent towards solitude, mystical thinking, and a reverence for all that is inexpressible; these are the genuine “musical souls.” The Greeks, as a nation delighting in talking and argument, accordingly put up with music only as an hors d’œuvre to those arts which really admit of discussion and dispute. About music one can hardly even think clearly. The Pythagoreans, who in so many respects were exceptional Greeks, are said to have been great musicians. This was the school that invented a five-years’ silence,23 but did not invent a dialectic.

168.

Sentimentality in Music.—We may be ever so much in sympathy with serious and profound music, yet nevertheless, or perhaps all the more for that reason, we shall at occasional moments be overpowered, entranced, and almost melted away by its [pg 275] opposite—I mean, by those simple Italian operatic airs which, in spite of all their monotony of rhythm and childishness of harmony, seem at times to sing to us like the very soul of music. Admit this or not as you please, you Pharisees of good taste, it is so, and it is my present task to propound the riddle that it is so, and to nibble a little myself at the solution.—In childhood’s days we tasted the honey of many things for the first time. Never was honey so good as then; it seduced us to life, into abundant life, in the guise of the first spring, the first flower, the first butterfly, the first friendship. Then—perhaps in our ninth year or so—we heard our first music, and this was the first that we understood; thus the simplest and most childish tunes, that were not much more than a sequel to the nurse’s lullaby and the strolling fiddler’s tune, were our first experience. (For even the most trifling “revelations” of art need preparation and study; there is no “immediate” effect of art, whatever charming fables the philosophers may tell.) Our sensation on hearing these Italian airs is associated with those first musical raptures, the strongest of our lives. The bliss of childhood and its flight, the feeling that our most precious possession can never be brought back, all this moves the chords of the soul more strongly than the most serious and profound music can move them.—This mingling of æsthetic pleasure with moral pain, which nowadays it is customary to call (rather too haughtily, I think) “sentimentality”—it is the mood of Faust at the end of the first scene—this “sentimentality” of the listener is all to the advantage of Italian music. It is a feeling which the experienced [pg 276] connoisseurs in art, the pure “æsthetes,” like to ignore.—Moreover, almost all music has a magical effect only when we hear it speak the language of our own past. Accordingly, it seems to the layman that all the old music is continually growing better, and that all the latest is of little value. For the latter arouses no “sentimentality,” that most essential element of happiness, as aforesaid, for every man who cannot approach this art with pure æsthetic enjoyment.

169.

As Friends of Music.—Ultimately we are and remain good friends with music, as we are with the light of the moon. Neither, after all, tries to supplant the sun: they only want to illumine our nights to the best of their powers. Yet we may jest and laugh at them, may we not? Just a little, at least, and from time to time? At the man in the moon, at the woman in the music?

170.

Art in an Age of Work.—We have the conscience of an industrious epoch. This debars us from devoting our best hours and the best part of our days to art, even though that art be the greatest and worthiest. Art is for us a matter of leisure, of recreation, and we consecrate to it the residue of our time and strength. This is the cardinal fact that has altered the relation of art to life. When art makes its great demands of time and strength upon its recipients, it has to battle against the conscience of the industrious and efficient, it is [pg 277] relegated to the idle and conscienceless, who, by their very nature, are not exactly suited to great art, and consider its claims arrogant. It might, therefore, be all over with art, since it lacks air and the power to breathe. But perhaps the great art attempts, by a sort of coarsening and disguising, to make itself at home in that other atmosphere, or at least to put up with it—an atmosphere which is really a natural element only for petty art, the art of recreation, of pleasant distraction. This happens nowadays almost everywhere. Even the exponents of great art promise recreation and distraction; even they address themselves to the exhausted; even they demand from him the evening hours of his working-day—just like the artists of the entertaining school, who are content to smooth the furrowed brow and brighten the lack-lustre eye. What, then, are the devices of their mightier brethren? These have in their medicine-chests the most powerful excitants, which might give a shock even to a man half-dead: they can deafen you, intoxicate you, make you shudder, or bring tears to your eyes. By this means they overpower the exhausted man and stimulate him for one night to an over-lively condition, to an ecstasy of terror and delight. This great art, as it now lives in opera, tragedy, and music—have we a right to be angry with it, because of its perilous fascination, as we should be angry with a cunning courtesan? Certainly not. It would far rather live in the pure element of morning calm, and would far rather make its appeal to the fresh, expectant, vigorous morning-soul of the beholder or listener. Let us be thankful that it prefers living [pg 278] thus to vanishing altogether. But let us also confess that an era that once more introduces free and complete high-days and holidays into life will have no use for our great art.

171.

The Employees of Science and the Others.—Really efficient and successful men of science might be collectively called “The Employees.” If in youth their acumen is sufficiently practised, their memory is full, and hand and eye have acquired sureness, they are appointed by an older fellow-craftsman to a scientific position where their qualities may prove useful. Later on, when they have themselves gained an eye for the gaps and defects in their science, they place themselves in whatever position they are needed. These persons all exist for the sake of science. But there are rarer spirits, spirits that seldom succeed or fully mature—“for whose sake science exists”—at least, in their view. They are often unpleasant, conceited, or cross-grained men, but almost always prodigies to a certain extent. They are neither employees nor employers; they make use of what those others have worked out and established, with a certain princely carelessness and with little and rare praise—just as if the others belonged to a lower order of beings. Yet they possess the same qualities as their fellow-workers, and that sometimes in a less developed form. Moreover, they have a peculiar limitation, from which the others are free; this makes it impossible to put them into a place and to see in them useful tools. They can only live in their own air and on [pg 279] their own soil. This limitation suggests to them what elements of a science “are theirs”—in other words, what they can carry home into their house and atmosphere: they think that they are always collecting their scattered “property.” If they are prevented from building at their own nest, they perish like shelterless birds. The loss of freedom causes them to wilt away. If they show, like their colleagues, a fondness for certain regions of science, it is always only regions where the fruits and seeds necessary to them can thrive. What do they care whether science, taken as a whole, has untilled or badly tilled regions? They lack all impersonal interest in a scientific problem. As they are themselves personal through and through, all their knowledge and ideas are remoulded into a person, into a living complexity, with its parts interdependent, overlapping, jointly nurtured, and with a peculiar atmosphere and scent as a whole.—Such natures, with their system of personal knowledge, produce the illusion that a science (or even the whole of philosophy) is finished and has reached its goal. The life in their system works this magic, which at times has been fatal to science and deceptive to the really efficient workers above described, and at other times, when drought and exhaustion prevailed, has acted as a kind of restorative, as if it were the air of a cool, refreshing resting-place.—These men are usually called philosophers.

172.

Recognition of Talent.—As I went through the village of S., a boy began to crack his whip with [pg 280] all his might—he had made great progress in this art, and he knew it. I threw him a look of recognition—in reality it hurt me cruelly. We do the same in our recognition of many of the talents. We do good to them when they hurt us.

173.

Laughing and Smiling.—The more joyful and assured the mind becomes, the more man loses the habit of loud laughter. In compensation, there is an intellectual smile continually bubbling up in him, a sign of his astonishment at the innumerable concealed delights of a good existence.

174.

The Talk of Invalids.—Just as in spiritual grief we tear our hair, strike our foreheads, lacerate our cheeks or even (like Œdipus) gouge our eyes out, so against violent physical pain we call to our aid a bitter, violent emotion, through the recollection of slanderous and malignant people, through the denigration of our future, through the sword-pricks and acts of malice which we mentally direct against the absent. And at times it is true that one devil drives out another—but then we have the other.—Hence a different sort of talk, tending to alleviate pain, should be recommended invalids: reflections upon the kindnesses and courtesies that can be performed towards friend and foe.

175.

Mediocrity as a Mask.—Mediocrity is the happiest mask which the superior mind can wear, [pg 281] because it does not lead the great majority—that is, the mediocre—to think that there is any disguise. Yet the superior mind assumes the mask just for their sake—so as not to irritate them, nay, often from a feeling of pity and kindness.

176.

The Patient.—The pine tree seems to listen, the fir tree to wait, and both without impatience. They do not give a thought to the petty human being below who is consumed by his impatience and his curiosity.

177.

The Best Joker.—My favourite joke is the one that takes the place of a heavy and rather hesitating idea, and that at once beckons with its finger and winks its eye.

178.

The Accessaries of all Reverence.—Wherever the past is revered, the over-cleanly and over-tidy people should not be admitted. Piety does not feel content without a little dust, dirt, and dross.

179.

The Great Danger of Savants.—It is just the most thorough and profound savants who are in peril of seeing their life’s goal set ever lower and lower, and, with a feeling of this in their minds, to become ever more discouraged and more unendurable in the latter half of their lives. At first they plunge into their science with spacious hopes and set themselves daring tasks, the ends of which are [pg 282] already anticipated by their imaginations. Then there are moments as in the lives of the great maritime discoverers—knowledge, presentiment, and power raise each other higher and higher, until a new shore first dawns upon the eye in the far distance. But now the stern man recognises more and more how important it is that the individual task of the inquirer should be limited as far as possible, so that it may be entirely accomplished and the intolerable waste of force from which earlier periods of science suffered may be avoided. In those days everything was done ten times over, and then the eleventh always had the last and best word. Yet the more the savant learns and practises this art of solving riddles in their entirety, the more pleasure he finds in so doing. But at the same time his demands upon what is here called “entirety” grow more exacting. He sets aside everything that must remain in this sense incomplete, he acquires a disgust and an acute scent for the half-soluble—for all that can only give a kind of certainty in a general and indefinite form. His youthful plans crumble away before his eyes. There remains scarcely anything but a few little knots, in untying which the master now takes his pleasure and shows his strength. Then, in the midst of all this useful, restless activity, he, now grown old, is suddenly then often overcome by a deep misgiving, a sort of torment of conscience. He looks upon himself as one changed, as if he were diminished, humbled, transformed into a dexterous dwarf; he grows anxious as to whether mastery in small matters be not a convenience, an escape from the [pg 283] summons to greatness in life and form. But he cannot pass beyond any longer—the time for that has gone by.

180.

Teachers in the Age of Books.—Now that self-education and mutual education are becoming more widespread, the teacher in his usual form must become almost unnecessary. Friends eager to learn, who wish to master some branch of knowledge together, find in our age of books a shorter and more natural way than “school” and “teachers.”

181.

Vanity as the Greatest Utility.—Originally the strong individual uses not only Nature but even societies and weaker individuals as objects of rapine. He exploits them, so far as he can, and then passes on. As he lives from hand to mouth, alternating between hunger and superfluity, he kills more animals than he can eat, and robs and maltreats men more than is necessary. His manifestation of power is at the same time one of revenge against his cramped and worried existence. Furthermore, he wishes to be held more powerful than he is, and thus misuses opportunities; the accretion of fear that he begets being an accretion of power. He soon observes that he stands or falls not by what he is but by what he is thought to be. Herein lies the origin of vanity. The man of power seeks by every means to increase others’ faith in his power.—The thralls who tremble before him and serve him know, for their part, that they are worth just so [pg 284] much as they appear to him to be worth, and so they work with an eye to this valuation rather than to their own self-satisfaction. We know vanity only in its most weakened forms, in its idealisations and its small doses, because we live in a late and very emasculated state of society. Originally vanity is the great utility, the strongest means of preservation. And indeed vanity will be greater, the cleverer the individual, because an increase in the belief in power is easier than an increase in the power itself, but only for him who has intellect or (as must be the case under primitive conditions) who is cunning and crafty.

182.

Weather-Signs of Culture.—There are so few decisive weather-signs of culture that we must be glad to have at least one unfailing sign at hand for use in house and garden. To test whether a man belongs to us (I mean to the free spirits) or not, we must test his sentiments regarding Christianity. If he looks upon Christianity with other than a critical eye, we turn our backs to him, for he brings us impure air and bad weather.—It is no longer our task to teach such men what a sirocco wind is. They have Moses and the prophets of weather and of enlightenment.24 If they will not listen to these, then——

183.

There is a Proper Time for Wrath and Punishment.—Wrath and punishment are our inheritance [pg 285] from the animals. Man does not become of age until he has restored to the animals this gift of the cradle.—Herein lies buried one of the mightiest ideas that men can have, the idea of a progress of all progresses.—Let us go forward together a few millenniums, my friends! There is still reserved for mankind a great deal of joy, the very scent of which has not yet been wafted to the men of our day! Indeed, we may promise ourselves this joy, nay summon and conjure it up as a necessary thing, so long as the development of human reason does not stand still. Some day we shall no longer be reconciled to the logical sin that lurks in all wrath and punishment, whether exercised by the individual or by society—some day, when head and heart have learnt to live as near together as they now are far apart. That they no longer stand so far apart as they did originally is fairly palpable from a glance at the whole course of humanity. The individual who can review a life of introspective work will become conscious of the rapprochement arrived at, with a proud delight at the distance he has bridged, in order that he may thereupon venture upon more ample hopes.

184.

Origin of Pessimists.—A snack of good food often decides whether we are to look to the future with hollow eye or in hopeful mood. The same influence extends to the very highest and most intellectual states. Discontent and reviling of the world are for the present generation an inheritance from starveling ancestors. Even in our artists and [pg 286] poets we often notice that, however exuberant their life, they are not of good birth, and have often, from oppressed and ill-nourished ancestors, inherited in their blood and brain much that comes out as the subject and even the conscious colouring of their work. The culture of the Greeks is a culture of men of wealth, in fact, inherited wealth. For a few centuries they lived better than we do (better in every sense, in particular far more simply in food and drink). Then the brain finally became so well-stored and subtle, and the blood flowed so quickly, like a joyous, clear wine, that the best in them came to light no longer as gloomy, distorted, and violent, but full of beauty and sunshine.

185.

Of Reasonable Death.—Which is more reasonable, to stop the machine when the works have done the task demanded of them, or to let it run on until it stands still of its own accord—in other words, is destroyed? Is not the latter a waste of the cost of upkeep, a misuse of the strength and care of those who serve? Are men not here throwing away that which would be sorely needed elsewhere? Is not a kind of contempt of the machines propagated, in that many of them are so uselessly tended and kept up?—I am speaking of involuntary (natural) and voluntary (reasonable) death. Natural death is independent of all reason and is really an irrational death, in which the pitiable substance of the shell determines how long the kernel is to exist or not; in which, accordingly, the stunted, diseased and dull-witted [pg 287] jailer is lord, and indicates the moment at which his distinguished prisoner shall die. Natural death is the suicide of nature—in other words, the annihilation of the most rational being through the most irrational element that is attached thereto. Only through religious illumination can the reverse appear; for then, as is equitable, the higher reason (God) issues its orders, which the lower reason has to obey. Outside religious thought natural death is not worth glorifying. The wise dispensation and disposal of death belongs to that now quite incomprehensible and immoral-sounding morality of the future, the dawn of which it will be an ineffable delight to behold.

186.

Retrograde Influences.—All criminals force society back to earlier stages of culture than that in which they are placed for the time being. Their influence is retrograde. Let us consider the tools that society must forge and maintain for its defence: the cunning detectives, the jailers, the hangmen. Nor should we forget the public counsel for prosecution and defence. Finally we may ask ourselves whether the judge himself and punishment and the whole legal procedure are not oppressive rather than elevating in their reaction upon all who are not law-breakers. For we shall never succeed in arraying self-defence and revenge in the garb of innocence, and so long as men are used and sacrificed as a means to the end of society, all loftier humanity will deplore this necessity.

[pg 288]
187.

War as a Remedy.—For nations that are growing weak and contemptible war may be prescribed as a remedy, if indeed they really want to go on living. National consumption as well as individual admits of a brutal cure. The eternal will to live and inability to die is, however, in itself already a sign of senility of emotion. The more fully and thoroughly we live, the more ready we are to sacrifice life for a single pleasurable emotion. A people that lives and feels in this wise has no need of war.

188.

Intellectual and Physical Transplantation as Remedies.—The different cultures are so many intellectual climates, every one of which is peculiarly harmful or beneficial to this or that organism. History as a whole, as the knowledge of different cultures, is the science of remedies, but not the science of the healing art itself. We still need a physician who can make use of these remedies, in order to send every one—temporarily or permanently—to the climate that just suits him. To live in the present, within the limits of a single culture, is insufficient as a universal remedy: too many highly useful kinds of men, who cannot breathe freely in this atmosphere, would perish. With the aid of history we must give them air and try to preserve them: even men of lower cultures have their value.—Add to this cure of intellects that humanity, on considerations of bodily health, must strive to discover by means of a medical geography [pg 289] what kinds of degeneration and disease are caused by each region of the earth, and conversely, what ingredients of health the earth affords: and then, gradually, nations, families, and individuals must be transplanted long and permanently enough for them to become masters of their inherited physical infirmities. The whole world will finally be a series of sanatoria.

189.

Reason and the Tree of Mankind.—What you all fear in your senile short-sightedness, regarding the over-population of the world, gives the more hopeful a mighty task. Man is some day to become a tree overshadowing the whole earth, with millions upon millions of buds that shall all grow to fruits side by side, and the earth itself shall be prepared for the nourishment of this tree. That the shoot, tiny as yet, may increase in sap and strength; that the sap may flow in countless channels for the nutrition of the whole and the parts—from these and similar tasks we must derive our standard for measuring whether a man of to-day is useful or worthless. The task is unspeakably great and adventurous: let us all contribute our share to prevent the tree from rotting before its time! The historically trained mind will no doubt succeed in calling up the human activities of all the ages before its eyes, as the community of ants with its cunningly wrought mounds stands before our eyes. Superficially judged, mankind as a whole, like ant-kind, might admit of our speaking of “instinct.” On a closer examination we observe how whole nations, [pg 290] nay whole centuries, take pains to discover and test new means of benefiting the great mass of humanity, and thus finally the great common fruit-tree of the world. Whatever injury the individual nations or periods may suffer in this testing process, they have each become wise through this injury, and from them the tide of wisdom slowly pours over the principles of whole races and whole epochs. Ants too go astray and make blunders. Through the folly of its remedies, mankind may well go to rack and ruin before the proper time. There is no sure guiding instinct for the former or the latter. Rather must we boldly face the great task of preparing the earth for a plant of the most ample and joyous fruitfulness—a task set by reason to reason!

190.

The Praise of Disinterestedness and its Origin.—Between two neighbouring chieftains there was a long-standing quarrel: they laid waste each other’s territories, stole cattle, and burnt down houses, with an indecisive result on the whole, because their power was fairly equal. A third, who from the distant situation of his property was able to keep aloof from these feuds, yet had reason to dread the day when one of the two neighbours should gain a decisive preponderance, at last intervened between the combatants with ceremonial goodwill. Secretly he lent a heavy weight to his peace proposal by giving either to understand that he would henceforth join forces with the other against the one who strove to break the peace. [pg 291] They met in his presence, they hesitatingly placed into his hand the hands that had hitherto been the tools and only too often the causes of hatred—and then they really and seriously tried to keep the peace. Either saw with astonishment how suddenly his prosperity and his comfort increased; how he now had as neighbour a dealer ready to buy and sell instead of a treacherous or openly scornful evil-doer; how even, in unforeseen troubles, they could reciprocally save each other from distress, instead of, as before, making capital out of this distress of his neighbour and enhancing it to the highest degree. It even seemed as if the human type had improved in both countries, for the eyes had become brighter, the forehead had lost its wrinkles; all now felt confidence in the future—and nothing is more advantageous for the souls and bodies of men than this confidence. They saw each other every year on the anniversary of the alliance, the chieftains as well as their retinue, and indeed before the eyes of the mediator, whose mode of action they admired and revered more and more, the greater the profit that they owed to him became. Then his mode of action was called disinterested. They had looked far too fixedly at the profit they had reaped themselves hitherto to see anything more of their neighbour’s method of dealing than that his condition in consequence of this had not altered so much as their own; he had rather remained the same: and thus it appeared that the former had not had his profit in view. For the first time people said to themselves that disinterestedness was a virtue. It is true that in minor private matters similar circumstances [pg 292] had arisen, but men only had eyes for this virtue when it was depicted on the walls in a large script that was legible to the whole community. Moral qualities are not recognised as virtues, endowed with names, held in esteem, and recommended as worthy of acquisition until the moment when they have visibly decided the happiness and destiny of whole societies. For then the loftiness of sentiment and the excitation of the inner creative forces is in many so great, that offerings are brought to this quality, offerings from the best of what each possesses. At its feet the serious man lays his seriousness, the dignified man his dignity, women their gentleness, the young all the wealth of hope and futurity that in them lies; the poet lends it words and names, sets it marching in the procession of similar beings, gives it a pedigree, and finally, as is the way of artists, adores the picture of his fancy as a new godhead—he even teaches others to adore. Thus in the end, with the co-operation of universal love and gratitude, a virtue becomes, like a statue, a repository of all that is good and honourable, a sort of temple and divine personage combined. It appears thenceforward as an individual virtue, as an absolute entity, which it was not before, and exercises the power and privileges of a sanctified super-humanity.—In the later days of Greece the cities were full of such deified human abstractions (if one may so call them). The nation, in its own fashion, had set up a Platonic “Heaven of Ideas” on earth, and I do not think that its inhabitants were felt to be less alive than any of the old Homeric divinities.

[pg 293]
191.

Days of Darkness.—“Days of Darkness” is the name given in Norway to the period when the sun remains below the horizon the whole day long. The temperature then falls slowly but continually.—A fine simile for all thinkers for whom the sun of the human future is temporarily eclipsed.

192.

The Philosophy of Luxury.—A garden, figs, a little cheese, and three or four good friends—that was the luxury of Epicurus.

193.

The Epochs of Life.—The real epochs of life are those brief periods of cessation midway between the rise and decline of a dominating idea or emotion. Here once again there is satisfaction: all the rest is hunger and thirst—or satiety.

194.

Dreams.—Our dreams, if for once in a way they succeed and are complete—generally a dream is a bungled piece of work—are symbolic concatenations of scenes and images in place of a narrative poetical language. They paraphrase our experiences or expectations or relations with poetic boldness and definiteness, so that in the morning we are always astonished at ourselves when we remember the nature of our dream. In dreams we use up too much artistry—and hence are often too poor in artistry in the daytime.

[pg 294]
195.

Nature and Science.—As in nature, so in science the worse and less fertile soils are first cultivated—because the means that science in its early stages has at command are fairly sufficient for this purpose. The working of the most fertile soils requires an enormous, carefully developed, persevering method, tangible individual results, and an organised body of well-trained workers. All these are found together only at a late stage.—Impatience and ambition often grasp too early at these most fertile soils, but the results are then from the first null and void. In nature such losses would usually be avenged by the starvation of the settlers.

196.

The Simple Life.—A simple mode of life is nowadays difficult, requiring as it does far more reflection and gift for invention than even very clever people possess. The most honourable will perhaps still say, “I have not the time for such lengthy reflection. The simple life is for me too lofty a goal: I will wait till those wiser than I have discovered it.”

197.

Peaks and Needle-Points.—The poor fertility, the frequent celibacy, and in general the sexual coldness of the highest and most cultivated spirits, as that of the classes to which they belong, is essential in human economy. Intelligence recognises and makes use of the fact that at an acme of [pg 295] intellectual development the danger of a neurotic offspring is very great. Such men are the peaks of mankind—they ought no longer to run out into needle-points.

198.

Natura non facit saltum.—However strongly man may develop upwards and seem to leap from one contradiction to another, a close observation will reveal the dovetails where the new building grows out of the old. This is the biographer’s task: he must reflect upon his subject on the principle that nature takes no jumps.

199.

Clean, but—He who clothes himself with rags washed clean dresses cleanly, to be sure, but is still ragged.

200.

The Solitary Speaks.—In compensation for much disgust, disheartenment, boredom—such as a lonely life without friends, books, duties, and passions must involve—we enjoy those short spans of deep communion with ourselves and with Nature. He who fortifies himself completely against boredom fortifies himself against himself too. He will never drink the most powerful elixir from his own innermost spring.

201.

False Renown.—I hate those so-called natural beauties which really have significance only through science, especially geographical science, but are insignificant [pg 296] in an æsthetic sense: for example, the view of Mont Blanc from Geneva. This is an insignificant thing without the auxiliary mental joy of science: the nearer mountains are all more beautiful and fuller of expression, but “not nearly so high,” adds that absurd depreciatory science. The eye here contradicts science: how can it truly rejoice in the contradiction?

202.

Those that Travel for Pleasure.—Like animals, stupid and perspiring, they climb mountains: people forgot to tell them that there were fine views on the way.

203.

Too Much and Too Little.—Men nowadays live too much and think too little. They have hunger and dyspepsia together, and become thinner and thinner, however much they eat. He who now says “Nothing has happened to me” is a blockhead.

204.

End and Goal.—Not every end is the goal. The end of a melody is not its goal, and yet if a melody has not reached its end, it has also not reached its goal. A parable.

205.

Neutrality of Nature on a Grand Scale.—The neutrality of Nature on a grand scale (in [pg 297] mountain, sea, forest, and desert) is pleasing, but only for a brief space. Afterwards we become impatient. “Have they all nothing to say to us? Do we not exist so far as they are concerned?” There arises a feeling that a lèse-majesté is committed against humanity.

206.

Forgetting our Purpose.—In a journey we commonly forget its goal. Almost every vocation is chosen and entered upon as means to an end, but is continued as the ultimate end. Forgetting our purpose is the most frequent form of folly.

207.

Solar Orbit of an Idea.—When an idea is just rising on the horizon, the soul’s temperature is usually very low. Gradually the idea develops in warmth, and is hottest (that is to say, exerts its greatest influence) when belief in the idea is already on the wane.

208.

How to have every Man against You.—If some one now dared to say, “He that is not for me is against me,” he would at once have all against him.—This sentiment does credit to our era.

209.

Being Ashamed of Wealth.—Our age endures only a single species of rich men—those who are [pg 298] ashamed of their wealth. If we hear it said of any one that he is very rich, we at once feel a similar sentiment to that experienced at the sight of a repulsively swollen invalid, one suffering from diabetes or dropsy. We must with an effort remember our humanity, in order to go about with this rich man in such a way that he does not notice our feeling of disgust. But as soon as he prides himself at all on his wealth, our feelings are mingled with an almost compassionate surprise at such a high degree of human unreason. We would fain raise our hands to heaven and cry, “Poor deformed and overburdened creature, fettered a hundredfold, to whom every hour brings or may bring something unpleasant, in whose frame twitches every event that occurs in scores of countries, how can you make us believe that you feel at ease in your position? If you appear anywhere in public, we know that it is a sort of running the gauntlet amid countless glances that have for you only cold hate or importunity or silent scorn. You may earn more easily than others, but it is only a superfluous earning, which brings little joy, and the guarding of what you have earned is now, at any rate, a more troublesome business than any toilsome process of earning. You are continually suffering, because you are continually losing. What avails it you that they are always injecting you with fresh artificial blood? That does not relieve the pain of those cupping-glasses that are fixed, for ever fixed, on your neck!—But, to be quite fair to you, it is difficult or perhaps impossible for you not to be rich. You must guard, you must earn more; the inherited bent of your [pg 299] character is the yoke fastened upon you. But do not on that account deceive us—be honestly and visibly ashamed of the yoke you wear, as in your soul you are weary and unwilling to wear it. This shame is no disgrace.”

210.

Extravagant Presumptions.—There are men so presumptuous that they can only praise a greatness which they publicly admire by representing it as steps and bridges that lead to themselves.

211.

On the Soil of Insult.—He who wishes to deprive men of a conception is generally not satisfied with refuting it and drawing out of it the illogical worm that resides within. Rather, when the worm has been killed, does he throw the whole fruit as well into the mire, in order to make it ignoble in men’s sight and to inspire disgust. Thus he thinks that he has found a means of making the usual “third-day resurrection” of conceptions an impossibility.—He is wrong, for on the very soil of insult, in the midst of the filth, the kernel of the conception soon produces new seeds.—The right thing then, is not to scorn and bespatter what one wishes finally to remove, but to lay it tenderly on ice again and again, having regard to the fact that conceptions are very tenacious of life. Here we must act according to the maxim: “One refutation is no refutation.”

[pg 300]
212.

The Lot of Morality.—Since spiritual bondage is being relaxed, morality (the inherited, traditional, instinctive mode of action in accordance with moral sentiments) is surely also on the decline. This, however, is not the case with the individual virtues, moderation, justice, repose; for the greatest freedom of the conscious intellect leads at some time, even unconsciously, back to these virtues, and then enjoins their practice as expedient.

213.

The Fanatic of Distrust and His Surety.—The Elder: You wish to make the tremendous venture and instruct mankind in the great things? What is your surety?

Pyrrho: It is this: I intend to warn men against myself; I intend to confess all the defects of my character quite openly, and reveal to the world my hasty conclusions, my contradictions, and my foolish blunders. “Do not listen to me,” I will say to them, “until I have become equal to the meanest among you, nay am even less than he. Struggle against truth as long as you can, from your disgust with her advocate. I shall be your seducer and betrayer if you find in me the slightest glimmering of respectability and dignity.”

The Elder: You promise too much; you cannot bear this burden.

Pyrrho: Then I will tell men even that, and say that I am too weak, and cannot keep my promise. The greater my unworthiness, the more will they [pg 301] mistrust the truth, when it passes through my lips.

The Elder: You propose to teach distrust of truth?

Pyrrho: Yes; distrust as it never was yet on earth, distrust of anything and everything. This is the only road to truth. The right eye must not trust the left eye, and for some time light must be called darkness: this is the path that you must tread. Do not imagine that it will lead you to fruit trees and fair pastures. You will find on this road little hard grains—these are truths. For years and years you will have to swallow handfuls of lies, so as not to die of hunger, although you know that they are lies. But those grains will be sown and planted, and perhaps, perhaps some day will come the harvest. No one may promise that day, unless he be a fanatic.

The Elder: Friend, friend! Your words too are those of a fanatic!

Pyrrho: You are right! I will be distrustful of all words.

The Elder: Then you will have to be silent.

Pyrrho: I shall tell men that I have to be silent, and that they are to mistrust my silence.

The Elder: So you draw back from your undertaking?

Pyrrho: On the contrary—you have shown me the door through which I must pass.

The Elder: I don’t know whether we yet completely understand each other?

Pyrrho: Probably not.

The Elder: If only you understand yourself!

[pg 302]
(Pyrrho turns round and laughs.)

The Elder: Ah, friend! Silence and laughter—is that now your whole philosophy?

Pyrrho: There might be a worse.

214.

European Books.—In reading Montaigne, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, Fontenelle (especially the Dialogues des Morts), Vauvenargues, and Chamfort we are nearer to antiquity than in any group of six authors of other nations. Through these six the spirit of the last centuries before Christ has once more come into being, and they collectively form an important link in the great and still continuous chain of the Renaissance. Their books are raised above all changes of national taste and philosophical nuances from which as a rule every book takes and must take its hue in order to become famous. They contain more real ideas than all the books of German philosophers put together: ideas of the sort that breed ideas——I am at a loss how to define to the end: enough to say that they appear to me writers who wrote neither for children nor for visionaries, neither for virgins nor for Christians, neither for Germans nor for—I am again at a loss how to finish my list. To praise them in plain terms, I may say that had they been written in Greek, they would have been understood by Greeks. How much, on the other hand, would even a Plato have understood of the writings of our best German thinkers—Goethe and Schopenhauer, for instance—to say nothing of the repugnance that he would have felt to [pg 303] their style, particularly to its obscure, exaggerated, and occasionally dry-as-dust elements? And these are defects from which these two among German thinkers suffer least and yet far too much (Goethe as thinker was fonder than he should have been of embracing the cloud, and Schopenhauer almost constantly wanders, not with impunity, among symbols of objects rather than among the objects themselves).—On the other hand, what clearness and graceful precision there is in these Frenchmen! The Greeks, whose ears were most refined, could not but have approved of this art, and one quality they would even have admired and reverenced—the French verbal wit: they were extremely fond of this quality, without being particularly strong in it themselves.

215.

Fashion and Modernity.—Wherever ignorance, uncleanness, and superstition are still rife, where communication is backward, agriculture poor, and the priesthood powerful, national costumes are still worn. Fashion, on the other hand, rules where the opposite conditions prevail. Fashion is accordingly to be found next to the virtues in modern Europe. Are we to call it their seamy side?—Masculine dress that is fashionable and no longer national proclaims of its wearer: firstly, that he does not wish to appear as an individual or as member of a class or race; that he has made an intentional suppression of these kinds of vanity a law unto himself: secondly, that he is a worker, and has little time for dressing and self-adornment, [pg 304] and moreover regards anything expensive or luxurious in material and cut as out of harmony with his work: lastly, that by his clothes he indicates the more learned and intellectual callings as those to which he stands or would like to stand nearest as a European—whereas such national costumes as still exist would exhibit the occupations of brigand, shepherd, and soldier as the most desirable and distinguished. Within this general character of masculine fashion exist the slight fluctuations demanded by the vanity of young men, the dandies and dawdlers of our great cities—in other words, Europeans who have not yet reached maturity.—European women are as yet far less mature, and for this reason the fluctuations with them are much greater. They also will not have the national costume, and hate to be recognised by their dress as German, French, or Russian. They are, however, very desirous of creating an impression as individuals. Then, too, their dress must leave no one in doubt that they belong to one of the more reputable classes of society (to “good” or “high” or “great” society), and on this score their pretensions are all the greater if they belong scarcely or not at all to that class. Above all, the young woman does not want to wear what an older woman wears, because she thinks she loses her market value if she is suspected of being somewhat advanced in years. The older woman, on the other hand, would like to deceive the world as long as possible by a youthful garb. From this competition must continually arise temporary fashions, in which the youthful element [pg 305] is unmistakably and inimitably apparent. But after the inventive genius of the young female artists has run riot for some time in such indiscreet revelations of youth (or rather, after the inventive genius of older, courtly civilisations and of still existing peoples—in fact, of the whole world of dress—has been pressed into the service, and, say, the Spaniards, Turks, and ancient Greeks have been yoked together for the glorification of fair flesh), then they at last discover, time and again, that they have not been good judges of their own interest; that if they wish to have power over men, the game of hide-and-seek with the beautiful body is more likely to win than naked or half-naked honesty. And then the wheel of taste and vanity turns once more in an opposite direction. The rather older young women find that their kingdom has come, and the competition of the dear, absurd creatures rages again from the beginning.—But the more women advance mentally, and no longer among themselves concede the pre-eminence to an unripe age, the smaller their fluctuations of costume grow and the less elaborate their adornment. A just verdict in this respect must not be based on ancient models—in other words, not on the standard of the dress of women who dwell on the shores of the Mediterranean—but must have an eye to the climatic conditions of the central and northern regions, where the intellectual and creative spirit of Europe now finds its most natural home.—Generally speaking, therefore, it is not change that will be the characteristic mark of fashion and modernity, for change is retrograde, and betokens [pg 306] the still unripened men and women of Europe; but rather the repudiation of national, social, and individual vanity. Accordingly, it is commendable, because involving a saving of time and strength, if certain cities and districts of Europe think and invent for all the rest in the matter of dress, in view of the fact that a sense of form does not seem to have been bestowed upon all. Nor is it really an excessive ambition, so long as these fluctuations still exist, for Paris, for example, to claim to be the sole inventor and innovator in this sphere. If a German, from hatred of these claims on the part of a French city, wishes to dress differently,—as, for example, in the Dürer style,—let him reflect that he then has a costume which the Germans of olden times wore, but which the Germans have not in the slightest degree invented. For there has never been a style of dress that characterised the German as a German. Moreover, let him observe how he looks in his costume, and whether his altogether modern face, with all its hues and wrinkles, does not raise a protest against a Dürer fashion of dress.—Here, where the concepts “modern” and “European” are almost identical, we understand by “Europe” a far wider region than is embraced by the Europe of geography, the little peninsula of Asia. In particular, we must include America, in so far as America is the daughter of our civilisation. On the other hand, not all Europe falls under the heading of cultured “Europe,” but only those nations and divisions of nations which have their common past in Greece, Rome, Judaism, and Christianity.

[pg 307]
216.

“German Virtue.”—There is no denying that from the end of the eighteenth century a current of moral awakening flowed through Europe. Then only Virtue found again the power of speech. She learnt to discover the unrestrained gestures of exaltation and emotion, she was no longer ashamed of herself, and she created philosophies and poems for her own glorification. If we look for the sources of this current, we come upon Rousseau, but the mythical Rousseau, the phantom formed from the impression left by his writings (one might almost say again, his mythically interpreted writings) and by the indications that he provided himself. He and his public constantly worked at the fashioning of this ideal figure. The other origin lies in the resurrection of the Stoical side of Rome’s greatness, whereby the French so nobly carried on the task of the Renaissance. With striking success they proceeded from the reproduction of antique forms to the reproduction of antique characters. Thus they may always claim a title to the highest honours, as the nation which has hitherto given the modern world its best books and its best men. How this twofold archetype, the mythical Rousseau and the resurrected spirit of Rome, affected France’s weaker neighbours, is particularly noticeable in Germany, which, in consequence of her novel and quite unwonted impulse to seriousness and loftiness in will and self-control, finally came to feel astonishment at her own newfound virtue, and launched into the world the concept “German virtue,” as if this were the most [pg 308] original and hereditary of her possessions. The first great men who transfused into their own blood that French impulse towards greatness and consciousness of the moral will were more honest, and more grateful. Whence comes the moralism of Kant? He is continually reminding us: from Rousseau and the revival of Stoic Rome. The moralism of Schiller has the same source and the same glorification of the source. The moralism of Beethoven in notes is a continual song in praise of Rousseau, the antique French, and Schiller. “Young Germany” was the first to forget its gratitude, because in the meantime people had listened to the preachers of hatred of the French. The “young German” came to the fore with more consciousness than is generally allowed to youths. When he investigated his paternity, he might well think of the proximity of Schiller, Schleiermacher, and Fichte. But he should have looked for his grandfathers in Paris and Geneva, and it was very short-sighted of him to believe what he believed: that virtue was not more than thirty years old. People became used to demanding that the word “German” should connote “virtue,” and this process has not been wholly forgotten to this day.—Be it observed further that this moral awakening, as may almost be guessed, has resulted only in drawbacks and obstacles to the recognition of moral phenomena. What is the entire German philosophy, starting from Kant, with all its French, English, and Italian offshoots and by-products? A semi-theological attack upon Helvetius, a rejection of the slowly and laboriously acquired views and signposts of the right road, which in the end he [pg 309] collected and expressed so well. To this day Helvetius is the best-abused of all good moralists and good men in Germany.

217.

Classic and Romantic.—Both classically and romantically minded spirits—two species that always exist—cherish a vision of the future; but the former derive their vision from the strength of their time, the latter from its weakness.

218.

The Machine as Teacher.—Machinery teaches in itself the dovetailed working of masses of men, in activities where each has but one thing to do. It is the model of party organisations and of warfare. On the other hand, it does not teach individual self-glorification, for it makes of the many a machine, and of each individual a tool for one purpose. Its most general effect is to teach the advantage of centralisation.

219.

Unable to Settle.—One likes to live in a small town. But from time to time just this small town drives us out into bare and lonely Nature, especially when we think we know it too well. Finally, in order to refresh ourselves from Nature, we go to the big town. A few draughts from this cup and we see its dregs, and the circle begins afresh, with the small town as starting-point.—So the moderns live; [pg 310] they are in all things rather too thorough to be able to settle like the men of other days.

220.

Reaction against the Civilisation of Machinery.—The machine, itself a product of the highest mental powers, sets in motion hardly any but the lower, unthinking forces of the men who serve it. True, it unfetters a vast quantity of force which would otherwise lie dormant. But it does not communicate the impulse to climb higher, to improve, to become artistic. It creates activity and monotony, but this in the long-run produces a counter-effect, a despairing ennui of the soul, which through machinery has learnt to hanker after the variety of leisure.

221.

The Danger of Enlightenment.—All the half-insane, theatrical, bestially cruel, licentious, and especially sentimental and self-intoxicating elements which go to form the true revolutionary substance, and became flesh and spirit, before the revolution, in Rousseau—all this composite being, with factitious enthusiasm, finally set even “enlightenment” upon its fanatical head, which thereby began itself to shine as in an illuminating halo. Yet, enlightenment is essentially foreign to that phenomenon, and, if left to itself, would have pierced silently through the clouds like a shaft of light, long content to transfigure individuals alone, and thus only slowly transfiguring national customs and institutions as well. But now, bound hand and foot to a violent and [pg 311] abrupt monster, enlightenment itself became violent and abrupt. Its danger has therefore become almost greater than its useful quality of liberation and illumination, which it introduced into the great revolutionary movement. Whoever grasps this will also know from what confusion it has to be extricated, from what impurities to be cleansed, in order that it may then by itself continue the work of enlightenment and also nip the revolution in the bud and nullify its effects.

222.

Passion in the Middle Ages.—The Middle Ages are the period of great passions. Neither antiquity nor our period possesses this widening of the soul. Never was the capacity of the soul greater or measured by larger standards. The physical, primeval sensuality of the barbarian races and the over-soulful, over-vigilant, over-brilliant eyes of Christian mystics, the most childish and youthful and the most over-ripe and world-weary, the savageness of the beast of prey and the effeminacy and excessive refinement of the late antique spirit—all these elements were then not seldom united in one and the same person. Thus, if a man was seized by a passion, the rapidity of the torrent must have been greater, the whirl more confused, the fall deeper than ever before.—We modern men may be content to feel that we have suffered a loss here.

223.

Robbing and Saving.—All intellectual movements whereby the great may hope to rob and the [pg 312] small to save are sure to prosper. That is why, for instance, the German Reformation made progress.

224.

Gladsome Souls.—When even a remote hint of drink, drunkenness, and an evil-smelling kind of jocularity was given, the souls of the old Germans waxed gladsome. Otherwise they were depressed, but here they found something they really understood.

225.

Debauchery at Athens.—Even when the fish-market of Athens acquired its thinkers and poets, Greek debauchery had a more idyllic and refined appearance than Roman or German debauchery ever had. The voice of Juvenal would have sounded there like a hollow trumpet, and would have been answered by a good-natured and almost childish outburst of laughter.

226.

Cleverness of the Greek.—As the desire for victory and pre-eminence is an ineradicable trait of human nature, older and more primitive than any respect of or joy in equality, the Greek State sanctioned gymnastic and artistic competitions among equals. In other words, it marked out an arena where this impulse to conquer would find a vent without jeopardising the political order. With the final decline of gymnastic and artistic contests the Greek State fell into a condition of profound unrest and dissolution.

[pg 313]
227.

The “Eternal Epicurus.”—Epicurus has lived in all periods, and lives yet, unbeknown to those who called and still call themselves Epicureans, and without repute among philosophers. He has himself even forgotten his own name—that was the heaviest luggage that he ever cast off.

228.

The Style of Superiority.—“University slang,” the speech of the German students, has its origin among the students who do not study. The latter know how to acquire a preponderance over their more serious fellows by exposing all the farcical elements of culture, respectability, erudition, order, and moderation, and by having words taken from these realms always on their lips, like the better and more learned students, but with malice in their glance and an accompanying grimace. This language of superiority—the only one that is original in Germany—is nowadays unconsciously used by statesmen and newspaper critics as well. It is a continual process of ironical quotation, a restless, cantankerous squinting of the eye right and left, a language of inverted commas and grimaces.

229.

The Recluse.—We retire into seclusion, but not from personal misgivings, as if the political and social conditions of the day did not satisfy us; rather because by our retirement we try to save and [pg 314] collect forces which will some day be urgently needed by culture, the more this present is this present, and, as such, fulfils its task. We form a capital and try to make it secure, but, as in times of real danger, our method is to bury our hoard.

230.

Tyrants of the Intellect.—In our times, any one who expressed a single moral trait so thoroughly as the characters of Theophrastus and Molière do, would be considered ill, and be spoken of as possessing “a fixed idea.” The Athens of the third century, if we could visit it, would appear to us populated by fools. Nowadays the democracy of ideas rules in every brain—there the multitude collectively is lord. A single idea that tried to be lord is now called, as above stated, “a fixed idea.” This is our method of murdering tyrants—we hint at the madhouse.

231.

A Most Dangerous Emigration.—In Russia there is an emigration of the intelligence. People cross the frontier in order to read and write good books. Thus, however, they are working towards turning their country, abandoned by the intellect, into a gaping Asiatic maw, which would fain swallow our little Europe.

232.

Political Fools.—The almost religious love of the king was transferred by the Greeks, when the [pg 315] monarchy was abolished, to the polis. An idea can be loved more than a person, and does not thwart the lover so often as a beloved human being (for the more men know themselves to be loved, the less considerate they usually become, until they are no longer worthy of love, and a rift really arises). Hence the reverence for State and polis was greater than the reverence for princes had ever been. The Greeks are the political fools of ancient history—today other nations boast that distinction.

233.

Against Neglect of the Eyes.—Might one not find among the cultured classes of England, who read the Times, a decline in their powers of sight every ten years?

234.

Great Works and Great Faith.—One man had great works, but his comrade had great faith in these works. They were inseparable, but obviously the former was entirely dependent upon the latter.

235.

The Sociable Man.—“I don’t get on well with myself,” said some one in explanation of his fondness for society. “Society has a stronger digestion than I have, and can put up with me.”

236.

Shutting the Mind’s Eyes.—If we are practised and accustomed to reflect upon our actions, [pg 316] we must nevertheless close the inner eye while performing an action (be this even only writing letters or eating or drinking). Even in conversation with average people we must know how to obscure our own mental vision in order to attain and grasp average thinking. This shutting of the eyes is a conscious act and can be achieved by the will.

237.

The Most Terrible Revenge.—If we wish to take a thorough revenge upon an opponent, we must wait until we have our hand quite full of truths and equities, and can calmly use the whole lot against him. Hence the exercise of revenge may be identified with the exercise of equity. It is the most terrible kind of revenge, for there is no higher court to which an appeal can be made. Thus did Voltaire revenge himself on Piron, with five lines that sum up Piron’s whole life, work, and character: every word is a truth. So too he revenged himself upon Frederick the Great in a letter to him from Ferney.

238.

Taxes of Luxury.—In shops we buy the most necessary and urgent things, and have to pay very dear, because we pay as well for what is also to be had there cheap, but seldom finds a customer—articles of luxury that minister to pleasure. Thus luxury lays a constant tax upon the man of simple life who does without luxuries.

[pg 317]
239.

Why Beggars still Live.—If all alms were given only out of compassion, the whole tribe of beggars would long since have died of starvation.

240.

Why Beggars still Live.—The greatest of almsgivers is cowardice.

241.

How the Thinker Makes Use of a Conversation.—Without being eavesdroppers, we can hear a good deal if we are able to see well, and at the same time to let ourselves occasionally get out of our own sight. But people do not know how to make use of a conversation. They pay far too much attention to what they want to say and reply, whereas the true listener is often contented to make a provisional answer and to say something merely as a payment on account of politeness, but on the other hand, with his memory lurking in ambush, carries away with him all that the other said, together with his tones and gestures in speaking.—In ordinary conversation every one thinks he is the leader, just as if two ships, sailing side by side and giving each other a slight push here and there, were each firmly convinced that the other ship was following or even being towed.

242.

The Art of Excusing Oneself.—If some one excuses himself to us, he has to make out a very [pg 318] good case, otherwise we readily come to feel ourselves the culprits, and experience an unpleasant emotion.

243.

Impossible Intercourse.—The ship of your thoughts goes too deep for you to be able to travel with it in the waters of these friendly, decorous, obliging people. There are too many shallows and sandbanks: you would have to tack and turn, and would find yourself continually at your wits’ end, and they would soon also be in perplexity as to your perplexity, the reason for which they cannot divine.

244.

The Fox of Foxes.—A true fox not only calls sour the grapes he cannot reach, but also those he has reached and snatched from the grasp of others.

245.

In Intimate Intercourse.—However closely men are connected, there are still all the four quarters of the heavens in their common horizon, and at times they become aware of this fact.

246.

The Silence of Disgust.—Behold! some one undergoes a thorough and painful transformation as thinker and human being, and makes a public avowal of the change. And those who hear him see nothing, and still believe he is the same as before! This common experience has already disgusted [pg 319] many writers. They had rated the intellectuality of mankind too highly, and made a vow to be silent as soon as they became aware of their mistake.

247.

Business Seriousness.—The business of many rich and eminent men is their form of recreation from too long periods of habitual leisure. They then become as serious and impassioned as other people do in their rare moments of leisure and amusement.

248.

The Eye’s Double Sense.—Just as a sudden scaly ripple runs over the waters at your feet, so there are similar sudden uncertainties and ambiguities in the human eye. They lead to the question: is it a shudder, or a smile, or both?

249.

Positive and Negative.—This thinker needs no one to refute him—he is quite capable of doing that himself.

250.

The Revenge of the Empty Nets.—Above all we should beware of those who have the bitter feeling of the fisherman who after a hard day’s work comes home in the evening with nets empty.

251.

Non-Assertion of our Rights.—The exertion of power is laborious and demands courage. That [pg 320] is why so many do not assert their most valid rights, because their rights are a kind of power, and they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise them. Indulgence and patience are the names given to the virtues that cloak these faults.

252.

Bearers of Light.—In Society there would be no sunshine if the born flatterers (I mean the so-called amiable people) did not bring some in with them.

253.

When most Benevolent.—When a man has been highly honoured and has eaten a little, he is most benevolent.

254.

To the Light.—Men press forward to the light not in order to see better but to shine better.—The person before whom we shine we gladly allow to be called a light.

255.

The Hypochondriac.—The hypochondriac is a man who has just enough intellect and pleasure in the intellect to take his sorrows, his losses, and his mistakes seriously. But the field on which he grazes is too small: he crops it so close that in the end he has to look for single stalks. Thus he finally becomes envious and avaricious—and only then is he unbearable.

256.

Giving in Return.—Hesiod advises us to give the neighbour who has helped us good measure and, [pg 321] if possible, fuller measure in return, as soon as we have the power. For this is where the neighbour’s pleasure comes in, since his former benevolence brings him interest. Moreover, he who gives in return also has his pleasure, inasmuch as, by giving a little more than he got, he redeems the slight humiliation of being compelled to seek aid.

257.

More subtle than Is Necessary.—Our sense of observation for how far others perceive our weaknesses is far more subtle than our sense of observation for the weaknesses of others. It follows that the first-named sense is more subtle than is necessary.

258.

A Kind of Bright Shadows.—Close to the nocturnal type of man we almost regularly find, as if bound up with him, a bright soul. This is, as it were, the negative shadow cast by the former.

259.

Not to take Revenge.—There are so many subtle sorts of revenge that one who has occasion to take revenge can really do or omit to do what he likes. In any case, the whole world will agree, after a time, that he has avenged himself. Hence the avoidance of revenge is hardly within man’s power. He must not even so much as say that he does not want to do so, since the contempt for revenge is interpreted and felt as a sublime and exquisite form of revenge.—It follows that we must do nothing superfluous.

[pg 322]
260.

The Mistake of Those who Pay Homage.—Every one thinks he is paying a most agreeable compliment to a thinker when he says that he himself hit upon exactly the same idea and even upon the same expression. The thinker, however, is seldom delighted at hearing such news, nay, rather, he often becomes distrustful of his own thoughts and expressions. He silently resolves to revise both some day. If we wish to pay homage to any one, we must beware of expressing our agreement, for this puts us on the same level.—Often it is a matter of social tact to listen to an opinion as if it were not ours or even travelled beyond the limits of our own horizon—as, for example, when an old man once in a while opens the storehouse of his acquired knowledge.

261.

Letters.—A letter is an unannounced visit, and the postman is the intermediary of impolite surprises. Every week we ought to have one hour for receiving letters, and then go and take a bath.

262.

Prejudiced.—Some one said: I have been prejudiced against myself from childhood upwards, and hence I find some truth in every censure and some absurdity in every eulogy. Praise I generally value too low and blame too high.

[pg 323]
263.

The Path to Equality.—A few hours of mountain-climbing make a blackguard and a saint two rather similar creatures. Weariness is the shortest path to equality and fraternity—and finally liberty is bestowed by sleep.

264.

Calumny.—If we begin to trace to its source a real scandalous misrepresentation, we shall rarely look for its origin in our honourable and straightforward enemies; for if they invented anything of the sort about us, they, as being our enemies, would gain no credence. Those, however, to whom for a time we have been most useful, but who, from some reason or other, may be secretly sure that they will obtain no more from us—such persons are in a position to start the ball of slander rolling. They gain credence, firstly, because it is assumed that they would invent nothing likely to do them damage; secondly, because they have learnt to know us intimately.—As a consolation, the much-slandered man may say to himself: Calumnies are diseases of others that break out in your body. They prove that Society is a (moral) organism, so that you can prescribe to yourself the cure that will in the end be useful to others.

265.

The Child’s Kingdom of Heaven.—The happiness of a child is as much of a myth as the happiness of the Hyperboreans of whom the Greeks [pg 324] fabled. The Greeks supposed that, if indeed happiness dwells anywhere on our earth, it must certainly dwell as far as possible from us, perhaps over yonder at the edge of the world. Old people have the same thought—if man is at all capable of being happy, he must be happy as far as possible from our age, at the frontiers and beginnings of life. For many a man the sight of children, through the veil of this myth, is the greatest happiness that he can feel. He enters himself into the forecourt of heaven when he says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of them is the kingdom of heaven.” The myth of the child’s kingdom of heaven holds good, in some way or other, wherever in the modern world some sentimentality exists.

266.

The Impatient.—It is just the growing man who does not want things in the growing stage. He is too impatient for that. The youth will not wait until, after long study, suffering, and privation, his picture of men and things is complete. Accordingly, he confidently accepts another picture that lies ready to his hand and is recommended to him, and pins his faith to that, as if it must give him at once the lines and colours of his own painting. He presses a philosopher or a poet to his bosom, and must from that time forth perform long stretches of forced labour and renounce his own self. He learns much in the process, but he often forgets what is most worth learning and knowing—his self. He remains all his life a partisan. [pg 325] Ah, a vast amount of tedious work has to be done before you find your own colours, your own brush, your own canvas!—Even then you are very far from being a master in the art of life, but at least you are the boss in your own workshop.

267.

There are no Teachers.—As thinkers we ought only to speak of self-teaching. The instruction of the young by others is either an experiment performed upon something as yet unknown and unknowable, or else a thorough levelling process, in order to make the new member of society conform to the customs and manners that prevail for the time being. In both cases the result is accordingly unworthy of a thinker—the handiwork of parents and teachers, whom some valiantly honest person25 has called “nos ennemis naturels.” One day, when, as the world thinks, we have long since finished our education, we discover ourselves. Then begins the task of the thinker, and then is the time to summon him to our aid—not as a teacher, but as a self-taught man who has experience.

268.

Sympathy with Youth.—We are sorry when we hear that some one who is still young is losing his teeth or growing blind. If we knew all the irrevocable and hopeless feelings hidden in his whole being, how great our sorrow would be! Why do [pg 326] we really suffer on this account? Because youth has to continue the work we have undertaken, and every flaw and failing in its strength is likely to injure our work, that will fall into its hands. It is the sorrow at the imperfect guarantee of our immortality: or, if we only feel ourselves as executors of the human mission, it is the sorrow that this mission must pass to weaker hands than ours.

269.

The Ages of Life.—The comparison of the four ages of life with the four seasons of the year is a venerable piece of folly. Neither the first twenty nor the last twenty years of a life correspond to a season of the year, assuming that we are not satisfied with drawing a parallel between white hair and snow and similar colour-analogies. The first twenty years are a preparation for life in general, for the whole year of life, a sort of long New Year’s Day. The last twenty review, assimilate, bring into union and harmony all that has been experienced till then: as, in a small degree, we do on every New Year’s Eve with the whole past year. But in between there really lies an interval which suggests a comparison with the seasons—the time from the twentieth to the fiftieth year (to speak here of decades in the lump, while it is an understood thing that every one must refine for himself these rough outlines). Those three decades correspond to three seasons—summer, spring, and autumn. Winter human life has none, unless we like to call the (unfortunately) often intervening hard, cold, lonely, [pg 327] hopeless, unfruitful periods of disease the winters of man. The twenties, hot, oppressive, stormy, impetuous, exhausting years, when we praise the day in the evening, when it is over, as we wipe the sweat from our foreheads—years in which work seems to us cruel but necessary—these twenties are the summer of life. The thirties, on the other hand, are its spring-time, with the air now too warm, now too cold, ever restless and stimulating, bubbling sap, bloom of leaves, fragrance of buds everywhere, many delightful mornings and evenings, work to which the song of birds awakens us, a true work of the heart, a kind of joy in our own robustness, strengthened by the savour of hopeful anticipation. Lastly the forties, mysterious like all that is stationary, like a high, broad plateau, traversed by a fresh breeze, with a clear, cloudless sky above it, which always has the same gentle look all day and half the night—the time of harvest and cordial gaiety—that is the autumn of life.

270.

Women’s Intellect in Modern Society.—What women nowadays think of men’s intellect may be divined from the fact that in their art of adornment they think of anything but of emphasising the intellectual side of their faces or their single intellectual features. On the contrary, they conceal such traits, and understand, for example by an arrangement of their hair over their forehead, how to give themselves an appearance of vivid, eager sensuality and materialism, just when they but slightly possess those qualities. Their conviction [pg 328] that intellect in women frightens men goes so far that they even gladly deny the keenness of the most intellectual sense and purposely invite the reputation of short-sightedness. They think they will thereby make men more confiding. It is as if a soft, attractive twilight were spreading itself around them.

271.

Great and Transitory.—What moves the observer to tears is the rapturous look of happiness with which a fair young bride gazes upon her husband. We feel all the melancholy of autumn in thinking of the greatness and of the transitoriness of human happiness.

272.

Sense and Sacrifice.—Many a woman has the intelletto del sacrifizio,26 and no longer enjoys life when her husband refuses to sacrifice her. With all her wit, she then no longer knows—whither? and without perceiving it, is changed from sacrificial victim to sacrificial priest.

273.

The Unfeminine.—“Stupid as a man,” say the women; “Cowardly as a woman,” say the men. Stupidity in a woman is unfeminine.

274.

Masculine and Feminine Temperament and Mortality.—That the male sex has a worse [pg 329] temperament than the female follows from the fact that male children have a greater mortality than female, clearly because they “leap out of their skins” more easily. Their wildness and unbearableness soon make all the bad stuff in them deadly.

275.

The Age of Cyclopean Building.—The democratisation of Europe is a resistless force. Even he who would stem the tide uses those very means that democratic thought first put into men’s hands, and he makes these means more handy and workable. The most inveterate enemies of democracy (I mean the spirits of upheaval) seem only to exist in order, by the fear that they inspire, to drive forward the different parties faster and faster on the democratic course. Now we may well feel sorry for those who are working consciously and honourably for this future. There is something dreary and monotonous in their faces, and the grey dust seems to have been wafted into their very brains. Nevertheless, posterity may possibly some day laugh at our anxiety, and see in the democratic work of several generations what we see in the building of stone dams and walls—an activity that necessarily covers clothes and face with a great deal of dust, and perhaps unavoidably makes the workmen, too, a little dull-witted; but who would on that account desire such work undone? It seems that the democratisation of Europe is a link in the chain of those mighty prophylactic principles which are the thought of the modern era, and whereby we rise up [pg 330] in revolt against the Middle Ages. Now, and now only, is the age of Cyclopean building! A final security in the foundations, that the future may build on them without danger! Henceforth, an impossibility of the orchards of culture being once more destroyed overnight by wild, senseless mountain torrents! Dams and walls against barbarians, against plagues, against physical and spiritual serfdom! And all this understood at first roughly and literally, but gradually in an ever higher and more spiritual sense, so that all the principles here indicated may appear as the intellectual preparation of the highest artist in horticulture, who can only apply himself to his own task when the other is fully accomplished!—True, if we consider the long intervals of time that here lie between means and end, the great, supreme labour, straining the powers and brains of centuries, that is necessary in order to create or to provide each individual means, we must not bear too hardly upon the workers of the present when they loudly proclaim that the wall and the fence are already the end and the final goal. After all, no one yet sees the gardener and the fruit, for whose sake the fence exists.

276.

The Right of Universal Suffrage.—The people has not granted itself universal suffrage but, wherever this is now in force, it has received and accepted it as a temporary measure. But in any case the people has the right to restore the gift, if it does not satisfy its anticipations. This dissatisfaction [pg 331] seems universal nowadays, for when, at any occasion where the vote is exercised, scarce two-thirds, nay perhaps not even the majority of all voters, go to the polls, that very fact is a vote against the whole suffrage system.—On this point, in fact, we must pronounce a much sterner verdict. A law that enacts that the majority shall decide as to the welfare of all cannot be built up on the foundation that it alone has provided, for it is bound to require a far broader foundation, namely the unanimity of all. Universal suffrage must not only be the expression of the will of a majority, but of the whole country. Thus the dissent of a very small minority is already enough to set aside the system as impracticable; and the abstention from voting is in fact a dissent of this kind, which ruins the whole institution. The “absolute veto” of the individual, or—not to be too minute—the veto of a few thousands, hangs over the system as the consequence of justice. On every occasion when it is employed, the system must, according to the variety of the division, first prove that it has still a right to exist.

277.

False Conclusions.—What false conclusions are drawn in spheres where we are not at home, even by those of us who are accustomed as men of science to draw right conclusions! It is humiliating! Now it is clear that in the great turmoil of worldly doings, in political affairs, in all sudden and urgent matters such as almost every day brings up, these false conclusions must decide. For no one [pg 332] feels at home with novelties that have sprung up in the night. All political work, even with great statesmen, is an improvisation that trusts to luck.

278.

Premisses of the Age of Machinery.—The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premisses of which no one has yet dared to draw the conclusions that will follow in a thousand years.

279.

A Drag upon Culture.—When we are told that here men have no time for productive occupations, because military manœuvres and processions take up their days, and the rest of the population must feed and clothe them, their dress, however, being striking, often gay and full of absurdities; that there only a few distinguished qualities are recognised, individuals resemble each other more than elsewhere, or at any rate are treated as equals, yet obedience is exacted and yielded without reasoning, for men command and make no attempt to convince; that here punishments are few, but these few cruel and likely to become the final and most terrible; that there treason ranks as the capital offence, and even the criticism of evils is only ventured on by the most audacious; that there, again, human life is cheap, and ambition often takes the form of setting life in danger—when we hear all this, we at once say, “This is a picture of a barbarous society that rests on a hazardous footing.” One man perhaps will add, “It is a portrait of Sparta.” But another will become [pg 333] meditative and declare that this is a description of our modern military system, as it exists in the midst of our altogether different culture and society, a living anachronism, the picture, as above said, of a community resting on a hazardous footing; a posthumous work of the past, which can only act as a drag upon the wheels of the present.—Yet at times even a drag upon culture is vitally necessary—that is to say, when culture is advancing too rapidly downhill or (as perhaps in this case) uphill.

280.

More Reverence for Them that Know.—In the competition of production and sale the public is made judge of the product. But the public has no special knowledge, and judges by the appearance of the wares. In consequence, the art of appearance (and perhaps the taste for it) must increase under the dominance of competition, while on the other hand the quality of every product must deteriorate. The result will be—so far as reason does not fall in value—that one day an end will be put to that competition, and a new principle will win the day. Only the master of the craft should pronounce a verdict on the work, and the public should be dependent on the belief in the personality of the judge and his honesty. Accordingly, no anonymous work! At least an expert should be there as guarantor and pledge his name if the name of the creator is lacking or is unknown. The cheapness of an article is for the layman another kind of illusion and deceit, since only durability can decide that a thing [pg 334] is cheap and to what an extent. But it is difficult, and for a layman impossible, to judge of its durability.—Hence that which produces an effect on the eye and costs little at present gains the advantage—this being naturally machine-made work. Again, machinery—that is to say, the cause of the greatest rapidity and facility in production—favours the most saleable kind of article. Otherwise it involves no tangible profit; it would be too little used and too often stand idle. But as to what is most saleable, the public, as above said, decides: it must be the most exchangeable—in other words, the thing that appears good and also appears cheap. Thus in the domain of labour our motto must also hold good: “More respect for them that know!”

281.

The Danger of Kings.—Democracy has it in its power, without any violent means, and only by a lawful pressure steadily exerted, to make kingship and emperorship hollow, until only a zero remains, perhaps with the significance of every zero in that, while nothing in itself, it multiplies a number tenfold if placed on the right side. Kingship and emperorship would remain a gorgeous ornament upon the simple and appropriate dress of democracy, a beautiful superfluity that democracy allows itself, a relic of all the historically venerable, primitive ornaments, nay the symbol of history itself, and in this unique position a highly effective thing if, as above said, it does not stand alone, but is put on the right side.—In order to avoid the danger of this [pg 335] nullification, kings hold by their teeth to their dignity as war-lords. To this end they need wars, or in other words exceptional circumstances, in which that slow, lawful pressure of the democratic forces is relaxed.

282.

The Teacher a Necessary Evil.—Let us have as few people as possible between the productive minds and the hungry and recipient minds! The middlemen almost unconsciously adulterate the food which they supply. For their work as middlemen they want too high a fee for themselves, and this is drawn from the original, productive spirits—namely, interest, admiration, leisure, money, and other advantages.—Accordingly, we should always look upon the teacher as a necessary evil, just like the merchant; as an evil that we should make as small as possible.—Perhaps the prevailing distress in Germany has its main cause in the fact that too many wish to live and live well by trade (in other words, desiring as far as possible to diminish prices for the producer and raise prices for the consumer, and thus to profit by the greatest possible loss to both). In the same way, we may certainly trace a main cause of the prevailing intellectual poverty in the superabundance of teachers. It is because of teachers that so little is learnt, and that so badly.

283.

The Tax of Homage.—Him whom we know and honour,—be he physician, artist, or artisan,—who does and produces something for us, we gladly [pg 336] pay as highly as we can, often a fee beyond our means. On the other hand, we pay the unknown as low a price as possible; here is a contest in which every one struggles and makes others struggle for a foot’s breadth of land. In the work of the known there is something that cannot be bought, the sentiment and ingenuity put into his work for our own sake. We think we cannot better express our sense of obligation than by a sort of sacrifice on our part.—The heaviest tax is the tax of homage. The more competition prevails, the more we buy for the unknown and work for the unknown, the lower does this tax become, whereas it is really the standard for the loftiness of man’s spiritual intercourse.

284.

The Means towards Genuine Peace.—No government will nowadays admit that it maintains an army in order to satisfy occasionally its passion for conquest. The army is said to serve only defensive purposes. This morality, which justifies self-defence, is called in as the government’s advocate. This means, however, reserving morality for ourselves and immorality for our neighbour, because he must be thought eager for attack and conquest if our state is forced to consider means of self-defence.—At the same time, by our explanation of our need of an army (because he denies the lust of attack just as our state does, and ostensibly also maintains his army for defensive reasons), we proclaim him a hypocrite and cunning criminal, who would fain seize by surprise, without any fighting, [pg 337] a harmless and unwary victim. In this attitude all states face each other to-day. They presuppose evil intentions on their neighbour’s part and good intentions on their own. This hypothesis, however, is an inhuman notion, as bad as and worse than war. Nay, at bottom it is a challenge and motive to war, foisting as it does upon the neighbouring state the charge of immorality, and thus provoking hostile intentions and acts. The doctrine of the army as a means of self-defence must be abjured as completely as the lust of conquest. Perhaps a memorable day will come when a nation renowned in wars and victories, distinguished by the highest development of military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifice to these objects, will voluntarily exclaim, “We will break our swords,” and will destroy its whole military system, lock, stock, and barrel. Making ourselves defenceless (after having been the most strongly defended) from a loftiness of sentiment—that is the means towards genuine peace, which must always rest upon a pacific disposition. The so-called armed peace that prevails at present in all countries is a sign of a bellicose disposition, of a disposition that trusts neither itself nor its neighbour, and, partly from hate, partly from fear, refuses to lay down its weapons. Better to perish than to hate and fear, and twice as far better to perish than to make oneself hated and feared—this must some day become the supreme maxim of every political community!—Our liberal representatives of the people, as is well known, have not the time for reflection on the nature of humanity, or else they would know that they are [pg 338] working in vain when they work for “a gradual diminution of the military burdens.” On the contrary, when the distress of these burdens is greatest, the sort of God who alone can help here will be nearest. The tree of military glory can only be destroyed at one swoop, with one stroke of lightning. But, as you know, lightning comes from the cloud and from above.

285.

Whether Property can be squared with Justice.—When the injustice of property is strongly felt (and the hand of the great clock is once more at this place), we formulate two methods of relieving this injustice: either an equal distribution, or an abolition of private possession and a return to State ownership. The latter method is especially dear to the hearts of our Socialists, who are angry with that primitive Jew for saying, “Thou shalt not steal.” In their view the eighth27 commandment should rather run, “Thou shalt not possess.”—The former method was frequently tried in antiquity, always indeed on a small scale, and yet with poor success. From this failure we too may learn. “Equal plots of land” is easily enough said, but how much bitterness is aroused by the necessary division and separation, by the loss of time-honoured possessions, how much piety is wounded and sacrificed! We uproot the foundation of morality when we uproot boundary-stones. Again, how much fresh bitterness among the new owners, how much envy and looking askance! For there have never been two [pg 339] really equal plots of land, and if there were, man’s envy of his neighbour would prevent him from believing in their equality. And how long would this equality, unhealthy and poisoned at the very roots, endure? In a few generations, by inheritance, here one plot would come to five owners, there five plots to one. Even supposing that men acquiesced in such abuses through the enactment of stern laws of inheritance, the same equal plots would indeed exist, but there would also be needy malcontents, owning nothing but dislike of their kinsmen and neighbours, and longing for a general upheaval.—If, however, by the second method we try to restore ownership to the community and make the individual but a temporary tenant, we interfere with agriculture. For man is opposed to all that is only a transitory possession, unblessed with his own care and sacrifice. With such property he behaves in freebooter fashion, as robber or as worthless spendthrift. When Plato declares that self-seeking would be removed with the abolition of property, we may answer him that, if self-seeking be taken away, man will no longer possess the four cardinal virtues either; as we must say that the most deadly plague could not injure mankind so terribly as if vanity were one day to disappear. Without vanity and self-seeking what are human virtues? By this I am far from meaning that these virtues are but varied names and masks for these two qualities. Plato’s Utopian refrain, which is still sung by Socialists, rests upon a deficient knowledge of men. He lacked the historical science of moral emotions, the insight into the origin of the good and useful [pg 340] characteristics of the human soul. He believed, like all antiquity, in good and evil as in black and white—that is to say, in a radical difference between good and bad men and good and bad qualities.—In order that property may henceforth inspire more confidence and become more moral, we should keep open all the paths of work for small fortunes, but should prevent the effortless and sudden acquisition of wealth. Accordingly, we should take all the branches of transport and trade which favour the accumulation of large fortunes—especially, therefore, the money market—out of the hands of private persons or private companies, and look upon those who own too much, just as upon those who own nothing, as types fraught with danger to the community.

286.

The Value of Labour.—If we try to determine the value of labour by the amount of time, industry, good or bad will, constraint, inventiveness or laziness, honesty or make-believe bestowed upon it, the valuation can never be a just one. For the whole personality would have to be thrown into the scale, and this is impossible. Here the motto is, “Judge not!” But after all the cry for justice is the cry we now hear from those who are dissatisfied with the present valuation of labour. If we reflect further we find every person non-responsible for his product, the labour; hence merit can never be derived therefrom, and every labour is as good or as bad as it must be through this or that necessary concatenation of forces and weaknesses, abilities and desires. The worker [pg 341] is not at liberty to say whether he shall work or not, or to decide how he shall work. Only the standpoints of usefulness, wider and narrower, have created the valuation of labour. What we at present call justice does very well in this sphere as a highly refined utility, which does not only consider the moment and exploit the immediate opportunity, but looks to the permanence of all conditions, and thus also keeps in view the well-being of the worker, his physical and spiritual contentment: in order that he and his posterity may work well for our posterity and become trustworthy for longer periods than the individual span of human life. The exploitation of the worker was, as we now understand, a piece of folly, a robbery at the expense of the future, a jeopardisation of society. We almost have the war now, and in any case the expense of maintaining peace, of concluding treaties and winning confidence, will henceforth be very great, because the folly of the exploiters was very great and long-lasting.

287.

Of the Study of the Social Body.—The worst drawback for the modern student of economics and political science in Europe, and especially in Germany, is that the actual conditions, instead of exemplifying rules, illustrate exceptions or stages of transition and extinction. We must therefore learn to look beyond actually existing conditions and, for example, turn our eyes to distant North America, where we can still contemplate and investigate, if we will, the initial and normal movement of the social [pg 342] body. In Germany such a study requires arduous and historical research, or, as I have suggested, a telescope.

288.

How far Machinery Humiliates.—Machinery is impersonal; it robs the piece of work of its pride, of the individual merits and defects that cling to all work that is not machine-made—in other words, of its bit of humanity. Formerly, all buying from handicraftsmen meant a mark of distinction for their personalities, with whose productions people surrounded themselves. Furniture and dress accordingly became the symbols of mutual valuation and personal connection. Nowadays, on the other hand, we seem to live in the midst of anonymous and impersonal serfdom.—We must not buy the facilitation of labour too dear.

289.

Century-old Quarantine.—Democratic institutions are centres of quarantine against the old plague of tyrannical desires. As such they are extremely useful and extremely tedious.

290.

The Most Dangerous Partisan.—The most dangerous partisan is he whose defection would involve the ruin of the whole party—in other words, the best partisan.

[pg 343]
291.

Destiny and the Stomach.—A piece more or less of bread and butter in the jockey’s body is occasionally the decisive factor in races and bets, and thus in the good and bad luck of thousands.—So long as the destiny of nations depends upon diplomats, the stomachs of diplomats will always be the object of patriotic misgivings. Quousque tandem….

292.

The Victory of Democracy.—All political powers nowadays attempt to exploit the fear of Socialism for their own strengthening. Yet in the long run democracy alone gains the advantage, for all parties are now compelled to flatter “the masses” and grant them facilities and liberties of all kinds, with the result that the masses finally become omnipotent. The masses are as far as possible removed from Socialism as a doctrine of altering the acquisition of property. If once they get the steering-wheel into their hands, through great majorities in their Parliaments, they will attack with progressive taxation the whole dominant system of capitalists, merchants, and financiers, and will in fact slowly create a middle class which may forget Socialism like a disease that has been overcome.—The practical result of this increasing democratisation will next be a European league of nations, in which each individual nation, delimited by the proper geographical frontiers, has the position of a canton with its separate rights. Small account will be taken of the [pg 344] historic memories of previously existing nations, because the pious affection for these memories will be gradually uprooted under the democratic régime, with all its craze for novelty and experiment. The corrections of frontiers that will prove necessary will be so carried out as to serve the interests of the great cantons and at the same time that of the whole federation, but not that of any venerable memories. To find the standpoints for these corrections will be the task of future diplomats, who will have to be at the same time students of civilisation, agriculturists, and commercial experts, with no armies but motives and utilities at their back. Then only will foreign and home politics be inseparably connected, whereas to-day the latter follows its haughty dictator, and gleans in sorry baskets the stubble that is left over from the harvest of the former.

293.

Goal and Means of Democracy.—Democracy tries to create and guarantee independence for as many as possible in their opinions, way of life, and occupation. For this purpose democracy must withhold the political suffrage both from those who have nothing and from those who are really rich, as being the two intolerable classes of men. At the removal of these classes it must always work, because they are continually calling its task in question. In the same way democracy must prevent all measures that seem to aim at party organisation. For the three great foes of independence, in that threefold sense, are the have-nots, the rich, and the [pg 345] parties.—I speak of democracy as of a thing to come. What at present goes by that name is distinguished from older forms of government only by the fact that it drives with new horses; the roads and the wheels are the same as of yore.—Has the danger really become less with these conveyances of the commonwealth?

294.

Discretion and Success.—That great quality of discretion, which is fundamentally the virtue of virtues, their ancestress and queen, has in common life by no means always success on its side. The wooer would find himself deceived if he had wooed that virtue only for the sake of success. For it is rated by practical people as suspicious, and is confused with cunning and hypocrisy: he who obviously lacks discretion, the man who quickly grasps and sometimes misses his grasp, has prejudice on his side—he is an honest, trustworthy fellow. Practical people, accordingly, do not like the prudent man, thinking he is to them a danger. Moreover, we often assume the prudent man to be anxious, preoccupied, pedantic—unpractical, butterfly people find him uncomfortable, because he does not live in their happy-go-lucky way, without thinking of actions and duties; he appears among them as their embodied conscience, and the bright day is dimmed to their eyes before his gaze. Thus when success and popularity fail him, he may often say by way of private consolation, “So high are the taxes you have to pay for the possession of the [pg 346] most precious of human commodities—still it is worth the price!”

295.

Et in Arcadia Ego.—I looked down, over waves of hills, to a milky-green lake, through firs and pines austere with age; rocky crags of all shapes about me, the soil gay with flowers and grasses. A herd of cattle moved, stretched, and expanded itself before me; single cows and groups in the distance, in the clearest evening light, hard by the forest of pines; others nearer and darker; all in calm and eventide contentment. My watch pointed to half-past six. The bull of the herd had stepped into the white foaming brook, and went forward slowly, now striving against, now giving way to his tempestuous course; thus, no doubt, he took his sort of fierce pleasure. Two dark brown beings, of Bergamasque origin, tended the herd, the girl dressed almost like a boy. On the left, overhanging cliffs and fields of snow above broad belts of woodland; to the right, two enormous ice-covered peaks, high above me, shimmering in the veil of the sunny haze—all large, silent, and bright. The beauty of the whole was awe-inspiring and induced to a mute worship of the moment and its revelation. Unconsciously, as if nothing could be more natural, you peopled this pure, clear world of light (which had no trace of yearning, of expectancy, of looking forward or backward) with Greek heroes. You felt it all as Poussin and his school felt—at once heroic and idyllic.—So individual men too have lived, constantly feeling themselves in the world and the [pg 347] world in themselves, and among them one of the greatest men, the inventor of a heroico-idyllic form of philosophy—Epicurus.

296.

Counting and Measuring.—The art of seeing many things, of weighing one with another, of reckoning one thing with another and constructing from them a rapid conclusion, a fairly correct sum—that goes to make a great politician or general or merchant. This quality is, in fact, a power of speedy mental calculation. The art of seeing one thing alone, of finding therein the sole motive for action, the guiding principle of all other action, goes to make the hero and also the fanatic. This quality means a dexterity in measuring with one scale.

297.

Not to See too Soon.—As long as we undergo some experience, we must give ourselves up to the experience and shut our eyes—in other words, not become observers of what we are undergoing. For to observe would disturb good digestion of the experience, and instead of wisdom we should gain nothing but dyspepsia.

298.

From the Practice of the Wise.—To become wise we must will to undergo certain experiences, and accordingly leap into their jaws. This, it is true, is very dangerous. Many a “sage” has been eaten up in the process.

[pg 348]
299.

Exhaustion of the Intellect.—Our occasional coldness and indifference towards people, which is imputed to us as hardness and defect of character, is often only an exhaustion of the intellect. In this state other men are to us, as we are to ourselves, tedious or immaterial.

300.

“The One Thing Needful.”—If we are clever, the one thing we need is to have joy in our hearts. “Ah,” adds some one, “if we are clever, the best thing we can do is to be wise.”

301.

A Sign of Love.—Some one said, “There are two persons about whom I have never thought deeply. That is a sign of my love for them.”

302.

How we Seek to Improve Bad Arguments.—Many a man adds a bit of his personality to his bad arguments, as if they would thus go better and change into straight and good arguments. In the same way, players at skittles, even after a throw, try to give a direction to the ball by turns and gestures.

303.

Honesty.—It is but a small thing to be a pattern sort of man with regard to rights and property—for [pg 349] instance (to name trifling points, which of course give a better proof of this sort of pattern nature than great examples), if as a boy one never steals fruit from another’s orchard, and as a man never walks on unmown fields. It is but little; you are then still only a “law-abiding person,” with just that degree of morality of which a “society,” a group of human beings, is capable.

304.

“Man!”—What is the vanity of the vainest individual as compared with the vanity which the most modest person feels when he thinks of his position in nature and in the world as “Man!”

305.

The Most Necessary Gymnastic.—Through deficiency in self-control in small matters a similar deficiency on great occasions slowly arises. Every day on which we have not at least once denied ourselves some trifle is turned to bad use and a danger to the next day. This gymnastic is indispensable if we wish to maintain the joy of being our own master.

306.

Losing Ourselves.—When we have first found ourselves, we must understand how from time to time to lose ourselves and then to find ourselves again.—This is true on the assumption that we are thinkers. A thinker finds it a drawback always to be tied to one person.

[pg 350]
307.

When it is Necessary to Part.—You must, for a time at least, part from that which you want to know and measure. Only when you have left a city do you see how high its towers rise above its houses.

308.

At Noontide.—He to whom an active and stormy morning of life is allotted, at the noontide of life feels his soul overcome by a strange longing for a rest that may last for months and years. All grows silent around him, voices sound farther and farther in the distance, the sun shines straight down upon him. On a hidden woodland sward he sees the great God Pan sleeping, and with Pan Nature seems to him to have gone to sleep with an expression of eternity on their faces. He wants nothing, he troubles about nothing; his heart stands still, only his eye lives. It is a death with waking eyes. Then man sees much that he never saw before, and, so far as his eye can reach, all is woven into and as it were buried in a net of light. He feels happy, but it is a heavy, very heavy kind of happiness.—Then at last the wind stirs in the trees, noontide is over, life carries him away again, life with its blind eyes, and its tempestuous retinue behind it—desire, illusion, oblivion, enjoyment, destruction, decay. And so comes evening, more stormy and more active than was even the morning.—To the really active man these prolonged phases of cognition seem almost uncanny and morbid, but not unpleasant.

[pg 351]
309.

To Beware of One’s Portrait-Painter.—A great painter, who in a portrait has revealed and put on canvas the fullest expression and look of which a man is capable, will almost always think, when he sees the man later in real life, that he is only looking at a caricature.

310.

The Two Principles of the New Life.—First Principle: to arrange one’s life on the most secure and tangible basis, not as hitherto upon the most distant, undetermined, and cloudy foundation. Second Principle: to establish the rank of the nearest and nearer things, and of the more and less secure, before one arranges one’s life and directs it to a final end.

311.

Dangerous Irritability.—Talented men who are at the same time idle will always appear somewhat irritated when one of their friends has accomplished a thorough piece of work. Their jealousy is awakened, they are ashamed of their own laziness, or rather, they fear that their active friend will now despise them even more than before. In such a mood they criticise the new achievement, and, to the utter astonishment of the author, their criticism becomes a revenge.

312.

Destructions of Illusions.—Illusions are certainly expensive amusements; but the destruction [pg 352] of illusions is still more expensive, if looked upon as an amusement, as it undoubtedly is by some people.

313.

The Monotone of the “Sage.”—Cows sometimes have a look of wondering which stops short on the path to questioning. In the eye of the higher intelligence, on the other hand, the nil admirari is spread out like the monotony of the cloudless sky.

314.

Not to be Ill too Long.—We should beware of being ill too long. The lookers-on become impatient of their customary duty of showing sympathy, because they find it too much trouble to maintain the appearance of this emotion for any length of time. Then they immediately pass to suspicion of our character, with the conclusion: “You deserve to be ill, and we need no longer be at pains to show our sympathy.”

315.

A Hint to Enthusiasts.—He who likes to be carried away, and would fain be carried on high, must beware lest he become too heavy. For instance, he must not learn much, and especially not let himself be crammed with science. Science makes men ponderous—take care, ye enthusiasts!

316.

Knowledge of how to Surprise Oneself.—He who would see himself as he is, must know [pg 353] how to surprise himself, torch in hand. For with the mind it is as with the body: whoever is accustomed to look at himself in the glass forgets his ugliness, and only recognises it again by means of the portrait-painter. Yet he even grows used to the picture and forgets his ugliness all over again.—Herein we see the universal law that man cannot endure unalterable ugliness, unless for a moment. He forgets or denies it in all cases.—The moralists must reckon upon that “moment” for bringing forward their truths.

317.

Opinions and Fish.—We are possessors of our opinions as of fish—that is, in so far as we are possessors of a fish pond. We must go fishing and have luck—then we have our fish, our opinions. I speak here of live opinions, of live fish. Others are content to possess a cabinet of fossils—and, in their head, “convictions.”

318.

Signs of Freedom and Servitude.—To satisfy one’s needs so far as possible oneself, even if imperfectly, is the path towards freedom in mind and personality. To satisfy many even superfluous needs, and that as fully as possible, is a training for servitude. The Sophist Hippias, who himself earned and made all that he wore within and without, is the representative of the highest freedom of mind and personality. It does not matter whether [pg 354] all is done equally well and perfectly—pride can repair the damaged places.

319.

Belief in Oneself.—In our times we mistrust every one who believes in himself. Formerly this was enough to make people believe in one. The recipe for finding faith now runs: “Spare not thyself! In order to set thy opinion in a credible light, thou must first set fire to thy own hut!”

320.

At Once Richer and Poorer.—I know a man who accustomed himself even in childhood to think well of the intellectuality of mankind—in other words, of their real devotion as regards things of the intellect, their unselfish preference for that which is recognised as true—but who had at the same time a modest or even depreciatory view of his own brain (judgment, memory, presence of mind, imagination). He set no value on himself when he compared himself with others. Now in the course of years he was compelled, first once and then in a hundred ways, to revise this verdict. One would have thought he would be thoroughly satisfied and delighted. Such, in fact, was to some extent the case, but, as he once said, “Yet a bitterness of the deepest dye is mingled with my feeling, such as I did not know in earlier life; for since I learnt to value men and myself more correctly, my intellect seems to me of less use. I scarcely think I can now do any good at all with it, because the minds [pg 355] of others cannot understand the good. I now always see before me the frightful gulf between those who could give help and those who need help. So I am troubled by the misfortune of having my intellect to myself and of being forced to enjoy it alone so far as it can give any enjoyment. But to give is more blessed than to possess, and what is the richest man in the solitude of a desert?”28

321.

How we should Attack.—The reasons for which men believe or do not believe are in very few people as strong as they might be. As a rule, in order to shake a belief it is far from necessary to use the heaviest weapon of attack. Many attain their object by merely making the attack with some noise—in fact, pop-guns are often enough. In dealing with very vain persons, the semblance of a strong attack is enough. They think they are being taken quite seriously, and readily give way.

322.

Death.—Through the certain prospect of death a precious, fragrant drop of frivolity might be mixed with every life—and now, you singular druggist-souls, you have made of death a drop of poison, unpleasant to taste, which makes the whole of life hideous.

323.

Repentance.—Never allow repentance free play, [pg 356] but say at once to yourself, “That would be adding a second piece of folly to the first.” If you have worked evil, you must bethink yourself of doing good. If you are punished for your actions, submit to the punishment with the feeling that by this very submission you are somehow doing good, in that you are deterring others from falling into the same error. Every malefactor who is punished has a right to consider himself a benefactor to mankind.

324.

Becoming a Thinker.—How can any one become a thinker if he does not spend at least a third part of the day without passions, men, and books?

325.

The Best Remedy.—A little health on and off is the best remedy for the invalid.

326.

Don’t Touch.—There are dreadful people who, instead of solving a problem, complicate it for those who deal with it and make it harder to solve.29 Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be entreated not to hit the nail at all.

327.

Forgetting Nature.—We speak of Nature, and, in doing so, forget ourselves: we ourselves are [pg 357] Nature, quand même.—Consequently, Nature is something quite different from what we feel on hearing her name pronounced.

328.

Profundity and Ennui.—In the case of profound men, as of deep wells, it takes a long time before anything that is thrown into them reaches the bottom. The spectators, who generally do not wait long enough, too readily look upon such a man as callous and hard—or even as boring.

329.

When it is Time to Vow Fidelity to Oneself.—We sometimes go astray in an intellectual direction which does not correspond to our talents. For a time we struggle heroically against wind and tide, really against ourselves; but finally we become weary and we pant. What we accomplish gives us no real pleasure, since we think that we have paid too heavy a price for these successes. We even despair of our productivity, of our future, perhaps in the midst of victory.—Finally, finally we turn back—and then the wind swells our sails and bears us into our smooth water. What bliss! How certain of victory we feel! Only now do we know what we are and what we intend, and now we vow fidelity to ourselves, and have a right to do so—as men that know.

330.

Weather Prophets.—Just as the clouds reveal to us the direction of the wind high above our [pg 358] heads, so the lightest and freest spirits give signs of future weather by their course. The wind in the valley and the market-place opinions of to-day have no significance for the future, but only for the past.

331.

Continual Acceleration.—Those who begin slowly and find it hard to become familiar with a subject, sometimes acquire afterwards the quality of continual acceleration—so that in the end no one knows where the current will take them.

332.

The Three Good Things.—Greatness, calm, sunlight—these three embrace all that a thinker desires and also demands of himself: his hopes and duties, his claims in the intellectual and moral sphere, nay even in his daily manner of life and the scenic background of his residence. Corresponding to these three things are, firstly thoughts that exalt, secondly thoughts that soothe, and thirdly thoughts that illuminate—but, fourthly, thoughts that share in all these three qualities, in which all earthly things are transfigured. This is the kingdom of the great trinity of joy.

333.

Dying for “Truth.”—We should not let ourselves be burnt for our opinions—we are not so certain of them as all that. But we might let ourselves be burnt for the right of possessing and changing our opinions.

[pg 359]
334.

Market Value.—If we wish to pass exactly for what we are, we must be something that has its market value. As, however, only objects in common use have a market value, this desire is the consequence either of shrewd modesty or of stupid immodesty.

335.

Moral for Builders.—We must remove the scaffolding when the house has been built.

336.

Sophocleanism.—Who poured more water into wine than the Greeks? Sobriety and grace combined—that was the aristocratic privilege of the Athenian in the time of Sophocles and after. Imitate that whoever can! In life and in work!

337.

Heroism.—The heroic consists in doing something great (or in nobly not doing something) without feeling oneself to be in competition with or before others. The hero carries with him, wherever he goes, the wilderness and the holy land with inviolable precincts.

338.

Finding our “Double” in Nature.—In some country places we rediscover ourselves, with a delightful shudder: it is the pleasantest way of finding our “double.”—How happy must he be who has [pg 360] that feeling just here, in this perpetually sunny October air, in this happy elfin play of the wind from morn till eve, in this clearest of atmospheres and mildest of temperatures, in all the serious yet cheerful landscape of hill, lake, and forest on this plateau, which has encamped fearlessly next to the terrors of eternal snow: here, where Italy and Finland have joined hands, and where the home of all the silver colour-tones of Nature seems to be established. How happy must he be who can say, “True, there are many grander and finer pieces of scenery, but this is so familiar and intimate to me, related by blood, nay even more to me!”

339.

Affability of the Sage.—The sage will unconsciously be affable in his intercourse with other men, as a prince would be, and will readily treat them as equals, in spite of all differences of talent, rank, and character. For this characteristic, however, so soon as people notice it, he is most heavily censured.

340.

Gold.—All that is gold does not glitter. A soft sheen characterises the most precious metal.

341.

Wheel and Drag.—The wheel and the drag have different duties, but also one in common—that of hurting each other.

[pg 361]
342.

Disturbances of the Thinker.—All that interrupts the thinker in his thoughts (disturbs him, as people say) must be regarded by him calmly, as a new model who comes in by the door to offer himself to the artist. Interruptions are the ravens which bring food to the recluse.

343.

Being very Clever.—Being very clever keeps men young, but they must put up with being considered, for that very reason, older than they are. For men read the handwriting of the intellect as signs of experience—that is, of having lived much and evilly, of suffering, error, and repentance. Hence, if we are very clever and show it, we appear to them older and wickeder than we are.

344.

How we must Conquer.—We ought not to desire victory if we only have the prospect of overcoming our opponent by a hair’s breadth. A good victory makes the vanquished rejoice, and must have about it something divine which spares humiliation.

345.

An Illusion of Superior Minds.—Superior minds find it difficult to free themselves from an illusion; for they imagine that they excite envy among the mediocre and are looked upon as exceptions. [pg 362] As a matter of fact, however, they are looked upon as superfluous, as something that would not be missed if it did not exist.

346.

Demanded by Cleanliness.—Changing opinions is in some natures as much demanded by cleanliness as changing clothes. In the case of other natures it is only demanded by vanity.

347.

Also Worthy of a Hero.—Here is a hero who did nothing but shake the tree as soon as the fruits were ripe. Do you think that too small a thing? Well, just look at the tree that he shook.

348.

A Gauge for Wisdom.—The growth of wisdom may be gauged exactly by the diminution of ill-temper.

349.

Expressing an Error Disagreeably.—It is not to every one’s taste to hear truth pleasantly expressed. But let no one at least believe that error will become truth if it is disagreeably expressed.

350.

The Golden Maxim.—Man has been bound with many chains, in order that he may forget to [pg 363] comport himself like an animal. And indeed he has become more gentle, more intellectual, more joyous, more meditative than any animal. But now he still suffers from having carried his chains so long, from having been so long without pure air and free movement—these chains, however, are, as I repeat again and again, the ponderous and significant errors of moral, religious, and metaphysical ideas. Only when the disease of chains is overcome is the first great goal reached—the separation of man from the brute. At present we stand in the midst of our work of removing the chains, and in doing so we need the strictest precautions. Only the ennobled man may be granted freedom of spirit; to him alone comes the alleviation of life and heals his wounds; he is the first who can say that he lives for the sake of joy, with no other aim; in any other mouth, his motto of “Peace around me and goodwill towards all the most familiar things,” would be dangerous.—In this motto for single individuals he is thinking of an ancient saying, magnificent and pathetic, which applied to all, and has remained standing above all mankind, as a motto and a beacon whereby shall perish all who adorn their banner too early—the rock on which Christianity foundered. It is not even yet time, it seems, for all men to have the lot of those shepherds who saw the heavens lit up above them and heard the words: “Peace on earth and goodwill to one another among men.”—It is still the age of the individual.

[pg 364]
The Shadow: Of all that you have enunciated, nothing pleased me more than one promise: “Ye want again to be good neighbours to the most familiar things.” This will be to the advantage of us poor shadows too. For do but confess that you have hitherto been only too fond of reviling us.

The Wanderer: Reviling? But why did you never defend yourselves? After all, you were very close to our ears.

The Shadow: It seemed to us that we were too near you to have a right to talk of ourselves.

The Wanderer: What delicacy! Ah, you shadows are “better men”30 than we, I can see that.

The Shadow: And yet you called us “importunate”—us, who know one thing at least extremely well: how to be silent and to wait—no Englishman knows it better. It is true we are very, very often in the retinue of men, but never as their bondsmen. When man shuns light, we shun man—so far, at least, we are free.

The Wanderer: Ah, light shuns man far oftener, and then also you abandon him.

The Shadow: It has often pained me to leave you. I am eager for knowledge, and much in man has remained obscure to me, because I cannot always be in his company. At the price of complete knowledge of man I would gladly be your slave.

The Wanderer: Do you know, do I know, whether you would not then unwittingly become master instead [pg 365] of slave? Or would remain a slave indeed, but would lead a life of humiliation and disgust because you despised your master? Let us both be content with freedom such as you have enjoyed up to now—you and I! For the sight of a being not free would embitter my greatest joys; all that is best would be repugnant to me if any one had to share it with me—I will not hear of any slaves about me. That is why I do not care for the dog, that lazy, tail-wagging parasite, who first became “doggish” as the slave of man, and of whom they still say that he is loyal to his master and follows him like——

The Shadow: Like his shadow, they say. Perhaps I have already followed you too long to-day? It has been the longest day, but we are nearing the end; be patient a little more! The grass is damp; I am feeling chilly.

The Wanderer: Oh, is it already time to part? And I had to hurt you in the end—I saw you became darker.

The Shadow: I blushed the only colour I have at command. I remembered that I had often lain at your feet like a dog, and that you then——

The Wanderer: Can I not with all speed do something to please you? Have you no wish?

The Shadow: None, except perhaps the wish that the philosophic “dog”31 expressed to Alexander the Great—just move a little out of my light; I feel cold.

The Wanderer: What am I to do?

[pg 366]
The Shadow: Walk under those fir-trees and look around you towards the mountains; the sun is sinking.

The Wanderer: Where are you? Where are you?

Footnotes

1.
“Foreword” and “forword” would be the literal rendering of the play on words.—Tr.
2.
The allusion is to the ending of the Second Part of Goethe’s Faust—“das Ewig Weibliche Zieht uns hinan!”—“The Eternal Feminine Draweth us on!”—Tr.
3.
It has been attempted to render the play on “Gewissen” and “Wissen.”—Tr.
4.
Cf. John i. 1.—Tr.
5.
The German word Mitfreude, coined by Nietzsche in opposition to Mitleid (sympathy), is untranslateable.—Tr.
6.
Herostratus of Ephesus (in 356 b.c.) set fire to the temple of Diana in order (as he confessed on the rack) to gain notoriety.—Tr.
7.
Quotation from Schiller, Don Carlos, i. 5.—Tr.
8.
This, of course, refers to Jesus and Socrates.—Tr.
9.
Queen of the Amazons, slain by Achilles in the Trojan War.—Tr.
10.
From Schiller, Wallenstein’s Lager: “Wer den Besten seiner Zeit genug gethan, der hat gelebt für alle Zeiten” (“He that has satisfied the best men of his time has lived for all time”).
11.
In German Barockstil, i.e. the degenerate post-Renaissance style in art and literature, which spread from Italy in the seventeenth century.—Tr.
12.
The original word, Freizügig, means, in the modern German Empire, possessing the free right of migration, without pecuniary burdens or other restrictions, from one German state to another. The play on words in Zug zur Freiheit (“impulse to freedom”) is untranslateable.—Tr.
13.
Nietzsche seems to allude to his own case, for he ultimately contracted a myopia which bordered on blindness.—Tr.
14.
The play on bergen (shelter) and verbergen (hide) is untranslateable.—Tr.
15.
Allusion to German proverb: “Where there is nothing, the Emperor has lost his rights.”—Tr.
16.
Genesis xiii. 9.—Tr.
17.
Luke viii. 33.—Tr.
18.
The play on Freudenschaften (i.e. pleasure-giving passions) and Leidenschaften (i.e. pain-giving passions) is often used by Nietzsche, and is untranslateable.—Tr.
19.
The wife of the Stoic Thrasea Paetus, when their complicity in the great conspiracy of 65 a.d. against Nero was discovered, is reported to have said as she committed suicide, “It doesn’t hurt, Paetus.”—Tr.
20.
It is interesting to compare this judgment with Carlyle’s praise of Jean Paul. The dressing-gown is an allusion to Jean Paul’s favourite costume.—Tr.
21.
The German copyright expires thirty years after publication.—Tr.
22.
Nietzsche himself was extremely short-sighted.—Tr.
23.
In the sixth century b.c. Pythagoras founded at Croton a “school” somewhat resembling a monastic order. Among the ordeals for novitiates was enforced silence for five years.—Tr.
24.
In the German Aufklärung there is a play on the sense “clearing up” (of weather) and “enlightenment.”—Tr.
25.
Stendhal.—Tr.
26.
A transposition of sacrifizio dell’ intelletto, the Jesuit maxim.—Tr.
27.
The original, by a curious slip, has “seventh.”—Tr.
28.
Clearly autobiographical. Nietzsche, like all great men, passed through a period of modesty and doubt.—Tr.
29.
Nietzsche here alludes to his own countrymen.—Tr.
30.
An allusion to the poem “Der Wilde” (The Savage) by Säume, which ends with the line, “Sehet, wir wilden sind doch bessere Menschen” (Behold, after all, we savages are better men).—Tr.
31.
Diogenes, founder of the Cynic school, which derived its name from κυών (dog).—Tr.
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HUMAN, ALL-TOO-HUMAN, PART II***
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The Case Of Wagner, Nietzsche Contra Wagner, and Selected Aphorisms

Posted by: Candace Elizabeth Brooks (a.k.a. Ariadne Phoenix Levinson), Uptown Dallas Art Collective Editor in Chief

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Case Of Wagner, Nietzsche Contra Wagner, and Selected Aphorisms. by Friedrich Nietzsche.

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBookor online at http://www.gutenberg.org/license

Title: The Case Of Wagner, Nietzsche Contra Wagner, and Selected Aphorisms. Author: Friedrich Nietzsche. Release Date: April 7, 2008 [Ebook #25012] Language: English Character set encoding: UTF-8 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CASE OF WAGNER, NIETZSCHE CONTRA WAGNER, AND SELECTED APHORISMS.***

 


Friedrich Nietzsche

I: The Case Of Wagner

II: Nietzsche Contra Wagner

III: Selected Aphorisms

Translated By

Anthony M. Ludovici

Third Edition

T. N. Foulis

13 & 15 Frederick Street

Edinburgh and London

1911


Contents

[pg ix]


Translator’s Preface.

Nietzsche wrote the rough draft of “The Case of Wagner” in Turin, during the month of May 1888; he completed it in Sils Maria towards the end of June of the same year, and it was published in the following autumn. “Nietzsche contra Wagner” was written about the middle of December 1888; but, although it was printed and corrected before the New Year, it was not published until long afterwards owing to Nietzsche’s complete breakdown in the first days of 1889.

In reading these two essays we are apt to be deceived, by their virulent and forcible tone, into believing that the whole matter is a mere cover for hidden fire,—a mere blind of æsthetic discussion concealing a deep and implacable personal feud which demands and will have vengeance. In spite of all that has been said to the contrary, many people still hold this view of the two little works before us; and, as the actual facts are not accessible to every one, and rumours are more easily believed than verified, the error of supposing that these pamphlets were dictated by personal animosity, and even by Nietzsche’s envy of Wagner in his glory, seems to be a pretty common one. Another very general error is to suppose that the point at issue here is not one concerning music at all, but concerning religion. It is taken for granted that [pg x]the aspirations, the particular quality, the influence, and the method of an art like music, are matters quite distinct from the values and the conditions prevailing in the culture with which it is in harmony, and that however many Christian elements may be discovered in Wagnerian texts, Nietzsche had no right to raise æsthetic objections because he happened to entertain the extraordinary view that these Christian elements had also found their way into Wagnerian music.

To both of these views there is but one reply:—they are absolutely false.

In the “Ecce Homo,” Nietzsche’s autobiography,—a book which from cover to cover and line for line is sincerity itself—we learn what Wagner actually meant to Nietzsche. On pages 41, 44, 84, 122, 129, &c, we cannot doubt that Nietzsche is speaking from his heart,—and what does he say?—In impassioned tones he admits his profound indebtedness to the great musician, his love for him, his gratitude to him,—how Wagner was the only German who had ever been anything to him—how his friendship with Wagner constituted the happiest and most valuable experience of his life,—how his breach with Wagner almost killed him. And, when we remember, too, that Wagner on his part also declared that he was “alone” after he had lost “that man” (Nietzsche), we begin to perceive that personal bitterness and animosity are out of the question here. We feel we are on a higher plane, and that we must not judge these two men as if they were a couple of little business people who had had a suburban squabble.

[pg xi]

Nietzsche declares (“Ecce Homo,” p. 24) that he never