Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak:  Reflections on Moral Prejudice. Morgenröte: Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile (also could be translated as The Dawn).

Written and published in 1881.

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When we strive after distinction we must constantly monitor other people and try to discover what their feelings are; but the sympathy and knowledge which are necessary for this are far from being inspired by harmless compassion or kindness.  On the contrary, we wish to discover in what way other people suffer from us whether inwardly or outwardly, how he loses control over himself and yields to the impression which our actions or even our mere appearance makes on him.  Even when one who aspires to distinction makes a joyful, elevating or cheerful impression his enjoyment of this is not in the fact that he cheers or exalts others but in that he leaves an impression on the latter, moulding it and dominating it according to his will.  The desire for distinction is the desire to dominate others even if it be merely in an indirect fashion one felt or even only dreamt of.  There is a long series of stages in this hidden desire to dominate and a complete account of this would perhaps almost be an excellent history of culture from the grotesque of early barbarism down to the caricatures of modern over-refinement and sickly idealism.  This desire for distinction entails for other people—to indicate only a few rungs of the long ladder—torture first of all followed by blows, then terror, anxious surprise, wonder, envy, admiration, elevation, pleasure, joy, laughter, derision, mockery, sneers, scourging and self-inflicted torture.  There, at the very top of the ladder stands the ascetic and martyr who himself experiences the utmost satisfaction because he inflicts on himself as a result of his desire for distinction that pain which his opposite the barbarian on the first rung of the ladder inflicts upon those others upon whom and before whom he wishes to distinguish himself.  The triumph of the ascetic over himself, his introspective glance which beholds a man split up into a sufferer and a spectator and which henceforth never looks at the outside world but to gather from it as it were wood for his own funeral pyre: this final tragedy of the desire for distinction which shows us only one person who so to speak is consumed internally—that is an end worthy of the beginning: in both cases there is an inexpressible happiness at the sight of torture; indeed happiness considered as a feeling of power developed to the utmost has perhaps never reached a higher pitch of perfection on earth than in the souls of superstitious ascetics.  This is expressed by the Brahmins in the story of King Visvamitra who obtained so much strength by thousands of years of penance that he undertook to build a new heaven.  I believe that in the entire category of inner experience the people of our time are mere novices and incompetents groping for a solution: four thousand years ago much more was known about such dubious refinements of self-enjoyment.  Perhaps at that time the creation of the world was imagined by some Hindu dreamer to have been an ascetic operation on the part of a god!  Perhaps this god may have wished to join himself to a mobile nature as an instrument of torture in order thus to feel his happiness and power doubled!  And even supposing him to have been a god of love: what a delight it would have been for him to create a suffering mankind in order that he himself might suffer divinely and super—humanly from the sight of the continual torture of his creatures and thus to tyrannise over himself!  And again supposing him to have been not only a god of love but also a god of holiness - we can scarcely conceive the ecstasies of this divine ascetic while creating sins and sinners and eternal punishment and an immense place of eternal torture below his throne where there is a continual weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth!  It is not by any means impossible that the soul of a St.  Paul, a Dante or a Calvin - and people like them - may once have gained access to the terrifying secrets of such voluptuousness of power, and in view of such souls we may well ask whether the desire for distinction finds its consummation in the ascetic.  Might it not be possible for the course of this cycle to be replayed whilst bringing together the idea of the ascetic and also that of a compassionate Deity?  In other words, pain would be given to others in order that pain might be given to one's self so that in this way one could triumph over one's self and over one's pity and thus to enjoy the extreme voluptuousness of power!  Forgive me these digressions which come to my mind when I think of all the possibilities in the vast domain of psychical debaucheries to which one may be led by the desire for power!  

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