Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo:   How One Becomes What One Is.  Ecce homo: Wie man wird, was man ist.  

Written in 1888 and not published until 1908

  Friedrich Nietzsche Full Text EBook  
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In order to do justice to this essay a man ought to suffer from the destiny of music as from an open wound.  From what do I suffer when I suffer from the destiny of music?  From the fact that music has lost its world-transforming, affirmative character—that it is decadent music and no longer the flute of Dionysus.  Supposing however, that the fate of music be as dear to man as his own life because joy and suffering are alike bound up with it; then he will find this pamphlet comparatively mild and full of consideration.  To be cheerful in such circumstances and laugh good naturedly with others at one’s self—ridendo dicere severum when the verum dicere would justify every kind of hardness—is humanity itself.  Who doubts that an old artillery man like myself would be able, if I wished to, point my heavy guns at Wagner?  Everything decisive in this question I kept to myself—I have loved Wagner.  After all an attack upon an unusually subtle "unknown person” whom another would not have discovered so easily lies in the meaning and path of my life’s work.  Oh, I have still quite a number of other "unknown persons” to unmask besides a Cagliostro of Music!  Above all, I have to direct an attack against the German nation who in matters of the spirit grow every day more indolent, poorer in instincts and more honourable; who with an enviable appetite continue to feed themselves on contradictions and gulp down "Faith” along with science, Christian love together with anti-Semitism and the will to power (to the "Empire”) served together with evangelism of the humble without showing the slightest signs of indigestion.  This absence of partisanship in the presence of opposites!  This gastric neutrality and "disinterestedness”!  Behold this sense of justice in the German palate which can grant equal rights to all—which finds everything tasteful!  Without a shadow of a doubt the Germans are idealists.  When I was last in Germany I found German taste striving to grant Wagner and the Trumpeter of Sakkingen equal rights; while I myself witnessed the attempts of the people of Leipzig to do honour to one of the most genuine and most German of musicians—using German here in the old sense of the word—a man who was no mere German of the Empire, the master Heinrich Schutz, by founding a Liszt Society the object of which was the cultivation and dissemination of sly Church music.  Without a shadow of doubt the Germans are idealists.  

2.

But here nothing shall stop me from being rude and from telling the Germans one or two unpleasant home truths: who else would do it if I did not?  I refer to their indecency in matters historical.  Not only have the Germans entirely lost the grand vision which enables one to grasp the course of culture, the values of culture; not only are they one and all political (or Church) puppets; but they have also actually put a ban upon any such grand view.  A man must first and foremost be "German”, he must belong to "the race”; only then can he pass judgment upon all values and lack of values in history—only then can he establish them.  To be German is in itself an argument, "Deutschland, Deutschland, uber alles” is a principle; the Germans represent the "moral world order” in history; compared with the Roman Empire they are the upholders of freedom; compared with the eighteenth century they are the restorers of morality, of the "Categorical Imperative”.  There is a Reichsdeutsch historiography, there is I fear an anti-Semitic history—there is also history written with an eye to the Court and Herr van Treitschke is not ashamed of himself.  Quite recently an idiotic opinion in historicis, an observation of the Swabian aesthete Vischer, since happily deceased, made the round of the German newspapers as a "truth” to which every German must assent.  The observation was this: "The Renaissance and the Reformation only together constitute a whole—the aesthetic rebirth and the moral rebirth”.  When I listen to such things I lose all patience and I feel inclined,   I even feel it my duty, to tell the Germans for once what they have on their conscience. Every great crime against culture for the last four centuries lies on their conscience.  And always for the same reason, always owing to their bottomless cowardice in the face of reality which is also cowardice in the face of truth; always owing to the love of falsehood which has became almost instinctive in them—in short "idealism”.  It was the Germans who caused Europe to lose the fruits, the whole meaning of the last great age—the age of the Renaissance.  At a moment when a higher order of values, noble and life affirming values which guarantee the future, had succeeded in triumphing over the opposite values, the values of degeneration in the very seat of Christianity itself—and even in the hearts of those sitting there—Luther that cursed monk not only restored the Church but what was a thousand times worse; restored Christianity and at a time too when it lay defeated.  Christianity, the Denial of the Will to Life— elevated to a religion!  Luther was a failed monk who thanks to his own "inadequacies” attacked the Church and in so doing restored it!  Catholics would be perfectly justified in celebrating feasts in honour of Luther and in producing festival plays in his honour.  Luther and the "rebirth of morality”!  To the devil with all psychology!  Without a shadow of a doubt the Germans are idealists.  On two occasions, when at the cost of enormous courage and self-control an upright, unequivocal and perfectly scientific attitude of mind had been achieved the Germans were able to discover a back door that lead again to the old "ideal”, compromises between truth and the "ideal” and in short formulas for the right to reject science and to peddle lies.  Leibniz and Kant—those two great faults in the intellectual integrity of Europe!  Finally at a moment when there appeared on the bridge that spanned two centuries of decadence a superior force of genius and will which was strong enough to consolidate Europe and to convert it into a political and economic entity with the capability of ruling the world, the Germans with their "Wars of Independence” robbed Europe of the significance—the marvellous significance, of the existence of Napoleon.  And in so doing they laid on their conscience everything that followed, everything that exists today—this sickness and irrationality which is deadly to culture and is called Nationalism—that névrose nationale from which Europe is suffering acutely; that eternal subdivision of Europe into petty states with politics on a municipal scale: they have robbed Europe itself of its significance, of its reason—and have led it into a cul de sac.  Is there anyone except me who knows the way out of this cul de sac?  An aspiration which would be great enough to bind the people of Europe once more together?  

3.

And after all why should I not express my suspicions?  In my case too the Germans will make every attempt to turn a great destiny into a mere mouse.  Up to the present they have compromised themselves with me; I doubt whether this will be improved in the future.  Alas!  How happy I would be proven wrong in this matter!  My natural readers and listeners are already Russians, Scandinavians and Frenchmen—will they always be so?  In the history of knowledge Germans are represented only by dubious figures, they have been able to produce only "unconscious” swindlers (—Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Hegel and Schleiermacher just as well as to Kant or Leibniz; deserve this description, they were all mere veil makers).  The Germans must not have the honour of harbouring the first honest spirit intellect in their history, that spirit in which truth ultimately got the better of the fraud of four thousand years.  "German spirit” is my bad air: I breathe with difficulty when in the neighbourhood of this psychological uncleanliness that has now become instinctive—an uncleanliness which in every word and expression betrays a German.  They have never undergone a seventeenth century of hard self-examination as the French have—a La Rochefoucauld, a Descartes have a thousand times more integrity than the best among Germans— the latter have not yet had any psychologists.  But psychology is almost the standard of measurement for the cleanliness or uncleanliness of a race.  For if a man is not even clean how can he have depth?  The Germans are like women in that you can scarcely ever fathom their depths—because they haven’t any : that’s the end of it.  Thus they cannot even be called shallow.  That which is called "deep” in Germany is precisely this instinctive uncleanliness towards one’s self of which I have just spoken: people do not want to be clear about their own natures.  Might I be allowed perhaps to suggest the word "German” as an international term denoting this psychological depravity?  At the moment of writing for instance the German Emperor is declaring it to be his Christian duty to liberate the slaves in Africa; among us Europeans then this would be called simply "German”.  Have the Germans ever produced even one book that had depth?  They are lacking in even the mere idea of what constitutes profundity in a book.  I have known scholars who considered Kant profound.  At the Court of Prussia I fear that Herr von Treitschke is considered profound.  And when I happen to praise Stendhal as a profound psychologist I have often been asked in the company of German University Professors to spell his name.  

4.

And why not continue this theme to the very end?  I am fond of getting things out in the open.  It is even part of my ambition to be considered as the despiser of the German par excellence.  I expressed my suspicions of the German character even at the age of twenty-six (see Untimely Meditations, third essay)—to my mind the Germans are impossible.  When I try to think of the kind of man who is opposed to me in all my instincts the picture that springs to mind is always that of a German.  The first thing I ask myself when I begin analyzing a man is whether he has a feeling for distance; whether he sees everywhere rank, degree and order between man and man; whether he makes distinctions; for this is what constitutes one as a gentleman.  Otherwise he belongs hopelessly to that open hearted open minded— and alas, always very good natured concept of the canaille!  But the Germans are canaille—alas!  They are so good natured!  A man lowers himself by frequenting with Germans: the German places everyone on an equal footing.  With the exception of my intercourse with one or two artists and above all with Richard Wagner I cannot say that I have spent one pleasant hour with Germans.  Suppose for one moment that the profoundest spirit of all ages were to appear among the Germans then one of the saviours of the Capitol would be sure to rise and declare that his own rather unattractive self was of equal consideration.  I can no longer endure this nation with which a man is always in bad company, which has no notion of nuances—woe to me!  I am a nuance—which has not esprit in its feet and cannot even walk!  The Germans have not the faintest idea of how vulgar they are—but this in itself is the height of vulgarity—they are not even ashamed of being mere Germans.  They will have their say in everything, they regard themselves as fit to decide on all questions; I even fear that they have decided about me.  My whole life is essentially a proof of this remark.  In vain have I looked among them for a sign of tact and delicacy towards myself.  Among Jews I did indeed find it but not among Germans.  I am so constituted as to be gentle and kind to every one—I have the right not to draw distinctions—but this does not prevent my eyes from being open.  I exclude no one and least of all my friends—I trust that this has not damaged my reputation for humanity among them?  There are five or six things which I have always made points of honour.  Although it is nevertheless true that for many years I have considered almost every letter that has reached me as a piece of cynicism.  There is more cynicism in acts of goodwill towards me than in any sort of hatred.  I tell every friend to his face that he has never thought it worth his while to study any one of my writings: from the slightest hints I gather that they do not even know what is in my books.  And with regard even to my Zarathustra, which of my friends would have seen more in it than a piece of pretentious though fortunately harmless arrogance?  Ten years have elapsed and no one has yet felt it a duty to his conscience to defend my name against the absurd silence in which has been entombed.  It was a foreigner, a Dane who first showed sufficient keenness of instinct and courage to do this and who protested indignantly against my so-called friends.  At what German University today would such lectures on my philosophy be possible as those which Dr.  Brandes delivered last spring in Copenhagen, thus proving once more his right to the title psychologist?  For my part these things have never caused me any pain; that which is necessary does not offend me.  Amor fati is my innermost core.  This however does not alter the fact that I love irony and even world-historic irony.  And so, about two years before the destructive thunderbolt of the Revaluation which will send the whole of civilization into convulsions, I sent my Case of Wagner out into the world.  The Germans were given the chance of blundering and immortalizing their stupidity once more on my account and they still have just enough time left for that!  And have they achieved that?  Admirably!  
 

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