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

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I know my fate.  There will come a day when my name will recall the memory of something frightful—a crisis the like of which has never been known on earth, the memory of the most profound clash of consciences and the passing of a sentence upon all that has before been believed in, demanded and sanctified.  I am not a man, I am dynamite.  And with it all there is nothing of the founder of a religion in me. Religions belong to the rabble;  after coming into contact with religious people I always feel that I must wash my hands.  I do not want "believers”, I think that I am too full of malice to believe even in myself; I never speak to masses.  I have a terrible fear that one day I shall be considered "holy”.  You will understand why I publish this book beforehand—it is to prevent people from wronging me.  I refuse to be a saint; I would rather be a clown.  Maybe I am a clown.  I am nevertheless, or rather not nevertheless, the mouthpiece of truth; for nothing more false has ever existed than a saint.  But my truth is terrible: for hitherto lies have been called truth.  The Revaluation of all Values, this is my formula for mankind’s greatest step towards coming to its senses—a step which in me has become flesh and genius.  My destiny ordained that I should be the first decent human being and that I should feel myself opposed to the falsehood of millennia.  I was the first to discover the truth and for the simple reason that I was the first who became conscious, to sense the lie as a lie.  My genius lies in my nostrils.  I contradict as no one has contradicted before and yet I am the very opposite to a negative spirit.  I am the herald of joy the like of which has never existed before; I have discovered tasks of such a height that has never been seen before my time.  Mankind can only now begin to hope again, now that I have lived.  Thus I am necessarily a man of Destiny.  For when Truth battles against the lies of millennia there will be shock waves, earthquakes, the transposition of hills and valleys such as the world has never yet imagined even in its dreams.  The concept "politics” then becomes entirely absorbed into the realm of spiritual warfare.  All the mighty worlds of the ancient order of society are blown into space—for they are all based on lies: there will be wars the like of which have never been seen on earth before.  Only after me will there be grand politics on earth.  


If you should require a formula for such a destiny that has become manifest as man, you will find it in my Zarathustra.  "And he who would be a creator in good and evil—truly he must first be a destroyer and break values.  Thus the greatest evil belongs with the greatest good: but this is the creative good”.  I am by far the most terrible human being that has ever existed; but this does not mean that I shall not be the most beneficent.  My joy in destruction is equal to my capacity for destruction.  In both I obey my Dionysian nature, which knows not how to separate my choice of not doing from my avowed affirmation.  I am the first immoralist: and by this I am the destroyer par exellence.  


I have not been asked, as I should have been asked, what the name of Zarathustra means to me, in my capacity as the first immoralist; for what distinguishes this Persian from all others in the past is the very fact that he was the exact opposite of an immoralist.  Zarathustra was the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential cycle in the working of things.  The translation of morality into the realm of metaphysics, as force, cause, as end in itself, is his work.  But the very question presents its own answer.  Zarathustra created this most fateful of all errors—morality; therefore he must be the first to recognise it.  Not only because he has had longer and greater experience of the subject than any other thinker—all history is indeed the experimental refutation of the theory of the so-called moral order of things—but because of the more important fact that Zarathustra was the most truthful of thinkers.  In his teaching alone is truthfulness upheld as the highest virtue—that is to say, the opposite of the cowardice of the "idealist” who takes flight at the first sight of reality.  Zarathustra has more courage than all other thinkers put together.  To tell the truth and to shoot well with arrows: that is the first Persian virtue.  Have I made myself clear?  The self-overcoming of morality through truthfulness, the moralist’s self-overcoming of himself into his opposite— into me—that is what the name Zarathustra means to me.  


In reality, my title immoralist involves two denials.  I first of all deny the type of man that has hitherto been regarded as the highest—the good the kind and the charitable; and secondly deny that kind of morality which has come to be recognized and to dominate as morality—I speak of the morality of decadence or to use a still cruder term, Christian morality.  I would regard the second denial as the more decisive as the overestimation of the value of goodness and kindness seems to me already a consequence of decadence, as a symptom of weakness and incompatible with any ascending and affirmative life.  Denial and destruction are inseparable from an affirmative attitude towards life.  Let me halt for a moment at the question of the psychology of the good man.  In order to determine the value of a certain type of man the cost of his preservation must be calculated—and for this the conditions of his existence must be known.  The condition of the existence of the good is the lie: or to put it differently, the refusal at any price to see how reality is actually constituted, the refusal to see that this reality does not always give rise to benevolence and even less that it provides a constant justification for interference by short sighted and good natured hands.  To regard states of distress in general as an objection, as something which must be abolished is the greatest nonsense on earth; having the most disastrous consequences, fatally stupid— almost as stupid as a wish to abolish bad weather — out of pity for the poor.  In the general economy of things the fearful aspects of reality (in terms of passions, desires, of the will to power) are incalculably more necessary than any form of petty happiness which is called "goodness”; one must even consider whether it is worth giving it a place at all seeing that it is based upon a falsification of the instincts.  I shall have an excellent opportunity of showing the incalculably calamitous consequences for the whole of history of optimism, this monstrous offspring of the homines optimi.  Zarathustra, the first to recognize that the optimist is just as degenerate as the pessimist though perhaps more detrimental says: "Good men never speak the truth.  The Good preach of false shores and false security.  You were born and bred in the lies of the good.  Through the good everything has become false and twisted down to the very roots”.  Fortunately the world is not built solely to serve good natured herd animals their little happiness  ; to desire everybody to become a "good man”, "a herd animal”, blue-eyed, benevolent, "a beautiful soul”— or, as Herbert Spencer wished—altruistic, would mean robbing existence of its great character, to castrate mankind and reduce humanity to a sort of wretched Chinadom. And this some have tried to do!  It is precisely this that men have called morality.  In this sense Zarathustra calls the good "the last men” and then ‘the beginning of the end”; and above all he considers them as the most harmful kind of men because they secure their existence at the cost of Truth and at the cost of the Future.  "The good—they cannot create; they are always the beginning of the end.  They crucify him who writes new values on new law tables; they sacrifice the future to themselves; they crucify the whole future of humanity!  The good—they are always the beginning of the end.  And whatever harm the slanderers of the world may do, the harm of the good is the most harmful of all”.  


Zarathustra as the first psychologist of the good man is, as a consequence, a friend of the wicked.  When a degenerate kind of man has succeeded to the highest rank among the human species his position must have been gained at the expense of the opposite type—at the expense of the strong man who is certain of life.  When the herd animal basks in the glorious rays of the highest virtue the exceptional man must be devalued as the wicked man.  If falsehood insists at all costs on claiming the word "truth” for its own, the real truth must be found among the despised.  Zarathustra allows of no doubt here; he says that it was precisely the knowledge of the good, of the "best” which inspired in him his absolute horror of humanity, that it was out of this feeling of repulsion that he grew the wings which allowed him to soar into distant futures.  He does not conceal the fact that his type of man is one which is superhuman relatively speaking—especially relative to the "good” man and that the good and the just would regard his superman as a devil.  "You higher men on whom my gaze now falls, this is the doubt that you wake in my breast and this is my secret laughter: I think that you would call my Superman— a devil!  So far are you from all that is great that the Superman would be terrible in your eyes with his goodness”.  It is from this passage and from no other that you must set out to understand the intentions of Zarathustra—the kind of man that he conceives sees reality as it is; he is strong enough for it—he is not estranged from it or entranced by it, he is that reality himself, he still has within him all that is fearful and questionable in reality: only thus can man possess greatness.  


But there is another sense in which I have taken the title of Immoralist — as a badge of honour; I am very proud to possess this name which distinguishes me from the rest of humanity.  No one before has felt Christian morality as beneath him; this required height, a remoteness of vision and an abysmal profundity of psychological depth not believed to be possible before.  Up to the present Christian morality has been the Circe of all thinkers—they stood at her service.  What man before my time had descended into the underground caverns from out of which the poisonous fumes of this ideal—of the slandering of the world—belches forth?  What man had even dared to suppose that there were underground caverns?  Was any one of the philosophers who preceded me an actual psychologist and not the very opposite of a psychologist—that is, a "higher swindler”, an "Idealist”?  Before my time there was no psychology.  To be the first in this new realm may be a curse; at all events it is a destiny: for one is also the first to despise.  Disgust at mankind is my danger.  


Have you understood me?  That which defines me, that which makes me stand apart from the whole of the rest of humanity is the fact that I unmasked Christian morality.  For this reason I was in need of a word which conveyed the idea of a challenge to everyone.  To not have awakened to these discoveries before struck me as being the sign of the greatest uncleanliness that mankind has on its conscience, as self-deception become instinct, as the fundamental will to not observe every event, every cause and all reality; in fact as an almost criminal fraud in psychologicis.  Blindness in regard to Christianity is the supreme crime—for it is the crime against life.  Ages and peoples, the first and the last, philosophers and old women, with the exception of five or six moments in history, myself being the seventh, are all alike in this.  Hitherto the Christian has been the "moral being” a curiosity without equal and — as "a moral being”, more absurd, more vain, more thoughtless and of a greater harm to himself; than the greatest despiser of humanity could have deemed possible.  Christian morality is the most malignant form of all falsehood, the actual Circe of humanity: that which has corrupted mankind.  It is not error as error which infuriates me at the sight of this spectacle; it is not the millenniums of the absence of "goodwill”, of discipline, of decency and of courage in spiritual matters which are revealed in the triumph of Christianity; it is rather the absence of nature, the perfectly ghastly fact that anti-nature itself received the highest honours as morality and as law and remained suspended over man as the Categorical Imperative.  To blunder to this extent, not as an individual, not as a people but as a whole species!  As humanity!  To teach contempt for all the principal instincts of life; to falsely invent the existence of a "soul”, of a "spirit” in order to be able to destroy the body; to spread the feeling that there is something impure in the very first precondition of life—sexuality; that evil principles are suspected in that which is most profoundly necessary growth and for prosperity—that is to say in strict selfishness (the term itself is slanderous); and conversely to see a higher moral value—but what am I talking about?  I mean moral value per se in the typical signs of decline, in denial of the instincts, in "selflessness”, in the loss of the centre of gravity, in "depersonalisation” and in "love of one’s neighbour” —neighbour lust!  What!  Is humanity itself in a state of degeneration?  Has it always been in this state?  One thing is certain— that only the values of decadence are taught as the highest values.  The morality of self-renunciation is essentially the morality of degeneration; the fact "I am degenerating” is translated into the imperative "Ye shall all degenerate”—and not only into the imperative.  This morality of self-renunciation, which is the only kind of morality that has been taught hitherto, is the will to become a nonentity—it fundamentally denies life.  There still remains the possibility that it is not mankind that is in a state of degeneration but only that parasitical kind of man—the priest, who by means of morality and lies has achieved his position as the determiner of values, who sees in Christian morality his means to power.  And this is my opinion.  The teachers and leaders of mankind—including the theologians—have been every one of them decadents: hence their revaluation of all values into a hostility towards life; hence morality.  The definition of morality: Morality is the idiosyncrasy of decadents having the hidden desire to revenge themselves upon life – and being successful.  I attach great value to this definition.  


Have you understood me?  I have not uttered a single word which I had not already said five years ago through the mouth of Zarathustra.  The unmasking of Christian morality is an event which is unequalled in history, it is a real catastrophe.  The man who throws light upon it is a force majeure, a destiny; he breaks the history of mankind into two parts : the time before him and after him.  The lightning bolt of truth struck precisely that which formerly had stood highest: he who understands what was destroyed by that bolt should look to see whether he still holds anything in his hands.  Everything which until then was called truth has been revealed as the most harmful, most spiteful and most subterranean form of lie; the holy pretext which was the "improvement” of man has been recognized as a ploy for draining life of its energy and of its blood.  Morality conceived as Vampirism.  The man who unmasks morality has also unmasked the worthlessness of the values in which men either believe or have believed; he no longer sees anything to be revered in the most venerable man—even in the types of men that have been pronounced holy; all he can see in them is the most fatal kind of abortions, fatal because they fascinate.  The concept "God” was invented as the opposite of the concept "life”—everything harmful, poisonous and slanderous and all deadly hostility to life was bound together in one horrible unity in Him.  The concepts "beyond” and "real world” were invented in order to depreciate the only world that exists—in order that no goal, no aim or task might be left for our earthly reality.  The concepts "soul”, "spirit” and last of all the concept "immortal soul” were invented in order to despise the body, in order to make it sick — "holy” — in order to cultivate an attitude of appalling disrespect for all things in life which deserve to be treated seriously i.  e.  the questions of nutrition, habitation, recuperation, cleanliness and weather.  Instead of health we find the "salvation of the soul”—that is to say a vicious circle alternating between convulsions of penitence and the hysteria of redemption.  The concept "sin” together with its associated instrument of torture which is the concept "free will” were invented in order to confuse our instincts and make mistrust of them second nature!  In the concepts "selflessness” and "self-denial” the actual signs of decadence are to be found.  The lure of that which is detrimental, the inability to discover one’s own advantage, self-destruction, are made into absolute qualities, into the "duty”, the "holiness” and the "divinity” of man.  Finally—to keep the worst to the last—in the idea of the good man can be found all that is weak, sick, misformed, suffering from itself, all that which ought to be weeded out.  The law of selection is opposed, an ideal is made out of opposition to the proud well-constituted man, to the affirmative man who is certain of the future and who guarantees the future—this man is henceforth called the evil man.  And all this was believed in as morality!  Ecrasez l’infame!  


Have you understood me?  Dionysus against the Crucified.  

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Ecce Homo" Ebook

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