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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Why do I know a few things more than other people? Why in fact am I so clever?  I have never pondered over questions that are not really questions.  I have never wasted my strength.  Of religious difficulties for instance I have no experience.  I have never felt what it is to feel "sinful”.  In the same way I completely lack any reliable criterion for understanding what constitutes a prick of conscience: from all accounts, a prick of conscience does not seem to be a very respectable thing.  I should hate to leave an action of mine in the lurch; I prefer to disregard adverse outcomes, the consequences, out of the question of the value of an action.  When faced by unpleasant consequences one is too ready to abandon the proper standpoint from which an action ought to be considered.  A prick of conscience strikes me as a sort of "evil eye”.  To honour our failures precisely because it has failed—this is much more in keeping with my morality.  ”God”, "the immortality of the soul”, "salvation”, "the beyond”—even as a child I had no time for such notions, I do not waste any time upon them—maybe I was never childish enough for that?  I have not come to know atheism as a result of logical reasoning and still less as an event in my life: in me it is a matter of instinct.  I am too inquisitive, too questioning, too high spirited to be satisfied with such clumsy answers.  God is a too palpably clumsy answer; an answer which shows a lack of delicacy towards us thinkers—fundamentally, even a crude prohibition to us: you shall not think!  I am much more interested in another question—a question upon which the "salvation of humanity” depends to a far greater degree than it does upon any piece of theological curiosity: I refer to nutrition.  For ordinary purposes it may be formulated as follows: "How precisely must you feed yourself so as to be able to attain to the maximum of strength, of virtu in the Renaissance style—of virtue free from moralic acid”?  My experiences in regard to this matter have been as bad as they possibly could be; I am surprised that I set myself this question so late in life and that it took me so long to draw "rational” conclusions from these experiences.  Only the absolute worthlessness of German education—its "idealism—can to some extent explain how it was that precisely in this matter I was so backward that my ignorance was almost saintly.  This "education” which from first to last teaches one to lose sight of actual things and to hunt after thoroughly problematic and so-called ideal aims as for instance "classical education”—as if it were not hopeless from the start to try to unite "classical” and "German” in one concept.  It is even a little comical—try and imagine a "classically educated” citizen of Leipzig!  Indeed I can say that up to a very mature age my food was entirely bad—expressed morally it was "impersonal”, "selfless”, "altruistic” for the salvation of cooks and all other fellow Christians.  It was through the cooking in vogue at Leipzig for instance together with my first study of Schopenhauer (1865) that I earnestly renounced my "Will to Live”.  To spoil one’s stomach by absorbing insufficient nourishment—this problem seemed to my mind solved with admirable felicity by the above mentioned cookery.  (It is said that in the year 1866 changes were introduced into this department.)  But as to German cookery in general—what has it not got on its conscience!  Soup before the meal (still called alla tedesca in the Venetian cookery books of the sixteenth century); meat boiled to shreds, vegetables cooked with fat and flour; the degeneration of puddings into paper-weights!  And if you add to this the absolutely bestial drinking habits during meals of the ancients and not only of the ancient Germans you will understand the origin of the German spirit—that is to say, in bad stomachs.  German sprit is indigestion; it can digest nothing.  But even English diet which in comparison with German and indeed with the French seems to me to constitute a "return to Nature”—that is to say to cannibalism—is profoundly opposed to my own instincts.  It seems to me to give the spirit heavy feet— the feet of English women.  The best cuisine is that of Piedmont.  Alcoholic drinks do not agree with me; a single glass of wine or beer a day is sufficient to turn life into a vale of tears for me;—in Munich I find my antipodes.  Although I admit that this knowledge came to me somewhat late, it already formed part of my experience even as a child.  As a boy I believed that the drinking of wine and the smoking of tobacco were at first but the vanities of youths and later merely bad habits.  Maybe the wine of Naumburg was partly responsible for this poor opinion.  In order to believe that wine makes cheerful I should have had to be a Christian—in other words I should have had to believe in what to my mind is an absurdity.  Strange to say, whereas small quantities of alcohol taken with plenty of water succeed in making me feel out of sorts, large quantities turn me almost into a sailor.  Even as a boy I showed my bravado in this respect.  To compose a long Latin essay in one night, to revise and recopy it, to aspire with my pen to emulation of the exactitude and the terseness of my model Sallust and to pour a few swigs of booze over it all—this kind of approach was, while I was a pupil at the venerable old school of Pforta, not in the least out of keeping with my physiology nor perhaps that of Sallust — however much it may have been alien to dignified Pforta.  Later on, towards the middle of my life I grew more and more opposed to alcoholic drinks: an opponent of vegetarianism from experience—just like Richard Wagner who converted me back to meat, I cannot stress enough that more spiritual natures are advised to abstain absolutely from alcohol.  Water is sufficient.  I prefer those places where in all directions one has opportunities of drinking from free flowing founts (Nice, Turin, Sils).  In vino veritas: it seems that here once more I am at variance with the rest of the world about the concept "Truth”—with me spirit moves above the waters.  Here are a few more indications as to my morality.  A heavy meal is digested more easily than an inadequate one.  The first principle of a good digestion is that the stomach should become come into action as a whole.  A man ought therefore to know the size of his stomach.  For the same reasons all those interminable meals should be avoided which I call interrupted sacrificial feasts and which are to be had at any table d’hôte.  Nothing should be eaten between meals, coffee should be given up—coffee makes one gloomy.  Tea is beneficial only in the morning.  It should be taken in small quantities but very strong.  It may be very harmful and indispose you for the whole day if it be taken the least bit too weak.  Everybody has his own standard in this matter often between the narrowest and most delicate limits.  In an enervating climate tea is not a good beverage with which to start the day: an hour before taking it, it is advisable to drink a cup of thick oil free cocoa.  Remain seated as little as possible, put no trust in any thought that is not born in the open whilst moving freely about— nor when the muscles are not in festive mood.  All prejudices originate in the intestines.  A sedentary life as I have already said elsewhere— is the real sin against the holy spirit.  

2.

Next to the question of nutrition is that of locality and climate.  Nobody is so constituted as to be able to live everywhere and anywhere; and he who has great duties to perform which demand all his strength has in this respect a very limited choice.  The influence of climate upon the bodily functions, affecting their acceleration or slowing down extends so far that a blunder in the choice of locality and climate is able not only to deflect a man from his duty but also to withhold it from him altogether so that he never even gets a clear sight of it.  In him, animal vigour never reaches the strength required for that pitch of artistic freedom which makes his own soul whisper to him: I alone can do that.  Even a slight a tendency to laziness in the intestines, once it has become a habit is quite sufficient to make something mediocre, something "German” out of a genius; the climate of Germany alone is enough to discourage the strongest and most heroically disposed of stomachs.  The tempo of the body’s functions is closely bound up with the agility or the clumsiness of the spirit; spirit itself is indeed only a form of these organic functions.  Let anybody make a list of the places in which men of great intellect have been found and are still found; where wit, subtlety and malice constitute happiness; where genius is almost necessarily at home: all of them rejoice in exceptionally dry air.  Paris, Provence, Florence, Jerusalem, Athens—these names prove something— namely: that genius is conditioned by dry air, by a pure sky—that is to say by rapid organic functions, by the constant and ever-present possibility of procuring for one’s self great and even enormous quantities of strength.  I have a certain case in mind in which a man of remarkable intellect and independent spirit became a narrow, withdrawn, a grumpy old crank simply owing to a lack of subtlety in his instinct for climate.  And I myself might have been an example of the same thing if illness had not compelled me to reason and to reflect upon reason realistically.  Now that I have learnt through long practice to read the effects of climatic and meteorological influences from my own body as though from a very delicate and reliable instrument and that I am able to calculate the change in degrees of atmospheric moisture by means of physiological observations upon myself even on so short a journey as that from Turin to Milan; I think with horror of the ghastly fact that my whole life until the last ten years—the most perilous years—has always been spent in the wrong and what to me ought to have been the most forbidden places.  Naumburg, Pforta, Thuringia in general, Leipzig, Basle Venice—so many ill starred places for a constitution like mine.  If I cannot recall one single happy memory of my childhood and youth it is nonsense to suppose that so-called "moral” causes could account for this—as for instance the undeniable fact that I lacked adequate company; for this fact is still true today as it ever was and it does not prevent me from being cheerful and brave.  But it was ignorance in physiological matters—that cursed "Idealism”—that was the real fatality of my life.  This was the superfluous and foolish element in my existence; something from which nothing could spring and for which there can be no settlement and no compensation.  As the outcome of this "Idealism” I include all the blunders, the great deviations from instinct and the "modesties” which drew me aside from the task of my life; as for instance the fact that I became a philologist—why not at least a physician or anything else which might have opened my eyes?  My days at Basel, the whole of my spiritual diet including my daily timetable was an absolutely senseless abuse of extraordinary powers without the slightest compensation for the strength that I spent, without even a thought of what I was squandering and how it might be replaced.  I lacked all subtlety in selfishness, all the protection of a commanding instinct; I was in a state in which one is ready to regard myself as anybody’s equal— a state of "disinterestedness”, a forgetting of one’s distance from others—something in short for which I can never forgive myself.  When I had well-nigh reached the end of my tether simply because I was almost done for, I began to reflect upon this fundamental irrationality in my life—”Idealism”.  It was only illness that brought me to reason.  

3.

After the choice of nutrition and the choice of climate and locality the third matter regarding which mistakes must be avoided is the choice of the manner in which one recovers one’s strength.  Here again, according to the extent to which a spirit is sui generis constraints are set as to the limits of what is available—that is, what is useful to him.  For myself, reading in general is among my means of recuperation; consequently it belongs to that which gives me rest from myself, that enables me to wander among strange sciences and strange souls— in fact among things about which I am not seriously interested.  Indeed it is while reading that I recover from my seriousness.  During the time that I am deeply absorbed in my work no books are found within my reach; it would never occur to me to allow anyone to speak or even to think in my presence.  For that is what reading would mean.  Has anyone ever noticed that during the period of profound tension that accompanies pregnancy— not only the mind but also fundamentally the whole organism— disturbance and every kind of external stimulus is felt too acutely and strikes too deeply?  Disturbance and external stimuli must as far as possible be avoided: a sort of walling in of one’s self is one of the primary instinctive precautions of spiritual pregnancy.  Shall I allow a strange thought to steal secretly over the wall?  For that is what reading would mean.  The periods of work and fruitfulness are followed by periods of recuperation: come hither you delightful, you witty and clever books!  Shall I read German books?  I must go back six months to catch myself with a book in my hand.  What was it?  An excellent study by Victor Brochard upon the Greek sceptics in which my Laertiana was used to advantage.  The sceptics!  the only honourable type among that two faced and sometimes quintuple—faced crowd of the philosophers!  Otherwise I almost always take refuge in the same books: altogether their number is small; they are books which have proven themselves to me.  It is not perhaps in my nature to read much and of many different kinds: a library makes me ill.  Neither is it my nature to love much or many kinds of things.  Suspicion or even hostility towards new books is much more akin to my instinctive feeling than "tolerance”, "largeur de cour” and other forms of "neighbour love”.  .  It is to a small number of older French authors that I always return again and again; I believe only in French culture and regard everything else in Europe which calls itself "culture” as a misunderstanding.  I do not even take the German kind into consideration.  The few instances of higher culture with which I have met in Germany were all French in their origin.  The most striking example of this was Madame Cosima Wagner, by far the most decisive voice in matters of taste that I have ever heard.  That I do not read but literally love Pascal as the most instructive sacrifice to Christianity, killing himself inch by inch first bodily then spiritually according to the terrible consistency of this most appalling form of inhuman cruelty; that I have something of Montaigne’s mischievousness in my soul and—who knows?  perhaps also in my body; that my artist’s taste defends the names of Moliere, Corneille and Racine and not without bitterness against such a disorderly genius as Shakespeare—all this does not prevent me from regarding even the latter—day Frenchmen also as charming companions.  I can think of absolutely no century in history in which a haul of more inquisitive and at the same time more subtle psychologists could be found than in the Paris of the present day.  Let me mention a few at random—for their number is by no means small— Paul Bourget, Pierre Loti, Gyp, Meilhac, Anatole France, Jules Lemaitre; or to point to one of the stronger race, a genuine Latin of whom lam particularly fond, Guy de Maupassant.  Between ourselves I prefer the current generation even to its masters all of whom were corrupted by German philosophy (M.  Taine for instance by Hegel whom he has to thank for his misunderstanding of great men and great periods).  Wherever Germany extends, it ruins culture.  It was the war which first saved the spirit of France.  Stendhal is one of the happiest accidents of my life—for everything that marks an epoch in my life has been brought to me by accident and never by a recommendation.  He is quite priceless with his anticipating psychologist’s eye; with his grasp of facts which is reminiscent of the same art in the greatest of all masters of facts (ex ungue Napoleonem); and finally not least as an honest atheist—a specimen which is both rare and difficult to discover in France—with all respects to Prosper Merimee!  Maybe I am even envious of Stendhal?  He robbed me of the best atheistic joke which I of all people could have made: "God’s only excuse is that He does not exist”.  I myself have said somewhere—what has been the greatest objection to existence?  God.  

4.

It was Heinrich Heine who gave me the most perfect idea of what a lyrical poet could be.  I search in vain through all the realms of antiquity or of modem times for anything to resemble his sweet and passionate music.  He possessed that divine malice without which perfection itself becomes unthinkable to me—I estimate the value of men, of races according to the whether they are unable to conceive of a god who has not a dash of the satyr in him.  And with what mastery he wields his native tongue!  One day it will be said of Heine and me that we were by far the greatest artists of the German language that have ever existed and that we left all the efforts that mere Germans made in this language an incalculable distance behind us.  I must be profoundly related to Byron’s Manfred: of all the dark abysses in this work I found reflected in my own soul—at the age of thirteen I was ripe for this book.  Words fail me— I have only a look for those who dare to utter the name of Faust in the presence of Manfred.  The Germans are incapable of any conception of greatness: for a proof of this look at Schumann!  Out of anger for this mawkish Saxon I once deliberately composed a counter-overture to Manfred of which Hans von Bulow declared he had never seen the like before on paper: such compositions amounted to a violation of Euterpe.  When I cast about me for my highest formula for Shakespeare I find invariably in that he conceived the type of Ceasar.  Such things a man cannot guess—he either has it or he does not.  The great poet draws his creations only from out of his own reality.  This is often to such an extent that often after a period of time he can no longer endure his own work.  After casting a glance at the pages of my Zarathustra I pace my room to and fro for half an hour at a time unable to overcome an insufferable fit of tears.  I know of no more heartrending reading than Shakespeare: how a man must have suffered to be so much in need of playing the clown!  Is Hamlet understood?  It is not doubt but certitude that drives one mad.  But in order to feel this one must be profound, one must be an abyss, a philosopher.  We all fear the truth.  And to make a confession; I feel instinctively certain and convinced that Lord Bacon is the originator, the self-tormentor of this most sinister kind of literature: what do I care about the miserable chatter of American muddlers and blockheads?  But the power for the greatest realism in vision is not only compatible with the greatest power in action, with the monstrous in deeds, with crime—it actually presupposes it.  We do not know half enough about Lord Bacon—the first realist in all the highest sense of the word—to know what he did, what he willed and what he experienced in his inmost soul.  Let the critics go to hell!  Suppose I had christened my Zarathustra with a name not my own—let us say with Richard Wagner’s name—the insight of two thousand years would not have sufficed to guess that the author of Human all-too-Human was the visionary of Zarathustra.  

5.

As I am speaking here of the recreations of my life I feel I must express a word or two of gratitude for that which has refreshed me by far the most heartily and most profoundly.  This without the slightest doubt was my intimate association with Richard Wagner.  All my other relationships I treat quite lightly; but I would not have the days I spent at Tribschen—those days of mutual confidences, of cheerfulness, of sublime flashes and of profound moments—taken from my life at any price.  I know not what Wagner may have been for others; but no cloud ever darkened our sky.  And this brings me back again to France—l have no arguments – only a contemptuous curl of the lip— against Wagnerites and hoc genus omne who believe that they do honour to Wagner by believing him to be like themselves.  With a nature like mine which is so strange to everything Teutonic that even the presence of a German inhibits my digestion; my first meeting with Wagner was the first moment in my life in which I breathed freely: I felt him, I honoured him as a foreigner, as the opposite and the incarnate contradiction of all "German virtues”.  We who as children breathed the marshy atmosphere of the fifties are necessarily pessimists as regards the concept "German”; we cannot be anything else than revolutionaries—we can assent to no state of affairs which allows the bigot to be on top.  I care not a jot whether this bigot appears in different colours today, whether he dresses in scarlet or dons the uniform of a hussar.  Very well then!  Wagner was a revolutionary— he fled from the Germans.  As an artist a man has no home in Europe except in Paris  ; that subtlety of all the five senses which Wagner’s art presupposes, the capability to detect slight nuances, psychological morbidity—all these things can be found only in Paris. Nowhere else can you meet with this passion for questions of form, this seriousness in matters of mise en scène which is the Parisian seriousness par excellence.  In Germany no one has any idea of the tremendous ambition that fills the heart of a Parisian artist.  The German is a good fellow.  Wagner was by no means a good fellow.  But I have already said quite enough on the subject of Wagner’s real nature (see Beyond Good and Evil Aphorism 269) and about those to whom he is most closely related.  He is one of the late French romantics, that high-soaring and exhilarating band of artists like Delacroix and Berlioz who in their inmost natures are sick and incurable and who are all fanatics of expression, virtuosos through and through.  Who in truth was the first intelligent follower of Wagner?  Charles Baudelaire, the very man who first understood Delacroix—that typical decadent in whom a whole generation of artists recognized themselves; he was perhaps the last of them too.  What is it that I have never forgiven Wagner?  The fact that he condescended to the Germans—that he became a German Imperialist.  Wherever Germany spreads it ruins culture.  

6.

Taking everything into consideration I could never have survived my youth without Wagnerian music.  For I was condemned to the society of Germans.  If one wishes to escape from unbearable pressure then one needs hashish. Well, I needed Wagner.  Wagner is the antidote to everything essentially German—the fact that he is a poison too I do not deny.  From the moment that Tristan was arranged for the piano—all honour to you Herr von Bulow!  I was a Wagnerian.  Wagner’s previous works seemed beneath me—they were too commonplace, too "German” .  But to this day I am still seeking for a work which would be a match to Tristan in dangerous fascination and possess the same gruesome and sweet quality of infinity; I seek among all the arts in vain.  All the quaint features of Leonardo da Vinci’s work lose their charm at the sound of the first bar in Tristan.  This work is without question Wagner’s non plus ultra; after its creation the composition of the Mastersingers and of the Ring was a relaxation to him.  To become healthier—this in a nature like Wagner’s amounts to going backwards.  The curiosity of the psychologist is so great in me that I regard it as quite a special privilege to have lived at the right time and to have lived precisely among Germans so as to be ripe for this work.  The world must indeed be empty for him who has never been unhealthy enough for this "hellish voluptuousness”: it is allowable, even obligatory to employ a mystic formula here.  I suppose I know better than anyone the prodigious feats of which Wagner was capable, the fifty worlds of strange delights to which only he had wings to soar; and as I am alive today and strong enough to turn even the most questionable and most dangerous things to my own advantage and thus to grow stronger, I declare Wagner to have been the greatest benefactor of my life.  The bond which unites us is the fact that we have suffered greater agony even at each other’s hands than most men are able to bear nowadays and this will always keep our names associated in the minds of men.  For just as Wagner is merely a misunderstanding among Germans so in truth am I and ever will be.  You lack two centuries of psychological and artistic discipline my dear countrymen!  But one can never catch up that amount of lost time.  

7.

To the most exceptional of my readers I shall say another word— about what I really want from music.  It must be cheerful and yet profound like an October afternoon.  It must be original, wanton and tender, like a dainty sweet woman in wantonness and grace.  I shall never admit that a German can understand what music is.  Those musicians who are called German, the greatest and most famous foremost are all foreigners, either Slavs, Croats, Italians, Dutchmen—or Jews; or else like Heinrich Schutz, Bach and Handel — Germans of a strong race which is now extinct.  For my own part I have still enough of the Pole left in me to let all other music go if only I can keep Chopin.  For three reasons I would exclude Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and perhaps also one or two things of Liszt who excelled all other musicians in the noble tone of his orchestration; and finally everything that has been produced beyond the Alps—this side of the Alps.  I could not possibly dispense with Rossini and still less with my Southern soul in music the work of my Venetian maestro Pietro Gasti.  And when I say beyond the Alps all I really mean is Venice.  If I try to find a new word for music I can never find any other than Venice.  I do not know how to draw any distinction between tears and music.  I do not know how to think either of joy or of the south without a shudder of fear.  "Lately on the bridge I stood In the gloomy night.  From afar there came a song: In golden drops it rolled Across the glittering scene, Music, gondolas, lights— Swimming drunkenly forth in the gloom.  My soul, a stringed instrument Invisibly moved, to itself sang A gondola song by reply, Trembling with fullsome happiness.  Was anyone listening”?  

8.

In all these things—in the choice of food place climate and recreation—the instinct of self-preservation is dominant and this instinct manifests itself with least ambiguity when it acts as an instinct of defence.  To close one’s eyes, to close one’s ears, to keep certain things at a distance— this is the first principle of prudence, the first proof of the fact that a man is not an accident but a necessity.  The popular word for this defensive instinct is taste.  A man’s imperative command is not only to say "no” in cases where "yes” would be a sign of "disinterestedness” but also to say "no” as seldom as possible.  One must be rid of all which compels one to repeat "no” time and time again.  The rationale is that all such discharges of defensive forces however slight they may be, involve enormous and absolutely pointless losses when they become regular and habitual.  Our greatest expenditure of strength is made up of these small and most frequent discharges.  The act of keeping things off, of holding them at a distance amounts to a discharge of strength—do not deceive yourselves on this point!  an expenditure of strength for purely negative ends.  Simply by being forced to be constantly on guard one may grow so weak as to be no longer able to defend oneself.  Suppose I were to step out of my house and instead of the quiet and aristocratic city of Turin I were to find a German provincial town: my instinct would have to brace itself in order to repel all that which would pour in upon it from this flattened and cowardly world.  Or suppose I were to find a large German city—that structure of vice in which nothing grows but where every single thing whether good or bad is dragged in.  In such circumstances should I not be compelled to become a hedgehog?  But to have prickles amounts to a squandering of strength; they even constitute a double luxury when, if we only chose to do so we could dispense with them and open our hands instead.  Another form of prudence and self defence consists in trying to react as seldom as possible and to keep one’s self aloof from those circumstances and conditions wherein one would be condemned as it were to suspend one’s "freedom” and one’s initiative and become a mere reacting medium.  As an example of this I point to the dealing with books.  The scholar who in truth does little else than handle books—a philologist at a modest assessment may handle about two hundred a day—ultimately forgets entirely and completely the capacity of thinking for himself.  When he does not have a book between his fingers he cannot think.  When he thinks he is responding to a stimulus (a thought he has read)—finally all he does is to react.  The scholar exhausts his whole strength in saying either "yes” or "no” to matter which has already been thought out or in criticizing it—he is no longer capable of thought on his own account.  In him the instinct of self-defence has become weak otherwise he would defend himself against books.  The scholar is a decadent.  With my own eyes I have seen gifted, richly endowed and free-spirited natures already "read to ruins” at thirty and mere matches that have to be struck if they are to give out flames—or "thoughts”.  Early in the morning, at the break of day, in all the fullness and dawn of one’s strength, to read a book—this I call vicious!  

9.

At this point I can no longer evade a direct answer to the question how one becomes what one is.  And in giving it I shall have to touch upon that masterpiece in the art of self-preservation which is selfishness.  Granting that one’s life-task—the determination and the fate of one’s life-task greatly exceeds the average measure of such things, nothing more dangerous could be conceived than to come face to face with one’s self with this life-task in hand.  The fact that one becomes what one is presupposes that one has not the remotest idea of what one is.  From this standpoint even the blunders of one’s life have their own meaning and value, the temporary deviations and aberrations, the moments of hesitation and of modesty, the earnestness wasted upon duties which lie outside the actual life-task.  In these matters great wisdom, perhaps even the highest wisdom comes into play: in these circumstances in which nosce te ipsum would be the sure road to ruin, forgetting one’s self, misunderstanding one’s self, belittling one’s self, narrowing one’s self and making one’s self mediocre is reason itself.  Expressed morally, the love one’s neighbour, living for others and for other things may be a means of protection employed to maintain the hardest kind of selfishness.  This is the exceptional case in which I, contrary to my principles and convictions take the side of the altruistic instincts; for here they are employed in the service of selfishness and self-discipline.  The whole surface of consciousness—for consciousness is a surface—must be kept free from any of the great imperatives.  Beware even of every grand word or attitude!  They are all risks by which the instinct can come to "understand itself” too soon.  Meanwhile the organizing "idea” which is destined to become master grows and continues to grow into the depths—it begins to command, it leads one slowly back from deviations and aberrations, it prepares individual qualities and capacities which one day will make themselves felt as indispensable to the whole of your task—step by step it cultivates all the supporting faculties before it ever whispers a word concerning the dominant task, the "goal”, the "object” and the "meaning” of it all.  Looked at from this standpoint my life is simply amazing.  For the task of revaluation of all values more capacities were needed perhaps than could commonly be found together in one individual; and above all antagonistic capacities which had to kept free from mutual strife and destruction.  An order of rank among capacities; distance; the art of separating without creating hostility; to avoid confusing things; to keep from reconciling things; an enormous multiplicity and yet the reverse of chaos—all this was the first condition, the long secret work and the artistic labour of my instinct.  Its sublime protection manifested itself with such strength that not once did 1 ever dream of what was growing within me—until suddenly all my capacities were ripe and one day burst forth in all the perfection of their highest bloom.  I cannot remember ever having exerted myself, I can point to no trace of struggle in my life; I am the reverse of a heroic nature.  To "want” something, to "strive” after something to have an "aim” or a "wish” in my mind—I know none of this from experience.  Even at this moment I look out upon my future—a distant future!  as upon a calm sea: no sigh of longing makes a ripple on its surface.  1 have not the slightest wish that anything should be otherwise than it is: I do not want myself different than I am.  But in this matter I have always been the same.  I have never had a desire.  A man who after his forty fourth year can say that he has never bothered himself about honours, women or money!  Not that they did not come my way.  It was thus that I became one day a University Professor—I had never had the remotest idea of such a thing; for I was scarcely twenty-four years of age.  In the same way two years previously I had one day become a philologist in the sense that my first philological work, my beginning in every way was expressly obtained by my teacher Ritschl for publication in his Rheinisehes Museum.  (Ritschl—and I say it in all reverence—was the only scholar gifted with genius that I have ever met.  He possessed that pleasant kind of depravity which distinguishes us Thuringians and which makes even a German sympathetic—even in the pursuit of truth we prefer to avail ourselves of secret paths.  In saying this I do not mean to underestimate in any way my Thuringian brother the sagacious Leopold von Ranke.  

10.

You may be wondering why I should actually have related all these trivial and according to traditional accounts insignificant details to you; that would indeed be harmful to me particularly if I am destined for great things.  To this I reply that these trivial matters—diet, locality, climate and ones mode of recreation, the whole casuistry of selfishness—are inconceivably more important than all that which has to date been held in high esteem.  It is precisely in this quarter that we must begin to learn anew.  All those things which mankind has valued with such seriousness to the present day are not even real; they are mere creations of the imagination or more strictly speaking lies born of the bad instincts of diseased and in the deepest sense poisonous natures—all the concepts "God”, "soul”, "virtue”, "sin”, "the Beyond”, "truth”, "eternal life”.  But the greatness of human nature, its "divinity” was sought in them.  All questions of politics, of social order, of education have been falsified root and branch owing to the fact that the most injurious men have been taken for great men and that people were taught to despise the small things or rather the fundamental things of life.  If I now choose to compare myself with those creatures that have previously been honoured as the first among men the difference becomes obvious.  I do not reckon the so called "first” men even as human beings—for me they are the excrements of mankind, the products of sickness and of the instinct of revenge: they are nothing but monsters laden with rottenness, hopeless incurables who avenge themselves on life.  I wish to be the opposite of these people: it is my privilege to have the very sharpest discernment for every sign of healthy instincts.  There is no such thing as a morbid trait in me; even in times of serious illness I have never grown morbid and you might seek in vain for a trace of fanaticism in my nature.  No one can point to any moment of my life in which I have assumed either an arrogant or a pathetic attitude.  Pathetic attitudes do not belong to greatness; he who needs attitudes at all is false.  Beware of all picturesque men!  Life was easy—in fact easiest—to me in those periods when it exacted the heaviest duties from me.  Whoever could have seen me during the seventy days of this autumn when without interruption I was creating things of the first rank—things that no man can do nowadays—with a sense of responsibility for all the ages yet to come, would have noticed no sign of tension in my condition but rather a state of overflowing freshness and good cheer.  Never have I eaten more pleasantly, never has my sleep been better.  I know of no other manner of dealing with great tasks than as play: this as a sign of greatness, is an essential prerequisite.  The slightest constraint, a sombre look, any hard accent in the voice—all these things are objections to a man but how much more to his work!  One must not have nerves.  Even to suffer from solitude is an objection—the only thing 1 have always suffered from is the "multitude”.  At an absurdly tender age, in fact when I was seven years old, I already knew that no human word would ever reach me: did anyone ever see me sad on that account?  At present I still possess the same affability towards everybody, I am even full of consideration for the lowliest of people: in all this there is not a grain of arrogance or of secret contempt.  He whom I despise soon guesses that he is despised by me: my mere existence is enough to rouse indignation in all those who have bad blood in their veins.  My formula for greatness in man is amor fati: the fact that a man wishes nothing to be different, either in the future or in the past or for all eternity.  Not just to endure necessity— or to merely pretend to endure—all idealism is untruthfulness in the face of necessity—but to love it.  
 

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Ecce Homo" Ebook

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