Friedrich Nietzsche, Miscellaneous Maxims and opinions (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche).

Miscellaneous Maxims and Opinions, the first supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1879.  A second supplement, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten) followed in 1880.


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Previous Section   169. THE ART-NEED OF THE SECOND ORDER   Next Section

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 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!  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!  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.  

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