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   174. AGAINST THE ART OF WORKS OF ART   Next Section

Against the Art of Works of Art.  Art is above all and first of all meant to embellish life, to make us ourselves endurable and if possible agreeable in the eyes of others.  With this task in view art moderates us and holds us in restraint, creates forms of intercourse, binds over the uneducated to laws of decency, cleanliness, politeness, well-timed speech and silence.  Hence art must conceal or transfigure everything that is ugly — the painful, terrible, and disgusting elements which in spite of every effort will always break out afresh in accordance with the very origin of human nature.  Art has to perform this duty especially in regard to the passions and spiritual agonies and anxieties, and to cause the significant factor to shine through unavoidable or unconquerable ugliness.  To this great, super great task the so-called art proper, that of works of art, is a mere accessary.  A man who feels within himself a surplus of such powers of embellishment, concealment, and transfiguration will finally seek to unburden himself of this surplus in works of art.  The same holds good, under special circumstances, of a whole nation.  But as a rule we nowadays begin art at the end, hang on to its tail, and think that works of art constitute art proper, and that life should be improved and transformed by this means — fools that we are!  If we begin a dinner with dessert, and try sweet after sweet, small wonder that we ruin our digestions and even our appetites for the good, hearty, nourishing meal to which art invites us!  

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Ecce Homo" Ebook

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