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   223. WHITHER WE MUST TRAVEL   Next Section

Whither We must Travel.  Immediate self observation is not enough, by a long way, to enable us to learn to know ourselves.  We need history, for the past continues to flow through us in a hundred channels.  We ourselves are, after all, nothing but our own sensation at every moment of this continued flow.  Even here, when we wish to step down into the stream of our apparently most peculiar and personal development, Heraclitus' aphorism "You cannot step twice into the same river” holds good.  This is a piece of wisdom which has, indeed, gradually become trite, but nevertheless has remained as strong and true as it ever was.  It is the same with the saying that, in order to understand history, we must scrutinise the living remains of historical periods; that we must travel, as old Herodotus travelled, to other nations, especially to those so-called savage or half-savage races in regions where man has doffed or not yet donned European garb.  For they are ancient and firmly established steps of culture on which we can stand.  There is, however, a more subtle art and aim in travelling, which does not always necessitate our passing from place to place and going thousands of miles away.  Very probably the last three centuries, in all their colourings and refractions of culture, survive even in our vicinity, only they have to be discovered.  In some families, or even in individuals, the strata are still superimposed on each other, beautifully and perceptibly; in other places there are dispersions and displacements of the structure which are harder to understand.  Certainly in remote districts, in less known mountain valleys, circumscribed communities have been able more easily to maintain an admirable pattern of a far older sentiment, a pattern that must here be investigated.  On the other hand, it is improbable that such discoveries will be made in Berlin, where man comes into the world washed-out and sapless.  He who after long practice of this art of travel has become a hundred-eyed Argus will accompany his lo — I mean his ego — everywhere, and in Egypt and Greece, Byzantium and Rome, France and Germany, in the age of wandering or settled races, in Renaissance or Reformation, at home and abroad, in sea, forest, plant, and mountain, will again light upon the travel-adventure of this ever-growing, ever -altered ego.  Thus self-knowledge becomes universal knowledge as regards the entire past, and, by another chain of observation, which can only be indicated here, self-direction and self-training in the freest and most far-seeing spirits might become universal direction as regards all future humanity.  

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