Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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The Consciousness of Appearance.

How wonderfully and novelly, and at the same time how awfully and ironically, do I feel myself situated with respect to the whole of existence, in the light of my knowledge!  I have discovered for myself that the old humanity and animality, the collective primeval age, and the past of all sentient being, continues to meditate, love, hate, and reason in me, I have suddenly awoke in the midst of this dream, but merely to the consciousness that I just dream, and that I must dream on in order not to perish; just as the sleep-walker must dream on in order not to fall.  What is it that is now "appearance" to me!  Certainly, not the antithesis of any kind of essence, what knowledge can I assert of any kind of essence whatsoever, except merely the attributes of its appearance!  Certainly not a dead mask which one could put upon an unknown X, and which to be sure one could also remove!  Appearance is for me the operating and living thing itself; which goes so far in its self-mockery as to make me feel that here there is appearance, and Will o the Wisp, and spirit-dance, and nothing more, that among all these dreamers, I also, the "thinker," dance my dance, that the thinker is a means of prolonging further the earthly dance, and in so far is one of the masters of ceremony of existence, and that the sublime consistency and connectedness of all branches of knowledge is perhaps, and will perhaps, be the best means for maintaining the universality of the dreaming, the complete, mutual understandability of all those dreamers, and thereby the continuation of the dream.  

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