Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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Our Air.  We know it well: in him who only casts a glance now and then at science, as when taking a walk (in the manner of women, and alas!  also like many artists), the strictness in its service, its inexorability in small matters as well as in great, its rapidity in weighing, judging and condemning, produce something of a feeling of giddiness and fright.  It is especially terrifying to him that the hardest is here demanded, that the best is done without the reward of praise or distinction; it is rather as among soldiers - almost nothing but blame and sharp reprimand; for doing things well is the rule here and failure the exception – but the rule always tends to keep quiet.  It is the same with the "severity of science" as with the manners and politeness of the best society: it frightens the uninitiated.  He, however, who is accustomed to it does not wish to live anywhere else than in this bright, transparent vigorous, electrified air – in this virile air.  Anywhere else things are not clean and airy enough for them; they suspect that elsewhere their best art would not really profit others nor give real delight to themselves; that through misunderstandings half of his life would slip through his fingers, that they would be required to exercise a great deal of caution, concealment, be inhibited – so many ways of losing a great deal of strength for no good reason.  But, in this severe and clear element they have their full strength, here they can fly.  Why then go down into the muddy waters where one has to swim and wade and dirty one’s wings?  No, it is too hard for us to live there.  Is it our fault if we are born for the air, for the clean air, we rivals of the beams of light?  And that we wish we could be borne aloft on those beams of light – not away from the sun but towards the sun!  That however, we cannot do.  Let us therefore do what we alone can do : bring light to the earth – to be "the light of the earth!"  To that end we have our wings, our swiftness and our severity; and in this we are virile and even terrible like fire.  Let those be terrified by us who do not know how to gain warmth and light from us!  

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