Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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What we should be Grateful for.

It is only the artists, and especially the theatrical artists, who have furnished men with eyes and ears to hear and see with some pleasure what everyone is in him self, what he experiences and aims at : it is only they who have taught us how to estimate the hero that is concealed in each of these common place men, and the art of looking at ourselves from a distance as heroes, and as it were simplified and transfigured, the art of " putting ourselves on the stage " before ourselves.  It is thus only that we get beyond some of the base details in ourselves!  Without that art we should be nothing but fore ground, and would live absolutely under the spell of the perspective which makes the closest and the commonest seem immensely large and like reality in itself.  Perhaps there is merit of a similar kind in the religion which commanded us to look at the sinfulness of every individual man with a magnifying glass, and made a great, immortal criminal of the sinner; in that it put eternal perspectives around man, it taught him to see himself from a distance, and as something past, something entire.  
 

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