Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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The Theatre.

This day has given me once more strong and elevated sentiments, and if I could have music and art in the evening, I know well what music and art I should not like to have ; namely, none of that which would try to intoxicate its hearers and excite them to a crisis of strong and high feeling, those men with commonplace souls, who in the evening are not like victors on triumphal cars, but like tired mules to whom life has rather too often applied the whip.  What would those men at all know of " higher moods," unless there were expedients for causing ecstasy and idealistic strokes of the whip!  and thus they have their inspirers as they have their wines.  But what is their drink and their drunkenness to me!  Does he that is inspired need wine?  He rather looks with a kind of disgust at the agency and the agent which are here intended to produce an effect without sufficient reason, an imitation of the high tide of the soul!  What?  One gives the mole wings and proud fancies before going to sleep, before he creeps into his hole?  One sends him into the theatre and puts great magnifying glasses to his blind and tired eyes?  Men, whose life is not "action" but business, sit in front of the stage and look at strange beings to whom life is more than business?  "This is proper," you say, "this is entertaining, this is what culture wants!  "Well then!  culture is too often lacking in me, for the sight is too often disgusting to me.  He who has enough of tragedy and comedy in himself probably does best when stays away from the theatre.  Or as an exception, the whole procedure - theatre and public and poet included becomes for him a truly tragic and comic play, so that the performed piece counts for little in comparison.  He who is something like Faust and Manfred, what does it matter to him about the Fausts and Manfreds of the theatre?  While it certainly gives him some thing to think about that such figures are brought into the theatre at all.  The strongest thoughts and passions before those who are not capable of thought and passion but only of intoxication!  And these are provided to produce intoxication!  Theatre and music as the hashish smoking and betel chewing of the European!  Who will ever narrate to us the whole history of narcotics!  It is almost the history of "culture", of our so called "higher" culture!  
 

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