Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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The Conceit of Artists.

I think artists often do not know what they can do best, because they are too conceited, and have set their minds on some thing loftier than those little plants appear to be which can grow up to perfection on their soil, fresh, rare, and beautiful.  The final value of their own garden and vineyard is superciliously under estimated by them, and their love and their insight are not of the same quality.  Here is a musician, who, more than any one else, has the genius for discovering the tones peculiar to suffering, oppressed, tortured souls, and who can endow even dumb animals with speech.  No one equals him in the colours of the late autumn, in the indescribably touching happiness of a last, a final, and all too short enjoyment.  He knows a chord for those secret and weird midnights of the soul when cause and effect seem out of joint, and when every instant something may originate "out of nothing."  He draws his resources best of all out of the lower depths of human happiness, and so to speak, out of its drained goblet, where the bitterest and most nauseous drops have ultimately, for good or for ill, commingled with the sweetest.  He knows the weary shuffling along of the soul which can no longer leap or fly, yes, not even walk.  He has the shy glance of concealed pain, of understanding without comfort, of leave taking without avowal.  Yes, as the Orpheus of all secret misery, he is greater than anyone ; and in fact much has been added to art by him which was hitherto inexpressible and not even thought worthy of art, and which was only to be scared away, by words, and not grasped many small and quite microscopic features of the soul.  Yes, he is the master of miniature.  But he does not wish to be so!  His character is more in love with large walls and daring frescoes!  He fails to see that his spirit has a different taste and inclination, and prefers to sit quietly in the corners of ruined houses.  Concealed in this way, concealed even from himself, he there paints his proper masterpieces, all of which are very short, often only one bar in length, there only does he become quite good, great, and perfect, perhaps there only.  But he does not know it!  He is too conceited to know it.  
 

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