Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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The Artistic Convention.  Three fourths of Homer is convention, and the same is the case with all the Greek artists, who had no reason for falling into the modern craze for originality.  They had no fear of convention, for after all convention was a link between them and their public.  Conventions are the artistic means acquired for the understanding of the hearer; the common speech, learnt with much toil, whereby the artist can really communicate his ideas.  All the more when he wishes, like the Greek poets and musicians, to conquer at once with each of his works (since he is accustomed to compete publicly with one or two rivals), the first condition is that he must be understood at once, and this is only possible by means of convention.  What the artist devises beyond convention he offers of his own free will and takes a risk, his success at best resulting in the setting up of a new convention.  As a rule originality is marvelled at, sometimes even worshipped, but seldom understood.  A stubborn avoidance of convention means a desire not to be understood.  What, then, is the object of the modern craze for originality?  

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Ecce Homo" Ebook

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