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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Previous Section   275. THE AGE OF CYCLOPEAN BUILDING   Next Section

The Age of Cyclopean Building.  The democratisation of Europe is a resistless force.  Even he who would stem the tide uses those very means that democratic thought first put into men's hands, and he makes these means more handy and workable.  The most inveterate enemies of democracy (I mean the spirits of upheaval) seem only to exist in order, by the fear that they inspire, to drive forward the different parties faster and faster on the democratic course.  Now we may well feel sorry for those who are working consciously and honourably for this future.  There is something dreary and monotonous in their faces, and the grey dust seems to have been wafted into their very brains.  Nevertheless, posterity may possibly some day laugh at our anxiety and see in the democratic work of several generations what we see in the building of stone dams and walls — an activity that necessarily covers clothes and face with a great deal of dust, and perhaps unavoidably makes the workmen, too, a little dull witted; but who would on that account desire such work undone?  It seems that the democratisation of Europe is a link in the chain of those mighty prophylactic principles which are the thought of the modern era, and whereby we rise up in revolt against the Middle Ages.  Now, and now only, is the age of Cyclopean building!  A final security in the foundations, that the future may build on them without danger!  Henceforth, an impossibility of the orchards of culture being once more destroyed overnight by wild, senseless mountain torrents!  Dams and walls against barbarians, against plagues, against physical and spiritual serfdom!  And all this understood at first roughly and literally, but gradually in an ever higher and more spiritual sense, so that all the principles here indicated may appear as the intellectual preparation of the highest artist in horticulture, who can only apply himself to his own task when the other is fully accomplished!  True, if we consider the long intervals of time that here lie between means and end, the great, supreme labour, straining the powers and brains of centuries, that is necessary in order to create or to provide each individual means, we must not bear too hardly upon the workers of the present when they loudly proclaim that the wall and the fence are already the end and the final goal.  After all, no one yet sees the gardener and the fruit, for whose sake the fence exists.  

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