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 Golden Maxim.  Man has been bound with many chains, in order that he may forget to comport himself like an animal.  And indeed he has become more gentle, more intellectual, more joyous, more meditative than any animal.  But now he still suffers from having carried his chains so long, from having been so long without pure air and free movement — these chains, however, are, as I repeat again and again, the ponderous and significant errors of moral, religious, and metaphysical ideas.  Only when the disease of chains is overcome is the first great goal reached — the separation of man from the brute.  At present we stand in the midst of our work of removing the chains, and in doing so we need the strictest precautions.  Only the ennobled man may be granted freedom of spirit; to him alone comes the alleviation of life and heals his wounds; he is the first who can say that he lives for the sake of joy, with no other aim; in any other mouth, his motto of "Peace around me and goodwill towards all the most familiar things” would be dangerous.  In this motto for single individuals he is thinking of an ancient saying, magnificent and pathetic, which applied to all, and has remained standing above all mankind, as a motto and a beacon whereby shall perish all who adorn their banner too early — the rock on which Christianity foundered.  It is not even yet time, it seems, for all men to have the lot of those shepherds who saw the heavens lit up above them and heard the words: "Peace on earth and goodwill to one another among men”.  It is still the age of the individual.  The Shadow: Of all that you have enunciated, nothing pleased me more than one promise: "Ye want again to be good neighbours to the most familiar things”.  This will be to the advantage of us poor shadows too.  For do but confess that you have hitherto been only too fond of reviling us.  The Wanderer: Reviling?  But why did you never defend yourselves?  After all, you were very close to our ears.  The Shadow: It seemed to us that we were too near you to have a right to talk of ourselves.  The Wanderer: What delicacy!  Ah, you shadows are "better men" than we, I can see that.  The Shadow: And yet you called us "importunate"— us, who know one thing at least extremely well: how to be silent and to wait — no Englishman knows it better.  It is true we are very, very often in the retinue of men, but never as their bondsmen.  When man shuns light, we shun man — so far, at least, we are free.  The Wanderer: Ah, light shuns man far oftener, and then also you abandon him.  The Shadow: It has often pained me to leave you.  I am eager for knowledge, and much in man has remained obscure to me, because I cannot always be in his company.  At the price of complete knowledge of man I would gladly be your slave.  The Wanderer: Do you know, do I know, whether you would not then unwittingly become master instead of slave?  Or would remain a slave indeed, but would lead a life of humiliation and disgust because you despised your master?  Let us both be content with freedom such as you have enjoyed up to now — you and I!  For the sight of a being not free would embitter my greatest joys; all that is best would be repugnant to me if anyone had to share it with me — I will not hear of any slaves about me.  That is why I do not care for the dog, that lazy, tail wagging parasite, who first became "doggish" as the slave of man, and of whom they still say that he is loyal to his master and follows him like- The Shadow: Like his shadow, they say.  Perhaps I have already followed you too long to day?  It has been the longest day, but we are nearing the end; be patient a little more!  The grass is damp; I am feeling chilly.  The Wanderer: Oh, is it already time to part?  And I had to hurt you in the end — I saw you became darker.  The Shadow: I blushed the only colour I have at command.  I remembered that I had often lain at your feet like a dog, and that you then- The Wanderer: Can I not with all speed do something to please you?  Have you no wish?  The Shadow: None, except perhaps the wish that the philosophic "dog" expressed to Alexander the Great — just move a little out of my light; I feel cold.  The Wanderer: What am I to do?  The Shadow: Walk under those fir trees and look around you towards the mountains; the sun is sinking.  The Wanderer: Where are you?  Where are you?  

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