Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: a Book for Everyone and No-one. Also Sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen

Composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885

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THE LEARNED CHAIRS OF VIRTUE.  A wise man was recommended to Zarathustra as one who could speak well about sleep and about virtue: it was said that he was greatly honoured and rewarded for this, and that all the young men sat before his learned chair.  Zarathustra went to him and sat among the youths before his chair.  And thus spoke the wise man: “Respect and modesty in the presence of sleep!  That is the first thing!  And avoid all those who sleep badly and stay awake at night!  Even the thief is ashamed in presence of sleep: he always steals softly through the night.  However, how immodest is the night watchman; shamelessly he bears his horn.  It is no small accomplishment to sleep: it is necessary for its sake to spend the entire day awake.  Ten times a day must you overcome yourself: this promotes a most wholesome weariness and is opium to the soul.  Ten times must you be reconciled again with yourself; for overcoming is bitterness and badly sleep the unreconciled.  Ten truths a day must you discover: otherwise you will seek truth also during the night, with a soul as yet insatiate.  Ten times a day must you laugh and be cheerful: lest your stomach, that father of affliction, disturb you into the night.  Few know it, but one must possess all of the virtues if we are to sleep well.  Shall I bear false witness?  Shall I commit adultery?  Shall I covet my neighbour's maidservant?  None of this would be consistent with good sleep.  And even if one possessed all of the virtues, there is still one thing that one must know how to do: to send these very virtues to sleep at the proper time.  That they may not quarrel amongst themselves, those proper girls!  And over you, you unfortunate man!  Peace go with God and with your neighbour: thus would good sleep have it.  And peace too for your neighbour's devil.  Lest it haunt you at night.  Honour authority and obedience, even crooked authority!  Thus would good sleep have it.  What can one do if power likes to walk on crooked legs?  He who leads his sheep to the greenest pastures shall always be for me the best shepherd: this promotes the soundest sleep.  I do not desire great honours, nor great treasure: they excite the spleen.  But one does sleep poorly without a good name and a little treasure.  The company of a few is more welcome to me than bad company: but they must come and go at the right time.  This promotes the soundest sleep.  The poor in spirit please me greatly: for they promote sleep.  Blessed and happy are they indeed, especially if one is always in agreement with them.  Thus passes the day for the virtuous man.  And when night comes, I take care not to summon sleep!  He, the lord of the virtues, does not care to be summoned!  Instead I think to myself of what I have done and thought of during the day.  Thus ruminating, as patient as a cow, I ask myself: what were your ten overcomings?  And what were the ten reconciliations and the ten truths and the ten fits of laughter with which my heart enjoyed itself?  Thus pondering and cradled by my forty thoughts, sleep, the lord of all virtues, suddenly overcomes me, unbidden.  Sleep taps on my eyes: they grow heavy.  Sleep touches my mouth: it stays open.  Truly, with soft tread does it come to me, this dearest of thieves and steals my thoughts away: I then stand as stupid as this academic chair.  But not for long thus do I stand: already I am lying down.  When Zarathustra heard the wise man speak thus, he laughed in his heart: for a light had thereby dawned upon him.  And he spoke thus to his heart: “What a fool this wise man seems with his forty thoughts: but I do believe that he knows very well how to sleep.  Happy is he who lives near this wise man!  Such sleep is contagious, even through a thick wall.  A magic resides in his learned chair.  And not in vain did the youths sit before the preacher of virtue.  His wisdom is to keep awake in order to sleep well.  And truly, if there were no sense to life and I had to choose nonsense, this would be for me too the most worthy nonsense.  It is clear to me now what people formerly sought above all else when they sought teachers of virtue.  Good sleep they sought for themselves and the opiate virtues to promote it!  For all such lauded sages with their learned chairs, wisdom was sleep without dreams; they knew no better meaning for life.  Even today there are still some that are like this preacher of virtue, and not always so honest: but their time is past.  And not for much longer will they stand: for already they are lying down”.  “Blessed are the drowsy-heads: for they shall soon drop off”—.     Thus spoke Zarathustra.  

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