Friedrich Nietzsche Full Text EBook
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1My impossible ones. — Seneca: or the toreador of virtue. Rousseau: or the return to nature in impuris naturalibus [in natural filth]. Schiller: or the Moral-Trumpeter of Säckingen. Dante: or the hyena who writes poetry in tombs. Kant: or cant as an intelligible character. Victor Hugo: or the pharos at the sea of nonsense. Liszt: or the school of smoothness — with women. George Sand: or lactea ubertas — in translation, the milk cow with "a beautiful style." Michelet: or the enthusiasm which takes off its coat. Carlyle: or pessimism as a poorly digested dinner. John Stuart Mill: or insulting clarity. Les frères de Goncourt: or the two Ajaxes in battle with Homer — music by Offenbach. Zola: or "the delight in stinking."
2Renan. — Theology: or the corruption of reason by 'original sin" (Christianity). Witness Renan who, whenever he risks a Yes or No of a more general nature scores a miss with painful regularity. He wants for example, to weld together la science and la noblesse: but la science belongs with democracy; what could be plainer? With no little ambition, he wishes to represent an aristocracy of the spirit: yet at the same time he is on his knees before its very counter-doctrine, the evangile des humbles — and not only on his knees. To what avail is all free-spiritedness, modernity, mockery, and wry-neck suppleness, if in one's guts one is still a Christian, a Catholic — in fact, a priest! Renan is most inventive, just like a Jesuit and father confessor, when it comes to seduction; his spirituality does not even lack the broad fat popish smile — like all priests, he becomes dangerous only when he loves. Nobody can equal him when it comes to adoring in a manner endangering life itself. This spirit of Renan's, a spirit which is enervated, is one more calamity for poor, sick, will-sick France.
3Sainte Beuve. — Nothing of virility, full of petty wrath against all virile spirits. Wanders around, cowardly, curious, bored, eavesdropping — a female at bottom, with a female's lust for revenge and a female's sensuality. As a psychologist, a genius of médisance [slander], inexhaustibly rich in means to that end; no one knows better how to mix praise with poison. Plebeian in the lowest instincts and related to the ressentiment of Rousseau: consequently, a romantic — for underneath all romantisme lie the grunting and greed of Rousseau's instinct for revenge. A revolutionary, but still pretty well harnessed by fear. Without freedom when confronted with anything strong (public opinion, the Academy, the court, even Port Royal). Embittered against everything great in men and things, against whatever believes in itself. Poet and half-female enough to sense the great as a power; always writhing like the famous worm because he always feels stepped upon. As a critic, without any standard, steadiness, and backbone, with the cosmopolitan libertine's tongue for a medley of things, but without the courage even to confess his libertinage. As a historian, without philosophy, without the power of the philosophical eye — hence declining the task of judging in all significant matters, hiding behind the mask of "objectivity." It is different with his attitude to all things in which a fine, well-worn taste is the highest tribunal: there he really has the courage to stand by himself and delight in himself — there he is a master. In some respects, a preliminary version of Baudelaire.
4De imitatione Christi is one of those books which I cannot hold in my hand without a physiological reaction: it exudes a perfume of the Eternal-Feminine which is strictly for Frenchmen — or Wagnerians. This saint has a way of talking about love which arouses even Parisian women to curiosity. I am told that that cleverest of Jesuits, Auguste Comte, who wanted to lead his Frenchmen to Rome via the detour of science, found his inspiration in this book. I believe it: "the religion of the heart."
5G. Eliot. — They are rid of the Christian God and now believe all the more firmly that they must cling to Christian morality. That is an English consistency; we do not wish to hold it against little moralistic females à la Eliot. In England one must rehabilitate oneself after every little emancipation from theology by showing in a veritably awe-inspiring manner what a moral fanatic one is. That is the penance they pay there. We others hold otherwise. When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one's feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one's hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is the truth — it stands and falls with faith in God. When the English actually believe that they know "intuitively" what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.
6George Sand. — I read the first Lettres d'un voyageur: like everything that is descended from Rousseau, false, fabricated, bellows, exaggerated. I cannot stand this motley wallpaper style any more than the mob aspiration for generous feelings. The worst feature, to be sure, is the female's coquetry with male attributes, with the manners of naughty boys. How cold she must have been throughout, this insufferable artist! She wound herself up like a clock — and wrote. Cold, like Hugo, like Balzac, like all the romantics as soon as they took up poetic invention. And how self-satisfied she may have lain there all the while, this fertile writing-cow who had in her something German in the bad sense, like Rousseau himself, her master, and who in any case was possible only during the decline of French taste! But Renan reveres her.
7Moral for psychologists. — Not to go in for backstairs psychology. Never to observe in order to observe! That gives a false perspective, leads to squinting and something forced and exaggerated. Experience as the wish to experience does not succeed. One must not eye oneself while having an experience; else the eye becomes "an evil eye." A born psychologist guards instinctively against seeing in order to see; the same is true of the born painter. He never works "from nature"; he leaves it to his instinct, to his camera obscura, to sift through and express the "case," "nature," that which is "experienced." He is conscious only of what is general, of the conclusion, the result: he does not know arbitrary abstractions from an individual case. What happens when one proceeds differently? For example, if, in the manner of the Parisian novelists, one goes in for backstairs psychology and deals in gossip, wholesale and retail? Then one lies in wait for reality, as it were, and every evening one brings home a handful of curiosities. But note what finally comes of all this: a heap of splotches, a mosaic at best, but in any case something added together, something restless, a mess of screaming colors. The worst in this respect is accomplished by the Goncourts; they do not put three sentences together without really hurting the eye, the psychologist's eye. Nature, estimated artistically, is no model. It exaggerates, it distorts, it leaves gaps. Nature is chance. To study "from nature" seems to me to be a bad sign: it betrays submission, weakness, fatalism; this lying in the dust before petit faits [little facts] is unworthy of a whole artist. To see what is — that is the mark of another kind of spirit, the anti-artistic, the factual. One must know who one is.
8Toward a psychology of the artist. — If there is to be art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable: frenzy. Frenzy must first have enhanced the excitability of the whole machine; else there is no art. All kinds of frenzy, however diversely conditioned, have the strength to accomplish this: above all, the frenzy of sexual excitement, this most ancient and original form of frenzy. Also the frenzy that follows all great cravings, all strong affects; the frenzy of feasts, contests, feats of daring, victory, all extreme movement; the frenzy of cruelty; the frenzy in destruction, the frenzy under certain meteorological influences, as for example the frenzy of spring; or under the influence of narcotics; and finally the frenzy of will, the frenzy of an overcharged and swollen will. What is essential in such frenzy is the feeling of increased strength and fullness. Out of this feeling one lends to things, one forces them to accept from us, one violates them — this process is called idealizing. Let us get rid of a prejudice here: idealizing does not consist, as is commonly held, in subtracting or discounting the petty and inconsequential. What is decisive is rather a tremendous drive to bring out the main features so that the others disappear in the process.
9In this state one enriches everything out of one's own fullness: whatever one sees, whatever one wills, is seen swelled, taut, strong, overloaded with strength. A man in this state transforms things until they mirror his power — until they are reflections of his perfection. This having to transform into perfection is — art. Even everything that he is not yet, becomes for him an occasion of joy in himself; in art man enjoys himself as perfection. It would be permissible to imagine an opposite state, a specific anti-artistry by instinct — a mode of being which would impoverish all things, making them thin and consumptive. And, as a matter of fact, history is rich in such anti-artists, in such people who are starved by life and must of necessity grab things, eat them out, and make them more meager. This is, for example, the case of the genuine Christian — of Pascal, for example: a Christian who would at the same time be an artist simply does not occur. One should not be childish and object by naming Raphael or some homeopathic Christian of the nineteenth century: Raphael said Yes, Raphael did Yes; consequently, Raphael was no Christian.
10What is the meaning of the conceptual opposites which I have introduced into aesthetics, Apollinian and Dionysian, both conceived as kinds of frenzy? The Apollinian frenzy excites the eye above all, so that it gains the power of vision. The painter, the sculptor, the epic poet are visionaries par excellence. In the Dionysian state, on the other hand, the whole affective system is excited and enhanced: so that it discharges all its means of expression at once and drives forth simultaneously the power of representation, imitation, transfiguration, transformation, and every kind of mimicking and acting. The essential feature here remains the ease of metamorphosis, the inability not to react (similar to certain hysterical types who also, upon any suggestion, enter into any role). It is impossible for the Dionysian type not to understand any suggestion; he does not overlook any sign of an affect; he possesses the instinct of understanding and guessing in the highest degree, just as he commands the art of communication in the highest degree. He enters into any skin, into any affect: he constantly transforms himself. Music, as we understand it today, is also a total excitement and a total discharge of the affects, but even so only the remnant of a much fuller world of expression of the affects, a mere residue of the Dionysian histrionicism. To make music possible as a separate art, a number of senses, especially the muscle sense, have been immobilized (at least relatively, for to a certain degree all rhythm still appeals to our muscles); so that man no longer bodily imitates and represents everything he feels. Nevertheless, that is really the normal Dionysian state, at least the original state. Music is the specialization of this state attained slowly at the expense of those faculties which are most closely related to it.
11The actor, the mime, the dancer, the musician, and the lyric poet are basically related in their instincts and, at bottom, one — but gradually they have become specialized and separated from each other, even to the point of mutual opposition. The lyric poet remained united with the musician for the longest time; the actor, with the dancer. The architect represents neither a Dionysian nor an Apollinian state: here it is the great act of will, the will that moves mountains, the frenzy of the great will which aspires to art. The most powerful human beings have always inspired architects; the architect has always been under the spell of power. His buildings are supposed to render pride visible, and the victory over gravity, the will to power. Architecture is a kind of eloquence of power in forms — now persuading, even flattering, now only commanding. The highest feeling of power and sureness finds expression in a grand style. The power which no longer needs any proof, which spurns pleasing, which does not answer lightly, which feels no witness near, which lives oblivious of all opposition to it, which reposes within itself, fatalistically, a law among laws — that speaks of itself as a grand style.
12I have been reading the life of Thomas Carlyle, this unconscious and involuntary farce, this heroic-moralistic interpretation of dyspeptic states. Carlyle: a man of strong words and attitudes, a rhetor from need, constantly lured by the craving for a strong faith and the feeling of his incapacity for it (in this respect, a typical romantic!) The craving for a strong faith is no proof of a strong faith, but quite the contrary. If one has such a faith, then one can afford the beautiful luxury of skepticism: one is sure enough, firm enough, has ties enough for that. Carlyle drugs something in himself with the fortissimo of his veneration of men of strong faith and with his rage against the less simple-minded: he requires noise. A constant passionate dishonesty against himself-that is his proprium; in this respect he is and remains interesting. Of course, in England he is admired precisely for his honesty. Well, that is English; and in view of the fact that the English are the people of consummate cant, it is even as it should be, and not only comprehensible. At bottom, Carlyle is an English atheist who makes it a point of honor not to be one.
13Emerson. — Much more enlightened, more roving, more manifold, subtler than Carlyle; above all, happier. One who instinctively nourishes himself only on ambrosia, leaving behind what is indigestible in things. Compared with Carlyle, a man of taste. Carlyle, who loved him very much, nevertheless said of him: "He does not give us enough to chew on" — which may be true, but is no reflection on Emerson. Emerson has that gracious and clever cheerfulness which discourages all seriousness; he simply does not know how old he is already and how young he is still going to be; he could say of himself, quoting Lope de Vega, "Yo me sucedo a mi mismo" [I am my own heir]. His spirit always finds reasons for being satisfied and even grateful; and at times he touches on the cheerful transcendency of the worthy gentleman who returned from an amorous rendezvous, tamquiam re bene gesta [as if he had accomplished his mission]. "Ut desint vires," he said gratefully, "tamen est laudanda voluptas" [Though the power is lacking, the lust is nevertheless praiseworthy].
14Anti-Darwin. — As for the famous "struggle for existence," so far it seems to me to be asserted rather than proved. It occurs, but as an exception; the total appearance of life is not the extremity, not starvation, but rather riches, profusion, even absurd squandering — and where there is struggle, it is a struggle for power. One should not mistake Malthus for nature. Assuming, however, that there is such a struggle for existence — and, indeed, it occurs — its result is unfortunately the opposite of what Darwin's school desires, and of what one might perhaps desire with them — namely, in favor of the strong, the privileged, the fortunate exceptions. The species do not grow in perfection: the weak prevail over the strong again and again, for they are the great majority — and they are also more intelligent. Darwin forgot the spirit (that is English!) ; the weak have more spirit. One must need spirit to acquire spirit; one loses it when one no longer needs it. Whoever has strength dispenses with the spirit ("Let it go!" they think in Germany today; "the Reich must still remain to us"). It will be noted that by "spirit" I mean care, patience, cunning, simulation, great self-control, and everything that is mimicry (the latter includes a great deal of so-called virtue).
15Casuistry of Psychologists. — This man knows human nature; why does he really study people? He wants to seize little advantages over them — or big ones, for that matter — he is a politician. That one over there also knows human nature, and you say that he seeks no profit for himself, that he is thoroughly "impersonal." Look more closely! Perhaps he even wants a worse advantage to feel superior to other human beings, to be able to look down on them, and no longer to mistake himself for one of them. This "impersonal" type as a despiser of human beings, while the first type is the more humane species, appearances notwithstanding. At least he places himself on the same plane, he places himself among them.
16The psychological tact of the Germans seems very questionable to me, in view of quite a number of cases which modesty prevents me from enumerating. In one case I shall not lack a great occasion to substantiate my thesis: I bear the Germans a grudge for having made such a mistake about Kant and his "backdoor philosophy," as I call it — for that was not the type of intellectual integrity. The other thing I do not like to hear is a notorious "and": the Germans say "Goethe and Schiller" — I am afraid they say "Schiller and Goethe." Don't they know this Schiller yet? And there are even worse "ands"; with my own ears I have heard, if only among university professors, "Schopenhauer and Hartmann."
17The most spiritual human beings, if we assume that they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but just for that reason they honor life because it pits its greatest opposition against them.
18On the "intellectual conscience." — Nothing seems rarer to me today than genuine hypocrisy. I greatly suspect that the soft air of our culture is insalubrious for this plant. Hypocrisy belongs in the ages of strong faith when, even though constrained to display another faith, one did not abandon one's own faith. Today one does abandon it; or, even more commonly, one adds a second faith — and in either case one remains honest. Without a doubt, a very much greater number of convictions is possible today than formerly: "possible" means permissible, which means harmless. This begets tolerance toward oneself. Tolerance toward oneself permits several convictions and they get along with each other: they are careful, like all the rest of the world, not to compromise themselves. How does one compromise oneself today? If one is consistent. If one proceeds in a straight line. If one is not ambiguous enough to permit five conflicting interpretations. If one is genuine. I fear greatly that modern man is simply too comfortable for some vices, so that they die out by default. All evil that is a function of a strong will — and perhaps there is no evil without strength of will — degenerates into virtue in our tepid air. The few hypocrites whom I have met imitated hypocrisy: like almost every tenth person today, they were actors.
19Beautiful and ugly ["fair and foul"]. — Nothing is more conditional — or, let us say, narrower — than our feeling for beauty. Whoever would think of it apart from man's joy in man would immediately lose any foothold. "Beautiful in itself" is a mere phrase, not even a concept. In the beautiful, man posits himself as the measure of perfection; in special cases he worships himself in it. A species cannot do otherwise but thus affirm itself alone. Its lowest instinct, that of self-preservation and self-expansion, still radiates in such sublimities. Man believes the world itself to be overloaded with beauty — and he forgets himself as the cause of this. He alone has presented the world with beauty — alas! only with a very human, all-too-human beauty. At bottom, man mirrors himself in things; he considers everything beautiful that reflects his own image: the judgment "beautiful" is the vanity of his species. For a little suspicion may whisper this question into the skeptic's ear: Is the world really beautified by the fact that man thinks it beautiful? He has humanized it, that is all. But nothing, absolutely nothing, guarantees that man should be the model of beauty. Who knows what he looks like in the eyes of a higher judge of beauty? Daring perhaps? Perhaps even amusing? Perhaps a little arbitrary? "O Dionysus, divine one, why do you pull me by my ears?" Ariadne once asked her philosophic lover during one of those famous dialogues on Naxos. "I find a kind of humor in your ears, Ariadne: why are they not even longer?"
20Nothing is beautiful, except man alone: all aesthetics rests upon this naïveté, which is its first truth. Let us immediately add the second: nothing is ugly except the degenerating man — and with this the realm of aesthetic judgment is circumscribed. Physiologically, everything ugly weakens and saddens man. It reminds him of decay, danger, impotence; it actually deprives him of strength. One can measure the effect of the ugly with a dynamometer. Wherever man is depressed at all, he senses the proximity of something "ugly." His feeling of power, his will to power, his courage, his pride — all fall with the ugly and rise with the beautiful. In both cases we draw an inference: the premises for it are piled up in the greatest abundance in instinct. The ugly is understood as a sign and symptom of degeneration: whatever reminds us in the least of degeneration causes in us the judgment of "ugly." Every suggestion of exhaustion, of heaviness, of age, of weariness; every kind of lack of freedom, such as cramps, such as paralysis; and above all, the smell, the color, the form of dissolution, of decomposition — even in the ultimate attenuation into a symbol — all evoke the same reaction, the value judgment, "ugly." A hatred is aroused — but whom does man hate then? There is no doubt: the decline of his type. Here he hates out of the deepest instinct of the species; in this hatred there is a shudder, caution, depth, farsightedness — it is the deepest hatred there is. It is because of this that art is deep.
21Schopenhauer. — Schopenhauer, the last German worthy of consideration (who represents a European event like Goethe, like Hegel, like Heinrich Heine, and not merely a local event, a "national" one), is for a psychologist a first- rate case: namely, as a maliciously ingenious attempt to adduce in favor of a nihilistic total depreciation of life precisely the counter-instances, the great self-affirmations of the "will to life," life's forms of exuberance. He has interpreted art, heroism, genius, beauty, great sympathy, knowledge, the will to truth, and tragedy, in turn, as consequences of "negation" or of the "will's" need to negate — the greatest psychological counterfeit in all history, not counting Christianity. On closer inspection, he is at this point merely the heir of the Christian interpretation: only he knew how to approve that which Christianity had repudiated, the great cultural facts of humanity — albeit in a Christian, that is, nihilistic, manner (namely, as ways of "redemption," as anticipations of "redemption," as stimuli of the need for "redemption").
22I take a single case. Schopenhauer speaks of beauty with a melancholy fervor. Why? Because he sees in it a bridge on which one will go farther, or develop a thirst to go farther. Beauty is for him a momentary redemption from the "will" — a lure to eternal redemption. Particularly, he praises beauty as the redeemer from "the focal point of the will," from sexuality — in beauty he sees the negation of the drive toward procreation. Queer saint! Somebody seems to be contradicting you; I fear it is nature. To what end is there any such thing as beauty in tone, color, fragrance, or rhythmic movement in nature? What is it that beauty evokes? Fortunately, a philosopher contradicts him too. No lesser authority than that of the divine Plato (so Schopenhauer himself calls him) maintains a different proposition: that all beauty incites procreation, that just this is the proprium of its effect, from the most sensual up to the most spiritual.
23Plato goes further. He says with an innocence possible only for a Greek, not a "Christian," that there would be no Platonic philosophy at all if there were not such beautiful youths in Athens: it is only their sight that transposes the philosopher's soul into an erotic trance, leaving it no peace until it lowers the seed of all exalted things into such beautiful soil. Another queer saint! One does not trust one's ears, even if one should trust Plato. At least one guesses that they philosophized differently in Athens, especially in public. Nothing is less Greek than the conceptual web-spinning of a hermit — amor intellectualis dei [intellectual love of God] after the fashion of Spinoza. Philosophy after the fashion of Plato might rather be defined as an erotic contest, as a further development and turning inward of the ancient agonistic gymnastics and of its presuppositions. What ultimately grew out of this philosophic eroticism of Plato? A new art form of the Greek agon: dialectics. Finally, I recall — against Schopenhauer and in honor of Plato — that the whole higher culture and literature of classical France too grew on the soil of sexual interest. Everywhere in it one may look for the amatory, the senses, the sexual contest, "the woman" — one will never look in vain.
24L'art pour l'art. — The fight against purpose in art is always a fight against the moralizing tendency in art, against its subordination to morality. L'art pour l'art means, "The devil take morality!" But even this hostility still betrays the overpowering force of the prejudice. When the purpose of moral preaching and of improving man has been excluded from art, it still does not follow by any means that art is altogether purposeless, aimless, senseless — in short, l'art pour l'art, a worm chewing its own tail. "Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!" — that is the talk of mere passion. A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations. Is this merely a "moreover"? an accident? something in which the artist's instinct had no share? Or is it not the very presupposition of the artist's ability? Does his basic instinct aim at art, or rather at the sense of art, at life? at a desirability of life? Art is the great stimulus to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l'art pour l'art? One question remains: art also makes apparent much that is ugly, hard, and questionable in life; does it not thereby spoil life for us? And indeed there have been philosophers who attributed this sense to it: "liberation from the will" was what Schopenhauer taught as the overall end of art; and with admiration he found the great utility of tragedy in its "evoking resignation." But this, as I have already suggested, is the pessimist's perspective and "evil eye." We must appeal to the artists themselves. What does the tragic artist communicate of himself? Is it not precisely the state without fear in the face of the fearful and questionable that he is showing? This state itself is a great desideratum, whoever knows it, honors it with the greatest honors. He communicates it — must communicate it, provided he is an artist, a genius of communication. Courage and freedom of feeling before a powerful enemy, before a sublime calamity, before a problem that arouses dread — this triumphant state is what the tragic artist chooses, what he glorifies. Before tragedy, what is warlike in our soul celebrates its Saturnalia; whoever is used to suffering, whoever seeks out suffering, the heroic man praises his own being through tragedy — to him alone the tragedian presents this drink of sweetest cruelty.
25To put up with people, to keep open house with one's heart — that is liberal, but that is merely liberal. One recognizes those hearts which are capable of noble hospitality by the many draped windows and closed shutters: they keep their best rooms empty. Why? Because they expect guests with whom one does not "put up."
26We no longer have sufficiently high esteem for ourselves when we communicate. Our true experiences are not at all garrulous. They could not communicate themselves even if they tried: they lack the right words. We have already gone beyond whatever we have words for. In all talk there is a grain of contempt. Language, it seems, was invented only for what is average, medium, communicable. By speaking the speaker immediately vulgarizes himself. — Out of a morality for deaf-mutes and other philosophers.
27"This picture is enchantingly beautiful. !" The literary female: unsatisfied, excited, her heart and entrails void, ever listening, full of painful curiosity, to the imperative which whispers from the depths of her organism, aut liberi aut libri [either children or books] — the literary female: educated enough to understand the voice of nature even when it speaks Latin, and yet vain enough and goose enough to speak secretly with herself in French: 'je me verrai, je me lirai, je m'extasierai et je dirai: possible, que j'aie eu tant d'esprit? ' ["I shall see myself, I shall read myself, I shall go into ecstasies, and I shall say: is it possible that I should have had so much wit?"]
28The "impersonal" get a word in. — "Nothing is easier for us than to be wise, patient, and superior. We drip with the oil of forgiveness and sympathy, we are absurdly just, we pardon everything. For that very reason we ought to be a little more strict with ourselves; for that very reason we ought to breed a little affect in ourselves from time to time, a little vice of an affect. It may be hard on us; and among ourselves we may even laugh at the sight we thus offer. But what can be done about it? No other way of self-overcoming is left to us any more: this is our asceticism, our penance." Developing personal traits: the virtue of the "impersonal."
29From a doctoral examination. — "What is the task of all higher education?" To turn men into machines. "What are the means?" Man must learn to be bored. "How is that accomplished?" By means of the concept of duty. "Who serves as the model?" The philologist: he teaches grinding. "Who is the perfect man?" The civil servant. "Which philosophy offers the highest formula for the civil servant?" Kant's: the civil servant as a thing-in-itself, raised up to be judge over the civil servant as phenomenon.
30The right to stupidity. — The weary laborer who breathes slowly, looks genial, and lets things go as they may — this typical figure, encountered today, in the age of labor (and of the "Reich"!) , in all classes of society, claims art, no less, as his proper sphere, including books and, above all, magazines — and even more the beauties of nature, Italy. The man of the evening, with his "savage drives gone to sleep" (as Faust says), needs a summer resort, the seashore, glaciers, Bayreuths. In such ages art has a right to pure foolishness — as a kind of vacation for spirit, wit, and feeling. Wagner understood that. Pure foolishness restores.
31Another problem of diet. — The means by which Julius Caesar defended himself against sickliness and headaches: tremendous marches, the most frugal way of life, uninterrupted sojourn in the open air, continuous exertion — these are, in general, the universal rules of preservation and protection against the extreme vulnerability of that subtle machine, working under the highest pressure, which we call genius.
32The immoralist speaks. — Nothing offends the philosopher's taste more than man, insofar as man desires. If he sees man in action, even if he sees this most courageous, most cunning, most enduring animal lost in labyrinthian distress — how admirable man appears to him! He still likes him. But the philosopher despises the desiring man, also the "desirable" man — and altogether all desirabilities, all ideals of man. If a philosopher could be a nihilist, he would be one because he finds nothing behind all the ideals of man. Or not even nothing — but only what is abject, absurd, sick, cowardly, and weary, all kinds of dregs out of the emptied cup of his life. Man being so venerable in his reality, how is it that he deserves no respect insofar as he desires? Must he atone for being so capable in reality? Must he balance his activity, the strain on head and will in all his activity, by stretching his limbs in the realm of the imaginary and the absurd? The history of his desirabilities has so far been the partie honteuse of man: one should beware of reading in it too long. What justifies man is his reality — it will eternally justify him. How much greater is the worth of the real man, compared with any merely desired, dreamed-up, foully fabricated man? with any ideal man? And it is only the ideal man who offends the philosopher's taste.
33The natural value of egoism. — Self-interest is worth as much as the person who has it: it can be worth a great deal, and it can be unworthy and contemptible. Every individual may be scrutinized to see whether he represents the ascending or the descending line of life. Having made that decision, one has a canon for the worth of his self-interest. If he represents the ascending line, then his worth is indeed extraordinary — and for the sake of life as a whole, which takes a step farther through him, the care for his preservation and for the creation of the best conditions for him may even be extreme. The single one, the "individual," as hitherto understood by the people and the philosophers alike, is an error after all: he is nothing by himself, no atom, no "link in the chain," nothing merely inherited from former times; he is the whole single line of humanity up to himself. If he represents the descending development, decay, chronic degeneration, and sickness (sicknesses are, in general, the consequences of decay, not its causes), then he has small worth, and the minimum of decency requires that he take away as little as possible from those who have turned out well. He is merely their parasite.
34Christian and anarchist. — When the anarchist, as the mouthpiece of the declining strata of society, demands with a fine indignation what is "right," "justice," and "equal rights," he is merely under the pressure of his own uncultured state, which cannot comprehend the real reason for his suffering — what it is that he is poor in: life. A causal instinct asserts itself in him: it must be somebody's fault that he is in a bad way. Also, the "fine indignation" itself soothes him; it is a pleasure for all wretched devils to scold: it gives a slight but intoxicating sense of power. Even plaintiveness and complaining can give life a charm for the sake of which one endures it: there is a fine dose of revenge in every complaint; one charges one's own bad situation, and under certain circumstances even one's own badness, to those who are different, as if that were an injustice, a forbidden privilege. "If I am canaille, you ought to be too" — on such logic are revolutions made. Complaining is never any good: it stems from weakness. Whether one charges one's misfortune to others or to oneself — the socialist does the former; the Christian, for example, the latter — really makes no difference. The common and, let us add, the unworthy thing is that it is supposed to be somebody's fault that one is suffering; in short, that the sufferer prescribes the honey of revenge for himself against his suffering. The objects of this need for revenge, as a need for pleasure, are mere occasions: everywhere the sufferer finds occasions for satisfying his little revenge. If he is a Christian — to repeat it once more — he finds them in himself. The Christian and the anarchist are both decadents. When the Christian condemns, slanders, and besmirches "the world," his instinct is the same as that which prompts the socialist worker to condemn, slander, and besmirch society. The "last judgment" is the sweet comfort of revenge — the revolution, which the socialist worker also awaits, but conceived as a little farther off. The "beyond" — why a beyond, if not as a means for besmirching this world?
35Critique of the morality of decadence. — An "altruistic" morality — a morality in which self-interest wilts away — remains a bad sign under all circumstances. This is true of individuals; it is particularly true of nations. The best is lacking when self-interest begins to be lacking. Instinctively to choose what is harmful for oneself, to feel attracted by "disinterested" motives, that is virtually the formula of decadence. "Not to seek one's own advantage" — that is merely the moral fig leaf for quite a different, namely, a physiological, state of affairs: "I no longer know how to find my own advantage." Disintegration of the instincts! Man is finished when he becomes altruistic. Instead of saying naively, "I am no longer worth anything," the moral lie in the mouth of the decadent says, "Nothing is worth anything, life is not worth anything." Such a judgment always remains very dangerous, it is contagious: throughout the morbid soil of society it soon proliferates into a tropical vegetation of concepts — now as a religion (Christianity), now as a philosophy (Schopenhauerism). Sometimes the poisonous vegetation which has grown out of such decomposition poisons life itself for millennia with its fumes.
36Morality for physicians. The sick man is a parasite of society. In a certain state it is indecent to live longer. To go on vegetating in cowardly dependence on physicians and machinations, after the meaning of life, the right to life, has been lost, that ought to prompt a profound contempt in society. The physicians, in turn, would have to be the mediators of this contempt — not prescriptions, but every day a new dose of nausea with their patients. To create a new responsibility, that of the physician, for all cases in which the highest interest of life, of ascending life, demands the most inconsiderate pushing down and aside of degenerating life — for example, for the right of procreation, for the right to be born, for the right to live. To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly. Death freely chosen, death at the right time, brightly and cheerfully accomplished amid children and witnesses: then a real farewell is still possible, as the one who is taking leave is still there; also a real estimate of what one has achieved and what one has wished, drawing the sum of one's life — all in opposition to the wretched and revolting comedy that Christianity has made of the hour of death. One should never forget that Christianity has exploited the weakness of the dying for a rape of the conscience; and the manner of death itself, for value judgments about man and the past. Here it is important to defy all the cowardices of prejudice and to establish, above all, the real, that is, the physiological, appreciation of so-called natural death — which is in the end also "unnatural," a kind of suicide. One never perishes through anybody but oneself. But usually it is death under the most contemptible conditions, an unfree death, death not at the right time, a coward's death. From love of life, one should desire a different death: free, conscious, without accident, without ambush. Finally, some advice for our dear pessimists and other decadents. It is not in our hands to prevent our birth; but we can correct this mistake — for in some cases it is a mistake. When one does away with oneself, one does the most estimable thing possible: one almost earns the right to live. Society — what am I saying? — life itself derives more advantage from this than from any "life" of renunciation, anemia, and other virtues: one has liberated the others from one's sight; one has liberated life from an objection. Pessimism, pur, vert, is proved only by the self-refutation of our dear pessimists: one must advance a step further in its logic and not only negate life with "will and representation," as Schopenhauer did — one must first of all negate Schopenhauer. Incidentally, however contagious pessimism is, it still does not increase the sickliness of an age, of a generation as a whole: it is an expression of this sickliness. One falls victim to it as one falls victim to cholera: one has to be morbid enough in one's whole predisposition. Pessimism itself does not create a single decadent more; I recall the statistics which show that the years in which cholera rages do not differ from other years in the total number of deaths.
37Whether we have become more moral. — Against my conception of "beyond good and evil" — as was to be expected — the whole ferocity of moral hebetation, mistaken for morality itself in Germany, as is well known, has gone into action: I could tell fine stories about that. Above all I was asked to consider the "undeniable superiority" of our age in moral judgment, the real progress we have made here: compared with us, a Cesare Borgia is by no means to be represented after any manner as a "higher man," a kind of overman. A Swiss editor of the Bund went so far that he "understood" the meaning of my work — not without expressing his respect for my courage and daring — to be a demand for the abolition of all decent feelings. Thank you! In reply, I take the liberty of raising the question whether we have really become more moral. That all the world believes this to be the case merely constitutes an objection. We modern men, very tender, very easily hurt, and offering as well as receiving consideration a hundredfold, really have the conceit that this tender humanity which we represent, this attained unanimity in sympathetic regard, in readiness to help, in mutual trust, represents positive progress; and that in this respect we are far above the men of the Renaissance. But that is how every age thinks, how it must think. What is certain is that we may not place ourselves in renaissance conditions, not even by an act of thought: our nerves would not endure that reality, not to speak of our muscles. But such incapacity does not prove progress, only another, later constitution, one which is weaker, frailer, more easily hurt, and which necessarily generates a morality rich in consideration. Were we to think away our frailty and lateness, our physiological senescence, then our morality of "humanization" would immediately lose its value too (in itself, no morality has any value) — it would even arouse disdain. On the other hand, let us not doubt that we moderns, with our thickly padded humanity, which at all costs wants to avoid bumping into a stone, would have provided Cesare Borgia's contemporaries with a comedy at which they could have laughed themselves to death. Indeed, we are unwittingly funny beyond all measure with our modern "virtues." The decrease in instincts which are hostile and arouse mistrust — and that is all our "progress" amounts to — represents but one of the consequences attending the general decrease in vitality: it requires a hundred times more trouble and caution to make so conditional and late an existence prevail. Hence each helps the other; hence everyone is to a certain extent sick, and everyone is a nurse for the sick. And that is called "virtue." Among men who still knew life differently — fuller, more squandering, more overflowing — it would have been called by another name: "cowardice" perhaps, "wretchedness," "old ladies' morality." Our softening of manners — that is my proposition; that is, if you will, my innovation — is a consequence of decline; the hardness and terribleness of morals, conversely, can be a consequence of an excess of life. For in that case much may also be dared, much challenged, and much squandered. What was once the spice of life would be poison for us. To be indifferent — that too is a form of strength — for that we are likewise too old, too late. Our morality of sympathy, against which I was the first to issue a warning — that which one might call l'impressionisme morale — is just another expression of that physiological overexcitability which is characteristic of everything decadent. That movement which tried to introduce itself scientifically with Schopenhauer's morality of pity — a very unfortunate attempt! — is the real movement of decadence in morality; as such, it is profoundly related to Christian morality. Strong ages, noble cultures, all consider pity, "neighbor-love," and the lack of self and self-assurance as something contemptible. Ages must be measured by their positive strength — and then that lavishly squandering and fatal age of the Renaissance appears as the last great age; and we moderns, with our anxious self-solicitude and neighbor-love, with our virtues of work, modesty, legality, and scientism — accumulating, economic, machinelike — appear as a weak age. Our virtues are conditional on, are provoked by, our weaknesses. "Equality" as a certain factual increase in similarity, which merely finds expression in the theory of "equal rights," is an essential feature of decline. The cleavage between man and man, status and status, the plurality of types, the will to be oneself, to stand out — what I call the pathos of distance, that is characteristic of every strong age. The strength to withstand tension, the width of the tensions between extremes, becomes ever smaller today; finally, the extremes themselves become blurred to the point of similarity. All our political theories and constitutions — and the "German Reich" is by no means an exception — are consequences, necessary consequences, of decline; the unconscious effect of decadence has assumed mastery even over the ideals of some of the sciences. My objection against the whole of sociology in England and France remains that it knows from experience only the forms of social decay, and with perfect innocence accepts its own instincts of decay as the norm of sociological value-judgments. The decline of life, the decrease in the power to organize — that is, to separate, tear open clefts, subordinate and superordinate — all this has been formulated as the ideal in contemporary sociology. Our socialists are decadents, but Mr. Herbert Spencer is a decadent too: he considers the triumph of altruism desirable.
38My conception of freedom. — The value of a thing sometimes does not lie in that which one attains by it, but in what one pays for it — what it costs us. I shall give an example. Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. Their effects are known well enough: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make men small, cowardly, and hedonistic — every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization. These same institutions produce quite different effects while they are still being fought for; then they really promote freedom in a powerful way. On closer inspection it is war that produces these effects, the war for liberal institutions, which, as a war, permits illiberal instincts to continue. And war educates for freedom. For what is freedom? That one has the will to assume responsibility for oneself. That one maintains the distance which separates us. That one becomes more indifferent to difficulties, hardships, privation, even to life itself. That one is prepared to sacrifice human beings for one's cause, not excluding oneself. Freedom means that the manly instincts which delight in war and victory dominate over other instincts, for example, over those of "pleasure." The human being who has become free — and how much more the spirit who has become free — spits on the contemptible type of well-being dreamed of by shopkeepers, Christians, cows, females, Englishmen, and other democrats. The free man is a warrior. How is freedom measured in individuals and peoples? According to the resistance which must be overcome, according to the exertion required, to remain on top. The highest type of free men should be sought where the highest resistance is constantly overcome: five steps from tyranny, close to the threshold of the danger of servitude. This is true psychologically if by "tyrants" are meant inexorable and fearful instincts that provoke the maximum of authority and discipline against themselves; most beautiful type: Julius Caesar. This is true politically too; one need only go through history. The peoples who had some value, attained some value, never attained it under liberal institutions: it was great danger that made something of them that merits respect. Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be strong. First principle: one must need to be strong — otherwise one will never become strong. Those large hothouses for the strong — for the strongest kind of human being that has so far been known — the aristocratic commonwealths of the type of Rome or Venice, understood freedom exactly in the sense in which I understand it: as something one has or does not have, something one wants, something one conquers.
39Critique of modernity. — Our institutions are no good any more: on that there is universal agreement. However, it is not their fault but ours. Once we have lost all the instincts out of which institutions grow, we lose institutions altogether because we are no longer good for them. Democracy has ever been the form of decline in organizing power: in Human, All-Too-Human (I, 472) I already characterized modern democracy, together with its hybrids such as the "German Reich," as the form of decline of the state. In order that there may be institutions, there must be a kind of will, instinct, or imperative, which is anti-liberal to the point of malice: the will to tradition, to authority, to responsibility for centuries to come, to the solidarity of chains of generations, forward and backward ad infinitum. When this will is present, something like the imperium Romanum is founded; or like Russia, the only power today which has endurance, which can wait, which can still promise something — Russia, the concept that suggests the opposite of the wretched European nervousness and system of small states, which has entered a critical phase with the founding of the German Reich. The whole of the West no longer possesses the instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which a future grows: perhaps nothing antagonizes its "modern spirit" so much. One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibly: precisely this is called "freedom." That which makes an institution an institution is despised, hated, repudiated: one fears the danger of a new slavery the moment the word "authority" is even spoken out loud. That is how far decadence has advanced in the value-instincts of our politicians, of our political parties: instinctively they prefer what disintegrates, what hastens the end. Witness modern marriage. All rationality has clearly vanished from modern marriage; yet that is no objection to marriage, but to modernity. The rationality of marriage — that lay in the husband's sole juridical responsibility, which gave marriage a center of gravity, while today it limps on both legs. The rationality of marriage — that lay in its indissolubility in principle, which lent it an accent that could be heard above the accident of feeling, passion, and what is merely momentary. It also lay in the family's responsibility for the choice of a spouse. With the growing indulgence of love matches, the very foundation of marriage has been eliminated, that which alone makes an institution of it. Never, absolutely never, can an institution be founded on an idiosyncrasy; one cannot, as I have said, found marriage on "love" — it can be founded on the sex drive, on the property drive (wife and child as property), on the drive to dominate, which continually organizes for itself the smallest structure of domination, the family, and which needs children and heirs to hold fast — physiologically too — to an attained measure of power, influence, and wealth, in order to prepare for long-range tasks, for a solidarity of instinct between the centuries. Marriage as an institution involves the affirmation of the largest and most enduring form of organization: when society cannot affirm itself as a whole, down to the most distant generations, then marriage has altogether no meaning. Modern marriage has lost its meaning - consequently one abolishes it.
40The Labor question. — The stupidity — at bottom, the degeneration of instinct, which is today the cause of all stupidities — is that there is a labor question at all. Certain things one does not question: that is the first imperative of instinct. I simply cannot see what one proposes to do with the European worker now that one has made a question of him. He is far too well off not to ask for more and more, not to ask more immodestly. In the end, he has numbers on his side. The hope is gone forever that a modest and self-sufficient kind of man, a Chinese type, might here develop as a class: and there would have been reason in that, it would almost have been a necessity. But what was done? Everything to nip in the bud even the preconditions for this: the instincts by virtue of which the worker becomes possible as a class, possible in his own eyes, have been destroyed through and through with the most irresponsible thoughtlessness. The worker was qualified for military service, granted the right to organize and to vote: is it any wonder that the worker today experiences his own existence as distressing — morally speaking, as an injustice? But what is wanted? I ask once more. If one wants an end, one must also want the means: if one wants slaves, then one is a fool if one educates them to be masters.
41"Freedom which I do not mean." — In times like these, abandonment to one's instincts is one calamity more. Our instincts contradict, disturb, destroy each other; I have a ready defined what is modern as physiological self-contradiction. Rationality in education would require that under iron pressure at least one of these instinct systems be paralyzed to permit another to gain in power, to become strong, to become master. Today the individual still has to be made possible by being pruned: possible here means whole. The reverse is what happens: the claim for independence, for free development, for laisser aller is pressed most hotly by the very people for whom no reins would be too strict. This is true in politics, this is true in art. But that is a symptom of decadence: our modern conception of "freedom" is one more proof of the degeneration of the instincts.
42Where faith is needed. — Nothing is rarer among moralists and saints than honesty. Perhaps they say the contrary, perhaps they even believe it. For when a faith is more useful, more effective, and more persuasive than conscious hypocrisy, then hypocrisy soon turns instinctively into innocence: first principle for the understanding of great saints. The philosophers are merely another kind of saint, and their whole craft is such that they admit only certain truths — namely those for the sake of which their craft is accorded public sanction — in Kantian terms, truths of practical reason. They know what they must prove; in this they are practical. They recognize each other by their agreement about "the truths." "Thou shalt not lie": in other words, beware, my dear philosopher, of telling the truth.
43Whispered to the conservatives. — What was not known formerly, what is known, or might be known, today: a reversion, a return in any sense or degree is simply not possible. We physiologists know that. Yet all priests and moralists have believed the opposite — they wanted to take mankind back, to screw it back, to a former measure of virtue. Morality was always a bed of Procrustes. Even the politicians have aped the preachers of virtue at this point: today too there are still parties whose dream it is that all things might walk backwards like crabs. But no one is free to be a crab. Nothing avails: one must go forward — step by step further into decadence (that is my definition of modern "progress"). One can check this development and thus dam up degeneration, gather it and make it more vehement and sudden: one can do no more.
44My conception of genius. — Great men, like great ages, are explosives in which a tremendous force is stored up; their precondition is always, historically and physiologically, that for a long time much has been gathered, stored up, saved up, and conserved for them — that there has been no explosion for a long time. Once the tension in the mass has become too great, then the most accidental stimulus suffices to summon into the world the "genius," the "deed," the great destiny. What does the environment matter then, or the age, or the "spirit of the age," or "public opinion"! Take the case of Napoleon. Revolutionary France, and even more, prerevolutionary France, would have brought forth the opposite type; in fact, it did. Because Napoleon was different, the heir of a stronger, older, more ancient civilization than the one which was then perishing in France, he became the master there, he was the only master. Great men are necessary, the age in which they appear is accidental; that they almost always become masters over their age is only because they are stronger, because they are older, because for a longer time much was gathered for them. The relationship between a genius and his age is like that between strong and weak, or between old and young: the age is relatively always much younger, thinner, more immature, less assured, more childish. That in France today they think quite differently on this subject (in Germany too, but that does not matter), that the milieu theory, which is truly a neurotic's theory, has become sacrosanct and almost scientific and has found adherents even among physiologists — that "smells bad" and arouses sad reflections. It is no different in England, but that will not grieve anybody. For the English there are only two ways of coming to terms with the genius and the "great man": either democratically in the manner of Buckle or religiously in the manner of Carlyle. The danger that lies in great men and ages is extraordinary; exhaustion of every kind, sterility, follow in their wake. The great human being is a finale; the great age — the Renaissance, for example — is a finale. The genius, in work and deed, is necessarily a squanderer: that he squanders himself, that is his greatness! The instinct of self-preservation is suspended, as it were: the overpowering pressure of outflowing forces forbids him any such care or caution. People call this "self-sacrifice" and praise his "heroism," his indifference to his own well-being, his devotion to an idea, a great cause, a fatherland: without exception, misunderstandings. He flows out, he overflows, he uses himself up, he does not spare himself — and this is a calamitous involuntary fatality, no less than a river's flooding the land. Yet, because much is owed to such explosives, much has also been given them in return: for example, a kind of higher morality. After all, that is the way of human gratitude: it misunderstands its benefactors.
45The criminal and what is related to him. The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick. He lacks the wilderness, a somehow freer and more dangerous environment and form of existence, where everything that is weapons and armor in the instinct of the strong human being has its rightful place. His virtues are ostracized by society; the most vivid drives with which he is endowed soon grow together with the depressing affects — with suspicion, fear, and dishonor. Yet this is almost the recipe for physiological degeneration. Whoever must do secretly, with long suspense, caution, and cunning, what he can do best and would like most to do, becomes anemic; and because he always harvests only danger, persecution, and calamity from his instincts, his attitude to these instincts is reversed too, and he comes to experience them fatalistically. It is society, our tame, mediocre, emasculated society, in which a natural human being, who comes from the mountains or from the adventures of the sea, necessarily degenerates into a criminal. Or almost necessarily; for there are cases in which such a man proves stronger than society: the Corsican, Napoleon, is the most famous case. The testimony of Dostoevski is relevant to this problem — Dostoevski, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life, even more than my discovery of Stendhal. This profound human being, who was ten times right in his low estimate of the superficial Germans, lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia — hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society — and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil. Let us generalize the case of the criminal: let us think of men so constituted that for one reason or another, they lack public approval and know that they are not felt to be beneficent or useful — that chandala feeling that one is not considered equal, but an outcast, unworthy, contaminating. All men so constituted have a subterranean hue to their thoughts and actions; everything about them becomes paler than in those whose existence is touched by daylight. Yet almost all forms of existence which we consider distinguished today once lived in this half tomblike atmosphere: the scientific character, the artist, the genius, the free spirit, the actor, the merchant, the great discoverer. As long as the priest was considered the supreme type, every valuable kind of human being was devaluated. The time will come, I promise, when the priest will be considered the lowest type, our chandala the most mendacious, the most indecent kind of human being. I call attention to the fact that even now — under the mildest regimen of morals which has ever ruled on earth, or at least in Europe — every deviation, every long, all-too-long sojourn below, every unusual or opaque form of existence, brings one closer to that type which is perfected in the criminal. All innovators of the spirit must for a time bear the pallid and fatal mark of the chandala on their foreheads — not because they are considered that way by others, but because they themselves feel the terrible cleavage which separates them from everything that is customary or reputable. Almost every genius knows, as one stage of his development, the "Catilinarian existence" — a feeling of hatred, revenge, and rebellion against everything which already is, which no longer becomes. Catiline — the form of pre-existence of every Caesar.
46Here the view is free. — It may be nobility of the soul when a philosopher is silent, it may be love when he contradicts himself; and he who has knowledge maybe polite enough to lie. It has been said, not without delicacy: II est indigne des grand coeurs de repandre le trouble qu'ils ressentent [It is unworthy of great hearts to pour out the disturbance they feel]. But one must add that not to be afraid of the most unworthy may also be greatness of soul. A woman who loves, sacrifices her honor; a knower who "loves" may perhaps sacrifice his humanity; a God who loved became a Jew.
47Beauty no accident. — The beauty of a race or a family, their grace and graciousness in all gestures, is won by work: like genius, it is the end result of the accumulated work of generations. One must have made great sacrifices to good taste, one must have done much and omitted much, for its sake — seventeenth-century France is admirable in both respects — and good taste must have furnished a principle for selecting company, place, dress, sexual satisfaction; one must have preferred beauty to advantage, habit, opinion, and inertia. Supreme rule of conduct: before oneself too, one must not "let oneself go." The good things are immeasurably costly; and the law always holds that those who have them are different from those who acquire them. All that is good is inherited: whatever is not inherited is imperfect, is a mere beginning. In Athens, in the time of Cicero (who expresses his surprise about this), the men and youths were far superior in beauty to the women. But what work and exertion in the service of beauty had the male sex there imposed on itself for centuries! For one should make no mistake about the method in this case: a breeding of feelings and thoughts alone is almost nothing (this is the great misunderstanding underlying German education, which is wholly illusory), one must first persuade the body. Strict perseverance in significant and exquisite gestures together with the obligation to live only with people who do not "let themselves go" — that is quite enough for one to become significant and exquisite, and in two or three generations all this becomes inward. It is decisive for the lot of a people and of humanity that culture should begin in the right place — not in the "soul" (as was the fateful superstition of the priests and half-priests): the right place is the body, the gesture, the diet, physiology; the rest follows from that. Therefore the Greeks remain the first cultural event in history: they knew, they did, what was needed; and Christianity, which despised the body, has been the greatest misfortune of humanity so far.
48Progress in my sense. — I too speak of a "return to nature," although it is really not a going back but a going up — an ascent to the high, free, even terrible nature and naturalness where great tasks are something one plays with, one may play with. To put it metaphorically: Napoleon was a piece of "return to nature," as I understand the phrase (for example, in rebus tacticis; even more, as military men know, in matters of strategy). But Rousseau — to what did he really want to return? Rousseau, this first modern man, idealist and rabble in one person — one who needed moral "dignity" to be able to stand his own sight, sick with unbridled vanity and unbridled self-contempt. This miscarriage, couched on the threshold of modern times, also wanted a "return to nature"; to ask this once more, to what did Rousseau want to return? I still hate Rousseau in the French Revolution: it is the world-historical expression of this duality of idealist and rabble. The bloody farce which became an aspect of the Revolution, its "immorality," is of little concern to me: what I hate is its Rousseauan morality — the so-called "truths" of the Revolution through which it still works and attracts everything shallow and mediocre. The doctrine of equality! There is no more poisonous poison anywhere: for it seems to be preached by justice itself, whereas it really is the termination of justice. "Equal to the equal, unequal to the unequal" — that would be the true slogan of justice; and also its corollary: "Never make equal what is unequal." That this doctrine of equality was surrounded by such gruesome and bloody events, that has given this "modern idea" par excellence a kind of glory and fiery aura so that the Revolution as a spectacle has seduced even the noblest spirits. In the end, that is no reason for respecting it any more. I see only one man who experienced it as it must be experienced, with nausea — Goethe.
49Goethe — not a German event, but a European one: a magnificent attempt to overcome the eighteenth century by a return to nature, by an ascent to the naturalness of the Renaissance — a kind of self-overcoming on the part of that century. He bore its strongest instincts within himself: the sensibility, the idolatry of nature, the anti-historic, the idealistic, the unreal and revolutionary (the latter being merely a form of the unreal). He sought help from history, natural science, antiquity, and also Spinoza, but, above all, from practical activity; he surrounded himself with limited horizons; he did not retire from life but put himself into the midst of it; he if was not fainthearted but took as much as possible upon himself, over himself, into himself. What he wanted was totality; he fought the mutual extraneousness of reason, senses, feeling, and will (preached with the most abhorrent scholasticism by Kant, the antipode of Goethe); he disciplined himself to wholeness, he created himself. In the middle of an age with an unreal outlook, Goethe was a convinced realist: he said Yes to everything that was related to him in this respect — and he had no greater experience than that ens realissimum [most real being] called Napoleon. Goethe conceived a human being who would be strong, highly educated, skillful in all bodily matters, self-controlled, reverent toward himself, and who might dare to afford the whole range and wealth of being natural, being strong enough for such freedom; the man of tolerance, not from weakness but from strength, because he knows how to use to his advantage even that from which the average nature would perish; the man for whom there is no longer anything that is forbidden — unless it be weakness, whether called vice or virtue. Such a spirit who has become free stands amid the cosmos with a joyous and trusting fatalism, in the faith that only the particular is loathesome, and that all is redeemed and affirmed in the whole — he does not negate anymore. Such a faith, however, is the highest of all possible faiths: I have baptized it with the name of Dionysus.
50One might say that in a certain sense the nineteenth century also strove for all that which Goethe as a person had striven for: universality in understanding and in welcoming, letting everything come close to oneself, an audacious realism, a reverence for everything factual. How is it that the overall result is no Goethe, but a chaos, a nihilistic sigh, an utter bewilderment, an instinct of weariness which in practice continually drives toward a recourse to the eighteenth century? (For example, as a romanticism of feeling, as altruism and hypersentimentality, as feminism in taste, as socialism in politics.) Is not the nineteenth century, especially at its close, merely an intensified, brutalized eighteenth century, that is, a century of decadence? So that Goethe would have been — not merely for Germany, but for all of Europe — a mere interlude, a beautiful "in vain"? But one misunderstands great human beings if one views them from the miserable perspective of some public use. That one cannot put them to any use, that in itself may belong to greatness.
51Goethe is the last German for whom I feel any reverence: he would have felt three things which I feel — we also understand each other about the "cross." I am often asked why, after all, I write in German: nowhere am I read worse than in the Fatherland. But who knows in the end whether I even wish to be read today? To create things on which time tests its teeth in vain; in form, in substance, to strive for a little immortality — I have never yet been modest enough to demand less of myself. The aphorism, the apothegm, in which I am the first among the Germans to be a master, are the forms of "eternity"; it is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a book — what everyone else does not say in a book. I have given mankind the most profound book it possesses, my Zarathustra; shortly I shall give it the most independent.