Christianity, sprung from Jewish roots and comprehensible only as a growth on this soil, represents the counter-movement to any morality of breeding, of race, privilege: Christianity--the revaluation of all Aryan values, the victory of chandala values, the gospel preached to the poor and base, the general revolt of all the downtrodden, the wretched, the failures, the less favored, against "race": The morality of breeding, and the morality of taming, are, in the means they use, entirely worthy of each other: This is the great, the uncanny problem which I have been pursuing the longest: A small, and at bottom modest, fact--that of the so-called pia fraus [holy lie]--offered me the first approach to this problem: Neither Manu nor Plato nor Confucius nor the Jewish and Christian teachers have ever doubted their right to lie.
They have not doubted that they had very different rights too. Expressed in a formula, one might say: Among Germans today it is not enough to have spirit: Perhaps I know the Germans, perhaps I may even tell them some truths. The new Germany represents a large quantum of fitness, both inherited and acquired by training, so that for a time it may expend its accumulated store of strength, even squander it. It is not a high culture that has thus become the master, and even less a delicate taste, a noble "beauty" of the instincts; but more virile virtues than any other country in Europe can show.
Much cheerfulness and self-respect, much assurance in social relations and in the reciprocality of duties, much industriousness, much perseverance--and an inherited moderation which needs the spur rather than the brake. I add that here one still obeys without feeling that obedience humiliates. And nobody despises his opponent. One will notice that I wish to be just to the Germans: I do not want to break faith with myself here. I must therefore also state my objections to them. One pays heavily for coming to power: The Germans--once they were called the people of thinkers: The Germans are now bored with the spirit, the Germans now mistrust the spirit; politics swallows up all serious concern for really spiritual matters.
Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles--I fear that was the end of German philosophy. Are there German poets? Are there good German books? I blush; but with the courage which I maintain even in desperate situations I reply: Accursed instinct of mediocrity! What the German spirit might be--who has not had his melancholy ideas about that! But this people has deliberately made itself stupid, for nearly a millennium: Recently even a third has been added--one that alone would be suffficient to dispatch all fine and bold fiexibility of the spirit--music, our constipated, constipating German music.
How much disgruntled heaviness, lameness, dampness, dressing gown--how much beer there is in the German intelligence! How is it at all possible that young men who dedicate their lives to the most spiritual goals do not feel the first instinct of spirituality, the spirit's instinct of self-preservation--and drink beer?
The alcoholism of young scholars is perhaps no question mark concerning their scholarliness--without spirit one can still be a great scholar--but in every other respect it remains a problem. Where would one not find the gentle degeneration which beer produces in the spirit? Once, in a case that has almost become famous, I put my finger on such a degeneration--the degeneration of our number-one German free spirit, the clever David Strauss, into the author of a beer-bench gospel and "new faith. I was speaking of the German spirit: At bottom, it is something quite different that alarms me: The verve has changed, not just the intellectuality.
Here and there I come into contact with German universities: It would be a profound misunderstanding if one wanted to adduce German science against me-it would also be proof that one has not read a word I have written. For seventeen years I have never tired of calling attention to the despiritualizing influence of our current science-industry.
The hard helotism to which the tremendous range of the sciences condemns every scholar today is a main reason why those with a fuller, richer, profounder disposition no longer find a congenial education and congenial educators. There is nothing of which our culture suffers more than of the superabundance of pretentious jobbers and fragments of humanity; our universities are, against their will, the real hothouses for this kind of withering of the instincts of the spirit.
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And the whole of Europe already has some idea of this--power politics deceives nobody. Germany is considered more and more as Europe's flatland. I am still looking for a German with whom I might be able to be serious in my own way--and how much more for one with whom I might be cheerful! Twilight of the Idols: Our cheerfulness is what is most incomprehensible about us.
Even a rapid estimate shows that it is not only obvious that German culture is declining but that there is sufficient reason for that. In the end, no one can spend more than he has: If one spends oneself for power, for power politics, for economics, world trade, parliamentarianism, and military interests--if one spends in the direction the quantum of understanding, seriousness, will, and self- overcoming which one represents, then it will be lacking for the other direction.
Culture and the state--one should not deceive one-self about this--are antagonists: One lives off the other, one thrives at the expense of the other. All great ages of culture are ages of political decline: Goethe's heart opened at the phenomenon of Napoleon--it closed at the "Wars of Liberation. Even today much new seriousness, much new passion of the spirit, have migrated to Paris; the question of pessimism, for example, the question of Wagner, and almost all psychological and artistic questions are there weighed incomparably more delicately and thoroughly than in Germany--the Germans are altogether incapable of this kind of seriousness.
In the history of European culture the rise of the "Reich" means one thing above all: It is already known everywhere: Can you point to even a single spirit who counts from a European point of view, as your Goethe, your Hegel, your Heinrich Heine, your Schopenhauer counted? That there is no longer a single German philosopher--about that there is no end of astonishment.
The entire system of higher education in Germany has lost what matters most: That education, that Bildung, is itself an end--and not "the Reich"--and that educators are needed to that end, and not secondary-school teachers and university scholars--that has been forgotten. Educators are needed who have themselves been educated, superior, noble spirits, proved at every moment, proved by words and silence, representing culture which has grown ripe and sweet--not the learned louts whom secondary schools and universities today offer our youth as "higher wet nurses.
One of this rarest of exceptions is my venerable friend, Jacob Burckhardt in Basel: What the "higher schools" in Germany really achieve is a brutal training, designed to prepare huge numbers of young men, with as little loss of time as possible, to become usable, abusable, in government service. All higher education belongs only to the exception: All great, all beautiful things can never be common property: What contributes to the decline of German culture?
That "higher education" is no longer a privilege--the democratism of Bildung, which has become "common"--too common. Let it not be forgotten that military privileges really compel an all-too-great attendance in the higher schools, and thus their downfall. In present-day Germany no one is any longer free to give his children a noble education: And everywhere an indecent haste prevails, as if something would be lost if the young man of twenty-three were not yet "finished," or if he did not yet know the answer to the "main question": A higher kind of human being, if I may say so, does not like "callings," precisely because he knows himself to be called.
He has time, he takes time, he does not even think of "finishing": Our overcrowded secondary schools, our overworked, stupefied secondary-school teachers, are a scandal: I put forward at once--lest I break with my style, which is affirmative and deals with contradiction and criticism only as a means, only involuntarily--the three tasks for which educators are required. One must learn to see, one must learn to think, one must learn to speak and write: Learning to see--accustoming the eye to calmness, to patience, to letting things come up to it; postponing judgment, learning to go around and grasp each individual case from all sides.
That is the first preliminary schooling for spirituality: Learning to see, as I understand it, is almost what, unphilosophically speaking, is called a strong will: All unspirituality, all vulgar commonness, depend on the inability to resist a stimulus: In many cases, such a compulsion is already pathology, decline, a symptom of exhaustion--almost everything that unphilosophical crudity designates with the word "vice" is merely this physiological inability not to react.
A practical application of having learned to see: One will let strange, new things of every kind come up to oneself, inspecting them with hostile calm and withdrawing one's hand. To have all doors standing open, to lie servilely on one's stomach before every little fact, always to be prepared for the leap of putting oneself into the place of, or of plunging into, others and other things--in short, the famous modern "objectivity"--is bad taste, is ignoble par excellence.
Even in the universities, even among the real scholars of philosophy, logic as a theory, as a practice, as a craft, is beginning to die out. One need only read German books: Who among Germans still knows from experience the delicate shudder which light feet in spiritual matters send into every muscle? The stiff clumsiness of the spiritual gesture, the bungling hand at grasping--that is German to such a degree that abroad one mistakes it for the German character as such. The German has no fingers for nuances. That the Germans have been able to stand their philosophers at all, especially that most deformed concept-cripple of all time, the great Kant, provides not a bad notion of German grace.
For one cannot subtract dancing in every form from a noble education--to be able to dance with one's feet, with concepts, with words: But at this point I should become completely enigmatic for German readers. 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: With no little ambition, he wishes to represent an aristocracy of the spirit: 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. Wanders around, cowardly, curious, bored, eavesdropping--a female at bottom, with a female's lust for revenge and a female's sensuality. Plebeian in the lowest instincts and related to the ressentiment of Rousseau: 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.
In some respects, a preliminary version of Baudelaire. De imitatione Christi is one of those books which I cannot hold in my hand without a physiological reaction: 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.
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.
Doctor Reynard's experiment
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: 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: Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: 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: For the English, morality is not yet a problem. 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. Never to observe in order to observe!
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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. 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. 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: 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. To study "from nature" seems to me to be a bad sign: To see what is--that is the mark of another kind of spirit, the anti-artistic, the factual. One must know who one is. Toward a psychology of the artist. 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: 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: What is decisive is rather a tremendous drive to bring out the main features so that the others disappear in the process. In this state one enriches everything out of one's own fullness: 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: One should not be childish and object by naming Raphael or some homeopathic Christian of the nineteenth century: What 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: 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: 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. The 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.
fekoberobugy.tkd's Experiment by Robert Black
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: 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.
I have been reading the life of Thomas Carlyle, this unconscious and involuntary farce, this heroic-moralistic interpretation of dyspeptic states. 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: 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: 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. 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: 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].
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: Darwin forgot the spirit that is English! 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! 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.
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. 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.
The 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": And there are even worse "ands"; with my own ears I have heard, if only among university professors, "Schopenhauer and Hartmann.
What has the author John Robert Foster written?
The most spiritual human beings, if we assume that they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: On the "intellectual conscience. 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: This begets tolerance toward oneself. Tolerance toward oneself permits several convictions and they get along with each other: 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: Beautiful and ugly ["fair and foul"]. Whoever would think of it apart from man's joy in man would immediately lose any foothold. 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! At bottom, man mirrors himself in things; he considers everything beautiful that reflects his own image: 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? Perhaps a little arbitrary? Nothing is beautiful, except man alone: Let us immediately add the second: 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. In both cases we draw an inference: The ugly is understood as a sign and symptom of degeneration: There is no doubt: 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. 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: I take a single case. Schopenhauer speaks of beauty with a melancholy fervor. 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. 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: 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: 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: 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.
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L'art pour l'art means, "The devil take morality! 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. A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations. Is this merely a "moreover"? 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? Art is the great stimulus to life: And indeed there have been philosophers who attributed this sense to it: 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.
To 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: Because they expect guests with whom one does not "put up. We 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: 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. The "impersonal" get a word in. 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: From a doctoral examination. The right to stupidity. 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.
Another problem of diet. 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: 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?
And it is only the ideal man who offends the philosopher's taste. The natural value of egoism. 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: 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.
A causal instinct asserts itself in him: Also, the "fine indignation" itself soothes him; it is a pleasure for all wretched devils to scold: Even plaintiveness and complaining can give life a charm for the sake of which one endures it: Complaining is never any good: 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: 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? Critique of the morality of decadence. 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. 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. Sometimes the poisonous vegetation which has grown out of such decomposition poisons life itself for millennia with its fumes. 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: 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: 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: Society--what am I saying? Pessimism, pur, vert, is proved only by the self-refutation of our dear pessimists: Incidentally, however contagious pessimism is, it still does not increase the sickliness of an age, of a generation as a whole: One falls victim to it as one falls victim to cholera: 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. Whether we have become more moral.
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: 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.
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: 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: 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. 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! 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. 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: My conception of freedom. I shall give an example. Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: Their effects are known well enough: 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 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: 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: 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: Danger alone acquaints us with our own resources, our virtues, our armor and weapons, our spirit, and forces us to be 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: 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 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: 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: One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibly: That is how far decadence has advanced in the value-instincts of our politicians, of our political parties: 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: Modern marriage has lost its meaning--consequently one abolishes it. Certain things one does not question: 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: But what was done? Everything to nip in the bud even the preconditions for this: The worker was qualified for military service, granted the right to organize and to vote: But what is wanted? I ask once more. If one wants an end, one must also want the means: 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: The reverse is what happens: This is true in politics, this is true in art. But that is a symptom of decadence: Where faith is needed.
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: 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. Whispered to the conservatives. 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: But no one is free to be a crab. One can check this development and thus dam up degeneration, gather it and make it more vehement and sudden: My conception of genius.
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: 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": 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: The instinct of self-preservation is suspended, as it were: 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: 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: After all, that is the way of human gratitude: The criminal and what is related to him.
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.
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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 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: Let us generalize the case of the criminal: 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.
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