The Gay Science


Out of the Distance. This mountain makes the whole district which it dominates charming in every way, and full of significance. After we have said this to ourselves for the hundredth time, we are so irrationally and so gratefully disposed towards it, as the giver of this charm, that we fancy it must itself be the most charming thing in the district and so we climb it, and are undeceived. All of a sudden, both it and the landscape around us and under us, are as it were disenchanted; we had forgotten that many a greatness, like many a goodness, wants only to be seen at a certain distance, and entirely from below, not from above, it is thus only that it operates. Perhaps you know men in your neighbourhood who can only look at themselves from a certain distance to find themselves at all endurable, or attractive and enlivening; they are to be dissuaded from self-knowledge.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #15137312 years, 3 months ago 


Across the Plank. One must be able to dissimulate in intercourse with persons who are ashamed of their feelings; they take a sudden aversion to anyone who surprises them in a state of tenderness, or of enthusiastic and high-running feeling, as if he had seen their secrets. If one wants to be kind to them in such moments one should make them laugh, or say some kind of cold, playful wickedness: - their feeling thereby congeals, and they are again self-possessed. But I give the moral before the story. We were once on a time so near one another in the course of our lives, that nothing more seemed to hinder our friendship and fraternity, and there was merely a small plank between us. While you were just about to step on it, I asked you: "Do you want to come across the plank to me?" But then you did not want to come any longer; and when I again entreated, you were silent. Since then mountains and torrents, and whatever separates and alienates, have interposed between us, and even if we wanted to come to one another, we could no longer do so! When, however, you now remember that small plank, you have no longer words, but merely sobs and amazement.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #16146212 years, 3 months ago 


Motivation of Poverty. We cannot, to be sure, by any artifice make a rich and richly-flowing virtue out of a poor one, but we can gracefully enough reinterpret its poverty into necessity, so that its aspect no longer gives pain to us, and we cease making reproachful faces at fate on account of it. It is thus that the wise gardener does who puts the tiny streamlet of his garden into the arms of a fountain-nymph, and thus motivates the poverty: - and who would not like him need the nymphs!

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #1795512 years, 3 months ago 


Ancient Pride. The ancient savour of nobility is lacking in us, because the ancient slave is lacking in our sentiment. A Greek of noble descent found such immense intermediate stages, and such a distance betwixt his elevation and that ultimate baseness, that he could hardly even see the slave plainly: even Plato no longer saw him entirely. It is otherwise with us, accustomed as we are to the doctrine of the equality of men, although not to the equality itself. A being who has not the free disposal of himself and has not got leisure, - that is not regarded by us as anything contemptible; there is perhaps too much of this kind of slavishness in each of us, in accordance with the conditions of our social order and activity, which are fundamentally different from those of the ancients. - The Greek philosopher went through life with the secret feeling that there were many more slaves than people supposed - that is to say, that every one was a slave who was not a philosopher. His pride was puffed up when he considered that even the mightiest of the earth were thus to be looked upon as slaves. This pride is also unfamiliar to us, and impossible; the word "slave" has not its full force for us even in simile*.

*in simile: as a metaphor
Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #18112312 years, 3 months ago 


Evil. Test the life of the best and most productive men and nations, and ask yourselves whether a tree which is to grow proudly heavenward can dispense with bad weather and tempests: whether disfavour and opposition from without, whether every kind of hatred, jealousy, stubbornness, distrust, severity, greed, and violence do not belong to the favouring circumstances without which a great growth even in virtue is hardly possible? The poison by which the weaker nature is destroyed is strengthening to the strong individual - and he does not call it poison.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book I - Aphorism #19121612 years, 3 months ago