The Gay Science


The Anchorite Speaks once more. We also have intercourse with "men," we also modestly put on the clothes in which people know us (as such) respect us and seek us; and we thereby mingle in society, that is to say, among the disguised who do not wish to be so called; we also do like all prudent masqueraders, and courteously dismiss all curiosity which has not reference merely to our "clothes." There are however other modes and artifices for "going about" among men and associating with them: for example, as a ghost, - which is very advisable when one wants to scare them, and get rid of them easily. An example: a person grasps at us, and is unable to seize us. That frightens him. Or we enter by a closed door, when the lights are extinguished. Or after we are dead. The latter is the artifice of posthumous men par excellence. ("What ?" said such a one once impatiently "do you think we should delight in enduring this strangeness, coldness, death-stillness about us, all this subterranean, hidden, dim, undiscovered solitude, which is called life with us, and might just as well be called death, if we were not conscious of what will arise out of us, - and that only after our death shall we attain to our life and become living, ah! very living! we posthumous men!")

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #36514213 years, 4 months ago 


At the Sight of a Learned Book. We do not belong to those who only get their thoughts from books, or at the prompting of books, - it is our custom to think in the open air, walking, leaping, climbing, or dancing on lonesome mountains by preference, or close to the sea, where even the paths become thoughtful. Our first question concerning the value of a book, a man, or a piece of music is: Can it walk? or still better: Can it dance?... We seldom read; we do not read the worse for that - oh, how quickly we divine how a person has arrived at his thoughts: - if it is by sitting before an ink-bottle with compressed belly and head bent over the paper: oh, how quickly we are then done with his book! The constipated bowels betray themselves, one may wager on it, just as the atmosphere of the room, the ceiling of the room, the smallness of the room, betray themselves. - These were my feelings when closing a straightforward, learned book, thankful, very thankful, but also relieved.... In the book of a learned man there is almost always something oppressive and oppressed: the "specialist" comes to light somewhere, his ardour, his seriousness, his wrath, his over-estimation of the nook in which he sits and spins, his hump - every specialist has his hump. A learned book also always mirrors a distorted soul: every trade distorts. Look at our friends again with whom we have spent our youth, after they have taken possession of their science: alas! how the reverse has always taken place! Alas! how they themselves are now for ever occupied and possessed by their science! Grown into their nook, crumpled into unrecognisability, constrained, deprived of their equilibrium, emaciated and angular everywhere, perfectly round only in one place, - we are moved and silent when we find them so. Every handicraft, granting even that it has a golden floor,* has also a leaden ceiling above it, which presses and presses on the soul, till it is pressed into a strange and distorted shape. There is nothing to alter here. We need not think that it is at all possible to obviate this disfigurement by any educational artifice whatever. Every kind of perfection is purchased at a high price on earth, where everything is perhaps purchased too dear; one is an expert in one’s department at the price of being also a victim of one’s department. But you want to have it otherwise - "more reasonable," above all more convenient - is it not so, my dear contemporaries? Very well ! But then you will also immediately get something different: instead of the craftsman and expert, you will get the literary man, the versatile, "many-sided" litterateur, who to be sure lacks the hump - not taking account of the hump or bow which he makes before you as the shopman of the intellect and the "porter" of culture, - the litterateur, who is really nothing, but "represents" almost everything: he plays and "represents" the expert, he also takes it upon himself in all modesty to see that he is paid, honoured and celebrated in this position. - No, my learned friends! I bless you even on account of your humps! And also because like me you despise the litterateurs and parasites of culture! And because you do not know how to make merchandise of your intellect! And have so many opinions which cannot be expressed in money value! And because you do not represent anything which you are not! Because your sole desire is to become masters of your craft; because you reverence every kind of mastership and ability, and repudiate with the most relentless scorn everything of a make-believe, half-genuine, dressed-up, virtuoso, demagogic, histrionic nature in litteris et artibus - all that which does not convince you by its absolute genuineness of discipline and preparatory training, or cannot stand your test! (Even genius does not help a person to get over such a defect, however well it may be able to deceive with regard to it: one understands this if one has once looked closely at our most gifted painters and musicians, - who almost without exception, can artificially and supplementarily appropriate to themselves (by means of artful inventions of style, make-shifts, and even principles), the appearance of that genuineness, that solidity of training and culture; to be sure, without thereby deceiving themselves, without thereby imposing perpetual silence on their bad consciences. For you know of course that all great modern artists suffer from bad consciences?...)

* An allusion to the German Proverb, "Handwerk hat einen goldenen Boden."
Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #36618513 years, 4 months ago 


How one has to Distinguish first of all in Works of Art. Everything that is thought, versified, painted and composed, yea, even built and moulded, belongs either to monologic art, or to art before witnesses. Under the latter there is also to be included the apparently monologic art which involves the belief in God, the whole lyric of prayer; because for a pious man there is no solitude, - we, the godless, have been the first to devise this invention. I know of no profounder distinction in all the perspective of the artist than this: Whether he looks at his growing work of art (at "himself") with the eye of the witness; or whether he "has forgotten the world," as is the essential thing in all monologic art, - it rests on forgetting, it is the music of forgetting.

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #36717213 years, 4 months ago 


The Cynic Speaks. My objections to Wagner’s music are physiological objections. Why should I therefore begin by disguising them under aesthetic formulae? My "point" is that I can no longer breathe freely when this music begins to operate on me; my foot immediately becomes indignant at it and rebels: for what it needs is time, dance and march; it demands first of all from music the ecstasies which are in good walking, striding, leaping and dancing. But do not my stomach, my heart, my blood and my bowels also protest? Do I not become hoarse unawares under its influence? And then I ask myself what my body really wants from music generally. I believe it wants to have relief: so that all animal functions should be accelerated by means of light, bold, unfettered, self-assured rhythms; so that brazen, leaden life should be gilded by means of golden, good, tender harmonies. My melancholy would fain rest its head in the hiding-places and abysses of perfection: for this reason I need music. What do I care for the drama! What do I care for the spasms of its moral ecstasies, in which the "people" have their satisfaction! What do I care for the whole pantomimic hocus-pocus of the actor!... It will now be divined that I am essentially anti-theatrical at heart, - but Wagner on the contrary, was essentially a man of the stage and an actor, the most enthusiastic mummer-worshipper that has ever existed, even among musicians !... And let it be said in passing that if Wagner’s theory was that "drama is the object, and music is only the means to it," - his practice on the contrary from beginning to end has been to the effect that "attitude is the object, drama and even music can never be anything else but means to this." Music as a means of elucidating, strengthening and intensifying dramatic poses and the actor’s appeal to the senses, and Wagnerian drama only an opportunity for a number of dramatic attitudes! Wagner possessed, along with all other instincts, the dictatorial instinct of a great actor in all and everything, and as has been said, also as a musician. - I once made this clear with some trouble to a thorough going Wagnerian, and I had reasons for adding: -  "Do be a little more honest with yourself: we are not now in the theatre. In the theatre we are only honest in the mass; as individuals we lie, we belie even ourselves. We leave ourselves at home when we go to the theatre; we there renounce the right to our own tongue and choice, to our taste, and even to our courage as we possess it and practise it within our own four walls in relation to God and man. No one takes his finest taste in art into the theatre with him, not even the artist who works for the theatre: there one is people, public, herd, woman, Pharisee, voting animal, democrat, neighbour, and fellow-creature; there even the most personal conscience succumbs to the levelling charm of the great multitude; there stupidity operates as wantonness and contagion; there the neighbour rules, there one becomes a neighbour...." (I have forgotten to mention what my enlightened Wagnerian answered to my physiological objections: "So the fact is that you are really not healthy enough for our music?" )

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #36821913 years, 4 months ago 


Juxtapositions in us. Must we not acknowledge to ourselves, we artists, that there is a strange discrepancy in us; that on the one hand our taste, and on the other hand our creative power, keep apart in an extraordinary manner, continue apart, and have a separate growth; - I mean to say that they have entirely different gradations and tempi of age, youth, maturity, mellowness and rottenness? So that, for example, a musician could all his life create things which contradicted all that his ear and heart, spoilt for listening, prized, relished and preferred: - he would not even require to be aware of the contradiction! As an almost painfully regular experience shows, a person’s taste can easily outgrow the taste of his power, even without the latter being thereby paralysed or checked in its productivity. The reverse, however, can also to some extent take place, - and it is to this especially that I should like to direct the attention of artists. A constant producer, a man who is a "mother" in the grand sense of the term, one who no longer knows or hears of anything except pregnancies and childbeds of his spirit, who has no time at all to reflect and make comparisons with regard to himself and his work, who is also no longer inclined to exercise his taste, but simply forgets it, letting it take its chance of standing, lying or falling, - perhaps such a man at last produces works on which he is then quite unfit to pass a judgment: so that he speaks and thinks foolishly about them and about himself. This seems to me almost the normal condition with fruitful artists, - nobody knows a child worse than its parents - and the rule applies even (to take an immense example) to the entire Greek world of poetry and art, which was never "conscious" of what it had done...

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #36920313 years, 4 months ago