The Gay Science

375

Why we Seem to be Epicureans. We are cautious, we modern men, with regard to final convictions, our distrust lies in wait for the enchantments and tricks of conscience involved in every strong belief, in every absolute Yea and Nay: how is this explained? Perhaps one may see in it a good deal of the caution of the "burnt child," of the disillusioned idealist; but one may also see in it another and better element, the joyful curiosity of a former lingerer in a corner, who has been brought to despair by his nook, and now luxuriates and revels in its antithesis, in the unbounded, in the "open air in itself." Thus there is developed an almost Epicurean inclination for knowledge, which does not readily lose sight of the questionable character of things; likewise also a repugnance to pompous moral phrases and attitudes, a taste that repudiates all coarse, square contrasts, and is proudly conscious of its habitual reserve. For this too constitutes our pride, this easy tightening of the reins in our headlong impulse after certainty, this self-control of the rider in his most furious riding: for now, as of old, we have mad fiery steeds under us, and if we delay, it is certainly least of all the danger which causes us to delay...

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #3759276 years, 8 months ago 

376

Our Slow Periods. It is thus that artists feel, and all men of "works," the maternal species of men: they always believe at every chapter of their life - a work always makes a chapter - that they have now reached the goal itself; they would always patiently accept death with the feeling: "we are ripe for it." This is not the expression of exhaustion, - but rather that of a certain autumnal sunniness and mildness, which the work itself, the maturing of the work, always leaves behind in its originator. Then the tempo of life slows down - turns thick and flows with honey - into long pauses, into the belief in the long pause... 

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #37615076 years, 8 months ago 

377

We Homeless Ones. Among the Europeans of today there are not lacking those who may call themselves homeless ones in a way which is at once a distinction and an honour; it is by them that my secret wisdom and gaya scienza is especially to be laid to heart! For their lot is hard, their hope uncertain; it is a clever feat to devise consolation for them. But what good does it do! We children of the future, how could we be at home in the present? We are unfavourable to all ideals which could make us feel at home in this frail, broken-down, transition period; and as regards the "realities" thereof, we do not believe in their endurance. The ice which still carries has become very thin: the thawing wind blows; we ourselves, the homeless ones, are an agency that breaks the ice, and the other too thin "realities."... We "preserve" nothing, nor would we return to any past age; we are not at all "liberal," we do not labour for "progress," we do not need first to stop our ears to the song of the market-place and the sirens of the future - their song of "equal rights," "free society," "no longer either lords or slaves," does not allure us! We do not by any means think it desirable that the kingdom of righteousness and peace should be established on earth (because under any circumstances it would be the kingdom of the profoundest mediocrity and Chinese-like levelling); we rejoice in all men, who like ourselves love danger, war and adventure, who do not make compromises, nor let themselves be captured, conciliated and stunted; we count ourselves among the conquerors; we ponder over the need of a new order of things, even of a new slavery - for every strengthening and elevation of the type "man" also involves a new form of slavery. Is it not obvious that with all this we must feel ill at ease in an age which claims the honour of being the most humane, gentle and just that the sun has ever seen? What a pity that at the mere mention of these fine words, the thoughts at the bottom of our hearts are all the more unpleasant, that we see therein only the expression - or the masquerade - of profound weakening, exhaustion, age, and declining power! What can it matter to us with what kind of tinsel an invalid decks out his weakness? He may parade it as his virtue; there is no doubt whatever that weakness makes people gentle, alas, so gentle, so just, so inoffensive, so "humane"! - The "religion of pity," to which people would like to persuade us - yes, we know sufficiently well the hysterical little men and women who need this religion at present as a cloak and adornment! We are no humanitarians; we should not dare to speak of our "love of mankind"; for that, a person of our stamp is not enough of an actor! Or not sufficiently Saint–Simonist, not sufficiently French. A person must have been affected with a Gallic excess of erotic susceptibility and amorous impatience even to approach mankind honourably with his lewdness.... Mankind! Was there ever a more hideous old woman among all old women (unless perhaps it were "the Truth": a question for philosophers)? No, we do not love Mankind! On the other hand, however, we are not nearly "German" enough (in the sense in which the word " German " is current at present) to advocate nationalism and race-hatred, or take delight in the national heart-itch and blood-poisoning, on account of which the nations of Europe are at present bounded off and secluded from one another as if by quarantines. We are too unprejudiced for that, too perverse, too fastidious; also too well-informed and too much "travelled." We prefer much rather to live on mountains, apart and "out of season," in past or coming centuries, in order merely to spare ourselves the silent rage to which we know we should be condemned as witnesses of a system of politics which makes the German nation barren by making it vain, and which is a petty system besides: - will it not be necessary for this system to plant itself between two mortal hatreds, lest its own creation should immediately collapse? Will it not be obliged to desire the perpetuation of the petty-state system of Europe? . . . We homeless ones are too diverse and mixed in race and descent for "modern men," and are consequently little tempted to participate in the falsified racial self-admiration and lewdness which at present display themselves in Germany, as signs of German sentiment, and which strike one as doubly false and unbecoming in the people with the "historical sense." We are, in a word - and it shall be our word of honour! - good Europeans, the heirs of Europe, the rich, over-wealthy heirs, but too deeply obligated heirs of millenniums of European thought. As such, we have also outgrown Christianity, and are disinclined to it - and just because we have grown out of it, because our forefathers were Christians uncompromising in their Christian integrity, who willingly sacrificed possessions and positions, blood and country, for the sake of their belief. We do the same. For what, then? For our unbelief? For all sorts of unbelief? Nay, you know better than that, my friends! The hidden Yea in you is stronger than all the Nays and Perhapses, of which you and your age are sick; and when you are obliged to put out to sea, you emigrants, it is once more a faith which urges you thereto!...

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #37730496 years, 8 months ago 

378

"And once more Grow Clear." We, the generous and rich in spirit, who stand at the sides of the streets like open fountains and would hinder no one from drinking from us: we do not know, alas! how to defend ourselves when we should like to do so; we have no means of preventing ourselves being made turbid and dark, - we have no means of preventing the age in which we live casting its "up-to-date rubbish" into us, or of hindering filthy birds throwing their excrement, the boys their trash, and fatigued resting travellers their misery, great and small, into us. But we do as we have always done: we take whatever is cast into us down into our depths - for we are deep, we do not forget - and once more grow clear...

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #3789866 years, 8 months ago 

379

The Fool's Interruption. It is not a misanthrope who has written this book: the hatred of men costs too dear today. To hate as they formerly hated man, in the fashion of Timon, completely, without qualification, with all the heart, from the pure love of hatred - for that purpose one would have to renounce contempt: - and how much refined pleasure, how much patience, how much benevolence even, do we owe to contempt! Moreover we are thereby the "elect of God": refined contempt is our taste and privilege, our art, our virtue perhaps, we, the most modern amongst the moderns!... Hatred, on the contrary, makes equal, it puts men face to face, in hatred there is honour; finally, in hatred there is fear, quite a large amount of fear. We fearless ones, however, we, the most intellectual men of the period, know our advantage well enough to live without fear as the most intellectual persons of this age. People will not easily behead us, shut us up, or banish us; they will not even ban or burn our books. The age loves intellect, it loves us, and needs us, even when we have to give it to understand that we are artists in despising; that all intercourse with men is something of a horror to us; that with all our gentleness, patience, humanity and courteousness, we cannot persuade our nose to abandon its prejudice against the proximity of man; that we love nature the more, the less humanly things are done by her, and that we love art when it is the flight of the artist from man, or the raillery of the artist at man, or the raillery of the artist at himself... 

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #3797736 years, 8 months ago