The Gay Science


"The Wanderer" Speaks. In order for once to get a glimpse of our European morality from a distance, in order to compare it with other earlier or future moralities, one must do as the traveller who wants to know the height of the towers of a city: for that purpose he leaves the city. "Thoughts concerning moral prejudices," if they are not to be prejudices concerning prejudices, presuppose a position outside of morality, some sort of world beyond good and evil, to which one must ascend, climb, or fly - and in the given case at any rate, a position beyond our good and evil, an emancipation from all "Europe," understood as a sum of inviolable valuations which have become part and parcel of our flesh and blood. That one does want to get outside, or aloft, is perhaps a sort of madness, a peculiar, unreasonable "thou must" - for even we thinkers have our idiosyncrasies of "unfree will" - : the question is whether one can really get there. That may depend on manifold conditions: in the main it is a question of how light or how heavy we are, the problem of our "specific gravity." One must be very light in order to impel one’s will to knowledge to such a distance, and as it were beyond one’s age, in order to create eyes for oneself for the survey of millenniums, and a pure heaven in these eyes besides! One must have freed oneself from many things by which we Europeans of today are oppressed, hindered, held down, and made heavy. The man of such a "Beyond," who wants to get even in sight of the highest standards of worth of his age, must first of all "surmount" this age in him self - it is the test of his power - and consequently not only his age, but also his past aversion and opposition to his age, his suffering caused by his age, his unseasonableness, his Romanticism...

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #3807576 years ago 


The Question of Intelligibility. One not only wants to be understood when one writes, but also - quite as certainly - not to be understood. It is by no means an objection to a book when someone finds it unintelligible: perhaps this might just have been the intention of its author, - perhaps he did not want to be understood by "anyone." A distinguished intellect and taste, when it wants to communicate its thoughts, always selects its hearers; by selecting them, it at the same time closes its barriers against "the others." It is there that all the more refined laws of style have their origin: they at the same time keep off, they create distance, they prevent "access" (intelligibility, as we have said,) - while they open the ears of those who are acoustically related to them. And to say it between ourselves and with reference to my own case, - I do not desire that either my ignorance, or the vivacity of my temperament, should prevent me being understood by you, my friends: I certainly do not desire that my vivacity should have that effect, however much it may impel me to arrive quickly at an object, in order to arrive at it at all. For I think it is best to do with profound problems as with a cold bath - quickly in, quickly out. That one does not thereby get into the depths, that one does not get deep enough down is a superstition of the hydrophobic, the enemies of cold water; they speak without experience. Oh! the great cold makes one quick! - And let me ask by the way: Is it a fact that a thing has been misunderstood and unrecognised when it has only been touched upon in passing, glanced at, flashed at? Must one absolutely sit upon it in the first place? Must one have brooded on it as on an egg? Diu noctuque incubando, as Newton said of himself? At least there are truths of a peculiar shyness and ticklishness which one can only get hold of suddenly, and in no other way, - which one must either take by surprise, or leave alone.... Finally, my brevity has still another value: on those questions which preoccupy me, I must say a great deal briefly, in order that it may be heard yet more briefly. For as immoralist, one has to take care lest one ruins innocence, I mean the asses and old maids of both sexes, who get nothing from life but their innocence; moreover my writings are meant to fill them with enthusiasm, to elevate them, to encourage them in virtue. I should be at a loss to know of anything more amusing than to see enthusiastic old asses and maids moved by the sweet feelings of virtue: and "that have I seen"- spake Zara-thustra. So much with respect to brevity; the matter stands worse as regards my ignorance, of which I make no secret to myself. There are hours in which I am ashamed of it; to be sure there are likewise hours in which I am ashamed of this shame. Perhaps we philosophers, all of us, are badly placed at present with regard to knowledge: science is growing, the most learned of us are on the point of discovering that we know too little. But it would be worse still if it were otherwise, - if we knew too much; our duty is and remains first of all, not to get into confusion about ourselves. We are different from the learned; although it cannot be denied that amongst other things we are also learned. We have different needs, a different growth, a different digestion: we need more, we need also less. There is no formula as to how much an intellect needs for its nourishment; if, however, its taste be in the direction of independence, rapid coming and going, travelling, and perhaps adventure for which only the swiftest are qualified, it prefers rather to live free on poor fare, than to be unfree and plethoric. Not fat, but the greatest suppleness and power is what a good dancer wishes from his nourishment, - and I know not what the spirit of a philosopher would like better than to be a good dancer. For the dance is his ideal, and also his art, in the end likewise his sole piety, his "divine service."... 

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #38119576 years ago 


Great Healthiness. We, the new, the nameless, the hard-to-understand, we firstlings of a yet untried future - we require for a new end also a new means, namely, a new healthiness, stronger, sharper, tougher, bolder and merrier than any healthiness hitherto. He whose soul longs to experience the whole range of hitherto recognised values and desirabilities, and to circumnavigate all the coasts of this ideal "Mediterranean Sea," who, from the adventures of his most personal experience, wants to know how it feels to be a conqueror and discoverer of the ideal - as likewise how it is with the artist, the saint, the legislator, the sage, the scholar, the devotee, the prophet, and the godly Nonconformist of the old style: - requires one thing above all for that purpose, great healthiness - such healthiness as one not only possesses, but also constantly acquires and must acquire, because one continually sacrifices it again, and must sacrifice it! - And now, after having been long on the way in this fashion, we Argonauts of the ideal, who are more courageous perhaps than prudent, and often enough shipwrecked and brought to grief, nevertheless, as said above, healthier than people would like to admit, dangerously healthy, always healthy again, - it would seem, as if in recompense for it all, that we have a still undiscovered country before us, the boundaries of which no one has yet seen, a beyond to all countries and corners of the ideal known hitherto, a world so over-rich in the beautiful, the strange, the questionable, the frightful, and the divine, that our curiosity as well as our thirst for possession thereof, have got out of hand - alas! that nothing will now any longer satisfy us! How could we still be content with the man of the present day after such peeps, and with such a craving in our conscience and consciousness? What a pity; but it is unavoidable that we should look on the worthiest aims and hopes of the man of the present day with ill-concealed amusement, and perhaps should no longer look at them. Another ideal runs on before us, a strange, tempting ideal, full of danger, to which we should not like to persuade any one, because we do not so readily acknowledge any one’s right thereto: the ideal of a spirit who plays naively (that is to say involuntarily and from overflowing abundance and power) with everything that has hitherto been called holy, good, inviolable, divine; to whom the loftiest conception which the people have reasonably made their measure of value, would already imply danger, ruin, abasement, or at least relaxation, blindness, or temporary self-forgetfulness; the ideal of a humanly superhuman welfare and benevolence, which may often enough appear inhuman for example, when put by the side of all past seriousness on earth, and in comparison with all past solemnities in bearing, word, tone, look, morality and pursuit, as their truest involuntary parody, but with which, nevertheless, perhaps the great seriousness only commences, the proper interrogation mark is set up, the fate of the soul changes, the hour-hand moves, and tragedy begins... 

Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #38214996 years ago 


Epilogue. But while I slowly, slowly finish the painting of this sombre interrogation-mark, and am still inclined to remind my readers of the virtues of right reading - oh, what forgotten and unknown virtues - it comes to pass that the wickedest, merriest, gnome-like laughter resounds around me: the spirits of my book themselves pounce upon me, pull me by the ears, and call me to order. "We cannot endure it any longer," they shout to me, "away, away with this raven-black music. Is it not clear morning round about us? And green, soft ground and turf, the domain of the dance? Was there ever a better hour in which to be joyful? Who will sing us a song, a morning song, so sunny, so light and so fledged that it will not scare the tantrums, - but will rather invite them to take part in the singing and dancing. And better a simple rustic bagpipe than such weird sounds, such toad-croakings, grave-voices and marmot-pipings, with which you have hitherto regaled us in your wilderness, Mr Anchorite and Musician of the Future! No! Not such tones! But let us strike up something more agreeable and more joyful!" - You would like to have it so, my impatient friends? Well! Who would not willingly accede to your wishes? My bagpipe is waiting, and my voice also - it may sound a little hoarse; take it as it is! don't forget we are in the mountains! But what you will hear is at least new; and if you do not understand it, if you misunderstand the minstrel, what does it matter! That has always been "The Minstrel’s Curse." * So much the more distinctly can you hear his music and melody, so much the better also can you dance to his piping. Would you like to do that?...

* Title of a well-known poem of Uhland.
Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: Book V - Aphorism #3838116 years ago