Ecce Homo

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This was said for the benefit of Germans: for everywhere else I have my readers—all of them exceptionally intelligent men, characters that have won their spurs and that have been reared in high offices and superior duties; I have even real geniuses among my readers. In Vienna, in St Petersburg, in Stockholm, in Copenhagen, in Paris, and New York—I have been discovered everywhere: I have not yet been discovered in Europe's flatland—Germany.... And, to make a confession, I rejoice much more heartily over those who do not read me, over those who have neither heard of my name nor of the word philosophy. But whithersoever I go, here in Turin, for instance, every face brightens and softens at the sight of me. A thing that has flattered me more than anything else hitherto, is the fact that old market-women cannot rest until they have picked out the sweetest of their grapes for me. To this extent must a man be a philosopher.... It is not in vain that the Poles are considered as the French among the Slavs. A charming Russian lady will not be mistaken for a single moment concerning my origin. I am not successful at being pompous, the most I can do is to appear embarrassed.... I can think in German, I can feel in German—I can do most things; but this is beyond my powers.... My old master Ritschl[Pg 60] went so far as to declare that I planned even my philological treatises after the manner of a Parisian novelist—that I made them absurdly thrilling. In Paris itself people are surprised at "toutes mes audaces et finesses";—the words are Monsieur Taine's;—I fear that even in the highest forms of the dithyramb, that salt will be found pervading my work which never becomes insipid, which never becomes "German"—and that is, wit.... I can do nought else. God help me! Amen.—We all know, some of us even from experience, what a "long-ears" is. Well then, I venture to assert that I have the smallest ears that have ever been seen. This fact is not without interest to women—it seems to me they feel that I understand them better!... I am essentially the anti-ass, and on this account alone a monster in the world's history—in Greek, and not only in Greek, I am the Antichrist.


I am to a great extent aware of my privileges as a writer: in one or two cases it has even been brought home to me how very much the habitual > reading of my works "spoils" a man's taste. Other books simply cannot be endured after mine, and least of all philosophical ones. It is an incomparable distinction to cross the threshold of this noble and subtle world—in order to do so one must certainly not be a German; it is, in short, a distinction which one must have deserved. He, however, who is related to me through loftiness of will, experiences genuine raptures of understanding in[Pg 61] my books: for I swoop down from heights into which no bird has ever soared; I know abysses into which no foot has ever slipped. People have told me that it is impossible to lay down a book of mine—that I disturb even the night's rest.... There is no prouder or at the same time more subtle kind of books: they sometimes attain to the highest pinnacle of earthly endeavour, cynicism; to capture their thoughts a man must have the tenderest fingers as well as the most intrepid fists. Any kind of spiritual decrepitude utterly excludes all intercourse with them—even any kind of dyspepsia: a man must have no nerves, but he must have a cheerful belly. Not only the poverty of a man's soul and its stuffy air excludes all intercourse with them, but also, and to a much greater degree, cowardice, uncleanliness, and secret intestinal revengefulness; a word from my lips suffices to make the colour of all evil instincts rush into a face. Among my acquaintances I have a number of experimental subjects, in whom I see depicted all the different, and instructively different, reactions which follow upon a perusal of my works. Those who will have nothing to do with the contents of my books, as for instance my so-called friends, assume an "impersonal" tone concerning them: they wish me luck, and congratulate me for having produced another work; they also declare that my writings show progress, because they exhale a more cheerful spirit.... The thoroughly vicious people, the "beautiful souls," the false from top to toe, do not know in the least what to do with my books—consequently, with the beautiful consistency of all[Pg 62] beautiful souls, they regard my work as beneath them. The cattle among my acquaintances, the mere Germans, leave me to understand, if you please, that they are not always of my opinion, though here and there they agree with me.... I have heard this said even about Zarathustra. "Feminism," whether in mankind or in man, is likewise a barrier to my writings; with it, no one could ever enter into this labyrinth of fearless knowledge. To this end, a man must never have spared himself, he must have been hard in his habits, in order to be good-humoured and merry among a host of inexorable truths. When I try to picture the character of a perfect reader, I always imagine a monster of courage and curiosity, as well as of suppleness, cunning, and prudence—in short, a born adventurer and explorer. After all, I could not describe better than Zarathustra has done unto whom I really address myself: unto whom alone would he reveal his riddle?

"Unto you, daring explorers and experimenters, and unto all who have ever embarked beneath cunning sails upon terrible seas;

"Unto you who revel in riddles and in twilight, whose souls are lured by flutes unto every treacherous abyss:

"For ye care not to grope your way along a thread with craven fingers; and where ye are able to guess, ye hate to argue?"


I will now pass just one or two general remarks about my art of style. To communicate a state[Pg 63] an inner tension of pathos by means of signs, including the tempo of these signs,—that is the meaning of every style; and in view of the fact that the multiplicity of inner states in me is enormous, I am capable of many kinds of style—in short, the most multifarious art of style that any man has ever had at his disposal. Any style is good which genuinely communicates an inner condition, which does not blunder over the signs, over the tempo of the signs, or over moods—all the laws of phrasing are the outcome of representing moods artistically. Good style, in itself, is a piece of sheer foolery, mere idealism, like "beauty in itself," for instance, or "goodness in itself," or "the thing-in-itself." All this takes for granted, of course, that there exist ears that can hear, and such men as are capable and worthy of a like pathos, that those are not wanting unto whom one may communicate one's self. Meanwhile my Zarathustra, for instance, is still in quest of such people—alas! he will have to seek a long while yet! A man must be worthy of listening to him.... And, until that time, there will be no one who will understand the art that has been squandered in this book. No one has ever existed who has had more novel, more strange, and purposely created art forms to fling to the winds. The fact that such things were possible in the German language still awaited proof; formerly, I myself would have denied most emphatically that it was possible. Before my time people did not know what could be done with the German language—what could be done with language in general. The art of grand rhythm, of grand[Pg 64] style in periods, for expressing the tremendous fluctuations of sublime and superhuman passion, was first discovered by me: with the dithyramb entitled "The Seven Seals," which constitutes the last discourse of the third part of Zarathustra, I soared miles above all that which heretofore has been called poetry.

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