Ecce Homo

Page 5 of 30

[Pg 25]

May I be allowed to hazard a suggestion concerning one last trait in my character, which in my intercourse with other men has led me into some difficulties? I am gifted with a sense of cleanliness the keenness of which is phenomenal; so much so, that I can ascertain physiologically—that is to say, smell—the proximity, nay, the inmost core, the "entrails" of every human soul.... This sensitiveness of mine is furnished with psychological antenn, wherewith I feel and grasp every secret: the quality of concealed filth lying at the base of many a human character which may be the inevitable outcome of base blood, and which education may have veneered, is revealed to me at the first glance. If my observation has been correct, such people, whom my sense of cleanliness rejects, also become conscious, on their part, of the cautiousness to which my loathing prompts me: and this does not make them any more fragrant.... In keeping with a custom which I have long observed,—pure habits and honesty towards myself are among the first conditions of my existence, I would die in unclean surroundings,—I swim, bathe, and splash about, as it were, incessantly in water, in any kind of perfectly transparent and shining element. That is why my relations with my fellows try my patience to no small extent; my humanity does not consist in the fact that I understand the feelings of my fellows, but that I can endure to understand.... My humanity is a perpetual process of self-mastery. But I need solitude—that is to say, recovery,[Pg 26] return to myself, the breathing of free, crisp, bracing air.... The whole of my Zarathustra is a dithyramb in honour of solitude, or, if I have been understood, in honour of purity. Thank Heaven, it is not in honour of "pure foolery"![3] He who has an eye for colour will call him a diamond. The loathing of mankind, of the rabble, was always my greatest danger.... Would you hearken to the words spoken by Zarathustra concerning deliverance from loathing?

"What forsooth hath come unto me? How did I deliver myself from loathing? Who hath made mine eye younger? How did I soar to the height, where there are no more rabble sitting about the well?

"Did my very loathing forge me wings and the strength to scent fountains afar off? Verily to the loftiest heights did I need to fly, to find once more the spring of joyfulness.

"Oh, I found it, my brethren! Up here, on the loftiest height, the spring of joyfulness gusheth forth for me. And there is a life at the well of which no rabble can drink with you.

"Almost too fiercely dost thou rush, for me, thou spring of joyfulness! And ofttimes dost thou empty the pitcher again in trying to fill it.

"And yet must I learn to draw near thee more humbly. Far too eagerly doth my heart jump to meet thee.

"My heart, whereon my summer burneth, my short, hot, melancholy, over-blessed summer: how my summer heart yearneth for thy coolness!

[Pg 27]

"Farewell, the lingering affliction of my spring! Past is the wickedness of my snowflakes in June! Summer have I become entirely, and summer noontide!

"A summer in the loftiest heights, with cold springs and blessed stillness: oh come, my friends, that the stillness may wax even more blessed!

"For this is our height and our home: too high and steep is our dwelling for all the unclean and their appetites.

"Do but cast your pure eyes into the well of my joyfulness, my friends! How could it thus become muddy! It will laugh back at you with its purity.

"On the tree called Future do we build our nest: eagles shall bring food in their beaks unto us lonely ones!

"Verily not the food whereof the unclean might partake. They would think they ate fire and would burn their mouths!

"Verily, no abodes for the unclean do we here hold in readiness! To their bodies our happiness would seem an ice-cavern, and to their spirits also!

"And like strong winds will we live above them, neighbours to the eagles, companions of the snow, and playmates of the sun: thus do strong winds live.

"And like a wind shall I one day blow amidst them, and take away their soul's breath with my spirit: thus my future willeth it.

"Verily, a strong wind is Zarathustra to all low lands; and this is his counsel to his foes and to all those who spit and spew: 'Beware of spitting against the wind!'"

[1] The right which every Polish deputy, whether a great or an inferior nobleman, possessed of forbidding the passing of any measure by the Diet, was called in Poland the liberum veto (in Polish nie pozwalam), and brought all legislation to a standstill.—TR.

[2] Eugen Dbring is a philosopher and political economist whose general doctrine might be characterised as a sort of abstract Materialism with an optimistic colouring.—TR.

[3] This, of course, is a reference to Wagner's Parsifal. See my note on p. 96 of The Will to Power vol. i.—TR.

[Pg 28]



Why do I know more things than other people? Why, in fact, am I so clever? I have never pondered over questions that are not questions. I have never squandered my strength. Of actual religious difficulties, for instance, I have no experience. I have never known what it is to feel "sinful." In the same way I completely lack any reliable criterion for ascertaining what constitutes a prick of conscience: from all accounts a prick of conscience does not seem to be a very estimable thing.... Once it was done I should hate to leave an action of mine in the lurch; I should prefer completely to omit the evil outcome, the consequences, from the problem concerning the value of an action. In the face of evil consequences one is too ready to lose the proper standpoint from which one's deed ought to be considered. A prick of conscience strikes me as a sort of "evil eye." Something that has failed should be honoured all the more jealously, precisely because it has failed—this is much more in keeping with my morality.—"God," "the immortality of the soul," "salvation," a "beyond"—to all these notions, even as a child, I never paid any attention whatsoever, nor did I waste any time upon them,—maybe I was never naif enough for that?—I am quite unacquainted with atheism as a result, and still less[Pg 29] as an event in my life: in me it is inborn, instinctive. I am too inquisitive, too incredulous, too high spirited, to be satisfied with such a palpably clumsy solution of things. God is a too palpably clumsy solution of things; a solution which shows a lack of delicacy towards us thinkers—at bottom He is really no more than a coarse and rude prohibition of us: ye shall not think!... I am much more interested in another question,—a question upon which the "salvation of humanity" depends to a far greater degree than it does upon any piece of theological curiosity: I refer to nutrition. For ordinary purposes, it may be formulated as follows: "How precisely must thou feed thyself in order to attain to thy maximum of power, or virt in the Renaissance style,—of virtue free from moralic acid?" My experiences in regard to this matter have been as bad as they possibly could be; I am surprised that I set myself this question so late in life, and that it took me so long to draw "rational" conclusions from my experiences. Only the absolute worth-1 lessness of German culture—its "idealism"—can to some extent explain how it was that precisely in this matter I was so backward that my ignorance was almost saintly. This "culture," which from first to last teaches one to lose sight of actual things and to hunt after thoroughly problematic and so-called ideal aims, as, for instance, "classical culture"—as if it were not hopeless from the start to try to unite "classical" and "German" in one concept. It is even a little comical—try and imagine a "classically cultured" citizen of Leipzig!—Indeed, I can say, that up to a very mature age, my food was[Pg 30] entirely bad—expressed morally, it was "impersonal," "selfless," "altruistic," to the glory of cooks and all other fellow-Christians. It was through the cooking in vogue at Leipzig, for instance, together with my first study of Schopenhauer (1865), that I earnestly renounced my "Will to Live." To spoil one's stomach by absorbing insufficient nourishment—this problem seemed to my mind solved with admirable felicity by the above-mentioned cookery. (It is said that in the year 1866 changes were introduced into this department.) But as to German cookery in general—what has it not got on its conscience! Soup before the meal (still called alla tedesca in the Venetian cookery books of the sixteenth century); meat boiled to shreds, vegetables cooked with fat and flour; the degeneration of pastries into paper-weights! And, if you add thereto the absolutely bestial post-prandial drinking habits of the ancients, and not alone of the ancient Germans, you will understand where German intellect took its origin—that is to say, in sadly disordered intestines.... German intellect is indigestion; it can assimilate nothing. But even English diet, which in comparison with German, and indeed with French alimentation, seems to me to constitute a "return to Nature,"—that is to say, to cannibalism,—is profoundly opposed to my own instincts. It seems to me to give the intellect heavy feet, in fact, Englishwomen's feet.... The best cooking is that of Piedmont. Alcoholic drinks do not agree with me; a single glass of wine or beer a day is amply sufficient to turn life into a valley of tears[Pg 31] for me;—in Munich live my antipodes. Although I admit that this knowledge came to me somewhat late, it already formed part of my experience even as a child. As a boy I believed that the drinking of wine and the smoking of tobacco were at first but the vanities of youths, and later merely bad habits. Maybe the poor wine of Naumburg was partly responsible for this poor opinion of wine in general. In order to believe that wine was exhilarating, I should have had to be a Christian—in other words, I should have had to believe in what, to my mind, is an absurdity. Strange to say, whereas small quantities of alcohol, taken with plenty of water, succeed in making me feel out of sorts, large quantities turn me almost into a rollicking tar. Even as a boy I showed my bravado in this respect. To compose a long Latin essay in one night, to revise and recopy it, to aspire with my pen to emulating the exactitude and the terseness of my model, Sallust, and to pour a few very strong grogs over it all—this mode of procedure, while I was a pupil at the venerable old school of Pforta, was not in the least out of keeping with my physiology, nor perhaps with that of Sallust, however much it may have been alien to dignified Pforta. Later on, towards the middle of my life, I grew more and more opposed to alcoholic drinks: I, an opponent of vegetarianism, who have experienced what vegetarianism is,—just as Wagner, who converted me back to meat, experienced it,—cannot with sufficient earnestness advise all more spiritual natures to abstain absolutely from alcohol. Water answers the purpose.... I have a predilection in favour of[Pg 32] those places where in all directions one has opportunities of drinking from running brooks (Nice, Turin, Sils). In vino Veritas: it seems that here once more I am at variance with the rest of the world about the concept "Truth"—with me spirit moves on the face of the waters.... Here are a few more indications as to my morality. A heavy meal is digested more easily than an inadequate one. The first principle of a good digestion is that the stomach should become active as a whole. A man ought, therefore, to know the size of his stomach. For the same reasons all those interminable meals, which I call interrupted sacrificial feasts, and which are to be had at any table d'hte, are strongly to be deprecated. Nothing should be eaten between meals, coffee should be given up—coffee makes one gloomy. Tea is beneficial only in the morning. It should be taken in small quantities, but very strong. It may be very harmful, and indispose you for the whole day, if it be taken the least bit too weak. Everybody has his own standard in this matter, often between the narrowest and most delicate limits. In an enervating climate tea is not a good beverage with which to start the day: an hour before taking it an excellent thing is to drink a cup of thick cocoa, feed from oil. Remain seated as little as possible, put no trust in any thought that is not born in the open, to the accompaniment of free bodily motion—nor in one in which even the muscles do not celebrate a feast. All prejudices take their origin in the intestines. A sedentary life, as I have already said elsewhere, is the real sin against the Holy Spirit.

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