The Joyful Wisdom

Page 16 of 59

[Pg 104]


On Female Chastity.—There is something quite astonishing and extraordinary in the education of women of the higher class; indeed, there is perhaps nothing more paradoxical. All the world is agreed to educate them with as much ignorance as possible in eroticis, and to inspire their soul with a profound shame of such things, and the extremest impatience and horror at the suggestion of them. It is really here only that all the "honour" of woman is at stake; what would one not forgive them in other respects! But here they are intended to remain ignorant to the very backbone:—they are intended to have neither eyes, ears, words, nor thoughts for this, their "wickedness"; indeed knowledge here is already evil. And then! To be hurled as with an awful thunderbolt into reality and knowledge with marriage—and indeed by him whom they most love and esteem: to have to encounter love and shame in contradiction, yea, to have to feel rapture, abandonment, duty, sympathy, and fright at the unexpected proximity of God and animal, and whatever else besides! all at once!—There, in fact, a psychic entanglement has been effected which is quite unequalled! Even the sympathetic curiosity of the wisest discerner of men does not suffice to divine how this or that woman gets along with the solution of this enigma and the enigma of this solution; what dreadful, far-reaching suspicions must awaken thereby in the poor unhinged soul; and forsooth, how the ultimate philosophy and scepticism of the woman casts anchor at this[Pg 105] point!—Afterwards the same profound silence as before and often even a silence to herself, a shutting of her eyes to herself.—Young wives on that account make great efforts to appear superficial and thoughtless the most ingenious of them simulate a kind of impudence.—Wives easily feel their husbands as a question-mark to their honour, and their children as an apology or atonement,—they require children, and wish for them in quite another spirit than a husband wishes for them.—In short, one cannot be gentle enough towards women!


Mothers.—Animals think differently from men with respect to females; with them the female is regarded as the productive being. There is no paternal love among them, but there is such a thing as love of the children of a beloved, and habituation to them. In the young, the females find gratification for their lust of dominion; the young are a property, an occupation, something quite comprehensible to them, with which they can chatter: all this conjointly is maternal love,—it is to be compared to the love of the artist for his work. Pregnancy has made the females gentler, more expectant, more timid, more submissively inclined; and similarly intellectual pregnancy engenders the character of the contemplative, who are allied to women in character:—they are the masculine mothers.—Among animals the masculine sex is regarded as the beautiful sex.

[Pg 106]


Saintly Cruelty.—A man holding a newly born child in his hands came to a saint. "What should I do with this child," he asked, "it is wretched, deformed, and has not even enough of life to die" "Kill it," cried the saint with a dreadful voice, "kill it, and then hold it in thy arms for three days and three nights to brand it on thy memory:—thus wilt thou never again beget a child when it is not the time for thee to beget."—When the man had heard this he went away disappointed; and many found fault with the saint because he had advised cruelty; for he had advised to kill the child. "But is it not more cruel to let it live?" asked the saint.


The Unsuccessful—Those poor women always fail of success who become agitated and uncertain, and talk too much in presence of him whom they love; for men are most successfully seduced by a certain subtle and phlegmatic tenderness.


The Third Sex.—"A small man is a paradox, but still a man,—but a small woman seems to me to be of another sex in comparison with well-grown ones"—said an old dancing-master. A small woman is never beautiful—said old Aristotle.


The greatest Danger.—Had there not at all times been a larger number of men who regarded the[Pg 107] cultivation of their mind—their "rationality"—as their pride, their obligation, their virtue, and were injured or shamed by all play of fancy and extravagance of thinking—as lovers of "sound common sense":—mankind would long ago have perished! Incipient insanity has hovered, and hovers continually over mankind as its greatest danger: it is precisely the breaking out of inclination in feeling, seeing, and hearing; the enjoyment of the unruliness of the mind; the delight in human unreason. It is not truth and certainty that is the antithesis of the world of the insane, but the universality and all-obligatoriness of a belief, in short, non-voluntariness in forming opinions. And the greatest labour of human beings hitherto has been to agree with one another regarding a number of things, and to impose upon themselves a law of agreement—indifferent whether these things are true or false. This is the discipline of the mind which has preserved mankind;—but the counter-impulses are still so powerful that one can really speak of the future of mankind with little confidence. The ideas of things still continually shift and move, and will perhaps alter more than ever in the future; it is continually the most select spirits themselves who strive against universal obligatoriness—the investigators of truth above all! The accepted belief, as the belief of all the world, continually engenders a disgust and a new longing in the more ingenious minds; and already the slow tempo which it demands for all intellectual processes (the imitation of the tortoise, which is here recognised as the rule)[Pg 108] makes the artists and poets runaways:—it is in these impatient spirits that a downright delight in delirium breaks out, because delirium has such a joyful tempo! Virtuous intellects, therefore, are needed—ah! I want to use the least ambiguous word,—virtuous stupidity is needed, imperturbable conductors of the slow spirits are needed, in order that the faithful of the great collective belief may remain with one another and dance their dance further: it is a necessity of the first importance that here enjoins and demands. We others are the exceptions and the danger,—we eternally need protection—Well, there can actually be something said in favour of the exceptions provided that they never want to become the rule.


The Animal with good Conscience.—It is not unknown to me that there is vulgarity in everything that pleases Southern Europe—whether it be Italian opera (for example, Rossini's and Bellini's), or the Spanish adventure-romance (most readily accessible to us in the French garb of Gil Blas)—but it does not offend me, any more than the vulgarity which one encounters in a walk through Pompeii, or even in the reading of every ancient book: what is the reason of this? Is it because shame is lacking here, and because the vulgar always comes forward just as sure and certain of itself as anything noble, lovely, and passionate in the same kind of music or romance? "The animal has its rights like man, so let it run about freely; and you, my dear fellow-man,[Pg 109] are still this animal, in spite of all!"—that seems to me the moral of the case, and the peculiarity of southern humanity. Bad taste has its rights like good taste, and even a prerogative over the latter when it is the great requisite, the sure satisfaction, and as it were a universal language, an immediately intelligible mask and attitude; the excellent, select taste on the other hand has always something of a seeking, tentative character, not fully certain that it understands,—it is never, and has never been popular! The masque is and remains popular! So let all this masquerade run along in the melodies and cadences, in the leaps and merriment of the rhythm of these operas! Quite the ancient life! What does one understand of it, if one does not understand the delight in the masque, the good conscience of all masquerade! Here is the bath and the refreshment of the ancient spirit:—and perhaps this bath was still more necessary for the rare and sublime natures of the ancient world than for the vulgar.—On the other hand, a vulgar turn in northern works, for example in German music, offends me unutterably. There is shame in it, the artist has lowered himself in his own sight, and could not even avoid blushing: we are ashamed with him, and are so hurt because we surmise that he believed he had to lower himself on our account.

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