The Joyful Wisdom

Page 30 of 59


What we Lack.—We love the grandeur of Nature, and have discovered it; that is because human grandeur is lacking in our minds. It was the reverse with the Greeks: their feeling towards Nature was quite different from ours.


The most Influential Person.—The fact that a person resists the whole spirit of his age, stops it at the door and calls it to account, must exert an influence! It is indifferent whether he wishes to exert an influence; the point is that he can.


Mentiri.—Take care!—he reflects: he will have a lie ready immediately. This is a stage in[Pg 187] the civilisation of whole nations. Consider only what the Romans expressed by mentiri!


An Inconvenient Peculiarity.—To find everything deep is an inconvenient peculiarity: it makes one constantly strain one's eyes, so that in the end one always finds more than one wishes.


Every Virtue has its Time.—The honesty of him who is at present inflexible often causes him remorse; for inflexibility is the virtue of a time different from that in which honesty prevails.


In Intercourse with Virtues.—One can also be undignified and flattering towards a virtue.


To the Admirers of the Age.—The runaway priest and the liberated criminal are continually making grimaces; what they want is a look without a past. But have you ever seen men who know that their looks reflect the future, and who are so courteous to you, the admirers of the "age," that they assume a look without a future?—


Egoism.—Egoism is the perspective law of our sentiment, according to which the near appears large and momentous, while in the distance the magnitude and importance of all things diminish.

[Pg 188]


After a Great Victory.—The best thing in a great victory is that it deprives the conqueror of the fear of defeat. "Why should I not be worsted for once?" he says to himself, "I am now rich enough to stand it."


Those who Seek Repose.—I recognise the minds that seek repose by the many dark objects with which they surround themselves: those who want to sleep darken their chambers, or creep into caverns. A hint to those who do not know what they really seek most, and would like to know!


The Happiness of Renunciation.—He who has absolutely dispensed with something for a long time will almost imagine, when he accidentally meets with it again, that he has discovered it,—and what happiness every discoverer has! Let us be wiser than the serpents that lie too long in the same sunshine.


Always in our own Society.—All that is akin to me in nature and history speaks to me, praises me, urges me forward and comforts me—: other things are unheard by me, or immediately forgotten. We are only in our own society always.


Misanthropy and Philanthropy.—We only speak about being sick of men when we can no longer[Pg 189] digest them, and yet have the stomach full of them. Misanthropy is the result of a far too eager philanthropy and "cannibalism,"—but who ever bade you swallow men like oysters, my Prince Hamlet?


Concerning an Invalid.—"Things go badly with him!"—What is wrong?—" He suffers from the longing to be praised, and finds no sustenance for it."—Inconceivable! All the world does honour to him, and he is reverenced not only in deed but in word!—"Certainly, but he is dull of hearing for the praise. When a friend praises him it sounds to him as if the friend praised himself; when an enemy praises him, it sounds to him as if the enemy wanted to be praised for it; when, finally, some one else praises him—there are by no means so many of these, he is so famous!—he is offended because they neither want him for a friend nor for an enemy; he is accustomed to say: 'What do I care for those who can still pose as the all-righteous towards me!'"


Avowed Enemies.—Bravery in presence of an enemy is a thing by itself: a person may possess it and still be a coward and an irresolute num-skull. That was Napoleon's opinion concerning the "bravest man" he knew, Murat:—whence it follows that avowed enemies are indispensable to some men, if they are to attain to their virtue, to their manliness, to their cheerfulness.

[Pg 190]


With, the Multitude.—He has hitherto gone with the multitude and is its panegyrist; but one day he will be its opponent! For he follows it in the belief that his laziness will find its advantage thereby: he has not yet learned that the multitude is not lazy enough for him! that it always presses forward! that it does not allow any one to stand still!—And he likes so well to stand still!


Fame.—When the gratitude of many to one casts aside all shame, then fame originates.


The Perverter of Taste.—A: "You are a perverter of taste—they say so everywhere!" B: "Certainly! I pervert every one's taste for his party:—no party forgives me for that."


To be Profound and to Appear Profound.—He who knows that he is profound strives for clearness; he who would like to appear profound to the multitude strives for obscurity. The multitude thinks everything profound of which it cannot see the bottom; it is so timid and goes so unwillingly into the water.


Apart.—Parliamentarism, that is to say, the public permission to choose between five main political[Pg 191] opinions, insinuates itself into the favour of the numerous class who would fain appear independent and individual, and like to fight for their opinions. After all, however, it is a matter of indifference whether one opinion is imposed upon the herd, or five opinions are permitted to it.—He who diverges from the five public opinions and goes apart, has always the whole herd against him.


Concerning Eloquence.—What has hitherto had the most convincing eloquence? The rolling of the drum: and as long as kings have this at their command, they will always be the best orators and popular leaders.


Compassion.—The poor, ruling princes! All their rights now change unexpectedly into claims, and all these claims immediately sound like pretensions! And if they but say "we," or "my people," wicked old Europe begins laughing. Verily, a chief-master-of-ceremonies of the modern world would make little ceremony with them; perhaps he would decree that "les souverains rangent aux parvenus."


On "Educational Matters."—In Germany an important educational means is lacking for higher men; namely, the laughter of higher men; these men do not laugh in Germany.

[Pg 192]


For Moral Enlightenment.—The Germans must be talked out of their Mephistopheles—and out of their Faust also. These are two moral prejudices against the value of knowledge.

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