The Joyful Wisdom

Page 33 of 59


Suum cuique.—However great be my greed of knowledge, I cannot appropriate aught of things but what already belongs to me,—the property of others still remains in the things. How is it possible for a man to be a thief or a robber?


Origin of "Good" and "Bad."—He only will devise an improvement who can feel that "this is not good."


Thoughts and Words.—Even our thoughts we are unable to render completely in words.


Praise in Choice.—The artist chooses his subjects; that is his mode of praising.


Mathematics.—We want to carry the refinement and rigour of mathematics into all the sciences, as far as it is in any way possible, not in the belief that[Pg 205] we shall apprehend things in this way, but in order thereby to assert our human relation to things. Mathematics is only a means to general and ultimate human knowledge.


Habits.—All habits make our hand wittier and our wit unhandier.


Books.—Of what account is a book that never carries us away beyond all books?


The Sigh of the Seeker of Knowledge.—"Oh, my covetousness! In this soul there is no disinterestedness—but an all-desiring self, which, by means of many individuals, would fain see as with its own eyes, and grasp as with its own hands—a self bringing back even the entire past, and wanting to lose nothing that could in anyway belong to it! Oh, this flame of my covetousness! Oh, that I were reincarnated in a hundred individuals!"—He who does not know this sigh by experience, does not know the passion of the seeker of knowledge either.


Guilt.—Although the most intelligent judges of the witches, and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchcraft, the guilt, nevertheless, was not there. So it is with all guilt.

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Misunderstood Sufferers.—Great natures suffer otherwise than their worshippers imagine; they suffer most severely from the ignoble, petty emotions of certain evil moments; in short, from doubt of their own greatness;—not however from the sacrifices and martyrdoms which their tasks require of them. As long as Prometheus sympathises with men and sacrifices himself for them, he is happy and proud in himself; but on becoming envious of Zeus and of the homage which mortals pay him—then Prometheus suffers!


Better to be in Debt.—"Better to remain in debt than to pay with money which does not bear our stamp!"—that is what our sovereignty prefers.


Always at Home.—One day we attain our goal—and then refer with pride to the long journeys we have made to reach it. In truth, we did not notice that we travelled. We got into the habit of thinking that we were at home in every place.


Against Embarrassment.—He who is always thoroughly occupied is rid of all embarrassment.


Imitators.—A: "What? You don't want to have imitators?" B: "I don't want people to do[Pg 207] anything after me; I want every one to do something before himself (as a pattern to himself)—just as I do." A: "Consequently—?"


Skinniness.—All profound men have their happiness in imitating the flying-fish at times, and playing on the crests of the waves; they think that what is best of all in things is their surface: their skinniness—sit venia verbo.


From Experience.—A person often does not know how rich he is, until he learns from experience what rich men even play the thief on him.


The Deniers of Chance.—No conqueror believes in chance.


From Paradise.—"Good and Evil are God's prejudices"—said the serpent.


One times One.—One only is always in the wrong, but with two truth begins.—One only cannot prove himself right; but two are already beyond refutation.


Originality.—What is originality? To see something that does not yet bear a name, that cannot yet be named, although it is before everybody's[Pg 208] eyes. As people are usually constituted, it is the name that first makes a thing generally visible to them.—Original persons have also for the most part been the namers of things.


Sub specie terni.—A: "You withdraw faster and faster from the living; they will soon strike you out of their lists!"—B: "It is the only way to participate in the privilege of the dead." A: "In what privilege?"—B: "No longer having to die."


Without Vanity.—When we love we want our defects to remain concealed,—not out of vanity, but lest the person loved should suffer therefrom. Indeed, the lover would like to appear as a God,—and not out of vanity either.


What we Do.—What we do is never understood, but only praised and blamed.


Ultimate Scepticism.—But what after all are man's truths?—They are his irrefutable errors.


Where Cruelty is Necessary.—He who is great is cruel to his second-rate virtues and judgments.

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With a high Aim.—With a high aim a person is superior even to justice, and not only to his deeds and his judges.


What makes Heroic?—To face simultaneously one's greatest suffering and one's highest hope.


What dost thou Believe in?—In this: That the weights of all things must be determined anew.


What Saith thy Conscience?—"Thou shalt become what thou art."


Where are thy Greatest Dangers?—In pity.


What dost thou Love in others?—My hopes.


Whom dost thou call Bad?—Him who always wants to put others to shame.


What dost thou think most humane?—To spare a person shame.


What is the Seal of Attained Liberty?—To be no longer ashamed of oneself.

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Thou who with cleaving fiery lances
The stream of my soul from
its ice dost free,
Till with a rush and a roar it advances
To enter with glorious hoping the sea:
Brighter to see and purer ever,
Free in the bonds of thy sweet constraint,—
So it praises thy wondrous endeavour,
January, thou beauteous saint!

Genoa, January 1882.

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