The Joyful Wisdom

Page 53 of 59


The Anchorite Speaks.—The art of associating with men rests essentially on one's skilfulness (which presupposes long exercise) in accepting a repast, in taking a repast, in the cuisine of which one has no confidence. Provided one comes to the table with the hunger of a wolf everything is easy "the worst society gives thee experience"— Mephistopheles says; but one has not always this wolf's-hunger when one needs it! Alas! how difficult are our fellow-men to digest! First principle: to stake one's courage as in a misfortune, to seize boldly, to admire oneself at the same time, to take one's repugnance between one's teeth, to cram down one's disgust. Second principle: to "improve" one's fellow-man, by praise for example, so that he may begin to sweat out his self-complacency; or to seize a tuft of his good or "interesting" qualities, and pull at it till one gets his whole virtue out, and can[Pg 324] put him under the folds of it. Third principle: self-hypnotism. To fix one's eye on the object of one's intercourse as on a glass knob, until, ceasing to feel pleasure or pain thereat, one falls asleep unobserved, becomes rigid, and acquires a fixed pose: a household recipe used in married life and in friendship, well tested and prized as indispensable, but not yet scientifically formulated. Its proper name is—patience.—


The Anchorite Speaks once more.—We also have intercourse with "men," we also modestly put on the clothes in which people know us (as such,) respect us and seek us; and we thereby mingle in society, that is to say, among the disguised who do not wish to be so called; we also do like a prudent masqueraders, and courteously dismiss all curiosity which has not reference merely to our "clothes" There are however other modes and artifices for "going about" among men and associating with them: for example, as a ghost,-which is very advisable when one wants to scare them, and get rid of them easily. An example: a person grasps at us, and is unable to seize us. That frightens him. Or we enter by a closed door. Or when the lights are extinguished. Or after we are dead The latter is the artifice of posthumous men par excellence. ("What?" said such a one once impatiently, "do you think we should delight in enduring this strangeness, coldness, death-stillness about us, all this subterranean, hidden, dim, undiscovered solitude, which is called life with us, and[Pg 325] might just as well be called death, if we were not conscious of what will arise out of us,—and that only after our death shall we attain to our life and become living, ah! very living! we posthumous men!"—)


At the Sight of a Learned Book.—We do not belong to those who only get their thoughts from books, or at the prompting of books,—it is our custom to think in the open air, walking, leaping, climbing, or dancing on lonesome mountains by preference, or close to the sea, where even the paths become thoughtful. Our first question concerning the value of a book, a man, or a piece of music is: Can it walk? or still better: Can it dance?... We seldom read; we do not read the worse for that—oh, how quickly we divine how a person has arrived at his thoughts:—if it is by sitting before an ink-bottle with compressed belly and head bent over the paper: oh, how quickly we are then done with his book! The constipated bowels betray themselves, one may wager on it, just as the atmosphere of the room, the ceiling of the room, the smallness of the room, betray themselves.—These were my feelings when closing a straightforward, learned book, thankful, very thankful, but also relieved.... In the book of a learned man there is almost always something oppressive and oppressed: the "specialist" comes to light somewhere, his ardour, his seriousness, his wrath, his over-estimation of the nook in which he sits and spins, his hump—every specialist has his hump. A learned book also always mirrors a distorted soul: every trade[Pg 326] distorts. Look at our friends again with whom we have spent our youth, after they have taken possession of their science: alas! how the reverse has always taken place! Alas! how they themselves are now for ever occupied and possessed by their science! Grown into their nook, crumpled into unrecognisability, constrained, deprived of their equilibrium, emaciated and angular everywhere, perfectly round only in one place,—we are moved and silent when we find them so. Every handicraft, granting even that it has a golden floor,[3] has also a leaden ceiling above it, which presses and presses on the soul, till it is pressed into a strange and distorted shape. There is nothing to alter here. We need not think that it is at all possible to obviate this disfigurement by any educational artifice whatever. Every kind of perfection is purchased at a high price on earth, where everything is perhaps purchased too dear; one is an expert in one's department at the price of being also a victim of one's department. But you want to have it otherwise—"more reasonable," above all more convenient—is it not so, my dear contemporaries? Very well! But then you will also immediately get something different: instead of the craftsman and expert, you will get the literary man, the versatile, "many-sided "littrateur, who to be sure lacks the hump—not taking account of the hump or bow which he makes before you as the shopman of the intellect and the "porter" of culture—, the littrateur, who is really nothing, but "represents"[Pg 327] almost everything: he plays and "represents" the expert, he also takes it upon himself in all modesty to see that he is paid, honoured and celebrated in this position.—No, my learned friends! I bless you even on account of your humps! And also because like me you despise the littrateurs and parasites of culture! And because you do not know how to make merchandise of your intellect! And have so many opinions which cannot be expressed in money value! And because you do not represent anything which you are not! Because your sole desire is to become masters of your craft; because you reverence every kind of mastership and ability, and repudiate with the most relentless scorn everything of a make-believe, half-genuine, dressed-up, virtuoso, demagogic, histrionic nature in litteris et artibus—all that which does not convince you by its absolute genuineness of discipline and preparatory training, or cannot stand your test! (Even genius does not help a person to get over such a defect, however well it may be able to deceive with regard to it: one understands this if one has once looked closely at our most gifted painters and musicians,—who almost without exception, can artificially and supplementarily appropriate to themselves (by means of artful inventions of style, make-shifts, and even principles), the appearance of that genuineness, that solidity of training and culture; to be sure, without thereby deceiving themselves, without thereby imposing perpetual silence on their bad consciences. For you know of course that all great modern artists suffer from bad consciences?...)

[3] An allusion to the German Proverb, "Handwerk hat einen goldenen Boden."—TR.

[Pg 328]


How one has to Distinguish first of all in Works of Art—Everything that is thought, versified, painted and composed, yea, even built and moulded, belongs either to monologic art, or to art before witnesses. Under the latter there is also to be included the apparently monologic art which involves the belief in God, the whole lyric of prayer; because for a pious man there is no solitude,—we, the godless, have been the first to devise this invention. I know of no profounder distinction in all the perspective of the artist than this: Whether he looks at his growing work of art (at "himself—") with the eye of the witness; or whether he "has forgotten the world," as is the essential thing in all monologic art,—it rests on forgetting, it is the music of forgetting.

Free Learning Resources