The Twilight of the Idols - The Antichrist

Page 17 of 51


To associate in an amiable fashion with anybody; to keep the house of one's heart open to all, is certainly liberal: but it is nothing else. One can recognise the hearts that are capable of noble hospitality, by their wealth of screened windows and closed shutters: they keep their best rooms empty. Whatever for?—Because they are expecting guests who are somebodies.


We no longer value ourselves sufficiently highly when we communicate our soul's content. Our real experiences are not at all garrulous. They could not communicate themselves even if they wished to. They are at a loss to find words for such confidences. Those things for which we find words, are things wehave already overcome. In all speech there lies an element of contempt. Speech, it would seem, was only invented for average, mediocre and communicable things.—Every spoken word proclaims the speaker vulgarised—(Extract from a moral code for deaf-and-dumb people and other philosophers.)


"This picture is perfectly beautiful!"[4] The dissatisfied and exasperated literary woman with a desert in her heart and in her belly, listening with[Pg 82] agonised curiosity every instant to the imperative which whispers to her from the very depths of her being: aut liberi, aut libri: the literary woman, sufficiently educated to understand the voice of nature, even when nature speaks Latin, and moreover enough of a peacock and a goose to speak even French with herself in secret "Je me verrai, je me lirai, je m'extasierai et je dirai: Possible, que j'aie eu tant d'esprit?" ...


The objective ones speak.—"Nothing comes more easily to us, than to be wise, patient, superior. We are soaked in the oil of indulgence and of sympathy, we are absurdly just we forgive everything. Precisely on that account we should be severe with ourselves; for that very reason we ought from time to time to go in for a little emotion, a little emotional vice. It may seem bitter to us; and between ourselves we may even laugh at the figure which it makes us cut But what does it matter? We have no other kind of self-control left. This is our asceticism, our manner of performing penance." To become personal—the virtues of the "impersonal and objective one."


Extract from a doctor's examination paper.—"What is the task of all higher schooling?"—To make man into a machine. "What are the means employed?"—He must learn how to be bored. "How is this achieved?"—By means of the concept duty. "What example of duty has he before his eyes?"—The philologist: it is he who teaches people[Pg 83] how to swat. "Who is the perfect man?"—The Government official. "Which philosophy furnishes the highest formula for the Government official?"—Kant's philosophy: the Government official as thing-in-itself made judge over the Government official as appearance.


The right to Stupidity.—The worn-out worker, whose breath is slow, whose look is good-natured, and who lets things slide just as they please: this typical figure which in this age of labour (and of "Empire!") is to be met with in all classes of society, has now begun to appropriate even Art, including the book, above all the newspaper,—and how much more so beautiful nature, Italy! This man of the evening, with his "savage instincts lulled," as Faust has it; needs his summer holiday, his sea-baths, his glacier, his Bayreuth. In such ages Art has the right to be purely foolish,—as a sort of vacation for spirit, wit and sentiment. Wagner understood this. Pure foolishness[5] is a pick-me-up....


Yet another problem of diet.—The means with which Julius Csar preserved himself against sickness and headaches: heavy marches, the simplest mode of living, uninterrupted sojourns in the open air, continual hardships,—generally speaking these are the self-preservative and self-defensive measures against the extreme vulnerability of those subtle[Pg 84] machines working at the highest pressure, which are called geniuses.


The Immoralist speaks.—Nothing is more distasteful to true philosophers than man when he begins to wish.... If they see man only at his deeds; if they see this bravest, craftiest and most enduring of animals even inextricably entangled in disaster, how admirable he then appears to them! They even encourage him.... But true philosophers despise the man who wishes, as also the "desirable" man—and all the desiderata and ideals of man in general. If a philosopher could be a nihilist, he would be one; for he finds only nonentity behind all human ideals. Or, not even nonentity, but vileness, absurdity, sickness, cowardice, fatigue and all sorts of dregs from out the quaffed goblets of his life.... How is it that man, who as a reality is so estimable, ceases from deserving respect the moment he begins to desire? Must he pay for being so perfect as a reality? Must he make up for his deeds, for the tension of spirit and will which underlies all his deeds, by an eclipse of his powers in matters of the imagination and in absurdity? Hitherto the history of his desires has been the partie honteuse of mankind: one should take care not to read too deeply in this history. That which justifies man is his reality,—it will justify him to all eternity. How much more valuable is a real man than any other man who is merely the phantom of desires, of dreams of stinks and of lies?—than any kind of ideal man? ... And the ideal man, alone, is what the philosopher cannot abide.

[Pg 85]


The Natural Value of Egoism.—Selfishness has as much value as the physiological value of him who practises it: its worth may be great, or it may be worthless and contemptible. Every individual may be classified according to whether he represents the ascending or the descending line of life. When this is decided, a canon is obtained by means of which the value of his selfishness may be determined. If he represent the ascending line of life, his value is of course extraordinary—and for the sake of the collective life which in him makes one step forward, the concern about his maintenance, about procuring his optimum of conditions may even be extreme. The human unit, the "individual," as the people and the philosopher have always understood him, is certainly an error: he is nothing in himself, no atom, no "link in the chain," no mere heritage from the past,—he represents the whole direct line of mankind up to his own life.... If he represent declining development, decay, chronic degeneration, sickness (—illnesses are on the whole already the outcome of decline, and not the cause thereof), he is of little worth, and the purest equity would have him take away as little as possible from those who are lucky strokes of nature. He is then only a parasite upon them....


The Christian and the Anarchist.—When the anarchist, as the mouthpiece of the decaying strata of society, raises his voice in splendid indignation for "right," "justice," "equal rights," he is only[Pg 86] groaning under the burden of his ignorance, which cannot understand why he actually suffers,—what his poverty consists of—the poverty of life. An instinct of causality is active in him: someone must be responsible for his being so ill at ease. His "splendid indignation" alone relieves him somewhat, it is a pleasure for all poor devils to grumble—it gives them a little intoxicating sensation of power. The very act of complaining, the mere fact that one bewails one's lot, may lend such a charm to life that on that account alone, one is ready to endure it. There is a small dose of revenge in every lamentation. One casts one's afflictions, and, under certain circumstances, even one's baseness, in the teeth of those who are different, as if their condition were an injustice, an iniquitous privilege. "Since I am a blackguard you ought to be one too." It is upon such reasoning that revolutions are based.—To bewail one's lot is always despicable: it is always the outcome of weakness. Whether one ascribes one's afflictions to others or to one's self, it is all the same. The socialist does the former, the Christian, for instance, does the latter. That which is common to both attitudes, or rather that which is equally ignoble in them both, is the fact that somebody must be to blame if one suffers—in short that the sufferer drugs himself with the honey of revenge to allay his anguish. The objects towards which this lust of vengeance, like a lust of pleasure, are directed, are purely accidental causes. In all directions the sufferer finds reasons for cooling his petty passion for revenge. If he is a Christian, I repeat, he finds these reasons in himself. The Christian and the[Pg 87] Anarchist—both are decadents. But even when the Christian condemns, slanders, and sullies the world, he is actuated by precisely the same instinct as that which leads the socialistic workman to curse, calumniate and cast dirt at society. The last "Judgment" itself is still the sweetest solace to revenge—revolution, as the socialistic workman expects it, only thought of as a little more remote.... The notion of a "Beyond," as well—why a Beyond, if it be not a means of splashing mud over a "Here," over this world? ...

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