I have had some opportunities of studying the conditions under which Nietzsche is read in Germany, France, and England, and I have found that, in each of these countries, students of his philosophy, as if actuated by precisely similar motives and desires, and misled by the same mistaken tactics on the part of most publishers, all proceed in the same happy-go– lucky style when “taking him up.” They have had it said to them that he wrote without any system, and they very naturally conclude that it does not matter in the least whether they begin with his first, third, or last book, provided they can obtain a few vague ideas as to what his leading and most sensational principles were.
Now, it is clear that the book with the most mysterious, startling, or suggestive title, will always stand the best chance of being purchased by those who have no other criteria to guide them in their choice than the aspect of a title-page; and this explains why “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is almost always the first and often the only one of Nietzsche’s books that falls into the hands of the uninitiated.
The title suggests all kinds of mysteries; a glance at the chapter-headings quickly confirms the suspicions already aroused, and the sub-title: “A Book for All and None”, generally succeeds in dissipating the last doubts the prospective purchaser may entertain concerning his fitness for the book or its fitness for him. And what happens?
“Thus Spake Zarathustra” is taken home; the reader, who perchance may know no more concerning Nietzsche than a magazine article has told him, tries to read it and, understanding less than half he reads, probably never gets further than the second or third part — and then only to feel convinced that Nietzsche himself was “rather hazy” as to what he was talking about. Such chapters as “The Child with the Mirror”, “In the Happy Isles”, “The Grave–Song,” “Immaculate Perception,” “The Stillest Hour”, “The Seven Seals”, and many others, are almost utterly devoid of meaning to all those who do not know something of Nietzsche’s life, his aims and his friendships.
As a matter of fact, “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, though it is unquestionably Nietzsche’s opus magnum, is by no means the first of Nietzsche’s works that the beginner ought to undertake to read. The author himself refers to it as the deepest work ever offered to the German public, and elsewhere speaks of his other writings as being necessary for the understanding of it. But when it is remembered that in Zarathustra we not only have the history of his most intimate experiences, friendships, feuds, disappointments, triumphs and the like, but that the very form in which they are narrated is one which tends rather to obscure than to throw light upon them, the difficulties which meet the reader who starts quite unprepared will be seen to be really formidable.
Zarathustra, then — this shadowy, allegorical personality, speaking in allegories and parables, and at times not even refraining from relating his own dreams — is a figure we can understand but very imperfectly if we have no knowledge of his creator and counterpart, Friedrich Nietzsche; and it were therefore well, previous to our study of the more abstruse parts of this book, if we were to turn to some authoritative book on Nietzsche’s life and works and to read all that is there said on the subject. Those who can read German will find an excellent guide, in this respect, in Frau Foerster–Nietzsche’s exhaustive and highly interesting biography of her brother: “Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsche’s” (published by Naumann); while the works of Deussen, Raoul Richter, and Baroness Isabelle von Unger– Sternberg, will be found to throw useful and necessary light upon many questions which it would be difficult for a sister to touch upon.
In regard to the actual philosophical views expounded in this work, there is an excellent way of clearing up any difficulties they may present, and that is by an appeal to Nietzsche’s other works. Again and again, of course, he will be found to express himself so clearly that all reference to his other writings may be dispensed with; but where this is not the case, the advice he himself gives is after all the best to be followed here, viz.:— to regard such works as: “Joyful Science”, “Beyond Good and Evil”, “The Genealogy of Morals”, “The Twilight of the Idols”, “The Antichrist”, “The Will to Power”, etc., etc., as the necessary preparation for “Thus Spake Zarathustra”.
These directions, though they are by no means simple to carry out, seem at least to possess the quality of definiteness and straightforwardness. “Follow them and all will be clear,” I seem to imply. But I regret to say that this is not really the case. For my experience tells me that even after the above directions have been followed with the greatest possible zeal, the student will still halt in perplexity before certain passages in the book before us, and wonder what they mean. Now, it is with the view of giving a little additional help to all those who find themselves in this position that I proceed to put forth my own personal interpretation of the more abstruse passages in this work.
In offering this little commentary to the Nietzsche student, I should like it to be understood that I make no claim as to its infallibility or indispensability. It represents but an attempt on my part — a very feeble one perhaps — to give the reader what little help I can in surmounting difficulties which a long study of Nietzsche’s life and works has enabled me, partially I hope, to overcome.
. . .
Perhaps it would be as well to start out with a broad and rapid sketch of Nietzsche as a writer on Morals, Evolution, and Sociology, so that the reader may be prepared to pick out for himself, so to speak, all passages in this work bearing in any way upon Nietzsche’s views in those three important branches of knowledge.
(A.) Nietzsche and Morality.
In morality, Nietzsche starts out by adopting the position of the relativist. He says there are no absolute values “good” and “evil”; these are mere means adopted by all in order to acquire power to maintain their place in the world, or to become supreme. It is the lion’s good to devour an antelope. It is the dead-leaf butterfly’s good to tell a foe a falsehood. For when the dead-leaf butterfly is in danger, it clings to the side of a twig, and what it says to its foe is practically this: “I am not a butterfly, I am a dead leaf, and can be of no use to thee.” This is a lie which is good to the butterfly, for it preserves it. In nature every species of organic being instinctively adopts and practises those acts which most conduce to the prevalence or supremacy of its kind. Once the most favourable order of conduct is found, proved efficient and established, it becomes the ruling morality of the species that adopts it and bears them along to victory. All species must not and cannot value alike, for what is the lion’s good is the antelope’s evil and vice versa.
Concepts of good and evil are therefore, in their origin, merely a means to an end, they are expedients for acquiring power.
Applying this principle to mankind, Nietzsche attacked Christian moral values. He declared them to be, like all other morals, merely an expedient for protecting a certain type of man. In the case of Christianity this type was, according to Nietzsche, a low one.
Conflicting moral codes have been no more than the conflicting weapons of different classes of men; for in mankind there is a continual war between the powerful, the noble, the strong, and the well-constituted on the one side, and the impotent, the mean, the weak, and the ill-constituted on the other. The war is a war of moral principles. The morality of the powerful class, Nietzsche calls NOBLE– or MASTER–MORALITY; that of the weak and subordinate class he calls SLAVE–MORALITY. In the first morality it is the eagle which, looking down upon a browsing lamb, contends that “eating lamb is good.” In the second, the slave-morality, it is the lamb which, looking up from the sward, bleats dissentingly: “Eating lamb is evil.”
(B.) The Master– and Slave–Morality Compared.
The first morality is active, creative, Dionysian. The second is passive, defensive — to it belongs the “struggle for existence.”
Where attempts have not been made to reconcile the two moralities, they may be described as follows:— All is GOOD in the noble morality which proceeds from strength, power, health, well-constitutedness, happiness, and awfulness; for, the motive force behind the people practising it is “the struggle for power.” The antithesis “good and bad” to this first class means the same as “noble” and “despicable.” “Bad” in the master-morality must be applied to the coward, to all acts that spring from weakness, to the man with “an eye to the main chance,” who would forsake everything in order to live.
With the second, the slave-morality, the case is different. There, inasmuch as the community is an oppressed, suffering, unemancipated, and weary one, all THAT will be held to be good which alleviates the state of suffering. Pity, the obliging hand, the warm heart, patience, industry, and humility — these are unquestionably the qualities we shall here find flooded with the light of approval and admiration; because they are the most USEFUL qualities —; they make life endurable, they are of assistance in the “struggle for existence” which is the motive force behind the people practising this morality. To this class, all that is AWFUL is bad, in fact it is THE evil par excellence. Strength, health, superabundance of animal spirits and power, are regarded with hate, suspicion, and fear by the subordinate class.
Now Nietzsche believed that the first or the noble-morality conduced to an ascent in the line of life; because it was creative and active. On the other hand, he believed that the second or slave-morality, where it became paramount, led to degeneration, because it was passive and defensive, wanting merely to keep those who practised it alive. Hence his earnest advocacy of noble-morality.
(C.) Nietzsche and Evolution.
Nietzsche as an evolutionist I shall have occasion to define and discuss in the course of these notes (see Notes on Chapter LVI., par.10, and on Chapter LVII.). For the present let it suffice for us to know that he accepted the “Development Hypothesis” as an explanation of the origin of species: but he did not halt where most naturalists have halted. He by no means regarded man as the highest possible being which evolution could arrive at; for though his physical development may have reached its limit, this is not the case with his mental or spiritual attributes. If the process be a fact; if things have BECOME what they are, then, he contends, we may describe no limit to man’s aspirations. If he struggled up from barbarism, and still more remotely from the lower Primates, his ideal should be to surpass man himself and reach Superman (see especially the Prologue).
(D.) Nietzsche and Sociology.
Nietzsche as a sociologist aims at an aristocratic arrangement of society. He would have us rear an ideal race. Honest and truthful in intellectual matters, he could not even think that men are equal. “With these preachers of equality will I not be mixed up and confounded. For thus speaketh justice unto ME: ‘Men are not equal.’” He sees precisely in this inequality a purpose to be served, a condition to be exploited. “Every elevation of the type ‘man,’” he writes in “Beyond Good and Evil”, “has hitherto been the work of an aristocratic society — and so will it always be — a society believing in a long scale of gradations of rank and differences of worth among human beings.”
Those who are sufficiently interested to desire to read his own detailed account of the society he would fain establish, will find an excellent passage in Aphorism 57 of “The Antichrist”.
. . .
In Part I. including the Prologue, no very great difficulties will appear. Zarathustra’s habit of designating a whole class of men or a whole school of thought by a single fitting nickname may perhaps lead to a little confusion at first; but, as a rule, when the general drift of his arguments is grasped, it requires but a slight effort of the imagination to discover whom he is referring to. In the ninth paragraph of the Prologue, for instance, it is quite obvious that “Herdsmen” in the verse “Herdsmen, I say, etc., etc.,” stands for all those to-day who are the advocates of gregariousness — of the ant-hill. And when our author says: “A robber shall Zarathustra be called by the herdsmen,” it is clear that these words may be taken almost literally from one whose ideal was the rearing of a higher aristocracy. Again, “the good and just,” throughout the book, is the expression used in referring to the self-righteous of modern times — those who are quite sure that they know all that is to be known concerning good and evil, and are satisfied that the values their little world of tradition has handed down to them, are destined to rule mankind as long as it lasts.
In the last paragraph of the Prologue, verse 7, Zarathustra gives us a foretaste of his teaching concerning the big and the little sagacities, expounded subsequently. He says he would he were as wise as his serpent; this desire will be found explained in the discourse entitled “The Despisers of the Body”, which I shall have occasion to refer to later.
. . .
Chapter I. The Three Metamorphoses.
This opening discourse is a parable in which Zarathustra discloses the mental development of all creators of new values. It is the story of a life which reaches its consummation in attaining to a second ingenuousness or in returning to childhood. Nietzsche, the supposed anarchist, here plainly disclaims all relationship whatever to anarchy, for he shows us that only by bearing the burdens of the existing law and submitting to it patiently, as the camel submits to being laden, does the free spirit acquire that ascendancy over tradition which enables him to meet and master the dragon “Thou shalt,”— the dragon with the values of a thousand years glittering on its scales. There are two lessons in this discourse: first, that in order to create one must be as a little child; secondly, that it is only through existing law and order that one attains to that height from which new law and new order may be promulgated.
Chapter II. The Academic Chairs of Virtue.
Almost the whole of this is quite comprehensible. It is a discourse against all those who confound virtue with tameness and smug ease, and who regard as virtuous only that which promotes security and tends to deepen sleep.
Chapter IV. The Despisers of the Body.
Here Zarathustra gives names to the intellect and the instincts; he calls the one “the little sagacity” and the latter “the big sagacity.” Schopenhauer’s teaching concerning the intellect is fully endorsed here. “An instrument of thy body is also thy little sagacity, my brother, which thou callest ‘spirit,’” says Zarathustra. From beginning to end it is a warning to those who would think too lightly of the instincts and unduly exalt the intellect and its derivatives: Reason and Understanding.
Chapter IX. The Preachers of Death.
This is an analysis of the psychology of all those who have the “evil eye” and are pessimists by virtue of their constitutions.
Chapter XV. The Thousand and One Goals.
In this discourse Zarathustra opens his exposition of the doctrine of relativity in morality, and declares all morality to be a mere means to power. Needless to say that verses 9, 10, 11, and 12 refer to the Greeks, the Persians, the Jews, and the Germans respectively. In the penultimate verse he makes known his discovery concerning the root of modern Nihilism and indifference — i.e., that modern man has no goal, no aim, no ideals (see Note A).
Chapter XVIII. Old and Young Women.
Nietzsche’s views on women have either to be loved at first sight or they become perhaps the greatest obstacle in the way of those who otherwise would be inclined to accept his philosophy. Women especially, of course, have been taught to dislike them, because it has been rumoured that his views are unfriendly to themselves. Now, to my mind, all this is pure misunderstanding and error.
German philosophers, thanks to Schopenhauer, have earned rather a bad name for their views on women. It is almost impossible for one of them to write a line on the subject, however kindly he may do so, without being suspected of wishing to open a crusade against the fair sex. Despite the fact, therefore, that all Nietzsche’s views in this respect were dictated to him by the profoundest love; despite Zarathustra’s reservation in this discourse, that “with women nothing (that can be said) is impossible,” and in the face of other overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Nietzsche is universally reported to have mis son pied dans le plat, where the female sex is concerned. And what is the fundamental doctrine which has given rise to so much bitterness and aversion? — Merely this: that the sexes are at bottom ANTAGONISTIC— that is to say, as different as blue is from yellow, and that the best possible means of rearing anything approaching a desirable race is to preserve and to foster this profound hostility. What Nietzsche strives to combat and to overthrow is the modern democratic tendency which is slowly labouring to level all things — even the sexes. His quarrel is not with women — what indeed could be more undignified? — it is with those who would destroy the natural relationship between the sexes, by modifying either the one or the other with a view to making them more alike. The human world is just as dependent upon women’s powers as upon men’s. It is women’s strongest and most valuable instincts which help to determine who are to be the fathers of the next generation. By destroying these particular instincts, that is to say by attempting to masculinise woman, and to feminise men, we jeopardise the future of our people. The general democratic movement of modern times, in its frantic struggle to mitigate all differences, is now invading even the world of sex. It is against this movement that Nietzsche raises his voice; he would have woman become ever more woman and man become ever more man. Only thus, and he is undoubtedly right, can their combined instincts lead to the excellence of humanity. Regarded in this light, all his views on woman appear not only necessary but just (see Note on Chapter LVI., par. 21.)
It is interesting to observe that the last line of the discourse, which has so frequently been used by women as a weapon against Nietzsche’s views concerning them, was suggested to Nietzsche by a woman (see “Das Leben F. Nietzsche’s”).
Chapter XXI. Voluntary Death.
In regard to this discourse, I should only like to point out that Nietzsche had a particular aversion to the word “suicide”— self-murder. He disliked the evil it suggested, and in rechristening the act Voluntary Death, i.e., the death that comes from no other hand than one’s own, he was desirous of elevating it to the position it held in classical antiquity (see Aphorism 36 in “The Twilight of the Idols”).
Chapter XXII. The Bestowing Virtue.
An important aspect of Nietzsche’s philosophy is brought to light in this discourse. His teaching, as is well known, places the Aristotelian man of spirit, above all others in the natural divisions of man. The man with overflowing strength, both of mind and body, who must discharge this strength or perish, is the Nietzschean ideal. To such a man, giving from his overflow becomes a necessity; bestowing develops into a means of existence, and this is the only giving, the only charity, that Nietzsche recognises. In paragraph 3 of the discourse, we read Zarathustra’s healthy exhortation to his disciples to become independent thinkers and to find themselves before they learn any more from him (see Notes on Chapters LVI., par. 5, and LXXIII., pars. 10, 11).
. . .
Chapter XXIII. The Child with the Mirror.
Nietzsche tells us here, in a poetical form, how deeply grieved he was by the manifold misinterpretations and misunderstandings which were becoming rife concerning his publications. He does not recognise himself in the mirror of public opinion, and recoils terrified from the distorted reflection of his features. In verse 20 he gives us a hint which it were well not to pass over too lightly; for, in the introduction to “The Genealogy of Morals” (written in 1887) he finds it necessary to refer to the matter again and with greater precision. The point is this, that a creator of new values meets with his surest and strongest obstacles in the very spirit of the language which is at his disposal. Words, like all other manifestations of an evolving race, are stamped with the values that have long been paramount in that race. Now, the original thinker who finds himself compelled to use the current speech of his country in order to impart new and hitherto untried views to his fellows, imposes a task upon the natural means of communication which it is totally unfitted to perform — hence the obscurities and prolixities which are so frequently met with in the writings of original thinkers. In the “Dawn of Day”, Nietzsche actually cautions young writers against THE DANGER OF ALLOWING THEIR THOUGHTS TO BE MOULDED BY THE WORDS AT THEIR DISPOSAL.
Chapter XXIV. In the Happy Isles.
While writing this, Nietzsche is supposed to have been thinking of the island of Ischia which was ultimately destroyed by an earthquake. His teaching here is quite clear. He was among the first thinkers of Europe to overcome the pessimism which godlessness generally brings in its wake. He points to creating as the surest salvation from the suffering which is a concomitant of all higher life. “What would there be to create,” he asks, “if there were — Gods?” His ideal, the Superman, lends him the cheerfulness necessary to the overcoming of that despair usually attendant upon godlessness and upon the apparent aimlessness of a world without a god.
Chapter XXIX. The Tarantulas.
The tarantulas are the Socialists and Democrats. This discourse offers us an analysis of their mental attitude. Nietzsche refuses to be confounded with those resentful and revengeful ones who condemn society FROM BELOW, and whose criticism is only suppressed envy. “There are those who preach my doctrine of life,” he says of the Nietzschean Socialists, “and are at the same time preachers of equality and tarantulas” (see Notes on Chapter XL. and Chapter LI.).
Chapter XXX. The Famous Wise Ones.
This refers to all those philosophers hitherto, who have run in the harness of established values and have not risked their reputation with the people in pursuit of truth. The philosopher, however, as Nietzsche understood him, is a man who creates new values, and thus leads mankind in a new direction.
Chapter XXXIII. The Grave–Song.
Here Zarathustra sings about the ideals and friendships of his youth. Verses 27 to 31 undoubtedly refer to Richard Wagner (see Note on Chapter LXV.).
Chapter XXXIV. Self–Surpassing.
In this discourse we get the best exposition in the whole book of Nietzsche’s doctrine of the Will to Power. I go into this question thoroughly in the Note on Chapter LVII.
Nietzsche was not an iconoclast from choice. Those who hastily class him with the anarchists (or the Progressivists of the last century) fail to understand the high esteem in which he always held both law and discipline. In verse 41 of this most decisive discourse he truly explains his position when he says: “ . . . he who hath to be a creator in good and evil — verily he hath first to be a destroyer, and break values in pieces.” This teaching in regard to self-control is evidence enough of his reverence for law.
Chapter XXXV. The Sublime Ones.
These belong to a type which Nietzsche did not altogether dislike, but which he would fain have rendered more subtle and plastic. It is the type that takes life and itself too seriously, that never surmounts the camel– stage mentioned in the first discourse, and that is obdurately sublime and earnest. To be able to smile while speaking of lofty things and NOT TO BE OPPRESSED by them, is the secret of real greatness. He whose hand trembles when it lays hold of a beautiful thing, has the quality of reverence, without the artist’s unembarrassed friendship with the beautiful. Hence the mistakes which have arisen in regard to confounding Nietzsche with his extreme opposites the anarchists and agitators. For what they dare to touch and break with the impudence and irreverence of the unappreciative, he seems likewise to touch and break — but with other fingers — with the fingers of the loving and unembarrassed artist who is on good terms with the beautiful and who feels able to create it and to enhance it with his touch. The question of taste plays an important part in Nietzsche’s philosophy, and verses 9, 10 of this discourse exactly state Nietzsche’s ultimate views on the subject. In the “Spirit of Gravity”, he actually cries:—”Neither a good nor a bad taste, but MY taste, of which I have no longer either shame or secrecy.”
Chapter XXXVI. The Land of Culture.
This is a poetical epitome of some of the scathing criticism of scholars which appears in the first of the “Thoughts out of Season”— the polemical pamphlet (written in 1873) against David Strauss and his school. He reproaches his former colleagues with being sterile and shows them that their sterility is the result of their not believing in anything. “He who had to create, had always his presaging dreams and astral premonitions — and believed in believing!” (See Note on Chapter LXXVII.) In the last two verses he reveals the nature of his altruism. How far it differs from that of Christianity we have already read in the discourse “Neighbour–Love”, but here he tells us definitely the nature of his love to mankind; he explains why he was compelled to assail the Christian values of pity and excessive love of the neighbour, not only because they are slave-values and therefore tend to promote degeneration (see Note B.), but because he could only love his children’s land, the undiscovered land in a remote sea; because he would fain retrieve the errors of his fathers in his children.
Chapter XXXVII. Immaculate Perception.
An important feature of Nietzsche’s interpretation of Life is disclosed in this discourse. As Buckle suggests in his “Influence of Women on the Progress of Knowledge”, the scientific spirit of the investigator is both helped and supplemented by the latter’s emotions and personality, and the divorce of all emotionalism and individual temperament from science is a fatal step towards sterility. Zarathustra abjures all those who would fain turn an IMPERSONAL eye upon nature and contemplate her phenomena with that pure objectivity to which the scientific idealists of to-day would so much like to attain. He accuses such idealists of hypocrisy and guile; he says they lack innocence in their desires and therefore slander all desiring.
Chapter XXXVIII. Scholars.
This is a record of Nietzsche’s final breach with his former colleagues — the scholars of Germany. Already after the publication of the “Birth of Tragedy”, numbers of German philologists and professional philosophers had denounced him as one who had strayed too far from their flock, and his lectures at the University of Bale were deserted in consequence; but it was not until 1879, when he finally severed all connection with University work, that he may be said to have attained to the freedom and independence which stamp this discourse.
Chapter XXXIX. Poets.
People have sometimes said that Nietzsche had no sense of humour. I have no intention of defending him here against such foolish critics; I should only like to point out to the reader that we have him here at his best, poking fun at himself, and at his fellow-poets (see Note on Chapter LXIII., pars. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20).
Chapter XL. Great Events.
Here we seem to have a puzzle. Zarathustra himself, while relating his experience with the fire-dog to his disciples, fails to get them interested in his narrative, and we also may be only too ready to turn over these pages under the impression that they are little more than a mere phantasy or poetical flight. Zarathustra’s interview with the fire-dog is, however, of great importance. In it we find Nietzsche face to face with the creature he most sincerely loathes — the spirit of revolution, and we obtain fresh hints concerning his hatred of the anarchist and rebel. “’Freedom’ ye all roar most eagerly,” he says to the fire-dog, “but I have unlearned the belief in ‘Great Events’ when there is much roaring and smoke about them. Not around the inventors of new noise, but around the inventors of new values, doth the world revolve; INAUDIBLY it revolveth.”
Chapter XLI. The Soothsayer.
This refers, of course, to Schopenhauer. Nietzsche, as is well known, was at one time an ardent follower of Schopenhauer. He overcame Pessimism by discovering an object in existence; he saw the possibility of raising society to a higher level and preached the profoundest Optimism in consequence.
Chapter XLII. Redemption.
Zarathustra here addresses cripples. He tells them of other cripples — the GREAT MEN in this world who have one organ or faculty inordinately developed at the cost of their other faculties. This is doubtless a reference to a fact which is too often noticeable in the case of so many of the world’s giants in art, science, or religion. In verse 19 we are told what Nietzsche called Redemption — that is to say, the ability to say of all that is past: “Thus would I have it.” The in ability to say this, and the resentment which results therefrom, he regards as the source of all our feelings of revenge, and all our desires to punish — punishment meaning to him merely a euphemism for the word revenge, invented in order to still our consciences. He who can be proud of his enemies, who can be grateful to them for the obstacles they have put in his way; he who can regard his worst calamity as but the extra strain on the bow of his life, which is to send the arrow of his longing even further than he could have hoped; — this man knows no revenge, neither does he know despair, he truly has found redemption and can turn on the worst in his life and even in himself, and call it his best (see Notes on Chapter LVII.).
Chapter XLIII. Manly Prudence.
This discourse is very important. In “Beyond Good and Evil” we hear often enough that the select and superior man must wear a mask, and here we find this injunction explained. “And he who would not languish amongst men, must learn to drink out of all glasses: and he who would keep clean amongst men, must know how to wash himself even with dirty water.” This, I venture to suggest, requires some explanation. At a time when individuality is supposed to be shown most tellingly by putting boots on one’s hands and gloves on one’s feet, it is somewhat refreshing to come across a true individualist who feels the chasm between himself and others so deeply, that he must perforce adapt himself to them outwardly, at least, in all respects, so that the inner difference should be overlooked. Nietzsche practically tells us here that it is not he who intentionally wears eccentric clothes or does eccentric things who is truly the individualist. The profound man, who is by nature differentiated from his fellows, feels this difference too keenly to call attention to it by any outward show. He is shamefast and bashful with those who surround him and wishes not to be discovered by them, just as one instinctively avoids all lavish display of comfort or wealth in the presence of a poor friend.
Chapter XLIV. The Stillest Hour.
This seems to me to give an account of the great struggle which must have taken place in Nietzsche’s soul before he finally resolved to make known the more esoteric portions of his teaching. Our deepest feelings crave silence. There is a certain self-respect in the serious man which makes him hold his profoundest feelings sacred. Before they are uttered they are full of the modesty of a virgin, and often the oldest sage will blush like a girl when this virginity is violated by an indiscretion which forces him to reveal his deepest thoughts.
. . .
This is perhaps the most important of all the four parts. If it contained only “The Vision and the Enigma” and “The Old and New Tables” I should still be of this opinion; for in the former of these discourses we meet with what Nietzsche regarded as the crowning doctrine of his philosophy and in “The Old and New Tables” we have a valuable epitome of practically all his leading principles.
Chapter XLVI. The Vision and the Enigma.
“The Vision and the Enigma” is perhaps an example of Nietzsche in his most obscure vein. We must know how persistently he inveighed against the oppressing and depressing influence of man’s sense of guilt and consciousness of sin in order fully to grasp the significance of this discourse. Slowly but surely, he thought the values of Christianity and Judaic traditions had done their work in the minds of men. What were once but expedients devised for the discipline of a certain portion of humanity, had now passed into man’s blood and had become instincts. This oppressive and paralysing sense of guilt and of sin is what Nietzsche refers to when he speaks of “the spirit of gravity.” This creature half-dwarf, half-mole, whom he bears with him a certain distance on his climb and finally defies, and whom he calls his devil and arch-enemy, is nothing more than the heavy millstone “guilty conscience,” together with the concept of sin which at present hangs round the neck of men. To rise above it — to soar — is the most difficult of all things to-day. Nietzsche is able to think cheerfully and optimistically of the possibility of life in this world recurring again and again, when he has once cast the dwarf from his shoulders, and he announces his doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence of all things great and small to his arch-enemy and in defiance of him.
That there is much to be said for Nietzsche’s hypothesis of the Eternal Recurrence of all things great and small, nobody who has read the literature on the subject will doubt for an instant; but it remains a very daring conjecture notwithstanding and even in its ultimate effect, as a dogma, on the minds of men, I venture to doubt whether Nietzsche ever properly estimated its worth (see Note on Chapter LVII.).
What follows is clear enough. Zarathustra sees a young shepherd struggling on the ground with a snake holding fast to the back of his throat. The sage, assuming that the snake must have crawled into the young man’s mouth while he lay sleeping, runs to his help and pulls at the loathsome reptile with all his might, but in vain. At last, in despair, Zarathustra appeals to the young man’s will. Knowing full well what a ghastly operation he is recommending, he nevertheless cries, “Bite! Bite! Its head off! Bite!” as the only possible solution of the difficulty. The young shepherd bites, and far away he spits the snake’s head, whereupon he rises, “No longer shepherd, no longer man — a transfigured being, a light-surrounded being, that LAUGHED! Never on earth laughed a man as he laughed!”
In this parable the young shepherd is obviously the man of to-day; the snake that chokes him represents the stultifying and paralysing social values that threaten to shatter humanity, and the advice “Bite! Bite!” is but Nietzsche’s exasperated cry to mankind to alter their values before it is too late.
Chapter XLVII. Involuntary Bliss.
This, like “The Wanderer”, is one of the many introspective passages in the work, and is full of innuendos and hints as to the Nietzschean outlook on life.
Chapter XLVIII. Before Sunrise.
Here we have a record of Zarathustra’s avowal of optimism, as also the important statement concerning “Chance” or “Accident” (verse 27). Those who are familiar with Nietzsche’s philosophy will not require to be told what an important role his doctrine of chance plays in his teaching. The Giant Chance has hitherto played with the puppet “man,”— this is the fact he cannot contemplate with equanimity. Man shall now exploit chance, he says again and again, and make it fall on its knees before him! (See verse 33 in “On the Olive Mount”, and verses 9–10 in “The Bedwarfing Virtue”).
Chapter XLIX. The Bedwarfing Virtue.
This requires scarcely any comment. It is a satire on modern man and his belittling virtues. In verses 23 and 24 of the second part of the discourse we are reminded of Nietzsche’s powerful indictment of the great of to-day, in the Antichrist (Aphorism 43):—”At present nobody has any longer the courage for separate rights, for rights of domination, for a feeling of reverence for himself and his equals — FOR PATHOS OF DISTANCE . . . Our politics are MORBID from this want of courage! — The aristocracy of character has been undermined most craftily by the lie of the equality of souls; and if the belief in the ‘privilege of the many,’ makes revolutions and WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE them, it is Christianity, let us not doubt it, it is CHRISTIAN valuations, which translate every revolution merely into blood and crime!” (see also “Beyond Good and Evil”, pages 120, 121). Nietzsche thought it was a bad sign of the times that even rulers have lost the courage of their positions, and that a man of Frederick the Great’s power and distinguished gifts should have been able to say: “Ich bin der erste Diener des Staates” (I am the first servant of the State.) To this utterance of the great sovereign, verse 24 undoubtedly refers. “Cowardice” and “Mediocrity,” are the names with which he labels modern notions of virtue and moderation.
In Part III., we get the sentiments of the discourse “In the Happy Isles”, but perhaps in stronger terms. Once again we find Nietzsche thoroughly at ease, if not cheerful, as an atheist, and speaking with vertiginous daring of making chance go on its knees to him. In verse 20, Zarathustra makes yet another attempt at defining his entirely anti-anarchical attitude, and unless such passages have been completely overlooked or deliberately ignored hitherto by those who will persist in laying anarchy at his door, it is impossible to understand how he ever became associated with that foul political party.
The last verse introduces the expression, “THE GREAT NOONTIDE!” In the poem to be found at the end of “Beyond Good and Evil”, we meet with the expression again, and we shall find it occurring time and again in Nietzsche’s works. It will be found fully elucidated in the fifth part of “The Twilight of the Idols”; but for those who cannot refer to this book, it were well to point out that Nietzsche called the present period — our period — the noon of man’s history. Dawn is behind us. The childhood of mankind is over. Now we KNOW; there is now no longer any excuse for mistakes which will tend to botch and disfigure the type man. “With respect to what is past,” he says, “I have, like all discerning ones, great toleration, that is to say, GENEROUS self-control . . . But my feeling changes suddenly, and breaks out as soon as I enter the modern period, OUR period. Our age KNOWS . . . ” (See Note on Chapter LXX.).
Chapter LI. On Passing-by.
Here we find Nietzsche confronted with his extreme opposite, with him therefore for whom he is most frequently mistaken by the unwary. “Zarathustra’s ape” he is called in the discourse. He is one of those at whose hands Nietzsche had to suffer most during his life-time, and at whose hands his philosophy has suffered most since his death. In this respect it may seem a little trivial to speak of extremes meeting; but it is wonderfully apt. Many have adopted Nietzsche’s mannerisms and word– coinages, who had nothing in common with him beyond the ideas and “business” they plagiarised; but the superficial observer and a large portion of the public, not knowing of these things — not knowing perhaps that there are iconoclasts who destroy out of love and are therefore creators, and that there are others who destroy out of resentment and revengefulness and who are therefore revolutionists and anarchists — are prone to confound the two, to the detriment of the nobler type.
If we now read what the fool says to Zarathustra, and note the tricks of speech he has borrowed from him: if we carefully follow the attitude he assumes, we shall understand why Zarathustra finally interrupts him. “Stop this at once,” Zarathustra cries, “long have thy speech and thy species disgusted me . . . Out of love alone shall my contempt and my warning bird take wing; BUT NOT OUT OF THE SWAMP!” It were well if this discourse were taken to heart by all those who are too ready to associate Nietzsche with lesser and noiser men — with mountebanks and mummers.
Chapter LII. The Apostates.
It is clear that this applies to all those breathless and hasty “tasters of everything,” who plunge too rashly into the sea of independent thought and “heresy,” and who, having miscalculated their strength, find it impossible to keep their head above water. “A little older, a little colder,” says Nietzsche. They soon clamber back to the conventions of the age they intended reforming. The French then say “le diable se fait hermite,” but these men, as a rule, have never been devils, neither do they become angels; for, in order to be really good or evil, some strength and deep breathing is required. Those who are more interested in supporting orthodoxy than in being over nice concerning the kind of support they give it, often refer to these people as evidence in favour of the true faith.
Chapter LIII. The Return Home.
This is an example of a class of writing which may be passed over too lightly by those whom poetasters have made distrustful of poetry. From first to last it is extremely valuable as an autobiographical note. The inevitable superficiality of the rabble is contrasted with the peaceful and profound depths of the anchorite. Here we first get a direct hint concerning Nietzsche’s fundamental passion — the main force behind all his new values and scathing criticism of existing values. In verse 30 we are told that pity was his greatest danger. The broad altruism of the law– giver, thinking over vast eras of time, was continually being pitted by Nietzsche, in himself, against that transient and meaner sympathy for the neighbour which he more perhaps than any of his contemporaries had suffered from, but which he was certain involved enormous dangers not only for himself but also to the next and subsequent generations (see Note B., where “pity” is mentioned among the degenerate virtues). Later in the book we shall see how his profound compassion leads him into temptation, and how frantically he struggles against it. In verses 31 and 32, he tells us to what extent he had to modify himself in order to be endured by his fellows whom he loved (see also verse 12 in “Manly Prudence”). Nietzsche’s great love for his fellows, which he confesses in the Prologue, and which is at the root of all his teaching, seems rather to elude the discerning powers of the average philanthropist and modern man. He cannot see the wood for the trees. A philanthropy that sacrifices the minority of the present-day for the majority constituting posterity, completely evades his mental grasp, and Nietzsche’s philosophy, because it declares Christian values to be a danger to the future of our kind, is therefore shelved as brutal, cold, and hard (see Note on Chapter XXXVI.). Nietzsche tried to be all things to all men; he was sufficiently fond of his fellows for that: in the Return Home he describes how he ultimately returns to loneliness in order to recover from the effects of his experiment.
Chapter LIV. The Three Evil Things.
Nietzsche is here completely in his element. Three things hitherto best– cursed and most calumniated on earth, are brought forward to be weighed. Voluptuousness, thirst of power, and selfishness — the three forces in humanity which Christianity has done most to garble and besmirch — Nietzsche endeavours to reinstate in their former places of honour. Voluptuousness, or sensual pleasure, is a dangerous thing to discuss nowadays. If we mention it with favour we may be regarded, however unjustly, as the advocate of savages, satyrs, and pure sensuality. If we condemn it, we either go over to the Puritans or we join those who are wont to come to table with no edge to their appetites and who therefore grumble at all good fare. There can be no doubt that the value of healthy innocent voluptuousness, like the value of health itself, must have been greatly discounted by all those who, resenting their inability to partake of this world’s goods, cried like St Paul: “I would that all men were even as I myself.” Now Nietzsche’s philosophy might be called an attempt at giving back to healthy and normal men innocence and a clean conscience in their desires — NOT to applaud the vulgar sensualists who respond to every stimulus and whose passions are out of hand; not to tell the mean, selfish individual, whose selfishness is a pollution (see Aphorism 33, “Twilight of the Idols”), that he is right, nor to assure the weak, the sick, and the crippled, that the thirst of power, which they gratify by exploiting the happier and healthier individuals, is justified; — but to save the clean healthy man from the values of those around him, who look at everything through the mud that is in their own bodies — to give him, and him alone, a clean conscience in his manhood and the desires of his manhood. “Do I counsel you to slay your instincts? I counsel to innocence in your instincts.” In verse 7 of the second paragraph (as in verse I of paragraph 19 in “The Old and New Tables”) Nietzsche gives us a reason for his occasional obscurity (see also verses 3 to 7 of “Poets”). As I have already pointed out, his philosophy is quite esoteric. It can serve no purpose with the ordinary, mediocre type of man. I, personally, can no longer have any doubt that Nietzsche’s only object, in that part of his philosophy where he bids his friends stand “Beyond Good and Evil” with him, was to save higher men, whose growth and scope might be limited by the too strict observance of modern values from foundering on the rocks of a “Compromise” between their own genius and traditional conventions. The only possible way in which the great man can achieve greatness is by means of exceptional freedom — the freedom which assists him in experiencing HIMSELF. Verses 20 to 30 afford an excellent supplement to Nietzsche’s description of the attitude of the noble type towards the slaves in Aphorism 260 of the work “Beyond Good and Evil” (see also Note B.)
Chapter LV. The Spirit of Gravity.
(See Note on Chapter XLVI.) In Part II. of this discourse we meet with a doctrine not touched upon hitherto, save indirectly; — I refer to the doctrine of self-love. We should try to understand this perfectly before proceeding; for it is precisely views of this sort which, after having been cut out of the original context, are repeated far and wide as internal evidence proving the general unsoundness of Nietzsche’s philosophy. Already in the last of the “Thoughts out of Season” Nietzsche speaks as follows about modern men: “ . . . these modern creatures wish rather to be hunted down, wounded and torn to shreds, than to live alone with themselves in solitary calm. Alone with oneself! — this thought terrifies the modern soul; it is his one anxiety, his one ghastly fear” (English Edition, page 141). In his feverish scurry to find entertainment and diversion, whether in a novel, a newspaper, or a play, the modern man condemns his own age utterly; for he shows that in his heart of hearts he despises himself. One cannot change a condition of this sort in a day; to become endurable to oneself an inner transformation is necessary. Too long have we lost ourselves in our friends and entertainments to be able to find ourselves so soon at another’s bidding. “And verily, it is no commandment for to-day and to-morrow to LEARN to love oneself. Rather is it of all arts the finest, subtlest, last, and patientest.”
In the last verse Nietzsche challenges us to show that our way is the right way. In his teaching he does not coerce us, nor does he overpersuade; he simply says: “I am a law only for mine own, I am not a law for all. This — is now MY way — where is yours?”
Chapter LVI. Old and New Tables. Par. 2.
Nietzsche himself declares this to be the most decisive portion of the whole of “Thus Spake Zarathustra”. It is a sort of epitome of his leading doctrines. In verse 12 of the second paragraph, we learn how he himself would fain have abandoned the poetical method of expression had he not known only too well that the only chance a new doctrine has of surviving, nowadays, depends upon its being given to the world in some kind of art– form. Just as prophets, centuries ago, often had to have recourse to the mask of madness in order to mitigate the hatred of those who did not and could not see as they did; so, to-day, the struggle for existence among opinions and values is so great, that an art-form is practically the only garb in which a new philosophy can dare to introduce itself to us.
Pars. 3 and 4.
Many of the paragraphs will be found to be merely reminiscent of former discourses. For instance, par. 3 recalls “Redemption”. The last verse of par. 4 is important. Freedom which, as I have pointed out before, Nietzsche considered a dangerous acquisition in inexperienced or unworthy hands, here receives its death-blow as a general desideratum. In the first Part we read under “The Way of the Creating One”, that freedom as an end in itself does not concern Zarathustra at all. He says there: “Free from what? What doth that matter to Zarathustra? Clearly, however, shall thine eye answer me: free FOR WHAT?” And in “The Bedwarfing Virtue”: “Ah that ye understood my word: ‘Do ever what ye will — but first be such as CAN WILL.’”
Here we have a description of the kind of altruism Nietzsche exacted from higher men. It is really a comment upon “The Bestowing Virtue” (see Note on Chapter XXII.).
This refers, of course, to the reception pioneers of Nietzsche’s stamp meet with at the hands of their contemporaries.
Nietzsche teaches that nothing is stable — not even values — not even the concepts good and evil. He likens life unto a stream. But foot-bridges and railings span the stream, and they seem to stand firm. Many will be reminded of good and evil when they look upon these structures; for thus these same values stand over the stream of life, and life flows on beneath them and leaves them standing. When, however, winter comes and the stream gets frozen, many inquire: “Should not everything — STAND STILL? Fundamentally everything standeth still.” But soon the spring cometh and with it the thaw-wind. It breaks the ice, and the ice breaks down the foot-bridges and railings, whereupon everything is swept away. This state of affairs, according to Nietzsche, has now been reached. “Oh, my brethren, is not everything AT PRESENT IN FLUX? Have not all railings and foot-bridges fallen into the water? Who would still HOLD ON to ‘good’ and ‘evil’?”
This is complementary to the first three verses of par. 2.
So far, this is perhaps the most important paragraph. It is a protest against reading a moral order of things in life. “Life is something essentially immoral!” Nietzsche tells us in the introduction to the “Birth of Tragedy”. Even to call life “activity,” or to define it further as “the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations,” as Spencer has it, Nietzsche characterises as a “democratic idiosyncracy.” He says to define it in this way, “is to mistake the true nature and function of life, which is Will to Power . . . Life is ESSENTIALLY appropriation, injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion of its own forms, incorporation and at least, putting it mildest, exploitation.” Adaptation is merely a secondary activity, a mere re– activity (see Note on Chapter LVII.).
Pars. 11, 12.
These deal with Nietzsche’s principle of the desirability of rearing a select race. The biological and historical grounds for his insistence upon this principle are, of course, manifold. Gobineau in his great work, “L’Inegalite des Races Humaines”, lays strong emphasis upon the evils which arise from promiscuous and inter-social marriages. He alone would suffice to carry Nietzsche’s point against all those who are opposed to the other conditions, to the conditions which would have saved Rome, which have maintained the strength of the Jewish race, and which are strictly maintained by every breeder of animals throughout the world. Darwin in his remarks relative to the degeneration of CULTIVATED types of animals through the action of promiscuous breeding, brings Gobineau support from the realm of biology.
The last two verses of par. 12 were discussed in the Notes on Chapters XXXVI. and LIII.
This, like the first part of “The Soothsayer”, is obviously a reference to the Schopenhauerian Pessimism.
Pars. 14, 15, 16, 17.
These are supplementary to the discourse “Backworld’s-men”.
We must be careful to separate this paragraph, in sense, from the previous four paragraphs. Nietzsche is still dealing with Pessimism here; but it is the pessimism of the hero — the man most susceptible of all to desperate views of life, owing to the obstacles that are arrayed against him in a world where men of his kind are very rare and are continually being sacrificed. It was to save this man that Nietzsche wrote. Heroism foiled, thwarted, and wrecked, hoping and fighting until the last, is at length overtaken by despair, and renounces all struggle for sleep. This is not the natural or constitutional pessimism which proceeds from an unhealthy body — the dyspeptic’s lack of appetite; it is rather the desperation of the netted lion that ultimately stops all movement, because the more it moves the more involved it becomes.
“All that increases power is good, all that springs from weakness is bad. The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our charity. And one shall also help them thereto.” Nietzsche partly divined the kind of reception moral values of this stamp would meet with at the hands of the effeminate manhood of Europe. Here we see that he had anticipated the most likely form their criticism would take (see also the last two verses of par. 17).
The first ten verses, here, are reminiscent of “War and Warriors” and of “The Flies in the Market–Place.” Verses 11 and 12, however, are particularly important. There is a strong argument in favour of the sharp differentiation of castes and of races (and even of sexes; see Note on Chapter XVIII.) running all through Nietzsche’s writings. But sharp differentiation also implies antagonism in some form or other — hence Nietzsche’s fears for modern men. What modern men desire above all, is peace and the cessation of pain. But neither great races nor great castes have ever been built up in this way. “Who still wanteth to rule?” Zarathustra asks in the “Prologue”. “Who still wanteth to obey? Both are too burdensome.” This is rapidly becoming everybody’s attitude to-day. The tame moral reading of the face of nature, together with such democratic interpretations of life as those suggested by Herbert Spencer, are signs of a physiological condition which is the reverse of that bounding and irresponsible healthiness in which harder and more tragic values rule.
This should be read in conjunction with “Child and Marriage”. In the fifth verse we shall recognise our old friend “Marriage on the ten-years system,” which George Meredith suggested some years ago. This, however, must not be taken too literally. I do not think Nietzsche’s profoundest views on marriage were ever intended to be given over to the public at all, at least not for the present. They appear in the biography by his sister, and although their wisdom is unquestionable, the nature of the reforms he suggests render it impossible for them to become popular just now.
Pars. 26, 27.
See Note on “The Prologue”.
Nietzsche was not an iconoclast from predilection. No bitterness or empty hate dictated his vituperations against existing values and against the dogmas of his parents and forefathers. He knew too well what these things meant to the millions who profess them, to approach the task of uprooting them with levity or even with haste. He saw what modern anarchists and revolutionists do NOT see — namely, that man is in danger of actual destruction when his customs and values are broken. I need hardly point out, therefore, how deeply he was conscious of the responsibility he threw upon our shoulders when he invited us to reconsider our position. The lines in this paragraph are evidence enough of his earnestness.
Chapter LVII. The Convalescent.
We meet with several puzzles here. Zarathustra calls himself the advocate of the circle (the Eternal Recurrence of all things), and he calls this doctrine his abysmal thought. In the last verse of the first paragraph, however, after hailing his deepest thought, he cries: “Disgust, disgust, disgust!” We know Nietzsche’s ideal man was that “world-approving, exuberant, and vivacious creature, who has not only learnt to compromise and arrange with that which was and is, but wishes to have it again, AS IT WAS AND IS, for all eternity insatiably calling out da capo, not only to himself, but to the whole piece and play” (see Note on Chapter XLII.). But if one ask oneself what the conditions to such an attitude are, one will realise immediately how utterly different Nietzsche was from his ideal. The man who insatiably cries da capo to himself and to the whole of his mise-en-scene, must be in a position to desire every incident in his life to be repeated, not once, but again and again eternally. Now, Nietzsche’s life had been too full of disappointments, illness, unsuccessful struggles, and snubs, to allow of his thinking of the Eternal Recurrence without loathing — hence probably the words of the last verse.
In verses 15 and 16, we have Nietzsche declaring himself an evolutionist in the broadest sense — that is to say, that he believes in the Development Hypothesis as the description of the process by which species have originated. Now, to understand his position correctly we must show his relationship to the two greatest of modern evolutionists — Darwin and Spencer. As a philosopher, however, Nietzsche does not stand or fall by his objections to the Darwinian or Spencerian cosmogony. He never laid claim to a very profound knowledge of biology, and his criticism is far more valuable as the attitude of a fresh mind than as that of a specialist towards the question. Moreover, in his objections many difficulties are raised which are not settled by an appeal to either of the men above mentioned. We have given Nietzsche’s definition of life in the Note on Chapter LVI., par. 10. Still, there remains a hope that Darwin and Nietzsche may some day become reconciled by a new description of the processes by which varieties occur. The appearance of varieties among animals and of “sporting plants” in the vegetable kingdom, is still shrouded in mystery, and the question whether this is not precisely the ground on which Darwin and Nietzsche will meet, is an interesting one. The former says in his “Origin of Species”, concerning the causes of variability: “ . . . there are two factors, namely, the nature of the organism, and the nature of the conditions. THE FORMER SEEMS TO BE MUCH THE MORE IMPORTANT (The italics are mine.), for nearly similar variations sometimes arise under, as far as we can judge, dissimilar conditions; and on the other hand, dissimilar variations arise under conditions which appear to be nearly uniform.” Nietzsche, recognising this same truth, would ascribe practically all the importance to the “highest functionaries in the organism, in which the life-will appears as an active and formative principle,” and except in certain cases (where passive organisms alone are concerned) would not give such a prominent place to the influence of environment. Adaptation, according to him, is merely a secondary activity, a mere re-activity, and he is therefore quite opposed to Spencer’s definition: “Life is the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations.” Again in the motive force behind animal and plant life, Nietzsche disagrees with Darwin. He transforms the “Struggle for Existence”— the passive and involuntary condition — into the “Struggle for Power,” which is active and creative, and much more in harmony with Darwin’s own view, given above, concerning the importance of the organism itself. The change is one of such far-reaching importance that we cannot dispose of it in a breath, as a mere play upon words. “Much is reckoned higher than life itself by the living one.” Nietzsche says that to speak of the activity of life as a “struggle for existence,” is to state the case inadequately. He warns us not to confound Malthus with nature. There is something more than this struggle between the organic beings on this earth; want, which is supposed to bring this struggle about, is not so common as is supposed; some other force must be operative. The Will to Power is this force, “the instinct of self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results thereof.” A certain lack of acumen in psychological questions and the condition of affairs in England at the time Darwin wrote, may both, according to Nietzsche, have induced the renowned naturalist to describe the forces of nature as he did in his “Origin of Species”.
In verses 28, 29, and 30 of the second portion of this discourse we meet with a doctrine which, at first sight, seems to be merely “le manoir a l’envers,” indeed one English critic has actually said of Nietzsche, that “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is no more than a compendium of modern views and maxims turned upside down. Examining these heterodox pronouncements a little more closely, however, we may possibly perceive their truth. Regarding good and evil as purely relative values, it stands to reason that what may be bad or evil in a given man, relative to a certain environment, may actually be good if not highly virtuous in him relative to a certain other environment. If this hypothetical man represent the ascending line of life — that is to say, if he promise all that which is highest in a Graeco–Roman sense, then it is likely that he will be condemned as wicked if introduced into the society of men representing the opposite and descending line of life.
By depriving a man of his wickedness — more particularly nowadays — therefore, one may unwittingly be doing violence to the greatest in him. It may be an outrage against his wholeness, just as the lopping-off of a leg would be. Fortunately, the natural so-called “wickedness” of higher men has in a certain measure been able to resist this lopping process which successive slave-moralities have practised; but signs are not wanting which show that the noblest wickedness is fast vanishing from society — the wickedness of courage and determination — and that Nietzsche had good reasons for crying: “Ah, that (man’s) baddest is so very small! Ah, that his best is so very small. What is good? To be brave is good! It is the good war which halloweth every cause!” (see also par. 5, “Higher Man”).
Chapter LX. The Seven Seals.
This is a final paean which Zarathustra sings to Eternity and the marriage– ring of rings, the ring of the Eternal Recurrence.
. . .
In my opinion this part is Nietzsche’s open avowal that all his philosophy, together with all his hopes, enthusiastic outbursts, blasphemies, prolixities, and obscurities, were merely so many gifts laid at the feet of higher men. He had no desire to save the world. What he wished to determine was: Who is to be master of the world? This is a very different thing. He came to save higher men; — to give them that freedom by which, alone, they can develop and reach their zenith (see Note on Chapter LIV., end). It has been argued, and with considerable force, that no such philosophy is required by higher men, that, as a matter of fact, higher men, by virtue of their constitutions always, do stand Beyond Good and Evil, and never allow anything to stand in the way of their complete growth. Nietzsche, however, was evidently not so confident about this. He would probably have argued that we only see the successful cases. Being a great man himself, he was well aware of the dangers threatening greatness in our age. In “Beyond Good and Evil” he writes: “There are few pains so grievous as to have seen, divined, or experienced how an exceptional man has missed his way and deteriorated . . . ” He knew “from his painfullest recollections on what wretched obstacles promising developments of the highest rank have hitherto usually gone to pieces, broken down, sunk, and become contemptible.” Now in Part IV. we shall find that his strongest temptation to descend to the feeling of “pity” for his contemporaries, is the “cry for help” which he hears from the lips of the higher men exposed to the dreadful danger of their modern environment.
Chapter LXI. The Honey Sacrifice.
In the fourteenth verse of this discourse Nietzsche defines the solemn duty he imposed upon himself: “Become what thou art.” Surely the criticism which has been directed against this maxim must all fall to the ground when it is remembered, once and for all, that Nietzsche’s teaching was never intended to be other than an esoteric one. “I am a law only for mine own,” he says emphatically, “I am not a law for all.” It is of the greatest importance to humanity that its highest individuals should be allowed to attain to their full development; for, only by means of its heroes can the human race be led forward step by step to higher and yet higher levels. “Become what thou art” applied to all, of course, becomes a vicious maxim; it is to be hoped, however, that we may learn in time that the same action performed by a given number of men, loses its identity precisely that same number of times. —”Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi.”
At the last eight verses many readers may be tempted to laugh. In England we almost always laugh when a man takes himself seriously at anything save sport. And there is of course no reason why the reader should not be hilarious. — A certain greatness is requisite, both in order to be sublime and to have reverence for the sublime. Nietzsche earnestly believed that the Zarathustra-kingdom — his dynasty of a thousand years — would one day come; if he had not believed it so earnestly, if every artist in fact had not believed so earnestly in his Hazar, whether of ten, fifteen, a hundred, or a thousand years, we should have lost all our higher men; they would have become pessimists, suicides, or merchants. If the minor poet and philosopher has made us shy of the prophetic seriousness which characterized an Isaiah or a Jeremiah, it is surely our loss and the minor poet’s gain.
Chapter LXII. The Cry of Distress.
We now meet with Zarathustra in extraordinary circumstances. He is confronted with Schopenhauer and tempted by the old Soothsayer to commit the sin of pity. “I have come that I may seduce thee to thy last sin!” says the Soothsayer to Zarathustra. It will be remembered that in Schopenhauer’s ethics, pity is elevated to the highest place among the virtues, and very consistently too, seeing that the Weltanschauung is a pessimistic one. Schopenhauer appeals to Nietzsche’s deepest and strongest sentiment — his sympathy for higher men. “Why dost thou conceal thyself?” he cries. “It is THE HIGHER MAN that calleth for thee!” Zarathustra is almost overcome by the Soothsayer’s pleading, as he had been once already in the past, but he resists him step by step. At length he can withstand him no longer, and, on the plea that the higher man is on his ground and therefore under his protection, Zarathustra departs in search of him, leaving Schopenhauer — a higher man in Nietzsche’s opinion — in the cave as a guest.
Chapter LXIII. Talk with the Kings.
On his way Zarathustra meets two more higher men of his time; two kings cross his path. They are above the average modern type; for their instincts tell them what real ruling is, and they despise the mockery which they have been taught to call “Reigning.” “We ARE NOT the first men,” they say, “and have nevertheless to STAND FOR them: of this imposture have we at last become weary and disgusted.” It is the kings who tell Zarathustra: “There is no sorer misfortune in all human destiny than when the mighty of the earth are not also the first men. There everything becometh false and distorted and monstrous.” The kings are also asked by Zarathustra to accept the shelter of his cave, whereupon he proceeds on his way.
Chapter LXIV. The Leech.
Among the higher men whom Zarathustra wishes to save, is also the scientific specialist — the man who honestly and scrupulously pursues his investigations, as Darwin did, in one department of knowledge. “I love him who liveth in order to know, and seeketh to know in order that the Superman may hereafter live. Thus seeketh he his own down-going.” “The spiritually conscientious one,” he is called in this discourse. Zarathustra steps on him unawares, and the slave of science, bleeding from the violence he has done to himself by his self-imposed task, speaks proudly of his little sphere of knowledge — his little hand’s breadth of ground on Zarathustra’s territory, philosophy. “Where mine honesty ceaseth,” says the true scientific specialist, “there am I blind and want also to be blind. Where I want to know, however, there want I also to be honest — namely, severe, rigorous, restricted, cruel, and inexorable.” Zarathustra greatly respecting this man, invites him too to the cave, and then vanishes in answer to another cry for help.
Chapter LXV. The Magician.
The Magician is of course an artist, and Nietzsche’s intimate knowledge of perhaps the greatest artist of his age rendered the selection of Wagner, as the type in this discourse, almost inevitable. Most readers will be acquainted with the facts relating to Nietzsche’s and Wagner’s friendship and ultimate separation. As a boy and a youth Nietzsche had shown such a remarkable gift for music that it had been a question at one time whether he should not perhaps give up everything else in order to develop this gift, but he became a scholar notwithstanding, although he never entirely gave up composing, and playing the piano. While still in his teens, he became acquainted with Wagner’s music and grew passionately fond of it. Long before he met Wagner he must have idealised him in his mind to an extent which only a profoundly artistic nature could have been capable of. Nietzsche always had high ideals for humanity. If one were asked whether, throughout his many changes, there was yet one aim, one direction, and one hope to which he held fast, one would be forced to reply in the affirmative and declare that aim, direction, and hope to have been “the elevation of the type man.” Now, when Nietzsche met Wagner he was actually casting about for an incarnation of his dreams for the German people, and we have only to remember his youth (he was twenty-one when he was introduced to Wagner), his love of Wagner’s music, and the undoubted power of the great musician’s personality, in order to realise how very uncritical his attitude must have been in the first flood of his enthusiasm. Again, when the friendship ripened, we cannot well imagine Nietzsche, the younger man, being anything less than intoxicated by his senior’s attention and love, and we are therefore not surprised to find him pressing Wagner forward as the great Reformer and Saviour of mankind. “Wagner in Bayreuth” (English Edition, 1909) gives us the best proof of Nietzsche’s infatuation, and although signs are not wanting in this essay which show how clearly and even cruelly he was sub-consciously “taking stock” of his friend — even then, the work is a record of what great love and admiration can do in the way of endowing the object of one’s affection with all the qualities and ideals that a fertile imagination can conceive.
When the blow came it was therefore all the more severe. Nietzsche at length realised that the friend of his fancy and the real Richard Wagner — the composer of Parsifal — were not one; the fact dawned upon him slowly; disappointment upon disappointment, revelation after revelation, ultimately brought it home to him, and though his best instincts were naturally opposed to it at first, the revulsion of feeling at last became too strong to be ignored, and Nietzsche was plunged into the blackest despair. Years after his break with Wagner, he wrote “The Case of Wagner”, and “Nietzsche contra Wagner”, and these works are with us to prove the sincerity and depth of his views on the man who was the greatest event of his life.
The poem in this discourse is, of course, reminiscent of Wagner’s own poetical manner, and it must be remembered that the whole was written subsequent to Nietzsche’s final break with his friend. The dialogue between Zarathustra and the Magician reveals pretty fully what it was that Nietzsche grew to loathe so intensely in Wagner — viz., his pronounced histrionic tendencies, his dissembling powers, his inordinate vanity, his equivocalness, his falseness. “It honoureth thee,” says Zarathustra, “that thou soughtest for greatness, but it betrayeth thee also. Thou art not great.” The Magician is nevertheless sent as a guest to Zarathustra’s cave; for, in his heart, Zarathustra believed until the end that the Magician was a higher man broken by modern values.
Chapter LXVI. Out of Service.
Zarathustra now meets the last pope, and, in a poetical form, we get Nietzsche’s description of the course Judaism and Christianity pursued before they reached their final break-up in Atheism, Agnosticism, and the like. The God of a strong, warlike race — the God of Israel — is a jealous, revengeful God. He is a power that can be pictured and endured only by a hardy and courageous race, a race rich enough to sacrifice and to lose in sacrifice. The image of this God degenerates with the people that appropriate it, and gradually He becomes a God of love —”soft and mellow,” a lower middle-class deity, who is “pitiful.” He can no longer be a God who requires sacrifice, for we ourselves are no longer rich enough for that. The tables are therefore turned upon Him; HE must sacrifice to us. His pity becomes so great that he actually does sacrifice something to us — His only begotten Son. Such a process carried to its logical conclusions must ultimately end in His own destruction, and thus we find the pope declaring that God was one day suffocated by His all-too-great pity. What follows is clear enough. Zarathustra recognises another higher man in the ex-pope and sends him too as a guest to the cave.
Chapter LXVII. The Ugliest Man.
This discourse contains perhaps the boldest of Nietzsche’s suggestions concerning Atheism, as well as some extremely penetrating remarks upon the sentiment of pity. Zarathustra comes across the repulsive creature sitting on the wayside, and what does he do? He manifests the only correct feelings that can be manifested in the presence of any great misery — that is to say, shame, reverence, embarrassment. Nietzsche detested the obtrusive and gushing pity that goes up to misery without a blush either on its cheek or in its heart — the pity which is only another form of self– glorification. “Thank God that I am not like thee!”— only this self– glorifying sentiment can lend a well-constituted man the impudence to SHOW his pity for the cripple and the ill-constituted. In the presence of the ugliest man Nietzsche blushes — he blushes for his race; his own particular kind of altruism — the altruism that might have prevented the existence of this man — strikes him with all its force. He will have the world otherwise. He will have a world where one need not blush for one’s fellows — hence his appeal to us to love only our children’s land, the land undiscovered in the remotest sea.
Zarathustra calls the ugliest man the murderer of God! Certainly, this is one aspect of a certain kind of Atheism — the Atheism of the man who reveres beauty to such an extent that his own ugliness, which outrages him, must be concealed from every eye lest it should not be respected as Zarathustra respected it. If there be a God, He too must be evaded. His pity must be foiled. But God is ubiquitous and omniscient. Therefore, for the really GREAT ugly man, He must not exist. “Their pity IS it from which I flee away,” he says — that is to say: “It is from their want of reverence and lack of shame in presence of my great misery!” The ugliest man despises himself; but Zarathustra said in his Prologue: “I love the great despisers because they are the great adorers, and arrows of longing for the other shore.” He therefore honours the ugliest man: sees height in his self– contempt, and invites him to join the other higher men in the cave.
Chapter LXVIII. The Voluntary Beggar.
In this discourse, we undoubtedly have the ideal Buddhist, if not Gautama Buddha himself. Nietzsche had the greatest respect for Buddhism, and almost wherever he refers to it in his works, it is in terms of praise. He recognised that though Buddhism is undoubtedly a religion for decadents, its decadent values emanate from the higher and not, as in Christianity, from the lower grades of society. In Aphorism 20 of “The Antichrist”, he compares it exhaustively with Christianity, and the result of his investigation is very much in favour of the older religion. Still, he recognised a most decided Buddhistic influence in Christ’s teaching, and the words in verses 29, 30, and 31 are very reminiscent of his views in regard to the Christian Savior.
The figure of Christ has been introduced often enough into fiction, and many scholars have undertaken to write His life according to their own lights, but few perhaps have ever attempted to present Him to us bereft of all those characteristics which a lack of the sense of harmony has attached to His person through the ages in which His doctrines have been taught. Now Nietzsche disagreed entirely with Renan’s view, that Christ was “le grand maitre en ironie”; in Aphorism 31 of “The Antichrist”, he says that he (Nietzsche) always purged his picture of the Humble Nazarene of all those bitter and spiteful outbursts which, in view of the struggle the first Christians went through, may very well have been added to the original character by Apologists and Sectarians who, at that time, could ill afford to consider nice psychological points, seeing that what they needed, above all, was a wrangling and abusive deity. These two conflicting halves in the character of the Christ of the Gospels, which no sound psychology can ever reconcile, Nietzsche always kept distinct in his own mind; he could not credit the same man with sentiments sometimes so noble and at other times so vulgar, and in presenting us with this new portrait of the Saviour, purged of all impurities, Nietzsche rendered military honours to a foe, which far exceed in worth all that His most ardent disciples have ever claimed for Him. In verse 26 we are vividly reminded of Herbert Spencer’s words “’Le mariage de convenance’ is legalised prostitution.”
Chapter LXIX. The Shadow.
Here we have a description of that courageous and wayward spirit that literally haunts the footsteps of every great thinker and every great leader; sometimes with the result that it loses all aims, all hopes, and all trust in a definite goal. It is the case of the bravest and most broad-minded men of to-day. These literally shadow the most daring movements in the science and art of their generation; they completely lose their bearings and actually find themselves, in the end, without a way, a goal, or a home. “On every surface have I already sat! . . . I become thin, I am almost equal to a shadow!” At last, in despair, such men do indeed cry out: “Nothing is true; all is permitted,” and then they become mere wreckage. “Too much hath become clear unto me: now nothing mattereth to me any more. Nothing liveth any longer that I love — how should I still love myself! Have I still a goal? Where is MY home?” Zarathustra realises the danger threatening such a man. “Thy danger is not small, thou free spirit and wanderer,” he says. “Thou hast had a bad day. See that a still worse evening doth not overtake thee!” The danger Zarathustra refers to is precisely this, that even a prison may seem a blessing to such a man. At least the bars keep him in a place of rest; a place of confinement, at its worst, is real. “Beware lest in the end a narrow faith capture thee,” says Zarathustra, “for now everything that is narrow and fixed seduceth and tempteth thee.”
Chapter LXX. Noontide.
At the noon of life Nietzsche said he entered the world; with him man came of age. We are now held responsible for our actions; our old guardians, the gods and demi-gods of our youth, the superstitions and fears of our childhood, withdraw; the field lies open before us; we lived through our morning with but one master — chance —; let us see to it that we MAKE our afternoon our own (see Note XLIX., Part III.).
Chapter LXXI. The Greeting.
Here I think I may claim that my contention in regard to the purpose and aim of the whole of Nietzsche’s philosophy (as stated at the beginning of my Notes on Part IV.) is completely upheld. He fought for “all who do not want to live, unless they learn again to HOPE— unless THEY learn (from him) the GREAT hope!” Zarathustra’s address to his guests shows clearly enough how he wished to help them: “I DO NOT TREAT MY WARRIORS INDULGENTLY,” he says: “how then could ye be fit for MY warfare?” He rebukes and spurns them, no word of love comes from his lips. Elsewhere he says a man should be a hard bed to his friend, thus alone can he be of use to him. Nietzsche would be a hard bed to higher men. He would make them harder; for, in order to be a law unto himself, man must possess the requisite hardness. “I wait for higher ones, stronger ones, more triumphant ones, merrier ones, for such as are built squarely in body and soul.” He says in par. 6 of “Higher Man”:—
“Ye higher men, think ye that I am here to put right what ye have put wrong? Or that I wished henceforth to make snugger couches for you sufferers? Or show you restless, miswandering, misclimbing ones new and easier footpaths?”
“Nay! Nay! Three times nay! Always more, always better ones of your type shall succumb — for ye shall always have it worse and harder.”
Chapter LXXII. The Supper.
In the first seven verses of this discourse, I cannot help seeing a gentle allusion to Schopenhauer’s habits as a bon-vivant. For a pessimist, be it remembered, Schopenhauer led quite an extraordinary life. He ate well, loved well, played the flute well, and I believe he smoked the best cigars. What follows is clear enough.
Chapter LXXIII. The Higher Man. Par. 1.
Nietzsche admits, here, that at one time he had thought of appealing to the people, to the crowd in the market-place, but that he had ultimately to abandon the task. He bids higher men depart from the market-place.
Here we are told quite plainly what class of men actually owe all their impulses and desires to the instinct of self-preservation. The struggle for existence is indeed the only spur in the case of such people. To them it matters not in what shape or condition man be preserved, provided only he survive. The transcendental maxim that “Life per se is precious” is the ruling maxim here.
In the Note on Chapter LVII. (end) I speak of Nietzsche’s elevation of the virtue, Courage, to the highest place among the virtues. Here he tells higher men the class of courage he expects from them.
Pars. 5, 6.
These have already been referred to in the Notes on Chapters LVII. (end) and LXXI.
I suggest that the last verse in this paragraph strongly confirms the view that Nietzsche’s teaching was always meant by him to be esoteric and for higher man alone.
In the last verse, here, another shaft of light is thrown upon the Immaculate Perception or so-called “pure objectivity” of the scientific mind. “Freedom from fever is still far from being knowledge.” Where a man’s emotions cease to accompany him in his investigations, he is not necessarily nearer the truth. Says Spencer, in the Preface to his Autobiography:—”In the genesis of a system of thought, the emotional nature is a large factor: perhaps as large a factor as the intellectual nature” (see pages 134, 141 of Vol. I., “Thoughts out of Season”).
Pars. 10, 11.
When we approach Nietzsche’s philosophy we must be prepared to be independent thinkers; in fact, the greatest virtue of his works is perhaps the subtlety with which they impose the obligation upon one of thinking alone, of scoring off one’s own bat, and of shifting intellectually for oneself.
“I am a railing alongside the torrent; whoever is able to grasp me, may grasp me! Your crutch, however, I am not.” These two paragraphs are an exhortation to higher men to become independent.
Here Nietzsche perhaps exaggerates the importance of heredity. As, however, the question is by no means one on which we are all agreed, what he says is not without value.
A very important principle in Nietzsche’s philosophy is enunciated in the first verse of this paragraph. “The higher its type, always the seldomer doth a thing succeed” (see page 82 of “Beyond Good and Evil”). Those who, like some political economists, talk in a business-like way about the terrific waste of human life and energy, deliberately overlook the fact that the waste most to be deplored usually occurs among higher individuals. Economy was never precisely one of nature’s leading principles. All this sentimental wailing over the larger proportion of failures than successes in human life, does not seem to take into account the fact that it is the rarest thing on earth for a highly organised being to attain to the fullest development and activity of all its functions, simply because it is so highly organised. The blind Will to Power in nature therefore stands in urgent need of direction by man.
Pars. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
These paragraphs deal with Nietzsche’s protest against the democratic seriousness (Pobelernst) of modern times. “All good things laugh,” he says, and his final command to the higher men is, “LEARN, I pray you — to laugh.” All that is GOOD, in Nietzsche’s sense, is cheerful. To be able to crack a joke about one’s deepest feelings is the greatest test of their value. The man who does not laugh, like the man who does not make faces, is already a buffoon at heart.
“What hath hitherto been the greatest sin here on earth? Was it not the word of him who said: ‘Woe unto them that laugh now!’ Did he himself find no cause for laughter on the earth? Then he sought badly. A child even findeth cause for it.”
Chapter LXXIV. The Song of Melancholy.
After his address to the higher men, Zarathustra goes out into the open to recover himself. Meanwhile the magician (Wagner), seizing the opportunity in order to draw them all into his net once more, sings the Song of Melancholy.
Chapter LXXV. Science.
The only one to resist the “melancholy voluptuousness” of his art, is the spiritually conscientious one — the scientific specialist of whom we read in the discourse entitled “The Leech”. He takes the harp from the magician and cries for air, while reproving the musician in the style of “The Case of Wagner”. When the magician retaliates by saying that the spiritually conscientious one could have understood little of his song, the latter replies: “Thou praisest me in that thou separatest me from thyself.” The speech of the scientific man to his fellow higher men is well worth studying. By means of it, Nietzsche pays a high tribute to the honesty of the true specialist, while, in representing him as the only one who can resist the demoniacal influence of the magician’s music, he elevates him at a stroke, above all those present. Zarathustra and the spiritually conscientious one join issue at the end on the question of the proper place of “fear” in man’s history, and Nietzsche avails himself of the opportunity in order to restate his views concerning the relation of courage to humanity. It is precisely because courage has played the most important part in our development that he would not see it vanish from among our virtues to-day. “ . . . courage seemeth to me the entire primitive history of man.”
Chapter LXXVI. Among the Daughters of the Desert.
This tells its own tale.
Chapter LXXVII. The Awakening.
In this discourse, Nietzsche wishes to give his followers a warning. He thinks he has so far helped them that they have become convalescent, that new desires are awakened in them and that new hopes are in their arms and legs. But he mistakes the nature of the change. True, he has helped them, he has given them back what they most need, i.e., belief in believing — the confidence in having confidence in something, but how do they use it? This belief in faith, if one can so express it without seeming tautological, has certainly been restored to them, and in the first flood of their enthusiasm they use it by bowing down and worshipping an ass! When writing this passage, Nietzsche was obviously thinking of the accusations which were levelled at the early Christians by their pagan contemporaries. It is well known that they were supposed not only to be eaters of human flesh but also ass-worshippers, and among the Roman graffiti, the most famous is the one found on the Palatino, showing a man worshipping a cross on which is suspended a figure with the head of an ass (see Minucius Felix, “Octavius” IX.; Tacitus, “Historiae” v. 3; Tertullian, “Apologia”, etc.). Nietzsche’s obvious moral, however, is that great scientists and thinkers, once they have reached the wall encircling scepticism and have thereby learned to recover their confidence in the act of believing, as such, usually manifest the change in their outlook by falling victims to the narrowest and most superstitious of creeds. So much for the introduction of the ass as an object of worship.
Now, with regard to the actual service and Ass–Festival, no reader who happens to be acquainted with the religious history of the Middle Ages will fail to see the allusion here to the asinaria festa which were by no means uncommon in France, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries.
Chapter LXXVIII. The Ass–Festival.
At length, in the middle of their feast, Zarathustra bursts in upon them and rebukes them soundly. But he does not do so long; in the Ass–Festival, it suddenly occurs to him, that he is concerned with a ceremony that may not be without its purpose, as something foolish but necessary — a recreation for wise men. He is therefore highly pleased that the higher men have all blossomed forth; they therefore require new festivals — ”A little valiant nonsense, some divine service and ass-festival, some old joyful Zarathustra fool, some blusterer to blow their souls bright.”
He tells them not to forget that night and the ass-festival, for “such things only the convalescent devise! And should ye celebrate it again,” he concludes, “do it from love to yourselves, do it also from love to me! And in remembrance of ME!”
Chapter LXXIX. The Drunken Song.
It were the height of presumption to attempt to fix any particular interpretation of my own to the words of this song. With what has gone before, the reader, while reading it as poetry, should be able to seek and find his own meaning in it. The doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence appears for the last time here, in an art-form. Nietzsche lays stress upon the fact that all happiness, all delight, longs for repetitions, and just as a child cries “Again! Again!” to the adult who happens to be amusing him; so the man who sees a meaning, and a joyful meaning, in existence must also cry “Again!” and yet “Again!” to all his life.
Chapter LXXX. The Sign.
In this discourse, Nietzsche disassociates himself finally from the higher men, and by the symbol of the lion, wishes to convey to us that he has won over and mastered the best and the most terrible in nature. That great power and tenderness are kin, was already his belief in 1875 — eight years before he wrote this speech, and when the birds and the lion come to him, it is because he is the embodiment of the two qualities. All that is terrible and great in nature, the higher men are not yet prepared for; for they retreat horror-stricken into the cave when the lion springs at them; but Zarathustra makes not a move towards them. He was tempted to them on the previous day, he says, but “That hath had its time! My suffering and my fellow suffering — what matter about them! Do I then strive after HAPPINESS? I strive after my work! Well! the lion hath come, my children are nigh. Zarathustra hath grown ripe. MY day beginneth: ARISE NOW, ARISE, THOU GREAT NOONDAY!”
. . .
The above I know to be open to much criticism. I shall be grateful to all those who will be kind enough to show me where and how I have gone wrong; but I should like to point out that, as they stand, I have not given to these Notes by any means their final form.
ANTHONY M. LUDOVICI.
London, February 1909.
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