To the Realists. Ye sober beings, who feel your selves armed against passion and fantasy, and would gladly make a pride and an ornament out of your emptiness, ye call yourselves realists, and give to understand that the world is actually constituted as it appears to you; before you alone reality stands unveiled, and ye yourselves would perhaps be the best part of it, oh, ye dear images of Sais! But are not ye also in your unveiled condition still extremely passionate and dusky beings compared with the fish, and still all too like an enamoured artist? 5 and what is “reality” to an enamoured artist! Ye still carry about with you the valuations of things which had their origin in the passions and infatuations of earlier centuries! There is still a secret and ineffaceable drunkenness embodied in your sobriety! Your love of “reality,” for example oh, that is an old, primitive “love”! In every feeling, in every sense-impression, there is a portion of this old love: and similarly also some kind of fantasy, prejudice, irrationality, ignorance, fear, and whatever else has become mingled and woven into it. There is that mountain! There is that cloud! What is “real” in them? Remove the phantasm and the whole human element therefrom, ye sober ones! Yes, if ye could do that! If ye could forget your origin, your past, your preparatory schooling, your whole history as man and beast! There is no “reality” for us nor for you either, ye sober ones, we are far from being so alien to one another as ye suppose; and perhaps our good-will to get beyond drunkenness is just as respectable as your belief that ye are altogether incapable of drunkenness.
* Schiller’s poem, “The Veiled Image of Sais,” is again referred to here. — TR.
Only as Creators! It has caused me the greatest trouble, and for ever causes me the greatest trouble, to perceive that unspeakably more depends upon what things are called, than on what they are. The reputation, the name and appearance, the importance, the usual measure and weight of things each being in origin most frequently an error and arbitrariness thrown over the things like a garment, and quite alien to their essence and even to their exterior have gradually, by the belief therein and its continuous growth from generation to generation, grown as it were on-and-into things and become their very body; the appearance at the very beginning becomes almost always the essence in the end, and operates as the essence! What a fool he would be who would think it enough to refer here to this origin and this nebulous veil of illusion, in order to annihilate that which virtually passes for the world namely, so-called “reality”! It is only as creators that we can annihilate! But let us not forget this: it suffices to create new names and valuations and probabilities, in order in the long run to create new “things.”
We Artists! When we love a woman we have readily a hatred against nature, on recollecting all the disagreeable natural functions to which every woman is subject; we prefer not to think of them at all, but if once our soul touches on these things it twitches impatiently, and glances, as we have said, contemptuously at nature: we are hurt; nature seems to encroach upon our possessions, and with the profanest hands. We then shut our ears against all physiology, and we decree in secret that “we will hear nothing of the fact that man is something else than soul and form!” “The man under the skin” is an abomination and monstrosity, a blasphemy of God and of love to all lovers. Well, just as the lover still feels with respect to nature and natural functions, so did every worshipper of God and his “holy omnipotence” feel formerly: in all that was said of nature by astronomers, geologists, physiologists, and physicians, he saw an encroachment on his most precious possession, and consequently an attack, and moreover also an impertinence of the assailant! The “law of nature” sounded to him as blasphemy against God; in truth he would too willingly have seen the whole of mechanics traced back to moral acts of volition and arbitrariness: but because nobody could render him this service, he concealed nature and mechanism from himself as best he could, and lived in a dream. Oh, those men of former times understood how to dream, and did not need first to go to sleep! and we men of the present day also still understand it too well, with all our good-will for wakefulness and daylight! It suffices to love, to hate, to desire, and in general to feel, immediately the spirit and the power of the dream come over us, and we ascend, with open eyes and indifferent to all danger, the most dangerous paths, to the roofs and towers of fantasy, and without any giddiness, as persons born for climbing we the night-walkers by day! We artists! We concealers of naturalness! We moon-struck and God-struck ones! We death-silent, untiring wanderers on heights which we do not see as heights, but as our plains, as our places of safety!
Women and their Effect in the Distance. Have I still ears? Am I only ear, and nothing else besides? Here I stand in the midst of the surging of the breakers, whose white flames fork up to my feet; from all sides there is howling, threatening, crying, and screaming at me, while in the lowest depths the old earth-shaker sings his aria hollow like a roaring bull; he beats such an earth-shaker’s measure thereto, that even the hearts of these weathered rock-monsters tremble at the sound. Then, suddenly, as if born out of nothingness, there appears before the portal of this hellish labyrinth, only a few fathoms distant, a great sailing-ship gliding silently along like a ghost. Oh, this ghostly beauty! With what enchantment it seizes me! What? Has all the repose and silence in the world embarked here? Does my happiness itself sit in this quiet place, my happier ego, my second immortalised self? Still not dead, but also no longer living? As a ghost-like, calm, gazing, gliding, sweeping, neutral being? Similar to the ship, which, with its white sails, like an immense butterfly, passes over the dark sea! Yes! Passing over existence! That is it! That would be it! —— It seems that the noise here has made me a visionary? All great noise causes one to place happiness in the calm and the distance. When a man is in the midst of his hubbub, in the midst of the breakers of his plots and plans, he there sees perhaps calm, enchanting beings glide past him, for whose happiness and retirement he longs they are women. He almost thinks that there with the women dwells his better self; that in these calm places even the loudest breakers become still as death, and life itself a dream of life. But still! but still! my noble enthusiast, there is also in the most beautiful sailing-ship so much noise and bustling, and alas, so much petty, pitiable bustling! The enchantment and the most powerful effect of women is, to use the language of philosophers, an effect at a distance, an actio in distans; there belongs thereto, however, primarily and above all, distance!
In Honour of Friendship. — That the sentiment of friendship was regarded by antiquity as the highest sentiment, higher even than the most vaunted pride of the self-sufficient and wise, yea, as it were its sole and still holier brotherhood, is very well expressed by the story of the Macedonian king who made the present of a talent to a cynical Athenian philosopher from whom he received it back again. “What?” said the king, “has he then no friend?” He therewith meant to say, “I honour this pride of the wise and independent man, but I should have honoured his humanity still higher, if the friend in him had gained the victory over his pride. The philosopher has lowered himself in my estimation, for he showed that he did not know one of the two highest sentiments and in fact the higher of them!”
Woman in Music. How does it happen that warm and rainy winds bring the musical mood and the inventive delight in melody with them? Are they not the same winds that fill the churches and give women amorous thoughts?
Sceptics. — I fear that women who have grown old are more sceptical in the secret recesses of their hearts than any of the men; they believe in the superficiality of existence as in its essence, and all virtue and profundity is to them only the dis guising of this “truth,” the very desirable disguising of a pudendum, — an affair, therefore, of decency and modesty, and nothing more!
Devotedness. There are noble women with a certain poverty of spirit, who, in order to express their profoundest devotedness, have no other alter native but to offer their virtue and modesty: it is the highest thing they have. And this present is often accepted without putting the recipient under such deep obligation as the giver supposed, a very melancholy story!
The Strength of the Weak. Women are all skilful in exaggerating their weaknesses, indeed they are inventive in weaknesses, so as to seem quite fragile ornaments to which even a grain of dust does harm; their existence is meant to bring home to man’s mind his coarseness, and to appeal to his conscience. They thus defend themselves against the strong and all “rights of might.”
Self-dissembling. She loves him now and has since been looking forth with as quiet confidence as a cow; but alas! It was precisely his delight that she seemed so fitful and absolutely incomprehensible! He had rather too much steady weather in himself already! Would she not do well to feign her old character? to feign indifference? Does not love itself advise her to do so? Vivat comoedia!
Will and Willingness. Some one brought a youth to a wise man, and said, “See, this is one who is being corrupted by women!” The wise man shook his head and smiled. “It is men,” he called out, “who corrupt women; and everything that women lack should be atoned for and improved in men for man creates for himself the ideal of woman, and woman moulds herself according to this ideal.” “You are too tender-hearted towards women,” said one of the bystanders, “you do not know them!” The wise man answered: “Man’s attribute is will, woman’s attribute is willingness-such is the law of the sexes, verily! a hard law for woman! All human beings are innocent of their existence, women, however, are doubly innocent; who could have enough of salve and gentleness for them!” “What about salve! What about gentleness!” called out another person in the crowd, “we must educate women better!” “We must educate men better,” said the wise man, and made a sign to the youth to follow him. The youth, however, did not follow him.
Capacity for Revenge. That a person cannot and consequently will not defend himself, does not yet cast disgrace upon him in our eyes; but we despise the person who has neither the ability nor the good-will for revenge whether it be a man or a woman. Would a woman be able to captivate us (or, as people say, to “fetter” us) whom we did not credit with knowing how to employ the dagger (any kind of dagger) skilfully against us under certain circumstances? Or against herself; which in a certain case might be the severest revenge (the Chinese revenge).
The Mistresses of the Masters. A powerful contralto voice, as we occasionally hear it in the theatre, raises suddenly for us the curtain on possibilities in which we usually do not believe; all at once we are convinced that somewhere in the world there may be women with high, heroic, royal souls, capable and prepared for magnificent remonstrances, resolutions, and self-sacrifices, capable and prepared for domination over men, because in them the best in man, superior to sex, has become a corporeal ideal. To be sure, it is not the intention of the theatre that such voices should give such a conception of women; they are usually intended to represent the ideal male lover, for example, a Romeo; but, to judge by my experience, the theatre regularly miscalculates here, and the musician also, who expects such effects from such a voice. People do not believe in these lovers; these voices still contain a tinge of the motherly and housewifely character, and most of all when love is in their tone.
On Female Chastity. There is something quite astonishing and extraordinary in the education of women of the higher class; indeed, there is perhaps nothing more paradoxical. All the world is agreed to educate them with as much ignorance as possible in eroticis, and to inspire their soul with a profound shame of such things, and the extremest impatience and horror at the suggestion of them. It is really here only that all the “honour” of woman is at stake; what would one not forgive them in other respects! But here they are intended to remain ignorant to the very backbone: they are intended to have neither eyes, ears, words, nor thoughts for this, their “wickedness”; indeed knowledge here is already evil. And then! To be hurled as with an awful thunderbolt into reality and knowledge with marriage and indeed by him whom they most love and esteem: to have to encounter love and shame in contradiction, yea, to have to feel rapture, abandonment, duty, sympathy, and fright at the unexpected proximity of God and animal, and whatever else besides! all at once! There, in fact, a psychic entanglement has been effected which is quite unequalled! Even the sympathetic curiosity of the wisest discerner of men does not suffice to divine how this or that woman gets along with the solution of this enigma and the enigma of this solution; what dreadful, far-reaching suspicions must awaken thereby in the poor unhinged soul; and forsooth, how the ultimate philosophy and scepticism of the woman casts anchor at this point! Afterwards the same profound silence as be fore: and often even a silence to herself, a shutting of her eyes to herself. Young wives on that account make great efforts to appear superficial and thought less; the most ingenious of them simulate a kind of impudence. Wives easily feel their husbands as a question-mark to their honour, and their children as an apology or atonement, they require children, and wish for them in quite another spirit than a husband wishes for them. In short, one cannot be gentle enough towards women!
Mothers. Animals think differently from men with respect to females; with them the female is regarded as the productive being. There is no paternal love among them, but there is such a thing as love of the children of a beloved, and habituation to them. In the young, the females find gratification for their lust of dominion; the young are a property, an occupation, something quite comprehensible to them, with which they can chatter: all this conjointly is maternal love, it is to be compared to the love of the artist for his work. Pregnancy has made the females gentler, more expectant, more timid, more submissively inclined; and similarly intellectual pregnancy en genders the character of the contemplative, who are allied to women in character: they are the masculine mothers. Among animals the masculine sex is regarded as the beautiful sex.
Saintly Cruelty. A man holding a newly born child in his hands came to a saint. “What should I do with this child,” he asked, “it is wretched, deformed, and has not even enough of life to die.” “Kill it,” cried the saint with a dreadful voice, “kill it, and then hold it in thy arms for three days and three nights to brand it on thy memory thus wilt thou never again beget a child when it is not the time for thee to beget.” When the man had heard this he went away disappointed; and many found fault with the saint because he had advised cruelty; for he had advised to kill the child. “But is it not more cruel to let it live?” asked the saint.
The Unsuccessful. Those poor women always fail of success who become agitated and uncertain, and talk too much in presence of him whom they love; for men are most successfully seduced by a certain subtle and phlegmatic tenderness.
The Third Sex. “A small man is a paradox, but still a man but a small woman seems to me to be of another sex in comparison with well-grown ones”-said an old dancing-master. A small woman is never beautiful said old Aristotle.
The greatest Danger. Had there not at all times been a larger number of men who regarded the cultivation of their mind their “rationality”- as their pride, their obligation, their virtue, and were injured or shamed by all play of fancy and extravagance of thinking as lovers of “sound common sense”: mankind would long ago have perished! Incipient insanity has hovered, and hovers continually over mankind as its greatest danger: it is precisely the breaking out of inclination in feeling, seeing, and hearing; the enjoyment of the unruliness of the mind; the delight in human unreason. It is not truth and certainty that is the antithesis of the world of the insane, but the universality and all-obligatoriness of a belief, in short, non-voluntariness in forming opinions. And the greatest labour of human beings hitherto has been to agree with one another regarding a number of things, and to impose upon themselves a law of agreement indifferent whether these things are true or false. This is the discipline of the mind which has preserved mankind; but the counter-impulses are still so powerful that one can really speak of the future of mankind with little confidence. The ideas of things still continually shift and move, and will perhaps alter more than ever in the future; it is continually the most select spirits themselves who strive against universal obligatoriness the investigators of truth above all! The accepted belief, as the belief of all the world, continually engenders a disgust and a new longing in the more ingenious minds; and already the slow tempo which it demands for all intellectual processes (the imitation of the tortoise, which is here recognised as the rule) makes the artists and poets runaways: it is in these impatient spirits that a downright delight in delirium breaks out, because delirium has such a joyful tempo! Virtuous intellects, therefore, are needed ah! I want to use the least ambiguous word, virtuous stupidity is needed, imperturbable conductors of the slow spirits are needed, in order that the faithful of the great collective belief may remain with one another and dance their dance further: it is a necessity of the first importance that here enjoins and demands. We others are the exceptions and the danger — we eternally need protection! Well, there can actually be something said in favour of the exceptions provided that they never want to become the rule.
The Animal with good Conscience. It is not unknown to me that there is vulgarity in every thing that pleases Southern Europe whether it be Italian opera (for example, Rossini’s and Bellini s), or the Spanish adventure-romance (most readily accessible to us in the French garb of Gil Bias) but it does not offend me, any more than the vulgarity which one encounters in a walk through Pompeii, or even in the reading of every ancient book: what is the reason of this? Is it because shame is lacking here, and because the vulgar always comes forward just as sure and certain of itself as anything noble, lovely, and passionate in the same kind of music or romance? “The animal has its rights like man, so let it run about freely; and you, my dear fellow-man, are still this animal, in spite of all!” — that seems to me the moral of the case, and the peculiarity of southern humanity. Bad taste has its rights like good taste, and even a prerogative over the latter when it is the great requisite, the sure satisfaction, and as it were a universal language, an immediately intelligible mask and attitude; the excellent, select taste on the other hand has always something of a seeking, tentative character, not fully certain that it understands, it is never, and has never been popular! The masque is and remains popular! So let all this masquerade run along in the melodies and cadences, in the leaps and merriment of the rhythm of these operas! Quite the ancient life! What does one understand of it, if one does not understand the delight in the masque, the good conscience of all masquerade! Here is the bath and the refreshment of the ancient spirit: and perhaps this bath was still more necessary for the rare and sublime natures of the ancient world than for the vulgar. On the other hand, a vulgar turn in northern works, for example in German music, offends me unutterably. There is shame in it, the artist has lowered himself in his own sight, and could not even avoid blushing: we are ashamed with him, and are so hurt because we surmise that he believed he had to lower him self on our account.
What we should be Grateful for. It is only the artists, and especially the theatrical artists, who have furnished men with eyes and ears to hear and see with some pleasure what everyone is in him self, what he experiences and aims at: it is only they who have taught us how to estimate the hero that is concealed in each of these common-place men, and the art of looking at ourselves from a distance as heroes, and as it were simplified and transfigured, the art of “putting ourselves on the stage” before ourselves. It is thus only that we get beyond some of the paltry details in ourselves! Without that art we should be nothing but fore ground, and would live absolutely under the spell of the perspective which makes the closest and the commonest seem immensely large and like reality in itself. Perhaps there is merit of a similar kind in the religion which commanded us to look at the sinfulness of every individual man with a magnifying-glass, and made a great, immortal criminal of the sinner; in that it put eternal perspectives around man, it taught him to see himself from a distance, and as something past, something entire.
The Charm of Imperfection. — I see here a poet, who, like so many men, exercises a higher charm by his imperfections than by all that is rounded off and takes perfect shape under his hands, indeed, he derives his advantage and reputation far more from his actual limitations than from his abundant powers. His work never expresses altogether what he would really like to express, what he would like to have seen: he appears to have had the foretaste of a vision and never the vision itself: but an extraordinary longing for this vision has remained in his soul; and from this he derives his equally extraordinary eloquence of longing and craving. With this he raises those who listen to him above his work and above all “works,” and gives them wings to rise higher than hearers have ever risen before, thus making them poets and seers themselves; they then show an admiration for the originator of their happiness, as if he had led them immediately to the vision of his holiest and ultimate verities, as if he had reached his goal, and had actually seen and communicated his vision. It is to the advantage of his reputation that he has not really arrived at his goal.
Art and Nature. The Greeks (or at least the Athenians) liked to hear good talking: indeed they had an eager inclination for it, which distinguished them more than anything else from non-Greeks. And so they required good talking even from passion on the stage, and submitted to the unnaturalness of dramatic verse with delight: in nature, forsooth, passion is so sparing of words! so dumb and confused! Or if it finds words, so embarrassed and irrational and a shame to itself! We have now, all of us, thanks to the Greeks, accustomed ourselves to this unnaturalness on the stage, as we endure that other unnaturalness, the singing passion, and willingly endure it, thanks to the Italians. It has become a necessity to us, which we cannot satisfy out of the resources of actuality, to hear men talk well and in full detail in the most trying situations: it enraptures us at present when the tragic hero still finds words, reasons, eloquent gestures, and on the whole a bright spirituality, where life approaches the abysses, and where the actual man mostly loses his head, and certainly his fine language. This kind of deviation from nature is perhaps the most agreeable repast for man’s pride: he loves art generally on account of it, as the expression of high, heroic unnaturalness and convention. One rightly objects to the dramatic poet when he does not transform every thing into reason and speech, but always retains a remnant of silence: just as one is dissatisfied with an operatic musician who cannot find a melody for the highest emotion, but only an emotional, “natural” stammering and crying. Here nature has to be contradicted! Here the common charm of illusion has to give place to a higher charm! The Greeks go far, far in this direction frightfully far! As they constructed the stage as narrow as possible and dispensed with all the effect of deep backgrounds, as they made pantomime and easy motion impossible to the actor, and transformed him into a solemn, stiff, masked bogey, so they have also deprived passion itself of its deep background, and have dictated to it a law of fine talk; indeed, they have really done everything to counteract the elementary effect of representations that inspire pity and terror: they did not want pity and terror, with due deference, with the highest deference to Aristotle! but he certainly did not hit the nail, to say nothing of the head of the nail, when he spoke about the final aim of Greek tragedy! Let us but look at the Grecian tragic poets with respect to what most excited their diligence, their inventiveness, and their emulation, certainly it was not the intention of subjugating the spectators by emotion! The Athenian went to the theatre to hear fine talking! And fine talking was arrived at by Sophocles! pardon me this heresy! It is very different with serious opera: all its masters make it their business to prevent their personages being understood. “An occasional word picked up may come to the assistance of the inattentive listener; but on the whole the situation must be self-explanatory, the talking is of no account!” so they all think, and so they have all made fun of the words. Perhaps they have only lacked courage to express fully their extreme contempt for words: a little additional insolence in Rossini, and he would have allowed la-la-la-la to be sung throughout and it might have been the rational course! The person ages of the opera are not meant to be believed “in their words,” but in their tones! That is the difference, that is the fine unnaturalness on account of which people go to the opera! Even the recitativo secco is not really intended to be heard as words and text: this kind of half-music is meant rather in the first place to give the musical ear a little repose (the repose from melody, as from the sublimest, and on that account the most straining enjoyment of this art), but very soon something different results, namely, an increasing impatience, an increasing resistance, a new longing for entire music, for melody. How is it with the art of Richard Wagner as seen from this standpoint? Is it perhaps the same? Perhaps otherwise? It would often seem to me as if one needed to have learned by heart both the words and the music of his Rations before the performances; for without that — so it seemed to me — one may hear neither the words, nor even the music.
Grecian taste. “What is beautiful in it?” asked a certain geometrician, after a performance of the Iphigenia—“there is nothing proved in it!” Could the Greeks have been so far from this taste? In Sophocles at least “everything is proved”.
Esprit Un–Grecian. The Greeks were exceedingly logical and plain in all their thinking; they did not get tired of it, at least during their long flourishing period, as is so often the case with the French; who too willingly made a little excursion into the opposite, and in fact endure the spirit of logic only when it betrays its sociable courtesy, its sociable self-renunciation, by a multitude of such little excursions into its opposite. Logic appear to them as necessary as bread and water, but also like these as a kind of prison-fare, as soon as it is to be taken pure and by itself. In good society one must never want to be in the right absolutely and solely, as all pure logic requires; hence the little dose of irrationality in all French esprit. The social sense of the Greeks was far less developed than that of the French in the present and the past; hence, so little esprit in their cleverest men, hence, so little wit, even in their wags, hence alas! But people will not readily believe these tenets of mine, and how much of the kind I have still on my soul! Est res magna tacere says Martial, like all garrulous people.
Translations. One can estimate the amount of the historical sense which an age possesses by the way in which it makes translations and seeks to embody in itself past periods and literatures. The French of Corneille, and even the French of the Revolution, appropriated Roman antiquity in a manner for which we would no longer have the courage owing to our superior historical sense. And Roman antiquity itself: how violently, and at the same time how naively, did it lay its hand on everything excellent and elevated belonging to the older Grecian antiquity! How they trans lated these writings into the Roman present! How they wiped away intentionally and unconcernedly the wing-dust of the butterfly moment! It is thus that Horace now and then translated Alcaeus or Archilochus, it is thus that Propertius translated Callimachus and Philetas (poets of equal rank with Theocritus, if we be allowed to judge): of what consequence was it to them that the actual creator experienced this and that, and had inscribed the indication thereof in his poem! as poets they were averse to the antiquarian, inquisitive spirit which precedes the historical sense; as poets they did not respect those essentially personal traits and names, nor anything peculiar to city, coast, or century, such as a costume and mask, but at once put the present and the Roman in its place. They seem to us to ask “Should we not make the old new for our selves, and adjust ourselves to it? Should we not be allowed to inspire this dead body with our soul? for it is dead indeed: how loathsome is everything dead!” They did not know the pleasure of the historical sense; the past and the alien was painful to them, and as Romans it was an incitement a Roman conquest. In fact, they conquered when they translated not only in that they omitted the historical: they added also allusions to the present; above all, they struck out the name of the poet and put their own in its place -not with the feeling of theft, but with the very best conscience of the imperium Romanum.
The Origin of Poetry. — The lovers of the fantastic in man, who at the same time represent the doctrine of instinctive morality, draw this conclusion: Granted that utility has been honoured at all as the highest divinity, where then in all the world has poetry come from? this rhythmising of speech which thwarts rather than furthers plainness of communication, and which, nevertheless, has sprung up everywhere on the earth, and still springs up, as a mockery of all useful purpose! The wildly beautiful irrationality of poetry refutes you, ye utilitarians! The wish to get rid of utility some way-that is precisely what has elevated man, that is what has inspired him to morality and art! Well, I must here speak for once to please the utilitarians, they are so seldom in the right that it is pitiful! In the old times which called poetry into being, people had still utility in view with respect to it, and a very important utility at the time when rhythm was introduced into speech, that force which arranges all the particles of the sentence anew, commands the choosing of the words, recolours the thought, and makes it more obscure, more foreign, and more distant: to be sure a superstitious utility! It was intended that a human entreaty should be more profoundly impressed upon the Gods by virtue of rhythm, after it had been observed that men could remember a verse better than an unmetrical speech. It was likewise thought that people could make them selves audible at greater distances by the rhythmical beat; the rhythmical prayer seemed to come nearer to the ear of the Gods. Above all, however, people wanted to have the advantage of the elementary conquest which man experiences in himself when he hears music: rhythm is a constraint; it produces an unconquerable desire to yield, to join in; not only the step of the foot, but also the soul itself follows the measure, probably the soul of the Gods also, as people thought! They attempted, therefore, to constrain the Gods by rhythm, and to exercise a power over them; they threw poetry around the Gods like a magic noose. There was a still more wonderful idea, and it has perhaps operated most powerfully of all in the originating of poetry. Among the Pythagoreans it made its appearance as a philosophical doctrine and as an artifice of teaching: but long before there were philosophers music was acknowledged to possess the power of unburdening the emotions, of purifying the soul, of soothing the ferocia animind this was owing to the rhythmical element in music. When the proper tension and harmony of the soul were lost a person had to dance to the measure of the singer that was the recipe of this medical art. By means of it Terpander quieted a tumult, Empedocles calmed a maniac, Damon purged a love-sick youth; by means of it even the maddened, revengeful God were treated for the purpose of a cure. This was effected by driving the frenzy and wantonness of their emotions to the highest pitch, by making the furious mad, and the revengeful intoxicated with vengeance:— all the orgiastic cults seek to discharge the ferocia of a deity all at once and thus make an orgy, so that the deity may feel freer and quieter afterwards, and leave man in peace. Melos, according to its root, signifies a soothing agency, not because the song is gentle itself, but because its after-effect is gentle. And not only in the religious song, but also in the secular song of the most ancient times, the prerequisite is that the rhythm should exercise a magical influence; for example, in drawing water, or in rowing: the song is for the enchanting of the spirits supposed be active thereby; it makes them obliging, involuntary and the instruments of man. And as often as a person acts he has occasion to sing, every action is dependent on the assistance of spirits: magic song and incantation appear to be the original form of poetry. When verse also came to be used in oracles the Greeks said that the hexameter was invented at Delphi, the rhythm was here also intended to exercise a compulsory influence. To make a prophecy that means originally (according to what seems to me the probable derivation of the Greek word) to deter mine something; people thought they could deter mine the future by winning Apollo over to their side: he who, according to the most ancient idea, is far more than a foreseeing deity. According as the formula is pronounced with literal and rhythmical correctness, it determines the future: the formula, however, is the invention of Apollo, who as the God of rhythm, can also determine the goddesses of fate. Looked at and investigated as a whole, was there ever anything more serviceable to the ancient superstitious species of human being than rhythm? People could do everything with it: they could make labour go on magically; they could compel a God to appear, to be near at hand, and listen to them; they could arrange the future for themselves according to their will; they could unburden their own souls of any kind of excess (of anxiety, of mania, of sympathy, of revenge), and not only their own souls, but the souls of the most evil spirits, without verse a person was nothing, by means of verse a person became almost a God. Such a fundamental feeling no longer allows itself to be fully eradicated, and even now, after millenniums of long labour in combating such superstition, the very wisest of us occasionally becomes the fool of rhythm, be it only that one perceives a thought to be truer when it has a metrical form and approaches with a divine hopping. Is it not a very funny thing that the most serious philosophers, however anxious they are in other respects for strict certainty, still appeal to poetical sayings in order to give their thoughts force and credibility? and yet it is more dangerous to a truth when the poet assents to it than when he contradicts it! For, as Homer says, “Minstrels speak much false hood!”
The Good and the Beautiful. Artists glorify continually they do nothing else, and indeed they glorify all those conditions and things that have a reputation, so that man may feel himself good or great, or intoxicated, or merry, or pleased and wise by it. Those select things and conditions whose value for human happiness is regarded as secure and determined, are the objects of artists: they are ever lying in wait to discover such things, to transfer them into the domain of art I mean to say that they are not themselves the valuers of happiness and of the happy ones, but they always press close to these valuers with the greatest curiosity and longing, in order immediately to use their valuations advantageously. As besides their impatience, they have also the big lungs of heralds and the feet of runners, they are generally always among the first to glorify the new excellency, and often seem to be the first who have called it good and valued it as good. This, however, as we have said, is an error; they are only faster and louder than the actual valuers: And who then are these? They are the rich and the leisurely.
The Theatre. This day has given me once more strong and elevated sentiments, and if I could have music and art in the evening, I know well what music and art I should not like to have; namely, none of that which would fain intoxicate its hearers and excite them to a crisis of strong and high feeling, those men with commonplace souls, who in the evening are not like victors on triumphal cars, but like tired mules to whom life has rather too often applied the whip. What would those men at all know of “higher moods,” unless there were expedients for causing ecstasy and idealistic strokes of the whip! and thus they have their inspirers as they have their wines. But what is their drink and their drunkenness to me! Does the inspired one need wine? He rather looks with a kind of disgust at the agency and the agent which are here intended to produce an effect without sufficient reason, an imitation of the high tide of the soul! What? One gives the mole wings and proud fancies before going to sleep, before he creeps into his hole? One sends him into the theatre and puts great magnifying-glasses to his blind and tired eyes? Men, whose life is not “action” but business, sit in front of the stage and look at strange beings to whom life is more than business? “This is proper,” you say, “this is entertaining, this is what culture wants!” Well then! culture is too often lacking in me, for the sight is too often disgusting to me. He who has enough of tragedy and comedy in himself surely prefers to remain away from the theatre; or as an exception, the whole procedure theatre and public and poet included becomes for him a truly tragic and comic play, so that the performed piece counts for little in comparison. He who is something like Faust and Manfred, what does it matter to him about the Fausts and Manfreds of the theatre.while it certainly gives him some thing to think about that such figures are brought into the theatre at all. The strongest thoughts and passions before those who are not capable of thought and passion but of intoxication only I And those as a means to this end! And theatre and music the hashish-smoking and betel-chewing of Europeans! Oh who will narrate to us the whole history of narcotics! — It is almost the history of “culture, the so-called higher culture!
The Conceit of Artists. — I think artists often do not know what they can do best, because they are too conceited, and have set their minds on some thing loftier than those little plants appear to be which can grow up to perfection on their soil, fresh, rare, and beautiful. The final value of their own garden and vineyard is superciliously under estimated by them, and their love and their insight are not of the same quality. Here is a musician, who, more than any one else, has the genius for discovering the tones peculiar to suffering, oppressed, tortured souls, and who can endow even dumb animals with speech. No one equals him in the colours of the late autumn, in the indescribably touching happiness of a last, a final, and all too short enjoyment; he knows a chord for those secret and weird midnights of the soul when cause and effect seem out of joint, and when every instant something may originate “out of nothing.” He draws his resources best of all out of the lower depths of human happiness, and so to speak, out of its drained goblet, where the bitterest and most nauseous drops have ultimately, for good or for ill, commingled with the sweetest. He knows the weary shuffling along of the soul which can no longer leap or fly, yea, not even walk; he has the shy glance of concealed pain, of understanding without comfort, of leave-taking without avowal; yea, as the Orpheus of all secret misery, he is greater than anyone; and in fact much has been added to art by him which was hitherto inexpressible and not even thought worthy of art, and which was only to be scared away, by words, and not grasped many small and quite microscopic features of the soul: yes, he is the master of miniature. But he does not wish to be so! His character is more in love with large walls and daring frescoes! He fails to see that his spirit has a different taste and inclination, and prefers to sit quietly in the corners of ruined houses: concealed in this way, concealed even from himself, he there paints his proper master pieces, all of which are very short, often only one bar in length, there only does he become quite good, great, and perfect, perhaps there only. But he does not know it! He is too conceited to know it.
Earnestness for the Truth. Earnest for the truth! What different things men understand by these words! Just the same opinions, and modes of demonstration and testing which a thinker regards as a frivolity in himself, to which he has succumbed with shame at one time or other, just the same opinions may give to an artist, who comes in contact with them and accepts them temporarily, the consciousness that the profoundest earnestness for the truth has now taken hold of him, and that it is worthy of admiration that, although an artist, he at the same time exhibits the most ardent desire for the antithesis of the apparent It is thus possible that a person may, just by his pathos of earnestness, betray how superficially and sparingly his intellect has hitherto operated in the domain of knowledge. And is not everything that we con sider important our betrayer? It shows where our motives lie, and where our motives are altogether lacking.
Now and Formerly. Of what consequence is all our art in artistic products, if that higher art, the art of the festival, be lost by us? Formerly all artistic products were exhibited on the great festive-path of humanity, as tokens of remembrance, and monuments of high and happy moments. One now seeks to allure the exhausted and sickly from the great suffering-path of humanity for a wanton moment by means of works of art; one furnishes them with a little ecstasy and insanity.
Lights and Shades. Books and writings are different with different thinkers. One writer has collected together in his book all the rays of light which he could quickly plunder and carry home from an illuminating experience; while another gives only the shadows, and the grey and black replicas of that which on the previous day had towered up in his soul.
Precaution. Alfieri, as is well known, told a great many falsehoods when he narrated the history of his life to his astonished contemporaries. He told falsehoods owing to the despotism toward himself which he exhibited, for example, in the way in which he created his own language, and tyrannised himself into a poet: he finally found a rigid form of sublimity into which he forced his life and his memory; he must have suffered much in the process. I would also give no credit to a history of Plato’s life written by himself, as little as to Rousseau’s, or to the Vita nuova of Dante.
Prose and Poetry. Let it be observed that the great masters of prose have almost always been poets as well, whether openly, or only in secret and for the “closet”; and in truth one only writes good prose in view of poetry! For prose is an uninterrupted, polite warfare with poetry; all its charm consists in the fact that poetry is constantly avoided and contradicted; every abstraction wants to have a gibe at poetry, and wishes to be uttered with a mocking voice; all dryness and coolness is meant to bring the amiable goddess into an amiable despair; there are often approximations and reconciliations for the moment, and then a sudden recoil and a burst of laughter; the curtain is often drawn up and dazzling light let in just while the goddess is enjoying her twilights and dull colours; the word is often taken out of her mouth and chanted to a melody while she holds her fine hands before her delicate little ears: and so there are a thousand enjoyments of the warfare, the defeats included, of which the unpoetic, the so — called prose — men know nothing at all: they consequently write and speak only bad prose! Warfare is the father of all good things, it is also the father of good prose! There have been four very singular and — truly poetical men in this century who have arrived at mastership in prose, for which other wise this century is not suited, owing to lack of poetry, as we have indicated. Not to take Goethe into account, for he is reasonably claimed by the century that produced him, I look only on Giacomo Leopardi, Prosper Merimee, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Walter Savage Landor the author of Imaginary Conversations, as worthy to be called masters of prose.
But why, then, do you Write.? A: I do not belong to those who think with the wet pen in hand; and still less to those who yield themselves entirely to their passions before the open ink-bottle, sitting on their chair and staring at the paper. I am always vexed and abashed by writing; writing is a necessity for me, even to speak of it in a simile is disagreeable. B: But why, then, do you write? A: Well, my dear Sir, to tell you in confidence, I have hitherto found no other means of getting rid of my thoughts. B: And why do you wish to get rid of them? A: Why I wish? Do I really wish! I must B: Enough! Enough!
Growth after Death. Those few daring words about moral matters which Fontenelle threw into his immortal Dialogues of the Dead, were regarded by his age as paradoxes and amusements of a not unscrupulous wit; even the highest judges of taste and intellect saw nothing more in them, indeed, Fontenelle himself perhaps saw nothing more. Then something incredible takes place: these thoughts become truths! Science proves them! The game becomes serious! And we read those dialogues with a feeling different from that with which Voltaire and Helvetius read them, and we involuntarily raise their originator into another and much higher class of intellects than they did. Rightly? Wrongly?
Chamfort. That such a judge of men and of the multitude as Chamfort should side with the multitude, instead of standing apart in philosophical resignation and defence I am at a loss to explain this, except as follows: There was an instinct in him stronger than his wisdom, and it had never been gratified: the hatred against all noblesse of blood; perhaps his mother’s old and only too explicable hatred, which was consecrated in him by love of her, an instinct of revenge from his boyhood, which waited for the hour to avenge his mother. But then the course of his life, his genius, and alas! most of all, perhaps, the paternal blood in his veins, had seduced him to rank and consider himself equal to the noblesse for many, many years! In the end, however, he could not endure the sight of himself, the “old man ” under the old regime, any longer; he got into a violent, penitential passion, and in this state he put on the raiment of the populace as his special kind of hair-shirt! His bad conscience was the neglect of revenge. If Chamfort had then been a little more of the philosopher, the Revolution would not have had its tragic wit and its sharpest sting; it would have been regarded as a much more stupid affair, and would have had no such seductive influence on men’s minds. But Chamfort’s hatred and revenge educated an entire generation; and the most illustrious men passed through his school. Let us but consider that Mirabeau looked up to Chamfort as to his higher and older self, from whom he expected (and endured) impulses, warnings, and condemnations, Mirabeau, who as a man belongs to an entirely different order of greatness, as the very foremost among the states man-geniuses of yesterday and today. Strange, that in spite of such a friend and advocate we possess Mirabeau’s letters to Chamfort this wittiest of all moralists has remained unfamiliar to the French, quite the same as Stendhal, who has perhaps had the most penetrating eyes and ears of any Frenchman of this century. Is it because the latter had really too much of the German and the Englishman in his nature for the Parisians to endure him? while Chamfort, a man with ample knowledge of the profundities and secret motives of the soul, gloomy, suffering, ardent a thinker who found laughter necessary as the remedy of life, and who almost gave himself up as lost every day that he had not laughed, seems much more like an Italian, and related by blood to Dante and Leopardi, than like a French man. One knows Chamfort’s last words: “Ah! mon ami” he said to Sieyes, “je m’en vais enfin de ce monde, ou il faut que le c<zur se brise ou se bronze.” These were certainly not the words of a dying Frenchman.
Two Orators. Of these two orators the one arrives at a full understanding of his case only when he yields himself to emotion; it is only this that pumps sufficient blood and heat into his brain to compel his high intellectuality to reveal itself.
The other attempts, indeed, now and then to do the same: to state his case sonorously, vehemently, and spiritedly with the aid of emotion, but usually with bad success. He then very soon speaks obscurely and confusedly; he exaggerates, makes omissions, and excites suspicion of the justice of his case: indeed, he himself feels this suspicion, and the sudden changes into the coldest and most repulsive tones (which raise a doubt in the hearer as to his passionateness being genuine) are thereby explicable. With him emotion always drowns the spirit; perhaps because it is stronger than in the former. But he is at the height of his power when he resists the impetuous storm of his feeling, and as it were scorns it; it is then only that his spirit emerges fully from its concealment, a spirit logical, mocking and playful, but nevertheless awe-inspiring.
The Loquacity of Authors. There is a loquacity of anger frequent in Luther, also in Schopenhauer. A loquacity which comes from too great a store of conceptual formulae, as in Kant. A loquacity which comes from delight in ever new modifications of the same idea: one finds it in Montaigne. A loquacity of malicious natures: whoever reads writings of our period will recollect two authors in this connection. A loquacity which comes from delight in fine words and forms of speech: by no means rare in Goethe’s prose. A loquacity which comes from pure satisfaction in noise and confusion of feelings: for example in Carlyle.
In Honour of Shakespeare. The best thing I could say in honour of Shakespeare, the man, is that he believed in Brutus, and cast not a shadow of suspicion on the kind of virtue which Brutus represents! It is to him that Shakespeare consecrated his best tragedy it is at present still called by a wrong name, to him, and to the most terrible essence of lofty morality. Independence of soul! that is the question at issue! No sacrifice can be too great there: one must be able to sacrifice to it even one’s dearest friend, although he be the grandest of men, the ornament of the world, the genius without peer, if one really loves freedom as the freedom of great souls, and if this freedom be threatened by him: it is thus that Shakespeare must have felt! The elevation in which he places Caesar is the most exquisite honour he could confer upon Brutus; it is thus only that he lifts into vastness the inner problem of his hero, and similarly the strength of soul which could cut this knot! And was it actually political freedom that impelled the poet to sympathy with Brutus, and made him the accomplice of Brutus? Or was political freedom merely a symbol for something inexpressible? Do we perhaps stand before some sombre event or adventure of the poet’s own soul, which has remained unknown, and of which he only cared to speak symbolically? What is all Hamlet-melancholy in comparison with the melancholy of Brutus! and perhaps Shakespeare also knew this, as he knew the other, by experience! Perhaps he also had his dark hour and his bad angel, just as Brutus had them! But whatever similarities and secret relationships of that kind there may have been, Shakespeare cast himself on the ground and unworthy and alien in presence of the aspect and virtue of Brutus: he has inscribed the testimony thereof in the tragedy itself. He has twice brought in a poet in it, and twice heaped upon him such an impatient and extreme contempt, that it sounds like a cry like the cry of self-contempt Brutus, even Brutus loses patience when the poet appears, self-important, pathetic and obtrusive, as poets usually are persons who seem to abound in the possibilities of greatness, even moral greatness, and nevertheless rarely attain even to ordinary uprightness in the philosophy of practice and of life “He may know the times, but I know his temper — away with the jigging fool!”— shouts Brutus. We may translate this back into the sou of the poet that composed it.
The Followers of Schopenhauer. What one sees at the contact of civilized peoples with barbarians, namely, that the lower civilization regularly accepts in the first place the vices, weaknesses, and excesses of the higher; then, from that point onward, feels the influence of a charm; and finally, by means of the appropriated vices and weaknesses also allows something of the valuable influence of the higher culture to leaven it: one can also see this close at hand and without journeys to barbarian peoples, to be sure, somewhat refined and spiritualised, and not so readily palpable. What are the German followers of Schopenhauer still accustomed to receive first of all from their master? those who, when placed beside his superior culture, must deem themselves sufficiently barbarous to be first of all barbarously fascinated and seduced by him. Is it his hard matter-of-fact sense, his inclination to clearness and rationality, which often makes him appear so English, and so unlike Germans? Or the strength of his intellectual conscience, which endured a life-long contradiction of “being” and “willing,” and compelled him to contradict himself constantly even in his writings on almost every point? Or his purity in matters relating to the Church and the Christian God? for here he was pure as no German philosopher had been hitherto, so that he lived and died “as a Voltairian.” Or his immortal doctrines of the intellectuality of intuition, the apriority of the law of causality, the instrumental nature of the intellect, and the non-freedom of the will? No, nothing of this enchants, nor is felt as enchanting; but Schopenhauer’s mystical embarrassments and shufflings in those passages where the matter-of-fact thinker allowed himself to be seduced and corrupted by the vain impulse to be the unraveller of the world’s riddle: his undemonstrable doctrine of one will (“all causes are merely occasional causes of the phenomenon of the will at such a time and at such a place,” “the will to live, whole and undivided, is present in every being, even in the smallest, as perfectly as in the sum of all that was, is, and will be”); his denial of the individual (“all lions are really only one lion,” “plurality of individuals is an appearance,” as also development is only an appearance: he calls the opinion of Lamarck “an ingenious, absurd error”); his fantasy about genius (“in aesthetic contemplation the individual is no longer an individual, but a pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge,” “the subject, in that it entirely merges in the contemplated object, has become this object itself”); his nonsense about sympathy, and about the outburst of the principium individuation is thus rendered possible, as the source of all morality; including also such assertions as, “dying is really the design of existence,” “the possibility should not be absolutely denied that a magical effect could proceed from a person already dead”: these, and similar extravagances and vices of the philosopher, are always first accepted and made articles of faith; for vices and extravagances are always easiest to imitate, and do not require a long preliminary practice. But let us speak of the most celebrated of the living Schopenhauerians, Richard Wagner. It has happened to him as it has already happened to many an artist: he made a mistake in the interpretation of the characters he created, and misunderstood the unexpressed philosophy of the art peculiarly his own. Richard Wagner allowed himself to be misled by Hegel’s influence till the middle of his life; and he did the same again when later on he read Schopenhauer’s doctrine between the lines of his characters, and began to express himself with such terms as
“will,” “genius,” and “sympathy.” Nevertheless it will remain true that nothing is more counter to Schopenhauer’s spirit than the essentially Wagnerian element in Wagner’s heroes: I mean the innocence of the supremest selfishness, the belief in strong passion as the good in itself, in a word, the Siegfried trait in the countenances of his heroes. “All that still smacks more of Spinoza than of me,” Schopenhauer would probably have said. Whatever good reasons, therefore, Wagner might have had to be on the outlook for other philosophers than Schopenhauer, the enchantment to which he succumbed in respect to this thinker, not only made him blind towards all other philosophers, but even towards science itself; his entire art is more and more inclined to become the counterpart and complement of the Schopenhauerian philosophy, and it always renounces more emphatically the higher ambition to become the counterpart and complement of human knowledge and science. And not only is he allured thereto by the whole mystic pomp of this philosophy (which would also have allured a Cagliostro), the peculiar airs and emotions of the philosopher have all along been seducing him as well! For example, Wagner’s indignation about the corruption of the German language is Schopenhauerian; and if one should commend his imitation in this respect, it is nevertheless not to be denied that Wagner’s style itself suffers in no small degree from all the tumours and turgidities, the sight of which made Schopenhauer so furious; and that, in respect to the German-writing Wagnerians, Wagneromania is beginning to be as dangerous as only some kinds of Hegelomania have been. From Schopenhauer comes Wagner’s hatred of the Jews, to whom he cannot do justice even in their greatest exploit: are not the Jews the inventors of Christianity! The attempt of Wagner to construe Christianity as a seed blown away from Buddhism, and his endeavour to initiate a Buddhistic era in Europe, under a temporary approximation to Catholic–Christian formulas and sentiments, are both Schopenhauerian. Wagner’s preaching in favour of pity in dealing with animals is Schopenhauerian; Schopenhauer’s predecessor here, as is well known, was Voltaire, who already perhaps, like his successors, knew how to disguise his hatred of certain men and things as pity towards animals. At least Wagner’s hatred of science, which manifests itself in his preaching, has certainly not been inspired by the spirit of charitableness and kindness nor by the spirit at all, as is sufficiently obvious. Finally, it is of little importance what the philosophy of an artist is, provided it is only a supplementary philosophy, and does not do any injury to his art itself. We cannot be sufficiently on our guard against taking a dislike to an artist on account of an occasional, perhaps very unfortunate and presumptuous masquerade; let us not forget that the dear artists are all of them something of actors and must be so; it would be difficult for them to hold out in the long run without stage-playing. Let us be loyal to Wagner in that which is true and original in him, and especially in this point, that we, his disciples, remain loyal to ourselves in that which is true and original in us. Let us allow him his intellectual humours and spasms, let us in fairness rather consider what strange nutriments and necessaries an art like his is entitled to, in order to be able to live and grow! It is of no account that he is often wrong as a thinker; justice and patience are not his affair. It is sufficient that his life is right in his own eyes, and maintains its right, the life which calls to each of us: “Be a man, and do not follow me but thyself! thyself!” Our life, also ought to maintain its right in our own eyes! We also are to grow and blossom out of ourselves, free and fearless, in innocent selfishness! And so, on the contemplation of such a man, these thoughts still ring in my ears today, as formerly: “That passion is better than stoicism or hypocrisy; that straight forwardness, even in evil, is better than losing oneself in trying to observe traditional morality; that the free man is just as able to be good as evil, but that the unemancipated man is a disgrace to nature, and has no share in heavenly or earthly bliss; finally, that all who wish to be free must become so through themselves, and that freedom falls to nobody’s lot as a gift from Heaven.” (Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, Vol. I. of this Translation, pp. 199–200).
Learning to do Homage. One must learn the art of homage, as well as the art of contempt. Whoever goes in new paths and has led many persons therein, discovers with astonishment how awkward and incompetent all of them are in the expression of their gratitude, and indeed how rarely gratitude is able even to express itself. 1 is always as if something comes into people’s throats when their gratitude wants to speak so that it only hems and haws, and becomes silent again The way in which a thinker succeeds in tracing the effect of his thoughts, and their trans forming and convulsing power, is almost a comedy: it sometimes seems as if those who have been operated upon felt profoundly injured thereby, and could only assert their independence, which they suspect to be threatened, by all kinds of improprieties. It needs whole generations in order merely to devise a courteous convention of gratefulness; it is only very late that the period arrives when something of spirit and genius enters into gratitude. Then there is usually some one who is the great receiver of thanks, not only for the good he himself has done, but mostly for that which has been gradually accumulated by his predecessors, as a treasure of what is highest and best.
tttor. Wherever there has been a court, it has furnished the standard of good-speaking, and with this also the standard of style for writers The court language, however, is the language of the courtier who has no profession, and who even in conversations on scientific subjects avoids all convenient, technical expressions, because they smack of the profession; on that account the technical expression, and everything that betrays the special-1st, is a blemish of style in countries which have a court culture. At present, when all courts have become caricatures of past and present times, one is astonished to find even Voltaire unspeakably reserved and scrupulous on this point (for example, in his judgments concerning such stylists as Fontenelle and Montesquieu), we are now, all of us, emancipated from court taste, while Voltaire was its perfecter!
A Word for Philologists. It is thought that there are books so valuable and royal that whole generations of scholars are well employed when through their efforts these books are kept genuine and intelligible, to confirm this belief again and again is the purpose of philology. It presupposes that the rare men are not lacking (though they may not be visible), who actually know how to use such valuable books: those men perhaps who write such books themselves, or could write them. I mean to say that philology presupposes a noble belief, that for the benefit of some few who are always “to come,” and are not there, a very great amount of painful, and even dirty labour has to be done beforehand: it is all labour in usum Delphinorum.
German Music. German music, more than any other, has now become European music; because the changes which Europe experienced through the Revolution have therein alone found expression: it is only German music that knows how to express the agitation of popular masses, the tremendous artificial uproar, which does not even need to be very noisy, while Italian opera, for example, knows only the choruses of domestics or soldiers, but not “the people.” There is the additional fact that in all German music a profound bourgeois jealousy of the noblesse can be traced, especially a jealousy of esprit and elegance, as the expressions of a courtly, chivalrous, ancient, and self-confident society. It is not music like that of Goethe’s musician at the gate, which was pleasing also “in the hall,” and to the king as well; it is not here said: “The knights looked on with martial air; with bashful eyes the ladies.” Even the Graces are not allowed in German music without a touch of remorse; it is only with Pleasantness, the country sister of the Graces that the German begins to feel morally at ease and from this point up to his enthusiastic, learned, and often gruff “sublimity” (the Beethoven-like sublimity), he feels more and more so. If we want to imagine the man of this music, well, let us just imagine Beethoven as he appeared beside Goethe, say, at their meeting at Teplitz: as semi-barbarism beside culture, as the masses beside the nobility, as the good-natured man beside the good and more than “good” man, as the visionary beside the artist, as the man needing comfort beside the comforted, as the man given to exaggeration and distrust beside the man of reason, as the crank and self-tormenter, as the foolishly enraptured, blessedly unfortunate, sincerely immoderate man, as the pretentious and awkward man, and altogether as the “untamed man”: it was thus that Goethe conceived and characterised him, Goethe, the exceptional German, for whom a music of equal rank has not yet been found! Finally, let us consider whether the present continually extending contempt of melody and the stunting of the sense for melody among Germans should not be understood as a democratic impropriety and an after-effect of the Revolution? For melody has such an obvious delight in conformity to law, and such an aversion to everything evolving, unformed and arbitrary, that it sounds like a note out of the ancient European regime, and as a seduction and guidance back to it.
The Tone of the German Language. We know whence the German originated which for several centuries has been the universal literary language of Germany. The Germans, with their reverence for everything that came from the court, intentionally took the chancery style as their pattern in all that they had to write, especially in their letters, records, wills, &c. To write in the chancery style, that was to write in court and government style, that was regarded as something select, compared with the language of the city in which a person lived. People gradually drew this inference, and spoke also as they wrote, they thus became still more select in the forms of their words, in the choice of their terms and modes of expression, and finally also in their tones: they affected a court tone when they spoke, and the affectation at last became natural. Perhaps nothing quite similar has ever happened elsewhere: the predominance of the literary style over the talk, and the formality and affectation of an entire people becoming the basis of a common and no longer dialectical language. I believe that the sound of the German language in the Middle Ages, and especially after the Middle Ages, was extremely rustic and vulgar; it has ennobled itself somewhat during the last centuries, principally because it was found necessary to imitate so many French, Italian, and Spanish sounds, and particularly on the part of the German (and Austrian) nobility, who could not at all content themselves with their mother-tongue. But notwithstanding this practice, German must have sounded intolerably vulgar to Montaigne, and even to Racine: even at present, in the mouths of travellers among the Italian populace, it still sounds very coarse, sylvan, and hoarse, as if it had originated in smoky rooms and outlandish districts. Now I notice that at present a similar striving after selectness of tone is spreading among the former admirers of the chancery style, and that the Germans are beginning to accommodate themselves to a peculiar “witchery of sound,” which might in the long run become an actual danger to the German language, for one may seek in vain for more execrable sounds in Europe. Something mocking, cold, indifferent and careless in the voice: that is what at present sounds “noble” to the Germans and I hear the approval of this nobleness in the voices of young officials, teachers, women, and trades-people; indeed, even the little girls already imitate this German of the officers. For the officer, and in fact the Prussian officer is the inventor of these tones: this same officer, who as soldier and professional man possesses that admirable tact for modesty which the Germans as a whole might well imitate (German professors and musicians included!). But as soon as he speaks and moves he is the most immodest and inelegant figure in old Europe no doubt unconsciously to himself! And unconsciously also to the good Germans, who gaze at him as the man of the foremost and most select society, and willingly let him “give them his tone.” And indeed he gives it to them! in the first place it is the sergeant-majors and non-commissioned officers that imitate his tone and coarsen it. One should note the roars of command, with which the German cities are absolutely surrounded at present, when there is drilling at all the gates: what presumption, furious imperiousness, and mocking coldness speaks in this uproar! Could the Germans actually be a musical people? It is certain that the Germans martialise themselves at present in the tone of their language: it is probable that, being exercised to speak martially, they will finally write martially also. For habituation to definite tones extends deeply into the character: people soon have the words and modes of expression, and finally also the thoughts which just suit these tones! Perhaps they already write in the officers style; perhaps I only read too little of what is at present written in Germany to know this. But one thing I know all the surer: the German public declarations which also reach places abroad, are not inspired by German music, but just by that new tone of tasteless arrogance. Almost in every speech of the foremost German statesman, and even when he makes himself heard through his imperial mouth-piece, there is an accent which the ear of a foreigner repudiates with aversion: but the Germans endure it, they endure themselves.
The Germans as Artists. When once a German actually experiences passion (and not only, as is usual, the mere inclination to it), he then behaves just as he must do in passion, and does not think further of his behaviour. The truth is, however, that he then behaves very awkwardly and uglily, and as if destitute of rhythm and melody; so that onlookers are pained or moved thereby, but nothing more unless he elevate himself to the sublimity and enrapturedness of which certain passions are capable. Then even the German becomes beautiful. The consciousness of the height at which beauty begins to shed its charm even over Germans, forces German artists to the height and the super-height, and to the extravagances of passion: they have an actual, profound longing, therefore, to get beyond, or at least to look beyond the ugliness and awkwardness into a better, easier, more southern, more sunny world. And thus their convulsions are often merely indications that they would like to dance: these poor bears in whom hidden nymphs and satyrs, and sometimes still higher divinities, carry on their game!
Music as Advocate. “I have a longing for a master of the musical art,” said an innovator to his disciple, “that he may learn from me my ideas and speak them more widely in his language: I shall thus be better able to reach men’s ears and hearts. For by means of tones one can seduce men to every error and every truth: who could refute a tone?” “You would, therefore, like to be regarded as irrefutable?” said his disciple. The innovator answered: “I should like the germ to become a tree. In order that a doctrine may become a tree, it must be believed in for a considerable period; in order that it may be believed in it must be regarded as irrefutable. Storms and doubts and worms and wickedness are necessary to the tree, that it may manifest its species and the strength of its germ; let it perish if it is not strong enough! But a germ is always merely annihilated, not refuted!” When he had said this, his disciple called out impetuously: “But I believe in your cause, and regard it as so strong that I will say everything against it, everything that I still have in my heart.” The innovator laughed to himself and threatened the disciple with his finger. “This kind of discipleship,” said he then, “is the best, but it is dangerous, and not every kind of doctrine can stand it.”
Our Ultimate Gratitude to Art. If we had not approved of the Arts and invented this sort of cult of the untrue, the insight into the general untruth and falsity of things now given us by science an insight into delusion and error as conditions of intelligent and sentient existence would be quite unendurable. Honesty would have disgust and suicide in its train. Now, however, our honesty has a counterpoise which helps us to escape such consequences; namely, Art, as the good-will to illusion. We do not always restrain our eyes from rounding off and perfecting in imagination: and then it is no longer the eternal imperfection that we carry over the river of Becoming for we think we carry a goddess, and are proud and artless in rendering this service. As an aesthetic phenomenon existence is still endurable to us; and by Art, eye and hand and above all the good conscience are given to us, to be able to make such a phenomenon out of ourselves. We must rest from ourselves occasionally by contemplating and looking down upon ourselves, and by laughing or weeping over ourselves from an artistic remoteness: we must discover the hero, and likewise the fool, that is hidden in our passion for knowledge; we must now and then be joyful in our folly, that we may continue to be joyful in our wisdom! And just because we are heavy and serious men in our ultimate depth, and are rather weights than men, there is nothing that does us so much good as the fool’s cap and bells: we need them in presence of ourselves we need all arrogant, soaring, dancing, mocking, childish and blessed Art, in order not to lose the free dominion over things which our ideal demands of us. It would be backsliding for us, with our susceptible integrity, to lapse entirely into morality, and actually become virtuous monsters and scarecrows, on account of the over — strict requirements which we here lay down for our selves. We ought also to be able to stand above morality, and not only stand with the painful stiffness of one who every moment fears to slip and fall, but we should also be able to soar and play above it! How could we dispense with Art for that purpose, how could we dispense with the fool? And as long as you are still ashamed of your selves in any way, you still do not belong to us!
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58