Zarathustra's Discourses: Reading and Writing

skd282675sdcPrevious post: The Pale Criminal

Having discussed criminality, guilt, and rationalization, Zarathustra turns to those who read. Considering you are reading his book, this seems a bold move on Nietzche’s part.

* * *

Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his blood. Write with blood, and you will find that blood is spirit. It is no easy task to understand another’s blood. I hate idle readers. He who knows a reader does nothing more for the reader. Another century of readers, and spirit itself will stink.

In the long run, every one allowed to learn to read ruins not only writing but also thinking. Once, spirit was God; then it became man, and now it becomes common.

He who writes in blood and proverbs does not want to be read, but learned by heart. In the mountains the shortest way is from peak to peak, but to take that route, you must have long legs. Proverbs should be peaks, and those spoken to should be big and tall.

Rare and pure atmosphere, danger nearby, and a spirit full of a joyful wickedness. These things are well matched. I want to have goblins about me, because I am courageous. The courage which scares away ghosts creates for itself goblins. It wants to laugh.

I no longer feel in common with you. The very cloud which I see beneath me, the blackness and heaviness at which I laugh, that is your thunder cloud. You look to the heavens when you long for exaltation, and I look downward because I am exalted.

Who among you can laugh and at the same time be exalted? He who climbs on the highest mountains, laughs at all tragic plays and tragic realities. Courageous, unconcerned, scornful, and coercive; so wisdom wishes we are; she is a woman, and always loves only a warrior.

“Life is hard to bear,” you tell me.

But why should you have your pride in the morning and your resignation in the evening? Life is hard to bear, but do not pretend to be so delicate! We are all of us fine pack horses. What do we have in common with the rose bud, which trembles because a drop of dew has formed upon it?

It is true we love life; not because we are inclined to live, but because we are inclined to love. There is always some madness in love. But there is always, also, some method in madness.

To me, who appreciates life, butterflies, soap bubbles, and anything that is like them, seem to enjoy happiness most. To see these light, foolish, pretty, lively little sprites flit about moves me to tears and songs.

I would only believe in a God that knew how to dance. When I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn. He was the spirit of gravity, and through him all things fell. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity!

I learned to walk. Since then have I let myself run. I learned to fly. Since then I do not need a push in order to move from a spot. Now am I light; now I fly; now I see myself under myself. Now a God dances in me.

So said Zarathustra.

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Zarathustra’s Discourses: The Pale Criminal

pale-manPrevious Post: Joys and Passions

Having discussed how the passions are transmuted into virtues, Zarathustra speaks about crime, madness, and rationalization.

* * *

Do you judges and sacrificers not intend to kill until the animal has bowed its head? Look: the pale criminal has bowed his head. Out of his eyes he speaks his great contempt.

“My ego is something that is to be surpassed. My ego is to me the great contempt of man” he says out of those eyes.

When he judged himself, that was his supreme moment. Do not let not the exalted one relapse again into his low estate! There is no salvation for one who suffers like this from himself, unless it is a quick death.

Your death sentence, judges, will be pity, not revenge. Given that you kill, see to it that you yourselves justify life! It is not enough that you should reconcile with the one who you sentence. Let your sorrow be love of the superhuman. So will you justify your own survival!

Say “enemy” but not “villain,” “invalid” but not “wretch,” “fool” but not “sinner.”

If a judge were to say aloud all he had done in thought, everyone would cry: “Away with this nasty and virulent reptile!” But the thought is one thing, the deed another, and the idea of the deed another again. The wheel of causality does not roll between them.

An idea made this pale man pale. He was adequate for his deed when he did it, but the idea of it, he could not endure when it was done. For evermore he now sees himself as the doer of one deed. Madness, I call this. The exception became the rule in him.

The streak of chalk bewitches the hen. The stroke he struck bewitched his weak reason. Madness AFTER the deed, I call this. Listen, judges! There is another madness, and it comes BEFORE the deed. You have not gone deep enough into his soul!

“Why did this criminal commit murder?” asks the red judge. “He meant only to rob.”

I tell you, however, that his soul wanted blood, not booty. He thirsted for the happiness of the knife! But his weak reason did not understand his madness, and it persuaded him.

“What cares about blood!” it said. “Do you not wish, at least, to make a profit by it? Or take revenge?”

He listened to his weak reason. Its lay words upon him like lead. He robbed when he murdered. He did not mean to be ashamed of his madness. Now once more the lead of his guilt lies upon him, and once more his weak reason is so benumbed, so paralyzed, and so dull.

If he could only shake his head, his burden would roll off. But who shakes that head? What is this man? A mass of diseases that reach out into the world through his spirit. They want to get their prey. What is this man? A coiling mass of wild serpents that are seldom at peace among themselves, so they go forth and seek prey in the world.

Look at that poor body! What it suffered and craved, the poor soul interpreted to itself as murderous desire, and eagerness for the happiness of the knife. He who turns sick is overtaken by evil. He seeks to cause pain to that which causes him pain. But there have been other ages, and other evil and good.

Once, doubt was evil, as was self interest. Then the invalid became a heretic or sorcerer. As heretic or sorcerer he suffered, and sought to cause suffering.

But this will not enter your ears. It hurts your good people, you tell me. But what do your good people matter to me! Many things about your good people cause me disgust, and truly, not their evil. I would prefer that they had a madness to which they succumbed, like this pale criminal! Truly, I wish that their madness were called truth, or fidelity, or justice. But they value virtue in order to live long, and in wretched self-complacency.

I am a railing alongside the torrent. Whoever is able to grasp me may grasp me! Your crutch, however, I am not.

So said Zarathustra.

* * *

Nietzche makes some incredible statements here. The first is that a murderer who realizes his own guilt has reached a high point in his existence. The second is that even a murderer rationalizes his actions. The third, and most profound, is that at any time, if he were whole, and not a collection of competing impulses, he could shake off his guilt at any time.

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Zarathustra’s Discourses: Joys and Passions

passions-virtuesPrevious Post: Despisers of the Body

After his discourse on those whose despise the body, he speaks about the passions, and how your passions become your virtues.

* * *

My brother, when you have a virtue, and it is your own virtue, you have it in common with no one. Sure, you may call it by name and caress it. You can pull its ears and amuse yourself with it. Surprise! You then have its name in common with other people, and have become one of the people and the herd with your virtue!

Better for you to say: “It is ineffable and nameless, that which is pain and sweetness to my soul, and also the hunger in my gut.”

Let your virtue be too high for the familiarity of names, and if you must speak of it, do not be ashamed to stammer about it. Speak and stammer like this:

“It is MY good, that I love; it pleases me entirely, and I only desire this good. I don’t desire is as the law of a God, or a human law, or a human need. It is not a guide post for me to other-worlds and paradises. It is an earthly virtue that I love: there is little prudence is in it, and the least everyday wisdom. But this bird built its nest beside me. Therefore, I love and cherish it as it sits beside me on its golden eggs.”

So you should you stammer, and praise your virtue.

Once had you passions and called them evil. But now have you only your virtues: they grew out of your passions. You implanted your highest aim into the heart of those passions: then they became your virtues and joys.

Though you were hot-tempered, voluptuous, fanatical, or vindictive, all your passions in the end became virtues, and all your devils angels. Once had you wild dogs in your cellar, but they changed last into birds and charming songstresses. Out of your poisons you brewed balsam for yourself. You milked the cow of affliction, and now drink the sweet milk of her udder.

Nothing evil grows in you any longer, unless it is the evil that grows out of the conflict of your virtues. If you’re lucky, you’ll have one virtue and no more, and go more easily over the bridge. It is illustrious to have many virtues, but a hard lot. Many a man has gone into the wilderness and killed himself because he was weary of being the battle and battlefield of virtues.

My brother, are war and battle evil? Evil is necessary. Envy, distrust and back-biting among the virtues are necessary. How each of your virtues covets of the highest place. It wants your whole spirit to be ITS herald, it wants your whole power, in wrath, hatred, and love. Every virtue is jealous of the others, and jealousy is a dreadful thing. Even virtues may succumb to jealousy.

Like the scorpion, he who is encompassed by the flame of jealousy turns the poisoned sting at last against himself. Ah, my brother, have you never seen a virtue backbite and stab itself?

Man is something that has to be surpassed. Therefore you must love your virtues, for you will succumb by them.

So said Zarathustra.

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Zarathustra’s Discourses: Despisers of the Body

body-hatePrevious Post: Believers in Other-worlds

After addressing those who belief in the afterlife, Zarathustra goes on to speak about the foolishness of aesthetics who despise their own bodies.

* * *

I speak my truth to the despisers of the body. I wish them neither to learn afresh, nor teach anew, but only to bid farewell to their own bodies, and thus be unable to speak.

“I am body and soul” says the child.

And why should one not speak like a child?

But the awakened one, the knowing one, says: “I am entirely body, and nothing more. Soul is only the name of something in the body.”

The body is a big wisdom, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a flock and a shepherd. Your little wisdom, my brother, which you call “spirit”, is an instrument of your body—a little instrument and plaything for your big wisdom.

“Ego,” you say, and are proud of that word.

But the greater thing—which you are unwilling to believe in—is your body, with its big wisdom. It does not say “ego,” but is ego. What the senses feel, what the spirit discerns, never ends in itself. But sense and spirit want to persuade you that they are the end of all things: they are so vain.

Senses and spirit are instruments and playthings: behind them there is the Self. The Self seeks with the eyes of the senses; it listens with the ears of the spirit. The Self always listens and seeks; it compares, masters, conquers, and destroys. It rules, and is the ego’s ruler.

Behind your thoughts and feelings, my brother, there is a mighty lord, an unknown sage—it is called Self; it dwells in your body, it is your body. There is more wisdom in your body than in your mind’s best wisdom. Who then knows why your body requires your mind’s best wisdom?

Your Self laughs at your ego, and its proud prancing. “What are prancing and flights of thought to me?” it says to itself. “A byproduct of my purpose. I am the leash of the ego, and the prompter of its ideas.”

The Self says to the ego: “Feel pain!” The ego suffers, and thinks how it may put an end to the pain—and for that very purpose it IS MEANT to think. The Self says to the ego: “Feel pleasure!” The ego rejoices, and thinks how it may rejoice more often—and for that very purpose it IS MEANT to think.

I will speak truth to the despisers of the body. They despise because of their esteem. What is it that created esteeming and despising and worth and will? The Self created esteeming and despising for itself, as it created for itself joy and sorrow. The body created spirit for itself, as a hand to its will.

Even in your folly and despising you despisers of the body each serve your Self. I tell you, your very Self wants to die, and turns away from life. Your Self can no longer do what it desires most: to create beyond itself. That is what it desires most; that is all its fervour.

But it is now too late to do so, so your Self wishes to succumb, you despisers of the body. To succumb—so wishes your Self, and therefore have you become despisers of the body. You can no longer create beyond yourselves. Therefore are you angry with life and with the earth. There is unconscious envy in your sidelong look of contempt.

I do not go your way, you despisers of the body! You are not bridges for me to the superhuman!

So said Zarathustra.

* * *

Nietzche sees the mind (or spirit) as a tool of the Self, which he identifies as one with the body. Likewise, he sees the ego as it’s tool. The idea of a higher Self that sits “behind” the ego is a common one. The idea that it is identical with the body is not.

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Zarathustra’s Discourses: Believers in Other-worlds

spirit-realmPrevious post: The Academic Chair of Virtue

After taking on the “feel good” academic wisdom, Zarathustra turns to the religious and, in particular, those who believe in an afterlife that takes place in a “hinterwelt” or “other-world”.

* * *

Once on a time, I, Zarathustra also cast my imagination beyond man, like all believers in other-worlds. At the time, the world seemed to me the work of a suffering and tortured God. The dream—and creation—of a God, the world seemed to me; coloured vapours before the eyes of a divinely dissatisfied being.

Good and evil, and joy and sorrow, you and I, seemed coloured vapours before creative eyes. The creator wished to look away from himself, and therefore he created the world. It is intoxicating joy for the sufferer to look away from his suffering and forget himself. Intoxicating joy and self-forgetting, the world once seem to me.

This world, the eternally imperfect, an eternal contradiction’s image and imperfect image—an intoxicating joy to its imperfect creator—so the world once seemed to me. Thus, at one time, I also cast my imagination beyond man, like all believers in other-worlds. Beyond man, truly?

Ah, brothers, the God who I created was a human work and human madness, like all the Gods! He was a man, but only a poor fragment of a man and ego. Out of my own ashes and glow it came to me, that phantom. And truly, it did not came to me from the beyond!

What happened, my brothers? I surpassed myself, the suffering one. I carried my own ashes to the mountain. I contrived a brighter flame for myself. Thereafter, the phantom WITHDREW from me! To me, the recovered, it would now be suffering and torment to believe in such phantoms. It would be suffering and humiliation. So I say to believers in other-worlds.

It was suffering and impotence that created all other-worlds, and the brief madness of happiness, which only the greatest sufferer experiences. Weariness, which seeks to get to the ultimate with one leap, with a death leap—a poor ignorant weariness, unwilling even to will any longer—created all Gods and other-worlds.

Believe me, my brothers! It was the body which despaired of the body. It groped with the fingers of the infatuated spirit at the ultimate walls. It was the body which despaired of the earth. It heard the bowels of existence speaking to it. And then it sought to get through the ultimate walls with its head—and not with its head only—into the “other-world.”

But that “other-world” is well concealed from man, a dehumanised, inhuman world, which is a celestial nothing. And the bowels of existence do not speak to man, except as man. Truly, it is difficult to prove all being, and hard to make it speak. Tell me, brothers, is not the strangest of all things the most well proved?

This ego, with its contradiction and perplexity, speaks most uprightly of its being. This creating, willing, evaluating ego, which is the measurer and valuer of things. This most upright existence, the ego, speaks of the body, and still implies the body, even when it muses and raves and flutters with broken wings. The ego always learns to speak more uprightly, and the more it learns, the more it finds titles and honours for the body and the earth.

My ego taught me a new pride that teach I to men: to no longer thrust one’s head into the sand of celestial things, but to carry it freely, a terrestrial head, which gives meaning to the earth! I teach a new will to men: to choose the path that man has followed blindly, and to approve of it, and no longer slink aside from it, like the sick and perishing!

The sick and perishing: it was they who despised the body and the earth, and invented the heavenly world, and the redeeming blood-drops. But even those sweet and sad poisons they borrowed from the body and the earth! They sought escape from their misery, but the stars were too remote for them.

“If only there were heavenly paths by which to steal into another existence and into happiness!” they sighed.

Then they contrived for themselves their paths and bloody draughts! Beyond the sphere of their body and this earth they imagined themselves transported, these ungrateful ones. But to what did they owe the convulsion and rapture of their transport? To their body and this earth.

Zarathustra is gentle to the sickly. Truly, he is not indignant at their modes of consolation and ingratitude. May they become convalescents and over comers, and create higher bodies for themselves Neither is Zarathustra indignant at a convalescent who looks tenderly on his delusions, and at midnight steals around the grave of his God. But sickness and a sick frame remain, even in his tears.

There have always been many sickly ones among those who muse and languish for God. They violently hate the discerning ones, and the latest of virtues, which is uprightness. They always gaze backward toward dark ages. Then, delusion and faith were truly something different. The raving of reason was likeness to God, and doubt was sin.

Too well I know these godlike ones. They insist on being believed, and say that doubt is sin. Too well, also, I know what they themselves most believe in. Truly, not in other-worlds and redeeming blood-drops. They also believe most in the body, and their own body is for them the end in itself. But it is a sickly thing to them, and they would gladly get out of their skin. Therefore, they listen to the preachers of death, and themselves preach of other worlds.

Listen rather, brothers, to the voice of the healthy body. It is a more upright and pure voice. The healthy body speaks more uprightly and purely, perfect and square built. It speaks of the meaning of the earth.

So said Zarathustra.

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Zarathustra Visits The Academic Chair of Virtue

academic-chairsPrevious Post: The Three Metamorphoses

After his discourse on metamorphoses, Zarathustra visits a “wise man”, listens to him profess his wisdom on the virtues and sleep, and offers his own critique of the man.

* * *

People commended a wise man to Zarathustra as one who could speak well about sleep and virtue. The man was greatly honoured and rewarded for this, and all the youths sat before his chair. Zarathustra went to him, and sat among the youths before his chair. This is what the wise man said:

Be respectful and modest in presence of sleep! This is the most important thing! Avoid all who sleep badly and stay awake at night! Even a thief is modest in presence of sleep. He always steals softly through the night. The night watchman, however, is immodest; he immodestly carries his horn.

Sleeping is no small art. It is necessary for this reason to stay awake all day. Ten times a day must you overcome yourself: that causes wholesome weariness, and is an opiate to the soul. Ten times must you reconcile again with yourself, for overcoming leads to bitterness, and the unreconciled sleep badly.

You must find ten truths during the day. Otherwise you will seek truth during the night, and your soul will be hungry. You must laugh ten times during the day, and be cheerful; otherwise your stomach, the father of affliction, will disturb you in the night.

Few people know it, but one must have all the virtues in order to sleep well. Should I bear false witness? Should I commit adultery? Should I covet my neighbour’s maidservant? All these would conflict with good sleep.

Even if one has all the virtues, there is still one thing needed: to send the virtues themselves to sleep at the right time, so that they don’t quarrel with one another about you, you unhappy one!

Good sleep desires peace with God and your neighbour, and peace also with your neighbour’s devil too. Otherwise it will haunt you in the night. Good sleep desires that you honour the government, and obey, even a crooked government! We cannot help that power likes to walk on crooked legs.

He who leads his sheep to the greenest pasture will always the best shepherd. So it is with good sleep. I don’t want many honours, nor great treasures; they excite hysteria and lead to bad sleep. I would rather be without a good name and have little treasure.

A small party is more welcome to me than a bad one, but they must come and go at the right time to accord with good sleep. The poor in spirit also please me well. They promote sleep. They are blessed, especially if one always gives in to them.

So the days pass for the virtuous. When night comes, I take care not to summon sleep. It dislikes being summoned. Sleep is the lord of the virtues! Instead, I think of what I have done and thought during the day. Ruminating, patient as a cow, I ask myself: “what were my ten overcomings? And what were the ten reconciliations, and the ten truths, and the ten laughters with which my heart enjoyed itself?”

Pondering like this, and cradled by forty thoughts, it overtakes me all at once: sleep, unsummoned, the lord of the virtues. Sleep taps on my eyes, and they turn heavy. Sleep touches my mouth, and it remains open. It comes on soft soles to me, the dearest of thieves, and steals my thoughts from me. I then stand stupid, like this academic chair. But I do not stand much longer; soon, I lie down.

When Zarathustra had heard the wise man speak, he laughed in his heart: for by it, a light dawned upon him. He thought to himself:

This wise man seems a fool with his forty thoughts, but I do believe he knows how to sleep well. He who lives near this wise man is even happy! Such sleep is contagious. Even through a thick wall it is contagious.

A magic resides in his academic chair. The youths who sit before the preacher of virtue do not do so in vain. His wisdom is to keep awake in order to sleep well. And truly, if life had no purpose, and I had to choose nonsense, this would be the most desirable nonsense for me as well.

Now I know what people sought above all else when they sought teachers of virtue. They sought good sleep for themselves, and opiate virtues to promote it! To all these lauded sages of the academic chairs, wisdom is sleep without dreams: they know no higher significance of life.

Even today, there are some like this preacher of virtue, and not always so honourable. But their time has past. They will not stand much longer: there they already lie. Blessed are those drowsy ones: for they shall soon nod to sleep.

So thought Zarathustra.

* * *

Nietzsche rips into the wisdom of the “academics”, brilliantly predicting the worst of the power of positive thinking new age self help movement of today.

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Zarathustra’s Discourses: The Three Metamorphoses

three-metamorphosesPrevious Post: The Rope Dancer

After Zarathustra’s prologue and the events of the rope dancer’s death, Nietzche’s book continues with Zarathustra’s discourses. The first of these is titled The Three Metamorphoses.

I will tell you about three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit becomes a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.

There are many things that are heavy for the spirit, the strong, load bearing spirit in which reverence dwells. Its strength longs for the heavy and the heaviest.

“What is heavy?” asks the load bearing spirit.

Then it kneels down like the camel, and wants to be well laden.

“What is the heaviest thing, you heroes?” asks the load-bearing spirit, “so I may take it upon me and rejoice in my strength.”

Is it this: To humiliate oneself in order to mortify one’s pride? To exhibit one’s folly in order to mock one’s own wisdom? Or is it this: To desert your cause when it celebrates its triumph? To ascend high mountains to tempt the tempter?

Is it this: To feed on the acorns and grass of knowledge, and for the sake of truth to suffer hunger of soul? Or is it this: To be sick and dismiss comforters, and to befriend the deaf, who never hear your requests?

Is it this: To go into foul water when it is the water of truth, and not deny cold frogs and hot toads? Or is it this: To love those who despise you, and give your hand to the phantom when it is trying to frighten you?

All these heaviest things the load-bearing spirit takes upon itself. Like the camel, which, when laden, hastens into the wilderness, the spirit hastens into its wilderness.

In the loneliest wilderness, the second metamorphosis occurs. Here, the spirit becomes a lion. It will win freedom and lordship in its own wilderness. It seeks its last ruler here, and it will be hostile to it, and to its last God. It will struggle for victory with the great dragon.

What is the great dragon that the spirit is no longer inclined to call Lord and God? The great dragon is called “you shall”. But the spirit of the lion says, “I will.” “You shall” lies in its way, sparkling with gold, a scale covered beast. On every scale, “you shall!” glitters in gold. The values of a thousand years glitter on those scales.

“The values of all things glitter on me,” says this mightiest of all dragons. “All values have already been created, and I represent all created values. Truly, there shall be no ‘I will’ any more.”

My brothers, why is there need for the lion in the spirit? Why isn’t the beast of burden, which renounces and is reverent, sufficient?

Even the lion cannot create new values. But the might of the lion can give the spirit the freedom to create them. The lion is needed to create freedom, and give a holy “No” even to duty. Assuming the right to new values is the most formidable assumption for a load bearing and reverent spirit. To such a spirit this is preying, and the work of a beast of prey.

The spirit once loved “you shall” as its holiest. Now is it forced to find illusion and arbitrariness in even the holiest things, so that it may free itself from loving them. The lion is needed for this.

Tell me, my brothers, what the child can do that even the lion cannot? Why must the preying lion become a child? The child is innocence, forgetfulness, a new beginning, a game, a self rolling wheel, a first movement, a holy “Yes”. For the game of creating, a holy “Yes” to life is needed: The spirit now wills ITS OWN will. The world’s outcast wins HIS OWN world.

I have told you of the three metamorphoses of the spirit: how the spirit becomes a camel, the camel a lion, and the lion at last a child.

So said Zarathustra when he lived in the town called The Pied Cow.

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