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.

Next post: Reading and Writing

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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2 Responses to Zarathustra’s Discourses: The Pale Criminal

  1. Pingback: Zarathustra’s Discourses: Joys and Passions | Jim's Jumbler

  2. Pingback: Zarathustra's Discourses: Reading and Writing | Jim's Jumbler

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