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Zarathustra gives a contrarian and utilitarian opinion on three things that are commonly seen as negative: pleasure seeking (hedonism), lust for power, and selfishness.
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In a dream, my last dream this morning, I stood on a promontory beyond the world. I held a pair of scales, and weighed the world. Unfortunately, the rosy dawn came for me too early. She glowed me awake, the jealous one! She is always jealous of the glow of my morning dreams.
My dream found the world measurable by one who has time, weighable with a good scale, attainable with strong wings, understandable by divine nut crackers. How did ny dream, a bold sailor, half ship, half hurricane, as silent as a butterfly, as impatient as a falcon, have the patience and leisure to weigh the world today!
Did my wisdom perhaps speak secretly to it, my laughing, wide awake day wisdom, which mocks all “infinite worlds”? For it says that where there is force, there numbers become the master: they have more force.
How confidently my dream contemplated this finite world, neither in a new fangled, old fashioned, timid, nor entreating way. As if a big round apple presented itself to my hand, a ripe golden apple, with a cool, soft, velvety peel. The world presented itself to me as if a tree nodded to me, a broad branched, strong willed tree, curved into a recliner and a foot stool for weary travellers. So the world stood on my promontory.
The world presented itself before me as if carried in a casket towards me by delicate hands, a casket open for the delectation of modest adoring eyes. Not enough of a riddle to scare human love from it, not simple enough to put human wisdom to sleep. Today the world was a humanly good thing to me, of which such bad things are said!
How I thank this dream that I had at dawn, which weighed the world! It came to me as a humanly good thing, this dream and heart comforter! So that I may do the same by day, and imitate and copy the best of my dream, now will I put the three worst things on the scales, and weigh them humanly well.
He who taught you to bless will also teach you to curse. What are the three things in the world that most deserve to be cursed? I will put them on the scales. Pleasure seeking, lust for power, and selfishness: these three things have until now been most cursed, and have had the worst and falsest reputation. I will weigh these three things as well as humanly possible.
Here is my promontory, and there is the sea. It rolls in to me, shaggily and fawningly, the old, faithful, hundred headed dog monster that I love! Here will I hold the scales over the weltering sea. I also choose a witness to look on, the anchorite tree, the strong smelling, broad arched tree that I love!
On what bridge does now go to the hereafter? By what constraint does the high stoop to the low? And what enjoins even the tallest to grow upwards? Now the scales stand poised and at rest. I have thrown three heavy questions in. Three heavy answers balance the scale.
Pleasure seeking, to all hair shirted despisers of the body, is a sting and a stake. It is cursed as “the world” by all who long for the otherworld. It mocks and befools all erring, misinferring teachers. Pleasure seeking to the rabble is the slow fire in which it is burnt. It is the furnace prepared to stew all wormy wood and stinking rags,.
To free hearts, pleasure seeking is innocent and free, the garden happiness of the earth, and the future’s thanks overflowing to the present. Only to the withered is it a sweet poison. To the lion willed, however, it is the great potion and the reverently saved wine of wines.
Pleasure seeking is the great symbolic happiness of a higher happiness and highest hope. Marriage is promised to many, and more than marriage, to many that are more unknown to each other than man and woman. Who has fully understood how unknown to each other men and women are?
I will seek pleasure, but I will put hedges around my thoughts, and even around my words, so that swine and the immoral can’t break into my gardens!
Lust for power is the glowing scourge of the hardest of the hardhearted, the cruel torture reserved for the cruelest, and the gloomy flame of living pyres. It is the wicked gadfly stinging the vainest peoples, the scorner of all uncertain virtue, and rides on every horse and every pride.
Lust for power is the earthquake which breaks and uproots all that is rotten and hollow. It is the rolling, rumbling, punitive destroyer of white sepulchres. It is the flashing question mark beside premature answers.
Before the glance of lust for power, man creeps, crouches, and toils, becoming lower than a serpent or a swine, until at last, he cries out in great contempt. Lust for power is the terrible teacher of great contempt. Ir preaches to their face to cities and empires “Away with you!” until they themselves cry out “Away with me!”
Lust for power grows alluring even to the pure and solitary, and swells up to self satisfied elevations, glowing like a love that paints the heavens alluringly purple. Who would call lust for power passion, when the highest long to stoop for power! There is nothing sick or diseased in such longing and descending!
The lonely heights may not remain the home of the lonely and the self sufficient for ever. The mountains may come to the valleys and the winds of the heights to the plains. Who could find the right name for such longing? “The bestowing virtue” is what I once named the unnamable.
It also happened for the first time that I blessed selfishness, the wholesome, healthy selfishness that springs from the powerful soul. The powerful soul that the high body is connected to is handsome, triumphant, and refreshing. Everything around it becomes a mirror: The pliant, persuasive body, the dancer, whose symbol and essence is the self enjoying soul. The enjoyment of such bodies and souls calls itself “virtue.”
With its words of good and bad, self enjoyment shelters itself in sacred groves. With the names of its happiness, it banishes everything contemptible from itself. It banishes everything cowardly from itself. It says “That which is bad is cowardly!” The apprehensive, the sighing, the complaining, and those who seek the most trifling advantages seem contemptible to it.
Self enjoyment also despises all bitter sweet wisdom. Truly, there is a ‘wisdom’ that blooms in the dark, a night shade wisdom, which continually sighs “All is vain!” It regards shy distrust as ignoble, as it does every one who wants a contract instead of a hand shake, and overly distrustful wisdom. These are the way of cowardly souls.
It regards the fawning, doggish one, who immediately lies on his back and submits even more ignoble. There is also ‘wisdom’ that is submissive, doggish, pious, and fawning. It hate—loathes—those who will never defend themselves, who swallow down poisonous spittle and dirty looks; the all too patient ones who endure everything and are satisfied with anything. That is the way of slaves. Whether they are servile before gods and divine scorn, or before men and stupid human opinions, this blessed selfishness spits at all kinds of slaves! It calls all who are broken in spirit and wretchedly servile bad. They are constrained, with blinking eyes, depressed hearts, and false submissiveness, and kiss with broad, cowardly lips.
Divine selfishness calls all the wit that slaves, the grey haired, and the weary spurious wisdom; especially the cunning, spurious, curious foolishness of priests! The spuriously ‘wise’, however—the priests, the world weary, and those whose souls are feminine and servile in nature—have always played the game of abusing selfishness!
To abuse selfishness was considered virtue and called virtue. They wished to be selfless with good reason, all those world weary cowards and cross spiders! But now the day, the change, the sword of judgment, the great noon hour, comes to them all. Many things will be revealed!
He who proclaims the ego wholesome and holy, and selfishness blessed, is a prophet. He shouts what he knows: “Look! It comes. It is near: THE GREAT NOONTIDE!”
So said Zarathustra.
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