The Ring of Recurrence!

If I favor the sea and everything that is of the sea, and even favor it most when it angrily contradicts me:
If ever that joy of searching is in me that drives sails toward the undiscovered, if a seafarer’s joy is in my joy:
If ever my jubilating cried: “The coast disappeared – now the last chain has fallen from me –
– infinity roars around me, way out there space and time glitter, well then, what of it old heart!” –
Oh how then could I not lust for eternity and for the nuptial ring of rings – the ring of recurrence!
Never yet have I found the woman from whom I wanted children, unless it were this woman whom I love: for I love you, oh eternity!
For I love you, oh eternity!


The Rational Man and The Intuitive Man

There are ages in which the rational man and the intuitive man stand side by side, the one in fear of intuition, the other with scorn for abstraction. The latter is just as irrational as the former is inartistic. They both desire to rule over life: the former, by knowing how to meet his principle needs by means of foresight, prudence, and regularity; the latter, by disregarding these needs and, as an “overjoyed hero,” counting as real only that life which has been disguised as illusion and beauty. Whenever, as was perhaps the case in ancient Greece, the intuitive man handles his weapons more authoritatively and victoriously than his opponent, then, under favorable circumstances, a culture can take shape and art’s mastery over life can be established. All the manifestations of such a life will be accompanied by this dissimulation, this disavowal of indigence, this glitter of metaphorical intuitions, and, in general, this immediacy of deception: neither the house, nor the gait, nor the clothes, nor the clay jugs give evidence of having been invented because of a pressing need. It seems as if they were all intended to express an exalted happiness, an OIympian cloudlessness, and, as it were, a playing with seriousness. The man who is guided by concepts and abstractions only succeeds by such means in warding off misfortune, without ever gaining any happiness for himself from these abstractions. And while he aims for the greatest possible freedom from pain, the intuitive man, standing in the midst of a culture, already reaps from his intuition a harvest of continually inflowing illumination, cheer, and redemption-in addition to obtaining a defense against misfortune. To be sure, he suffers more intensely, when he suffers; he even suffers more frequently, since he does not understand how to learn from experience and keeps falling over and over again into the same ditch. He is then just as irrational in sorrow as he is in happiness: he cries aloud and will not be consoled. How differently the stoical man who learns from experience and governs himself by concepts is affected by the same misfortunes! This man, who at other times seeks nothing but sincerity, truth, freedom from deception, and protection against ensnaring surprise attacks, now executes a masterpiece of deception: he executes his masterpiece of deception in misfortune, as the other type of man executes his in times of happiness. He wears no quivering and changeable human face, but, as it were, a mask with dignified, symmetrical features. He does not cry; he does not even alter his voice. When a real storm cloud thunders above him, he wraps himself in his cloak, and with slow steps he walks from beneath it.

Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense

Last Words

Last words. – One will recall that the emperor Augustus, that frightful man who has as much self-control and who could be as silent as any wise Socrates, became indiscreet against himself with his last words: he let his mask fall for the first time when he made it clear that he had worn a mask and acted a comedy – he had played the father of the fatherland and the wisdom on the throne well enough to create the proper illusion! Plaudite amici, comoedia finita est!1 The thought of the dying Nero – qualis artifex pereo!2 – was also the thought of the dying Augustus: actor’s vanity! Actor’s prolixity! And truly the opposite of the dying Socrates! But Tiberius died silently, this most tormented of all self-tormentors – he was genuine and no actor! What might have passed through his mind at the end? Maybe this: ‘Life – that is a long death. What a fool I was to shorten so many lives! Was I made to be a benefactor? I should have given them eternal life: that way, I could have seen them die forever. That’s why I had such good eyes: qualis spectator pereo!3 When after a long death-struggle he seemed to recover his strength, it was considered advisable to smother him with pillows – he died a double death.

Nietzsche, The Gay Science

  1. ‘Father of the Fatherland’ was an honorary title bestowed by the Roman Senate on the emperor Augustus. In his biography (chapter 99) Suetonius reports that these Latin words (= ‘Applaud my friends, the comedy is over!’) were among the last Augustus spoke on his deathbed.
  2. ‘I die, what a loss to art!’
  3. ‘I die, but what a good observer I was!’

Not Predestined for Knowledge

Not predestined for knowledge. – There is a stupid humility that is by no means rare, and those afflicted with it are altogether unfit to become votaries of knowledge. For as soon as a person of this type perceives something striking, he turns on his heels, as it were, and says to himself, ‘You have made a mistake! Where were your senses? This cannot be the truth!’ And then, instead of looking and listening more keenly again, he runs away, as if intimidated, from the striking thing and tries to shake it from his mind as fast as possible. For his inner canon says, ‘I want to see nothing that contradicts the prevalent opinion. Am I made to discover new truths? There are already too many old ones.’

Nietzsche, The Gay Science

A Masquerade of the Gods

“If a workman were sure to dream for twelve straight hours every night that he was king,” said Pascal, “I believe that he would be just as happy as a king who dreamt for twelve hours every night that he was a workman.” In fact, because of the way that myth takes it for granted that miracles are always happening, the waking life of a mythically inspired people–the ancient Greeks, for instance–more closely resembles a dream than it does the waking world of a scientifically disenchanted thinker. When every tree can suddenly speak as a nymph, when a god in the shape of a bull can drag away maidens, when even the goddess Athena herself is suddenly seen in the company of Peisastratus driving through the market place of Athens with a beautiful team of horses–and this is what the honest Athenian believed–then, as in a dream, anything is possible at each moment, and all of nature swarms around man as if it were nothing but a masquerade of the gods, who were merely amusing themselves by deceiving men in all these shapes.

Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense

Towards the Sun!

In this keen and clear element, however, he has his entire power: here he can fly! Why should he again go down into those muddy waters where he has to swim and wade and soil his wings! No! There it is too hard for us to live! We cannot help it that we are born for the atmosphere, the pure atmosphere, we rivals of the ray of light; and that we should like best to ride like it on the atoms of ether, not away from the sun, but towards the sun! That, however, we cannot do- so we want to do the only thing that is in our power: namely, to bring light to the earth, we want to be “the light of the earth!” And for that purpose we have our wings and our swiftness and our severity, on that account we are manly, and even terrible like the fire. Let those fear us, who do not know how to warm and brighten themselves by our influence!

Nietzsche, The Gay Science

Woman and Child

Friendship and marriage. – The best friend will probably acquire the best wife, because a good marriage is founded on the talent for friendship.

Continuance of the parent. – The unresolved dissonances between the characters and dispositions of the parents continue to resound in the nature of the child and constitute the history of his inner sufferings.

From the mother. – Everyone bears within him a picture of woman derived from his mother; it is this which determines whether, in his dealings with women, he respects them or despises them or is in general indifferent to them.

Correcting nature. – If one does not have a good father one should furnish oneself with one.

Fathers and sons. – Fathers have much to do to make amends for having sons.

A male sickness. – For the male sickness of self-contempt the surest cure is to be loved by a clever woman.

Rational irrationality. – In the maturity of his life and understanding a man is overcome by the feeling his father was wrong to beget him.

Love-matches. – Marriages contracted from love (so-called love-matches) have error for their father and need for their mother.

Friendship with women. – Women are quite able to make friends with a man; but to preserve such a friendship – that no doubt requires the assistance of a slight physical antipathy.

Marriage as a long conversation. – When entering into a marriage one ought to ask oneself: do you believe you are going to enjoy talking with this woman up into your old age? Everything else in a marriage is transitory, but most of the time you are together will be devoted to conversation

Love. – The idealization of love practiced by women is fundamentally and originally an invention of their shrewdness, inasmuch as it enhances their power and makes them seem ever more desirable in the eyes of men. But through centuries-long habituation to this exaggerated evaluation of love it has come to pass that they have become entangled in their own net and forgotten how it originated. They themselves are now more deceived than men are and consequently suffer more from disillusionment that is almost certain to come into the life of every woman – insofar as she has sufficient intelligence and imagination to be deceived and disillusioned at all.

Tragedy of childhood. – It is perhaps no rare occurrence that noble-minded and aspiring people have to undergo their severest trials in their childhood; perhaps through having to assert themselves against a low-minded father absorbed in appearance and deception, or, like Lord Byron, to live in continual conflict with a childish and irritable mother. If one has experienced such a thing one will, one’s whole life long, never get over the knowledge of who one’s greatest and most dangerous foe has actually been.

Finally. – There are many kinds of hemlock, and fate usually finds an opportunity of setting a cup of this poison draught to the lips of the free spirit – so as to ‘punish’ him, as all the world then says. What will the women around him then do? They will lament and cry out and perhaps disturb the repose of the thinker’s sunset hours; as they did in the prison at Athens. ‘O Criton, do tell someone to take those women away!’, Socrates finally said.

Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human

The Madman


The madman. – Haven’t you heard of that madman who in the bright morning lit a lantern and ran around the marketplace crying incessantly, `I’m looking for God! I’m looking for God!’ Since many of those who did not believe in God were standing around together just then, he caused great laughter. Has he been lost, then? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone to sea? Emigrated? – Thus they shouted and laughed, one interrupting the other. The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. ‘Where is God” he cried; ‘I’ll tell you! We have killed him – you and I! We are all his murderers. But how did we do this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Where is it moving to now? Where are we moving to? Away from all suns? Are we not continually falling? And backwards, sidewards, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an up and a down? Aren’t we straying as though through an infinite nothing? Isn’t empty space breathing at us? Hasn’t it got colder? Isn’t night and more night coming again and again? Don’t lanterns have to be lit in the morning? Do we still hear nothing of the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we still smell nothing of the divine decomposition? – Gods, too, decompose! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How can we console ourselves, the murderers of all murderers! The holiest and the mightiest thing the world has ever possessed has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood from us? With what water could we clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what holy games will we have to invent for ourselves! Is the magnitude of this deed not too great for us? Do we not ourselves have to become gods merely to appear worthy of it? There was never a greater deed and whoever is born after us will on account of this deed belong to a higher history than all history up to now!’ Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; they too were silent and looked at him disconcertedly. Finally he threw his lantern on the ground so that it broke into pieces and went out. ‘I come too early’, he then said; ‘my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder need time; the light of the stars needs time; deeds need time, even after they are done, in order to be seen and heard. This deed is still more remote to them than the remotest stars – and yet they have done it themselves!’ It is still recounted how on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there started singing his requiem aeternam deo.† Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but, ‘What then are these churches now if not the tombs and sepulchers of God?’

† ‘Grant God eternal rest.’ A transformation of that part of the service for the dead which reads ‘Requiem aeternam dona eis [scilicet, mortuis], Domine’ (‘Lord, grant them [the dead] eternal rest’)

Nietzsche, The Gay Science

The Slow Arrow of Beauty


The slow arrow of beauty. – The noblest kind of beauty is not that which suddenly transports us, which makes a violent and intoxicating assault upon us (such beauty can easily excite disgust), but that which slowly infiltrates us, which we bear away with us almost without noticing and encounter again in dreams, but which finally, after having for long lain modestly in our heart, takes total possession of us, filling our eyes with tears and our heart with longing. – What is it we long for at the sight of beauty? To be beautiful ourself: we imagine we would be very happy if we were beautiful. – But that is an error.

Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human

Pangs of Conscience After Social Gatherings

Pangs of conscience after social gatherings. – Why after the usual sort of social gatherings do we suffer from pangs of conscience? Because we have taken important things lightly, because in discussing people we have spoken without complete loyalty or because we have kept silent when we should have spoken, because occasionally we have not leaped up and run off, in short because we have behaved in society as though we belonged to it.

Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human