Chapter LVI. Old and New Tables. Par. 2.
Nietzsche himself declares this to be the most decisive portion of the whole of "Thus Spake Zarathustra". It is a sort of epitome of his leading doctrines. In verse 12 of the second paragraph, we learn how he himself would fain have abandoned the poetical method of expression had he not known only too well that the only chance a new doctrine has of surviving, nowadays, depends upon its being given to the world in some kind of art-form. Just as prophets, centuries ago, often had to have recourse to the mask of madness in order to mitigate the hatred of those who did not and could not see as they did; so, to-day, the struggle for existence among opinions and values is so great, that an art-form is practically the only garb in which a new philosophy can dare to introduce itself to us.
Pars. 3 and 4.
Many of the paragraphs will be found to be merely reminiscent of former discourses. For instance, par. 3 recalls "Redemption". The last verse of par. 4 is important. Freedom which, as I have pointed out before, Nietzsche considered a dangerous acquisition in inexperienced or unworthy hands, here receives its death-blow as a general desideratum. In the first Part we read under "The Way of the Creating One", that freedom as an end in itself does not concern Zarathustra at all. He says there: "Free from what? What doth that matter to Zarathustra? Clearly, however, shall thine eye answer me: free FOR WHAT?" And in "The Bedwarfing Virtue": "Ah that ye understood my word: 'Do ever what ye will—but first be such as CAN WILL.'"
Here we have a description of the kind of altruism Nietzsche exacted from higher men. It is really a comment upon "The Bestowing Virtue" (see Note on Chapter XXII.).
This refers, of course, to the reception pioneers of Nietzsche's stamp meet with at the hands of their contemporaries.
Nietzsche teaches that nothing is stable,—not even values,—not even the concepts good and evil. He likens life unto a stream. But foot-bridges and railings span the stream, and they seem to stand firm. Many will be reminded of good and evil when they look upon these structures; for thus these same values stand over the stream of life, and life flows on beneath them and leaves them standing. When, however, winter comes and the stream gets frozen, many inquire: "Should not everything—STAND STILL? Fundamentally everything standeth still." But soon the spring cometh and with it the thaw-wind. It breaks the ice, and the ice breaks down the foot-bridges and railings, whereupon everything is swept away. This state of affairs, according to Nietzsche, has now been reached. "Oh, my brethren, is not everything AT PRESENT IN FLUX? Have not all railings and foot-bridges fallen into the water? Who would still HOLD ON to 'good' and 'evil'?"
This is complementary to the first three verses of par. 2.
So far, this is perhaps the most important paragraph. It is a protest against reading a moral order of things in life. "Life is something essentially immoral!" Nietzsche tells us in the introduction to the "Birth of Tragedy". Even to call life "activity," or to define it further as "the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations," as Spencer has it, Nietzsche characterises as a "democratic idiosyncracy." He says to define it in this way, "is to mistake the true nature and function of life, which is Will to Power...Life is ESSENTIALLY appropriation, injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion of its own forms, incorporation and at least, putting it mildest, exploitation." Adaptation is merely a secondary activity, a mere re-activity (see Note on Chapter LVII.).
Pars. 11, 12.
These deal with Nietzsche's principle of the desirability of rearing a select race. The biological and historical grounds for his insistence upon this principle are, of course, manifold. Gobineau in his great work, "L'Inegalite des Races Humaines", lays strong emphasis upon the evils which arise from promiscuous and inter-social marriages. He alone would suffice to carry Nietzsche's point against all those who are opposed to the other conditions, to the conditions which would have saved Rome, which have maintained the strength of the Jewish race, and which are strictly maintained by every breeder of animals throughout the world. Darwin in his remarks relative to the degeneration of CULTIVATED types of animals through the action of promiscuous breeding, brings Gobineau support from the realm of biology.
The last two verses of par. 12 were discussed in the Notes on Chapters XXXVI. and LIII.
This, like the first part of "The Soothsayer", is obviously a reference to the Schopenhauerian Pessimism.
Pars. 14, 15, 16, 17.
These are supplementary to the discourse "Backworld's-men".
We must be careful to separate this paragraph, in sense, from the previous four paragraphs. Nietzsche is still dealing with Pessimism here; but it is the pessimism of the hero—the man most susceptible of all to desperate views of life, owing to the obstacles that are arrayed against him in a world where men of his kind are very rare and are continually being sacrificed. It was to save this man that Nietzsche wrote. Heroism foiled, thwarted, and wrecked, hoping and fighting until the last, is at length overtaken by despair, and renounces all struggle for sleep. This is not the natural or constitutional pessimism which proceeds from an unhealthy body—the dyspeptic's lack of appetite; it is rather the desperation of the netted lion that ultimately stops all movement, because the more it moves the more involved it becomes.
"All that increases power is good, all that springs from weakness is bad. The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our charity. And one shall also help them thereto." Nietzsche partly divined the kind of reception moral values of this stamp would meet with at the hands of the effeminate manhood of Europe. Here we see that he had anticipated the most likely form their criticism would take (see also the last two verses of par. 17).
The first ten verses, here, are reminiscent of "War and Warriors" and of "The Flies in the Market-place." Verses 11 and 12, however, are particularly important. There is a strong argument in favour of the sharp differentiation of castes and of races (and even of sexes; see Note on Chapter XVIII.) running all through Nietzsche's writings. But sharp differentiation also implies antagonism in some form or other—hence Nietzsche's fears for modern men. What modern men desire above all, is peace and the cessation of pain. But neither great races nor great castes have ever been built up in this way. "Who still wanteth to rule?" Zarathustra asks in the "Prologue". "Who still wanteth to obey? Both are too burdensome." This is rapidly becoming everybody's attitude to-day. The tame moral reading of the face of nature, together with such democratic interpretations of life as those suggested by Herbert Spencer, are signs of a physiological condition which is the reverse of that bounding and irresponsible healthiness in which harder and more tragic values rule.
This should be read in conjunction with "Child and Marriage". In the fifth verse we shall recognise our old friend "Marriage on the ten-years system," which George Meredith suggested some years ago. This, however, must not be taken too literally. I do not think Nietzsche's profoundest views on marriage were ever intended to be given over to the public at all, at least not for the present. They appear in the biography by his sister, and although their wisdom is unquestionable, the nature of the reforms he suggests render it impossible for them to become popular just now.
Pars. 26, 27.
See Note on "The Prologue".
Nietzsche was not an iconoclast from predilection. No bitterness or empty hate dictated his vituperations against existing values and against the dogmas of his parents and forefathers. He knew too well what these things meant to the millions who profess them, to approach the task of uprooting them with levity or even with haste. He saw what modern anarchists and revolutionists do NOT see—namely, that man is in danger of actual destruction when his customs and values are broken. I need hardly point out, therefore, how deeply he was conscious of the responsibility he threw upon our shoulders when he invited us to reconsider our position. The lines in this paragraph are evidence enough of his earnestness.
Chapter LVII. The Convalescent.
We meet with several puzzles here. Zarathustra calls himself the advocate of the circle (the Eternal Recurrence of all things), and he calls this doctrine his abysmal thought. In the last verse of the first paragraph, however, after hailing his deepest thought, he cries: "Disgust, disgust, disgust!" We know Nietzsche's ideal man was that "world-approving, exuberant, and vivacious creature, who has not only learnt to compromise and arrange with that which was and is, but wishes to have it again, AS IT WAS AND IS, for all eternity insatiably calling out da capo, not only to himself, but to the whole piece and play" (see Note on Chapter XLII.). But if one ask oneself what the conditions to such an attitude are, one will realise immediately how utterly different Nietzsche was from his ideal. The man who insatiably cries da capo to himself and to the whole of his mise-en-scene, must be in a position to desire every incident in his life to be repeated, not once, but again and again eternally. Now, Nietzsche's life had been too full of disappointments, illness, unsuccessful struggles, and snubs, to allow of his thinking of the Eternal Recurrence without loathing—hence probably the words of the last verse.
In verses 15 and 16, we have Nietzsche declaring himself an evolutionist in the broadest sense—that is to say, that he believes in the Development Hypothesis as the description of the process by which species have originated. Now, to understand his position correctly we must show his relationship to the two greatest of modern evolutionists—Darwin and Spencer. As a philosopher, however, Nietzsche does not stand or fall by his objections to the Darwinian or Spencerian cosmogony. He never laid claim to a very profound knowledge of biology, and his criticism is far more valuable as the attitude of a fresh mind than as that of a specialist towards the question. Moreover, in his objections many difficulties are raised which are not settled by an appeal to either of the men above mentioned. We have given Nietzsche's definition of life in the Note on Chapter LVI., par. 10. Still, there remains a hope that Darwin and Nietzsche may some day become reconciled by a new description of the processes by which varieties occur. The appearance of varieties among animals and of "sporting plants" in the vegetable kingdom, is still shrouded in mystery, and the question whether this is not precisely the ground on which Darwin and Nietzsche will meet, is an interesting one. The former says in his "Origin of Species", concerning the causes of variability: "...there are two factors, namely, the nature of the organism, and the nature of the conditions. THE FORMER SEEMS TO BE MUCH THE MORE IMPORTANT (The italics are mine.), for nearly similar variations sometimes arise under, as far as we can judge, dissimilar conditions; and on the other hand, dissimilar variations arise under conditions which appear to be nearly uniform." Nietzsche, recognising this same truth, would ascribe practically all the importance to the "highest functionaries in the organism, in which the life-will appears as an active and formative principle," and except in certain cases (where passive organisms alone are concerned) would not give such a prominent place to the influence of environment. Adaptation, according to him, is merely a secondary activity, a mere re-activity, and he is therefore quite opposed to Spencer's definition: "Life is the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations." Again in the motive force behind animal and plant life, Nietzsche disagrees with Darwin. He transforms the "Struggle for Existence"—the passive and involuntary condition—into the "Struggle for Power," which is active and creative, and much more in harmony with Darwin's own view, given above, concerning the importance of the organism itself. The change is one of such far-reaching importance that we cannot dispose of it in a breath, as a mere play upon words. "Much is reckoned higher than life itself by the living one." Nietzsche says that to speak of the activity of life as a "struggle for existence," is to state the case inadequately. He warns us not to confound Malthus with nature. There is something more than this struggle between the organic beings on this earth; want, which is supposed to bring this struggle about, is not so common as is supposed; some other force must be operative. The Will to Power is this force, "the instinct of self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results thereof." A certain lack of acumen in psychological questions and the condition of affairs in England at the time Darwin wrote, may both, according to Nietzsche, have induced the renowned naturalist to describe the forces of nature as he did in his "Origin of Species".
In verses 28, 29, and 30 of the second portion of this discourse we meet with a doctrine which, at first sight, seems to be merely "le manoir a l'envers," indeed one English critic has actually said of Nietzsche, that "Thus Spake Zarathustra" is no more than a compendium of modern views and maxims turned upside down. Examining these heterodox pronouncements a little more closely, however, we may possibly perceive their truth. Regarding good and evil as purely relative values, it stands to reason that what may be bad or evil in a given man, relative to a certain environment, may actually be good if not highly virtuous in him relative to a certain other environment. If this hypothetical man represent the ascending line of life—that is to say, if he promise all that which is highest in a Graeco-Roman sense, then it is likely that he will be condemned as wicked if introduced into the society of men representing the opposite and descending line of life.
By depriving a man of his wickedness—more particularly nowadays— therefore, one may unwittingly be doing violence to the greatest in him. It may be an outrage against his wholeness, just as the lopping-off of a leg would be. Fortunately, the natural so-called "wickedness" of higher men has in a certain measure been able to resist this lopping process which successive slave-moralities have practised; but signs are not wanting which show that the noblest wickedness is fast vanishing from society—the wickedness of courage and determination—and that Nietzsche had good reasons for crying: "Ah, that (man's) baddest is so very small! Ah, that his best is so very small. What is good? To be brave is good! It is the good war which halloweth every cause!" (see also par. 5, "Higher Man").
Chapter LX. The Seven Seals.
This is a final paean which Zarathustra sings to Eternity and the marriage-ring of rings, the ring of the Eternal Recurrence.
In my opinion this part is Nietzsche's open avowal that all his philosophy, together with all his hopes, enthusiastic outbursts, blasphemies, prolixities, and obscurities, were merely so many gifts laid at the feet of higher men. He had no desire to save the world. What he wished to determine was: Who is to be master of the world? This is a very different thing. He came to save higher men;—to give them that freedom by which, alone, they can develop and reach their zenith (see Note on Chapter LIV., end). It has been argued, and with considerable force, that no such philosophy is required by higher men, that, as a matter of fact, higher men, by virtue of their constitutions always, do stand Beyond Good and Evil, and never allow anything to stand in the way of their complete growth. Nietzsche, however, was evidently not so confident about this. He would probably have argued that we only see the successful cases. Being a great man himself, he was well aware of the dangers threatening greatness in our age. In "Beyond Good and Evil" he writes: "There are few pains so grievous as to have seen, divined, or experienced how an exceptional man has missed his way and deteriorated..." He knew "from his painfullest recollections on what wretched obstacles promising developments of the highest rank have hitherto usually gone to pieces, broken down, sunk, and become contemptible." Now in Part IV. we shall find that his strongest temptation to descend to the feeling of "pity" for his contemporaries, is the "cry for help" which he hears from the lips of the higher men exposed to the dreadful danger of their modern environment.
Chapter LXI. The Honey Sacrifice.
In the fourteenth verse of this discourse Nietzsche defines the solemn duty he imposed upon himself: "Become what thou art." Surely the criticism which has been directed against this maxim must all fall to the ground when it is remembered, once and for all, that Nietzsche's teaching was never intended to be other than an esoteric one. "I am a law only for mine own," he says emphatically, "I am not a law for all." It is of the greatest importance to humanity that its highest individuals should be allowed to attain to their full development; for, only by means of its heroes can the human race be led forward step by step to higher and yet higher levels. "Become what thou art" applied to all, of course, becomes a vicious maxim; it is to be hoped, however, that we may learn in time that the same action performed by a given number of men, loses its identity precisely that same number of times.—"Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi."
At the last eight verses many readers may be tempted to laugh. In England we almost always laugh when a man takes himself seriously at anything save sport. And there is of course no reason why the reader should not be hilarious.—A certain greatness is requisite, both in order to be sublime and to have reverence for the sublime. Nietzsche earnestly believed that the Zarathustra-kingdom—his dynasty of a thousand years—would one day come; if he had not believed it so earnestly, if every artist in fact had not believed so earnestly in his Hazar, whether of ten, fifteen, a hundred, or a thousand years, we should have lost all our higher men; they would have become pessimists, suicides, or merchants. If the minor poet and philosopher has made us shy of the prophetic seriousness which characterized an Isaiah or a Jeremiah, it is surely our loss and the minor poet's gain.
Chapter LXII. The Cry of Distress.
We now meet with Zarathustra in extraordinary circumstances. He is confronted with Schopenhauer and tempted by the old Soothsayer to commit the sin of pity. "I have come that I may seduce thee to thy last sin!" says the Soothsayer to Zarathustra. It will be remembered that in Schopenhauer's ethics, pity is elevated to the highest place among the virtues, and very consistently too, seeing that the Weltanschauung is a pessimistic one. Schopenhauer appeals to Nietzsche's deepest and strongest sentiment—his sympathy for higher men. "Why dost thou conceal thyself?" he cries. "It is THE HIGHER MAN that calleth for thee!" Zarathustra is almost overcome by the Soothsayer's pleading, as he had been once already in the past, but he resists him step by step. At length he can withstand him no longer, and, on the plea that the higher man is on his ground and therefore under his protection, Zarathustra departs in search of him, leaving Schopenhauer—a higher man in Nietzsche's opinion—in the cave as a guest.
Chapter LXIII. Talk with the Kings.
On his way Zarathustra meets two more higher men of his time; two kings cross his path. They are above the average modern type; for their instincts tell them what real ruling is, and they despise the mockery which they have been taught to call "Reigning." "We ARE NOT the first men," they say, "and have nevertheless to STAND FOR them: of this imposture have we at last become weary and disgusted." It is the kings who tell Zarathustra: "There is no sorer misfortune in all human destiny than when the mighty of the earth are not also the first men. There everything becometh false and distorted and monstrous." The kings are also asked by Zarathustra to accept the shelter of his cave, whereupon he proceeds on his way.
Chapter LXIV. The Leech.
Among the higher men whom Zarathustra wishes to save, is also the scientific specialist—the man who honestly and scrupulously pursues his investigations, as Darwin did, in one department of knowledge. "I love him who liveth in order to know, and seeketh to know in order that the Superman may hereafter live. Thus seeketh he his own down-going." "The spiritually conscientious one," he is called in this discourse. Zarathustra steps on him unawares, and the slave of science, bleeding from the violence he has done to himself by his self-imposed task, speaks proudly of his little sphere of knowledge—his little hand's breadth of ground on Zarathustra's territory, philosophy. "Where mine honesty ceaseth," says the true scientific specialist, "there am I blind and want also to be blind. Where I want to know, however, there want I also to be honest—namely, severe, rigorous, restricted, cruel, and inexorable." Zarathustra greatly respecting this man, invites him too to the cave, and then vanishes in answer to another cry for help.
Chapter LXV. The Magician.
The Magician is of course an artist, and Nietzsche's intimate knowledge of perhaps the greatest artist of his age rendered the selection of Wagner, as the type in this discourse, almost inevitable. Most readers will be acquainted with the facts relating to Nietzsche's and Wagner's friendship and ultimate separation. As a boy and a youth Nietzsche had shown such a remarkable gift for music that it had been a question at one time whether he should not perhaps give up everything else in order to develop this gift, but he became a scholar notwithstanding, although he never entirely gave up composing, and playing the piano. While still in his teens, he became acquainted with Wagner's music and grew passionately fond of it. Long before he met Wagner he must have idealised him in his mind to an extent which only a profoundly artistic nature could have been capable of. Nietzsche always had high ideals for humanity. If one were asked whether, throughout his many changes, there was yet one aim, one direction, and one hope to which he held fast, one would be forced to reply in the affirmative and declare that aim, direction, and hope to have been "the elevation of the type man." Now, when Nietzsche met Wagner he was actually casting about for an incarnation of his dreams for the German people, and we have only to remember his youth (he was twenty-one when he was introduced to Wagner), his love of Wagner's music, and the undoubted power of the great musician's personality, in order to realise how very uncritical his attitude must have been in the first flood of his enthusiasm. Again, when the friendship ripened, we cannot well imagine Nietzsche, the younger man, being anything less than intoxicated by his senior's attention and love, and we are therefore not surprised to find him pressing Wagner forward as the great Reformer and Saviour of mankind. "Wagner in Bayreuth" (English Edition, 1909) gives us the best proof of Nietzsche's infatuation, and although signs are not wanting in this essay which show how clearly and even cruelly he was sub-consciously "taking stock" of his friend—even then, the work is a record of what great love and admiration can do in the way of endowing the object of one's affection with all the qualities and ideals that a fertile imagination can conceive.
When the blow came it was therefore all the more severe. Nietzsche at length realised that the friend of his fancy and the real Richard Wagner—the composer of Parsifal—were not one; the fact dawned upon him slowly; disappointment upon disappointment, revelation after revelation, ultimately brought it home to him, and though his best instincts were naturally opposed to it at first, the revulsion of feeling at last became too strong to be ignored, and Nietzsche was plunged into the blackest despair. Years after his break with Wagner, he wrote "The Case of Wagner", and "Nietzsche contra Wagner", and these works are with us to prove the sincerity and depth of his views on the man who was the greatest event of his life.
The poem in this discourse is, of course, reminiscent of Wagner's own poetical manner, and it must be remembered that the whole was written subsequent to Nietzsche's final break with his friend. The dialogue between Zarathustra and the Magician reveals pretty fully what it was that Nietzsche grew to loathe so intensely in Wagner,—viz., his pronounced histrionic tendencies, his dissembling powers, his inordinate vanity, his equivocalness, his falseness. "It honoureth thee," says Zarathustra, "that thou soughtest for greatness, but it betrayeth thee also. Thou art not great." The Magician is nevertheless sent as a guest to Zarathustra's cave; for, in his heart, Zarathustra believed until the end that the Magician was a higher man broken by modern values.
Chapter LXVI. Out of Service.
Zarathustra now meets the last pope, and, in a poetical form, we get Nietzsche's description of the course Judaism and Christianity pursued before they reached their final break-up in Atheism, Agnosticism, and the like. The God of a strong, warlike race—the God of Israel—is a jealous, revengeful God. He is a power that can be pictured and endured only by a hardy and courageous race, a race rich enough to sacrifice and to lose in sacrifice. The image of this God degenerates with the people that appropriate it, and gradually He becomes a God of love—"soft and mellow," a lower middle-class deity, who is "pitiful." He can no longer be a God who requires sacrifice, for we ourselves are no longer rich enough for that. The tables are therefore turned upon Him; HE must sacrifice to us. His pity becomes so great that he actually does sacrifice something to us—His only begotten Son. Such a process carried to its logical conclusions must ultimately end in His own destruction, and thus we find the pope declaring that God was one day suffocated by His all-too-great pity. What follows is clear enough. Zarathustra recognises another higher man in the ex-pope and sends him too as a guest to the cave.
Chapter LXVII. The Ugliest Man.
This discourse contains perhaps the boldest of Nietzsche's suggestions concerning Atheism, as well as some extremely penetrating remarks upon the sentiment of pity. Zarathustra comes across the repulsive creature sitting on the wayside, and what does he do? He manifests the only correct feelings that can be manifested in the presence of any great misery—that is to say, shame, reverence, embarrassment. Nietzsche detested the obtrusive and gushing pity that goes up to misery without a blush either on its cheek or in its heart—the pity which is only another form of self-glorification. "Thank God that I am not like thee!"—only this self-glorifying sentiment can lend a well-constituted man the impudence to SHOW his pity for the cripple and the ill-constituted. In the presence of the ugliest man Nietzsche blushes,—he blushes for his race; his own particular kind of altruism—the altruism that might have prevented the existence of this man—strikes him with all its force. He will have the world otherwise. He will have a world where one need not blush for one's fellows—hence his appeal to us to love only our children's land, the land undiscovered in the remotest sea.
Zarathustra calls the ugliest man the murderer of God! Certainly, this is one aspect of a certain kind of Atheism—the Atheism of the man who reveres beauty to such an extent that his own ugliness, which outrages him, must be concealed from every eye lest it should not be respected as Zarathustra respected it. If there be a God, He too must be evaded. His pity must be foiled. But God is ubiquitous and omniscient. Therefore, for the really GREAT ugly man, He must not exist. "Their pity IS it from which I flee away," he says—that is to say: "It is from their want of reverence and lack of shame in presence of my great misery!" The ugliest man despises himself; but Zarathustra said in his Prologue: "I love the great despisers because they are the great adorers, and arrows of longing for the other shore." He therefore honours the ugliest man: sees height in his self-contempt, and invites him to join the other higher men in the cave.
Chapter LXVIII. The Voluntary Beggar.
In this discourse, we undoubtedly have the ideal Buddhist, if not Gautama Buddha himself. Nietzsche had the greatest respect for Buddhism, and almost wherever he refers to it in his works, it is in terms of praise. He recognised that though Buddhism is undoubtedly a religion for decadents, its decadent values emanate from the higher and not, as in Christianity, from the lower grades of society. In Aphorism 20 of "The Antichrist", he compares it exhaustively with Christianity, and the result of his investigation is very much in favour of the older religion. Still, he recognised a most decided Buddhistic influence in Christ's teaching, and the words in verses 29, 30, and 31 are very reminiscent of his views in regard to the Christian Savior.
The figure of Christ has been introduced often enough into fiction, and many scholars have undertaken to write His life according to their own lights, but few perhaps have ever attempted to present Him to us bereft of all those characteristics which a lack of the sense of harmony has attached to His person through the ages in which His doctrines have been taught. Now Nietzsche disagreed entirely with Renan's view, that Christ was "le grand maitre en ironie"; in Aphorism 31 of "The Antichrist", he says that he (Nietzsche) always purged his picture of the Humble Nazarene of all those bitter and spiteful outbursts which, in view of the struggle the first Christians went through, may very well have been added to the original character by Apologists and Sectarians who, at that time, could ill afford to consider nice psychological points, seeing that what they needed, above all, was a wrangling and abusive deity. These two conflicting halves in the character of the Christ of the Gospels, which no sound psychology can ever reconcile, Nietzsche always kept distinct in his own mind; he could not credit the same man with sentiments sometimes so noble and at other times so vulgar, and in presenting us with this new portrait of the Saviour, purged of all impurities, Nietzsche rendered military honours to a foe, which far exceed in worth all that His most ardent disciples have ever claimed for Him. In verse 26 we are vividly reminded of Herbert Spencer's words "'Le mariage de convenance' is legalised prostitution."
Chapter LXIX. The Shadow.
Here we have a description of that courageous and wayward spirit that literally haunts the footsteps of every great thinker and every great leader; sometimes with the result that it loses all aims, all hopes, and all trust in a definite goal. It is the case of the bravest and most broad-minded men of to-day. These literally shadow the most daring movements in the science and art of their generation; they completely lose their bearings and actually find themselves, in the end, without a way, a goal, or a home. "On every surface have I already sat!...I become thin, I am almost equal to a shadow!" At last, in despair, such men do indeed cry out: "Nothing is true; all is permitted," and then they become mere wreckage. "Too much hath become clear unto me: now nothing mattereth to me any more. Nothing liveth any longer that I love,—how should I still love myself! Have I still a goal? Where is MY home?" Zarathustra realises the danger threatening such a man. "Thy danger is not small, thou free spirit and wanderer," he says. "Thou hast had a bad day. See that a still worse evening doth not overtake thee!" The danger Zarathustra refers to is precisely this, that even a prison may seem a blessing to such a man. At least the bars keep him in a place of rest; a place of confinement, at its worst, is real. "Beware lest in the end a narrow faith capture thee," says Zarathustra, "for now everything that is narrow and fixed seduceth and tempteth thee."
Chapter LXX. Noontide.
At the noon of life Nietzsche said he entered the world; with him man came of age. We are now held responsible for our actions; our old guardians, the gods and demi-gods of our youth, the superstitions and fears of our childhood, withdraw; the field lies open before us; we lived through our morning with but one master—chance—; let us see to it that we MAKE our afternoon our own (see Note XLIX., Part III.).
Chapter LXXI. The Greeting.
Here I think I may claim that my contention in regard to the purpose and aim of the whole of Nietzsche's philosophy (as stated at the beginning of my Notes on Part IV.) is completely upheld. He fought for "all who do not want to live, unless they learn again to HOPE—unless THEY learn (from him) the GREAT hope!" Zarathustra's address to his guests shows clearly enough how he wished to help them: "I DO NOT TREAT MY WARRIORS INDULGENTLY," he says: "how then could ye be fit for MY warfare?" He rebukes and spurns them, no word of love comes from his lips. Elsewhere he says a man should be a hard bed to his friend, thus alone can he be of use to him. Nietzsche would be a hard bed to higher men. He would make them harder; for, in order to be a law unto himself, man must possess the requisite hardness. "I wait for higher ones, stronger ones, more triumphant ones, merrier ones, for such as are built squarely in body and soul." He says in par. 6 of "Higher Man":—
"Ye higher men, think ye that I am here to put right what ye have put wrong? Or that I wished henceforth to make snugger couches for you sufferers? Or show you restless, miswandering, misclimbing ones new and easier footpaths?"
"Nay! Nay! Three times nay! Always more, always better ones of your type shall succumb—for ye shall always have it worse and harder."
Chapter LXXII. The Supper.
In the first seven verses of this discourse, I cannot help seeing a gentle allusion to Schopenhauer's habits as a bon-vivant. For a pessimist, be it remembered, Schopenhauer led quite an extraordinary life. He ate well, loved well, played the flute well, and I believe he smoked the best cigars. What follows is clear enough.
Chapter LXXIII. The Higher Man. Par. 1.
Nietzsche admits, here, that at one time he had thought of appealing to the people, to the crowd in the market-place, but that he had ultimately to abandon the task. He bids higher men depart from the market-place.
Here we are told quite plainly what class of men actually owe all their impulses and desires to the instinct of self-preservation. The struggle for existence is indeed the only spur in the case of such people. To them it matters not in what shape or condition man be preserved, provided only he survive. The transcendental maxim that "Life per se is precious" is the ruling maxim here.
In the Note on Chapter LVII. (end) I speak of Nietzsche's elevation of the virtue, Courage, to the highest place among the virtues. Here he tells higher men the class of courage he expects from them.
Pars. 5, 6.
These have already been referred to in the Notes on Chapters LVII. (end) and LXXI.
I suggest that the last verse in this paragraph strongly confirms the view that Nietzsche's teaching was always meant by him to be esoteric and for higher man alone.
In the last verse, here, another shaft of light is thrown upon the Immaculate Perception or so-called "pure objectivity" of the scientific mind. "Freedom from fever is still far from being knowledge." Where a man's emotions cease to accompany him in his investigations, he is not necessarily nearer the truth. Says Spencer, in the Preface to his Autobiography:—"In the genesis of a system of thought, the emotional nature is a large factor: perhaps as large a factor as the intellectual nature" (see pages 134, 141 of Vol. I., "Thoughts out of Season").
Pars. 10, 11.
When we approach Nietzsche's philosophy we must be prepared to be independent thinkers; in fact, the greatest virtue of his works is perhaps the subtlety with which they impose the obligation upon one of thinking alone, of scoring off one's own bat, and of shifting intellectually for oneself.
"I am a railing alongside the torrent; whoever is able to grasp me, may grasp me! Your crutch, however, I am not." These two paragraphs are an exhortation to higher men to become independent.
Here Nietzsche perhaps exaggerates the importance of heredity. As, however, the question is by no means one on which we are all agreed, what he says is not without value.
A very important principle in Nietzsche's philosophy is enunciated in the first verse of this paragraph. "The higher its type, always the seldomer doth a thing succeed" (see page 82 of "Beyond Good and Evil"). Those who, like some political economists, talk in a business-like way about the terrific waste of human life and energy, deliberately overlook the fact that the waste most to be deplored usually occurs among higher individuals. Economy was never precisely one of nature's leading principles. All this sentimental wailing over the larger proportion of failures than successes in human life, does not seem to take into account the fact that it is the rarest thing on earth for a highly organised being to attain to the fullest development and activity of all its functions, simply because it is so highly organised. The blind Will to Power in nature therefore stands in urgent need of direction by man.
Pars. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.
These paragraphs deal with Nietzsche's protest against the democratic seriousness (Pobelernst) of modern times. "All good things laugh," he says, and his final command to the higher men is, "LEARN, I pray you—to laugh." All that is GOOD, in Nietzsche's sense, is cheerful. To be able to crack a joke about one's deepest feelings is the greatest test of their value. The man who does not laugh, like the man who does not make faces, is already a buffoon at heart.
"What hath hitherto been the greatest sin here on earth? Was it not the word of him who said: 'Woe unto them that laugh now!' Did he himself find no cause for laughter on the earth? Then he sought badly. A child even findeth cause for it."
Chapter LXXIV. The Song of Melancholy.
After his address to the higher men, Zarathustra goes out into the open to recover himself. Meanwhile the magician (Wagner), seizing the opportunity in order to draw them all into his net once more, sings the Song of Melancholy.
Chapter LXXV. Science.
The only one to resist the "melancholy voluptuousness" of his art, is the spiritually conscientious one—the scientific specialist of whom we read in the discourse entitled "The Leech". He takes the harp from the magician and cries for air, while reproving the musician in the style of "The Case of Wagner". When the magician retaliates by saying that the spiritually conscientious one could have understood little of his song, the latter replies: "Thou praisest me in that thou separatest me from thyself." The speech of the scientific man to his fellow higher men is well worth studying. By means of it, Nietzsche pays a high tribute to the honesty of the true specialist, while, in representing him as the only one who can resist the demoniacal influence of the magician's music, he elevates him at a stroke, above all those present. Zarathustra and the spiritually conscientious one join issue at the end on the question of the proper place of "fear" in man's history, and Nietzsche avails himself of the opportunity in order to restate his views concerning the relation of courage to humanity. It is precisely because courage has played the most important part in our development that he would not see it vanish from among our virtues to-day. "...courage seemeth to me the entire primitive history of man."
Chapter LXXVI. Among the Daughters of the Desert.
This tells its own tale.
Chapter LXXVII. The Awakening.
In this discourse, Nietzsche wishes to give his followers a warning. He thinks he has so far helped them that they have become convalescent, that new desires are awakened in them and that new hopes are in their arms and legs. But he mistakes the nature of the change. True, he has helped them, he has given them back what they most need, i.e., belief in believing—the confidence in having confidence in something, but how do they use it? This belief in faith, if one can so express it without seeming tautological, has certainly been restored to them, and in the first flood of their enthusiasm they use it by bowing down and worshipping an ass! When writing this passage, Nietzsche was obviously thinking of the accusations which were levelled at the early Christians by their pagan contemporaries. It is well known that they were supposed not only to be eaters of human flesh but also ass-worshippers, and among the Roman graffiti, the most famous is the one found on the Palatino, showing a man worshipping a cross on which is suspended a figure with the head of an ass (see Minucius Felix, "Octavius" IX.; Tacitus, "Historiae" v. 3; Tertullian, "Apologia", etc.). Nietzsche's obvious moral, however, is that great scientists and thinkers, once they have reached the wall encircling scepticism and have thereby learned to recover their confidence in the act of believing, as such, usually manifest the change in their outlook by falling victims to the narrowest and most superstitious of creeds. So much for the introduction of the ass as an object of worship.
Now, with regard to the actual service and Ass-Festival, no reader who happens to be acquainted with the religious history of the Middle Ages will fail to see the allusion here to the asinaria festa which were by no means uncommon in France, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe during the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries.
Chapter LXXVIII. The Ass-Festival.
At length, in the middle of their feast, Zarathustra bursts in upon them and rebukes them soundly. But he does not do so long; in the Ass-Festival, it suddenly occurs to him, that he is concerned with a ceremony that may not be without its purpose, as something foolish but necessary—a recreation for wise men. He is therefore highly pleased that the higher men have all blossomed forth; they therefore require new festivals,—"A little valiant nonsense, some divine service and ass-festival, some old joyful Zarathustra fool, some blusterer to blow their souls bright."
He tells them not to forget that night and the ass-festival, for "such things only the convalescent devise! And should ye celebrate it again," he concludes, "do it from love to yourselves, do it also from love to me! And in remembrance of ME!"
Chapter LXXIX. The Drunken Song.
It were the height of presumption to attempt to fix any particular interpretation of my own to the words of this song. With what has gone before, the reader, while reading it as poetry, should be able to seek and find his own meaning in it. The doctrine of the Eternal Recurrence appears for the last time here, in an art-form. Nietzsche lays stress upon the fact that all happiness, all delight, longs for repetitions, and just as a child cries "Again! Again!" to the adult who happens to be amusing him; so the man who sees a meaning, and a joyful meaning, in existence must also cry "Again!" and yet "Again!" to all his life.
Chapter LXXX. The Sign.
In this discourse, Nietzsche disassociates himself finally from the higher men, and by the symbol of the lion, wishes to convey to us that he has won over and mastered the best and the most terrible in nature. That great power and tenderness are kin, was already his belief in 1875—eight years before he wrote this speech, and when the birds and the lion come to him, it is because he is the embodiment of the two qualities. All that is terrible and great in nature, the higher men are not yet prepared for; for they retreat horror-stricken into the cave when the lion springs at them; but Zarathustra makes not a move towards them. He was tempted to them on the previous day, he says, but "That hath had its time! My suffering and my fellow suffering,—what matter about them! Do I then strive after HAPPINESS? I strive after my work! Well! the lion hath come, my children are nigh. Zarathustra hath grown ripe. MY day beginneth: ARISE NOW, ARISE, THOU GREAT NOONDAY!"
The above I know to be open to much criticism. I shall be grateful to all those who will be kind enough to show me where and how I have gone wrong; but I should like to point out that, as they stand, I have not given to these Notes by any means their final form.
ANTHONY M. LUDOVICI.
London, February 1909.
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