Friedrich Nietzsche – Preface 4-8
A step further in recovery: and the free spirit draws near to life again, slowly indeed, almost refractorily, almost distrustfully. There is again warmth and mellowness: feeling and fellow feeling acquire depth, lambent airs stir all about him. He almost feels: it seems as if now for the first time his eyes are open to things near. He is in amaze and sits hushed: for where had he been? These near and immediate things: how changed they seem to him! He looks gratefully back—grateful for his wandering, his self exile and severity, his lookings afar and his bird flights in the cold heights. How fortunate that he has not, like a sensitive, dull home body, remained always "in the house" and "at home!" He had been beside himself, beyond a doubt. Now for the first time he really sees himself—and what surprises in the process. What hitherto unfelt tremors! Yet what joy in the exhaustion, the old sickness, the relapses of the convalescent! How it delights him, suffering, to sit still, to exercise patience, to lie in the sun! Who so well as he appreciates the fact that there comes balmy weather even in winter, who delights more in the sunshine athwart the wall? They are the most appreciative creatures in the world, and also the most humble, these convalescents and lizards, crawling back towards life: there are some among them who can let no day slip past them without addressing some song of praise to its retreating light. And speaking seriously, it is a fundamental cure for all pessimism (the cankerous vice, as is well known, of all idealists and humbugs), to become ill in the manner of these free spirits, to remain ill quite a while and then bit by bit grow healthy—I mean healthier. It is wisdom, worldly wisdom, to administer even health to oneself for a long time in small doses
About this time it becomes at last possible, amid the flash lights of a still unestablished, still precarious health, for the free, the ever freer spirit to begin to read the riddle of that great liberation, a riddle which has hitherto lingered, obscure, well worth questioning, almost impalpable, in his memory. If once he hardly dared to ask "why so apart? so alone? renouncing all I loved? renouncing respect itself? why this coldness, this suspicion, this hate for one's very virtues?"—now he dares, and asks it loudly, already hearing the answer, "you had to become master over yourself, master of your own good qualities. Formerly they were your masters: but they should be merely your tools along with other tools. You had to acquire power over your aye and no and learn to hold and withhold them in accordance with your higher aims. You had to grasp the perspective of every representation (Werthschätzung)—the dislocation, distortion and the apparent end or teleology of the horizon, besides whatever else appertains to the perspective: also the element of demerit in its relation to opposing merit, and the whole intellectual cost of every affirmative, every negative. You had to find out the inevitable error1 in every Yes and in every No, error as inseparable from life, life itself as conditioned by the perspective and its inaccuracy.1 Above all, you had to see with your own eyes where the error1 is always greatest: there, namely, where life is littlest, narrowest, meanest, least developed and yet cannot help looking upon itself as the goal and standard of things, and smugly and ignobly and incessantly tearing to tatters all that is highest and greatest and richest, and putting the shreds into the form of questions from the standpoint of its own well being. You had to see with your own eyes the problem of classification, (Rangordnung, regulation concerning rank and station) and how strength and sweep and reach of perspective wax upward together: You had"—enough, the free spirit knows henceforward which "you had" it has obeyed and also what it now can do and what it now, for the first time, dare
1 Ungerechtigkeit, literally wrongfulness, injustice, unrighteousness
Accordingly, the free spirit works out for itself an answer to that riddle of its liberation and concludes by generalizing upon its experience in the following fashion: "What I went through everyone must go through" in whom any problem is germinated and strives to body itself forth. The inner power and inevitability of this problem will assert themselves in due course, as in the case of any unsuspected pregnancy—long before the spirit has seen this problem in its true aspect and learned to call it by its right name. Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law to our to-day. Granted, that it is the problem of classification2 of which we free spirits may say, this is our problem, yet it is only now, in the midday of our life, that we fully appreciate what preparations, shifts, trials, ordeals, stages, were essential to that problem before it could emerge to our view, and why we had to go through the various and contradictory longings and satisfactions of body and soul, as circumnavigators and adventurers of that inner world called "man"; as surveyors of that "higher" and of that "progression"3 that is also called "man"—crowding in everywhere, almost without fear, disdaining nothing, missing nothing, testing everything, sifting everything and eliminating the chance impurities—until at last we could say, we free spirits: "Here—a new problem! Here, a long ladder on the rungs of which we ourselves have rested and risen, which we have actually been at times. Here is a something higher, a something deeper, a something below us, a vastly extensive order, (Ordnung) a comparative classification (Rangordnung), that we perceive: here—our problem!"
2 Rangordnung: the meaning is "the problem of grasping the relative importance of things."
3 Uebereinander: one over another
To what stage in the development just outlined the present book belongs (or is assigned) is something that will be hidden from no augur or psychologist for an instant. But where are there psychologists to-day? In France, certainly; in Russia, perhaps; certainly not in Germany. Grounds are not wanting, to be sure, upon which the Germans of to-day may adduce this fact to their credit: unhappily for one who in this matter is fashioned and mentored in an un-German school! This German book, which has found its readers in a wide circle of lands and peoples—it has been some ten years on its rounds—and which must make its way by means of any musical art and tune that will captivate the foreign ear as well as the native—this book has been read most indifferently in Germany itself and little heeded there: to what is that due? "It requires too much," I have been told, "it addresses itself to men free from the press of petty obligations, it demands fine and trained perceptions, it requires a surplus, a surplus of time, of the lightness of heaven and of the heart, of otium in the most unrestricted sense: mere good things that we Germans of to-day have not got and therefore cannot give." After so graceful a retort, my philosophy bids me be silent and ask no more questions: at times, as the proverb says, one remains a philosopher only because one says—nothing!
Nice, Spring, 1886
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