Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is

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After the periods of work and fruitfulness comes the period of relaxation: out you come, you pleasant, intellectually stimulating books I have been shying away from! I have to go back half a year to catch myself with a book in my hand. What was it, though? Otherwise I resort almost always to the same books—basically a small number, of those books which have proved themselves for me in particular.

It is perhaps not my nature to read much and widely: reading-rooms make me ill. It is also not my nature to love much or widely. The few cases of advanced education I discovered in Germany were all of French extraction, above all Frau Cosima Wagner, by far the foremost voice in questions of taste that I have heard Just between ourselves, I even prefer this generation to their great teachers, every last one of whom has been ruined by German philosophy: Mr Taine, for example, by Hegel, to whom he owes his misunderstanding of great people and periods.

Everywhere Germany extends it ruins culture. Perhaps I am even a little envious of Stendhal? I seek in vain across all the realms of millennia for a music that is as sweet and passionate. He possessed that divine malice without which I am incapable of conceiving perfection— I measure the value of people and races according to how necessary it is for them to conceive of god and satyr as inseparable.

Some day people will say that Heine and I were by far the foremost artists of the German language—incalculably 26 Ecce Homo II 4 far beyond everything mere Germans have done with it. Once I have cast a glance at my Zarathustra, I walk up and down the room for half an hour, overpowered by unbearable cramps brought on by sobbing.

But you need to be profound, abyss, philosopher to feel that way We are all afraid of the truth And the devil take you, my dear critics! II 5 Why I Am So Clever 27 5 Now that I am speaking of the relaxations in my life, I need to say a word to express my gratitude for what has been by far my most profound and cordial relaxation. Without a shadow of doubt this was my intimate association with Richard Wagner. I do not know what experiences others have had with Wagner: never a cloud passed across our skies. Well then! Wagner was a revolutionary—he escaped from the Germans No one in Germany has any idea of the immense ambition that lives in the soul of a Parisian artist.

Germans are good-natured—Wagner was not in the least good-natured What have I never forgiven Wagner? For I was condemned to live among Germans. To escape from unbearable pressure you need hashish. Well then, I needed Wagner. That it should be cheerful and profound, like an October afternoon. That it should be independent, lively, tender, a sweet little woman of treachery and grace I shall never grant that a German could know what music is.

I would not know how to do without Rossini, still less my musical south, the music of my Venetian maestro Pietro Gasti. I can make no distinction between tears and music; I do not know how to imagine happiness, the south, without a shudder of timidity. By the bridge stood I Lately in the dusky night. From afar came singing: In golden drops it welled up Across the quivering expanse. My soul, a stringed instrument, Sang to itself, invisibly touched, A barcarole in secret accompaniment, Quivering in mottled bliss.

The current term for this instinct of self-defence is taste. The sense in this is that expenditure on defence, even small amounts, when it becomes the rule, a habit, entails an extraordinary and utterly needless impoverishment. Our great expenditures are the most frequent little amounts. Would it not mean I would have to become a hedgehog? If he does not skim, he does not think. He responds to a stimulus —an idea he has read when he thinks—he ends up just reacting. The instinct for self-defence has been worn down in him; otherwise he would defend himself against books.

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And with this I touch on the master-stroke in the art of self-preservation—of egoism For if you assume that your task, your destiny, the fate of your task lies considerably beyond the average measure, then no danger would be greater than facing up to yourself with this task. Becoming what you are presupposes that you have not the slightest inkling what you are.

Ecce Homo : Friedrich Nietzsche :

Beware even every great phrase, every great pose! The task of revaluing values required perhaps more capacities than have ever dwelt together in one individual, above all contradictory capacities, too, without them being allowed to disturb or destroy one another. Its higher concern was so pronounced that I never even suspected what was growing within me—that all my abilities would one day suddenly spring forth ripe, in their ultimate perfection.

I lack any memory of ever having exerted myself—there is no trace of a struggle evident in my life, I am the opposite of a heroic nature.

How One Becomes What One Is; Revised Edition

Even now, I look towards my future—a distant future! But this is how I have always lived. I have never wished for anything. Someone who can say after forty-four years that he has never striven for honours, for women, for money! Thus one day, for example, I was a university professor—never for one moment had I thought of anything like this, as I was only just He possessed that agreeable corruption that distinguishes us Thuringians and makes even a German likeable—even to reach the truth we still prefer the roundabout routes.

Answer: these little things—nourishment, place, climate, relaxation, the whole casuistry of egoism—are incomparably more important than anything that has been considered important hitherto. This is precisely where one must start relearning. Our contemporary culture is ambivalent to the highest degree I want to be the opposite of this: it is my privilege to have the highest sensitivity for all the signs of healthy instincts.

The pathos of posturing has no part in greatness; anyone who needs postures at all is false. Beware of all picturesque people! I never felt more agreeable about eating, I never slept better. The slightest constraint, a gloomy expression, some harsh tone in the throat— these are all objections to a person, so how much more do they count against his work!

You must have no nerves At an absurdly young age, when I was 7, I already knew that no human word would ever get through to me: did anyone ever see me distressed at this? Not just enduring what is necessary, still less concealing it—all idealism is hypocrisy in the face of what is necessary—but loving it I myself am not yet timely; some are born posthumously. An essay by Dr V. All the more reason to attempt an explanation. If you have no access to something from experience, you will have no ear for it.

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In this case simply nothing will be heard, with the acoustic illusion that where nothing is heard nothing is there, either Ultimately this is my average experience and, if you will, the originality of my experience. Not for nothing are the Poles called the French among the Slavs. Thinking in a German way, feeling in a German way—I can do anything, but that is beyond me I can do no other.

God help me! Well then, I make so bold as to assert that I have the tiniest ears. This is of no little interest to the little women—it seems to me that they feel better understood by me? I am the anti-ass par excellence and hence a world-historic monster—I am, in Greek, and not only in Greek, the Antichrist They simply can no longer stand other books, least of all philosophy books.

It is an unparalleled distinction to step into this noble and delicate world—for which you must not on any account be a German; ultimately it is a distinction you need to have earned. Not only the poverty of a soul but its cramped air rules you out, and all the more so anything cowardly, unclean, secretly vengeful in the intestines: one word from me drives out all the bad instincts.

I have heard this said even about Zarathustra You must never have spared yourself, you must have become accustomed to harshness to feel high-spirited and cheerful among nothing but harsh truths. Who are the only people he wants to tell his riddle to? Communicating a state, an inner tension of pathos through signs, including the tempo of these signs—that is the point of every III 5 Why I Write Such Good Books 41 style; and considering that in my case the multiplicity of inner states is extraordinary, in my case there are many stylistic possibilities—altogether the most multifarious art of style anyone has ever had at their disposal.

Every style is good that really communicates an inner state, that makes no mistake with signs, with the tempo of signs, with gestures—all laws governing the rhetorical period are an art of gesture. Here my instinct is infallible. Always assuming that there are ears—that there are those who are capable and worthy of such a pathos, that those to whom one may communicate oneself are not lacking.

And till then there will be no one to understand the art that has been squandered here: no one has ever had more new, unprecedented artistic means to squander—means really created only for this purpose. That such a thing was possible in German, of all languages, remained to be proven: I myself would have denied it beforehand in the harshest possible terms. Before me, people did not know what can be done with the German language—what can be done with language tout court. There are no egoistic or unegoistic actions: both concepts are psychological absurdities.

You have to be sure of yourself, you have to be standing bravely on your own two feet, otherwise you simply cannot love. May I venture the supposition, by the by, that I know the little women? That is an aspect of my Dionysian dowry.

Who knows? Ah, what dangerous, insidious, subterranean little predators! And so pleasant with it!

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A little woman running after her revenge would run down fate itself. The struggle for equal rights is even a symptom of illness: every doctor knows that. Love—war in its means, at bottom the deadly hatred of the sexes. You get her pregnant. Woman needs children, man is always just a means: thus spoke Zarathustra. The genius of the heart, that teaches the foolish and over-hasty hand to hesitate and to grasp more daintily; that guesses the hidden and forgotten treasure, the drop of kindness and sweet spirituality lying under thick, turbid ice and is a divining rod for every speck of gold that has long lain buried in some dungeon of great mud and sand It owed its impact and even its fascination to what was wrong with it—its tactical use of Wagnerism, as if that were a symptom of ascent.

Tragedy is precisely the proof that the Greeks were no pessimists: Schopenhauer was wrong about this, as he was wrong about everything. With these two things, how high had I leapt above the pitiful blockhead-chatter of optimism versus pessimism! At least the Stoics, who inherited almost all their fundamental ideas from Heraclitus, show traces of it.

Ultimately I have no reason to retract my hope in a Dionysian future for music. That new party of life which takes in hand the greatest of all tasks, the breeding of a higher humanity, including the ruthless destruction of everything degenerating and parasitic, will make possible again that excess of life on earth from which the Dionysian state, too, must arise once again.


The whole picture of the dithyrambic artist is the picture of the Zarathustra poet pre-existing, sketched in with abyssal profundity and without even touching on the Wagnerian reality for a moment. Wagner himself had an inkling of this; he failed to recognize himself in the work. They prove that I was no daydreamer with his head in the clouds, that it gives me pleasure to draw my rapier—perhaps also that I am dangerously dexterous.

Only a few old men came out unequivocally on my side, for various and to some extent inscrutable reasons. He foresaw in the work a great destiny for me—ushering in a kind of crisis and highest decision for the problem of atheism, whose most instinctive and ruthless type he guessed I was. Atheism was what led me to Schopenhauer.

Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One is

His essay was read in the Augsburger Zeitung; you can read it today, in a somewhat more cautious form, in his collected writings. No one has yet picked a quarrel with me. And what an opponent I had chosen for myself! Broadly speaking I seized two famous and still utterly undetermined types with both hands, as you seize an opportunity with both hands, in order to express something, to have a few more formulations, signs, linguistic means in hand.

After all, with quite uncanny sagacity the third Untimely also indicates this on p. The work Wagner in Bayreuth is a vision of my future, while Schopenhauer as Educator bears my innermost history, my becoming inscribed within it. Above all my vow!

What I am today, where I am today—at a height where I no longer speak with words but with lightning bolts—oh how far away I still was then! The great calmness in promising, this blessed peering out into a future which is not to remain a mere promise! But a wind of great freedom blows across everything; even the wound does not serve as an objection. It is my kind of cleverness to have been many things and in many places, so as to be able to become one thing—to be able to come to one thing. I had to be a scholar, too, for a while. I know man better A certain intellectuality of noble taste seems to be continually keeping the upper hand over a more passionate current beneath it.

In this context it makes sense that it is actually the hundredth anniversary of the death of Voltaire which provides the excuse, so to speak, for the publication of this book as early as If you look more closely, then you discover a merciless spirit who knows all the hiding-places where the ideal has its home—where it has its dungeons and its last safe retreat, as it were.

With a torch in its hands casting an unwavering light, with piercing brightness it illuminates this underworld of the ideal. One error after another is calmly put on ice; the ideal is not refuted—it dies of exposure Anyone who has an idea of the kind of visions that had already crossed my path by that stage can guess how I felt when I woke up one day in Bayreuth.

Just as if I was dreaming But where was I? I recognized nothing, I hardly recognized Wagner. I leafed through my memories in vain. Tribschen—a distant isle of the blest: not the slightest similarity. What had happened? The Wagnerian had become master over Wagner! German beer!

A kingdom for one sensible word! Where had he ended up! But among Germans! I was ashamed of this false modesty Ten years behind me when quite simply the nourishment of my spirit had been at a standstill, when I had learnt nothing more that was usable, when I had forgotten a ridiculous amount about a hotchpotch of fusty erudition. Crawling through ancient metricians with meticulous precision and bad eyes—things had got that bad with me! When I looked around me more carefully I discovered that a large number of young men face the same crisis: one perversity positively compels a second.

They demand Wagner like an opiate—they forget themselves, they lose themselves for a moment What am I saying! Likewise illness gave me the right to completely overturn all my habits; it allowed me, compelled me to forget; it bestowed on me the gift of having to lie still, remain idle, wait, and be patient But that is what thinking is! The other kind simply followed on from this. Basically it is Mr Peter Gast, at that time studying at Basle University and very devoted to me, who has the book on his conscience. I dictated, my head bandaged up and in pain; he copied out and made corrections, too—basically he was the actual writer, while I was just the author.

Did it not sound like the clash of rapiers? At any rate that is how we both felt: for we both said nothing. Wagner had become pious Ultimately I was myself this sea creature: practically every sentence in the book was conceived, hatched in that riot of rocks near Genoa, where I was on my own and still had secrets to share with the sea.

Even now, if I encounter the book by chance, practically every sentence becomes a tip with which I can pull up something incomparable from the depths once again: its whole hide quivers with the tender shudders of recollection. Where does its originator seek that new morning, that still undiscovered delicate blush with which another day—ah, a whole series, a whole world of new days!

Morality is not attacked, it just no longer comes into consideration This is why the question of the origin of moral values is for me a question of the utmost importance, because it determines the future of humanity. I consider anyone who does not agree with me on this point to be infected But the whole world disagrees with me Such a clash of values leaves a physiologist in no doubt whatsoever.

The physiologist demands that the degenerating part be excised, he denies any solidarity with what is degenerating, he is at the furthest remove from sympathizing with it. But the degeneration of the whole, of humanity, is precisely what the priest wants: this is why he preserves what is degenerating—this is the price he pays for dominating it. The same is true once again and to the highest degree of the gaya scienza: in almost every sentence here profundity and mischief go tenderly hand in hand. Then this thought came to me. Zarathustra as a whole may perhaps be counted as music—certainly a rebirth of the art of listening was a prerequisite for it.

This interval likewise includes the Hymn to Life for mixed choir and orchestra , the score of which was published two years ago by E. Some time in the future people will sing it in memory of me. Last oboe note C sharp, not C natural. Everything happens to the highest degree involuntarily, but as if in a rush of feeling free, of unconditionality, of power, of divinity On every allegory you ride here to every truth. This was followed by a melancholy spring in Rome, when I put up with life—it was not easy. Scarcely a year needed for the whole.

I slept well and laughed a lot—I was the epitome of sprightliness and patience. You pay dearly for being immortal: it means you die numerous times over the course of your life. By virtue of having done it, he is now weak—he can no longer endure his deed, can no longer face up to it.

To have something behind you that you should never have wanted, something that constitutes a nodal point in the destiny of humanity—and from then on to have it on top of you! It almost crushes you The rancune of the great! Solitude has seven skins; nothing gets through any more. You come to people, you greet friends: a new wilderness; no one greets you with their gaze any more. At best a kind of revolt. In such a state I once sensed the proximity of a herd of cows even before I saw it, prompted by the return of milder, more philanthropic thoughts: they have a warmth about them Let us leave the poets aside: absolutely nothing has ever been achieved, perhaps, from a comparable surfeit of strength.

Immense is the ladder on which he climbs up and down; he has seen further, willed further, achieved further than any man. The highest and the lowest powers of human nature, that which is sweetest, airiest, and most fearsome pours forth from a single spring with immortal assuredness. Till that point people do not know what height and depth are; still less do they know what is truth. Aphorisms quivering with passion; eloquence become music; lightning-bolts hurled on ahead towards hitherto unguessed-at futures. The halcyon tone, the light feet, the omnipresence of malice and high spirits and everything else that is typical of the type Zarathustra has never been dreamed of as essential to greatness.

But that is the concept of Dionysus once again. The language of the dithyramb. I am the inventor of the dithyramb. Night it is: now all springing fountains talk more loudly. And my soul too is a springing fountain. Night it is: now all songs of lovers at last awaken. And my soul too is the song of a lover. A desire for love is within me, that itself talks in the language of love. Light am I: ah, would that I were night! But this is my solitude, that I am girded round with light.


Ah, would that I were dark and night-like! How I would suckle at the breasts of light! This is my poverty, that my hand never rests from bestowing; this is my envy, that I see expectant eyes and illumined nights of yearning. Oh the wretchedness of all who bestow!

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Oh the eclipse of my sun! Oh the desire for desiring! Oh the ravenous hunger in satiety! They take from me: but do I yet touch their souls? A chasm there is between taking and giving; and the smallest chasm is the last to be bridged. A hunger grows from my beauty: I should like to cause pain to those I illumine, should like to rob those upon whom I have bestowed—thus do I hunger after wickedness. Withdrawing the hand when another hand reaches out for it; like the waterfall, which hesitates even in plunging—thus do I hunger after wickedness.

Such revenge my fullness devises, such spite wells up from my solitude. He who always bestows is in danger of losing his sense of shame; he who always distributes has hands and heart calloused from sheer distributing. Oh the solitude of all who bestow! Oh the reticence of all who shine forth! Many suns circle in barren space: to all that is dark they speak with their light—to me they are silent. Oh this is the enmity of light toward that which shines: mercilessly it pursues its courses. Unjust in its inmost heart toward that which shines, cold toward suns—thus wanders every sun.

Like a storm the suns wander along their courses; their inexorable will they follow, that is their coldness. Oh, it is only you, dark ones, and night-like, who create warmth from that which shines! Oh, it is only you who drink milk and comfort from the udders of light! Ah, ice is around me, my hand is burned on what is icy! Ah, thirst is within me, and it languishes after your thirst. Night it is: ah, that I must be light!

And thirst for the nightlike! And solitude! Night it is: now all songs of lovers awaken. I live on my own credit; it is perhaps a mere prejudice that I live. I need only to speak with one of the "educated" who come to the Upper Engadine for the summer, and I am convinced that I do not live. Under these circumstances I have a duty against which my habits, even more the pride of my instincts, revolt at bottom—namely, to say: Hear me!

For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else. I am, for example, by no means a bogey, or a moralistic monster—I am actually the very opposite of the type of man who so far has been revered as virtuous. Between ourselves, it seems to me that precisely this is part of my pride. I am a disciple of the philosopher Dionysus; I should prefer to be even a satyr to being a saint. But one should really read this essay. Perhaps I have succeeded; perhaps this essay had no other meaning than to give expression to this contrast in a cheerful and philanthropic manner.

The last thing I should promise would be to "improve" mankind. No new idols are erected by me; let the old ones learn what feet of clay mean. Overthrowing idols my word for "ideals" —that comes closer to being part of my craft. One has deprived reality of its value, its meaning, its truthfulness, to precisely the extent to which one has mendaciously invented an ideal world. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. Read preview. Synopsis For some, the question remains: Why Nietzsche? Friedrich Nietzsche was quite simply one of the most original and influential philosophers who ever lived; in addition, his writing style was brilliant, epigrammatic, idiosyncratic.

Two of this great German's most germane offerings, they were among his last writings. Although he completed them both by the end of , they were considered to be so inflamatory that they were published only years later, in and , respectively. Both are products of Nietzsche's last creative year.

Yet Ecce Homo is relatively calm and tranquil, while The Antichrist is a jeremiad full of venom and vitriol.