contrast, the human being resists the large and ever increasing burden of thepast, which pushes him down or bows him over. It makes his way difficult, like aninvisible and dark burden which he can for appearances' sake even deny, andwhich he is only too happy to deny in his interactions with his peers, in order toawaken their envy. Thus, it moves him, as if he remembered a lost paradise, tosee the grazing herd or, something more closely familiar, the child, which doesnot yet have a past to deny and plays in blissful blindness between the fences ofthe past and the future. Nonetheless this game must be upset for the child. He willbe summoned all too soon out of his forgetfulness. For he learns to understandthe expression "It was," that password with which struggle, suffering, andweariness come over human beings, so as to remind him what his existencebasically is--a never completed past tense. If death finally brings the longed forforgetting, it nevertheless thereby destroys present existence and thus impressesits seal on the knowledge that existence is only an uninterrupted living in the past[
], something which exists for the purpose of self-denial, self-destruction, and self-contradiction.If happiness or if, in some sense or other, a reaching out for new happiness iswhat holds the living onto life and pushes them forward into life, then perhaps nophilosopher has more justification than the cynic. For the happiness of the beast,like that of the complete cynic, is the living proof of the rightness ofcynicism. Thesmallest happiness, if only it is uninterrupted and creates happiness, isincomparably more happiness than the greatest which comes only as an episode,as it were, like a mood, as a fantastic interruption between nothing but boredom,cupidity, and deprivation. However, with the smallest and with the greatest goodfortune, happiness becomes happiness in the same way: through forgetting or, toexpress the matter in a more scholarly fashion, through the capacity, for as longas the happiness lasts, to sense things
.The person who cannot set himself down on the crest of the moment, forgettingeverything from the past, who is not capable of standing on a single point, like agoddess of victory, without dizziness or fear, will never know what happiness is.Even worse, he will never do anything to make other people happy. Imagine themost extreme example, a person who did not possess the power of forgetting atall, who would be condemned to see everywhere a coming into being. Such aperson no longer believes in his own being, no longer believes in himself, seeseverything in moving points flowing out of each other, and loses himself in thisstream of becoming. He will, like the true pupil of Heraclitus, finally hardly dareany more to lift his finger. Forgetting belongs to all action, just as both light anddarkness belong in the life of all organic things. A person who wanted to feelutterly and only historically would be like someone who was forced to abstainfrom sleep, or like the beast that is to continue its life only from rumination toconstantly repeated rumination. For this reason, it is possible to live almostwithout remembering, indeed, to live happily, as the beast demonstrates;however, it is generally completely impossible to live without forgetting. Or, toexplain myself more clearly concerning my thesis:
There is a degree of insomnia,of rumination, of the historical sense, through which living comes to harm and finally is destroyed, whether it is a person or a people or a culture.