A Book for Free Spirits
Compiled from translations by Helen Zimmern, R. J. Hollingdale, and Marion Faber.
PREFACE1Often enough, and always with great consternation, people have told me that there issomething distinctive in all my writings, from the “Birth of Tragedy” to the mostrecently published “Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future” [subtitle of
Beyond Good and Evil
]. All of them, I have been told, contain snares and nets for careless birds, andan almost constant, unperceived challenge to reverse one’s habitual estimations andesteemed habits. “What’s that?
is only—human, all too human?” Withsuch a sigh one comes from my writings, they say, with a kind of wariness anddistrust even toward morality, indeed tempted and encouraged in no small way to become the spokesman for the worst things: might they perhaps be only the bestslandered? My writings have been called a school for suspicion, even more for contempt, fortunately also for courage and, in fact, for daring. Truly, I myself do not believe that anyone has ever looked into the world with such deep suspicion, and notonly as an occasional devil’s advocate, but every bit as much, to speak theologically,as an enemy and challenger of God. Whoever guesses something of the consequencesof any deep suspicion, something of the chills and fears stemming from isolation, towhich every man burdened with an unconditional
difference of viewpoint
iscondemned, this person will understand how often I tried to take shelter somewhere,to recover from myself, as if to forget myself entirely for a time (in some sort of reverence, or enmity, or scholarliness, or frivolity, or stupidity); and he will alsounderstand why, when I could not find what I
, I had to gain it by forceartificially, to counterfeit it, or create it poetically. (And what have poets ever doneotherwise? And why else do we have all the art in the world?) What I always neededmost to cure and restore myself, however, was the belief that I was
the only one to be thus, to
thus—I needed the enchanting intuition of kinship and equality in theeye and in desire, repose in a trusted friendship; I needed a shared blindness, with nosuspicion or question marks, a pleasure in foregrounds, surfaces, what is near, what isnearest, in everything that has color, skin, appearance. Perhaps one could accuse mein this regard of some sort of “art,” various sorts of finer counterfeiting: for example,that I had deliberately and willfully closed my eyes to Schopenhauer’s blind will tomorality, at a time when I was already clear-sighted enough about morality; similarly,that I had deceived myself about Richard Wagner’s incurable romanticism, as if itwere a beginning and not an end; similarly, about the Greeks; similarly about theGermans and their future—and there might be a whole long list of such similarlies.But even if this all were true and I were accused of it with good reason, what do
you know about the amount of self-preserving cunning, or reasonand higher protection that is contained in such self-deception—and how muchfalseness I still
so that I may keep permitting myself the luxury of mytruthfulness?...Enough, I am still alive; and life has not been devised by morality: it
on deception—but wouldn't you know it? Here I am,