Ecce Homo
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Ecce Homo

Friedrich Nietzsche, Anthony M. Ludovici

  1. 160 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Ecce Homo

Friedrich Nietzsche, Anthony M. Ludovici

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About This Book

Published posthumously in 1908, Ecce Homo was written in 1888 and completed just a few weeks before Nietzsche's complete mental collapse. Its outrageously egotistical review of the philosopher's life and works are redeemed from mere arrogance by masterful language and ever-relevant ideas — in addition to settling scores with his many personal and philosophical enemies.

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I AM one thing, my creations are another. Here, before I speak of the books themselves, I shall touch upon the question of the understanding and misunderstanding with which they have met. I shall proceed to do this in as perfunctory a manner as the occasion demands; for the time has by no means come for this question. My time has not yet come either; some are born posthumously. One day institutions will be needed in which men will live and teach, as I understand living and teaching ; maybe, also, that by that time, chairs will be founded and endowed for the interpretation of Zarathustra. But I should regard it as a complete contradiction of myself, if I expected to find ears and eyes for my truths to-day : the fact that no one listens to me, that no one knows how to receive at my hands to-day, is not only comprehensible, it seems to me quite the proper thing. I do not wish to be mistaken for another—and to this end I must not mistake myself. To repeat what I have already said, I can point to but few instances of ill-will in my life: and as for literary ill-will, I could mention scarcely a single example of it. On the other hand, I have met with far too much pure foolery ! . . . It seems to me that to take up one of my books is one of the rarest honours that a man can pay himself—even supposing that he put his shoes from off his feet beforehand, not to mention boots. . . . When on one occasion Dr. Heinrich von Stein honestly complained that he could not understand a word of my Zarathustra, I said to him that this was just as it should be: to have understood six sentences in that book—that is to say, to have lived them—raises a man to a higher level among mortals than “modern” men can attain. With this feeling of distance how could I even wish to be read by the “moderns” whom I know ! My triumph is just the opposite of what Schopenhauer’s was—I say “Non legor, non legar.”—Not that I should like to underestimate the pleasure I have derived from the innocence with which my works have frequently been contradicted. As late as last summer, at a time when I was attempting, perhaps by means of my weighty, all-too-weighty literature, to throw the rest of literature off its balance, a certain professor of Berlin University kindly gave me to understand that I ought really to make use of a different form: no one could read such stuff as I wrote.—Finally, it was not Germany, but Switzerland that presented me with the two most extreme cases. An essay on Beyond Good and Evil, by Dr. V. Widmann in the paper called the Bund, under the heading “Nietzsche’s Dangerous Book,” and a general account of all my works, from the pen of Herr Karl Spitteler, also in the Bund, constitute a maximum in my life—I shall not say of what. . . . The latter treated my Zarathustra, for instance, as “advanced exercises in style,” and expressed the wish that later on I might try and attend to the question of substance as well; Dr. Widmann assured me of his respect for the courage I showed in endeavouring to abolish all decent feeling. Thanks to a little trick of destiny, every sentence in these criticisms seemed, with a consistency that I could but admire, to be an inverted truth. In fact it was most remarkable that all one had to do was to “transvalue all values,” in order to hit the nail on the head with regard to me, instead of striking my head with the nail. . . . I am more particularly anxious therefore to discover an explanation. After all, no one can draw more out of things, books included, than he already knows. A man has no ears for that to which experience has given him no access. To take an extreme case, suppose a book contains simply incidents which lie quite outside the range of general or even rare experience—suppose it to be the first language to express a whole series of experiences. In this case nothing it contains will really be heard at all, and, thanks to an acoustic delusion, people will believe that where nothing is heard there is nothing to hear. . . . This, at least, has been my usual experience, and proves, if you will, the originality of my experience. He who thought he had understood something in my work, had as a rule adjusted something in it to his own image—not infrequently the very opposite of myself, an “idealist,” for instance. He who understood nothing in my work, would deny that I was worth considering at all.—The word “Superman,” which designates a type of man that would be one of nature’s rarest and luckiest strokes, as opposed to “modern” men, to “good” men, to Christians and other Nihilists,—a word which in the mouth of Zarathustra, the annihilator of morality, acquires a very profound meaning,—is understood almost everywhere, and with perfect innocence, in the light of those values to which a flat contradiction was made manifest in the figure of Zarathustra —that is to say, as an “ideal” type, a higher kind of man, half “saint” and half “genius.” . . . Other learned cattle have suspected me of Darwinism on account of this word : even the “hero cult” of that great unconscious and involuntary swindler, Carlyle, —a cult which I repudiated with such roguish malice,—was recognised in my doctrine. Once, when I whispered to a man that he would do better to seek for the Superman in a Cæsar Borgia than in a Parsifal, he could not believe his ears. The fact that I am quite free from curiosity in regard to criticisms of my books, more particularly when they appear in newspapers, will have to be forgiven me. My friends and my publishers know this, and never speak to me of such things. In one particular case, I once saw all the sins that had been committed against a single book—it was Beyond Good and Evil ; I could tell you a nice story about it. Is it possible that the National-Zeitung—a Prussian paper (this comment is for the sake of my foreign readers—for my own part, I beg to state, I read only Le Journal des Débats)—really and seriously regarded the book as a “sign of the times,” or a genuine and typical example of Tory philosophy,9 for which the Kreuz-Zeitung had not sufficient courage? . . .
This was said for the benefit of Germans: for everywhere else I have my readers—all of them exceptionally intelligent men, characters that have won their spurs and that have been reared in high offices and superior duties ; I have even real geniuses among my readers. In Vienna, in St. Petersburg, in Stockholm, in Copenhagen, in Paris, and New York—I have been discovered everywhere : I have not yet been discovered in Europe’s flatland—Germany. . . . And, to make a confession, I rejoice much more heartily over those who do not read me, over those who have neither heard of my name nor of the word philosophy. But whithersoever I go, here in Turin, for instance, every face brightens and softens at the sight of me. A thing that has flattered me more than anything else hitherto, is the fact that old market-women cannot rest until they have picked out the sweetest of their grapes for me. To this extent must a man be a philosopher. . . . It is not in vain that the Poles are considered as the French among the Slavs. A charming Russian lady will not be mistaken for a single moment concerning my origin. I am not successful at being pompous, the most I can do is to appear embarrassed. . . . I can think in German, I can feel in German—I can do most things; but this is beyond my powers. . . . My old master Ritschl went so far as to declare that I planned even my philological treatises after the manner of a Parisian novelist—that I made them absurdly thrilling. In Paris itself people are surprised at “toutes mes audaces et finesses”;— the words are Monsieur Taine’s;—I fear that even in the highest forms of the dithyramb, that salt will be found pervading my work which never becomes insipid, which never becomes “German”—and that is, wit. . . . I can do nought else. God help me ! Amen.—We all know, some of us even from experience, what a “long-ears ” is. Well then, I venture to assert that I have the smallest ears that have ever been seen. This fact is not without interest to women—it seems to me they feel that I understand them better ! . . . I am essentially the anti-ass, and on this account alone a monster in the world’s history —in Greek, and not only in Greek, I am the Anti-christ.
I am to a great extent aware of my privileges as a writer: in one or two cases it has even been brought home to me how very much the habitual reading of my works “spoils” a man’s taste. Other books simply cannot be endured after mine, and least of all philosophical ones. It is an incomparable distinction to cross the threshold of this noble and subtle world—in order to do so one must certainly not be a German ; it is, in short, a distinction which one must have deserved. He, however, who is related to me through loftiness of will, experiences genuine raptures of understanding in my books: for I swoop down from heights into which no bird has ever soared ; I know abysses into which no foot has ever slipped. People have told me that it is impossible to lay down a book of mine—that I disturb even the night’s rest. . . . There is no prouder or at the same time more subtle kind of books : they sometimes attain to the highest pinnacle of earthly endeavour, cynicism; to capture their thoughts a man must have the tenderest fingers as well as the most intrepid fists. Any kind of spiritual decrepitude utterly excludes all intercourse with them—even any kind of dyspepsia : a man must have no nerves, but he must have a cheerful belly. Not only the poverty of a man’s soul and its stuffy air excludes all intercourse with them, but also, and to a much greater degree, cowardice, uncleanliness, and secret intestinal revengefulness ; a word from my lips suffices to make the colour of all evil instincts rush into a face. Among my acquaintances I have a number of experimental subjects, in whom I see depicted all the different, and instructively different, reactions which follow upon a perusal of my works. Those who will have nothing to do with the contents of my books, as for instance my so-called friends, assume an “impersonal” tone concerning them : they wish me luck, and congratulate me for having produced another work; they also declare that my writings show progress, because they exhale a more cheerful spirit. . . . The thoroughly vicious people, the “beautiful souls,” the false from top to toe, do not know in the least what to do with my books—consequently, with the beautiful consistency of all beautiful souls, they regard my work as beneath them. The cattle among my acquaintances, the mere Germans, leave me to understand, if you please, that they are not always of my opinion, though here and there they agree with me. . . . I have heard this said even about Zarathustra,. “Feminism,” whether in mankind or in man, is likewise a barrier to my writings; with it, no one could ever enter into this labyrinth of fearless knowledge. To this end, a man must never have spared himself, he must have been hard in his habits, in order to be good-humoured and merry among a host of inexorable truths. When I try to picture the character of a perfect reader, I always imagine a monster of courage and curiosity, as well as of suppleness, cunning, and prudence—in short, a born adventurer and explorer. After all, I could not describe better than Zarathustra has done unto whom I really address myself : unto whom alone would he reveal his riddle ?
“Unto you, daring explorers and experimenters, and unto all who have ever embarked beneath cunning sails upon terrible seas;
“Unto you who revel in riddles and in twilight, whose souls are lured by flutes unto every treacherous abyss :
“For ye care not to grope your way along a thread with craven fingers ; and where ye are able to guess, ye hate to argue.”
I will now pass just one or two general remarks about my art of style. To communicate a state an inner tension of pathos by means of signs, including the tempo of these signs,—that is the meaning of every style; and in view of the fact that the multiplicity of inner states in me is enormous, I am capable of many kinds of style—in short, the most multifarious art of style that any man has ever had at his disposal. Any style is good which genuinely communicates an inner condition, which does not blunder over the signs, over the tempo of the signs, or over moods—all the laws of phrasing are the outcome of representing moods artistically. Good style, in itself, is a piece of sheer foolery, mere idealism, like “beauty in itself,” for instance, or “goodness in itself,” or “the thing-in-itself.” All this takes for granted, of course, that there exist ears that can hear, and such men as are capable and worthy of a like pathos, that those are not wanting unto whom one may communicate one’s self. Meanwhile my Zarathustra, for instance, is still in quest of such people—alas ! he will have to seek a long while yet ! A man must be worthy of listening to him. . . . And, until that time, there will be no one who will understand the art that has been squandered in this book. No one has ever existed who has had more novel, more strange, and purposely created art forms to fling to the winds. The fact that such things were possible in the German language still awaited proof; formerly, I myself would have denied most emphatically that it was possible. Before my time people did not know what could be done with the German language—what could be done with language in general. The art of grand rhythm; of grand style in periods, for expressing the tremendous fluctuations of sublime and superhuman passion, was first discovered by me: with the dithyramb entitled “The Seven Seals,” which constitutes the last discourse of the third part of Zarathustra, I soared miles above all that which heretofore has been called poetry.
The fact that the voice which speaks in my works is that of a psychologist who has not his peer, is perhaps the first conclusion at which a good reader will arrive—a reader such as I deserve, and one who reads me just as the good old philologists used to read their Horace. Those propositions about which all the world is fundamentally agreed —not to speak of fashionable philosophy, of moralists and other empty-headed and cabbage-brained people—are to me but ingenuous blunders : for instance, the belief that “altruistic” and “egoistic” are opposites, while all the time the “ego” itself is merely a “supreme swindle,” an “ideal.” . . . There are no such things as egoistic or altruistic actions : both concepts are psychological nonsense. Or the proposition that “man pursues happiness” ; or the proposition that “happiness is the reward of virtue.” . . . Or the proposition that “pleasure and pain are opposites.” . . . Morality, the Circe of mankind, has falsified everything psychological, root and branch —it has bemoralised everything, even to the terribly nonsensical point of calling love “unselfish.” A man must first be firmly poised, he must stand securely on his two legs, otherwise he cannot love at all. This indeed the girls know only too well: they don’t care two pins about unselfish and merely objective men. . . . May I venture to suggest, incidentally, that I know women? This knowledge is part of my Dionysian patrimony. Who knows? maybe I am the first psychologist of the eternally feminine. Women all like me. . . . But that’s an old story: save, of course, the abortions among them, the emancipated ones, those who lack the wherewithal to have children. Thank goodness I am not willing to let myself be torn to pieces ! the perfect woman tears you to pieces when she loves you : I know these amiable Mænads. . . . Oh ! what a dangerous, creeping, subterranean little beast of prey she is! And so agreeable withal! . . . A little woman, pursuing her vengeance, would force open even the iron gates of Fate itself. Woman is incalculably more wicked than man, she is also cleverer. Goodness in a woman is already a sign of degeneration. All cases of “beautiful souls” in women may be traced to a faulty physiological condition—but I go no further, lest I should become medicynical. The struggle for equal rights is even a symptom of disease; every doctor knows this. The more womanly a woman is, the more she fights tooth and nail against rights in general: the natural order of things, the eternal war between the sexes, assigns to her by far the foremost rank. Have people had ears to hear my definition of love? It is the only definition worthy of a philosopher. Love, in its means, is war ; in its foundation, it is the mortal hatred of the sexes. Have you heard my reply to the question how a woman can be cured, “saved” in fact?—Give her a child! A woman needs children, man is always only a means, thus spake Zarathustra. “The emancipation of women,”—this is the instinctive hatred of physiologically botched —that is to say, barren—women for those of their sisters who are well constituted: the fight against “man” is always only a means, a pretext, a piece of strategy. By trying to rise to “Woman per se,” to “Higher Woman,” to the “Ideal Woman,” all they wish to do is to lower the general level of women’s rank: and there are no more certain means to this end than ...

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  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Table of Contents