Monday, August 13, 2012

The Free Spirit

After such a cheerful commencement, a serious word would like to be heard; it appeals to the most serious. Take care, philosophers and friends, of knowledge, and beware of martyrdom! Of suffering "for the truth's sake"! Even of defending yourselves! It spoils all the innocence and fine neutrality of your conscience, makes you headstrong against objections and red rags, it stupefies, animalizes, and brutalizes when in the struggle with danger, slander, suspicion, expulsion, and even worse consequences of hostility, you have to pose as protectors of truth upon earth:—as though "the truth" were such an innocuous and incompetent creature as to require protectors! and you of all people, you knights of the most sorrowful countenance, dear loafers and cobweb-spinners of the spirit! After all, you know well enough that it cannot be of any consequence if you of all people are proved right, you know that no philosopher so far has been proved right, and that there might be a more laudable truthfulness in every little question mark that you place after your special words and favorite doctrines (and occasionally after yourselves) than in all the solemn gestures and trumps before accusers and law courts! Rather, go away! Flee into concealment! And have your masks and subtlety, that you may be mistaken for what you are not! Or feared a little! And don't forget the garden, the garden with golden trelliswork! And have people around you who are like a garden—or like music over the waters in the evening, when the day is turning into memories. Choose the good solitude, the free, playful, light solitude that gives you, too, the right to remain good in some sense! How poisonous, how crafty, how bad, does every long war make one, that cannot be waged openly by means of force! How personal does a long fear make one, a long watching of enemies, of possible enemies! These outcasts of society, these long-pursued, wickedly persecuted ones—also the compulsory recluses, the Spinozas or Giordano Brunos always become in the end, even under the most spiritual masquerade, and perhaps without being themselves aware of it, sophisticated vengeance-seekers and poison-brewers (let someone lay bare the foundation of Spinoza's ethics and theology!)—not to mention the foolishness of moral indignation, which is the unfailing sign in a philosopher that his philosophical sense of humor has left him. The martyrdom of the philosopher, his "sacrifice for the sake of truth," forces into the light whatever of the agitator and actor lurks in him; and if one has so far contemplated him only with artistic curiosity, with regard to many a philosopher it is easy to understand the dangerous desire to see him also in his degeneration (degenerated into a "martyr," into a stage- and platform-bawler). Only, that it is necessary with such a desire to be clear what spectacle one will see in any case:—merely a satyr play, merely an epilogue farce, merely the continued proof that the long, actual tragedy is at an end: assuming that every philosophy, in its genesis, was a long tragedy.

---------------------------------------------------- Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche.

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