Lecture II 1
Government in Art. Nietzsche's Definition of Art
Divine Art and the Man-God
He acknowledges that miracles are still needed. He hears the distressing cry for the super-natural everywhere. All about him to-day he feels that wonders will have to be worked if the value of Life, of his fellows, and of himself is to be raised, by however little; and yet he halts like one paralyzed before the task he can no longer accomplish, and finding that his hand has lost its cunning and that his eye has lost its authority, he
1 Delivered at University College on Dec. 8th, 1910.
Everything convinces him of the fact. Everybody, from his priest to his porter, from his wife to his astrologer, from his child to his neighbour, tells him plainly that he is no longer divine, no longer a god, no longer even a king!
Not only has the age of miracles gone by; but with it, also, has vanished that age in which man could conceive of god in his own image. There are no gods now; because man himself has long since doubted that man is godlike.
Soon there will be no kings, 1 finally there will be no greatness at all, and this will mean the evanescence of man himself.
To speak of all this as the advance of knowledge, as the march of progress, as the triumph of science, and as the glories of enlightenment, is merely to deck a corpse, to grease-paint a sore, and to pour rose-water over a cesspool.
If the triumph of science mean "The Descent of Man"; if the glories of enlightenment mean, again, the descent of man; and if progress imply, once more, the descent of man; then the question to be asked is: in whose hands have science, enlightenment and the care of progress fallen?
This world is here for us to make of it what we will. It is a field of yielding clay, in which, like sandboys, we can build our castles and revel in our creations.
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 187: "The time of kings has gone by, because people are no longer worthy of them. They do not wish to see the symbol of their ideal in a king, but only a means to their own ends." See also Z., III, LVI.
Once, for instance, their sky was the mighty god Indra; the clouds were his flock, and he drove his flock across his vast fields blue and fragrant with delicate flowers. Their fruitful rain was the milk which their god Indra obtained from his herd of cows, and their seasons of drought were times when the god Indra was robbed by brigands of his flock.
Now, their sky is infinite space. Their clouds are masses of vapour in a state of condensation more or less considerable, and their rain is the outcome of that condensation becoming too considerable.
Not so many years ago their Heaven and their Earth were the father and mother of all living things, who had become separated in order that their offspring might have room to live and breathe and move. And thus their mists were the passionate sighs of the loving wife, breathing her love heavenwards; and the dew, the tearful response of her affectionate and sorrowful spouse.
Now, their Heaven is a thing that no one knows anything at all about. Their Earth is an oblate spheroid revolving aimlessly through a hypothetical medium called ether; their mists are vaporous emanations; while their dew is a discharge of moisture from the air upon substances that have irradiated a sufficient quantity of heat.
Now, their sun is the central orb of their Solar system. It consists of a nucleus, it is surrounded by a photosphere and a chromosphere, and has a disease of the face called "spots."
The facts remain the same; the mist still rises, the dew still falls, and the canopy of Heaven still spans the two horizons. Whatever the interpretation of these phenomena may be, this at least is certain, that they are still with us. But there is one thing that changes; one thing that cannot remain indifferent to interpretation even though the facts do not alter, and that is the soul of man.
A million times more sensitive to changes in interpretation than the column of mercury is to changes in the atmosphere, the soul of man rises or falls according to the nobility or the baseness of the meaning which he himself puts into things; and, just as, in this matter, he may be his own regenerator, so, also, may he be his own assassin.
Before he could thus calculate, reckon with, and communicate the things of this world, a vast process of simplification, co-ordination, organization and ordering had to be undertaken, and this process, however arbitrarily it may have been begun, was one of the first needs of thinking man.
Everything had to be given some meaning, some interpretation, and some place; and in every case, of course, this interpretation was in the terms of man, this meaning was a human meaning, and this place was a position relative to humanity.
Perhaps no object is adequately defined until the relation to it of every creature and thing in the universe has been duly discovered and recorded. 2 But no such transcendental meaning of a thing preoccupied primeval man. All he wished was to understand the world, in order that he might have power over it, reckon with it, and communicate his impressions concerning it. And, to this end, the only relation of a thing that he was concerned with was its relation to himself. It must be given a name, a place, an order, a meaning however arbitrary, however fanciful, however euphemistic. Facts were useless, chaotic, bewildering, meaningless, before they had been adjusted, 3 organized, classified, and interpreted in accordance with the
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 72: ". . . Communication is necessary, and for it to be possible, something must be stable, simple and capable of being stated precisely."
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 65.
3 Okakura-Kakuzo, The Book of Tea, p. 58; "Adjustment is Art."
Thus interpretation was the first activity of all to thinking humanity, and it was human needs that interpreted the world. 1
The love of interpreting and of adjusting this primeval love and desire, this power of the sandboy over his castles; how much of the joy in Life, the love of Life, and, at the same time, the sorrow in Life, does not depend upon it! For we can know only a world which we ourselves have created. 2
There was the universe strange and inscrutable; terrible in its strangeness, insufferable in its inscrutability, incalculable in its multifariousness. With his consciousness just awaking, a cloud or a shower might be anything to man a godlike friend or a savage foe. The dome of blue behind was also prodigious in its volume and depth, and the stars upon it at night horrible in their mystery.
What, too, was this giant's breath that seemed to come from nowhere, and which, while it cooled his face, also bent the toughest trees like straws? The sun and moon were amazing the one marvellously eloquent, communicative, generous, hot and
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 13. See also Th. Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, Vol. I, p. 25. Speaking of interpretation, he says: "And this tendency was notably strengthened by the suspicious circumstances of external life, which awoke the desire for clearness, distinctness and a logical sequence of ideas."
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 21. See also Max Müller, Introduction to the Science of Religion, pp. 198207, and T. I., Part 10, Aph. 19.
But there were other things to do, besides interpreting the stars, the sun, the moon, the sea, and the sky above. There was the perplexing multiplicity of changes and of tides in Life, to be mastered and simplified. There was the fateful flow of all things into death and into second birth, the appalling fact of Becoming and never-resting, of change and instability, of bloom and of decay, of rise and of decline. What was to be done?
It was impossible to live in chaos. And yet, in its relation to man Nature was chaotic. There was no order anywhere. And, where there is no order, there are surprises, 2 ambushes, lurking indignities. The unexpected could jump out at any minute. And a masterful mind abhors surprises and loathes disorder. His Will to Power is humiliated by them. To man, whether he be of yesterday, of to-day or of to-morrow unfamiliarity, constant change, and uncertainty, are sources of great anxiety, great sorrow, great humiliation and sometimes great danger. Hence everything must be familiarized, named and fixed. Values must be definitely ascertained and determined. And thus valuing becomes a biological need. Nietzsche even
1 Hegel, in his Vorlesungen über Æsthetik (Vol. I, p. 406), says: "If we should wish to speak of the first appearance of symbolic Art as a subjective state, we should remember that artistic meditation in general, like religious meditation or rather the two in one and even scientific research, took their origin in wonderment."
2 Hegel makes some interesting remarks on this point. See his Vorlesungen über Æsthetik, Vol. I, p. 319. He shows that the extreme regularity of gardens of the seventeenth century was indicative of their owners' masterful natures.
In the torrent and pell-mell of Becoming, some milestones must be fixed for the purpose of human orientation. In the avalanche of evolutionary changes, pillars must be made to stand, to which man can hold tight for a space and collect his senses. The slippery soil of a world that is for ever in flux, must be transformed into a soil on which man can gain some foothold. 2
Primeval man stood baffled and oppressed by the complexity of his task. Facts were insuperable as facts; they could, however, be overcome spiritually that is to say, by concepts. And that they must be overcome, man never doubted for an instant he was too proud for that. For his aim was not existence, but a certain kind of existence an existence in which he could hold his head up, look down upon the world, and stare defiance even at the firmament.
And thus all humanity began to cry out for a meaning, for an interpretation, for a scheme, which would make all these distant and uncontrollable facts their property, their spiritual possessions. This was not a cry for science, or for a scientific explanation, as we understand it; nor was it a cry
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 58. See also p. 11: "to 'understand' means simply this: to be able to express something new in the terms of something old or familiar."
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 88.
"The purpose of 'knowledge,' "says Nietzsche, "in this case, as in the case of 'good,' or 'beautiful,' must be regarded strictly and narrowly from an anthropocentric and biological standpoint. In order that a particular species may maintain and increase
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 26: "The prerequisite of all living things and of their lives is: that there should be a large amount of faith, that it should be possible to pass definite judgments on things, and that there should be no doubt at all concerning values. Thus it is necessary that something should be assumed to be true, not that it is true."
2 Felix Clay, The Origin of the Sense of Beauty, p. 95: "The mind or the eye, brought face to face with a number of disconnected and apparently different facts, ideas, shapes, sounds or objects, is bothered and uneasy; the moment that some central conception is offered or discovered by which they all fall into order, so that their due relation to one another can be perceived and the whole grasped, there is a sense of relief and pleasure which is very intense."
And thus "the object was, not to know, but to schematize, to impose as much regularity and form upon chaos as our practical needs required." 2
"The whole apparatus of knowledge," says Nietzsche, "is an abstracting and simplifying apparatus not directed at knowledge, but at the appropriation of things." 3
No physical thirst, no physical hunger, has ever been stronger than this thirst and hunger, which yearned to make all that is unfamiliar, familiar; or in other words, all that is outside the spirit, inside the spirit. 4
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 12.
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 29.
3 W. P., Vol. II, p. 24.
4 W. P., Vol. II, p. 76. Hegel was also approaching this truth when he said, in his introduction to the Vorlesungen über Æsthetik (pp. 58, 59 of the translation of that Introduction by B. Bosanquet): "Man is realized for himself by poetical activity, inasmuch as he has the impulse, in the medium which is directly given to him, and externally presented before him, to produce himself. This purpose he achieves by the modification of external things upon which he impresses the seal of his inner being. Man does this in order, as a free subject, to strip the outer world of its stub-
The human system could appropriate, and could transform into man, in bone and flesh, the vegetation and the animals of the earth; but what was required was a process, a Weltanschauung, a general concept of the earth which would enable man to appropriate also Life's other facts, and transform them into man the spirit. Hence the so-called thirst for knowledge may be traced to the lust of appropriation and conquest, 2 and the "will to truth" to a process of establishing things, to a process of making things true and lasting. . . . Thus truth is not something which is present and which has to be found and discovered; it is something which has to be created and which gives its name to a process, or better still, to the "will to overpower." 3
For what is truth? It is any interpretation of
born foreignness, and to enjoy, in the shape and fashion of things, a mere external reality of himself."
1 Hegel again seems to be on the road to Nietzsche's standpoint, when he says: "Wonderment arises when man, as a spirit separated from his immediate connection with Nature, and from the immediate relation to his merely practical desires, steps back from Nature and from his own singular existence, and then begins to seek and to see generalities, permanent qualities, and absolute attributes in things" (Vorlesungen über Æsthetik, Vol. I, p. 406).
2 W. P., Vol. I, p. 339. See also Hegel (Vorlesungen über Æsthetik, p. 128): "The instinct of curiosity and the desire for knowledge, from the lowest stage up to the highest degree of philosophical insight, is the outcome only of man's yearning to make the world his own in spirit and concepts."
3 W. P., Vol. II, p. 60.
"Let this mean Will to Truth unto you," says Zarathustra, "that everything be made thinkable, visible, tangible unto man!
"And what ye have called the world, shall have first to be created by you: 2 your reason, your image, your will, your love shall the world be! And, verily, for your own bliss, ye knights of Knowledge!" 3
"The purpose was to deceive oneself in a useful way; the means thereto was the invention of forms and signs, with the help of which, the confusing multifariousness of Life could be reduced to a useful and wieldly scheme." 4
This was the craving. Not only must a meaning, a human meaning, be given to all things, in
1 "Truth is that kind of error without which a certain species of living being cannot exist" (W. P., Vol. II, p. 20). See also G. E., pp. 8, 9: "A belief might be false and yet life-preserving." See also W. P., Vol. II, pp. 36, 37: "We should not interpret this constraint in ourselves to imagine concepts, species, forms, purposes, and laws as if we were in a position to construct a real world; but as a constraint to adjust a world by means of which our existence is ensured: we thereby create a world which is determinable, simplified, comprehensible, etc., for us."
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 76.
3 Z., II, XXIV. See also W. P., Vol. II, p. 33: "Truth is the will to be master over the manifold sensations that reach consciousness; it is the will to classify phenomena according to definite categories."
4 W. P., Vol. II, p. 86. See also Schelling, System des transcendentalen Idealismus, p. 468, where the author says, "Science, in the highest interpretation of this term, has one and the same mission as Art."
Man, the bravest animal on earth, thus conceived the only possible condition of his existence; namely, to become master of the world. And, when we think of the miracles he then began to perform, we cease from wondering why he once believed in miracles, why he thought of God as in his own image, and why he made his strongest instinct God, and thereupon made Him say: "Replenish the earth and subdue it! "
It was therefore the powerful who made the names of things into law. 2 It was their Will to Power
1 W. P., Vol. II, pp. 28, 90, 103.
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 28; also G. E., p. 288. See also
These early artists conceived of no other way of subduing the earth than by converting it into concepts; and, as time soon showed that there actually was no other way, interpretation came to be regarded as the greatest task of all. 1 Naming, adjusting, classifying, qualifying, valuing, putting a meaning into things, and, above all, simplifying all these functions acquired a sacred character, and he who performed them to the glory of his fellows became sacrosanct.
So great were the relief and solace that these functions bestowed upon mankind, and so different did ugly reality appear, once it had been interpreted by the artist mind, that creating and naming actually began to acquire much the same sense. For to put a meaning into things was clearly to create them afresh 2 in fact, to create them literally. And so it came to pass that, in one of the oldest religions on earth, the religion of Egypt, God was imagined as a Being who created things by naming
Schelling, Sämmtliche Werke, Vol. V, "Vorlesungen über die Methode des akademischen Studiums," p. 286: "The first origin of religion in general, as of every other kind of knowledge and culture, can be explained only as the teaching of higher natures."
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 89: "The Will to Truth at this stage is essentially the art of interpretation."
2 Thus Schiller, in one of his happy moments, called beauty our second creator (zweite Schöpferin).
The world thus became literally man's Work of Art, 3 man's Sculpture. 4 Miracle after miracle at last reduced Nature to man's chattel, and it was man's lust of mastership, his will to power, which thus became creative in his highest specimen the artist and which, fighting for "the higher worthiness and meaning of mankind," 5 transfigured reality by means of human valuations, and overcame Becoming by falsifying it as Being. 6
"We are in need of lies," says Nietzsche, "in order to rise superior to reality, to truth that is to say, in order to live. . . . That lies should be necessary to life, is part and parcel of the terrible and questionable character of existence. "Metaphysics, morality, religion, science all these things are merely different forms of falsehood, by means of them we are led to believe in life.
1 Prof. W. M. Flinders Petrie, The Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 67.
2 That those who successfully determined values even in comparatively recent times should have been regarded almost universally as enjoying "some closer intimacy with the Deity than ordinary mortals," proves how very godlike and sacred the establishment of order was thought to be. See Max Müller, Introduction to the Science of Religion, p. 88.
3 W. P., Vol. II, p. 102.
4 W. P., Vol. II, p. 107.
5 H. A. H., Vol. I, p. 154.
6 W. P., Vol. II, p. 108: "Art is the will to overcome Becoming, it is a process of eternalizing." And p. 107: "To stamp Becoming with the character of Being this is the highest Will to Power." See also G. M., p. 199.
"To be blind to many things, to see many things falsely, to fancy many things. Oh, how clever man has been in those circumstances in which he believed that he was anything but clever! Love, enthusiasm, ' God ' are but subtle forms of ultimate self-deception; they are but seductions to life and to the belief in life! In those moments when man was deceived, when he befooled himself and when he believed in life: Oh, how his spirit swelled within him! Oh, what ecstasies he had! What power he felt! And what artistic triumphs in the feeling of power! . . . Man had once more become master of 'matter' master of truth! . . . And whenever man rejoices, it is always in the same way: he rejoices as an artist, his Power is his joy, he enjoys falsehood as his power." 1
"Subdue it!" said the Jehovah of the Old Testament, speaking to man, and pointing to the earth: "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over
1 W. P., Vol. II, pp. 289, 290. See also H. A. H., Vol. I, p. 154.
This was man's original concept of his task on earth, and with it before him he began to breathe at last, and to feel no longer a worm, entangled in a mysterious piece of clockwork mechanism.
"What is it that created esteeming and despising and value and will?" Zarathustra asks.
"The creating self created for itself esteeming and despising, it created for itself joy and woe. The creating body created for itself spirit, as a hand to its will." 1
To appraise a thing was to create it for ever in the minds of a people. But to create a thing in the minds of a people was to create that people too; for it is to have values in common that constitutes a people. 2
"Creators were they who created peoples, and hung one belief and one love over them," says Zarathustra; "thus they served life." 3
"Values did man stamp upon things only that he might preserve himself he alone created the meaning of things a human meaning! Therefore calleth he himself man that is, the valuing one.
"Valuing is creating: listen, ye creators! Valuation itself is the treasure and jewel of valued things.
"Through valuing alone can value arise; and
1 Z., I, IV.
2 Schelling and Hegel both held this view; the one expressed it quite categorically in his lectures on Philosophy and Mythology, and the other in his Philosophy of History.
3 Z., I, XI.
"Change of values that is, change of creators. 1
"Verily a prodigy is this power of praising and blaming. Tell me, ye brethren, who will master it for me? Who will put a yoke on the thousand necks of this animal?" 2
"All the beauty and sublimity with which we have invested real and imagined things," says Nietzsche, "I will show to be the property and product of man, and this should be his most beautiful apology. Man as a poet, as a thinker, as a god, as love, as power. Oh, the regal liberality with which he has lavished gifts upon things! . . . Hitherto this has been his greatest disinterestedness, that he admired and worshipped, and knew how to conceal from himself that he it was who had created what he admired." 3
"Man as a poet, as a thinker, as a god, as love, as power" this man, following his divine inspiration to subdue the earth and to make it his, became the greatest stimulus to Life itself, the greatest bond between earth and the human soul; and, in shedding the glamour of his personality, like the sun, upon the things he interpreted and valued, he also gilded, by reflection, his fellow creatures.
There is not a thing we call sacred, beautiful, good or precious, that has not been valued for us by this man, and when we, like children, call out for the Truth about the riddles of this world, it is not for the truth of reality which is the object of
1 Z., I, XV.
2 Z., I, XVI.
3 W. P., Vol. I, p. 113.
If this man is lacking, then we succumb to the blackest despair. If he is with us, we voluntarily yield to boundless joy and good cheer. His function is the divine principle on earth; his creation Art "is the highest task and the properly metaphysical activity of this life." 2
Imagine the jubilation, the feeling of power and the sense of extreme relief that must have filled the hearts of the ancient New Zealanders, when the first great Maori artist arose and said to his brothers and sisters that it was the god of the forests, Tane Mahuta, with his tall trees that had wrenched the
1 See Th. Gomperz, Greek Thinkers, p. 46 who speaking of the old Ionian Nature-philosophers, says: "The bold flight of their imagination did not stop at the assumption of a plurality of indestructible elements; it never rested till it reached the conception of a single fundamental or primordial matter as the essence of natural diversity. . . . The impulse to simplification, when it had once been aroused, was like a stone set in motion, which rolls continuously till it is checked by an obstacle." See also Dr. W. Worringer, Abstraktion und Einfühlung, p. 20.
2 B. T., p. 20.
With what superior understanding could they now gaze up into the sky, and snap their fingers scornfully at its former azure mystery! No wonder that the artist who could come forward with such an interpretation became a god! And no wonder that in strong nations gods and men are one! The fact that the explanation was not a true one, according to our notions, did not matter in the least.
History not only reveals, but also proves that lies are not necessarily hostile to existence.
For thousands of years the human race not only lived, but also flourished with the lie of the Ptolemaic theory of the heavens on their tongue.
For centuries men thrived and multiplied, believing that the lightning was Jehovah's anger, and that the rainbow was Jehovah's reminder of a certain solemn covenant by which He promised never again to destroy all life on earth by a flood.
I do not wish to imply that these two beliefs are false. For my part, I would prefer to believe them, rather than accept the explanations of these phenomena which modern science offers me. Still, the fact remains that these two Judaic explanations have been exploded by modern science, though the question whether, as explanations, they are superior to modern science, scarcely requires a moment's consideration.
At any rate they were the work of an artist, and when we think of the joy they must have spread among wondering mankind, we cannot wonder that
1 See Max Müller, India. What can it teach us? pp. 154, 155; also pp. 150 and 151.
And this Man-God who created Being that is to say, a stable world, a world which can be reckoned with, and in which the incessant kaleidoscopic character of things is entirely absent this same Man-God who found the earth "without form" and "void," and whose magnificent Spirit "moved upon the face of the waters "; when people grew too weak to look upon him as their brother and God at the same time, 2 was relegated to his own world, and from a great distance they now pray to him and worship him and say: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, For ever and ever. Amen."
"For ever and ever;" this was something they could not say of the world as it is; and the thought of stability and of Being was a delight to them.
It may be difficult for us to picture how great the rejoicings must have been which followed upon every fresh ordering and arranging of the universe, every fresh interpretation of the world in the terms of man.
Perhaps only a few people to-day, who are begin-
1 W. P., Vol. II, pp. 88, 80: "Happiness can be promised only by Being: change and happiness exclude each other. The loftiest desire is thus to be one with Being. That is the formula for the way to happiness "
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 313.
How much richer they must have felt! And how inseparable the two notions "artist" and "giver" must have appeared to them!
"If indeed this is Life," they must have said; "if Life is really as he orders it" and his voice and eye allowed them to prefix no such "if" with genuine scepticism "then of a truth it is a well of delight and a fountain of blessedness."
Thus Art this function which "is with us in order that we may not perish through truth," 1 this "enhancement of the feeling of Life and Life's stimulant," 2 which "acts as a tonic, increases strength and kindles desire" 3 became the "great seducer" to earth and to the world; 4 and we can imagine the gratitude that swelled in the hearts of men for him whose function it was. How could he help but become a god! Even tradition was not necessary for this. For at the very moment when his creative spirit lent its glory to the earth, man must have been conscious of his divinity or of his use as a mouthpiece by a Divinity. 5
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 264.
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 244.
3 W. P., Vol. II, p. 252.
4 W. P., Vol. II, p. 290. See also p. 292: "Art is more divine than truth."
5 W. P., Vol. II, p. 133. See also Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena, Vol. II, Chap. XV, "Ueber Religion," para. 176, where this view is ably upheld.
"Thou who knowest the place of the birds that fly through the sky, who on the waters knowest the ships.
"Thou the upholder of order, who knowest the twelve months with the offspring of each, and who knowest the month that is engendered afterwards.
"Thou who knowest the track of the wind, of the wide, the bright, the mighty; and knowest those who reside on high.
"Thou the upholder of order, Varuna, sit down among thy people, thou, the wise, sit there to govern.
"From thence perceiving all wondrous things, thou seest what has been and what will be done.
"Thou who givest to men glory, and not half glory, who givest it even to our own selves.
"Thou, O wise god, art Lord of all, of heaven and earth!" 1
We can follow every word of this heartfelt worship with perfect sympathy now.
"Thou, the upholder of order, who knowest the twelve months with the offspring of each" this is no empty praise. It is the cry of those who feel inexpressibly grateful to their great artist; to him who has put some meaning, some order into the world.
And "Thou who givest men glory, and not half glory" here is the sincere recognition of a people who have been raised and who not only rejoice in their elevation, but also recognize that it has been
1 Rig-Veda, I, 25.
Most certainly it matters. For a thousand meanings are possible, and men may have a thousand
Listen to your artistic friend's description of the most trifling excursion he has made, and then set your inartistic friend to relate say, his journey round the world. Whereupon ask yourself whether it matters who sees things and who interprets life for you. The first, even with his trifling excursion in his mind, will make you think that life is really worth living, that the world is full, of hidden treasure. The second will make you conclude that this earth is an uninteresting monster, and that boredom can be killed only by the dangers of motor racing, aerial navigation and glacier climbing.
"A thousand paths are there which never have been trodden," says Zarathustra, "a thousand salubrities and hidden islands of life. Still unexhausted and undiscovered is mankind and man's world." 1
This interpreting of Nature and this making and moulding of a people might therefore have brilliant or sinister results. There are many who wish to prevail; there are many who wish to lure their fellows on, and not all are standing on a superior plane.
For though artists, as a rule, are men of strong propensities 2 and surplus energy, there is an instinct of chastity in the best of them, 3 which impels them to devote all their power to prevailing in concepts rather than in offspring, and which
1 Z., I, XXII.
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 243.
3 W. P., Vol. II, p. 259. Also G. M., p. 141.
The question as to what kind of man it is who walks up to Life and orders and values her for us, is therefore of the most extraordinary importance. Nothing could be more important than this. Because, as we have seen, the question is not one of truth in the Christian and modern scientific sense. A belief is often life-preserving and still false from the standpoint of reality. 2 It is a matter, rather, of finding that belief, whether true or false, which most conduces to the love of an exalted form of Life. And if we ask, Who is the man who is interpreting life for us? What is he? What is his rank? we practically lay our finger upon the very worth of our view of the world.
There is no greater delight or passionate love on earth for the artist than this: to feel that he has stamped his hand on a people and on a millennium. to feel that his eyes, his ears, and his touch have become their eyes, and their ears, and their touch. There is no deeper enjoyment than this for him: to feel that as he sees, hears and feels, they also will be compelled to see, hear and feel. Only thus is he able to prevail. A people becomes his offspring. 3
1 In this regard it is interesting to note that: "The Teutonic 'Kunst' (Art) is formed from können, and können is developed from a primitive Ich kann. In kann philology recognizes a preterite form of a lost verb, of which we find the traces in Kind, a child; and the form Ich kann, thus meaning originally, 'I begot,' contains the germ of the two developments können, 'to be master,' 'to be able' and 'kennen' to know" (Sidney Colvin, in the Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th Edition. Article "Art").
2. W. P., Vol. II, p. 14. See also G. E., pp. 8, 9.
3 W. P., Vol. II, p. 368: "The great man is conscious
Utilitarian, if you will, are both points of view: the one giving from his abundance, simply because he must discharge some of his plenitude or perish, found his meaning in giving. The others, stepping up on the gifts bestowed, found their meaning in receiving. 1
The artist, then, as the highest manifestation of any human community, justifies his existence merely by living his life, and by imparting some of his magnificence to the things about him. To use a metaphor of George Meredith's, he gilds his retainers as the sun gilds, with its livery, the small clouds that gather round it. This is the artist's power and it is also his bliss. From a lower and more economical standpoint, he justifies his life by raising the community to its highest power; by binding it to Life with the glories which he alone
of his power over a people, and of the fact that he coincides temporarily with a people or with a century this magnifying of his self-consciousness as causa and voluntas is misunderstood as ' altruism ': he feels driven to means of communication: all great men are inventive in such means. They want to form great communities in their own image; they would fain give multiformity and disorder definite shape; it stimulates them to behold chaos."
1 W. P., pp. 255, 256.
1 Even Fichte recognizes this power in Art to stamp values upon a people. See the Sämmtliche Werke, Vol. IV, p. 353: "Art converts the transcendental standpoint into the general standpoint. . . . The philosopher can raise himself and others to this standpoint only with great effort. But the artistic spirit actually finds himself there, without having thought about it; he knows no other standpoint, and those who yield to his influence are drawn so imperceptibly over to his side, that they do not even notice how the change takes place."
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 243: "Artists should not see things as they are; they should see them fuller, simpler, stronger. To this end, however, a kind of youthfulness, of vernality, a sort of perpetual elation, must be peculiar to their lives." See also T. I., Part 10, Aph. 8.
3 W. P., Vol. II, p. 243. See also T. I., Part 10, Aph. 9.
4 W. P., Vol. II, p. 248.
5 W. P., Vol. II, p. 241: "The feeling of intoxication (elation) is, as a matter of fact, equivalent to a sensation of surplus strength." See also p. 254.
For the mediocre, simply because they cannot transfigure Life in that way, benefit extremely from looking on the world through the Dionysian artist's personality. It is his genius which, by putting ugly reality into an art-form, makes life desirable. Beneath all his dithyrambs, however, there is still the will to power and the will to prevail just as these instincts are to be found behind the magnificats of the everyday lover; but, in the case of the former, it is the power in the spirit.
There is, however, another kind of man who walks towards Life to value and to order her. The kind of man who, as we saw in my last lecture, declares that "man is born in sin," "that depravity is universal," "that nothing exists in the intellect but what has before existed in the senses; "and that "every man is his own priest"; the man who
1 Schelling also recognized the transfiguring power of Art; but he traced it to the fact that the artist invariably paints Nature at her zenith. See p. 11, The Philosophy of Art (translation by A. Johnson): "Every growth of nature has but one moment of perfect beauty, . . . Art, in that it presents the object in this moment, withdraws it from time and causes it to display its pure being in the form of eternal beauty. This is making the natural object itself the adequate source of its own transfiguration, and the theory overlooks the power of the artist himself to see things as they are not.
This man is a sort of inverted Midas at whose touch all gold turns to tinsel, all pearls turn to beads, and all beauty withers and fades, His breath is that of the late autumn, and his words are hoarfrost. Having nothing to give, 1 he merely robs things of the beauty that was once laid in them, by insisting upon the truth of their reality; and he sees Life smaller, thinner, weaker, and greyer than it is even to the people themselves. He is the antithesis of the Dionysian artist. He comes from the people, and very often from a substratum lower than they. How, therefore, can he give the people anything they do not already possess? He is a field-labourer among field-labourers, a housewife among housewives how could he point to any beauty or desire which field-labourers and
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 244: "The sober-minded man, the tired man, the exhausted and dried-up man, can have no feeling for Art, because he does not possess the primitive force of Art, which is the tyranny of inner riches."
This is the man who insists upon truth. Forgetting that truth is ugly 1 and that humanity has done little else, since it first became conscious, than to master and overcome truth, he wishes to make this world what it was in the beginning, "without form" and "void," and to empty things of the meaning that has been put into them, simply because he is unable to create a world for himself. 2
Aiming at a general truth for all, he is reduced to naked reality, to Nature as it was before God's Spirit moved upon the face of the waters, and this is his world of facts, stripped of all that higher men have put into them. This man of science without Art, is gradually reducing us to a state of absolute ignorance; for while he takes from us what we know about things, he gives us nothing in return. How often do we not hear people who are influenced by his science, exclaim that the more they learn the less they feel they know. This exclamation contains a very profound truth; for science is robbing us inch by inch of all the ground
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 101.
2 W. P., Vol. II, p. 89; "The belief that the world which ought to be, is, really exists, is a belief proper to the unfruitful, who do not wish to create a world. They take it for granted, they seek for ways and means of attaining it. 'The will to truth' [in the Christian and scientific sense] is the impotence of the will to create."
Such a man, if he can be really useful in garnering and accumulating facts, and in devising and developing novel mechanical contrivances, ought in any case to be closeted apart, so that none of his breath can reach the Art-made world. And when he begins valuing, all windows and doors ought speedily to be barred and bolted against him. He is the realist. It is he who sees spots on the sun's face; it is he who denies that mist is the passionate sigh of mother Earth, yearning for her spouse the sky; it is he who will not believe that the god of the forest with his tallest trees separated the earth and the heavens by force, and the explanations he gives of things, though they are doubtless useful to him in his laboratory, are empty and colourless. Granting, as I say, that he does anything useful in the department of facts, let his profession at least be a strictly esoteric one. For his interpretations are so often ignoble, in addition to being colourless, that his business, like that of a certain Paris functionary, ought to be pursued in the most severe and most zealous secrecy.
If the world grows ugly, and Life loses her bloom; if all winds are ill winds, and the sunshine seems sickly and pale; if we turn our eyes dubiously about us, and begin to question the justification of
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 104: "The development of science tends ever more to transform the known into the unknown; its aim, however, is to do the reverse, and it starts out with the instinct of tracing the unknown to the known. In short, science is laying the road to sovereign ignorance, to a feeling that knowledge does not exist at all, that it was merely a form of haughtiness to dream of such a thing."
For the function of Art is the function of the ruler. It relieves the highest of their burden, so that mediocrity may be twice blessed, and it makes us a people by luring us to a certain kind of Life. Its essence is riches, its activity is giving and perfecting, 1 and while it is a delight to the highest, it is also a boon to those beneath them.
The attempt of the Dionysian artist 2 to prevail, therefore, is sacred and holy. In his efforts to make his eyes our eyes, his ears our ears, and his touch our touch, though he does not pursue any altruistic purpose, he confers considerable benefits upon mankind. Whereas the attempt of that other man to prevail the realist and devotee of so-called truth is barbarous and depraved. By his egoism he depresses, depreciates and dismantles Life in great things as in small. Woe to the age whose values allow his voice to be heard with respect! There are necessary grey studies to be made, necessary uglinesses to be described, perhaps. But let these studies and descriptions be kept within
1 W. P., Vol. II, p. 263: "The essential feature in art is its power of perfecting existence, its production of perfection and plenitude. Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing", and the deification of existence."
2 Fichte comes near to Nietzsche, here, with his idea of the "beautiful spirit" which sees all nature full, large and abundant, as opposed to him who sees all things thinner, smaller, and emptier than they actually are. See Fichte's Sämmtliche Werke, Vol. IV, p. 354. See also Vol. III, p. 273.
"O heaven above me! Thou pure! Thou deep! Thou abyss of light! Gazing on Thee, I quiver with godlike desires.
"To cast myself up unto thy height that is my profundity! To hide myself in thy purity that is mine innocence.
"We have been friends from the beginning, thou and I. Sorrow and horror and soil we share: even the sun is common to us.
"We speak not to each other, for we know too many things. We stare silently at each other; by smiles do we communicate our knowledge.
"And all my wanderings and mountain-climbings these were but a necessity and a makeshift of the helpless one. To fly is the one thing that my will willeth, to fly into thee.
"And what have I hated more than passing clouds and all that defileth thee!
"The passing clouds I loathe those stealthy cats of prey. They take from thee and me what
"These mediators and mixers we loathe the passing clouds.
"Rather would I sit in a tub, with the sky shut out; rather would I sit in the abyss without a sky, than see thee, sky of Light, denied by wandering clouds!
"And oft have I longed to pin them fast with the jagged gold wires of lightning, that I might, like the thunder, beat the drum upon their bellies.
"An angry drummer, because they bereave me of thy Yea and Amen I thou heaven above me, thou pure, thou bright, thou abyss of Light! And because they bereave thee of my Yea and Amen.
"Thus spake Zarathustra." 1
1 Z., III, XLVIII.