Twilight of the Idols
2 Friedrich Nietzsche
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4 Friedrich Nietzsche
2 Friedrich Nietzsche
1:Without music, life would be a mistake. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols ,
2:To call the taming of an animal its "improvement" is in our ears almost a joke. Whoever knows what goes on in menageries is doubtful whether the beasts in them are "improved". They are weakened, they are made less harmful, they become sickly beasts through the depressive emotion of fear, through pain, through injuries, through hunger. - It is no different with the tamed human being. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols ,
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1:Without music, life would be a mistake.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols,
2:One is fruitful only at the cost of being rich in contradictions. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
3:Nietzsche turned the question into a cornerstone of his philosophy. His Twilight of the Idols states: ‘In every age the wisest have passed the identical judgment on life: it is Worthless … Everywhere and always their mouths have uttered the same sound – a sound full of doubt, full of melancholy, full of weariness with life, full of opposition to life’ (p. 29). ~ Susan Neiman
4:To call the taming of an animal its "improvement" is in our ears almost a joke. Whoever knows what goes on in menageries is doubtful whether the beasts in them are "improved". They are weakened, they are made less harmful, they become sickly beasts through the depressive emotion of fear, through pain, through injuries, through hunger. - It is no different with the tamed human being. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols,
5:On this perfect day, when everything is ripening and not only the grape turns brown, the eye of the sun just fell upon my life: I looked back, I looked forward, and never saw so many and such good things at once. It was not for nothing that I buried my forty-fourth year today; I had the right to bury it; whatever was life in it has been saved, is immortal. The first book of the Revaluation of All Values, the Songs of Zarathustra, the Twilight of the Idols, my attempt to philosophize with a hammer—all presents of this year, indeed of its last quarter! How could I fail to be grateful to my whole life?—and so I tell my life to myself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
6:After an eventful journey - it was even life-threatening because of flooding in Como, which I only reached late at night - I arrived in Turin on the afternoon of the 21st, my proven place, my residence from then on. I took the same apartment that I had in the spring, via Carlo Alberto 6, III, across from the enormous Palazzo Carignano where Vittore Emanuele was born, with a view of the Piazza Carlo Alberto and the hills beyond. I went back to work without delay: only the last quarter of the work was left to be done. Great victory on 30 September; the conclusion of the Revaluation; the leisure of a god walking along the river Po. That same day, I wrote the Preface to Twilight of the Idols: I had corrected the manuscript for it in September, as my recuperation. - I never experienced an autumn like this before, I never thought anything like this could happen on earth, - a Claude Lorrain projected out to infinity, every day having the same tremendous perfection. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
7:THE STILLEST HOUR
What happened to me, my friends? You see me distracted, driven away, unwillingly obedient, prepared to
go-alas, to go away from you. Indeed, Zarathustra
must return once more to his solitude; but this time
the bear goes back to his cave without joy. What happened to me? Who ordered this? Alas, my angry mistress wants it, she spoke to me; have I ever yet
mentioned her name to you? Yesterday, toward evening,
there spoke to me my stillest hour: that is the name of
my awesome mistress. And thus it happened; for I must
tell you everything lest your hearts harden against me
for departing suddenly.
Do you know the fright of him who falls asleep? He
is frightened down to his very toes because the ground
gives under him and the dream begins. This I say to
you as a parable. Yesterday, in the stillest hour, the
ground gave under me, the dream began. The hand
moved, the clock of my life drew a breath; never had
I heard such stillness around me: my heart took fright.
Then it spoke to me without voice: "You know it,
Zarathustra?" And I cried with fright at this whispering,
and the blood left my face; but I remained silent.
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "You know
it, Zarathustra, but you do not say itl" And at last I
answered defiantly: "Yes, I know it, but I do not want
to say itl"
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "You do
not want to, Zarathustra? Is this really true? Do not
hide in your defiance." And I cried and trembled like
a child and spoke: "Alas, I would like to, but how can
I? Let me off from this! It is beyond my strength!"
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "What do
you matter, Zarathustra? Speak your word and break"
And I answered: "Alas, is it my word? Who am l?
I await the worthier one; I am not worthy even of being
broken by it."
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "What do
you matter? You are not yet humble enough for me.
Humility has the toughest hide." And I answered:
at the foot of my height. How high are my peaks? No
one has told me yet. But my valleys I know well."
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "O Zarathustra, he who has to move mountains also moves
valleys and hollows." And I answered: "As yet my
words have not moved mountains, and what I said did
not reach men. Indeed, I have gone to men, but as yet
I have not arrived."
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "What do
you know of that? The dew falls on the grass when the
night is most silent." And I answered: "They mocked
me when I found and went my own way; and in truth
my feet were trembling then. And thus they spoke to
me: 'You have forgotten the way, now you have also
forgotten how to walk.'"
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "What
matters their mockery? You are one who has forgotten
how to obey: now you shall command. Do you not
know who is most needed by all? He that commands
great things. To do great things is difficult; but to
comm and great things is more difficult. This is what
is most unforgivable in you: you have the power, and
you do not want to rule." And I answered: "I lack the
lion's voice for commanding."
Then it spoke to me again as a whisper: "It is the
stillest words that bring on the storm. Thoughts that
come on doves' feet guide the world. 0 Zarathustra, you
shall go as a shadow of that which must come: thus you
will comm and and, commanding, lead the way." And I
answered: "I am ashamed."
Then it spoke to me again without voice: "You must
yet become as a child and without shame. The pride of
youth is still upon you; you have become young late;
but whoever would become as a child must overcome
his youth too." And I reflected for a long time and
trembled. But at last I said what I had said at first; "I
do not want to."
Then laughter surrounded me. Alas, how this laughter tore my entrails and slit open my heart! And it
spoke to me for the last time: "O Zarathustra, your
fruit is ripe, but you are not ripe for your fruit. Thus
you must return to your solitude again; for you must
yet become mellow." And again it laughed and fled;
then it became still around me as with a double stillness. But I lay on the ground and sweat poured from
Now you have heard all, and why I must return to
my solitude. Nothing have I kept from you, my friends.
But this too you have heard from me, who is still the
most taciturn of all men-and wants to be. Alas, my
friends, I still could tell you something, I still could
give you something. Why do I not give it? Am I stingy?
But when Zarathustra had spoken these words he was
overcome by the force of his pain and the nearness of
his parting from his friends, and he wept loudly; and
no one knew how to comfort him. At night, however,
he went away alone and left his friends.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Third Part
You look up when you feel the need for elevation.
And I look down because I am elevated. Who
among you can laugh and be elevated at the same
time? Whoever climbs the highest mountains
laughs at all tragic plays and tragic seriousness.
(Zarathustra, "On Reading and Writing," I, p.
TRANSLATOR S NOTES
1. The Wanderer: The contrast between Zarathustra's sentimentality and his praise of hardness remains characteristic
of the rest of the book.
2. On the Vision and the Riddle: Zarathustra's first account
of the eternal recurrence (see my Nietzsche, .i, II) is
followed by a proto-surrealistic vision of a triumph over
3. On Involuntary Bliss: Zarathustra still cannot face the
thought of the eternal recurrence.
4. Before Sunrise: An ode to the sky. Another quotation
from Zweig's essay on Nietzsche seems pertinent: "His
nerves immediately register every meter of height and
every pressure of the weather as a pain in his organs, and
they react rebelliously to every revolt in nature. Rain or
gloomy skies lower his vitality ('overcast skies depress me
deeply'), the weight of low clouds he feels down into his
very intestines, rain 'lowers the potential,' humidity debilitates, dryness vivifies, sunshine is salvation, winter is a kind
of paralysis and death. The quivering barometer needle of
his April-like, changeable nerves never stands still-most
nearly perhaps in cloudless landscapes, on the windless tablelands of the Engadine." In this chapter the phrase "beyond
good and evil" is introduced; also one line, slightly varied,
of the "Drunken Song" (see below). Another important
theme in Nietzsche's thought: the praise of chance and "a
little reason" as opposed to any divine purpose.
5. On Virtue That Makes Small: "Do whatever you will,
but . . .": What Nietzsche is concerned with is not casuistry but character, not a code of morals but a kind of man,
not a syllabus of behavior but a state of being.
6. Upon the Mount of Olives: "'The ice of knowledge will
yet freeze him to death!' they moan." Compare Stefan
George's poem on the occasion of Nietzsche's death (my
Nietzsche, Prologue, II): "He came too late who said to thee
imploring: There is no way left over icy cliffs."
7. On Passing By: Zarathustra's ape, or "grunting swine,"
unintentionally parodies Zarathustra's attitude and style.
His denunciations are born of wounded vanity and vengefulness, while Zarathustra's contempt is begotten by love;
and "where one can no longer love, there one should pass
8. On Apostates: Stylistically, Zarathustra is now often little
better than his ape. But occasional epigrams show his old
power: the third paragraph in section 2, for instance.
9. The Return Home: "Among men you will always seem
wild and strange," his solitude says to Zarathustra. But
"here all things come caressingly to your discourse and flatter
you, for they want to ride on your back. On every parable
you ride to every truth." The discipline of communication might have served the philosopher better than the
indiscriminate flattery of his solitude. But in this respect
too, it was not given to Nietzsche to live in blissful
ignorance: compare, for example, "The Song of Melancholy" in Part Four.
io. On the Three Evils: The praise of so-called evil as an
ingredient of greatness is central in Nietzsche's thought,
from his early fragment, Homer's Contest, to his Antichrist.
There are few problems the self-styled immoralist pursued
so persistently. Whether he calls attention to the element
of cruelty in the Greek agon or denounces Christianity for
vilifying sex, whether he contrasts sublimation and extirpation or the egoism of the creative and the vengeful: all
these are variations of one theme. In German, the three
evils in this chapter are Wollust, Herrschsucht, Selbstsucht.
For the first there is no exact equivalent in English. In
this chapter, "lust" might do in some sentences, "voluptuousness" in others, but each would be quite inaccurate
half the time, and the context makes it imperative that
the same word be used throughout. There is only one
word in English that renders Nietzsche's meaning perfectly
in every single sentence: sex. Its only disadvantage: it is,
to put it mildly, a far less poetic word than Wollust, and
hence modifies the tone though not Nietzsche's meaning.
But if we reflect on the three things which, according to
Nietzsche, had been maligned most, under the influence of
Christianity, and which he sought to rehabilitate or revaluate-were they not selfishness, the will to power, and sex?
Nietzsche's early impact was in some ways comparable to
that of Freud or Havelock Ellis. But prudery was for him
at most one of three great evils, one kind of hypocrisy, one
aspect of man's betrayal of the earth and of himself.
i1. On the Spirit of Gravity: It is not only the metaphor
of the camel that points back to the first chapter of Part
One: the dead weight of convention is a prime instance of
what is meant by the spirit of gravity; and the bird that
outsoars tradition is, like the child and the self-propelled
wheel at the beginning of the book, a symbol of creativity.
The creator, however, is neither an "evil beast" nor an
"evil tamer of beasts"-neither a profligate nor an ascetic:
he integrates what is in him, perfects and lavishes himself, and says, "This is my way; where is yours?" Michelangelo and Mozart do not offer us "the way" but a challenge and a promise of what is possible.
12. On Old and New Tablets: Attempt at a grand summary,
full of allusions to, and quotations from, previous chapters
Its unevenness is nowhere more striking than in section 12,
with its puns on "crusades." Such sections as 5, 7, and 8,
on the other hand, certainly deserve attention. The despot
in section ii, who has all history rewritten, seems to point
forward in time to Hitler, of whose racial legislation it
could indeed be said: "with the grandfa ther, however,
time ends." Section 15 points back to Luther. Section zo
exposes in advance Stefan George's misconception when he
ended his second poem on Nietzsche (my Nietzsche, p.
"The warner went-the wheel that downward rolls /
To emptiness no arm now tackles in the spokes." The
penultimate paragraph of this section is more "playful"
in the original: Ein Vorspiel bin ich besserer Spieler, oh
meine Braiderl Ein Beispiell In section 25 the key word is
Versuch, one of Nietzsche's favorite words, which means
experiment, attempt, trial. Sometimes he associates it with
suchen, searching. (In Chapter 2, "On the Vision and
the Riddle," Sucher, Versucher has been rendered "searchers, researchers.") Section 29, finally, is used again, with
minute changes, to conclude Twilight of the Idols.
13. The Convalescent: Zarathustra still cannot face the
thought of the eternal recurrence but speaks about human
speech and cruelty. In the end, his animals expound the
14 On the Great Longing: Hymn to his soul: Zarathustra
and his soul wonder which of them should be grateful to
15. The Other Dancing Song: Life and wisdom as women
again; but in this dancing song, life is in complete control,
and when Zarathustra's imagination runs away with him
he gets his face slapped. What he whispers into the ear
of life at the end of section 2 is, no doubt, that after his
death he will yet recur eternally. The song at the end,
punctuated by the twelve strokes of the bell, is interpreted
in "The Drunken Song" in Part Four.
i6. The Seven Seals: The eternal recurrence of the small
man no longer nauseates Zarathustra. His affirmation now is
boundless and without reservation: "For I love you, 0
~ Friedrich Nietzsche, THE STILLEST HOUR
3 Friedrich Nietzsche
2 Twilight of the Idols
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