Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 61

is it now water, now earth?" then he would only just
answer: "It is a game, don't take it too pathetically and still less,
morally." Heraclitus describes only the existing world and has the same
contemplative pleasure in it which the artist experiences when looking
at his growing work. Only those who have cause to be discontented
with his natural history of man find him gloomy, melancholy, tearful,
sombre, atrabilarious, pessimistic and altogether hateful. He however
would take these discontented people, together with their antipathies
and sympathies, their hatred und their love, as negligible and perhaps
answer them with some such comment as: "Dogs bark at anything they do
not know," or, "To the ass chaff is preferable to gold."

With such discontented persons also originate the numerous complaints
as to the obscurity of the Heraclitean style; probably no man has ever
written clearer and more illuminatingly; of course, very abruptly,
and therefore naturally obscure to the racing readers. But why a
philosopher should intentionally write obscurely--a thing habitually
said about Heraclitus--is absolutely inexplicable; unless he has some
cause to hide his thoughts or is sufficiently a rogue to conceal his
thoughtlessness underneath words. One is, as Schopenhauer says, indeed
compelled by lucid expression to prevent misunderstandings even in
affairs of practical every-day life, how then should one be allowed to
express oneself indistinctly, indeed puzzlingly in the most difficult,
most abstruse, scarcely attainable object of thinking, the tasks of
philosophy? With respect to brevity however Jean Paul gives a good
precept: "On the whole it is right that everything great--of deep
meaning to a rare mind--should be uttered with brevity and (therefore)
obscurely so that the paltry mind would rather proclaim it to be
nonsense than translate it into the realm of his empty-headedness.
For common minds have an ugly ability to perceive in the deepest and
richest saying nothing but their own every-day opinion." Moreover and
in spite of it Heraclitus has not escaped the "paltry minds"; already
the Stoics have "re-expounded" him into the shallow and dragged down
his æsthetic fundamental-perception as to the play of the world to the
miserable level of the common regard for the practical ends of the
world and more explicitly for the advantages of man, so that out of his
Physics has arisen in those heads a crude optimism, with the continual
invitation to Dick, Tom, and Harry, "_Plaudite amici!_"


Heraclitus was proud; and if it comes to pride with a philosopher then
it is a great pride. His work never refers him to a "public," the
applause of the masses and the hailing chorus of contemporaries. To
wander lonely along

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Text Comparison with The Birth of Tragedy; or, Hellenism and Pessimism

Page 1
In regard to our grand-mother Oehler, who died in her eighty-second year, all that can be said is, that if all German women were possessed of the health she enjoyed, the German nation would excel all others from the standpoint of vitality.
Page 2
As a result of this fall, he.
Page 21
Page 37
In truth, Archilochus, the passionately inflamed, loving and hating man, is but a vision of the genius, who by this time is no longer Archilochus, but a genius of the world, who expresses his primordial pain symbolically in the figure of the man Archilochus: while the subjectively willing and desiring man, Archilochus, can never at any time be a poet.
Page 39
_Melody is therefore primary and universal,_ and as such may admit of several objectivations, in several texts.
Page 46
In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived, man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of existence, he now understands the symbolism in the fate of Ophelia, he now discerns the wisdom of the sylvan god Silenus: and loathing seizes him.
Page 63
These considerations here make it obvious that our formula--namely, that Euripides brought the spectator upon the stage, in order to make him truly competent to pass judgment--was but a provisional one, and that we must seek for a deeper understanding of his tendency.
Page 69
So also the divine Plato speaks for the most part only ironically of the creative faculty of the poet, in so far as it is not conscious insight, and places it on a par with the gift of the soothsayer and dream-interpreter; insinuating that the poet is incapable of composing until he has become unconscious and reason has deserted him.
Page 73
In very truth, Plato has given to all posterity the prototype of a new form of art,.
Page 86
Will it not one day rise again as art out of its mystic depth? Here the question occupies us, whether the power by the counteracting influence of which tragedy perished, has for all time strength enough to prevent the artistic reawaking of tragedy and of the tragic view of things.
Page 87
Conversely, such a conspicious event is at once divested of every mythical character by the tone-painting of the New Dithyramb; music has here become a wretched copy of the phenomenon, and therefore infinitely poorer.
Page 95
of this idyllically or heroically good creature, who in every action follows at the same time a natural artistic impulse, who sings a little along with all he has to say, in order to sing immediately with full voice on the slightest emotional excitement.
Page 96
" Here we must at once call attention to the common characteristic of these two conceptions in operatic genesis, namely, that in them the ideal is not regarded as unattained or nature as lost Agreeably to this sentiment, there was a primitive age of man when he lay close to the heart of nature, and, owing to this naturalness, had attained the ideal of mankind in a paradisiac goodness and artist-organisation: from which perfect primitive man all of us were supposed to be descended; whose faithful copy we were in fact still said to be: only we had to cast off some few things in order to recognise ourselves once more as this primitive man, on the strength of a voluntary renunciation of superfluous learnedness, of super-abundant culture.
Page 101
Page 103
For it holds true in all things that those whom the gods love die young, but, on the other hand, it holds equally true that they then live eternally with the gods.
Page 106
What can the healing magic of Apollo not accomplish when it can even excite in us the illusion that the Dionysian is actually in the service of the Apollonian, the effects of which it is capable of enhancing; yea, that music is essentially the representative art for an Apollonian substance? With the pre-established harmony which obtains between perfect drama and its music, the drama attains the highest degree of conspicuousness, such as is usually unattainable in mere spoken drama.
Page 108
Whence must we derive this curious internal dissension, this.
Page 110
He who now will still persist in talking only of those vicarious effects proceeding from ultra-æsthetic spheres, and does not feel himself raised above the pathologically-moral process, may be left to despair of his æsthetic nature: for which we recommend to him, by way of innocent equivalent, the interpretation of Shakespeare after the fashion of Gervinus, and the diligent search for poetic justice.
Page 113
For the rectification of our æsthetic knowledge we previously borrowed from them the two divine figures, each of which sways a separate realm of art, and concerning whose mutual contact and exaltation we have acquired a notion through Greek tragedy.
Page 118
Hence, in order to form a true estimate of the Dionysian capacity of a people, it would seem that we must think not only of their music, but just as much of their tragic myth, the second witness of this capacity.