Human, All-Too-Human: A Book for Free Spirits, Part 1 Complete Works, Volume Six

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 210

Though of folly I may treat!
What I find, seek, and am needing,
Was it e'er in book for reading?
Honour now fools in my name,
Learn from out this book by reading
How "our sense" from reason came.
Thus, my friends, shall it obtain?
Amen! Till we meet again.

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Text Comparison with Homer and Classical Philology

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That these wholly different scientific and aesthetico-ethical impulses have been associated under a common name, a kind of sham monarchy, is shown especially by the fact that philology at every period from its origin onwards was at the same time pedagogical.
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Where do we not meet with them, these mockers, always ready to aim a blow at the philological "moles," the animals that practise dust-eating _ex professo_, and that grub up and eat for the eleventh time what they have already eaten ten times before.
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Think it not crime in any way: Youth's fervent adoration Leads us to know the verity, And feel the poet's unity.
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Let us then examine the so-called _Homeric question_ from this standpoint, a question the most important problem of which Schiller called a scholastic barbarism.
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of Homeric criticism, take his stand upon the question of personality as being the really fruitful oasis in the desert of the whole argument.
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If we descend backwards from this zenith, step by step, we find a guide to the understanding of the Homeric problem in the person of Aristotle.
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The conception of popular poetry seemed to lead like a bridge over this problem--a deeper and more original power than that of every single creative individual was said.
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In this universality there is something almost intoxicating in the thought of a popular poem: we feel, with artistic pleasure, the broad, overpowering liberation of a popular gift, and we delight in this natural phenomenon as we do in an uncontrollable cataract.
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This is the reaction, or, if you will, the superstition, which followed upon the most momentous discovery of historico-philological science, the discovery and appreciation of the _soul of the people_.
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Now, however, such a contrast between popular poetry and individual poetry does not exist at all; on the contrary, all poetry, and of course popular poetry also, requires an intermediary individuality.
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Since literary history first ceased to be a mere collection of names, people have attempted to grasp and formulate the individualities of the poets.
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The infinite profusion of images and incidents in the Homeric epic must force us to admit that such a wide range of vision is next to impossible.
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It is not only probable that everything which was created in those times with conscious aesthetic insight, was infinitely inferior to the songs that sprang up naturally in the poet's mind and were written down with instinctive power: we can even take a step further.
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The decision on this point has already been given.
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Let us hear how a learned man of the first rank writes about Homer even so late as 1783: "Where does the good man live? Why did he remain so long incognito? Apropos, can't you get me a silhouette of him?" We demand _thanks_--not in our own name, for we are but atoms--but in the name of philology itself, which is indeed neither a Muse nor a Grace, but a messenger of the gods: and just as the Muses descended upon the dull and tormented Boeotian peasants, so Philology comes into a world full of gloomy colours and pictures, full of the deepest, most incurable woes; and speaks to men comfortingly of the beautiful and godlike figure of a distant, rosy, and happy fairyland.
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