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

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 94

cannot rise up to that height and finally sinks discontentedly
deeper. For when the artist no longer raises his public it rapidly
sinks downwards, and its fall is the deeper and more dangerous in
proportion to the height to which genius has carried it, like the
eagle, out of whose talons a tortoise that has been borne up into the
clouds falls to its destruction.


169.

THE SOURCE OF THE COMIC ELEMENT.--If we consider that for many
thousands of years man was an animal that was susceptible in the
highest degree to fear, and that everything sudden and unexpected had
to find him ready for battle, perhaps even ready for death; that even
later, in social relations, all security was based on the expected,
on custom in thought and action, we need not be surprised that at
everything sudden and unexpected in word and deed, if it occurs without
danger or injury, man becomes exuberant and passes over into the very
opposite of fear--the terrified, trembling, crouching being shoots
upward, stretches itself: man laughs. This transition from momentary
fear into short-lived exhilaration is called the _Comic._ On the other
hand, in the tragic phenomenon, man passes quickly from great enduring
exuberance into great fear; but as amongst mortals great and lasting
exuberance is much rarer than the cause for fear, there is far more
comedy than tragedy in the world; we laugh much offener than we are
agitated.


170.

THE ARTIST'S AMBITION.--The Greek artists, the tragedians for instance,
composed in order to conquer; their whole art cannot be imagined
without rivalry,--the good Hesiodian Eris, Ambition, gave wings to
their genius. This ambition further demanded that their work should
achieve the greatest excellence _in their own eyes,_ as they understood
excellence, _without any regard_ for the reigning taste and the
general opinion about excellence in a work of art; and thus it was
long before Æschylus and Euripides achieved any success, until at
last they _educated_ judges of art, who valued their work according
to the standards which they themselves appointed. Hence they strove
for victory over rivals according to their own valuation, they really
wished to _be_ more excellent; they demanded assent from without to
this self-valuation, the confirmation of this verdict. To achieve
honour means in this case "to make one's self superior to others, and
to desire that this should be recognised publicly." Should the former
condition be wanting, and the latter nevertheless desired, it is then
called _vanity._ Should the latter be lacking and not missed, then it
is named _pride_.


171.

WHAT IS NEEDFUL TO A WORK OF ART.--Those who talk so much about the
needful factors of a work

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