Thoughts Out of Season, Part II

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 6

incapable of drawing one round itself, or too selfish to
lose its own view in another's, it will come to an untimely end.
Cheerfulness, a good conscience, belief in the future, the joyful
deed, all depend, in the individual as well as the nation, on there
being a line that divides the visible and clear from the vague and
shadowy: we must know the right time to forget as well as the right
time to remember; and instinctively see when it is necessary to feel
historically, and when unhistorically. This is the point that the
reader is asked to consider; that the unhistorical and the historical
are equally necessary to the health of an individual, a community,
and a system of culture.

Every one has noticed that a man's historical knowledge and range of
feeling may be very limited, his horizon as narrow as that of an
Alpine valley, his judgments incorrect and his experience falsely
supposed original, and yet in spite of all the incorrectness and
falsity he may stand forth in unconquerable health and vigour, to the
joy of all who see him; whereas another man with far more judgment
and learning will fail in comparison, because the lines of his
horizon are continually changing and shifting, and he cannot shake
himself free from the delicate network of his truth and righteousness
for a downright act of will or desire. We saw that the beast,
absolutely "unhistorical," with the narrowest of horizons, has yet a
certain happiness, and lives at least without hypocrisy or ennui; and
so we may hold the capacity of feeling (to a certain extent)
unhistorically, to be the more important and elemental, as providing
the foundation of every sound and real growth, everything that is
truly great and human. The unhistorical is like the surrounding
atmosphere that can alone create life, and in whose annihilation life
itself disappears. It is true that man can only become man by first
suppressing this unhistorical element in his thoughts, comparisons,
distinctions, and conclusions, letting a clear sudden light break
through these misty clouds by his power of turning the past to the
uses of the present. But an excess of history makes him flag again,
while without the veil of the unhistorical he would never have the
courage to begin. What deeds could man ever have done if he had not
been enveloped in the dust-cloud of the unhistorical? Or, to leave
metaphors and take a concrete example, imagine a man swayed and
driven by a strong passion, whether for a woman or a theory. His
world is quite altered. He is blind to everything

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