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“The Hiker” speaks.— If you would like to see our European morality for once as it appears from a distance, in order to measure it against other moralities, past and future, then you have to proceed like a hiker who wants to know how high the towers in a town are: he leaves town for that purpose. “Thoughts about moral prejudices,” unless intended to be prejudices about prejudices, presuppose a position outside morality, some point beyond Good and Evil to which one has to rise, climb, or fly—and in the present case at least a point beyond our Good and Evil, a freedom from everything “European,” by which I mean the sum of the domineering value judgments that have become part of our flesh and blood. That one wants to go out there, up there, may be a minor craziness, a peculiar and unreasonable “you must”—for those of us who seek knowledge also have our idiosyncrasies of “unfree will”—: the question is whether one really can get up there. This may depend on many conditions, in the main the question is how light or heavy we are, the problem of our “specific gravity.” One has to be very light to drive one’s will to knowledge over such a distance and, as it were, beyond one’s time, to create for oneself eyes to survey millennia and, moreover, clear skies in these eyes! One must have liberated oneself from many things that oppress, inhibit, hold down, and make us heavy—we contemporary Europeans. The human being of such a Beyond who wants to behold the supreme measures of worth of his time must first of all “overcome” this time in himself—this is the test of his strength—and consequently not only his time but also his prior aversion and contradiction against this time, his suffering from this time, his untimeliness, his romanticism …-
–Friedrich Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (La gaya scienza) § 380 (2d ed. 1887) in: Werke in drei Bänden, vol. 2, p. 255 (K. Schlechta ed.) (S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”