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Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human (1879)

Often enough, and always with great consternation, people have told me that there is something distinctive in all my writings, from The Birth of Tragedy to the most recently published Prologue to a Philosophy of the Future. All of them, I have been told, contain snares and nets for careless birds, and an almost constant, unperceived challenge to reverse one's habitual estimations and esteemed habits. "What's that? Everything is only--human, all too human?" With such a sigh one comes from my writings, they say, with a kind of wariness and distrust even toward morality, indeed tempted and encouraged in no small way to become the spokesman for the worst things: might they perhaps be only the best slandered? My writings have been called a School for Suspicion, even more for Contempt, fortunately also for Courage and, in fact, for Daring. Truly, I myself do not believe that anyone has ever looked into the world with such deep suspicion, and not only as an occasional devil's advocate, but every bit as much, to speak theologically, as an enemy and challenger of God. Whoever guesses something of the consequences of any deep suspicion, something of the chills and fears stemming from isolation, to which every man burdened with an unconditional difference of viewpoint is condemned, this person will understand how often I tried to take shelter somewhere, to recover from myself, as if to forget myself entirely for a time (in some sort of reverence, or enmity, or scholarliness, or frivolity, or stupidity); and he will also understand why, when I could not find what I needed, I had to gain it by force artificially, to counterfeit it, or create it poetically. (And what have poets ever done otherwise? And why else do we have all the art in the world?) What I always needed most to cure and restore myself, however, was the belief that I was not the only one to be thus, to see thus--I needed the enchanting intuition of kinship and equality in the eye and in desire, repose in a trusted friendship; I needed a shared blindness, with no suspicion or question marks, a pleasure in foregrounds, surfaces, what is near, what is nearest, in everything that has color, skin, appearance. Perhaps one could accuse me in this regard of some sort of "art," various sorts of finer counterfeiting: for example, that I had deliberately and willfully closed my eyes to Schopenhauer's blind will to morality, at a time when I was already clear-sighted enough about morality; similarly, that I had deceived myself about Richard Wagner's incurable romanticism, as if it were a beginning and not an end; similarly, about the Greeks; similarly about the Germans and their future--and there might be a whole long list of such Similarly's. But even if this all were true and I were accused of it with good reason, what do you know, what could you know about the amount of self-preserving cunning, or reason and higher protection that is contained in such self-deception--and how much falseness I still require so that I may keep permitting myself the luxury of my truthfulness?

Enough, I am still alive; and life has not been devised by morality: it wants deception, it lives on deception--but wouldn't you know it? Here I am, beginning again, doing what I have always done, the old immoralist and birdcatcher, I am speaking immorally, extra-morally, 'beyond good and evil.'

[Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits (1879), Preface, Section 1 (trans. Marion Faber with Stephen Lehmann, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984, pp. 4-5.]

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