The description of Human All Too Human
One should only speak where one cannot remain silent, and only speak of what one has conquered—the rest is all chatter, “literature,” bad breeding. My writings speak only of my conquests, “I” am in them, with all that is hostile to me, ego ipsissimus, or, if a more haughty expression be permitted, ego ipsissimum. It may be guessed that I have many below me.... But first I always needed time, convalescence, distance, separation, before I felt the stirrings of a desire to flay, despoil, lay bare, “represent” (or whatever one likes to call it) for the additional knowledge of the world, something that I had lived through and outlived, something done or suffered. Hence all my writings,—with one exception, important, it is true,—must be ante-dated—they always tell of a “behind-me.” Some even, like the first three Thoughts out of Season, must be thrown back before the period of creation and experience of a previously published book (The Birth of Tragedy in the case cited, as any one with subtle powers of observation and comparison could not fail to perceive). That wrathful outburst against the Germanism, smugness, and raggedness of speech of old David Strauss, the [pg 002] contents of the first Thought out of Season, gave a vent to feelings that had inspired me long before, as a student, in the midst of German culture and cultured Philistinism (I claim the paternity of the now much used and misused phrase “cultured Philistinism”). What I said against the “historical disease” I said as one who had slowly and laboriously recovered from that disease, and who was not at all disposed to renounce “history” in the future because he had suffered from her in the past. When in the third Thought out of Season I gave expression to my reverence for my first and only teacher, the great Arthur Schopenhauer—I should now give it a far more personal and emphatic voice—I was for my part already in the throes of moral scepticism and dissolution, that is, as much concerned with the criticism as with the study of all pessimism down to the present day. I already did not believe in “a blessed thing,” as the people say, not even in Schopenhauer. It was at this very period that an unpublished essay of mine, “On Truth and Falsehood in an Extra-Moral Sense,” came into being. Even my ceremonial oration in honour of Richard Wagner, on the occasion of his triumphal celebration at Bayreuth in 1876—Bayreuth signifies the greatest triumph that an artist has ever won—a work that bears the strongest stamp of “individuality,” was in the background an act of homage and gratitude to a bit of the past in me, to the fairest but most perilous calm of my sea-voyage ... and as a matter of fact a severance and a farewell. (Was Richard Wagner mistaken on this point? I do not think so. So long as we still love, we do not paint such pictures, [pg 003] we do not yet “examine,” we do not place ourselves so far away as is essential for one who “examines.” “Examining needs at least a secret antagonism, that of an opposite point of view,” it is said on page 46 of the above-named work itself, with an insidious, melancholy application that was perhaps understood by few.) The composure that gave me the power to speak after many intervening years of solitude and abstinence, first came with the book, Human, All-too Human, to which this second preface and apologia1 is dedicated. As a book for “free spirits” it shows some trace of that almost cheerful and inquisitive coldness of the psychologist, who has behind him many painful things that he keeps under him, and moreover establishes them for himself and fixes them firmly as with a needle-point. Is it to be wondered at that at such sharp, ticklish work blood flows now and again, that indeed the psychologist has blood on his fingers and not only on his fingers?