Friedrich Nietzsche, The gay science
Book one – 26
What is life? Life-that is: continually shedding something that wants to die. Life-that is: being cruel and inexorable against everything about us that is growing old and weak-and not only about us. Life-that is, then: being without reverence for those who are dying, who are wretched, who are ancient? Constantly being a murderer? -And yet old Moses said: “Thou shalt not kill.”
Life for us human beings starts somewhere around the time we start to remember.
According to the Wiki page life is defined as: Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have died), or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate.
As far as we know we humans are the only beings that know that they are alive apposed to dead. We sing about it, write poems praising it and can have long conversations about it. Life for me is our capability to remember and think about these memories. Do you really live if you don’t know what happened a minute ago or don’t know who you are looking in the mirror, would life not be a mere stream of impressions that disappear if you cannot appreciate them afterwards?
So, life for me starts somewhere around the time you start to remember. Maybe somewhere around your second birthday you have some continues moments, I’m no expert in these things. I get some flashes of old memories when I see old pictures, but it can be flashbacks from earlier times when I have seen these same pictures, hard to tell, but I have memories from my youth and you only have to ask my mother how much of life I questioned.
Memories are necessary for life, but memories are also unreliable, memories die on you constantly. Memories deceive you, lure you away from your path. Memories are like our lives as they are life.
I spread my fingers
trying to touch entirety
its hidden rhythm.
What do you think if you never heard words? If you have a languish can you than imagine what it is to think without the words that form your thoughts? If I think of a boat does my mind than take a picture of a boat from the folder labeled boats? How do you ask someone without language to think about a boat?
These questions bother me sometimes because it’s difficult to imagine it let alone answer them. But you can ask yourself also the (almost) opposite, do we use languish in our day to day thinking? Maybe the words we use, and think are only the top of the iceberg, a sugary coating to make it pretty. I can never recall why I got up to make some coffee. Did something in me say the words “make coffee” to…me…to who? Maybe our thoughts are formed by habits (the coffee), chemicals in our brain, hormones and functions like our hard and intestines do, independent from us.
Words are the afterthought.
Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings – always darker, emptier and simpler. Friedrich Nietzsche
By Friedrich Nietzsche.
The four big mistakes.
8. What alone can be our doctrine? – Because no one gives man his qualities, neither God, nor society, nor his parents and ancestors, nor he himself (- the absurdity of this last idea has been rejected as “intelligible freedom” by Kant, perhaps even taught by Plato). No one is responsible for ensuring that he’s there, so and so constituted that he is that he is under these circumstances in this environment. The fatality of his nature is not disentangled from the fatality of all that was and what will be. It is not the result of an intention, a will, a purpose, not with him, an attempt is made to achieve an “ideal of man” or an “ideal of happiness” or an “ideal of morality,” – it is absurd his Being (Sein) in any way trying to pass a purpose. We have used the term “purpose” invented in the real world… lack of purpose it is necessary, it is a piece of calamity, one belongs to the whole, it is on the whole, – there is nothing that addressed our being, measure, compare, could condemn, because that would mean the whole set, measure, condemn, compare… But there is nothing out of the whole! – That will make no one more responsible, that the nature of existence can not be attributed primarily to a cause, that the world is neither as sensorium nor as ‘spirit’ is a unity, this is only the great liberation – thus only the innocence of becoming (Unschuld des Werdens) restored… The term “God” has been the greatest objection to existence (Dasein)… We deny God, we deny the responsibility in God: we only deliver to the world. – (Wir leugnen Gott, wir leugnen die Verantwortlichkeit in Gott: damit erst erlösen wir die Welt).
Twilight of the idols, Translation by Daniel Fidel Ferrer, 2013
Human all too human
Leaving in Hades.—We must leave many things in the Hades of half-conscious feeling, and not try to release them from their shadow-existence, or else they will become, as thoughts and words, our demoniacal tyrants, with cruel lust after our blood.
Human all too human
The Freezing-Point of the Will.—“Some time the hour will come at last, the hour that will envelop you in the golden cloud of painlessness; when the soul enjoys its own weariness and, happy in patient playing with patience, resembles the waves of a lake, which on a quiet summer day, in the reflection of a many-hued evening sky, sip and sip at the shore and again are hushed—without end, without purpose, without satiety, without need—all calm rejoicing in change, all ebb and flow of Nature’s pulse.” Such is the feeling and talk of all invalids, but if they attain that hour, a brief period of enjoyment is followed by ennui. But this is the thawing-wind of the frozen will, which awakes, stirs, and once more begets desire upon desire.—Desire is a sign of convalescence or recovery.
The winter is not gone yet, the snow comes and goes but the ground is still frozen. Maybe 2 more moths ore a bit longer.
Human all too human
Art makes the thinker’s heart heavy. – How strong the metaphysical need is, and how hard nature makes it to bid it a final farewell, can be seen from the fact that even when the free spirit has divested himself of everything metaphysical the highest effects of art can easily set the metaphysical strings, which have long been silent or indeed snapped apart, vibrating in sympathy; so it can happen, for example, that a passage in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will make him feel he is hovering above the earth in a dome of stars with the dream of immortality in his heart: all the stars seem to glitter around him and the earth seems to sink farther and farther away. – If he becomes aware of being in this condition he feels a profound stab in the heart and sighs for the man who will lead him back to his lost love, whether she be called religion or metaphysics. It is in such moments that his intellectual probity is put to the test.
Human all too human
By the waterfall. – At the sight of a waterfall we think we see in the countless curvings, twistings and breakings of the waves capriciousness and freedom of will; but everything here is necessary, every motion mathematically calculable. So it is too in the case of human actions; if one were all-knowing, one would be able to calculate every individual action, likewise every advance in knowledge, every error, every piece of wickedness. The actor himself, to be sure, is fixed in the illusion of free will; if for one moment the wheel of the world were to stand still, and there were an all-knowing, calculating intelligence there to make use of this pause, it could narrate the future of every creature to the remotest ages and describe every track along which this wheel had yet to roll. The actor’s deception regarding himself, the assumption of free-will, is itself part of the mechanism it would have to compute.
70 Execution. – How is it that every execution offends us more than a murder? It is the coldness of the judges, the scrupulous preparation, the insight that here a human being is being used as a means of deterring others. For it is not the guilt that is being punished, even when it exists: this lies in educators, parents, environment, in Is, not in the murderer – I mean the circumstances that caused him to become one.
This is an aphorism from Friedrich Nietzsche from his book Human all too human. I agree with him, executing someone is wrong, I see it like playing god, or pretending to know what we are and judge others according to your believe. As far as I know we are all clueless on why we are here. If you accept that than it should be obvious that you cannot decide to remove someone from this life. I know that the people that are condemned to be executed have often taken lives and should be restrained from doing that again, but it speaks for a society that condemns executions, that they admit that we are all in it together and that life is secret. Most countries that still have a death penalty are religious or have a strong ideological government like in China. These countries follow strict written rules that define the world like the rules you find in the bible or Koran or within a rigid ideology like communism. For people that follow these rules (maybe because their society tells them to) it’s much easier to ignore their guilty conscious and point at the specific chapter in their rule-books for confirmation, they can hide behind there believe without taking personal responsibility for their moral choices. Having a believe on a personal level might not be a choice, but a society can steer away from archaic believe systems.
But more important than Nietzsche opposition to the death penalty is his questioning of a personal responsibility for our actions. That is of course a topic he writes about in many places and this aphorism is just a little prick, to let the reader no what is important to him. Simply set: do we have an independent soul that is responsible for our actions or are we just a complicated machine that gives different outcomes depending on what you put in to it. Is the character you have at birth, your upbringing, environment, schooling, and other experiences define you in such a way that you don’t have much of a choice in what you become?
You can come up with all kinds of scenarios where people get chances or not, are born at the wrong time, at the wrong place, you can make it as complicated as you want but my best guess is that there is only a small part of you that is so unique (because of all the specific circumstances in your life) that you can call it you. But this you is like a person on a rudderless oil tanker drifting at sea and the only thing you can steer this 300ft ship with is an paddle.
Songs of Prince Vogelfrei
A proposal of love
when unfortunately the poet fell into a pit
Oh, Wonder! He still flies?
He rises up, his wings are resting?
What lifts and carries him?
What is now his target, pull, and power?
Like stars and eternity
He now lives in heights, fleeing life,
Compassionate even to jealousy . . .
Flying high, you see only in suspense!
Oh, Albatross bird,
Impulse makes me fly high,
I thought of you:
My tears flow, – yes, I love you!
bei der aber der Dichter in eine Grube fiel
O Wunder! Fliegt er noch?
Er steigt empor, und seine Flügel ruhn?
Was hebt und trägt ihn doch?
Was ist ihm Ziel und Zug und Zügel nun?
Gleich Stern und Ewigkeit
Lebt er in Höhn jetzt, die das Leben flieht,
Mitleidig selbst dem Neid –:
Und hoch flog, wer ihn auch nur schweben sieht!
O Vogel Albatros!
Zur Höhe treibt’s mit ewgem Triebe mich.
Ich dachte dein: da floß
Mir Trän um Träne, – ja, ich liebe dich!
From: The Peacock and the Buffalo
The Poetry of Nietzsche
Translated by James Luchte
Human all too human
The slow arrow of beauty. – The noblest kind of beauty is not that which suddenly transports us, which makes a violent and intoxicating assault upon us (such beauty can easily excite disgust), but that which slowly infiltrates us, which we bear away with us almost without noticing and encounter again in dreams, but which finally, after having for long lain modestly in our heart, takes total possession of us, filling our eyes with
tears and our heart with longing. – What is it we long for at the sight of beauty? To be beautiful our self: we imagine we would be very happy if we were beautiful. – But that is an error.