- Birthday, Books, Philosophy, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves?”

 

Happy birthday, Friedrich Nietzsche! Here are some quotes from the philosopher.

 

“Is it better to out-monster the monster or to be quietly devoured?”

 

“The value of many [people] and books rests solely on their faculty for compelling all to speak out the most hidden and intimate things.”

 

“Some are born posthumously.”

 

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”

 

“God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we—we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.”

 

“Good prose is written only face to face with poetry.”

 

“Without art we would be nothing but foreground and live entirely in the spell of that perspective which makes what is closest at hand and most vulgar appear as if it were vast, and reality itself.”

 

“People who live in an age of corruption are witty and slanderous; they know that there are other kinds of murder than by dagger or assault; they also know that whatever is well said is believed…”

 

“We often contradict an opinion for no other reason than that we do not like the tone in which it is expressed.”

 

“One will rarely err if extreme actions be ascribed to vanity, ordinary actions to habit, and mean actions to fear.”

 

“In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.”

 

“Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.”

 

“No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.”

 

“If it is true to say of the lazy that they kill time, then it is greatly to be feared that an era which sees its salvation in public opinion, this is to say private laziness, is a time that really will be killed: I mean that it will be struck out of the history of the true liberation of life. How reluctant later generations will be to have anything to do with the relics of an era ruled, not by living men, but by pseudo-men dominated by public opinion.”

 

“There exists no more repulsive and desolate creature in the world than the man who has evaded his genius and who now looks furtively to left and right, behind him and all about him. In the end such a man becomes impossible to get hold of, since he is wholly exterior, without kernel: a tattered, painted bag of clothes; a decked-out ghost that cannot inspire even fear and certainly not pity.”

 

“The man who does not wish to belong to the mass needs only to cease taking himself easily; let him follow his conscience, which calls to him: ‘Be your self! All you are now doing, thinking, desiring, is not you yourself.’”

 

“Are designations congruent with things? Is language the adequate expression of all realities?”

 

“What does man actually know about himself? Is he, indeed, ever able to perceive himself completely, as if laid out in a lighted display case? Does nature not conceal most things from him—even concerning his own body—in order to confine and lock him within a proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibers! She threw away the key.”

 

“Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself—in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity—is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them. They are deeply immersed in illusions and in dream images; their eyes merely glide over the surface of things and see ‘forms.'”

 

“[F]or your true nature lies, not concealed deep within you, but immeasurably high above you, or at least above that which you usually take yourself to be. Your true educators and formative teachers reveal to you what the true basic material of your being is, something in itself ineducable and in any case difficult of access, bound and paralyzed: your educators can be only your liberators.”

 

“Thus the man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence; he observes closely, and he enjoys his observation: for it is out of these images that he interprets life, out of these processes that he trains himself for life. It is not only pleasant and agreeable images that he experiences with such universal understanding: the serious, the gloomy, the sad and the profound, the sudden restraints, the mockeries of chance, fearful expectations, in short the whole ‘divine comedy’ of life, the Inferno included, passes before him, not only as a shadow-play—for he too lives and suffers through these scenes—and yet also not without that fleeting sense of illusion; and perhaps many, like myself, can remember calling out to themselves in encouragement, amid the perils and terrors of the dream, and with success: ‘It is a dream! I want to dream on!’ Just as I have often been told of people who have been able to continue one and the same dream over three and more successive nights: facts which clearly show that our innermost being, our common foundation, experiences dreams with profound pleasure and joyful necessity.”

 

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

 

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

 

“State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.’”

 

“Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.”

 

“I now myself live, in every detail, striving for wisdom, while I formerly merely worshiped and idolized the wise.”

 

“Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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