THE GENEALOGY OF MORALS
Nietzsche is passionate (understatement), I would enjoy reading his essays on today's world if he could see it. Despite our social awareness conditioning us to feel absolute horror at the statements in this book, I find it fascinating to realise how much we've 'changed' in recent times, how differently we would consider things just a few generations ago.
I love a book which brings such painful 'truths' to light, and find it entertaining to consider the implications and picture the world and man as he paints it. Although the applicability of such a worldview and attitude is difficult to fully support, I do think the reader can feel slightly liberated from some social norms, less guilty in regards to his duty to the world, and treat this book as a manual for self love.
PS. In retrospect, I do realise I've compiled the most 'interesting' and 'shocking' parts of the book (I have extra notes for myself and have seen the build-up to the points he's making) taken out of context, they seem horrific, and I apologise for this - please realise the whole three essays need to be read in order for his points to be fully understood.
The Noble Man
“While the noble man lives for himself with trust and candour (gennaios, meaning “of noble birth” stresses the nuance “upright” and also probably “naïve”); the man of resentment is neither upright nor naïve, nor honest and direct with himself. His soul squints. His spirit loves hiding places, secret paths, and back doors. Everything furtive attracts him as his world, his security, his refreshment. He understands about remaining silent, not forgetting, waiting, temporarily diminishing himself, humiliating himself. A race of such men of resentment will necessarily end up cleverer than any noble race. It will value cleverness to a very different extent, that is, as a condition of existence of the utmost importance; whereas, cleverness among noble men easily acquires a delicate aftertaste of luxury and sophistication about it. ”
“The resentment of the noble man himself, if it comes over him, consumes and exhausts itself in an immediate reaction and therefore does not poison. On the other hand, in countless cases it just does not appear at all; whereas, in the case of all weak and powerless people it is unavoidable.”
On Man's Hate for Himself
“What is it exactly that I find so totally unbearable? Something which I cannot deal with on my own, which makes me choke and feel faint? Bad air! Bad air! It’s when something which has failed comes close to me, when I have to smell the entrails of a failed soul! Apart from that what can we not endure by way of need, deprivation, bad weather, infirmity, hardship, loneliness? Basically we can deal with all the other things, born as we are to an underground and struggling existence. We come back again and again into the light, we live over and over our golden hour of victory—and then we stand there, just as we were born, unbreakable, tense, ready for something new, for something even more difficult, more distant, like a bow which all trouble only serves always to pull tighter.”
Denying our human instincts, taming ourselves in the name of civility, hating ourselves for what we are is what Nietzsche hates
“That lambs are annoyed at the great predatory birds is not a strange thing, and the fact that they snatch away small lambs provides no reason for holding anything against these large birds of prey. And if the lambs say among themselves, “These predatory birds are evil—and whoever is least like a predatory bird—and especially anyone who is like its opposite, a lamb—shouldn’t that animal be good?” there is nothing to find fault with in this setting up of an ideal, except for the fact that the birds of prey might look down with a little mockery and perhaps say to themselves, “We are not at all annoyed with these good lambs—we even love them. Nothing is tastier than a tender lamb”
“To demand that strength does not express itself as strength, that it must not consist of a will to overpower, a will to throw down, a will to rule, a thirst for enemies and opposition and triumph—that is as unreasonable as to demand that weakness express itself as strength.”
“The subject (or, to use a more popular style, the soul) has up to now probably been the best principle for belief on earth, because, for the majority of the dying, the weak, and the downtrodden of all sorts, it makes possible that sublime self-deception which establishes weakness itself as freedom and their being like this or that as something meritorious.”
“Watching suffering is good for people, making someone suffer is even better—that is a harsh principle, but an old, powerful, and human, all-too-human major principle, which, by the way, even the apes might agree with. For people say that, in thinking up bizarre cruelties, the apes already anticipate a great many human actions and, as it were, “act them out.” Without cruelty there is no celebration: that’s what the oldest and longest era of human history teaches us—and with punishment, too, there is so much celebration!” We used to celebrate people burning at the stake, there were gladiator shows and public hangings - can we truly say people have never and didn't enjoy witnessing the infliction of suffering
“The darkening of heaven over men’s heads has always increased quickly in proportion to the growth of human beings’ shame at human beings. ”
“I mean the sickly mollycoddling and moralizing, thanks to which the animal “man” finally learns to feel shame about all his instincts”
“On his way to becoming an “angel” (not to use a harsher word here), man developed an upset stomach and a furry tongue which made him not only fight against the joy and innocence of the animal but even lose his taste for life, so that now and then he stands there, holds his nose, and with Pope Innocent III disapproves of himself and makes a catalogue of his nastiness (“conceived in filth, disgustingly nourished in his mother’s body, developed out of evil material stuff, stinking horribly, a secretion of spit, urine, and excrement”). Now, when suffering always has to march out as the first argument against existence, as its most serious question mark, it’s good for us to remember the times when people judged things the other way around, because they couldn’t do without making people suffer and saw a first-class magic in it, a really tempting enticement for living.”
To Live is to Oppress
“To talk of just and unjust in themselves has no sense whatsoever—it’s obvious that in themselves harming, oppressing, exploiting, destroying cannot be “unjust,” inasmuch as life essentially works that way, that is, in its basic functions it harms, oppresses, exploits, and destroys—and cannot be conceived at all without these characteristics. We must acknowledge something even more alarming—the fact that from the highest biological standpoint, conditions of law must always be exceptional conditions, partial restrictions on the basic will to live, which is set on power—they are subordinate to the total purpose of this will as its individual means, that is, as means to create a larger unit of power."
On the Origins of Bad Consciousness
All instincts which are not discharged to the outside are turned back inside. This is what I call the internalization of man. From this first grows in man what people later call his “soul.” The entire inner world, originally as thin as if stretched between two layers of skin, expanded and extended itself, acquired depth, width, and height, to the extent that the discharge of human instinct out into the world was obstructed.”
“Enmity, cruelty, joy in pursuit, in attack, in change, in destruction—all those turned themselves against the possessors of such instincts. That is the origin of “bad conscience.”
“The man who lacked external enemies and opposition and was forced into an oppressive narrowness and regularity of custom, impatiently tore himself apart, persecuted himself, gnawed away at himself, grew upset, and did himself damage—this animal which scraped itself raw against the bars of its cage, which people want to “tame,” this impoverished creature, consumed with longing for the wild, had to create in itself an adventure, a torture chamber, an uncertain and dangerous wilderness, this fool, this yearning and puzzled prisoner, was the inventor of “bad conscience.”
“So much for the moment on the origin of the “unegoistic” as something of moral worth and on the demarcation of the soil out of which this value has grown: only bad conscience, only the will to abuse the self, provides the condition for the value of the unegoistic.”
“In this mental cruelty there is a kind of insanity of the will, which simply has no equal: a man’s will finding him so guilty and reprehensible that there is no atonement, his will to imagine himself punished, but in such a way that the punishment can never be adequate for his crime, his will to infect and poison the most fundamental basis of things with the problem of punishment and guilt in order to cut himself off once and for all from any exit out of this labyrinth of “fixed ideas,” his will to erect an ideal (that of the “holy God”) in order to be tangibly certain of his own absolute worthlessness when confronted with it.”
“Some god must have deluded him,” he finally said, shaking his head . . . This solution is typical of the Greeks . . . In this way, the gods then served to justify men to a certain extent, even in bad things. They served as the origin of evil—at that time the gods took upon themselves, not punishment, but, what is nobler, the guilt.”
How Can We Trust Ourselves and our Values Today?
“All good things were once bad things; every original sin becomes an original virtue. For example, marriage for a long time seemed to be a sin against the rights of the community. Once people paid a fine for being so presumptuous as to arrogate a woman to themselves (that involves, for instance, the jus primae noctis [the right of the first night], even today in Cambodia the privilege of the priests, these guardians of “good ancient customs”). The gentle, favourable, yielding, sympathetic feelings—which over time grew so valuable that they are almost “value in itself”—for the longest period were countered by self contempt. People were ashamed of being mild, just as today they are ashamed of being hard.”
“Nothing has come at a higher price,” it says there on p. 19, “than the small amount of human reason and feeling of freedom, which we are now so proud of. But because of this pride it is now almost impossible to sense how that huge stretch of time of the ‘morality of custom,’ which comes before ‘world history,’ is the really decisive and important history which established the character of humanity, where people recognized suffering as a virtue, cruelty as a virtue, pretence as a virtue, revenge as a virtue, the denial of reason as a virtue and, by contrast, well being as a danger, the desire for knowledge as a danger, peace as a danger, sympathy as a danger, being pitied as a disgrace, work as a disgrace, insanity as divinity, change as untraditional and inherently pregnant with ruin.”
“Everyone who at some time or another has built a “new heaven,” found the power to do that first in his own hell. . .”
We are Romanticising Pain
“If we read from a distant star, the block capital script of our earthly existence might perhaps lead one to conclude that the earth is the inherently ascetic star, a corner for discontented, arrogant, and repellent creatures, incapable of ridding themselves of a deep dissatisfaction with themselves, with the earth, with all living, creatures who inflict harm on themselves for the pleasure of inflicting harm—evidently their single pleasure.”
“The No which he speaks to life brings to light, as if through a magic spell, an abundance of more tender Yeses. Even when he injures himself, this master of destruction and self-destruction, it is the wound itself which later forces him to live on.”
“Suffering people all have a horrible willingness and capacity for inventing pretexts for painful emotional feelings. They already enjoy their suspicions, their brooding over bad actions and apparent damage. They ransack the entrails of their past and present, looking for dark and dubious stories, in which they are free to feast on an agonizing suspicion and to get intoxicated on their own poisonous anger. They rip open the oldest wounds, they bleed themselves to death from long-healed scars. They turn friends, wives, children, and anyone else who is closest to them into criminals. “I am suffering. Someone or other must be to blame for that”—that how every sick sheep thinks.”
“Where there is a herd, it’s the instinct of weakness which has willed the herd, and the cleverness of the priest which has organized it. We should not overlook the following point: through natural necessity strong people strive to separate from each other, just as much as weak people strive to be together.”
“Man, the bravest animal, the one most accustomed to suffering, does not deny suffering in itself. He desires it, he seeks it out in person, provided that people show him a meaning for it, the purpose of suffering.”
There Should Be Guiltless Joy
“Undoubtedly, if they could succeed in pushing their own wretchedness, all misery in general, into the consciences of the fortunate, so that the latter one day might begin to be ashamed of their good fortune and perhaps would say to themselves, “It’s a shameful to be fortunate. There’s too much misery!”
(the happy) “They alone are guarantors of the future; they alone stand as pledge for humanity’s future. Whatever they can do, whatever they should do—the sick can never be able to do and should not do.”