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- Thoughts out of Season (Part One) - 3/29 -


their accusers, and has openly reproached his Nazarene colleagues with the Immorality of endangering life itself, he has clearly demonstrated to the world that their trustful and believing patient was shrinking beneath their very fingers, he has candidly foretold these Christian quacks that one day they would be in the position of the quack skin-specialist at the fair, who, as a proof of his medical skill, used to show to the peasants around him the skin of a completly cured patient of his. Both Nietzsche and Disraeli know the way to health, for they have had the disease of the age themselves, but they have--the one partly, the other entirely-- cured themselves of it, they have resisted the spirit of their time, they have escaped the fate of their contemporaries; they therefore, and they alone, know their danger. This is the reason why they both speak so violently, why they both attack with such bitter fervour the utilitarian and materialistic attitude of English Science, why they both so ironically brush aside the airy and fantastic ideals of German Philosophy--this is why they both loudly declare (to use Disraeli's words) "that we are the slaves of false knowledge; that our memories are filled with ideas that have no origin in truth; that we believe what our fathers credited, who were convinced without a cause; that we study human nature in a charnel house, and, like the nations of the East, pay divine honours to the maniac and the fool." But if these two great men cannot refrain from such outspoken vituperation--they also lead the way: they both teach the divinity of ideas and the vileness of action without principle; they both exalt the value of personality and character; they both deprecate the influence of society and socialisation; they both intensely praise and love life, but they both pour contempt and irony upon the shallow optimist, who thinks it delightful, and the quietist, who wishes it to be calm, sweet, and peaceful. They thus both preach a life of danger, in opposition to that of pleasure, of comfort, of happiness, and they do not only preach this noble life, they also act it: for both have with equal determination staked even their lives on the fulfilment of their ideal.

It is astonishing--but only astonishing to your superficial student of the Jewish character--that in Disraeli also we find an almost Nietzschean appreciation of that eternal foe of the Jewish race, the Hellenist, which makes Disraeli, just like Nietzsche, confess that the Greek and the Hebrew are both amongst the highest types of the human kind. It is not less astonishing--but likewise easily intelligible for one who knows something of the great Jews of the Middle Ages--that in Disraeli we discover that furious enmity against the doctrine of the natural equality of men which Nietzsche combated all his life. It was certainly the great Maimonides himself, that spiritual father of Spinoza, who guided the pen of his Sephardic descendant, when he thus wrote in his Tancred: "It is to be noted, although the Omnipotent Creator might have formed, had it pleased him, in the humblest of his creations, an efficient agent for his purpose that Divine Majesty has never thought fit to communicate except with human beings of the very highest order."

But what about Christianity, to which Disraeli was sincerely attached, and whose creation he always considered as one of the eternal glories of his race? Did not the Divine Majesty think it fit then to communicate with the most humble of its creatures, with the fishermen of Galilee, with the rabble of Corinth, with the slaves, the women, the criminals of the Roman Empire? As I wish to be honest about Disraeli, I must point out here, that his genius, although the most prominent in England during his lifetime, and although violently opposed to its current superstitions, still partly belongs to his age--and for this very pardonable reason, that in his Jewish pride he overrated and even misunderstood Christianity. He all but overlooked the narrow connection between Christianity and Democracy. He did not see that in fighting Liberalism and Nonconformity all his life, he was really fighting Christianity, the Protestant Form of which is at the root of British Liberalism and Individualism to this very day. And when later in his life Disraeli complained that the disturbance in the mind of nations has been occasioned by "the powerful assault on the Divinity of the Semitic Literature by the Germans," he overlooked likewise the connection of this German movement with the same Protestantism, from the narrow and vulgar middle-class of which have sprung all those rationalising, unimaginative, and merely clever professors, who have so successfully undermined the ancient and venerable lore. And thirdly, and worst of all, Disraeli never suspected that the French Revolution, which in the same breath he once contemptuously denounced as "the Celtic Rebellion against Semitic laws," was, in spite of its professed attack against religion, really a profoundly Christian, because a democratic and revolutionary movement. What a pity he did not know all this! What a shower of splendid additional sarcasms he would have poured over those flat-nosed Franks, had he known what I know now, that it is the eternal way of the Christian to be a rebel, and that just as he has once rebelled against us, he has never ceased pestering and rebelling against any one else either of his own or any other creed.

But it is so easy for me to be carried away by that favourite sport of mine, of which I am the first inventor among the Jews--Christian baiting. You must forgive this, however, in a Jew, who, while he has been baited for two thousand years by you, likes to turn round now that the opportunity has come, and tries to indulge on his part also in a little bit of that genial pastime. I candidly confess it is delightful, and I now quite understand your ancestors hunting mine as much as they could--had I been a Christian, I would, probably, have done the same; perhaps have done it even better, for no one would now be left to write any such impudent truisms against me-- rest assured of that! But as I am a Jew, and have had too much experience of the other side of the question, I must try to control myself in the midst of victory; I must judge things calmly; I must state fact honestly; I must not allow myself to be unjust towards you. First of all, then, this rebelling faculty of yours is a Jewish inheritance, an inheritance, however, of which you have made a more than generous, a truly Christian use, because you did not keep it niggardly for yourselves, but have distributed it all over the earth, from Nazareth to Nishni-Novgorod, from Jerusalem to Jamaica, from Palestine to Pimlico, so that every one is a rebel and an anarchist nowadays. But, secondly, I must not forget that in every Anarchist, and therefore in every Christian, there is also, or may be, an aristocrat--a man who, just like the anarchist, but with a perfectly holy right, wishes to obey no laws but those of his own conscience; a man who thinks too highly of his own faith and persuasion, to convert other people to it; a man who, therefore, would never carry it to Caffres and Coolis; a man, in short, with whom even the noblest and exclusive Hebrew could shake hands. In Friedrich Nietzsche this aristocratic element which may be hidden in a Christian has been brought to light, in him the Christian's eternal claim for freedom of conscience, for his own priesthood, for justification by his own faith, is no longer used for purposes of destruction and rebellion, but for those of command and creation; in him--and this is the key to the character of this extraordinary man, who both on his father's and mother's side was the descendant of a long line of Protestant Parsons--the Christian and Protestant spirit of anarchy became so strong that he rebelled even against his own fellow-Anarchists, and told them that Anarchy was a low and contemptible thing, and that Revolution was an occupation fit only for superior slaves. But with this event the circle of Christianity has become closed, and the exclusive House of Israel is now under the delightful obligation to make its peace with its once lost and now reforming son.

The venerable Owner of this old house is still standing on its threshold: his face is pale, his expression careworn, his eyes apparently scanning something far in the distance. The wind--for there is a terrible wind blowing just now--is playing havoc with his long white Jew-beard, but this white Jew-beard of his is growing black again at the end, and even the sad eyes are still capable of quite youthful flashes, as may be noticed at this very moment. For the eyes of the old Jew, apparently so dreamy and so far away, have suddenly become fixed upon something in the distance yonder. The old Jew looks and looks-- and then he rubs his eyes--and then he eagerly looks again. And now he is sure of himself. His old and haggard face is lighting up, his stooped figure suddenly becomes more erect, and a tear of joy is seen running over his pale cheek into that long beard of his. For the old Jew has recognised some one coming from afar--some one whom he had missed, but never mentioned, for his Law forbade him to do this--some one, however, for whom he had secretly always mourned, as only the race of the psalmists and the prophets can mourn--and he rushes toward him, and he falls on his neck and he kisses him, and he says to his servants: "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it and let us eat and be merry!" AMEN.

OSCAR LEVY.

LONDON, January 1909. _________________________________________________________________

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

To the reader who knows Nietzsche, who has studied his Zarathustra and understood it, and who, in addition, has digested the works entitled Beyond Good and Evil, The Genealogy of Morals, The Twilight of the Idols, and The Antichrist,-- to such a reader everything in this volume will be perfectly clear and comprehensible. In the attack on Strauss he will immediately detect the germ of the whole of Nietzsche's subsequent attitude towards too hasty contentment and the foolish beatitude of the "easily pleased"; in the paper on Wagner he will recognise Nietzsche the indefatigable borer, miner and underminer, seeking to define his ideals, striving after self-knowledge above all, and availing himself of any contemporary approximation to his ideal man, in order to press it forward as the incarnation of his thoughts. Wagner the reformer of mankind! Wagner the dithyrambic dramatist!--The reader who knows Nietzsche will not be misled by these expressions.

To the uninitiated reader, however, some words of explanation are due, not only in regard to the two papers before us, but in regard to Nietzsche himself. So much in our time is learnt from hearsay concerning prominent figures in science, art, religion, or philosophy, that it is hardly possible for anybody to-day, however badly informed he may be, to begin the study of any great writer or scientist with a perfectly open mind. It were well, therefore, to begin the study of Nietzsche with some definite idea as to his unaltered purpose, if he ever possessed such a thing; as to his lifelong ideal, if he ever kept one so long; and as to the one direction in which he always travelled, despite apparent deviations and windings. Had he such a purpose, such an ideal, such a direction? We have no wish to open a controversy here, neither do we think that in replying to this question in the affirmative we shall give rise to one; for every careful student of Nietzsche, we know, will uphold us in our view. Nietzsche had one very definite and unaltered purpose, ideal and direction, and this was "the elevation of the type man." He tells us in The Will to Power: "All is truth to me that tends to elevate man!" To this principle he was already pledged as a student at Leipzig; we owe every line that he ever wrote to his devotion to it, and it is the key to all his complexities, blasphemies, prolixities, and terrible earnestness. All was good to Nietzsche that tended to elevate man; all was bad that kept man stationary or sent him backwards. Hence he wrote David Strauss, the Confessor and Writer (1873).


Thoughts out of Season (Part One) - 3/29

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