My rating: 100/100
See Book Notes for other books I have read. If you like my notes, go buy it!
I would normally write a little commentary here before the notes section, but I can say nothing but nettles. This book influenced me greater than any other excepting the Bible, and gave me such new perspective on that book that it completely changed many of my views. Many things were brought to light and many things were put to darkness. I believe this to be one of the most masterful literary works ever created. An absolute must read. (And I must point out, you must read Nietzsche in context, which is not provided here.)
Below are direct quotes of important text that I underlined or noted during my reading.
I teach you the Ubermensch. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?
What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. And just the same shall man be to the Ubermensch: a laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment.
I beseech you, my brothers, remain true to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes!
They are despisers of life, themselves the decaying and poisoned, of whom the earth is weary: so away with them.
“What good is my virtue! As yet it has not made me passionate. How weary I am of my good and my evil! It is all poverty and pollution and wretched contentment!”
Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Ubermensch – a rope over an abyss.
You have made danger you calling; there is nothing contemptible in that. Now you perish by your calling: for that I will bury you with my own hands.
He once loved “thou shalt” as most sacred: now he must find illusion and arbitrariness even in the most sacred things, that he may steal his freedom from his love: the lion is needed for such prey.
… the spirit now wills his own will
The rage of reason was god-likeness, and doubt was sin.
The awakened one, the knowing one, says: “Body am I entirely, and nothing more; and soul is only the name of something about the body.
I would believe only in a god who could dance.
They meet a sick man or an old man or a corpse – and immediately they say: “Life is refuted!” But only they themselves are refuted, and their eyes, which see only one aspect of existence. (see the Courage to Be pg 27
“Life is only suffering” – so say others, and do not lie: see to it then that you cease! See to it then that the life which is only suffering ceases!
What is good? you ask. To be brave is good. (see The Courage to Be pg 27)
You may have only enemies whom you can hate, not enemies you despise. You must be proud of your enemy: then the successes of your enemy are your successes too.
Let your love of life be love of your highest hope.
I exhort you to innocence in your instincts.
Through valuation only is there value; and without valuation the nut of existence would be hollow. Hear this, you creators!
My brothers, I do not recommend to you love of the neighbor: recommend to you love of the farthest.
Today you still suffer from the multitude, you individual: today you still have all your courage and your hopes.
But one day the solitude will weary you, one day your pride will yield and your courage quail. You will one day cry: “I am alone!”
One day you will no longer see your loftiness and will see your lowliness all-too-near; your sublimity itself will frighten you as a ghost. You will one day cry: “All is false!”
There are feelings that want to kill the lonesome one; if they do not succeed, well, they themselves must die! But you are capable of being a murderer?
You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes!
Everything about woman is a riddle, and everything about woman has one solution: it is called pregnancy.
For woman man is a means: the end is always the child. But what is woman for man?
The true man wants two things: danger and play. Therefore he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.
You go to women? Do not forget the whip!
Free for death and free in death.
Physician, heal yourself: thus you will heal your patient too. Let his best cure be to see with his own eyes the man who heals himself.
Truly, I advise you: go away from me and guard yourselves against Zarathustra! And better still: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he has deceived you.
One repays a teacher badly if one remains always only a student. And why do you not want to pluck at my wreath?
Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you.
Once one said God when one looked upon distant seas; but now I have taught you to say: “Ubermensch!”
God is a conjecture: but I want your conjecturing not to reach beyond your creative will.
Could you create a god? – Se be silent about all gods! But you could well create the Ubermensch.
Willing liberates: that is the true teaching of will and freedom – thus Zarathustra teaches it to you.
No longer willing and no longer valuing and no longer creating! ah, that this great weariness may always stay far from me!
There is no reward-giver nor paymaster? And truly, I do not even teach that virtue is its own reward.
You love virtue as the mother her child; but when did one hear of a mother wanting to be paid for her love?
It is your dearest self, your virtue. The ring’s thirst is in you: every ring strives and turns to reach itself again.
Note: Tillich says, “This describes better than any definition the meaning of self-affirmation in the philosophy of life.”
Ah, my friends! That your self be in your actions, as the mother is in the child: let that be your word on virtue!
Life is a well of delight; but where the rabble drinks, too, all wells are poisoned.
Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
For justice speaks thus to me: “Men are not equal.”
Good and evil, and rich and poor, and high and low, and all names of the values: they shall be weapons and ringing signs that life must overcome itself again and again!
And because [life] needs height, it needs steps and conflict among the steps and the climbers! Life wants to climb and in climbing overcome itself.
Truthful – so would I call him who goes into godless deserts and has broken his revering heart.
In the yellow sands and burnt by the sun he may well peer thirstily at the islands filled with springs, where the living repose under shady trees.
But his thirst does not persuade him to become like those comfortable ones: for where there are oases, there are also idles.
Hungry, violent, lonely, godless: thus the lion-will wants itself.
Free from the happiness of slaves, redeemed from gods and worship, fearless and fearful, great and lonely: thus is the will of the truthful.
The truthful, the free spirits, have always dwelt in the desert, as lords of the desert; but in the cities dwell the well-fed famous wise men – the beasts of burden.
For they always pull the people’s cart as asses!
Have you never seen a sail crossing the sea, rounded and swollen and trembling with the violence of the wind?
Like the sail trembling with the violence of the spirit, my wisdom crosses the sea – my wild wisdom!
But I love in my own light, I drink into myself again the flames that break forth from me.
My note on The Grave Song: This means a lot to me, and I resonate deeply with it. Zarathustra mourns the lost ideas and ideals of his youth.
And when I offered what was holiest to me as a sacrifice, immediately your “piety” put its fatter gifts beside it: so that what was holiest to me suffocated in the fumes of your fat.
And once I wanted to dance as I had never yet danced: beyond all heaves I wanted to dance. then you seduced my favorite singer.
And then he struck up a a gruesome dismal tune; ah, he tooted in my ears like a mournful horn!
Murderous singer, instrument of malice, most innocent yourself! Already I stood prepared for the best dance: then you murdered my rapture with your tones!
Unspoken and unrealized my highest hope has remained! And all the visions and consolations of my youth are dead!
How did I ever bear it? How did I survive and overcome such wounds? How did my soul rise again from those graves? Yes, something invulnerable, unburiable is within me, something that rends rocks: it is called my will. It goes silently and unchanged through the years.
… the unexhausted procreating will of life.
He who cannot obey himself is commanded. Such is the nature of the living.
… commanding is more difficult than obeying.
Whenever it commands, the living risks itself.
Yes, even when it commands itself, it must still pay for its commanding. It must become the judge and avenger and victim of its own law.
And life itself spoke this secret to me. “Behold,” it said, “I am that which must ever overcome itself.“
… there life sacrifices itself – for power!
For what is not cannot will; but that which is in existence – how could it still strive for existence!
Truly, I say to you: unchanging good and evil – do not exist! From out of themselves they must overcome themselves again and again.
Truly, I have often laughed at the weaklings, who think themselves good because their claws are blunt!
You are unfruitful: therefore you lack belief. But he who had to create, has always had his prescient dreams and astrological signs – and believed in belief!
The disciple answered: “I believe in Zarathustra.” But Zarathustra shook his head and smiled. – Belief does not make me blessed, he said, least of all belief in me.
The greatest events – are not loudest but our stillest hours. The world revolves not around the inventors of new noise but around the inventors of new values; it revolves inaudibly.
“- And I say a great sadness come over mankind. The best grew weary of their works.
A teaching appeared, a faith ran beside it: ‘All is empty, all is alike, all has been!'”
My note: this is nihilism.
To redeem what is past, and to transform every ‘It was’ into ‘Thus would I have it!’ – that alone do I call redemption!
Will – so the liberator and joy-bringer is called: thus I have taught you, my friends! But now learn this as well: the will itself is still a prisoner.
Willing liberates: but what is it that puts even the liberator in chains?
‘It was’ … Powerless against that which has been done, it is an angry spectator of all that is past.
The will cannot will backwards; that it cannot break time and time’s desire – that is the will’s loneliest tribulation.
Can there be deliverance when there is eternal justice? Ah, the stone, ‘It was’ cannot be rolled away: all punishments too must be eternal! Thus madness preached.
I spare the vain more than the proud.
Is not wounded vanity the mother of all tragedies? But where pride is wounded, there grows up something better than pride.
What has the skin of my humility not endured! I dwell at the foot of my height: how high my summits are no one has yet told me. But I know my valleys well.
For courage is the best slayer – courage that attacks: for in every attack there is triumphant shout.
Courage is the best slayer: courage also slays pity.
But courage is the best slayer, courage that attacks: it slays even death itself; for it says: “Was that life? Well then! Once more!”
“Everything straight lies,” murmured the dwarf, contemptuously. “All truth is crooked, time itself is a circle.”
I must perfect myself: therefore I now avoid my happiness and present myself to every unhappiness – for my final testing and recognition.
Happiness runs after me. That is because I do not run after women. But happiness is a woman.
He who cannot bless shall learn to curse!
Good and evil themselves are only fugitive shadows and damp afllictions and passing clouds.
Above all things stands the heaven of chance, the heaven of innocence, the heaven of accident, the heaven of mischievousness.
… no “eternal will” – wills.
In everything one thing is impossible – rationality!
On the feet of chance they [wisdom] prefer – to dance.
For small people, small virtues are necessary.
They are modest even in virtue – because they want comfort. But only a modest virtue is compatible with comfort.
In their hearts they want one thing most of all: that no one hurt them. Thus they anticipate everyone’s wishes and do well to everyone.
That, however, is cowardice: though it be called “virtue”.
That, however, is – mediocrity: though it be called moderation.
“It is given” – that is also a doctirne of resignation. But I say to you, you comfortable ones: it is taken and will ever take more and more from you!
Ah, that you understood my word: “Always do what you will – but first be such as can will!
For all that love your neighbor as yourselves – but first be such as love themselves.
Where one can no longer love, there should one – pass by!
It is disgrace to pray!
Here [solitude] all being wants to become words, here all becoming wants to learn to speak from me.
But down there [in town] – all speech is in vain! There, forgetting and passing-by are the best wisdom: that I have learned now!
But down there [in town] – there everything speaks, there everything is unheard. One may ring in one’s wisdom with bells: the shopkeepers in the market place will outjingle it with pennies!
Wherever there is force, number becomes master: it has more force.
The three most cursed (by others) things in the world?
Sex, the lust to rule, selfishness.
Away from itself [self-rejoicing virtue] it banishes everything cowardly; it says: “Bad – that is cowardly!”
It also despises all grievous wisdom: for truly, there is also a wisdom that blooms in the dark, a nightshade wisdom, which always sighs: “all is in vain!”
My note: The Spirit of Gravity, as Platonism teaches humanity is a soul and the body must be overcome. For Z, this is a lie and an evil.
But he who would become light and a bird must love himself – thus I teach.
One must learn to love oneself – thus I teach – with a wholesome and healthy love: that one may endure to be with oneself and not to roam.
But he has discovered himself who says: That is my good and evil: with that he has silenced the mole and the dward who say: “Good for all, evil for all.”
I also call wretched those who always have to wait, – they are repugnant to my taste: all tax collectors and shopkeepers and kings and other keepers of lands and shops.
Truly, I too learned to wait and profoundly so, – but only to wait for myself. And above all I learned to stand and to walk and to run and to leap and to climb and to dance.
But this is my teaching: he who wishes one day to fly, must first learn to stand and to walk and to run and to climb and to dance – one does not fly into flying!
With rope-ladders I leanred to reach many a window, with nimble legs I climbed high masts: to sit on high masts of knowledge seemed to me no small happiness; –
– to flicker like small flames on high masts: a small light, certainly, but yet a great comfort to castaway sailors and the shipwrecked!
By diverse ways and winding I arrived at my truth: not by a single ladder did I mount to the hieght where my eye roves into my remoteness.
And it was only reluctantly that I ever asked the way – that has always offended my taste! Rather I questioned and tried the ways themselves.
“This – is now my way – where is yours?” thus I answered those who asked me “the way.” For the way – that does not exist!
No one yet knows what is good and evil – unless it be he who creates.
This is the nature of the noble souls: they do not want something for nothing, least of all, life.
He who is of the mob wants to live for nothing; but we others, to whom life has given itself – we are always considering what we can best give in return!
Enjoyment and innocence are the most bashful things: neither likes to be sought. One should have them – but one should rather seek for guilt and pain!
I love with my whole love those who go under and perish: for they cross over.
Everything is in flux.
There is an old illusion, which is called good and evil.
Willing liberates: for willing is creating: thus I teach. And you should learn solely in order to create!
For, my brothers: the best shall rule, the best also want to rule! And where the doctrine is different, there – the best is lacking.
Break, break the good and just! – O my brothers, have you really understood this word?
I, Zarathustra, the advocate of life, the advocate of suffering, the advocate of the circle – I call you, my most abysmal thought!
Every soul is a world of its own: to each soul every other soul is an afterworld.
Man needs what is most evil in him for what is best in him, – that whatever is most evil is his best power, and the hardest stone for the highest creator; and that man must grow better and more evil.
“Ah, man recurs eternally!”
All things eternally return and we ourselves with them, and that we have already existed an infinite number of times, and all things with us.
… – not to a new life or a better life or a similar life: – “I come again eternally to this identical and selfsame life, in its greatest and its smallest, to teach again the eternal return of all things”.
Life was dearer to me than all my wisdom had ever been.
If I love the sea and all that is sealike, and love it most when it angrily contradicts me:
If the delight in seeking, which drives sails to the undiscovered, is in me if a seafarer’s delight is in my delight:
If ever my rejoicing has cried: “The shore has vanished – now the last chain has fallen from me –
– the boundless roars around me, far out glisten space and time, well then! come on! old heart! –
Oh how should I not lust for ternity, and for the wedding ring of rings – the ring of the return?
Never yet did I find the woman by whom I wanted children, unless it be this woman, whom I love: for I love you, O eternity!
For I love you, O eternity!
– for in laughter all evil is present, but it is sanctified and absolved by its own bliss –
If ever I spread out a still sky above me and flew into my own sky with my own wings:
… “Behold, there is no above, no below!”
Fourth and Last Part
“why do you conceal yourself? It is the higher man that cries for you!”
Happiness – how indeed could one find happiness among the buried and the hermits!
Zarathustra again became serene and assured like one who has come out of a deep chasm into the light.
Then the soothsayer said: “O Zarathustra, you are a rogue!”
My note: Beautiful. The soothsayer represents nihilism, and yet Z accepts his presence rather than rejecting him, despite initially being frightened by him.
You shall love peace as a means to new wars, and the short peace more than the long!
Better to know nothing than to half-know many things! Better to be a fool on one’s own account, than a sage in other people’s estimation!
Because you once said, O Zarathustra: ‘Spirit is life that itself cuts into life,’ that led and seduced me to your teaching. And truly, with my own blood I have increased my own knowledge.!”
I have found many who stretched and inflated themselves, and the people cried: ‘Look there, a great man!’ But what good are all bellows! In the end, wind comes out.
Unless we are converted and become as cows, we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For we ought to learn one thing from them: ruminating.
It is no longer true that the poor are blessed. The kingdom of heaven, however, is with the cows.
When the devil sheds his skin doesn’t his name also fall away? It is also skin. the devil himself is perhaps – skin. (My note: Z’s shadow is a nihilist.)
‘To live as I wish, or not to live at all’: so I want it; so also the holiest want it. But ah! how do I still have – desire?
Do I – still have a goal? A haven towards which my sail is set?
A good wind? Ah, only he who knows where he sails, knows what wind is good, and a fair wind for him.
‘Where is – my home?’ I ask and seek and have sought for it, I have not found it. O eternal everywhere, O eternal nowhere, O eternal – in vain!
‘For happiness, how little is sufficient for happiness!’ Thus I spoke once and thought myself wise. But it was blasphemy: that I have now learned. Wise fools speak better.
The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s restling, a breath, a whisk, a glance of an eye – little makes up the best happiness. Hush!
Every one who beholds a despairing one becomes courageous.
(cave guests to Z) There is nothing, O Zarathustra, that grows more pleasingly on earth than a lofty, strong will: it is the finest growth. An entire landscape refreshes itself at one such tree.
To the pine I compare him, O Zarathustra, who grows up like you – tall, silent, hardy, solitary, of the best, supplest wood, stately, –
– but in the end grasping out for its dominion with strong, green branches, asking weighty questions of the wind, the storm, and whatever is at home on high places;
-answering more weightily, a commander, a victor! Oh! who should not climb high mountains to see such growths?
At your tree, O Zarathustra, the gloomy and ill-constituted also refresh themselves; seeing you even the wavering become steady and heal their hearts. And truly, many eyes today turn towards your mountain and your tree; a great longing has arisen, and many have learned to ask ‘Who is Zarathustra?’
I am a law only for my own. I am not a law for all. But he who belongs to me must be strong-limbed and nimble-footed.
-cheerful in ware and feasting, no sulker, no dreamer, ready for what is hardest as for the feast, healthy and whole.
The best belongs to me and mine; and if we are not given it, then we take it: the best food, the purest sky, the strongest thoughts, the fairest women.
That you have despaired, there is much honor in that. For you have not learned to submit, you have not learned petty prudence.
Do you have courage, O my brothers? Are you brave? Not courage before witnesses but hermit and eagle courage, which not even a god observes anymore?
I do not call brave the cold souls, the mullish, the blind and the drunken. He has heart who knows fear but conquers it; who sees the abyss, but with pride.
He who sees the abyss, but with eagle’s eyes – he who grasps the abyss with eagle’s talons: he has courage.
Thus alone man grows to the height where the lightning strikes and shatters him: high enough for the lightening!
Will nothing beyond your power: there is a wicked falseness in those who will beyond their power.
Have a good mistrust today you higher men, you stouthearted! You openhearted! And keep your reasons secret! For this today is the mob’s.
What the mob once learned to believe without reasons, who could – refute it with reasons?
Inability to lie is far from the truth.
He who cannot lie does not know what truth is.
If you want to rise high, use your own legs! Do not let yourselves be carried up, do not sit on the backs and heads of strangers!
You creators, you higher men! One is pregnant only with one’s own child.
Do not let yourselves be imposed upon or beguiled!
Do not be virtuous beyond your strength! And do not ask anything improbable from yourselves!
Where the vices of your fathers are you should not pretend to be saints!
If your fathers were for women, strong wine and wild boards, what would it be if you demanded chastity of yourself?
It would be folly!
In solitude there grows what anyone brings into it, the inner beast too. Therefore solitude is inadvisable to many.
The higher its type the less often a thing succeeds. You higher men here, are you not all – failures?
Be of good cheer; what does it matter! How much is still possible! Learn to laugh at yourselves as you ought to laugh!
And truly, how much has already succeeded! How rich this earth is in small good perfect things, in what has turned out well!
Set small good perfect things around you, you higher men! Their golden ripeness heals the heart. What is perfect teaches hope.
What has so far been the greatest sin here on earth? Was it not the word of him who said: “Woe to them who laugh here!”
All good things approach their goal crookedly.
Lift up your hearts, my brothers, high, higher! And do not forget your legs! Lift up your legs too, you good dancers, and better still, stand on your heads!
So unlearn nursing melancholy and all the mob sorrow!
But courage and adventure and delight in the uncertain, in the unattempted – courage seems to me the whole prehistory of man.
He has envied the wildest and most courageous animals and robbed them of all their virtues: only thus did he become – man.
They bite at it, they take my bait, their enemy, the spirit of gravity, departs from them [the higher men] too. Now they learn to laugh at themselves: is that what I hear?
My strong food takes effect, my strong and savory sayings: and truly, I did not nourish them with gassy vegetables! But with warrior-food, with conqueror-food: I awakened new desires.
New hopes are in their arms and legs, their hearts expand. They find new words, soon their spirits will breathe playfulness.
Such food may not be proper for children, or for fond little women, old and young. Their stomachs are persuaded otherwise; I am not their physician and teacher.
Disgust departs from these higher men: well! that is my victory. In my domain they become assured; all stupid shame flees away; they empty themselves.
They empty their hearts, good times return to them, they relax and ruminate, – they become thankful.
I take that as the best sign: they become thankful. It will not be long before they invent festivals and put up memorials to their old joys.
They are convalescents! Thus spoke Zarathustra joyfully to his heart and gazed out; but his animals pressed up to him, and honored his happiness and his silence.
To be sure: unless you become like little children you shall not enter into that kingdom of heaven. (And Zarathustra pointed up with his hands.)
But we certainly do not want to enter into the kingdom of heaven: we have become higher men, – so we want the kingdom of Earth.
My suffering and my pity – what do they matter! Should I strive for my happiness? I strive for my work!