Gay Science

Somewhat at random, I chanced on this passage:

Only great pain, that long, slow pain that takes its time and in which we are burned, as it were, over green wood, forces us philosophers to descend into our ultimate depths and put aside all trust, everything good-natured, veiling, mild, average – things in which we formerly may have found our humanity. I doubt that such pain makes us ‘better’ – but I know that it makes us deeper… one emerges from such dangerous exercises in self-mastery as a different person, with a few more question marks, above all with the will henceforth to question further, more deeply, severely, harshly, evilly, quietly than one had previously questioned. Trust in life is gone: life itself has become a problem.

That’s section three of the preface. This sort of thing gives Nietzsche a bad name, but perhaps he wasn’t being as smug as he seems. In context, the passage is putting forward a way to consider recovery. Like many German authors, Nietzsche often makes a lot more sense in the original. You understand why the translator found his task so difficult.

1 comment
  1. Viewing this post with an editorial morning eye, the first three words should be cut. They are, in fact, the trace of something I decided not to say: I found this passage online, while looking for a translation of Horace Odes I:4, which celebrates the coming of spring. Such, too, is the mood of Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, as pointed out on the page where I found that translation. It’s in the title: “Gay Science” (no sniggering in the back!)

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