From: On the Advantage and the Disadvantage of History for Life,
1873 - 76

"... where he has found incentive to do as others have done and do it better he does not want to meet the idler who, craving for distraction or sensation, strolls about as though among the heaped up pictorial treasures of some gallery. So as not to despair and be disgusted among frail and hopeless idlers, among contemporaries who seem to be active but in fact are merely wrought up and fidgeting, the man of action looks back and interrupts the course to his goal for once to breathe freely. His goal, however, is some happiness, perhaps not his own, often that of a people or of all mankind; he flees resignation and uses history as a means against resignation. In most cases, however, no reward beckons him unless it be fame, that is, the expectation of a place of honour in the temple of history where he himself may teach, console, and warn those who come after him. For his commandment reads: what once was capable of magnifying the concept 'man' and of giving it a more beautiful content must be present eternally in order to eternally have this capacity. That the great moments in the struggle of individuals form a chain, that in them the high points of humanity are linked throughout millennia, bat what is highest in such a moment of the distant past be for me still alive, bright and great -- this is the fundamental thought of the faith in humanity which is expressed in demand for a monumental history. Precisely this demand however, that the great be eternal, occasions the most terrible conflict. For all else which a1so lives cries no. The monumental ought not arise -- that is the counter-watch-word. Dull habit, the small and lowly which fills all corners of the world and wafts like a dense earthly vapour around everything great, deceiving, smothering and suffocating, obstructs the path which the great must still travel to immortality. Yet this path leads through human brains! Through the brains of frightened short-lived animals who repeatedly rise to the same needs and with effort fend off their destruction for a short time.) ..."

"... think of a man tossed and torn by a powerful passion for a woman or a great thought: how his world is changed! Glancing backwards he feels blind, listening sideways he hears what is foreign as a dull meaningless sound; what he perceives at all he has never perceived so before, so tangibly near, coloured, full of sound and light as though he were apprehending it with all his senses at once. All evaluations are changed and devalued; there is so much he can no longer value because he can hardly feel it: he asks himself whether he has been fooled the whole time by alien words and alien opinions; he is astonished that his memory so tirelessly runs in circles and is yet too weak and too tired to leap even once out of this circle. It is the most unjust condition in the world, narrow, ungrateful to the past, blind to dangers, deaf to warnings, a little living whirlpool in a dead sea of night and forgetting: and yet this condition -- unhistorical, contra-historical through and through -- is the cradle not only of an unjust, but rather of every just deed; and no artist will paint his picture, no general achieve victory nor any people its freedom without first having desired and striven for it in such an unhistorical condition."

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