Spake, Spoke, Sprake

I'm reading Nietzsche's Zarathustra right now. It's not a perfect piece, but it is very lovely in many respects. As a critic of a certain source of modernism, he often gets labeled as one of the fathers of post-modernism, or at the very least, lumped in among other such characters. (The actual father of the term as it is now used, in my opinion, is Lyotard, but, like so many things, this is another story for another post). I tend to think of Nietzsche as the first humanist; though certainly others may also fit the term. Let's call it the ideal humanist then, if for no other reason than that the liberal democratic persuasions of current humanists would most likely make Frederich puke.

I tend to disagree with Nietzsche, as much as I admire the ire and, often, pure rage that is his writing. I find humanism and individualism repugnant in our time; though in the author's time it most likely would have been a welcome and revolutionary concept. (And, even in this day, I would no doubt find other unrelated admirable qualities in anyone who could honor one's own will as much as Nietzsche offers that one should.) I am reading the work currently for a project of my own that will deal with Zarathustra himself: the founder of Mazdahism (otherwise known as Zoroastrianism). More on that later.

Today I want to post this aphorism because despite its place within Nietzsche's humanistic project, it is still a lovely piece of work on Value, a fallacious concept that was very easily adopted by the individualism that Nietzsche helped bring into the world. Value is important, especially semiotic values; but this does not extend to such strict and powerful compartmentalization such as commodities. The notion of the awesome power of the individual aside, we could still learn a thing or two about such "poison flies". Especially in such a market as this one--a subject of some of my recent posts.

So without further ado, here is Book One, Chapter 12 from
Also Sprake Zarathustra. I am retyping the Thomas Common translation from Wikisource, mostly because it is free, and in ebook form (how I'm currently consuming it). The work is in the public domain.

The Flies in the Market-Place

Flee, my friend, into your solitude! I see you deafened with the noise of the great men, and stung all over with the stings of the little ones.

Forest and rock know how to be silent with you. Be like the tree which you love, the broad-branched one--silently and attentively it overhangs the sea.

Where solitude ends, there begins the market-place; and where the market-place begins, there begins also the noise of the great actors, and the buzzing of the poison-flies.

In the world even the best things are worthless without those who make a sideshow of them: these showmen, the people call great men.

Little do the people understand what is great--that is to say, the creator. But they have a taste for all showmen and actors of great things.

Around the creators of new values revolves the world:--invisibly it revolves. But around the actors revolve the people and the glory: such is the course of things.

The actor has spirit, but little conscience of the spirit. He always believes in that with which he most strongly inspires belief - in himself!

Tomorrow he has a new belief, and the day after, one still newer. Like the people, he has quick perceptions and fickle moods.

To defeat--that means for him: to prove. To drive to frenzy--that means for him: to convince. And blood is to him the best of all arguments. A truth which glides only into refined ears, he calls falsehood and nothing. He believe only in gods that make a big noise in the world!

Full of clattering fools is the market-place, and the people glory in their great men! These are for them the masters of the hour. But the hour presses them; so they press you. And also from you they want Yes or No. Alas! Would you set your chair between Pro and Con?

Do not be jealous of those unyielding and impatient men, you lover of truth! Never yet did truth cling to the arm of the unyielding.

On account of those abrupt ones, return into your security: only in the market-place is one assailed by Yes? or No?

Slow is the experience of all deep fountains: long have they to wait until they know what has fallen into their depths.

Far away from the market-place and from fame happens all that is great: far away from the market-place and from fame have always dwelt the creators of new values.

Flee, my friend, into your solitude: I see you stung all over by the poisonous flies. Flee to where a rough, strong breeze blows!

Flee into your solitude! You have lived to closely to the small and the pitiful. Flee from their invisible vengeance! For you they have nothing but vengeance.

No longer raise your arm against them! They are innumerable, and it is not your task to shoo flies.
Innumerable are the small and pitiful ones; and rain-drops and weeds have been the ruin of many a proud structure.

You are not stone; but already have you become hollow from many drops.

I see you exhausted by poisonous flies; I see you bleeding and torn at a hundred spots; and your pride refuses even to be angry.

They would have blood from you in all innocence; blood is what bloodles souls crave--and therefore they sting in all innocence.

But you, profound one, you suffer too profoundly even from small wounds; and before you have healed, the same poison-worm crawls over your hand.

You are too proud to kill these gluttons. But take care lest it be your fate to suffer all their poisonous injustice!

They buzz around you also with their praise: obtrusiveness is their praise. They want to be close to your skin and your blood.

They flatter you, as one flatters a God or devil; they whimper before you, as before a God or devil; what does it come to! They are flatterers and whimperers, and nothing more.

Often, also, do they show themselves to you as friendly ones. But that has always been the prudence of cowards. Yes! Cowards are wise!

They think much about you with their petty souls--you are always suspect to them! Whatever is much thought about is at last thought suspicious.

They punish you for your virtues. They pardon you entirely for your errors.
Because you are gentle and of honest character, you say: "Guiltless are they for their small existence." But their petty souls think: "Guilty is every great existence."

Even when you are gentle towards them, they still feel themselves despised by you; and they may repay your beneficence with secret maleficence.

Your silent pride is always counter to their taste; they rejoice if once you are humble enough to be vain.

What we recognize in a man, we also irritate in him. Therefore be on your guard against the small ones!

In your presence they feel themselves small, and their baseness gleams and glows against you in invisible vengeance.

You did not see how often they became silent when you approached them, and how their energy left them like the smoke of a waning fire?

Yes, my friend, you are the bad conscience of your neighbors, for they are unworthy of you. Therefore they hate you, and would rather suck your blood.

Your neighbors will always be poisonous flies; what is great in you--that itself must make them more poisonous, and always more fly-like.

Flee, my friend, into your solitude--and there, where a rough strong breeze blows.
It is not your lot to shoo flies.

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

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