Philosophy Index

Friedrich Nietzsche

Thus Spake Zarathurstra

XXXVI. THE LAND OF CULTURE.

Too far did I fly into the future: a horror seized upon me.

And when I looked around me, lo! there time was my sole contemporary.

Then did I fly backwards, homewards—and always faster. Thus did I come unto you, ye present- day men, and into the land of culture.

For the first time brought I an eye to see you, and good desire: verily, with longing in my heart did I come.

But how did it turn out with me? Although so alarmed—I had yet to laugh! Never did mine eye see anything so motley-coloured!

I laughed and laughed, while my foot still trembled, and my heart as well. "Here forsooth, is the home of all the paintpots,"—said I.

With fifty patches painted on faces and limbs—so sat ye there to mine astonishment, ye present-day men!

And with fifty mirrors around you, which flattered your play of colours, and repeated it!

Verily, ye could wear no better masks, ye present-day men, than your own faces! Who could—RECOGNISE you!

Written all over with the characters of the past, and these characters also pencilled over with new characters—thus have ye concealed yourselves well from all decipherers!

And though one be a trier of the reins, who still believeth that ye have reins! Out of colours ye seem to be baked, and out of glued scraps.

All times and peoples gaze divers-coloured out of your veils; all customs and beliefs speak divers- coloured out of your gestures.

He who would strip you of veils and wrappers, and paints and gestures, would just have enough left to scare the crows.

Verily, I myself am the scared crow that once saw you naked, and without paint; and I flew away when the skeleton ogled at me.

Rather would I be a day-labourer in the nether-world, and among the shades of the by- gone!—Fatter and fuller than ye, are forsooth the nether- worldlings!

This, yea this, is bitterness to my bowels, that I can neither endure you naked nor clothed, ye present-day men!

All that is unhomelike in the future, and whatever maketh strayed birds shiver, is verily more homelike and familiar than your "reality."

For thus speak ye: "Real are we wholly, and without faith and superstition": thus do ye plume yourselves—alas! even without plumes!

Indeed, how would ye be ABLE to believe, ye divers-coloured ones!—ye who are pictures of all that hath ever been believed!

Perambulating refutations are ye, of belief itself, and a dislocation of all thought. UNTRUSTWORTHY ONES: thus do I call you, ye real ones!

All periods prate against one another in your spirits; and the dreams and pratings of all periods were even realer than your awakeness!

Unfruitful are ye: THEREFORE do ye lack belief. But he who had to create, had always his presaging dreams and astral premonitions—and believed in believing!—

Half-open doors are ye, at which grave-diggers wait. And this is YOUR reality: "Everything deserveth to perish."

Alas, how ye stand there before me, ye unfruitful ones; how lean your ribs! And many of you surely have had knowledge thereof.

Many a one hath said: "There hath surely a God filched something from me secretly whilst I slept? Verily, enough to make a girl for himself therefrom!

"Amazing is the poverty of my ribs!" thus hath spoken many a present-day man.

Yea, ye are laughable unto me, ye present-day men! And especially when ye marvel at yourselves!

And woe unto me if I could not laugh at your marvelling, and had to swallow all that is repugnant in your platters!

As it is, however, I will make lighter of you, since I have to carry what is heavy; and what matter if beetles and May-bugs also alight on my load!

Verily, it shall not on that account become heavier to me! And not from you, ye present-day men, shall my great weariness arise.—

Ah, whither shall I now ascend with my longing! From all mountains do I look out for fatherlands and motherlands.

But a home have I found nowhere: unsettled am I in all cities, and decamping at all gates.

Alien to me, and a mockery, are the present-day men, to whom of late my heart impelled me; and exiled am I from fatherlands and motherlands.

Thus do I love only my CHILDREN'S LAND, the undiscovered in the remotest sea: for it do I bid my sails search and search.

Unto my children will I make amends for being the child of my fathers: and unto all the future—for THIS present-day!—

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Thus Spake Zarathurstra by Friedrich Nietzsche.