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Feathers and Fur

The Genealogy of Morals

"According to this theory, that which has always proved itself useful is good: therefore it may claim to be "valuable in the highest degree," "valuable in itself." This road to an explanation is, as aforesaid, also a wrong one, but at least the explanation is in itself reasonable and psychologically tenable."

What Nietzsche is trying to say is that because something is good people believe it therefore has value. He is saying this hypothesis is psychologically absurd, but also tenable given its simple explanation. People who make judgments should not assume that because something is good it is also valuable. We must weigh good and weigh value separately in order to make sound judgments of good vs bad.

"Mankind itself is still ill with the effects of this priestly na´vetÚ in medicine! Think, for example, of certain forms of diet (abstinence from meat), of fasting, of sexual continence, of flight "into the wilderness" (the Weir Mitchell isolation cure?without, to be sure, the subsequent fattening and overfeeding which constitute the most effective remedy for the hysteria induced by the ascetic ideal): add to these the entire antisensualistic metaphysics of the priests that makes men indolent and overrefined, their autohypnosis in the manner of fakirs and Brahmins?Brahma used in the shape of a glass knob and a fixed idea?and finally the only-too-comprehensible satiety with all this, together with the radical cure for it, nothingness (or God?the desire for a unio mystica with God is the desire of the Buddhist for nothingness, Nirvana?and no more!). For with the priests everything becomes more dangerous, not only cures and remedies, but also arrogance, revenge, acuteness, profligacy, love, lust to rule, virtue, disease?but it is only fair to add that it was on the soil of this essentially dangerous form of human existence, the priestly form, that man first became an interesting animal, that only here did the human soul in a higher sense acquire depth and become evil?and these are the two basic respects in which man has hitherto been superior to other beasts!"

Man is saying that it was the very ?goodness? of man that corrupted man, but at the same time, it?s what sets man apart from soulless creatures. He compares Buddhits and their quest for Nirvana to priests and their failure at becoming virtuous priests. Humankind was na´ve in attempts at diet as well as human desires to become at one with God. While in their attempt to reach Nirvana and become holier, they in effect created the very path to become corrupt ?evil.

"One should not imagine it grew up as the denial of that thirst for revenge, as the opposite of Jewish hatred! No, the reverse is true! That love grew out of it as its crown, as its triumphant crown spreading itself farther and farther into the purest brightness and sunlight, driven as it were into the domain of light and the heights in pursuit of the goals of that hatred?victory, spoil, and seduction?by the same impulse that drove the roots of that hatred deeper and deeper and more and more covetously into all that was profound and evil. This Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate gospel of love, this "Redeemer" who brought blessedness and victory to the poor, the sick, and the sinners?was he not this seduction in its most uncanny and irresistible form, a seduction and bypath to precisely those Jewish values and new ideals? Did Israel not attain the ultimate goal of its sublime vengefulness precisely through the bypath of this "Redeemer," this ostensible opponent and disintegrator of Israel? Was it not part of the secret black art of truly grand politics of revenge, of a farseeing, subterranean, slowly advancing, and premeditated revenge, that Israel must itself deny the real instrument of its revenge before all the world as a mortal enemy and nail it to the cross, so that "all the world," namely all the opponents of Israel, could unhesitatingly swallow just this bait? And could spiritual subtlety imagine any more dangerous bait than this? Anything to equal the enticing, intoxicating, overwhelming, and undermining power of that symbol of the "holy cross," that ghastly paradox of a "God on the cross," that mystery of an unimaginable ultimate cruelty and self-crucifixion of God for the salvation of man?"

Nietzsche talks of Jesus of Nazareth as the incarnate gospel of love, i.e. giving a body to divinity to spread the good news about the Redeemer. His inference is that the Redeemer came to change Israel but didn?t succeed. He refers to a ghastly paradox of a God on a cross. In other words, how can divinity be crucified on a cross ? it doesn?t make sense. How could goodness be nailed to a cross.

"While the noble man lives in trust and openness with himself (gennaios [high-born, noble, high-minded] "of noble descent" underlines the nuance "upright" and probably also "na´ve"), the man of ressentiment is neither upright nor na´ve nor honest and straightforward with himself. His soul squints; his spirit loves hiding places, secret paths and back doors, everything covert entices him as his world, his security, his refreshment; he understands how to keep silent, how not to forget, how to wait, how to be provisionally self-deprecating and humble. A race of such men of ressentiment is bound to become eventually cleverer than any noble race; it will also honor cleverness to a far greater degree: namely, as a condition of existence of the first importance; while with nobler men cleverness can easily acquire a subtle flavor of luxury and subtlety?for here it is far less essential than the perfect functioning of the regulating unconscious instincts or even that a certain imprudence, perhaps a bold recklessness whether in the face of danger or of the enemy, or that enthusiastic impulsiveness in anger, love, reverence, gratitude, and revenge by which noble souls have at all times recognized one another. Ressentiment itself, if it should appear in the noble man, consummates and exhausts itself in an immediate reaction, and therefore does not poison: on the other hand, it fails to appear at all on countless occasions on which it inevitably appears in the weak and impotent."

What I hear being said is an accurate picture of Osama bin Laden. Almost every word fits his actions. As deceipt and corruption take hold, the man becomes immune to poison, and gains cleverness. Cleverness is needed to hide from the face of the enemy.

"To be incapable of taking one's enemies, one's accidents, even one's misdeeds seriously for very long?that is the sign of strong, full natures in whom there is an excess of the power to form, to mold, to recuperate and to forget (a good example of this in modern times is Mirabeau [HonorÚ Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791), a French Revolutionary statesman and writer ], who had no memory for insults and vile actions done him and was unable to forgive simply because he?forgot). Such a man shakes off with a single shrug many vermin that eat deep into others; here alone genuine "love of one's enemies" is possible?supposing it to be possible at all on earth. How much reverence has a noble man for his enemies!?and such reverence is a bridge to love.? For he desires his enemy for himself, as his mark of distinction; he can endure no other enemy than one in whom there is nothing to despise and very much to honor! In contrast to this, picture "the enemy" as the man of ressentiment conceives him?and here precisely is his deed, his creation: he has conceived "the evil enemy," "the Evil One," and this in fact is his basic concept, from which he then evolves, as an afterthought and pendant, a "good one"?himself!"

Now, this paragraph reminds me of the resolve of the United States following the destruction caused by Osama bin Laden. We have been biding our time, searching for the evil one intermittently, for various acts of aggression. Now, however, the nonchalant attitude of days past is gone and a new ferver of resolve has taken it?s place. I believe the US is not fooling itself into thinking itself save from bin Laden?s long arm, but where there may have been complacency in the search, it has now grown to undaunting resolve at seeing justice done.

"One can well believe that the answers and methods for solving this primeval problem were not precisely gentle; perhaps indeed there was nothing more fearful and uncanny in the whole prehistory of man than his mnemotechnics. "If something is to stay in the memory it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory"?this is a main clause of the oldest (unhappily also the most enduring) psychology on earth. One might even say that wherever on earth solemnity, seriousness, mystery, and gloomy coloring still distinguish the life of man and a people, something of the terror that formerly attended all promises, pledges, and vows on earth is still effective: the past, the longest, deepest and sternest past, breathes upon us and rises up in us whenever we become "serious." Man could never do without blood, torture, and sacrifices when he felt the need to create a memory for himself; the most dreadful sacrifices and pledges (sacrifices of the first-born among them), the most repulsive mutilations (castration, for example), the cruelest rites of all the religious cults (and all religions are at the deepest level systems of cruelties)?all this has its origin in the instinct that realized that pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics."

In this section, Nietzsche discusses human awareness. What is it that causes something to remain in our memory. Nietzsche believes that something must be burned into our memory in order to remain there. Burn is the equivalent of pain. If it?s painful (burned) it will remain in our brain forever. Nietzsche refers to forms of torture that was used in ancient time, saying that those inhuman acts certainly was an aid to placing an indelible memory into our brain.

"This, then, is quite the contrary of what the noble man does, who conceives the basic concept "good" in advance and spontaneously out of himself and only then creates for himself an idea of "bad"! This "bad" of noble origin and that "evil" out of the cauldron of unsatisfied hatred?the former an after-production, a side issue, a contrasting shade, the latter on the contrary the original thing, the beginning, the distinctive deed in the conception of a slave morality?how different these words "bad" and "evil" are, although they are both apparently the opposite of the same concept "good." But it is not the same concept "good": one should ask rather precisely who is "evil" in the sense of the morality of ressentiment. The answer, in all strictness, is: precisely the "good man" of the other morality, precisely the noble, powerful man, the ruler, but dyed in another color, interpreted in another fashion, seen in another way by the venomous eye of ressentiment."

I think Nietzsche is saying that it is not the idea of good or the idea of bad that is truly good or bad, but rather it is man himself who is evil. He depicts the evil man as the man of the "other morality." It could be a man of power or position, but that man is "dyed in another color."

"That lambs dislike great birds of prey does not seem strange: only it gives no grounds for reproaching these birds of prey for bearing off little lambs. And if the lambs say among themselves: "these birds of prey are evil; and whoever is least like a bird of prey, but rather its opposite, a lamb?would he not be good?" there is no reason to find fault with this institution of an ideal, except perhaps that the birds of prey might view it a little ironically and say: "we don't dislike them at all, these good little lambs; we even love them: nothing is more tasty than a tender lamb."

Nietzsche is comparing little lambs and birds of prey. Because birds of prey eat little lambs, they are evil. Birds of prey, however, don't think they're evil ? they' re just hungry for tasty little lambs! I think he may be trying to say that what we "reason" as good and evil, may not necessarily be true.

"The symbol of this struggle, inscribed in letters legible across all human history, is "Rome against Judea, Judea against Rome": ?there has hitherto been no greater event than this struggle, this question, this deadly contradiction. Rome felt the Jew to be something like anti-nature itself, its antipodal monstrosity as it were: in Rome the Jew stood "convicted of hatred for the whole human race"; and rightly, provided one has a right to link the salvation and future of the human race with the unconditional dominance of aristocratic values, Roman values."

I believe this is a discussion of Christianity vs. Judaism. Nietzsche does not like Jews. He's comparing their values to Roman values. He clearly believes the Roman values to be superior to the values of the Jews. In the next paragraph I think he's saying that John's Apocalypse is hatred and intended for Jews. (I think this man is nuts!)

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