An iconographic and text archive related to communication, technology and art.

2008 - 2021

[…] I needed their company at the time, to be of good cheer in the midst of bad things (illness, isolation, foreignness, sloth, inactivity); as brave fellows and specters to chat and laugh with, when one feels like chatting and laughing, and whom one sends to hell when they get boring […]

Human, All Too Human, “Preface” §2, by Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in German in 1878 (the Preface was added in 1886), English translation by Helen Zimmern, published 1909-1913 (with additional footnotes from Marion Faber’s translation). Original German edition available at Project Gutenberg.

The full paragraph goes like this:

Thus I invented, when I needed them, the “free spirits” too, to whom this heavyhearted- stouthearted book with the title “Human, All Too Human” is dedicated. There are no such “free spirits,” were none―but, as I said, I needed their company at the time, to be of good cheer in the midst of bad things (illness, isolation, foreignness, sloth, inactivity); as brave fellows and specters to chat and laugh with, when one feels like chatting and laughing, and whom one sends to hell when they get boring―as reparation for lacking friends. That there could someday be such free spirits, that our Europe will have such lively, daring fellows among its sons of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, real and palpable and not merely, as in my case, phantoms and a hermit’s shadow play: I am the last person to want to doubt that. I already see them coming, slowly, slowly; and perhaps I am doing something to hasten their coming when I describe before the fact the fateful conditions that I see giving rise to them, the paths on which I see them coming?

Here’s the French translation from the Colli and Montinari edition (translated by Robert Rovini):

– Et c’est ainsi que j’ai inventé, un jour que j’en avais besoin, les «esprits libres» auxquels est dédié ce livre et de courage et de découragement qui a pour titre Humain, trop humain: de ces «esprits libres», il n’y en a, il n’y eut jamais, –mais comme je l’ai dit, c’est leur société qu’il me fallait alors pour garder ma bonne humeur au beau milieu d’humeurs mauvaises (maladie, isolement, exil, acedia, désoeuvrement): braves compères de fantômes avec qui rire et bavarder quand on a envie de rire et bavarder, et que l’on envoie au diable s’ils deviennent ennuyeux, –en dédommagement d’amis qui vous manquent. Ces esprits libres, qu’il puisse y en avoir quelque jour, que notre Europe ait à l’avenir, parmi ses fils de demain et d’après-demain, de ces gais et hardis lurons, bien palpable en chair et en os, et non pas seulement, comme dans mon cas, en forme de spectres et de fantasmes au gré d’un anachorète, c’est bien moi qui serais le dernier à en douter. Déjà je les vois venir, lentement, lentement; et peut-être aurais-je fais quelque chose pour hâter leur venue quand j’aurai décrit par anticipation sous quelle étoile je les vois naître et par quels chemins arriver?… (Gallimard, Oeuvres philosophiques complètes, Humain, trop humain, tome 1, “Préface”, §2, [1968]1986, pp. 22-23).

That’s Nietzsche’s “coming community”.

• • •

Previously: Nietzsche and friends: “Among Friends” (1886)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
2 Shares

Subscribe to our newsletter

This newsletter serves one purpose only: it sends a single email notification whenever a new post is published on aphelis.net, never more than once a day. Upon subscribing, you will receive a confirmation email (if you don’t, check your spam folder). You can unsubscribe at any time.