Empty Days

Wednesday, July 07, 2004



The criminal and the anarchist.

45. The criminal and what is related to him.— The criminal type is the type of the strong human being under unfavorable circumstances: a strong human being made sick. He lacks the wilderness, a somehow freer and more dangerous environment [Natur] and form of existence, where everything that is weapons and armor in the instinct of the strong human being has its rightful place. His virtues are ostracized by society; the most vivid drives with which he is endowed soon grow together with the depressing affects—with suspicion, fear, and dishonor. Yet this is almost the recipe for physiological degeneration. Whoever must do secretly, with long suspense, caution, and cunning, what he can do best and would like most to do, becomes anemic; and because he always harvests only danger, persecution, and calamity from his instincts, his attitude to these instincts is reversed too, and he comes to experience them fatalistically. It is society, our tame, mediocre, emasculated [verschnittene] society, in which a natural human being, who comes from the mountains or from the adventures of the sea, necessarily degenerates into a criminal. Or almost necessarily; for there are cases in which such a man proves stronger than society: the Corsican, Napoleon, is the most famous case.

The testimony of Dostoyevsky is relevant to this problem—Dostoyevsky, the only psychologist, incidentally, from whom I had something to learn; he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life, even more than my discovery of Stendhal. This profound human being, who was ten times right in his low estimate of the superficial Germans, lived for a long time among the convicts in Siberia—hardened criminals for whom there was no way back to society—and found them very different from what he himself had expected: they were carved out of just about the best, hardest, and most valuable wood that grows anywhere on Russian soil. Let us generalize the case of the criminal: let us think of men so constituted that for one reason or another, they lack public approval and know that they are not felt to be beneficent or useful—that chandala feeling that one is not considered equal, but an outcast, unworthy, contaminating. All men so constituted have a subterranean hue to their thoughts and actions; everything about them becomes paler than in those whose existence is touched by daylight. Yet almost all forms of existence which we consider distinguished today once lived in this half tomblike atmosphere: the scientific character, the artist, the genius, the free spirit, the actor, the merchant, the great discoverer ...

As long as the priest was considered the supreme type, every valuable kind of human being was devaluated ... The time will come—I promise—when the priest will be considered the lowest type, as our chandala, as the most mendacious, the most indecent kind of human being ... I call attention to the fact that even now—under the mildest regimen of morals which has ever ruled on earth, or at least in Europe—every deviation [Abseitigkeit], every long, all-too-long sojourn below, every unusual or opaque form of existence, brings one closer to that type which is perfected in the criminal. All innovators of the spirit must for a time bear the pallid and fatal mark of the chandala on their foreheads—not because they are considered that way by others, but because they themselves feel the terrible chasm which separates them from everything that is customary or reputable. Almost every genius knows, as one stage of his development, the "Catilinarian existence"—a feeling of hatred, revenge, and rebellion against everything which already is, which no longer becomes ... Catiline—the form of pre-existence of every Caesar.—

F.N.





/ 10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003 / / 10/26/2003 - 11/02/2003 / / 11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003 / / 11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003 / / 11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003 / / 11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003 / / 11/30/2003 - 12/07/2003 / / 12/07/2003 - 12/14/2003 / / 12/14/2003 - 12/21/2003 / / 12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003 / / 12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004 / / 01/04/2004 - 01/11/2004 / / 01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004 / / 01/18/2004 - 01/25/2004 / / 01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004 / / 02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004 / / 02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004 / / 02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004 / / 02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004 / / 02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004 / / 03/07/2004 - 03/14/2004 / / 03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004 / / 03/21/2004 - 03/28/2004 / / 03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004 / / 04/04/2004 - 04/11/2004 / / 04/11/2004 - 04/18/2004 / / 04/18/2004 - 04/25/2004 / / 04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004 / / 05/02/2004 - 05/09/2004 / / 05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004 / / 05/16/2004 - 05/23/2004 / / 05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004 / / 05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004 / / 06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004 / / 06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004 / / 06/20/2004 - 06/27/2004 / / 06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004 / / 07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004 / / 07/11/2004 - 07/18/2004 / / 07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004 / / 07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004 / / 08/01/2004 - 08/08/2004 / / 08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004 / / 08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004 / / 08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004 / / 08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004 / / 09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004 / / 09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004 / / 09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004 / / 09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004 / / 10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004 / / 10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004 / / 10/17/2004 - 10/24/2004 / / 10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004 / / 10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004 / / 02/20/2005 - 02/27/2005 / / 02/27/2005 - 03/06/2005 / / 03/13/2005 - 03/20/2005 / / 03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005 / / 03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005 / / 04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005 / / 04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005 / / 04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005 / / 04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005 / / 05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005 / / 05/08/2005 - 05/15/2005 / / 05/15/2005 - 05/22/2005 / / 05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005 / / 05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005 / / 06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005 / / 06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005 / / 07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005 / / 09/04/2005 - 09/11/2005 / / 09/11/2005 - 09/18/2005 / / 09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005 / / 09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005 / / 10/02/2005 - 10/09/2005 / / 10/16/2005 - 10/23/2005 / / 11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005 / / 11/27/2005 - 12/04/2005 /