Friday, August 24, 2012

On Scholars

As I lay asleep, a sheep ate of the ivy wreath on my brow—ate and said, “Zarathustra is no longer a scholar.” Said it and strutted away proudly. A child told it to me.

I like to lie here where the children play, beside the broken wall, among thistles and red poppies. I am still a scholar to the children, and also to the thistles and red poppies. They are innocent even in their malice. But to the sheep I am no longer a scholar; thus my lot decrees it—bless it!

For this is the truth: I have moved from the house of the scholars and I even banged the door behind me. My soul sat hungry at their table too long; I am not, like them, trained to pursue knowledge as if it were nut-cracking. I love freedom and the air over the fresh earth; rather would I sleep in ox hides than on their decorums and respectabilities.

I am too hot and burned by my own thoughts; often it nearly takes my breath away. Then I must go out into the open and away from all dusty rooms. But they sit cool in the cool shade: in everything they want to be mere spectators, and they beware of sitting where the sun burns on the steps. Like those who stand in the street and gape at the people who pass by, they too wait and gape at thoughts that others have thought.

If you seize them by your hands they raise a cloud of dust like flour bags, involuntarily; but who could guess that their dust comes from grain and from the yellow delight of summer fields? When they pose as wise, their little epigrams and truths chill me: their wisdom often has an odor as if it came from the swamps; and verily, I have also heard frogs croak out of it. They are skillful and have clever fingers: why would my simplicity want to be near their multiplicity? All threading and knotting and weaving their fingers understand: thus they knit the socks of the spirit.

They are good clockworks; but take care to wind them correctly! Then they indicate the hour without fail and make a modest noise. They work like mills and like stamps: throw down your seed-corn to them and they will know how to grind it small and reduce it to white dust.

They watch each other closely and mistrustfully. Inventive in petty cleverness, they wait for those whose knowledge walks on lame feet: like spiders they wait. I have always seen them carefully preparing poison; and they always put on gloves of glass to do it. They also know how to play with loaded dice; and I have seen them play so eagerly that they sweated.

We are alien to each other, and their virtues are even more distasteful to me than their falseness and their loaded dice. And when I lived with them, I lived above them. That is why they developed a grudge against me. They did not want to hear how someone was living over their heads; and so they put wood and earth and filth between me and their heads. Thus they muffled the sound of my steps: and so far I have been heard least well by the most scholarly. Between themselves and me they laid all human faults and weaknesses: “false ceilings” they call them in their houses. And yet I live over their heads with my thoughts; and even if I wanted to walk upon my own mistakes, I would still be over their heads.

For men are not equal: thus speaks justice. And what I want, they would have no right to want!

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

- Nietzsche