NIETZSCHE AND MADAME BLAVATSKY: THEIR DOCTRINES STATED AND COMPARED
by Theosophical Quarterly Magazine 1909-1912
The Secret Doctrine -- The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Isis Unveiled, by Helena P. Blavatsky
Dark Night of the Soul, by St. John of the Cross
Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche
To be unable nowadays to discuss both Nietzsche and Madame Blavatsky is to confess oneself lacking in "culture" -- a confession to which few of us have the courage to make. Just as Strauss and Rodin dominate in the domain of art, the ideas of Nietzsche and of Madame Blavatsky, as subjects of discussion, are more popular for the moment 1han those of any other writers on philosophy.
And while all fashions are significant, fashions in philosophy reveal the thoughts and aspirations of humanity in plain words. if only for that reason, no one who either works among men or who finds entertainment in observing them, can afford to ignore the widely different tendencies which these two writers represent.
Volumes have been written about both of them, but nothing has been attempted by way of comparison. It will be seen, I trust, that they serve one another admirably as contrasts.
Studying them, u we might look at magnifying mirrors reflecting the minds of men, it is of much more importance to grasp the purport of their writings than to judge, no matter how correctly, their personal characters. From that point of view, whether Nietzsche was a genius, a lunatic, a poseur, or an atheistic Savanarola; whether Madame Blavatsky was a divinely inspired messenger, a charlatan, or an anti- Christ, is of minor interest. We shall see, too, that neither of them said "Believe because I tell you it is true;" but that, on the contrary, both of them insisted that they, personally, were merely sign-posts by the way, and that their disciples must think for themselves and work out their own salvation accordingly.
Nevertheless, as their origin and personal history throw some light upon their teachings, it will be best in each case to speak briefly of their lives before considering the ideas with which their names are associated.
Friedrick Nietzsche (ronounced Neet-cha) was born in Prussia on the 15th of October, 1844. His origin and personal history throw much light upon his teachings. He was the son of a Lutheran minister; both hill grandparents had been ministers, and his great-grandfather on his mother's side had also been a minister.
Although born in Germany, he always laid stress on the fact that he was not a German, but a Pole; and as a boy he took pleasure and pride in tracing his ancestry -- whether correctly or not is unknown -- to a family of Polish nobles named Nietzky. "A Count Nietsky must not lie," he used to say, while quite a child, to his sister.
Educated for the ministry, he found, even as a student, that it would be impossible for him to accept Christianity literally. Its principal doctrines, he wrote, "are symbols, just as the very highest truths must always be the symbols of truths still higher."  And he soon reached a point at which he ceased to find in Christianity even the symbols of truth. It seemed to him that he had to choose between "God" and "Truth," and he determined to follow the latter no matter where it might lead him. He wished to be sincere with himself always and at any cost. The question of questions for him then became: What is for man generally, what, above all, for me, is the meaning of life, seeing that God does not exist? There is no question but that he threw his whole being into the solution of this problem.
As be had a great gift for improvisation, he thought at one time of becoming a musician and of earning his living by that means. This idea he was obliged to give up. He then decided to study Philology, which he did, first at Bonn. and then at Leipzig. In 1869 he was appointed a professor at the University of Basle. He remained there for ten years, and if it had not been for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, he might have retained his professorship for the rest of his life. As it was, shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, he volunteered to serve as a member of the Red Cross. His constitution broke down under the strain. This ruined his health permanently, and in 1879, having already achieved considerable success as an author, he resigned his professorship in order to devote the whole of his remaining strength to literature.
The only outer event in his life which calls for notice during his residence at Basle, was his intimacy with Richard Wagner, with whom he often stayed at Bayreuth. All that need here be said under that head is that after writing in 1876, Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, a work in which he held up the great composer as the master of music and as a genius who was guiding the younger generation away from modern philistinism, he afterwards change his opinion, declaring that the most important event of his life had been a "cure," and that Wagner had been his illness. Wagner was a magical "comedian," the adequate artistic expression of our era of decadence.
But the dominant influence in Nietzsche's life was the physical suffering which he endured. For years the most terrible headaches, and at last, in the spring of 1881, madness. Eleven years later, on August 25, 1900, he died. His philosophy grew out of his suffering. At first a pessimist, to whom history seemed "brutal and devoid of sense;" unable to believe in a future state or to find any reason for his suffering, he came to the conclusion later that pessimism itself is a symptom of some physiological disorder, and as he willed to grow well, he willed to become an optimist: "the instinct of self-preservation forbade him to remain discouraged," be said. 
He determined, therefore, in spirit of, if not because of, his suffering, to find joy in the present. His inspiration for this he found in ancient Greece -- in its tragic or dionysian spirit, which is best expressed, he considered, in the dramas of AEschylus, and in the philosophy of Heraclitus. These were the people, he declared, who said "Yes" to life; who were the true aristocrats; who were full of vital power, who saw that instinct was superior to reason, and by whom "Pain itself was felt as a stimulant."  Consequently, instead of preaching detachment from life and aspiration for Nirvana as Schopenhauer had done (and to a certain extent and up to a certain point in his career had had followed Schopenhauer), Nietzsche came to regard as "good," everything which strengthened in man the will to live, everything which could give to existence some further purpose and interest.
But this was only the first step in his intellectual development, and he took many intermediate steps before he formulated the system, if it can be called a system, which is commonly called Nietzscheism. He himself would have repudiated the idea of having introduced anything resembling a body of doctrines. For him the philosopher was everything; the philosophy very little. So he made his own personality the center of his philosophy and passed his life in trying to "find himself," and in communicating to the world the result of his investigations.
This he did fragmentarily, often in the form of aphorisms, and always "impressionally" -- his enemies say, incoherently. But he took infinite pains to present his ideas in the most seductive form he could command: in the form of prose-poetry, rather than of logic, which he despised; in the form most likely to appeal to the "Self" of man (and we shall see later what he meant by Self). Musician as he was, his style is essentially lyrical, passionate, symboblical; so perfect, in the opinion of his admirers, that he must be counted the greatest master of prose that Germany has ever produced. It is difficult to imagine Spencer's Data of Ethics, or Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, set to music; but Nietzsche's Zarathustra, his most important work, was chosen by Richard Strauss as the subject of his best-known symphony.
If it can be said that Nietzsche's philosophy -- or rather, his theory of life -- has a basis in reason, this must be found, not in the "Eternal Return" (an idea that occurred to him in 1881 only, and of which we will speak later), but in his conception of moral "values." A "Table of Values," he says, is set up in each age and by each civilization. In our age, for instance, truth is considered superior to error, compassion to cruelty. He regards such values as man-made and arbitrary. Rejecting the existence of God, he rejects the existence of "things in themselves." Why truth rather than error? May not error be of greater use than truth? May not evil be of greater value than good? He decides that the only reality we can know is the world of our desires and instincts. There is no soul, or rather, the body is the soul.
"Behind thy thoughts and feelings, my brother, there stands a mighty master, an unknown Guide -- he is named Self. In thy body he dwells; he is thy body." 
All our acts, thoughts, "reasons," and wishes, then, are governed by our body and its instincts (the "Self"); and these instincts, in their turn, are controlled by a primordial and fundamental instinct which he calls the "Will for Power" (Der Wille zur Macht).
This Will for Power, being the mainspring of life, anything which strengthens and satisfies it is "good;" anything which weakens it or which defeats its ends is "bad." What life in itself is worth, no one can judge; pessimism and optimism are alike futile; but life is, and so long as there is life one should will it to be as exuberant, as tropical, as intense as possible. One should say "Yes" to everything that will increase the vitality of the man-plant; to error and to illusion as much as to anything else, even to what are called evil and sin if these too are likely to produce the desired effect. On the other hand, one should say "No" to everything that tends to diminish power, no matter whether one has to turn one's back on every ideal that the world has known.
With that as his foundation, it is not surprising that Nietzsche found himself in violent disagreement with the Table of Values accepted, at least theoretically, by the modern world. The origin of this "Table" he explains as follows:
Speaking generally, the world has known two types of morality: the morality of the aristocrat, the master, and the morality of slaves. Since the dawn of history, one or another warlike race has conquered some weaker race, and has set up its own aristocratic Table of Values. To be self-reliant, to know how to rule and how to rule oneself; to be refined, courteous to his equals, elegant, to love "good form;" to be proud, stern, and yet joyous; to be forceful and audacious, and to hate and despise fear, flattery, humility, lying, and all that he considered vulgar and unclean; these things were essential. Above all, the aristocrat felt that he owed duties to his peers only, and that to the stranger and the slave he could behave exactly as he liked.
Naturally the Table of Values erected by the race that had been conquered, by the slaves, was very different. For them, "evil" was all that was violent and that inspired fear; while "good" included most of the qualities which the aristocrat despised, but which made life more bearable to the slave: such as pity, gentleness, patience, humility, and industry.
How is it, Nietzsche asked, that this latter code has supplanted in Europe the Table of Values of the aristocrat? And he answered that it was the work of the Jews and of their abortion -- Christianity. The Jews, the ten-times conquered, and formerly the despised among men, had inaugurated the "revolt of the slaves," and had imposed upon the world the hateful doctrine that it is the unfortunate, the down-trodden, the poor, the feeble, the sick, even the ugly and the de-vitalized, who are the best beloved of God.
From that point Nietzsche's doctrine, in a negative sense, can be left very largely to the imagination.
The tendency of modern Europe he described as follows:
"Behold," teaches Zarathustra, his creation, his type of the Superman, "behold, I show you the last man.
"'What is love? What is creation? What is desire? What is a star? (Was ist Stern?)' -- Thus asks the last man, and blinks.
"Earth has then become small, and on her hops the last man who makes everything around him small. His race is ineradicable, like an earth-flea; the last man lives the longest.
"'We have discovered happiness,' say the last men, and blink. They have abandoned the regions where it was hard to live: for they need warmth. They love their neighbor, besides, and rub themselves against him: for they need warmth.
"To become ill, and to be distrustful, is for them a sin: they move with precaution. A fool, he who still stumbles over stones or over people.
"A little poison from time to time: that gives pleasant dreams. And much poison at the last, for a pleasant death.
"They still work, because work is an entertainment. But they take care that the entertainment is not an effort.
"They no longer become either poor or rich: both are too troublesome. Who would still wish to command? And who to obey? Both are too troublesome.
"No shepherd and one flock! Each man wishes the same thing. All are equal: who feels otherwise, voluntarily enters a madhouse.
"'Of old, the whole world was crazy,' say the Most Superior, and blink.
"One is sagacious, and knows all that has happened: so one has no Aim to scoff at. One still disputes, but one is quickly reconciled -- otherwise it spoils the stomach.
"One has one's little Fancy (Lustchen) for the day, and one's little Fancy for the night: but one respects Health.
"'We have discovered Happiness,' say the last men, and blink." 
Every philosophy which teaches that peace is better than war; every morality which defines happiness negatively; every system of metaphysics which sees in a state of equilibrium, or repose, the final attainment of evolution; every esthetic or religious aspiration towards a better world, a "beyond," is fundamentally a symptom of this "blinking" degeneracy.
Naturally, Christianity and everything that savours of asceticism, he attacks with fury, almost exhausting his magnificent vocabulary in anathematizing priestcraft, and declaring that the very spirit of Christianity, apart from its dogmas, has polluted and debased the intellectual and moral atmosphere of Europe.
"The sense of sin," one of the chief supports of Christianity, is entirely self-induced, he says. It arises in large measure from what is known as a bad conscience; but a bad conscience he accounts for as follows:
When a race is conquered, the individuals comprising it can no longer give free play to their instincts: prudence obliges them to suppress these for fear of offending the conqueror. But instincts are a force which must have an outlet, if not exterior, then interior. The exterior channel being cut off, a kind of interest fermentation takes place, and it is this that men call a "bad conscience."
An aphorism of his in regard to Theosophy, of which the following is a free translation, will throw some further light on the subject.
"The result of Theosophy. One is most dishonest against one's God: one is not allowed to sin!" 
Impersonality he abhors.
That man should surrender his personal desires and his egoism, he repudiates indignantly. Man should use all his instincts and desires, "bad" as well as "good," in his search for experience. He should be careful, however, that his desires do not use him.
Democracy, which aims to establish a condition of things in which wealth and poverty, "masters" and "slaves," will alike be abolished; which talks of "universal brotherhood" and of peace, and believes that the individual can and should find his happiness in the happiness of society as a whole -- he attacked as unsparingly as he attacked Christianity. The natural inequality of men is one of the fundamental ideas of his philosophy. "Slavery," he says, "is one of the essential conditions of a high culture."  War he regards as one of the most important means of progress. It brings to light the strength and the weakness of men. Zarathustra declares:
"Ye say, the good cause justifies even war? I say to you: it is the good war that justifies every cause. 
He carried his individualism so far that even in Germany, where, since Hegel, individuals have been looked upon as existing chiefly for the benefit of the State, he questioned the utility of the State as an aid to Culture.
Scientists he condemned generally as being made of much the same stuff as ascetics. They are "presumptuous pygmies;" the best of them only mirrors -- instruments instead of wills, "ignoring all joys except those of knowing and reflecting," so hopelessly impersonal as to be capable of saying with Leibnitz, "I despise hardly anything." 
Sceptics of every variety he almost pitied. They are even more impotent than scientists, from the creature who is sceptical in order to appear dilettante and distinguished, to the poor wretch who, having tried to solve the riddle of the universe, has given up the problem in weariness and despair, and who has become a sceptic because he has not the energy to be anything else.
Philosophers he upbraided for pretending to present their systems as purely logical, while really all that they say is a plea in support of their personal prejudices.
For women who are, in his opinion, truly feminine, he shows tenderness and respect. But he believes that the inequality of the sexes is a necessary law.
"The happiness of man," says Zarathustra, "is named: I desire. The happiness of woman: he desires."  The highest function of women is to bring beautiful children into the world. Anything which interferes with this, he deplores. But he does not deplore, he execrates the notion that women should be more than mothers, sweethearts, or wives. The "emancipated" woman, who competes with man in the sphere of literature, science or commerce, he simply lacerates.
But now for the positive side of his teaching -- and we shall see that this, too, is very largely made up of negatives. First in importance, philosophically, comes the idea of the "Eternal Return." To state this in the fewest possible words, his argument is that the sum of the forces which constitute the universe is constant and limited. Time on the other hand is infinite. It follows that sooner or later any given combination of the sum of forces must, by reason of the natural and unintelligent play of possibilities, be reproduced, and that, no matter what length of time may elapse between such reproductions of combinations, the process must have been repeated indefinitely in the past, and will be repeated for ever in the future: exactly the same combinations.  So every act, thought, and emotion will re-live in us an infinite number of times. The world, therefore, means nothing. It is the product of blind chance. Evolution leads no where, and progress is a treadmill revolving eternally on the same center, marking the same circle.
Nietzsche professed to hold logic so cheaply, that it is difficult to say what if any connection this idea of the "Eternal Return" had with his doctrine of the Uber-Mensch, or Super-man. Yet the one to some extent explains the other; for, granting that life has no meaning, it is arguable that it is man's business to give it a meaning. In any case, it is the primary function of the Super-man to create new "values" in life.
This idea, the Super-man, personified by Nietzsche as Zarathustra in Also Sprach Zarathustra (the best known of his works, and to some extent an epitome of his earlier writings), is put forward as the type of what the elect of mankind should become. Zarathustra, having attained this condition, collects around him in his cavern a number of pessimists, representing the elect, whom he instructs, and whom he cures of their pessimism.
It is for the elect only that the morality of the Super-man is intended. Nietzsche insists strongly that the ordinary man ought to live in obedience and faith. His Utopia -- the ideal State of the future as he conceived it -- is to be an aristocracy, divided into castes, each with well defined duties. The inferior cases is to consist of laborers. Agriculture, commerce, industry, even science and art will need them -- men who follow, who are content to copy, to obey. The members of this lower caste will be happier, in a tranquil kind of way, than their superiors, because they will have no responsibilities. "For you, belief and slavery," says Zarathustra. Above them will be the caste of overseers, warriors, and guardians of the law; at their head, a king. But the highest caste, the real rulers, will be that of the Sages, of the "creators of values," who will play the same role on earth as "the God of the Christians" is supposed to play in the universe. Very few are those who are fit to enter this highest caste. Zarathustra demands much before he will accept any one as a disciple.
"Art thou," he asks, "a new force and a new law? An original movement? A wheel which turns of itself? Canst thou likewise compel the stars to revolve around thee?
"Alas! There is so much hankering for the High! There are so many spasms of the ambitious! Show me that thou art not one of the hankerers, of the ambitious!
"Alas" There are so many great thoughts which have no more effect than a bellows: they puff up and make more empty!
"Free, thou callest thyself? It is thy predominant thought that I wish to hear, and not that thou hast escaped from a yoke.
"Art thou such as needed to escape from a yoke? There are those who cast off their last value when they cast off their servitude." 
It is for the benefit of the few only, then, that he elaborates the doctrine of life as "that which must always surpass itself." 
"I teach you concerning the Super-man," says Zarathustra to the people assembled. "Man is something that ought to be surpassed. What have you done to surpass him?" 
Man is not an end, but a bridge between the animal kingdom and the Super-man. He may attain the condition of Super-man by a process of "self-upraising" (Selbstaufhebung);  by an intensity of suffering so great that it leads at last to optimism. The first step is that which his disciples had already taken: intense disgust of themselves, leading them to pessimism or asceticism. Zarathustra tells them that they have not suffered enough. "For ye suffer on account of what ye are; ye have not yet suffered on account of what Man is."  Only by attaining this supreme degree of pain and disgust can they develop sufficient energy to cross the last gulf which separates them from the state of Super-man.
But suffering alone is not enough. They must renounce the table of moral values which the world now recognizes as authoritative; they must renounce the ideal which, whether it be called Christian, democratic or ascetic, is at present accepted nominally or actually in civilized countries; and they must return to the table of values of conquering races, of the masters who create values for themselves instead of accepting those of other people. Realizing that nothing in nature has any value in itself; there there is no such thing as an ideal in itself; they must create their own truth, their own morality, regardless of good and evil, or truth and of error -- deliberately "willing illusion," creating lies, if by doing so they can increase the intensity of life, and thus assist the development of their type.
Daring experimenters, continually searching for new forms of existence and experience, they must be prepared to risk, without trembling, not only their own happiness and life, but the lives and happiness of all those inferior creatures whom they drag after them. It is, indeed, not happiness which they seek, but the emotion of the game. They know that pleasure and pain are opposites which always co-exist, and that he who would experience the great joys must also endure the great sorrows. But this fact they welcome, for they wish life to be as intense, as strenuous as possible, and the wider the oscillation of emotion, the more tremendous their sense of power. They must go further even than saying "Yes" to all that life brings.
"The will is a creator," says Zarathustra to his disciples. "Every 'it was' is a fragment, an enigma, a horrid accident -- until the creative Will says to it: "But I wished it thus!' Until the creative Will says to it: 'But I wish it thus! Thus I would have it!'" 
And, having said this, the Super-man must adopt an attitude of mind in regard to results which is curiously akin to that "abandonment of the fruits of action" inculcated by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Nietzsche said of his own system that whether it made for death or life, time alone could prove; for life would triumph in the end and would bring him either victory or defeat -- which of the two mattered not, seeing that Life would triumph. He hated the adoration of success. So Zarathustra, while instructing his disciples, as we have seen, that "it is a good war that justifies every cause," adds that they should have for their enemies such only as are hateful, not those who are contemptible. "You should be proud of your enemy: thus the successes of your enemy are your successes also." 
This carelessness of results should be expressed in manner also, says Zarathustra. In all the "adventures" of life, in peace and in war, in joy and in disaster, the Super-man must exhibit the serenity of the beau joueur, the smiling grace of a dancer, the joyous simplicity of a child at play. He must laugh as the old gods laughed: he must laugh himself "beyond himself." 
And he must be utterly self-reliant.
"I am going alone, O my disciples," says Zarathustra. "And now go ye also away, and alone. I wish it so.
"Verily I counsel you: Go forth from me and protect yourselves against Zarathustra! And better still: be ashamed of him. Perhaps he hath deceived you ...
"Ye say that ye believe in Zarathustra? But of what consequence is Zarathustra! Ye are my believers: but of what consequence are all believers!
"Ye had not yet sought yourselves: hence ye found me. Thus do all believers; and that is why all belief is of such little worth.
"Now I command you to lose me and to find yourselfs; and only when all of you have renounced me, will I return until you." 
Lastly, as the supreme achievement of the Super-man, he must annihilate pity. Zarathustra himself had almost been overcome by this besetting sin of man. "This new Table, oh my brothers, I give until you: Become hard!" 
Nietzsche argued that in any case pity is only a form of egoism; whether we do good or evil to others, it is with the object of feeling our own power, and that we may bring others under our dominion. The aristocrat tries to bend his equals to his will; the slave is contented with easy triumphs and seeks to control others -- the sick, the wretched -- by pitying them. The aristocrat hates to be pitied; the slave enjoys it.
But apart from this, pity interferes with the law of natural selection; it tends to preserve those who, if left to themselves, would not survive in the struggle for existence, and who ought not to survive. Their survival increases the sum of misery in the world; directly, by perpetuating a degenerate, useless and miserable species; indirectly, in so far as the sight of pain, deformity, ugliness or sorrow is liable to disturb the balance of the Super-man, and even, either by excess of disgust or of compassion, to drag him down from his high estate to pessimism or to asceticism.
The inundation of pity into modern life, says Nietzsche, is only another proof that we have become effeminate, and that we are afraid of pain. We not only fear pain for ourselves; we cannot even bear the idea of suffering in others. Such cowardice, he says, like every other form of fear, is contemptible. Instead of abolishing suffering, he would make life harder than it has ever been. All human progress has been brought about by suffering. There is in man a creature and a creator. The creature needs "to be moulded, broken, hammered, rent, scorched, burnt, purified."  Suffering is good for the creature and pity is out of place. The creator suffers, but scorns pity and should not be insulted by the sight of it.
Nietzsche did not stop there. Believing, as we have seen, that "slavery is one of the necessary conditions of a high culture," he declared that "the misery of men who vegetate, in pain, ought to be still further increased in order to allow a small number of olympian geniuses to produce great works of art."  While, to spare future generations the depressing spectacle of misery and ugliness, we ought to have the courage, not only to leave those who are ripe for death to their fate, but to push them on their way even faster than they are inclined to go of their own accord. It is necessary for the Super-man, therefore, to be able to inflict suffering of all kinds without faltering. Even feeble women and slaves can endure. "But not to succumb to inner distress and uncertainty, when one inflicts severe pain and hears the cry of that pain -- that is great, that is a condition of greatness." 
Every surgeon ought to know how much truth there is in the sentence just quoted. But taken as a whole, "the annihilation of pity" is, to express it mildly, so unusual a doctrine, that some of Nietzsche's disciples have endeavored to explain it on the ground that it is based upon his theory of the "Eternal Return." For, granting the truth of that theory, and that those who are miserable (and soulless, be it remembered) must carry their cross eternally, it might be argued that it would be best to kill them at once, before they realize the horror of the fate in store for them. From that point of view, it is said, Neitzsche's egotism may be traced to his excess of sympathy, while his seeming brutality is really a most refined and sublime altruism, converted, by "self-elevation," into individualism.
This explanation may account for Nietzsche's ultimate application of his doctrine -- the destruction or removal of the pitiable. But his idea of the "Eternal Return" has nothing to do with his original condemnation of pity, for he attacked the morality of pity in his Menschliches Allzumenschliches, which he wrote during the years 1876 and 1877, and which was published in 1879; while we know that the "Eternal Return" did not occur to him until 1881. 
It is as easy, however, to expose Nietzsche's fallacies, which are innumerable, as it is to denounce him as an immoralist, which he avowedly was. That there are people who he supplies with excuses for shortcomings which, under any other code, would trouble conscience, requires no explanation. But how account for his hold on so many others of a different kind, who are reasonable beings; who live orderly lives, and who in every way are what the world calls presentable and perhaps superior?
In the first place, he helps some people to face their pains and sorrows bravely, and to defy external conditions. In the second place, there are those who admire his titanic effort to be himself, to be an independent being, to throw off every outside influence, and to tell the truth as he saw it, at all costs, and regardless of how truth looked yesterday. Sometimes those who respect this quality, admit that though rabidly independent, he had not found sure ground of his own on which to stand, and that although his writings act on the few as a mental stimulant, they cannot fail to act on the many as a poison. But they admire him none the less on that account. His attempt rather than his achievement appeals to them.
Others, again, are attracted by his effort to express the inexpressible, or, rather, to paint the darkness he found within himself and which they, too, find within their hearts -- a chaos of thought, a whirlpool of feeling, from which most people flee as from madness, but which he faced, studied, and portrayed so luminously that the darkness seems almost like Day. True, he never pierced to the light and to the stillness which lie beyond the darkness; but how few have! If he had done so, he would appeal to a very different order of minds. As it is, he fascinates those who, like himself, see chaos, but who, unlike himself, fear it.
It should be remembered, further, that but few people read all his works: fourteen large volumes. They read him in scraps -- an aphorism, a poem, a paragraph taken at random. They read, for instance, the following poem, and, not knowing the peculiar sense in which he uses terms, they are charmed by his music and imagine also that he is expressing mystically their own ideal. Thus (perforce without the music):
A thousand meanings might be read into such words; but we have seen what he means by "self" -- the body with its instincts -- while probably the majority of those who read and admire his poem, know nothing of his philosophy.
He is liked, therefore, by some, chiefly because they do not understand him.
The real secret of his influence, however, seems to lie in this: that he worships the modern god -- Power. In so far as he voices the intuition that negative piety is ineffective, and that "the Kingdom of Heaven" can be taken by violence only, we follow him cordially. But when leading the reaction against mere "goodness," against the mushy virtue of his epoch, instead of leading it in the direction of active, positive, even fiery beneficence, he turned to Power and lost himself in adoration: and here we cannot follow him.
In politics, both national and international; in finance, and in almost every other sphere of public activity, questions of moral right and wrong have come to be looked upon as side issues, while Power in itself is thought to justify practically anything. But this view, which is based to a considerable extent upon a misunderstanding of Darwinism (the survival of the fittest having been misinterpreted as the survival of the strongest), is applied popularly to public affairs only. Nietzsche, who, whatever his failings, never lacked courage, applied it to personal relations, too. Without troubling himself about Darwinism, and still less about logic, he was none the less more logical in his application of generally accepted principles than any other writer has been. For him, Power became not a means, but an end. And it is this that draws people to him -- particularly those who lack power, and who either desire to be virile and masterful, or who think they are but are not, and who, in any case, enjoy the thrill which his magnificent eulogies of Power give them.
Nietzsche as an individual and as a writer, however, must remain insolvable to those who have not studied the phenomena of psychism and of mediumism. For he was mediumistic without knowing it, and he allowed himself to think that his psychic experiences were unique and conclusive. This left him at the mercy of practically any influence which, whether good or evil, was more positive intellectually than he was at the moment.
Writing some recollections of his life, during the autumn of 1888, Nietzsche spoke as follows of the way in which many of his works, and particularly his Zarathustra, has been produced. 
"Has any one, at the end of the nineteenth century, a clear conception of what poets of the strong age called Inspiration? If not, I will describe it. With the very least remains of superstition in him, any one would in fact hardly know how to throw aside the idea of being merely the incarnation, merely the mouthpiece, merely the medium of some superior power. It is the idea of revelation, in the sense that suddenly, with inexpressible certainty and distinction ["distinction" rather in the sense of nobility], Something becomes visible and audible; Something most deeply moves and disturbs one. That describes simply a matter of fact. One hears -- one does not seek; one takes -- one does not ask who gives. Like lightning a thought flashes forth, of necessity, in fixed form and without a shadow of turning: I have never had any choice. An ecstasy, of which the tremendous tension sometimes dissolves in a flood of tears, and during which one's steps involuntarily become now precipitant, now slow; a complete externalization of oneself [auszersichsein, "beyond oneself"], with the most distinct consciousness of innumerable light [feiner] shudders and purlings [uberrieselungen] right down to the toes; a depth of happiness, in which the utmost pain and gloom do not appear as a contrast, but as though consequent, as provoked, as a necessary colour within such an abundance of light; a flash [literally, an instinct] of rhythmical proportion spanning vast stretches of forms .... All this happens with absolute involuntariness, but as though in a tempest of feeling, the feeling of freedom, of utterness, of power, of divinity. The involuntariness of picture and of comparison, is the most remarkable thing about it. One no longer has any notion what picture or comparison is. Everything presents itself as the nearest, the most precise, the most simple Expression ...
"That is my experience of inspiration. I doubt not that one would have to go back a thousand years to find any one who would dare to say to me: 'It is also mine.'"
It is not surprising that the man who wrote the sentence last quoted died insane. Nietzsche's egotism was indeed stupendous. In a work of his, entitled Ecce Homo, which has come to light only since this present article was written, he prophesied that at his voice "the earth would be convulsed": he intended to cast among men a ferment of incomparable power. "I descend from heights where no bird has flown; I know depths where no human foot has ever strayed." And yet he could also say that he had no remembrance "of having ever made an effort; no struggle has been known in my life."
How unlike Madame Blavatsky. Inspiration, in a certain well-defined sense, she, too, claimed to receive; but instead of regarding her experience as unparalleled, she insisted that many persons in all ages have received similar inspiration, and that it is within the reach of every one who will serve an apprenticeship in the unselfish and faithful service of humanity.
1. Das Leben Nietzsche's, Frau Forster-Nietzsche, i. 321.
2. Frau Forster-Nietzsche, II, 1, p. 338.
3. Gotzen-Dammerung ("Was ich den Alten verdanke"); Nietzsche's Werke (Erste Abtheilung; C. G. Naumann, Leipzig, 1899); vol. viii, p. 173. Socrates he detested as a plebeian, and as the incarnation of reason.
4. Werke, VI, 47.
5. Also Sprach Zarathustra, V. vi, pp. 19-20.
6. “Aus der Theosophie. Man ist am unehrlichsten gegen seinem Gott: er darf nicht pendigne!” (Spruche und Zwischenspiele, vol. vii, p. 95).
7. W., IX, p. 98.
8. W., V, 67.
9. W., VIII, 150-155; Jenseits von Gut und Bose.
10. W., VI, 97.
11. W., XII, 122.
12. W., VI, 91, 92.
13. W., VI, 167.
14. W., VI, 13 (“… das uberwunden warden soll”).
15. “Selbstowfhebung” may mean either “self-upraising,” or “self-suspension” and “self-suppression.” It is probably that Nietzsche used the word with its dual meaning in view.
16. W., VI, 471 (“Ihr leidet an euch, ihr littet noch nicht am Menschen”
17. W., VI, 208 (“So werde ich’s wollen!”)
18. W., VI., 68.
19. W., VI, 430.
20. W., VI, 114, 115.
21. W., VI, 312.
22. W., VII, 185; Jenseits von Gut und Bose.
23. W., IX., p. 98.
24. W., V, 246; Die frohliche Wissenschaft.
25. La Philosophie de Nietzsche, par Henri Lictenberger (1904), p. 160.
26. Das Leben Frioedrich Nietzsche’s, von Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche; Vol. II, pp. 426, 427 (Leipsiz, 1904).
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