Sunday, October 23, 2005

Nietzsche - On the Use and Abuse of History




Nietzsche, On the Use and Abuse of History

trans. Ian C. Johnston

One day the man demands of the beast: "Why do you not talk to me about your happiness and only gaze at me?" The beast wants to answer, too, and say: "That comes about because I always immediately forget what I wanted to say." But by then the beast has already forgotten this reply and remains silent, so that the man wonders on once more.

But he also wonders about himself, that he is not able to learn to forget and that he always hangs onto past things. No matter how far or how fast he runs, this chain runs with him. It is something amazing: the moment, in one sudden motion there, in one sudden motion gone, before nothing, afterwards nothing, nevertheless comes back again as a ghost and disturbs the tranquility of each later moment. A leaf is continuously released from the roll of time, falls out, flutters away--and suddenly flutters back again into the man's lap. For the man says, "I remember," and envies the beast, which immediately forgets and sees each moment really perish, sink back in cloud and night, and vanish forever.


e-text from Ian Johnstone's site, which has a wide selection of translations and transcripts (plus many lecturer notes):

On the Use and Abuse of History for Life 1873




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