Sunday, December 19, 2010

Re-Surveying Old Horizons

IN THE GREAT SILENCE. -- Here is the sea, here may we forget the town. It Is true that its bells are still ringing the Angelus -- that solemn and foolish yet sweet sound at the junction between day and night, -- but one moment more! now all is silent. Yonder lies the ocean, pale and brilliant; it cannot speak. The sky is glistening with its eternal mute evening hues, red, yellow, and green: it cannot speak. The small cliffs and rocks which stretch out into the sea as if each one of them were endeavouring to find the loneliest spot -- they too are dumb. Beautiful and awful indeed is this vast silence, which so suddenly overcomes us and makes our heart swell.

Alas! what deceit lies in this dumb beauty! How well could it speak, and how evilly, too, if it wished! Its tongue, tied up and fastened, and its face of suffering happiness -- all this is but malice, mocking at your sympathy: be it so! I do not feel ashamed to be the plaything of such powers! but I pity thee, oh nature, because thou must be silent, even though it be only malice that binds thy tongue: nay, I pity thee for the sake of thy malice!

Alas! the silence deepens, and once again my heart swells within me: it is startled by a fresh truth -- it, too, is dumb; it likewise sneers when the mouth calls out something to this beauty; it also enjoys the sweet malice of its silence. I come to hate speaking; yea, even thinking. Behind every word I utter do I not hear the laughter of error, imagination, and insanity? Must I not laugh at my pity and mock my own mockery? Oh sea, oh evening, ye are bad teachers! Ye teach man how to cease to be a man. Is he to give himself up to you? Shall he become as you now are, pale, brilliant, dumb, immense, reposing calmly upon himself? -- exalted above himself?
- Nietzsche, "Daybreak (423)"

1 comment:

  1. Night and music.— The ear, the organ of fear, could have evolved as greatly as it has only in the night and twilight of obscure caves and woods, in accordance with the mode of life of the age of timidity, that is to say the longest human age there has ever been: in bright daylight the ear is less necessary. That is how music acquired the character of an art of night and twilight.

    Nietzsche, "Daybreak" (250)