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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-20 04:12:08
Typefacelarge in Small
[Pg 216]

"Day of my life!

It had become his habit, a kindly habit and one conformable to his tastes, to live in common with his two colleagues, Overbeck and Romundt, who formed the intellectual society of which Wagner spoke with such esteem. Now, in February, 1875, Romundt announced to Overbeck and to Nietzsche that he was obliged to leave them to enter into Orders. Nietzsche experienced a feeling of stupefied indignation: for many months he had lived with this man, he called him his friend. Yet he had had no suspicion of the secret vocation now suddenly declared. Romundt had not been open with him. Subjugated by religious faith, he had lacked in simple good faith, and the duties of friendship of which Nietzsche had such an exalted ideal. Romundt's treachery reminded him of another treachery and made it easier for him to understand the news which was rumoured among Wagnerians: the master was about to compose a Christian Mystery—a Parsifal. Nothing was so displeasing to Friedrich Nietzsche as a return to Christianity: nothing seemed to him more weak or cowardly than such a capitulation to the problems of life. Some years before, he had known and admired the different projects on which Wagner conversed with his intimates: he then spoke of Luther, of the Great Frederick; he wished to glorify a German hero and repeat the happy experiment of Die Meistersinger. Why had he abandoned his projects? Why did he prefer Parsifal to Luther? and to the rude and singing life of the German Renaissance, the religiosity of the Graal? Friedrich Nietzsche then understood and measured the perils of the pessimism which accustoms souls to complaint, weakens and predisposes them to mystical consolations. He reproached himself for having taught[Pg 174] Romundt a doctrine too cruel for his courage, and thus to have been the cause of his weakness.

"The sky is beautiful, worthy of Nice, and this has lasted for days," he wrote to Peter Gast on September 30th. "My sister is with me, and it is very agreeable for us to be doing each other good when for so long we had been doing harm only. My head is full of the most extravagant lyrics that ever haunted a poet's skull. I have had a letter from Stein. This year has brought me many good things, and one of the most precious of its gifts has been Stein, a new and a sincere friend.

"Stellar Friendship.—We were friends, and we have become strangers to each other. Ah, yes; but it is well so, and we wish to hide nothing, to disguise nothing from one another; we have nothing to be ashamed of. We are two ships, each with a bourne and a way. By chance we have crossed paths; we have made holiday together—and then our two good ships have so tranquilly reposed in the one port and under the same sun, that it seemed as though they had both attained their bourne. But the all-powerful force of our mission has driven us afresh towards divers seas and suns—and perhaps we shall not meet, or recognise one another again: the divers seas and suns will have transformed us! We had to become strangers; a reason the more why we should mutually respect ourselves! No doubt there exists a far off, invisible and prodigious cycle which gives a common law to our little divagations: let us uplift ourselves to this thought! But our life is too short, our vision too feeble; we must content ourselves with this sublime possibility. And if we must be enemies upon earth, in spite of all we believe in our stellar friendship."

"This, this is my danger," says Zarathustra, "that my glance throweth itself to the summit, whereas my hand would fain grasp and rest upon—the void."


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