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Excerpt from

Thus Spoke Zarathustra  

- Franz Kafka


There are preachers of death: and the earth is full of those to whom renunciation life must be preached. Full is the earth of the superfluous; marred is life by the many-toomany.

May they be lured out of this life by the "life eternal"!

"The yellow ones": so are called the preachers of death, or "the black ones."

But I will show them to you in other colors besides. There are the terrible ones who carry about in themselves the beast of prey, and have no choice except lusts or self-laceration. And even their lusts are self-laceration. They have not yet become men, those terrible ones: may they preach desistance from life, and pass away themselves! There are the spiritually decaying ones: hardly are they born when they begin to die, and long for doctrines of weariness and renunciation.

They would rather be dead, and we should approve of their wish! Let us beware of awakening those dead ones, and of damaging those living coffins!

They meet an invalid, or an old man, or a corpse - and immediately they say: "Life is refuted!" But they only are refuted, and their eye, which sees only one aspect of existence.

Shrouded in thick melancholy, and eager for the little casualties that bring death: thus do they wait, and clench their teeth.

Or else, they grasp at candy, and mock at their childishness thereby: they cling to their straw of life, and mock at their still clinging to it.

Their wisdom speaks thus:

"A fool, he who remains alive; but so far are we fools! And that is the most foolish thing in life!"

"Life is only suffering": so say others, and lie not. Then see to it that you cease! See to it that the life ceases which is only suffering! And let this be the teaching of your virtue:

"you shall slay yourself! you shall steal away from yourself!"

"Lust is sin," - so say some who preach death - "let us go apart and beget no children!" "Giving birth is troublesome," - say others - "why still give birth? One bears only the unfortunate!"

And they also are preachers of death.

"Pity is necessary," - so says a third party.

"Take what I have! Take what I am! So much less does life bind me!"

Were they consistently pitiful, then would they make their neighbor sick of life. To be wicked - that would be their true goodness. But they want to be rid of life; what care they if they bind others still faster with their chains and gifts!

And you also, to whom life is rough labor and disquiet, are you not very tired of life? Are you not very ripe for the sermon of death? All you to whom rough labor is dear, and the rapid, new, and strange - you put up with yourselves badly; your diligence is flight, and the will to self-forgetfulness.

If you believed more in life, then would you devote yourselves less to the momentary. But for waiting, you have not enough of capacity in you - nor even for idling! Everywhere resounds the voices of those who preach death; and the earth is full of those to whom death has to be preached.

Or "life eternal"; it is all the same to me - if only they pass away quickly!

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

By our best enemies we do not want to be spared, nor by those either whom we love from the very heart. So let me tell you the truth!

My brothers in war! I love you from the very heart. I am, and was ever, your counterpart. And I am also your best enemy.

So let me tell you the truth! I know the hatred and envy of your hearts. You are not great enough not to know of hatred and envy. Then be great enough not to be ashamed of them!

And if you cannot be saints of knowledge, then, I pray you, be at least its warriors. They are the companions and forerunners of such sainthood.

I see many soldiers; could I but see many warriors! "Uniform" one calls what they wear; may that which it hides not be uniform! You shall be those whose eyes ever seek for an enemy - for your enemy.

And with some of you there is hatred at first sight. Your enemy shall you seek; your war shall you wage, and for the sake of your thoughts!

And if your thoughts succumb, your uprightness shall still shout triumph thereby! You shall love peace as a means to new wars - and the short peace more than the long. You I advise not to work, but to fight. You I advise not to peace, but to victory. Let your work be a fight, let your peace be a victory!

One can only be silent and sit peacefully when one has bow and arrow; otherwise one chatters and quarrels. Let your peace be a victory!

You say it is the good cause which sanctifies even war?

I say to you: it is the good war which hallows every cause. War and courage have done more great things than charity. Not your sympathy, but your bravery has thus far saved the victims.

"What is good?" you ask. To be brave is good. Let the little girls say: "To be good is what is pretty, and at the same time touching."

They call you heartless: but your heart is true, and I love the bashfulness of your goodwill.

You are ashamed of your flow, and others are ashamed of their ebb. You are ugly? Well then, my brothers, take the sublime about you, the mantle of the ugly!

And when your soul becomes great, then does it become high-spirited, and in your sublimeness there is wickedness.

I know you. In wickedness the high-spirited man and the weakling meet. But they misunderstand one another.

I know you. You shall only have enemies to be hated, but not enemies to be despised.

You must be proud of your enemies; then, the successes of your enemies are also your successes.

Resistance - that is the distinction of the slave. Let your distinction be obedience. Let your commanding itself be obeying!

To the good warrior sounds "you shall" more pleasant than "I will." And all that is dear to you, you shall first have it commanded to you.

Let your love to life be love to your highest hope; and let your highest hope be the highest thought of life!

Your highest thought, however, you shall have it commanded to you by me - and it is this:

man is something that is to be surpassed.

So live your life of obedience and of war! What matter about long life! What warrior wishes to be spared! I spare you not, I love you from my very heart, my brothers in war!

Thus spoke Zarathustra.

About the book:

A tremendously influential philosophical work of the late nineteenth century, "Thus Spake Zarathustra" is also a literary masterpiece by one of the most important thinkers of modern times.

The theme of the book is about following one's passions in life rather than blindly following lame religious beliefs. The book is a blend of atheism and moral codes of conduct, with an emphasis on will and internal power.

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