Maintaining cheerfulncss in the midst of a gloomy affair, fraught
with immeasurable responsibility, is no small feat; and yet what
is needed more than cheerfulness? Nothing succeeds if prankishness
has no part in it. Excess of strength alone is the proof of strength.
A revaluation of all values, this question mark, so black, so tremendous that it casts shadows upon the man who puts it down-such a destiny of a task compels one to run into the sun every moment to shake off a heavy, all-too-heavy seriousness. Every means is proper for this; every "case" a case of luck. Especially, war. War has always been the great wisdom of all spirits who have become too inward, too profound; even in a wound there is the power to heal. A maxim, the origin of which I withhold from scholarly curiosity, has long been my motto:
Increscunt animi, virescit volnere virtus.
Another mode of convalescence-under certain circumstances even more to my liking-is sounding out idols, There are more idols than realities in the world: that is my "evil eye" for this world, that is also my evil earn For once to pose questions here with a hammer, and, perhaps, to hear as a reply that famous hollow sound which speaks of bloated entrails-what a delight for one who has ears even behind his ears, for me, an old psychologist and pied piper before whom just that which would remain silent must become out spoken.
This essay too-the title betrays it-is above all a recreation, a spot of sunshine, a leap sideways into the idleness of a psychologist. Perhaps a new war, too? And are new idols sounded out? This little essay is a great declaration of war; and regarding the sounding out of idols, this time they are not just idols of the age, but eternal idols. which are here touched with a hammer as with a tuning fork: there are altogether no older, no more convinced, no more puffed-up idols-and none more hollow. That does not prevent them from being those in which people have the most faith; nor does one ever say "idol," especially not in the most distinguished instance.
Turin, September 30, 1888,
on the day when the first book of the Revaluation of All Values was completed.