Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is my favourite philosopher and greatest philosophical inspiration. I have spent years defending Nietzsche’s concept of will to power from detractors, explaining why it has nothing to do with domination and control. Nietzsche is a philosopher of creativity and spiritual health. If he comes across like a rabid dog, barking furiously at the world, it was because he dreamed passionately of a better world – a world of free spirits, risk takers and creators, people who selfishly seek to cultivate their powers so that they can unleash themselves on the world in powerful and dynamic ways.
Do we live in a Nietzschean world today? In many respects, we do. Still, creators walk a lonely path, for they engage in disruptive activities, and thereby ruffle as many feathers as they release birds into flight. I dedicate the following passage to the passionate dreamers of the world – the pathmakers, philosophers, and radical entrepreneurs. It comes from Nietzsche’s magnum opus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-4). It is called, ‘The Way of the Creator’. It has helped me find my way, and I hope it helps you find yours.
Would you go into solitude, my brother? Would you seek the way to yourself? Then wait a moment and listen to me.
“He who seeks may easily get lost himself. All solitude is wrong”: so say the herd. And long did you belong to the herd.
The voice of the herd will still echo in you. And when you say, “I no longer have a conscience in common with you,” then it will be a grief and a pain.
Lo, that same conscience created that pain; and the last gleam of that conscience still glows on your affliction.
But you would go the way of your affliction, which is the way to yourself? Then show me your right and your strength to do so!
Are you a new strength and a new right? A first motion? A self-rolling wheel? Can you even compel the stars to revolve around you?
Alas! there is so much lusting for loftiness! There are so many convulsions of the ambitious! Show me that you are not a lusting and ambitious one!
Alas! there are so many great thoughts that do nothing more than the bellows: they inflate, and make emptier than ever.
Free, do you call yourself? Then I would hear your ruling thought, and not merely that you have escaped from a yoke.
Are you one of those who had the right to escape from a yoke? Many a one has cast away his last worth when he has cast away his servitude.
Free from what? What does that matter to Zarathustra! But your fiery eyes should tell me: free for what?
Can you give yourself your own evil and good, and set up your own will as a law over you? Can you be judge for yourself, and avenger of your law?
Terrible is it to be alone with the judge and avenger of one’s own law. Thus is a star thrown into the void, and into the icy breath of solitude.
Today you still suffer from the many, you individual; today your courage and hopes are undiminished.
But one day the solitude will weary you; one day your pride will yield, and your courage quail. You will one day cry: “I am alone!”
One day you will no longer see your heights, and see too closely your depths; even your sublimity will frighten you like a phantom. You will one day cry: “All is false!”
There are feelings which seek to kill the solitary one; if they do not succeed, then they themselves must die! But are you capable of this — to be a murderer?
Have you ever known, my brother, the word “contempt”? And the anguish of your justice in being just to those that despise you?
You force many to think differently about you; that, they charge bitterly to your account. You came near to them and yet went past: for that they never forgive you.
You go beyond them: but the higher you rise, the smaller do you appear to the eye of envy. But the flying one is hated most of all.
“How could you be just to me!” — you must say — “I choose your injustice as my proper lot.”
They cast injustice and filth at the solitary one: but, my brother, if you would be a star, you must shine for them none the less on that account!
And be on your guard against the good and the just! They would rather crucify those who create their own virtue — they hate the solitary ones.
Be on your guard, also, against holy simplicity! All that is not simple is unholy to it; it likes to play with fire and burn — at the stake.
And be on your guard, also, against the assaults of your love! Too readily does the recluse offer his hand to any one he meets.
To many you may not give a hand, but only a paw; and I want your paw to have claws.
But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you ambush yourself in caverns and forests.
You solitary one, you go the way to yourself! And your way leads you past yourself and your seven devils!
You will be a heretic to yourself, and a sorcerer and a soothsayer, and a fool, and a doubter, and a reprobate, and a villain.
You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes!
You solitary one, you go the way of the creator: you will create a god for yourself out of your seven devils!
You solitary one, you go the way of the lover: you love yourself, and on that account you despise yourself, as only the lover can despise.
The lover wants to create because he despises! What does he know of love who has not despised that which he loved!
With your love and with your creating go into your solitude, my brother; only much later will justice limp after you.
With my tears, go into your solitude, my brother. I love him who seeks to create beyond himself, and thus perishes.
Thus spoke Zarathustra.