States and spaces

| January 18, 2011

“Cheerfulness, the good conscience, the joyful deed, confidence in the future -all of them depend, in the case of the individual as of a nation, on the existence of a line dividing the bright and discernible from the unilluminable and dark; on one’s being just as able to forget at the right time as to remember at the right time; on the possession of a powerful instinct
for sensing when it is necessary to feel historically and when unhis­torically. This, precisely, is the proposition the reader is invited to meditate upon: the unhistorical and the historical are necessary in equal measure for the health of an individual, of a people and of a culture.

First of all, there is an observation that everyone must have made: a man’s historical sense and knowledge can be very limited, his horizon as narrow as that of a dweller in the Alps, all his judgments may involve injustice and he may falsely suppose that all his experiences are original to him -yet in spite of this injustice and error he will nonetheless stand there in superlative health and vigour, a joy to all who see him; while close beside him a man far
more just and instructed than he sickens and collapses because the lines of his horizon are always restlessly changing, because he can no longer extricate himself from the delicate net of his judiciousness and truth for a simple act of will and desire.”

Nietzsche, “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life” in Untimely Meditations.¬† Trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), I, p.63-64.