1 3 0 D O C U M E N T 1 1 9 J A N U A R Y 1 9 2 8 You might object, with a certain justification, that you have seen nothing analo- gous in reality. You’ve seen people who combine intellectual and bodily qualities in a wonderful way. You consider these people directly as ideal. I do not contest the existence of such people (though their number is minimal), I only say this: any use of the mind as an instrument for itself tends to separate the mind from the body and to that extent (tends) to weaken life. In individual cases this may not become visi- ble. In addition it happens, as I certainly believe, that from a certain degree on, the refinement of feeling, which is steadily increasing under the current circumstances, runs directly counter to the ability to live and act. I don’t think you can deny that in good conscience. By living I must still understand plain animal life, and reject “fine living” and suchlike as a distorted compromise. If mere functioning seems to you empty, I can only repeat: so much the worse for you—so much the worse for us, because natu- rally I also have feeling. One can more or less determine the degree of a being’s degeneration from the degree of its rejection of plain life. Moreover, I suspect that your “living beautifully” comes disturbingly close to our “swineherd ideal.” Is it really only a subtler conception of it? In general, I have little interest in aesthetic feeling. I see it as a repugnant mix- ture of mind and sexuality. I imagine that in people the vessel for sexuality has, as it were, exploded from a lack of outlets and more or less saturated the whole soul with sexuality. So-called sublimation. For me, sublimation is the quintessence of sin. I’d like to discuss one more point in your letter, the way a preacher reads out the Bible text appropriate for his sermon. It’s hard to say whether the evolution from amphioxus to ape is an ongoing de- generation. Hard to say because every animal, insofar as it thrives in the wilder- ness, is actually branded by nature as useful. But nature seems to have gradually let humans go. Medicine benefits from this. For me the only thing that is certain is that the evolution from the lower apes to the human being represents a degeneration. I do not venture to rank individual zoos in a hierarchy (apart from individual cases). You like to talk about “healthy social feeling.” I don’t want to fail to ask how you know what healthy is. Did you (expressed vulgarly) just cook it up? “The Greeks are right when they see proportionality as the ideal.” I advise you, beware of Greeks. The Greeks are treacherous terrain for people of your persua- sion. It may be that by proportionality they meant something entirely different from what you mean. Distinctions must be drawn among the Greeks. In Homer, the Greeks’ ideal was Achilles, who was all body and strength, and at most also Odysseus, whose intelligence, in the capacity of deceit and mendacity, served en- tirely egoistic interests. So it is entirely appropriate that in the Odyssey, the bard is blind.[3] It is quite clearly said that he had received the art of poetry in place of the
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