Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thought Provoking

Beauty no accident.

The beauty of a race or family, their grace and graciousness in all gestures, is won by work: like genius, it is the end result of the accumulated work of generations. One must have made great sacrifices to good taste, one must have done much and omitted much for its sake – seventeenth-century France is admirable in both respects – and good taste must have furnished a principle for selecting company, place, dress, sexual satisfaction; one must have preferred beauty to advantage, habit, opinion, and inertia. Supreme rule of conduct: before oneself too, one must not “let oneself go.” The good things are immeasurably costly; and the law always holds that those who have them are different than those who acquire them. All that is good is inherited: whatever is not inherited is imperfect, is a mere beginning.

In Athens, in the time of Cicero, who expresses his surprise about this, the men and youths were far superior in beauty to the women. But what work and exertion in the service of beauty had the male sex there imposed on itself for centuries! For one should make no mistake about the method in this case: a breeding of feelings and thoughts alone is almost nothing (this is the great misunderstanding underlying German education, which is wholly illusory): one must first persuade the body. Strict perseverance in significant and exquisite gestures together with the obligation to live only with people who do not “let themselves go” – that is quite enough for one to become significant and exquisite, and in two or three generations all this becomes inward. It is decisive for the lot of a people and of humanity that culture should begin in the right place – not in the “soul” (as was the fateful superstition of the priests and half-priests): the right place is the body, the gesture, the diet, physiology; the rest follows from that. Therefore the Greeks remain the first cultural event in history: they knew, they did, what was needed; and Christianity, which despised the body, has been the greatest misfortune of humanity so far.

[Nietzsche via my Greek friend, Niko]

No comments: