To call the taming of an animal its ‘improvement’ is in our ears almost a joke. Whoever knows what goes on in zoos is doubtful whether the beasts in them are ‘improved’. They are weakened, they are made less harmful, they become sickly beasts through the depressive emotion of fear, through pain, through injuries, through hunger. It is no different with the tamed human being whom the priest has ‘improved’. In the early Middle Ages, when the church was in fact above all a zoo, one . . . improved, for example, the noble Teutons. But what did such a Teuton afterwards look like when he had been ‘improved’ and led into a monastery? Like a caricature of a human being, like an abortion: he had become a sinner; he was in a cage; one had imprisoned him behind nothing but sheer terrifying concepts . . . . There he lay now, sick, miserable, filled with ill-will towards himself, full of hatred for the impulses toward life, full of suspicion of all that was still strong and happy. In short, [he was] a Christian [. . .]

— Twilight of the Idols 2

That Nietzsche, feeling sick (altitude sickness?), walks out of the first act of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung (Das Rheingold) during the grand opening

of Bayreuth on 13 August 1876, might indicate who the higher one is of these two German titans is–that would be Richard Wagner, the latest incarnation of Wotan.Photo of Wagner

But then again, maybe I’m being prejudiced.  I’ve hiked the Wagnerian Alps a few times and there’s nothing like the experience of, for instance, Tristan and Isolde’s 45 minute love/lust death-worshiping nighttime duet in Act 2 of Tristan & Isolde.  Once you get used to him and let his music stream through your veins, Bach, Jimi Hendrix and Prince may even bore you in comparison to Wagner.

It’s time to finally read Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a book like several others on my bookshelf, that have just been sitting around for a while.