“death could sweeten every life”

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Van Gogh – skeleton with burning cigarette (1885-86)

Death. – The certain prospect of death could sweeten every life with a precious and fragrant drop of levity – and now you strange apothecary souls have turned it into an ill-tasting drop of poison that makes the whole of life repulsive!”

– Nietzsche, Human, All too Human 

“the voice of beauty speaks softly”

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Franz Hals – The Lute Player (1623)

“One has to speak with thunder and heavenly fireworks to feeble and dormant senses. But the voice of beauty speaks softly: it steals into only the most awakened souls. Gently my mirror trembled and laughed to me today; it was beauty’s holy laughter and trembling”

– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

“such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide”

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Gerardo Dottori – Burning City (1926)

“Here is the great city: where you have nothing to seek and everything to lose… Here is the Hell for hermits’ thoughts: here great thoughts are boiled alive and cooked small. Here all great emotions decay… Do you not smell already the slaughterhouses and cook-shops of the spirit? Does this city not reek of the fumes of slaughtered spirit?… Woe to this great city! I wish I could see already the pillar of fire in which it will be consumed! For such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide… I offer you in farewell this precept: where one can no longer love, one should pass by…”

– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

“Behold, I am the prophet of the lightning!”

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Benjamin West – Franklin drawing electricity from the sky (1816)

“I love all those who are like heavy drops falling singly from the dark cloud that hangs over mankind: they prophesy the coming of the lightning and as prophets they perish. Behold, I am the prophet of the lightning and a heavy drop from the cloud!”

– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

***

raptured conductor

beckons the glorious maelstrom

to o’erthrow the ages

***

 

“Give me madness, you heavenly powers!”

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William Blake – Cain fleeing the wrath of God (1805)

“Ah, give me madness, you heavenly powers! Madness that I may at last believe in myself! Give deliriums and convulsions, sudden lights and darkness, terrify me with frost and fire such as no mortal has ever felt, with deafening din and prowling figures, make me howl and whine and crawl like a beast: so that I may only come to believe in myself!”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak

“let the reins fall before the infinite”

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Giorgio de Chirico – Perseus with his horse (1940)

“We seek those moments and marvellous experiences when a great power has voluntarily come to a halt before the boundless and infinite, when a superabundance of refined delight has been enjoyed by a sudden checking and petrifying, by standing firmly and planting oneself fixedly on still trembling ground. Proportionateness is strange to us, let us confess it to ourselves; our itching is really the itching for the infinite, the immeasurable. Like the rider on his forward panting horse, we let the reins fall before the infinite, we modern men, we semi-barbarians, and are only in our highest bliss when we are most in danger!”

– Friedrich Nietzsche