Nietzsche and the Problem of Those Who Wait

Friedrich Nietzsche, Jenseits von Gut und Böse [Beyond Good and Evil], §274:

Das Problem der Wartenden. — Es sind Glücksfälle dazu nötig und vielerlei Unberechenbares, dass ein höherer Mensch, in dem die Lösung eines Problems schläft, noch zur rechten Zeit zum Handeln kommt — „zum Ausbruch“, wie man sagen könnte. Es geschieht durchschnittlich nicht, und in allen Winkeln der Erde sitzen Wartende, die es kaum wissen, in wie fern sie warten, noch weniger aber, dass sie umsonst warten. Mitunter auch kommt der Weckruf zu spät, jener Zufall, der die „Erlaubnis“ zum Handeln gibt, — dann, wenn bereits die beste Jugend und Kraft zum Handeln durch Stillsitzen verbraucht ist; und wie Mancher fand, eben als er „aufsprang“, mit Schrecken seine Glieder eingeschlafen und seinen Geist schon zu schwer! „Es ist zu spät“ — sagte er sich, ungläubig über sich geworden und nunmehr für immer unnütz. — Sollte, im Reiche des Genies, der „Raffael ohne Hände“, das Wort im weitesten Sinn verstanden, vielleicht nicht die Ausnahme, sondern die Regel sein? — Das Genie ist vielleicht gar nicht so selten: aber die fünfhundert Hände, die es nötig hat, um den καιρὁς, „die rechte Zeit“ — zu tyrannisieren, um den Zufall am Schopf zu fassen!

Translated by I. Johnston:

The problem for those who wait.—For a higher man in whom the solution to a problem lies asleep, strokes of luck and all sorts of unpredictable things are necessary for him to swing into action at just the right time—“for an eruption,” as we could say. Ordinarily it does not happen, and in all the corners of the earth sit people waiting, who hardly know to what extent they are waiting, but even less that they are waiting in vain. From time to time the call to wake up, that chance which provides the “permission” for action comes too late—at a time when the best youth and power for action have already been used up in sitting still. And many a man, in the very moment he “sprang up,” has found to his horror that his limbs have gone to sleep and his spirit is already too heavy! “It is too late,” he says to himself, having lost faith in himself, and is now forever useless.—In the realm of the genius, could “Raphael without hands,” taking that phrase in the widest sense, perhaps not be the exception but the rule?—Genius is perhaps not really so rare, but the five hundred hands needed to tyrannize the kairos, “the right time,” to seize chance by the forelock!

Translated by H. Zimmern:

The problem of those who wait.—Happy chances are necessary, and many incalculable elements, in order that a higher man in whom the solution of a problem is dormant, may yet take action, or “break forth,” as one might say—at the right moment. On an average it does not happen; and in all corners of the earth there are waiting ones sitting who hardly know to what extent they are waiting, and still less that they wait in vain. Occasionally, too, the waking call comes too late—the chance which gives “permission” to take action—when their best youth, and strength for action have been used up in sitting still; and how many a one, just as he “sprang up,” has found with horror that his limbs are benumbed and his spirits are now too heavy! “It is too late,” he has said to himself—and has become self-distrustful and henceforth for ever useless.—In the domain of genius, may not the “Raphael without hands” (taking the expression in its widest sense) perhaps not be the exception, but the rule?—Perhaps genius is by no means so rare: but rather the five hundred hands which it requires in order to tyrannize over the χαιροζ, “the right time”—in order to take chance by the forelock!

Translated into Italian by S. Giametta (slightly modified):

Il problema di coloro che aspettano. – Sono necessari dei colpi di fortuna e molte cose imprevedibili perché un uomo superiore, in cui dorme la soluzione d’un problema, pervenga ad agire al momento giusto – «a esplodere», come si potrebbe dire. Ciò di regola non accade, e in tutti gli angoli della terra siedono coloro che aspettano, che quasi non sanno perché aspettano, ma ancor meno che aspettano inutilmente. Talvolta, anche, la voce del risveglio giunge troppo tardi, quel caso che dà il «permesso» d’agire – allorquando la migliore gioventú e forza d’agire è già consumata dallo star fermo; e piú d’uno, quando appunto «balzò in piedi», sentí con orrore che le sue membra erano intorpidite e il suo spirito già troppo greve! «È troppo tardi», si disse, divenuto incredulo su sé stesso e ormai definitivamente inutile. Nel regno del genio il «Raffaello senza mani», prendendo la parola nel senso piú ampio, sarebbe forse non l’eccezione, ma la regola? Il genio forse non è affatto cosí raro, ma lo sono le cinquecento mani di cui esso ha bisogno per tiranneggiare il xaipóq, «il momento opportuno», per acciuffare il caso!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s