Work without pleasure is vulgar

Friedrich NietzscheFriedrich Nietzsche
Nearly all people in civilized countries are alike; to all of them, work is just a means and not itself the end, which is why they are unrefined in their choice of work, provided it yields an ample reward. Now there are rare individuals who would rather perish than work without taking pleasure in their work: they are choosy, hard to please, and have no use for ample rewards if the work is not itself the reward of rewards.
To this rare breed belong artists and contemplative men of all kinds, but also men of leisure who spend their lives hunting, travelling, in love affairs, or on adventures. All of them want work and misery as long as it is joined with pleasure, and the heaviest, hardest work, if need be. Otherwise they are resolutely idle, even if it spells impoverishment, dishonor, and danger to life and limb.

They do not fear boredorn as much as work without pleasure; indeed, they need a lot of boredorn if their work is to succeed. For the thinker and for all inventive spirits, boredorn is that disagreeable ‘lull’ of the soul that precedes a happy voyage and cheerful winds; he has to endure it, must await its effect on him – precisely that is what lesser natures are totally unable to achieve!
To fend off boredom at any price is vulgar, just as work without pleasure is vulgar. Perhaps Asians are distinguished as above Europeans by their capacity for a longer, deeper calm; even their narcotics work slowly and require patience, in contrast to the revolting suddenness of the European poison, alcohol.
What the laws betray

It is a grave error to study a people’s penal code as if it were an expression of its character; the laws do not betray what a people is but rather what appears to it as foreign, strange, uncanny, outlandish. The laws concern the exceptions to the morality of custom and the severest punishments are for things that accord with the customs of the neighboring people. Thus the Wahanabis have only two mortal sins: having a god other than the Wahanabi god and – smoking (which they call ‘the disgraceful way of drinking’).
‘And what about murder and adultery?’ asked the Englishman, amazed, who found this out. ‘God is gracious and merciful’, the old chief replied. Thus the old Romans had the notion that a woman could commit only two mortal sins: adultery and – drinking wine. Old Cato thought that kissing among relatives had been made into a custom only in order to keep the women under control. In this regard; a kiss meant, ‘Does she smell of wine?’

Women caught with wine were actually put to death, and certainly not just because sometimes women under the influence of wine completely forgot how to say no.

Excerpted from ‘The Gay Science.’ The 174th birth anniversary of Friedrich Nietzsche will be observed on October 15

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