In one of the upper regions of the astral world—not in the region of pure mind but near it—I met a man last night who passed to and fro with his head bowed in thought. “What troubles you, friend?” I asked, as I stood before him. He paused in his restless walk and gazed at me.
“Who are you?” he enquired, listlessly.
“I am a Judge,” I answered. His eyes brightened with interest.
“You must have come at the call of my thought,” he said, “for I have need of a Judge.”
“On whom do you wish me to pass judgment?” I asked, half smiling at his strange words.
“I would like you to pass judgment on me.”
“And your offence?”
“My offence—if it is an offence, and on that you shall give your opinion—is having led a nation to its undoing.”
“With malice aforethought?” I queried.
“With malice, perhaps,” he answered, “but not in the sense of your question. I never believed they had spirit enough to believe me.”
“You pique my curiosity,” I said. “Who are ‘they?’ and in what did they believe you?”
“They are the Germans,” he answered, “the Germans whom I despised, and they believed my theory that man becomes supreme by doing what he wills to do.”
“And the devil take the hindmost?”
“Yes, and the devil take the hindmost.” He bent on me his somber eyes, and I waited for his words.
“What a folk those Germans are!” he said. “Whatever they do, they do too thoroughly. One cannot trust them with a great truth.”
“They do seem to have systematized you into the ground,” I answered.
“I wanted to make them gods,” he complained, “and I have made them devils.”
“God only can make gods,” I said. “Perhaps you were too ambitious.”
“Humph! Perhaps I was too confiding.”
“Hermeticism is safer,” I suggested. “You told them far too much.”
“Or far too little, maybe.”
“In how many volumes?”
“Go ask the librarians. Not the foreign ones—they bind my works in packages of salable size.”
“And how can I help you?” I asked.
“While you prosecute and defend yourself?”
“Who else is fit, either to prosecute or defend me?”
“Go on with the prosecution. “I have corrupted a whole people, and led them to their ruin.”
“Elaborate the charge.”
“I thought to remedy their spinelessness, and following me with characteristic thoroughness, they have become all spine; they have neither heart nor bowels.”
“Continue,” I said.
“I preached Beyond Man. They have practiced below man.”
“So far,” I interrupted, “you have prosecuted them, not yourself.”
“How can I charge myself without charging them?” he demanded.
“Then I will step down from the bench,” I said, “and talk with you man to man.”
“I am glad you didn’t say soul to soul.”
“Oh, man is good enough for me! As I said before, you were too ambitious.”
“Yes, too ambitious for man, too sick of man, too much in love with what man might become!”
“We have come already to the defense,” I said.
“The smell of the court is still about you,” he growled.
“You asked me to be your judge.”
“Yes, that is true.”
“I am sorry for you,” I said. He smiled a sad and searching smile.
“You seem to have both heart and bowels,” he observed.
“And you have been too long alone,” I replied. “You have lost your gift of words. Shall I prosecute, defend and judge you? You can interrupt me whenever you like.”
“Go on,” he assented.
“You were born under a restless star,” I began. “You followed heroes; they disappointed you by being men. Then you made self your hero, and that disappointed you most of all.”
“You seem to know all about me.”
“That is the glory and the shame of your greatness, that one knows all about you.”
“I deny it! You do not know all about me.”
“What is it that we do not know?”
“You do not know how I loved man!”
“You spoke of him with contempt.”
“That he might rise to Beyond Man.”
“Oh! And drown the children on the Lusitania, and hack his way through Belgium, and turn every friend against him, and be the curse of the planet!” He raised an arresting finger.
“You are speaking of the Germans,” he said.
“They are the only ones who have followed your philosophy to its logical conclusion.”
“And you taunt me with that?”
“I taunt you with nothing. I am stating facts. It was you who taunted them—to their undoing.”
“I only preached Beyond Man.”
“So far beyond man that man misunderstood you.”
“Is that my fault?”
“Not altogether theirs. You hated too much. You taught them to hate man.”
“I taught them to hate all that was not Beyond Man.”
“But man is not Beyond Man, and so you taught them to hate man.”
“But they themselves are not Beyond Man!”
“They aspire to be. You taught them to aspire to be. They believed themselves Beyond Man, beyond good and evil. You taught chemistry to babes and sucklings, and they have blown up the nursery of the world.”
“I wanted only to teach them.”
“You should have begun with the a-b-c.”
“And what do you think is the a-b-c of Beyond Man,” he asked.
“The a is love, the b is humility, the c is truth,” I answered.
“And why did I not teach them love, humility and truth?”
“You knew not love, humility and truth.”
“I knew not love?”
“You knew not love.”
“And I knew not humility?”
“Your arrogance is a by-word.”
“And I knew not truth?”
“You knew but half the truth, and half the truth is not truth, as half an apple is not an apple.”
“Do you think I taught them falsehood?”
“The supreme falsehood, that they could be Beyond Man. They are not ready for Beyond Man.”
“But man must be surpassed!”
“Man must surpass himself,” I answered. “You see, there is a difference.”
“What should I have taught them?”
“That Beyond Man is the servant of man, not the bully and the tyrant.”
“But they would not have understood.”
“Be not too sure of that. Some few have understood the Son of Man.”
“Whom you repudiated.”
“But he taught men to be slaves!”
“A good servant maketh a good master, and he that is greatest among you let him be the servant of all.”
“Oh, if you are going to quote Scripture—”
“I quote the Beyond Man.”
“And you believe—”
“I believe that you repudiated the only well-known example of your own ideal.”
“And you also believe—”
“Yes, I also believe that you went mad because you saw too late that all your teaching was a lie. I believe that you had not the courage to repudiate yourself, and so surpass yourself; so surpass yourself and become yourself Beyond Man.”
“Then you think I knew?”
“I know that you knew. I know that you had a vision of Him, that you saw where you yourself had failed to understand, and that you would not acknowledge your own understanding—which came too late.”
“You know too much,” he said.
“You asked me to be your judge,” I retorted.
“But not my executioner.”
“You have been your own executioner, and the executioner of your people.”
“My people!” His tone was scornful.
“Did I not say that you had no love?” I demanded.
“And what do you now bid me do?”
“Go back to the earth, and teach mankind how man can surpass himself. Go back to the earth, and teach men to follow the carpenter’s Son whom you taught them to despise. Go back to Germany, and repudiate yourself.”
“And how shall I go back?”
“In another body, of course, a clean and wholesome body, which you are to keep clean.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know very well what I mean! I have told you that you had no love. You had only fastidiousness, and arrogance, and the desire for sensation.”
“You have set me a hard task,” he said.
“Eternity is long,” I replied, “and the new Germany will have need of your new teaching.”
“Shall I thank you?” he asked.
“There is no need. It is I who thank you for not appealing from my decision.”
“Good night,” he said.
“Good night,” I repeated. And the soul of Friedrich Nietzsche passed on. Was it toward the gate of rebirth?
THE ENTERING WEDGE
After our writing of last night, in which I told you of the tortured soul who asked my judgment on a course of teaching, which had corrupted a nation, I went back to the battle line in France. (The Germans cannot sink me with their torpedoes.) Passing slowly along the German side, I saw again the tall majestic form, dark-veiled about the head, which I described to you in a previous letter. This time I hailed him, without waiting for him to hail me.
“How goes your work?” I asked. He threw back the veil which covered him, and I saw the dark and splendid face, marked deep by thought and evil.
“My work goes as it goes,” he answered. “And what have you been doing?”
“Writing to the world this evening,” I replied.
He laughed. “Have you been writing about peace?”
“Not this time. I have been writing about a conversation I had with a great and troubled soul.”
“Yes, I know.”
“You know, do you? Were you listening?”
“Through my long-distance telephone.”
“Brilliant invention, the telephone,” I observed. “Did you inspire the invention?”
“I? Oh, no! I worked against it.”
“It is not well that man should know too much.”
“But when man makes discoveries, notwithstanding your efforts to hinder him, you attempt to use those discoveries against him, do you not?”
“You interest me,” I said. “And were you interested by my conversation with the soul of Friedrich Nietzsche?”
“More interested than you can imagine, until I tell you why.”
“And you will tell me why?”
“There is no reason for my not telling you. I am frank with those who see through me.”
“Why don’t you teach that to the Germans?”
“Because it would spoil my game. I want to destroy them after I have used them and, if they should turn frank, they would be so thorough in their frankness that they would disarm the indignant world.”
“They are frank enough in their brutality,” I said.
“Oh, yes! But that is another matter. Should they be frank in their repentance, the world would forgive them.”
“But what of Nietzsche?” I questioned.
“Only this, that it was I who inspired him.”
“You did your work thoroughly.”
“I do my work as thoroughly as it can be done.”
“Tell me more,” I urged.
“What a worker was lost in you,” he exclaimed, “when you chose good for your standard!”
“But I am an excellent worker,” I insisted. “I have even balked some of your work.” He laughed, a quick, sharp laugh.
“Don’t think that I care too much for that,” he said. “There is more than one road for me. If you block the door, I can go in by the window.”
“And how did you go into Nietzsche?”
“Sometimes by one way, sometimes by another. He only locked his door against man, and you see I also am Beyond Man.”
“I perceived that at our first meeting. He who goes beyond man must make the choice between good and evil.”
“There is no fooling you,” he said, “and so I no longer try. Yes, it was I who inspired Nietzsche to preach Beyond Man to the Germans, who could only choose evil when they believed themselves strong.”
“And what do you get out of it?”
For an answer, he asked a question: “Did you ever play chess?”
“Often, in many lives,” I answered.
“Did you have an interest in the game?”
“A great interest.”
“Did you play for stakes?”
“Then what interested you?”
“Why, the game.”
“Of course,” he said. “That is how I enjoy my game. I play to win, if I can. When I do not win, I have had the pleasure of the game.”
“And you played with that great man’s soul?”
“As a cat plays with a mouse. I found in him an earnest spirit, with a sore spot in his head and in his heart. He was an easy one.”
“How did you go about it?”
“By the usual method.”
“And that is?”
“And he did not smell a rat?”
“The rats were perfumed. He is an aesthete.”
“Do you always perfume the rats?”
“It isn’t always necessary. I perfumed yours.”
“Yes,” I said, “with the patchouli of peace. But I have a keen scent.”
“Yes, the others have taught you too well.”
“Did Nietzsche ever see you as I see you?”
“He saw my distinguished face, and he felt the thrill of my power, and he envied and desired to be like me. It is great sport when these earnest mortals are anxious to emulate me!”
“And so you taught him Beyond Man?”
“Yes, and I taught him to despise the One who was really Beyond Man.”
“Then you are not really Beyond Man yourself?”
“My head is. My other members are nearer the earth.”
“Notwithstanding the dignity of your presence?”
Oh, there is a dignity in the earth and in what belongs to the earth!”
“Did the German philosopher ever know you for what you are?”
“Yes, toward the end, but then it was too late to undo my work.”
“Then also at the end,” I exclaimed, “he saw the two forms of Beyond Man, you and the Christ!”
“Yes, he saw. The seeing drove him mad.”
“And you have no remorse for your work?”
“Remorse? What is that?”
“Remorse is an emotion which men feel when they are conscious of having done evil.”
“An emotion that men feel,” he repeated. “But I only feel those emotions of men which give me pleasure in the feeling.”
“You are really too curious and inquisitive!”
“Granted, my curiosity and inquisitiveness,” I said. “But it interests me, this labor of a lifetime, to make him an instrument through which all this could be produced,” and I indicated by a gesture the battle line beneath us. His eyes were brilliant with fire as he answered:
“What is the lifetime of a man in comparison to the glory of all this? One might labor a thousand years and produce nothing in comparison with this!”
“It pleases you then, this slaughter?”
“What a trifling question! It gratifies me, glorifies me, exalts me—all this carnage of battle brought forth by me and my kind.”
“And did you have all this in mind while you were preparing one man to corrupt a nation by his writings?”
“Yes. He was the one perfect instrument. None other could have served our purpose so well—ambitious, dissatisfied, aristocratic, arrogant, unloving in the broader sense, capable of infatuation and hence of disenchantment, and last but not least, with eyes open to the vision.”
“The vision of you?”
“Yes. He saw me first in dreams, and admired me, and desired to emulate me.”
“And then you spoke to him of Beyond Man?”
“Yes, and I used the old arguments that women were of small account; that the love of woman stood in man’s way; that woman enslaved man unless he enslaved her; that Nature was the devil, not the Great Mother, and so was to be combated as far as possible; that man rose to Beyond Man by denying all that could influence him, including Nature, and, by asserting whatever gave him freedom, such as his own superiority to all other beings, his mastery of them, his mastery of his own thought, his mastery of good and evil, of fact and falsehood.”
“A fine combination of fact and falsehood, that teaching of yours,” I said.
“Of course,” he answered; “but what would you? Truth alone could never have produced this.” And he swept with his long arm the line of battle beneath us.
“And what else did you teach your chosen disciple?” I asked.
“I taught him all that he taught the world. Whenever he drove a woman’s face from his heart, I scored a point and he thought himself nearer Beyond Man. Whenever he swelled with pride and superiority, I scored a point and he felt himself nearer Beyond Man. Whenever he read Gospels and sneered to himself at the humility of the so-called Son of Man, I scored two points—one against him and one against your Christ.”
“Thank you,” I said, “for enrolling me with the followers of the Crucified One. I am such a follower.” He ignored my last remark and proceeded:
“I encouraged his wish to produce a new ideal of a leader, a new Christ, an Antichrist, a hard-faced German Christ, who should not win men by love and compassion, but by cruelty and hardening. Oh, I have done that work well! Many a German has exalted my ideal to the place of the Son of Mary. Many a German has put me in place of the Sun God, and hailed me as Beyond Man, though he was too cowardly to herald me frankly as Antichrist. Instead, he added my attributes to Christ and called us by one name, and by that name he sought to destroy all pity and compassion, both in himself and in others, sought to destroy all love that stood in his way of becoming like me. It was I who taught him to exalt the cross as a symbol of cruelty, of sacrifice to himself, and not of himself for the love of man.” He paused, and gazed out toward the stars that shone serenely above us.
“You seem to me,” I said, “to be yourself conscious of the superiority of Christ to Antichrist.” Again he ignored my remark, and continued the line of his own thought.
“What intellectual pleasure it has given me, this transforming of a Christian nation into monsters of egotism and cruelty to all things not their own! The foreigner was to be hated, despised, used, ridiculed, and whenever possible insulted. I taught them that such were the ways of Beyond Man, that so was man surpassed.”
“But why do you tell all this to me?” I asked. “Why do you thus lay your cards upon the table, when you know that I hold a better hand?” The eyes he turned to me were smoldering lakes off flame.
“Because I envy you,” he said.
“Is that some new and more subtle attack upon me and the principles I stand for?”
The dark one laughed again, his sharp and mirthless laughter.
“Frankly, no,” he said. “You no longer amuse me as an opponent.”
“That I throw up the game in weariness—that is, for the present. Already the souls I deluded are weary of me and my teaching. They have seen a new light—some of them.”
“Perhaps,” I said, “they have seen the light of the Christ, the true Beyond Man.”
“Perhaps,” he repeated.
“And you have seen it, too?”
“Faugh!” he said. “Are you ambitious to convert the devil?”
Suddenly he turned to me: “Will you take me for a pupil?”
“Again, no,” I answered. “You will make that request of some good woman, with a better chance of deceiving her.”
“So you know all the tricks?”
“My teacher has taught me much regarding the ways of your kind.”
“Then I bid you good evening,” he said, and disappeared in the darkness.
World for which I write, I am telling you these things that you may be armored with knowledge. When Satan asks you to convert him, beware lest he convert you. When Satan points to Beyond Man, even to Christ, be sure that his Christ is not Antichrist; be sure He is full of compassion, that His heart bleeds for the woes and weakness of the world, that His crown of thorns is the mark of His sacrifice for man, and not merely a becoming ornament. For, as He said:
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” And also:
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many, for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published July 2017
Size: 229 x 152 mm