Mixing Memory

Letters from Nietzsche

OK, the last two posts with quotes from philosophers were at least remotely relevant to recent discussions on this blog. These quotes will be completely irrelevant, but they’ve stuck with me since I first read them at least a decade ago, and have been on my mind recently, so I thought I’d post them. They’re from letters by Nietzsche to friends Cosima Wagner, Richard Wagner’s widow, and Jacob Burckhardt, a historian, written in January, 1889, soon after his “psychotic break.” The translations are from here (where you an read other January, 1889 letters).

Letter from January 3, 1889 to Cosima Wagner:

To Princess Ariadne, My Beloved.

It is a mere prejudice that I am a human being. Yet I have often enough dwelled among human beings and I know the things human beings experience, from the lowest to the highest. Among the Hindus I was Buddha, in Greece Dionysus–Alexander and Caesar were incarnations of me, as well as the poet of Shakespeare, Lord Bacon. Most recently I was Voltaire and Napoleon, perhaps also Richard Wagner … However, I now come as Dionysus victorious, who will prepare a great festival on Earth … Not as though I had much time … The heavens rejoice to see me here … I also hung on the cross …

From a letter to Jacob Burckhardt, on January 6, 1889:

What is unpleasant and a strain on my modesty is that in fact I am every name in history; and as for the children I have brought into the world, I ponder with some misgiving the possibility that not everyone who enters the “kingdom of God” also comes from God.

And later in that same letter:

I go everywhere in my student coat, now and then slap someone on the back, and say: siamo contenti? son dio, ho fatto questa caricatura …

The Italian is translated as “Is everything OK? I am God, this farce is my creation.”


  1. #1 Heocwaeth
    December 17, 2006

    Hey! My previous comment was rejected as coming from a trouble-making ISP#! How does the intraweb know my ISP is trouble? That’s foul play, right there.

    That said, I need you to explain for me how it is that Cosima Wagner was First Richard’s widow, and THEN his wife. Germans are kinky, but not that kinky. I think.

  2. #2 Chris
    December 17, 2006

    Heo, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times: if you don’t try to post all those porn spam comments, your normal comments will come through.

  3. #3 heocwaeth
    December 17, 2006

    And, I’ve I’ve said to you many, many times:


    quod erat demonstrandum

  4. #4 Chris
    December 17, 2006

    hah! that video is great.