The Pale Criminal
(1844 - 1900)
sublime one saw I today, a solemn one, a penitent of the
spirit: Oh, how my soul laughed at his ugliness! (thus
YE DO not mean to slay, ye judges and sacrificers,
until the animal hath bowed its head? Lo! the pale criminal hath bowed
his head: out of his eye speaketh the great contempt.
"Mine ego is something which is to
be surpassed: mine ego is to me the great contempt of man": so speaketh
it out of that eye.
When he judged himself- that was his supreme
moment; let not the exalted one relapse again into his low estate!
There is no salvation for him who thus
suffereth from himself, unless it be speedy death.
Your slaying, ye judges, shall be pity,
and not revenge; and in that ye slay, see to it that ye yourselves justify
It is not enough that ye should reconcile
with him whom ye slay. Let your sorrow be love to the Superman: thus will
ye justify your own survival!
"Enemy" shall ye say but not
"villain," "invalid" shall ye say but not "wretch,"
"fool" shall ye say but not "sinner."
And thou, red judge, if thou would say
audibly all thou hast done in thought, then would every one cry: "Away
with the nastiness and the virulent reptile!"
But one thing is the thought, another thing
is the deed, and another thing is the idea of the deed. The wheel of causality
doth not roll between them.
An idea made this pale man pale. Adequate
was he for his deed when he did it, but the idea of it, he could not endure
when it was done.
Evermore did he now see himself as the
doer of one deed. Madness, I call this: the exception reversed itself
to the rule in him.
The streak of chalk bewitcheth the hen;
the stroke he struck bewitched his weak reason. Madness after the deed,
I call this.
Hearken, ye judges! There is another madness
besides, and it is before the deed. Ah! ye have not gone deep enough into
Thus speaketh the red judge: "Why
did this criminal commit murder? He meant to rob." I tell you, however,
that his soul wanted blood, not booty: he thirsted for the happiness of
But his weak reason understood not this
madness, and it persuaded him. "What matter about blood!" it
said; "wishest thou not, at least, to make booty thereby? Or take
And he hearkened unto his weak reason:
like lead lay its words upon him- thereupon he robbed when he murdered.
He did not mean to be ashamed of his madness.
And now once more lieth the lead of his
guilt upon him, and once more is his weak reason so benumbed, so paralysed,
and so dull.
Could he only shake his head, then would
his burden roll off; but who shaketh that head?
What is this man? A mass of diseases that
reach out into the world through the spirit; there they want to get their
What is this man? A coil of wild serpents
that are seldom at peace among themselves- so they go forth apart and
seek prey in the world.
Look at that poor body! What it suffered
and craved, the poor soul interpreted to itself- it interpreted it as
murderous desire, and eagerness for the happiness of the knife.
Him who now turneth sick, the evil overtaketh
which is now the evil: he seeketh to cause pain with that which causeth
him pain. But there have been other ages, and another evil and good.
Once was doubt evil, and the will to Self.
Then the invalid became a heretic or sorcerer; as heretic or sorcerer
he suffered, and sought to cause suffering.
But this will not enter your ears; it hurteth
your good people, ye tell me. But what doth it matter to me about your
Many things in your good people cause me
disgust, and verily, not their evil. I would that they had a madness by
which they succumbed, like this pale criminal!
Verily, I would that their madness were
called truth, or fidelity, or justice: but they have their virtue in order
to live long, and in wretched self-complacency.
I am a railing alongside the torrent; whoever
is able to grasp me may grasp me! Your crutch, however, I am not.Thus
qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé.
Nietzsche, Gay Science