And when the lambs say among themselves, “These birds of prey are evil, and he who least resembles a bird of prey, who is rather its opposite, a lamb,—should he not be good?” then there is nothing to carp with in this ideal’s establishment, though the birds of prey may regard it a little mockingly, and maybe say to themselves, “We bear no grudge against them, these good lambs, we even love them: nothing is tastier than a tender lamb.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, on the genealogy of morality

Siegfried is the Noble, impulsive man, who reforges his father’s sword when Mime could not; but Gunther and Hagen are plotters and sneaks, relying on magic to subdue the great. Power is no guarantee of admirability. This reassures me. I don’t pretend to understand Ressentiment, or the Noble/Base morality. For me, humans are most fulfilled when working together, and each is valued.

I might argue, but now inequality is appalling! The poor cannot afford homes, and all their security is drained away! But in Nietsche’s time, with the Industrial Revolution taking off in Germany, inequality was as bad, and wealth accrued by accident of birth. Oppression is wrong. Birds of prey must kill, but no human need oppress another.

I could value the Noble nature. To be incapable of taking one’s enemies, one’s accidents, even one’s misdeeds seriously for very long—that is the sign of strong, full natures in whom there is an excess of the power to form, to mold, to recuperate and to forget. That strikes me like my best understanding of positive thinking- eschew false hope, but see every good possibility.

The man of ressentiment is neither upright nor naive nor honest and straightforward with himself. His soul squints; his spirit loves hiding places, secret paths and back doors, everything covert entices him as his world, his security, his refreshment; he understands how to keep silent, how not to forget, how to wait, how to be provisionally self-deprecating and humble. Hypocrisy, plotting and revenge. Yuck. Are they linked to resentment?

Injury, inferiority, oppression, or frustrated vindictiveness. Seek your own good than the enemy’s ill, as revenge misdirects your efforts to an irrelevant goal.

I want to glean shards of value without the effort to understand- a google search and a wikipedia article, rather than a whole book. I want to understand, rather than to judge- I hear that Nietzsche had to be distorted to fit Nazi ideology (so isn’t as bad as all that, really) but that misses the point, to me; it makes “Nazi” a word to shut down thought. Even Nazis could use good ideas, sometimes.

10 thoughts on “Ressentiment

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