This essay does not claim to examine the relations between Nietzsche and Wagner in all their complexity. It simply provides a reading of the first few paragraphs of the Third Essay of On the Genealogy of Morals , which Nietzsche dedicates to the ascetic ideal of the artist.
As Ecce Homo would have it, each of the three essays announces "truths" which, by their scandalous novelty, appear explosive, untimely, sharp as a flash of lightning.
The "truth" of the First Essay concerns the psychology of Christianity. In this essay Nietzsche denounces the mystification inherent in morality and religion. The former presents itself as a collection of facts, although it is merely an interpretation of certain phenomena; while the latter promotes the view that Christianity is born of the holy "Spirit," although it is merely born of the spirit of ressentiment —a reactionary movement against the domination of aristocratic values.
The "truth" of the Second Essay pertains to the psychology of moral conscience. Beyond the mystification involved when moral conscience (and all phenomena resembling it) pretends to be the voice of God in man, the genealogical method sniffs out and revivifies the smell of blood that has been hidden: a cruelty that is intolerable to modern—feminine, all-too feminine, hysterical—sensibilities.
The "truth" of the Third Essay is a response to the following paradox: the ascetic ideal created by ressentiment and bad conscience is especially powerful, although especially noxious, since it is the very ideal of deca-
Translation by David Blacker and Jessica George, revised by Alban Urbanas and by the editor and Judith Rowan.
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