By Gottfried Benn
“All these attacks against the higher man we’ve had to listen to for the past eighty years, and that includes [George Bernard] Show’s farces, are all downright old-fashioned by now, flat and intellectually poverty stricken. There is only the higher, that is to say, the tragically struggling man; he is history’s only subject; only he is anthropologically in possession of all his senses, which is more than can be said for the instinctual complexes. So it will have to be the superman after all who overcomes nihilism, though it won’t be the type Nietzsche described in a pure nineteenth-century spirit. He describes him as a new, biologically more valuable, racially improved, vitalistically stronger, eugenically perfected type, justified by a greater capacity for survival and preservation of the species; he sees him as biologically positive – that was Darwinism. Since then we have studied the bionegative values, which are rather more harmful and dangerous to the race but are a part of mind’s differentiation: art, genius, the disintegrative motifs of religion, degeneration; in short, all the attributes of creativity. So today we do not posit the mind as partaking of biological health, nor do we include it in the rising curve of positivism, nor, for that matter, do we see it in tragic, eternally languishing conflict with life; rather we posit the mind as superordinate to life, constructively superior to it; as a formative and formal principle; intensification and concentration – that seems to be its law. […]
There are more than a few indications that we are on the verge of a decisive anthropological turning point… The last specific substance wants expression, leaps over all ideological interpositions, and assumes naked and immediate control of technology at the same time that civilization in its inward content turns back to myth – that appears to be the final stage. Primordial, eternal man, the primal monist, catches fire in the glow of his ultimate image, an image under the golden helmet: how many rays still fall through the runes, how much radiance still on the shadow’s edge, how multifarious: tied to frenzies and eugenics, to the tension of departure toward the finale, with the elemental synthesis of creation in memory and the progrediently cerebralized analysis of his historical mission in the brain, throwing aside Europe’s normalized masses, brushing past the Yucatan’s white crumbled rock and the Easter Islands’ transcendent colossi, he ponders his ancestors, aboriginal man, proselenic man, ponders his incalculably ancient but unrelentingly murderous, antidualistic, anti-analytic struggle and rouses himself once gain to a final formula: constructive intelligence.
“An antimetapysical worldview, fine – but in this case, let it be artistic.” This sentence from “The Will To Power” would then acquire a truly final meaning. It would acquire for the German, as an indication of a last escape from his lost values, his addictions, his riotings, his wild enigmas, a quality of tremendous seriousness: the goal, the faith, the overcoming would then be called the law of form. It would acquire for him the character of an obligation to his people, to struggle, to fight the fight of his life, in an effort to work his way close to those things that are really in essence unconquerable, the possession of which accrued to older and more fortunate peoples from their endowments, their limits, their skies and their seas when they were still young: a sense of space, proportion, magic of realization, adherence to a style. Does this imply aesthetic values in Germany, artistry in a country so given over to dreams and obfuscation? Yes, the cultivated absoluteness of form, whose degress of linear purity and stylistic immaculateness must by all means be equal to the degrees of perfection in content achieved by earlier cultural epochs, including the degrees marked by the cup of hemlock and the cross. Indeed, only out of the ultimate tensions of the formal, only from the utmost intensification of the spirit of construction, pushed to the limits of immateriality, could a new reality take shape – after nihilism!”