“Every choice human being strives instinctively for a citadel and a secrecy where he is saved from the crowd, the many, the great majority—where he may forget ‘men who are the rule,’ being their exception—excepting only the one case in which he is pushed straight to such men by a still stronger instinct, as a seeker after knowledge in the great and exceptional sense. Anyone who. . . does not occasionally glisten in all the colors of distress, green and gray with disgust, satiety, sympathy, gloominess, and loneliness, is certainly not a man of elevated tastes; supposing, however, that he does not take all this burden and disgust upon himself voluntarily, that he persistently avoids it, and remains, as I said, quietly and proudly hidden in his citadel, one thing is certain: he was not made, he was not predestined, for knowledge. If he were, he would one day have to say to himself: ‘The devil take my good taste! but the rule is more interesting than the exception—than myself, the exception!’ And he would go down, and above all, he would go ‘inside.’”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
As I read this passage this morning, I was reminded of the two-ness, the duality that is modern experience: That everything has at least two possible meanings, and often more. That, for those who earnestly seek truth and knowledge and goodness, at least half the world often appears to be constantly in bad taste, in bad form; and most wallow in their own certainties to the point of seeming ridiculous and embarrassingly uninformed. Yet it is the search for knowledge and truth that brings us all to these places. And I, at least, have to try and understand that my identity is not extricable from that of the other. We are, to borrow from a favorite philosopher and activist, bound up in the fate of all the others. I am not who I often think I am without the idea of the average, without the great majority–that is probably the only thing that I can say with any certainty.