[Yes, I know that this has been translated several times before. I'm translating it myself now because otherwise my sorry, idle ass would find it too hard to avoid near occasions of sin, which would send me diwectly to hell. Of course, reading Nietzsche will send me to hell, too, but at least it won't make me stupid.]
How the "real world" finally became merely a fairy tale.
(The history of an error)
1. The real world attainable for the wise, the pious, the virtuous: He lives in it, he is it.
(Oldest form of the idea, relatively clever, simple, convincing. Generalization of
the sentence, "I, Plato, am the truth.")
2. The real world, unattainable for now, but promised for the wise, the pious, and the virtuous ("for
the sinner who repents").
(The Idea progresses: It becomes more nuanced, trickier, more incomprehensible, --it becomes
Christian. It becomes a woman...)
3. The real world, unattainable, unprovable, cannot even be promised, but can be imagined as comfort, an obligation, an Imperative.
(The old sun in principle but visible, if at all, through fog and skepticism. The Idea becomes
sublime, pale, northern, Könisbergian.)
4. The real world, unattainable? Unattained at any rate. And because it's unattained, it's also unknown. Consequently, it is also not comforting, redemptive, obligating; To what can something unknown obligate us?
(The morning begins its gray dawn. First yawn of reason. The Cockle-doodle-doo of
5. The "real world"-- an Idea that's of use for nothing anymore, it does not even obligate anymore, a useless, superfluous notion, hence a refuted notion. Let's do away with it!
(Broad daylight. Breakfast. Return of bon sens and cheerfulness. Plato is blushing.
The free spirits run riot.)
6. We've scrapped the real world, which world do we have left? The world of appearances, perhaps? No! With the real world we've also done away with the world of appearances!
(Noon. Moment of the shortest shadow. The End of the longest error. Humanity's Highest
Point. INCIPIT ZARATHUSTRA.)