Buddhism is a religion for mature people, for kindly, gentle races that have become excessively spiritual and are too sensitive to pain… Christianity wants to rule over beasts of prey; its method is to make them sick,—weakening is the Christian recipe for domestication, for ‘civilisation’.
In the previous thread on Christian art Berk said: ‘How and why the Italian Renaissance began to use Nordic faces in their paintings is not something I know, but it is a revolutionary act perhaps in resistance to the Christianity they faced’. I answered that maybe Nietzsche can help:
Is it understood at last, will it ever be understood, what the Renaissance was? The transvaluation of Christian values: an attempt with all available means, all instincts and all the resources of genius to bring about a triumph of the opposite values, the more noble values…
Supper at Emmaus (1606, above) is a painting by the Italian master Caravaggio, housed in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy. Caravaggio’s work had a formative influence on Baroque painting. I told my father a long time ago that the Baroque ‘was a betrayal of the Renaissance’. He got angry and didn’t seem to understand what I was saying.
Fra Angelico began painting 200 years before the above Supper in Emmaus was completed. If we compare the blond angels and even the blond Jesus and redhead Magdalene of Fra Angelico in my previous posts with the painting by Caravaggio, we clearly see the regression towards non-Aryan characters.
Non-Aryan characters are even more obvious in this other Supper in Emmaus of 1601, also of Caravaggio, which is not located in Italy but in the National Gallery of London. Notice how the face of Jesus in this picture is wider (that is, less Nordid) than the face of Jesus in the picture above.
In Christianity, the instincts of the subjugated and oppressed come to the fore: the lowest classes are the ones who look to it for salvation. Casuistry of sin, self-critique, and inquisitions of conscience are sources of employment, cures for boredom; affects inspired by a Great Power called ‘god’ are continuously cultivated (through prayer); the highest is considered unachievable, a gift, ‘grace’.
There is no sense of a public presence; the hide-away, the unlit room is Christian. The body is an object of hatred, hygiene is rejected as sensuousness; the church defends itself even against cleanliness (—the first Christian edict following the expulsion of the Moors was the closure of the public baths—there were some 270 in Cordoba alone).
There is a distinctively Christian sense of cruelty towards yourself and others; hatred of heterodoxy; the will to persecute. Dismal and upsetting thoughts have pride of place; the most highly prized states, described with the highest names, are epileptoid; diet is constructed to promote morbid appearances and over-stimulate the nerves. It is Christian to harbour a deadly hatred of the masters of the earth, the ‘nobles’—while maintaining a hidden, secret edge of competition (—they can have the ‘body’, we only want the ‘soul’…).
It is Christian to hate spirit, to hate pride, courage, freedom, libertinism of the spirit; it is Christian to hate the senses, to hate enjoyment of the senses, to hate joy in general…
Left, a detail from Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary in the Museo del Prado in Madrid: a painting by the Italian High Renaissance painter Raphael, ca. 1515. Although it is an important work for the development of Raphael’s style, in no way the face of Jesus depicts accurately how the faces of 1st-century Jews looked like.
For centuries, Europeans have been projecting their whiteness and even their Nordic features onto ancient Semitic characters. Recently, however, with old skulls forensic anthropologists have reconstructed the faces of first-century Jews. They demonstrate that those Jews had a broad, ugly face that differed significantly from the traditional depictions of Jesus in Renaissance art.
In this instalment of Nietzsche’s The Antichrist I won’t quote any sentence from the book’s §20, where Nietzsche compares Buddhism with Christianity. It is not germane to our subject and, unlike Nietzsche, I do not respect Buddhism.
Padua’s version of the Sistine Chapel, the Scrovegni Chapel, houses one of Italy’s great Gothic/Proto-Renaissance masterpieces: a cycle of Giotto frescoes. This specific fresco shows Jesus before Caiaphas. In his book The Antichrist, Nietzsche said:
______ 卐 ______
The fact that the stronger races of northern Europe failed to reject the Christian God does not say very much for their skill in religion, not to mention their taste. They really should have been able to cope with this sort of diseased and decrepit monster of decadence. But they were damned for their failure: they brought sickness, age, and contradiction into all of their instincts, – they have not created any more gods since then.
Almost two thousand years and not one new god! And all the while, this pathetic God of Christian monotono-theism (*) instead, acting as if it had any right to exist, like an ultimatum and maximum of god creating energy, of the human creator spiritus!, this hybrid creature of ruin, made from nullity, concept, and contradiction, who sanctions all the instincts of decadence, all the cowardices and exhaustions of the soul! – –
(*) The verbal mockery of monotonous-theism had already been used by Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols.
In my post yesterday we saw the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane according to the poetic imagery of Fra Angelico. In this arid interpretation of Bellini (National Gallery, London), we see the same apostles not as blond as in Fra Angelico’s painting, but at least they are still white.
In this new series about Christian art that I started with these posts, we will see that in other representations of Jesus and the apostles, the characters were painted as mudbloods.
In his book The Antichrist, Nietzsche said (the ‘beyond’ refers to the lie about the post-mortem survival of the human soul):
______ 卐 ______
The Christian idea of God—God as a god of the sick, God as spider, God as spirit—is one of the most corrupt conceptions of God the world has ever seen; this may even represent a new low in the declining development of the types of god. God having degenerated into a contradiction of life instead of its transfiguration and eternal yes! God as declared aversion to life, to nature, to the will to life! God as the formula for every slander against ‘the here and now’, for every lie about the ‘beyond’!
How can anyone still defer to the naïveté of Christian theologians these days when they decree that the development of the idea of God from the ‘God of Israel’, the god of a people, to the Christian God, the epitome of all goodness, counts as progress?
But even Renan does this. As if Renan had the right to naïveté! The opposite is what strikes the eye. When the presuppositions of ascending life, when everything strong, brave, domineering, and proud is eliminated from the idea of God, when he sinks little by little into the symbol of a staff for the weary, a life-preserver for the drowning, when he turns into the God of the poor, the sinners, the sickly, when the predicates of ‘saviour’ and ‘redeemer’ are the only ones left, the only divine predicates: what does this sort of transformation tell us?, this sort of diminution in the divine?
Of course: this will increase the size of ‘the kingdom of God’. God used to have only his people, his ‘chosen’ people. But then he took up travelling, just as his people did, and after that he did not sit still until he was finally at home everywhere, the great cosmopolitan, – until he had ‘the great numbers’ and half the earth on his side.
Nonetheless, the God of the ‘great numbers’, the democrat among gods, did not become a proud, heathen god: he stayed Jewish, he was still the cranny God, the God of all dark nooks and corners, of unhealthy districts the world over! His empire is as it ever was, an empire of the underworld, a hospital, a basement-kingdom, a ghetto-kingdom… [Editor’s bold-type above]
Of course: when a people is destroyed, when it feels that its belief in the future, its hope for freedom, is irretrievably fading away […], then its God will necessarily change as well.
He will become modest and full of fear, he will cringe in corners and recommend ‘peace of soul’, forbearance, an end to hatred, and ‘love’ of friends and enemies.
He will constantly moralize, he will creep into the crevices of every private virtue, he will be a God for one and all, a private and cosmopolitan God…
He used to represent a people, the strength of a people, all the aggression and thirst for power in the soul of a people: now he is just the good God…
In the end, Gods have no other choice: either they are the will to power – in which case they will still be the Gods of a people – or they are powerless in the face of power – and then they will necessarily become good…
In Christianity, morality and religion are both completely out of touch with reality. Completely imaginary causes (‘God’, ‘soul’, ‘spirit’, ‘free will’ – or even an ‘unfree’ one); completely imaginary effects (‘sin’, ‘redemption’, ‘grace’, ‘punishment’, ‘forgiveness of sins’). Contact between imaginary entities (‘God’, ‘spirits’, ‘souls’); an imaginary natural science (anthropocentric; total absence of any concept of natural cause); an imaginary psychology (complete failure to understand oneself, interpretations of pleasant or unpleasant general sensations – for instance, the states of nervus sympathicus – using the sign language of religious-moral idiosyncrasy, – ‘repentance’, ‘the pangs of conscience’, ‘temptation by the devil’, ‘the presence of God’); an imaginary teleology (‘the kingdom of God’, ‘the Last Judgment’, ‘eternal life’). – This entirely fictitious world can be distinguished from the world of dreams (to the detriment of the former) in that dreams reflect reality while Christianity falsifies, devalues, and negates reality. Once the concept of ‘nature’ had been invented as a counter to the idea of ‘God’, ‘natural’ had to mean ‘reprehensible’ – that whole fictitious world is rooted in a hatred of the natural (of reality!), it is the expression of a profound sense of unease concerning reality… But this explains everything. Who are the only people motivated to lie their way out of reality? People who suffer from it. But to suffer from reality means that you are a piece of reality that has gone wrong… The preponderance of feelings of displeasure over feelings of pleasure is the cause of that fictitious morality and religion: but a preponderance like this provides the formula for decadence…
We have changed our minds. We have become more modest in every way. We have stopped deriving humanity from ‘spirit’, from ‘divinity’, we have stuck human beings back among the animals. We see them as the strongest animals because they are the most cunning: one consequence of this is their spirituality. On the other hand, we are also opposed to a certain vanity that re-emerges here too, acting as if human beings were the great hidden goal of animal evolution. Humans are in no way the crown of creation, all beings occupy the same level of perfection…