A first example, quite provisional. At all times they have wanted to "improve" men: this above all was called morality. Under the same word, however, the most divergent tendencies are concealed. Both the taming of the beast, man, and the breeding of a particular kind of man have been called "improvement." Such zoological terms are required to express the realities -- realities, to be sure, of which the typical "improver," the priest, neither knows anything, nor wants to know any thing. To call the taming of an animal its "improvement" sounds almost like a joke to our ears. Whoever knows what goes on in menageries doubts that the beasts are "improved" there. They are weakened, they are made less harmful, and through the depressive effect of fear, through pain, through wounds, and through hunger they become sickly beasts. It is no different with the tamed man whom the priest has "improved." In the early Middle Ages, when the church was indeed, above all, a menagerie, the most beautiful specimens of the "blond beast" were hunted down everywhere; and the noble Teutons, for example, were "improved." But how did such an "improved" Teuton who had been seduced into a monastery look afterward? Like a caricature of man -- like a miscarriage: he had become a "sinner," he was stuck in a cage, imprisoned among all sorts of terrible concepts. And there he lay, sick, miserable, malevolent against himself: full of hatred against the springs of life, full of suspicion against all that was still strong and happy. In short, a "Christian." Physiologically speaking: in the struggle with beasts to make them sick may be the only means for making them weak. This the church understood: it ruined man -- weakened him -- but it claimed to have "improved" him.


from The Twilight of the Idols (1888) by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by H.L. Mencken, who took this gibberish seriously.


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