"What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.
"We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink.
They have left the regions where it is hard to live; for they need warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him; for one needs warmth.
Turning ill and being distrustful, they consider sinful: they walk warily. He is a fool who still stumbles over stones or men!
A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end for a pleasant death.
One still works, for work is a pastime. But one is careful lest the pastime should hurt one.
One no longer becomes poor or rich; both are too burdensome. Who still wants to rule? Who still wants to obey? Both are too burdensome.
No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse.
"Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.
They are clever and know all that has happened: so there is no end to their derision. People still quarrel, but are soon reconciled -- otherwise it upsets their stomachs.
They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health.
"We have discovered happiness," -- say the Last Men, and they blink.'
The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, Hans Holbein
And rise again?
We dare not say….
As dead as we shall ever be,
Speaks of some total gain or loss,
And you and I are free
Martin Buber, I and Thou