Out Work is a collection of thoughts on graphic design and life by Sarah Joe, a Singapore-based creative.

Just typing as I think, don’t take me too seriously.


05.05.20 The noble and common
Tags Readings Reflection

The following is an excerpt from Nietzche’s The Gay Science that resonated enough with me to write about it here.

            Noble and common.–Common natures consider all noble, magnanimous feelings inexpedient and therefore, first of all incredible. ‘Surely there must be some advantage involved.’ They are suspicious of the noble person. What distinguishes the common type is that it never loses sight of its advantage; not to allow these instincts to lead them astray to perform inexpedient acts–that is their wisdom and pride.
            Compared to them, the higher type is more unreasonable, for those who are noble, magnanimous, and self-sacrificial do succumb to their instincts, and when they are at their best, their reason pauses.

            The unreason or counterreason of passion is what the common type despises in the noble, especially when this passion is directed toward objects whose value seems quite fantastic and arbitrary. 

            The taste of the higher type is for exceptions, for things that leave most people cold and seem to lack sweetness. More-over, it usually believes that the idiosyncrasy of its taste is not a singular value standard; rather it posits its values as generally valid and thus becomes incomprehensible and impractical. Very rarely does a higher nature retain sufficient reason for understanding and treating everyday people as such; for the most part, this type assumes its own passion is present but kept concealed in all men. But when such exceptional people do not see themselves as the exception, how can they ever understand the common type and arrive at a fair evaluation of the rule?–This is the eternal injustice of those are noble.

I’ve long pondered, still pondering in fact, about why I’m drawn to certain things, values, places, people etc. Even as a creative, I am really curious as to what parts of design click with me. Is it the clerical layout of a document with no care at all about the content? I used to love printing and making notes in class. I remember losing reason and reprinting and compiling the script I’d typeset in Word countless times for some class performance when I was Primary 6 (to my unsuprise, no one treated the script with that much dignity). I cannot say with confidence it is type design... yet. My taste in type far outweight my skill in type design and I despise working too long on something that seems to repeatedly turn out ugly everytime. I’m still very unsure and because of that I am precautious and reserved saying gRapHic DeSigN is mY PasSioN (to be honest I feel precautious and reserved saying anything to people, like how can we be so sure and convicted of our own values enough to force them onto others?), and truth be told, sometimes doubt people who do.

Am I noble? I don’t think so. Am I common? I also don’t think so. I’ve watched myself display values of being both noble at times and common at times. I think we all are, in a sense, somewhere between noble and common, though we all start out common. Could growth, then, be awareness of this scale and making attempts to move upwards? I think so. 

Obviously, I seek nobility and have had the pleasure of working under people who are, in my greatest sense, noble.