I've long found Nietzsche's concept of friendship compelling - so compelling, in fact, I've decided to make it the basis of a tattoo. Nietzsche is critical of the common experience of friendship where two people become so enamoured with each other and with the experiences that they share that each person attempts preserve the status quo of the relationship by resisting their own growth and by preventing the other person from changing as well. This reactionary form of "friendship" is based on avoiding any statements or acts that might upset the delicate balance that two people have reached, yet, in doing so, the the individuals and the relationship ossify, becoming schlerotic, morbid, and, even, zombiefied. True friendship, on the other hand, is critical and is about being open to growth and challenging the other to grow. For Nietzsche, this sort of relationship requires one "live dangerously" - that is, one must be open to the possibility of irrevocable change, to the real chance that, in growth, two individuals may grow apart. True friends are committed to each others growth even if they can no longer stand each other. For Nietzsche, love is more about respect than possesion. Friend and enemy are not mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, "[t]he greatest distinction that fate can bestow on us is to let us fight for a time on the side of our opponents" (Gay Science, 323).
Nietzsche's aphorism on "star friendship" captures best this philosophy, so I have chosen to derive my tattoo from it's imagery. The aphorism (Gay Science, 279) reads:
We were friends and have become estranged. But this was right, and we do not want to conceal and obscure it from ourselves as if we had to reason to feel ashamed. We are two ships, each of which has its goal and course; our paths may cross and we may feast together, as we did—and then the good ships lay so quietly in one harbor and one sunshine that it may have looked as if they had reached their goal and as if they had one goal. But then the almighty force of our projects drove us apart again into different seas and sunny zones, and perhaps we will never meet again—or perhaps we will, but will fail to recognize each other: our exposure to different seas and suns have changed us. That we have to become estranged is the law above us; through it we should come to have even greater respect for each other—and the memory of our former friendship should become more sacred. There is probably a tremendous invisible curve and stellar orbit in which our very different ways and goals may be included as small stretches on this path—let us rise up to this thought. But our life is too short and our vision too meager for us to be more than friends in the sense of this sublime possibility—let us then believe in our star friendship even if we should be compelled to be earth enemies.
From the 1887 German version:
I love the font in the original version, my friend Ned Drummond helped me reconstruct it from the title:
She also helped me sketch out some ideas for the top:
I really want it to feel like an old etching or woodcut. Here's some prints I nabbed for inspiration: