You ask me how I became a madman. It
happened thus: One day, long before
many gods were born, I woke from a deep
sleep and found all my masks were stolen,
–the seven masks I have fashioned and
worn in seven lives,–I ran maskless
through the crowded streets shouting,
“Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.”
Men and women laughed at me and
some ran to their houses in fear of me.
And when I reached the market place, a
youth standing on a house-top cried, “He
is a madman.” I looked up to behold
him; the sun kissed my own naked face for
the first time. For the first time the sun
kissed my own naked face and my soul was
inflamed with love for the sun, and I
wanted my masks no more. And as if in a
trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the
thieves who stole my masks.”
Thus I became a madman.
And I have found both freedom and
safety in my madness; the freedom of lone-
liness and the safety from being under-
stood, for those who understand us enslave
something in us.
But let me not be too proud of my
safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe
from another thief.