A warm breeze is blowing
drip drip drip
Nietzsche was close to the tragic end of his lucid existence when he reflected that, ‘this absurd state of affairs must speedily be brought to an end; we are skating upon very thin ice, and the warm breeze of a thaw is blowing.’ This reflection foreshadowed his own future and the world’s. It would take a few more decades before the the Great War arrived and the ice cracked. The image he paints is evocative: there are signs of change and danger, but they are ignored. The more common way of portraying this general sentiment is with the analogy of the frog in the boiling water; as the water heats up the frog does not realise what is happening until it is too late. The meaning is slightly different, however, as it suggests a more willing disregard of the surrounding conditions. In this sense, Nietzsche’s astute depiction is more fitting. The ice is thin, a warm breeze is blowing, we are cognisant of these dangers but we skate on. We hope and assume that the ice will not crack or break, why should it? ‘That would not happen’, we tell ourselves, ‘It should be fine’. Indeed, it is fine. Until it is not. Crack, crack, and then it all breaks. Or as Ernest Hemingway famously put it, ‘gradually and then suddenly.’ And so when we hear the ‘drip drip drip’, it might be the ice slowly melting, getting thinner and thinner as we continue to skate merrily. For the less fortunate ones, who are paying closer attention, it may instead feel like Chinese water torture, the steady repetition slowly eroding our sanity. Still, nothing changes, cracking and dripping, meanwhile everyone keeps on skating.