Problems. I am not a good writer, my girlfriend is better, I think too much, I despise convention, I just like the feeling, I want to be a revolutionary, I despise art in the present age almost as much as the present age despises art, I long for the rebirth of Cervantes and Shakespeare, I can stand no longer the politicisation of artworks, I am not inspired by the culture of the present age, I see no power in words and thinking, I think that thinking is dead—that we no longer believe in thinking—I am almost as scared as I am angry, I feel that we only believe in technology and economism, I feel that we have finalised and set in stone the sort of people we want to be, the sort of people we must be; I have a physical reaction to those who have proprietous knowledge—knowledge of laws and facts and conventions—almost proportionate to those ignorant hippy types who reject all knowledge as oppressive or patriarchal. I want to inspire others to think and critique our pointless consumption—“Do you really need another dress?”—but I know there is absolutely no point, the vast majority will derive happiness from these actions and will not begin a dialogue with someone who offers pain and criticism. I want to critique, I derive pleasure from critiquing, and I think that your life would be improved if you listened, but perhaps you would not derive pleasure from criticising, perhaps your life would only be improved in a certain respect—perhaps you would be more virtuous, more creative, more critical, more of a stoic; but perhaps you would alienate yourself from your friends and family, perhaps you would be ‘born again’ as someone or something whom or which society actively dislikes and indeed discourages, and perhaps a sense of moral superiority is all you would gain, at the cost of comfortable inclusion in the absurd game of banal consumption, cultural decadence, creative mediocrity (celebrated as genius), technological dependency, tyrannous scientism, mechanistically reproduced interior lives, celebrity autobiographies, social media billionaires, self-prostituting musicians, rejection of tradition, politics as business, thought as identity, live and let live mentality, herd behaviour, perpetually increasing sensitivity, the inevitability of criticism as whining, the hopelessness of criticism, the weakness of criticism, the necessity of acceptance, the impossibility of acceptance—the obsession with short, tweetable sentences… It is absurd, absurd—and the buildings, gosh! The buildings are functional, ergonomic, practical, efficient; these words alone are angels before us, providing more of the same, better, faster… But who can stand an angel? Who can endure perfection, endlessness—and the arrogance of it all? Do these words not taste stale and metallic in our mouths, as though our lives were the output of a production line? Would man not rather less efficiency and more freedom, or both in mutual coexistence? Would man not rather some, at least some, beauty in this world? The aesthetic education of man… What a tragedy that we stopped believing in that. The technocratic education of man… It is enough to make one give up.
Behind the artwork. Look behind the artwork, look to the temperaments, the interests, the motivations of the artist; look to the ideal, the dreams, the highest aspirations. One will find it necessary to despise art in the present age as much as the present age despises art—and that ought to be enough, no further argument should be necessary to know that something has gone awry: that we are content with mediocrity, that mediocrity masquerades as sublimity, that we glorify mediocrity. And look behind the audience, the viewer—look to our standards, our expectations, our threshold of contentedness; look to the demands which we place on the artist. —One will find none, not one, no demands, only the void in which all that comes before is devalued, the void which rejects under the banner of liberation; and one must wait many years, until all has been levelled to ash, before art imposes meaning once again. “Destroy the patriarchy, destroy meanness, destroy error!” Destroy error? Why, but there would be very little left.
Light relief. ‘Why do you not want to do X?’ —I cannot provide evidence of an absence. ‘Sure you can. You don’t want to break your nose because it would hurt.’ –No, you have provided a good reason for why someone might not wish to do Y, but that is not why I do not want to do Y. I do not want to do Y. I have no reasons why I do not want to do Y. I only have reasons for why I want to do Z. I could likewise say I don’t want to be a cat. I do want to be a human. That does not mean that I do not want to be a cat because I want to be a human, it only means I do not want to be a cat, and I do want to be a human. I don’t have a reason for why I do not want to be a cat—I never had one when I randomly mentioned my not wanting to be a cat, at least not a reason of which I am aware—; I only have a reason for why I do want to be a human. ‘And why do you want to be a human?’ –Because I don’t want to be a cat. ‘What?’ –I mean, I want to be a human because that is what I am, and I want to be what I am. I also do not want to be a cat. But my reasons for not wanting to be a cat are, properly, my reasons for wanting to be a human.’
Nietzsche is Nietzsche. It does not make a great deal of sense to me to say that Nietzsche is X or Y, or that Nietzsche thought (in general) A or B. We could keep at the back of our minds (and should, if we wish to be truthful): “That entity which we designate ‘Nietzsche’ had at various points, and given various socio-political-historical, psycho-physiological contingencies, inter alia, the inclination to lift pen to paper and to produce what to us, given likewise the genealogical-hermeneutical contingencies of our perspective, ideas pertaining to X or Y.” That is a mouthful, and quite a lot of contingencies; but it is the truth. And though we prefer, of course, to say “Nietzsche is X” or “Nietzsche believed Y”, given that this is far easier, we should remember that truth is not dependent on pragmatism, on how easy it is to say something or other; and neither does it depend on the difficulty of saying or providing a statement: the truth of a statement is not dependent on pragmatic considerations, whether these be for the consequences or causes, the emotions precluded or prevented thereby, nor the ease or difficulty or stating it.
On inspiration. One need hardly read to improve one’s writing, for there are various sources of inspiration. Dostoevsky, for example, though he of course was well read by ordinary standards, required no additional inspiration to supplement that acquired in the face of the firing squad; nor had he the need to read sorrow written down to elevate that desolation felt at losing Alyosha, his son. Others, myself included, and indeed most moderns, for that matter, gifted as we are, for better or worse, with the highest living standards and quality of life the world has ever known—we cling to books for inspiration, as an ameliorative to an excess of luxury: we moderns seek out misery to aggravate our sedentary inclinations, to batter our pretentions, to reclaim an instinct which finds maximal expression under pressure and torment, and which dissipates when satisfied. We moderns are oftentimes too learned, too weighty with vocabulary, for the subtleties and simplicities of nature: all thought is hypothetical and abstracted to us, for there is little need for pragmatism in a utopia. We write in large part because we enjoy the feeling; there are rhythmical excesses, perhaps conveying agreeableness upon a bedrock of contentment—our essence, essentially. I see an excess of style as a necessity which one can do without, only by relinquishing or lacking access to luxury. Until such a time, we are doomed—or blessed, perhaps, to be concerned with superfluities which are the aim and outcome of cosy self-reflection.
Artistry as telos. Oh, how we admire those who act in pursuit of an admirable goal—a goal with which we ourselves agree; and whose style accords appropriately. —While we loathe the style, the arguments, the intentions, in short, the direction of one whose telos we dislike. So it is that many loathe Nabokov—especially his Lolita—given our own telos, our cherished goal of morality. Have we room without ourselves for a multiplicity of divergent goals? Can man be unified by—disunity? And what of writing for writing’s sake: have we any care for the outcome and process of this undertaking? Do we not value the feeling of self-actualisation enough to subordinate argumentation? These questions I pose… We might say they are extraneous to my privileged aim of artistry. And although they do indeed coherem although they do indeed influence (for better or worse), might be not do well to admit that, first and foremost, I wish to self-actualise. ‘But your arguments are informative.’ Be that as it may. A dancer may inspire a criminal to give up a life of crime in pursuit of elegance, creativity, beauty—but these concerns are extraneous to the act of dancing; and the act, and the feelings involved therein, are my predominant concern—at least until now.
Statement of intent. Self-actualisation is my telos, my “Destiny”, the expression of my instinct—the goal which I have chosen, which has chosen me. Just as a bull must charge to save its calf, so too must I self-actualisation to save myself. I will never apologise for my instinct, for what nature (and the “unnatural” peculiarities of sublimation, in my particular case) made me. Would that I could bring all my drives under the guise of self-actualisation, which in my case expresses itself in artistry and thinking of a philosophical variety. (I thank my parents especially for raising me such that I do not desire criminality.) Alas, all men overflow with extraneities—man is an extraneous overflowing. So be it. Let us not concern ourselves with that which is fated, with that which lies outside our control. I can choose self-alienation or self-actualisation—that much man can “decide”—and I choose the latter. No man can sublimate my will to self-actualise, not now that my self has been constructed by—man. It is too late for your advice and morality: I am what I am, I write what I must, I do what I am. No argument can shake this valuation, for it is hinged on memory, on feeling—and, gosh, how I love it.
Confidence and constraint—for criminals. I wish, though not foremost, to propose a theory by way of shifting men from criminality to artistry. Can it be done? To summarise (cf. HAH 188): 1. Appropriate sublimation, by means of punishment and reward, in accordance with propriety (a broad concept which permits us to take morality as it is today, in this particular socio-political context, rather than as it is “in and of itself”); 2. Reorientation of will with proprietous action, for which there is an abundance of possibilities (piano, writing, thinking, music, sport, etc.)—and in the absence of anything suitable, one need only create; and 3. The fullest expression of instinct, by means of confidence, in accordance with his new, proprietous (and thus socially acceptable) telos. Condition 3 can be aided by Nietzsche’s discourses on criminals, whom he describes as being, in effect, unlucky—that their refined skills and talents and instincts for murder, theft and rape are improprietous, but not shameful or sinful; for in former times their inclinations were advantageous and indeed partially responsible for the successful spread of their genetic material, the prerequisite of their existence. Away with shame, then; and already the criminal feels more confident—already the criminal feels the first whisper of a “Destiny” of his own; and, with conditions 1 and 2 satisfied, this Destiny will be worthy—a noble goal at which he will excel.
Technology in full view. The dawn of technology breaks continually: new creation, new possibility; and every time there is hope, expectation, rapture—fire as gift of warmth, light and sustenance; the written word as gateway to universal enlightenment; computing as supreme communicative tool. Dawn casts light over all aspects: her sunlight reminds us that all things are of this world, that all tools are human things. Thus the digital age sets its sight on facilitating addiction and ignorance; the written word on entertainment (accordingly truth is subordinated to profit); fire on war and destruction. The light of dawn is the most beautiful, but the least truthful. —What do we see at dusk? Old truths coming to an end—or fading out of view, devalued and upstaged?
In defence of academic cruelty. Today, Truth is subordinate ot matters extraneous to her. Justitia is tied down like Gulliver: to feeling and emotion; to causes and consequences; to those who speak for her and how they do so; to business interests and profit; to pleasure and agreeableness; to custom: indeed, it has become customary to be untruthful. Let us repeat the conditions of truth, which we believe inescapably: truth does not care about your feelings, your emotional state or that of her representative; not of cause of consequence, by neither of which is she held down; nor is she subordinate to the manner in which she is depicted—though, extraneously, this may affect the ease with which she is heard—or the characteristics of her spokesperson; nor to how pleasing or cruel she may appear. Let us not, by any means, endeavour to be or seem cruel—or pleasing or agreeable, for that matter; but if truth is cruel-sounding then let her be spoken thusly. For otherwise we speak untruthfully, permit belief in nonsense, advocate lies, and hide from existence as it stands presently—a nihilistic, life-denying proposition—and are as academics in no way fit to make any claim that we speak the truth.
Driven into the darkness. Why are philosophers, thinkers of all variety, driven towards impropriety? —It is not out of shame; it is not due to their being antisocial. Truth is often cruel, and friendships, indeed all relationships, are based on a little truth—occasionally, over coffee or when intoxicated—and a lot of humour and agreeableness. Truth destroys relationships if it becomes hegemonic: “human relationships rest on the fact that a certain few things are never said”. We must voluntarily lie, deceive, complement, criticise proprietously, comment agreeably, laugh excessively, flirt outrageously, and so forth, none of which come naturally to and all of which are indeed antithetical to anyone who dedicates themselves to truth.
Laughable prophetry. Knowers of bygone times believed they had access to special insights, to absolute truth, to “divine inspiration”. We knowers have the same feeling—but we laugh at it: ‘Oh, how human!’ And thereby the dogmatic aspect of it dissolves, while we nevertheless permit ourselves to feel these thoughts, which we cannot unthank. Those knowers of bygone times, moreover, emerged with truth in hand, championing their cause, demanding subservience to the one God; whereas we shuffle uncomfortably, smiling and lying in accordance with custom, feigning when it is expected of us, complementing and agreeing when proprietous, until at last we are almost torn apart by the contradiction—the ruse, the act almost destroys us: an excess of cognitive dissonance, an abundance of private thoughts; Pascal in private—always in private! Private opinions, public laziness! Oh, it is nothing new—it is nothing new; but science, scientism, I suppose, and the dominance of still-too-Christian propriety have commanded—yes, commanded—us to repress these untruthful feelings: for some they are false, heretical; for others they are insufficient, inadequate. And they are inadequate—yes, they are! I am ideological! I have preferences! I prefer to exaggerate my perspective! Multivariate analysis is true, but it is not me! I am a perspective. Let me, for the love of Dog, be a perspective! An excess of romanticism: let me be that, I am young, full of sexual energy which wants to speak… Sublimation and instinct, squeezed onto the page. Who…to whom am I talking? Myself—the ghosts within myself. Oh, this, this is self-actualisation: a feeling, a state—not a definition…a hundred times not a definition!
Becoming an Übermensch. What does it mean to be “over” man”—indeed, to be an “Übermensch”? Kant had that feeling to some extent by observing the faculties of cognition, while nevertheless havening to use those faculties; observing man—as man! And what is the concomitant feeling? —Of great height over oneself: an illusion, an illusion, of course, because one is going nowhere from that which is necessitated. But something happens, nonetheless, in knowing necessity. Necessity does not change—how could it?—but… But one starts to think differently. Gosh, these are murky waters! One starts to think and experiences oneself differently. ‘How so? What is different?’ Well, I feel differently: I feel that my ideas are contingent—the result, not of insight into truth, but constructions that depend on other contingencies, such as my age, history, society, language, all of which constitutes my perspective. Some of what can change in me changes—some of my values, my physiology, my opinions—; while other things—anything, if anything, that is necessitated—does not change. Is philosophy the study of implications? Well, there are implications to self-knowledge—the self changes!—and the resultant feeling is that of being an Übermensch, of being above oneself. But more than that: the Übermensch can be an ideal. We can point to that state of knowledge, whereby one is aware that one constructs reality and gives meaning to the world creatively, without “excavating” values from the earth, as it were, or without receiving them from the heavens up above. And so this self-knowledge—that one gives meaning to the world, that one can interpret the world differently—is seemingly enough to motivate us, or at least some of us, to do so, to interpret the world differently, in new ways, just as has occurred in the past—though this time, Nietzsche hopes, our values will be “life-affirming”. If we do not get to this state of mind—if we do not “overcome” man himself—then we will end up devaluing all the values which no longer mean anything to us—everything whose basis is God, Reason, Self, Morality, etc. We will value, perhaps, no more than is true—that we are animals who seek pleasure, inter alia—while lacking the self-knowledge with which to feel above man, enough to give other values to the world. (Yes, we seek pleasure, but we do not have to; yes we seek pleasure, but we can sublimate this drive with self-knowledge to pursue—other actions, other cultures, other ideals to that of the Last Man.) The Übermensch has knowledge of self-knowledge (and its usefulness for “lofty aspiration”), in addition to knowledge of knowledge of self-knowledge, ad infinitum. And how does man look from up here? And his opinions? —Human, all-too-human.
Tierlichliches, allzutierliches. Morality and sublimation have natural origins—they are animal, all-too-animal. What follows are independent variables for the dependent variables (1) How did “morality” come into existence; and (2) How did sublimation come into existence. For (1), morality, in part, is the result of game theory. EXPAND. For (2), sublimation, in part, is the result of natural drives (pleasure, reproduction, etc.) confronting a stimulant of pain (another predator, injury, etc.) and avoiding the stimulant, whereby in accordance with evolution, that creature which avoids the stimulant in the future (via memory) will avoid pain and likely survive, and thereby knowledge is eventually acquired and “passed on”: a mother bear sublimates her cub when she prevents it from playing, or scolds it. The only distinction between man and other animals, with regard to sublimation, is degree, not kind or type: if the mother bear had a grandmother who barked at the mother for not, say, picking up her belongings and tidying up a bit, then the differences between man and animals would be less extreme. Why is man better at sublimation? Because it is obviously advantageous—thus we humans resulted, for we simply sublimated more. It seems, to my mind, that the other animals have far “stronger” drives and instincts”, whereas we nevertheless excel. Perhaps this is because we excelled at sublimation and, eventually, self-sublimation. And what about instinct? Where did that come from? Well, for that we can look at the simplest forms of life, and we find that they do things: they move, for instance. Well, then: it has an instinct to move. ‘But what of the rain? It moves too.’ —Then the rain has an “instinct” to move. ‘And what of the billiard ball: it has no instinct to move, surely, and yet it moves when hit?’ —Only because you or I have an instinct to move it which it stronger than gravity’s instinct to hold it at rest. Of course, the “instinct” of a billiard ball sounds silly; but the point is that there is no physical distinction between man, billiard balls or animals, and that all of our processes—movement, morality, sublimation, instinct—are explainable within the laws that govern nature. And, moreover, all that we call “unnatural”—society, consciousness, morality, value, technology—have their origin in nature. The concept of “unnatural” is unnatural (though it has natural causes): seemingly we are by nature “unnatural”, but we are in actuality by nature natural. The only difference is that the features which govern human life and society—sublimation especially—are greater, while the features which govern other animals—“instinct”: violence especially; reproductive drives; maternal instincts, etc.—are greater. We all have these physical processes: objects, animals, man. There is, I repeat, only difference in degree; and “degree” changes only according to our level of analysis: i.e. there is more “instinct” in two rainstorms than in one. Likewise, there is more “instinct” in one man (taken as a single entity) than in a single-celled organism (taken as a single entity), simply because of quantity—though perhaps also “quality” of instinct…
Unintelligibility of self-actualisation. Which self does one actualise? All of them? All of it? “Become what you are.” –Easy. Done. What? No, it must mean something else. ‘Act according to your nature.’ —But how can I do otherwise? What is “unnatural”? Only that which does not exist is unnatural. Do you mean, avoid unworthy, ignoble pursuits and customs; let your instincts release and find their fullest expression; do for yourself what falling is for the rain—or? To be human is to be instinctual, to obey—and to self-sublimate on the basis of other people’s value judgements. Sometimes those value judgements are worth retaining, but you must access them and discover this for yourself; and you will find that many of them are not—and none of them is necessary. You could kill yourself, for instance; or you could aspire to be creative, to write brilliantly.
Unintelligibility of Life-affirmation. ‘Affirm all of life.’ —Okay, then. I must affirm those sentences which deny life, because those are a part of life. Response: correct, but we do not need to be logically consistent. Simply avoid everything that denies the conditions of life—what is?—and then affirm and enhance everything else. Rebuttal: but life-denying is a part of life—life-denying statements are, they exist. Is life-affirmation intelligible only as a practical concept, a feeling, a logically inconsistent thought which nonetheless motivates us away from that which one considers life-denying?
Sad knowers. An entire generation awaits us: of miserly men, born with hope and expectations of knowledge—that she would be kind, enlightening; that she was the word of God. Oh, but how cruel-sounding she appears. Nietzsche has had no martyrs yet, for we have been coy and proprietous: the lie of equality of souls… How few have wished away their recognition down this sorry avenue! My theory: many of us, we moderns, are closet pioneers, who in the face of overwhelming custom remain self-alienated, cowering from ourselves. How easily we can go through life in this dishonest state, always longing to self-actualise but never bold and honest enough to self-admit. Need we write “self-” into these words, when the fact afflicts so many of us? —The noise beneath the floorboards builds: there is a dark murmur, a restrained cacophony, which very soon—and increasingly—cares not for its impropriety; a generation of those who care not for how they sound lies in wait. There will be martyrs, unhappy men and women who die, for truth, at the hands of others; and thus far these men have died behind closed doors, reading Nietzsche with wonder—unblinkingly, with a gaze of eternity—but shirking on the mortal coil of propriety when in the company of others. Self-actualising men will emerge, not from the shadows, but from the floorboards—through the floorboards, not with dramatic flare but merely that they have grown too large, can no longer be contained, can no longer contain their contractions, can no longer delay themselves, can no longer unthink what they know, can no longer do what they are not. Oh, but it will be a sorry affair—at first, at first!—full of reparation and apology: apology for bringing sorry truths to bear—the death of God, the of equality of souls—; until the myth of responsibility is shattered likewise, and with it the guilt of bearing inconvenient truths. We as a culture must do better at treating the harbingers of inconvenient truths as conduits—never indifferent, but unresponsible—who by no means, or very rarely, wish for what they know. And if they wish it, how even are they responsible for their wishes? One’s perspective is what one is. —“You are your perspective”, we might say, by way of popularising the idea. To blame, let alone condemn, one for being what one is, is tantamount to condemning the wind for its inconvenience to us. What? But there are at times men who, like the wind, must blow to the North, once thought to be the path to God—in the warm glow of the Sun, over pastures green and waters blue, but also through the Darkness of the unquestioned and unexplored. (A deification of Darkness, perhaps, is required.) Why will they be sad, these knowers? Guilt is not so easily shrugged off, and love for others even less so. Out of love for others we may even bear the blame. For if the truth cannot be readily overcome—we can. Oh, there will be martyrs yet; though let us not forget that prophecy is human, all-too-human.
Nietzschean martyrdom. You doubt it? That there would be martyrs? Have you not observed our history? How many “geniuses” have written under pseudonym? Have you asked why? Do you think they were merely embarrassed of their ideas? “Oh, he merely lacked the confidence to speak his mind.” Yes, true, he did—but to whom? Against what? Observe the Hydra of Custom: man’s deepest convictions, without which all his glories fade and inclinations are destroyed; all that he takes, unquestioningly, to be meaningful—and universally so. One cannot slaughter this beast: defeated custom replenishes with custom, until defeating custom becomes customary. “But men are free, with liberalism, to speak their minds; there is nothing to fear.” And what of those who wish for freedom from freedom? What of those whose conceptions—of freedom, truth, justice, good and evil—are before their time, as some of them surely must be? We are the same species, more or less, as we were a thousand years ago; and we do not take well to impropriety and uncustomary opinion. Why, is ours not an age which has implemented safe spaces within the very walls of our universities? And yet you doubt that there will be martyrs, and more as a result? It would be tragic, were man not continually evolving. —Propriety proceeding and succeeding impropriety, impropriety preceding propriety, through free spirits and bound souls, beneath the endless dance of sunset and sunrise…
Freedom from freedom. What is the concomitant feeling of Loslösung in an age of luxury? Quite the opposite of Sartrean radical freedom; quite the opposite of an escape from the propriety of dictators, from the tyranny and oppression of the 20th century, as was felt especially by the existentialists. The Freigeister today, most likely born into liberalism, finds freedom easily: the means are readily available, and the telos is increasingly encouraged. “Do as you please”, the world commands. (And yet, perhaps surprisingly, this is not felt as a command, for it demands that one be free of demands.) Thus Loslösung comes readily — or so it seems. Divorce from what? Divorce from a culture which permits and indeed encourages — divorce? The Freigeister feels himself free to enquire after his deepest and loftiest desires, and finds strength in the fresh air. And so he charts his course. Curiously, alas, his freedom is short lived; perhaps it never was freedom. He finds himself without sail or rudder. — For any ideal which he desires, for any goal which he sets for himself he finds himself wanting, lacking capability, as formless as the wind — and as free. Freedom… Is he free? So he has been told, so he has come to believe. For that notion — “Do as you please” — was freedom in another age, freedom for those raised hard and firm by custom, crafted cruelly by standards and tradition. Oh, but how he longs for that cruelty, how he longs to be disciplined, how he wishes for another fate: that he had obeyed, that there had been masters to obey. Woe betide all outcomes; it would be tragic were it not ignorance, specifically a lack of foresight. For the attainment of any and all goals he is deficient — he is unfree to achieve their culmination, unfree to ascend. Therein lies the true Loslösung of this age — Loslösung in an age of Loslösung; freedom from an age of freedom.
Against my undertaking. —Nietzsche would rather be a buffoon, and yet I speak of prophecies and martyrs. Is this not profoundly un-Nietzschean, a desecration—“heresy”? Well, but let us examine, not so much the martyrs and prophets themselves, but the feeling of prophetry and martyrdom: are these feelings not of this earth; are they not also human, all-too-human? Granted, they were conceptually deceived by imaginary worlds and deities, but their deception must have come about, and did come about, on earth. Well, and furthermore, under the paradigm of life-affirmation, must we not affirm—and perhaps enhance—all the conditions of existence, including those which are false (“for the falsest ideas are often life-preserving”)? How, then, can we reject profundity and the feeling of martyrdom? No, not reject—we cannot, for these feelings are surely what we are. But we can dissolve them, we can de-deify, we can laugh at them, we can embrace them in the way we slip into gifted pantaloons—gifted by the conditions of life. Yes, there are serious dangers with prophetry and talk of martyrdom, but that seems to be a perspective which we cannot do without;—if we embrace and permit out errors, and recognise our errors qua errors, then we can once again permit our “drive” to find their full expression. Let us, at least, look upon ourselves as actors on a stage; and let us deliver our lines once again with conviction.
Religious language. How much pain is there behind our happiness? How much pain is waiting for us, when at last there is judgement. Gosh, how true it is: those who pass through religion go about as though in a tunnel, and emerge—on rather similar soil, often with religious language, as though those empty vessels had at last been filled. Green, darkness, green; or perhaps the world is forever a little darker, less magical.
Counterbalances. There is an abundance of pain waiting for us, behind every smile; though ignorance preserves us. Happiness is spite or ignorance of knowledge; and he who bears all knowledge immediately buckles. Omnipotence must meet with omniscience, an equivalent counterbalance; and even here more strength of will is required, lest man be at a standstill.
De-deification; or, de-ification. Phenomenology permits man once again to speak as and how he pleases, in religious and metaphysical terms, without fear that he will be considered religious or metaphysical, for he relates no more than the conscious-contingent world as it appears to him. His claims have become tame, quaint, all-too-human. But so too was all metaphysics all-too-human; all religion was of this world. And yet is was beautiful, lofty—misguided, of course, and doubtful of its true, earthly origins; but those priestly creatures: they belonged to this earth! The fact confuses us utterly, we moderns: how could one dedicate oneself to a false account of life? Well, and certainly we cannot share their myths; but can we reinscribe ourselves within their concepts and convictions? It was possible before, with no intervention; how might we bring about the same depth of omnibenevolence, now that we are alone? Must our highest endeavours always be ironic—the lines of an actor, who knows all the world’s a stage? Where can we refind, relearn, reclaim the conviction of the saints, in human, all-too-human terms? And do we want to? Might one object that the Saint denied, repressed the world? Certainly he denied much of it: the body, the drives, the finitude. But not the grandeur, the force of conviction, the “divine inspiration”. What is life without them?
Impropriety of impropriety. Is it by now customary that impropriety is Nietzschean? Do Nietzscheans—and Heideggerians, Foucaultians, Deleuzeans, Derrideans, and other derivations—step out of the darkness into—more darkness? Where will the next dawn break? Over de-deified Christianity? Well, the Christian realists presaged that event, to some extent. In truth, I do not know: faith again? Neo-religion? Unbracketing of nature/noumena? But in many respects it seems that Nietzscheanism, though the foundation of many of our modern ideas, has gained extensive support under the floorboards, even above ground. What will be the next impropriety? (—Yes, the floorboards themselves have floorboards, Mr Dostoevsky; while the floorboards of the presidential suite can be used to stop the basement rot, and vice versa: Heraclitus, for one, has gone from propriety to impropriety to propriety.) Certainly Nietzsche’s ideas are outmoded, in various places. But his style…
Unity of faith and faithlessness. A statement separates us: belief that something came from something or from nothing; and a host of values, none of which is necessary, and some of which (I take this on faith) are naturally encouraged (though perhaps not necessitated). The faithless have faith—Hume recognised this—while the faithful are full of doubt over many matters. Is the abyss between us really limited to a statement and a variety of values about which we can disagree? We come at this world from different angles, but are we not all of this world? You say we are all children of God; I say we are animals who believe in things that are human, all-too-human. What really is the difference? “One is an idealist, the other a realist.” Are those not just words? Are our disagreements epiphenomenological?
Nietzschean dreams. “Here, society, is a genius. Move aside, lend him your eye, your ear; facilitate his wishes. Please, for the love of God, do not kill him too young—let us heed his words, let us disperse so that he can be heard. Nay, let us go to him; let him not worry about venturing into our midst, tailoring his clothes, rehearsing his lines. Let us not force him, such that he becomes a caricature. Let us preserve his profundity. Ack—confound it. Let us tyrannise him, then; let us subject him to humiliation. Have him isolate himself—permit him to despair. Give him torments, misery. Do not recognise him—condemn him to posthumous fame, or no fame at all, for all this is necessary, were we to preserve his genius.”
Nietzsche as presently insurmountable. “Oh, how much superfluous cruelty and vivisection have proceeded from those religions which invented sin!” —“invented sin”: the concept, perhaps, but not the human, all-too-human causes of the concept. Sin is, thus is of this world; and so too is the moralistic ascription, the normativity of ascribing “sin” to nature—that, too, must be natural. For what else could it be? Alas: ‘Sin indeed is, but for reasons other than we think it is. —And this understanding changes us psycho-physiologically.’