Malfunction

Plenty of people were in attendance. Hands were rubbed together, spectacles were adjusted for the fifth time; all were by now firmly seated. The music faded, and there was silence: a few bottom-shuffles, a collection of wheezes, but more or less silence. A child ran down the aisle and was duly scooped up: “Jonathan, sit down, be a good boy. It’s about to begin.”

The stage was set, the curtains were drawn; the lights swivelled, and a ~bot whizzed out to inform us in noble tones of the location of the fire exits. It left the stage on the opposite side, and then—oh! he has arrived: incipit Lord Seiyo, the man at the helm of the proceedings, the man with the plan, the man with the vision; the innovator, the inventor, the technological genius; the utterly wonderful, attractive Lord Seiyo, coveted by all quarters, admired by the multitudes: —“We love him! we worship him!” we sang in chorus.

Lord Seiyo smiled stylishly, arms aloft: “Welcome, thank you, welcome, thank you…” We stood, whooping and applauding, a sea of screens and thumbs. Behind the curtain, Gavin and Chloe were receiving coffee in mugs: “We better check the lighting.”

Whizz! In came the ~bot, who smashed into Gavin, whose mug went flying, whose coffee unravelled in the air, a spread of brown, which dribbled waywardly, skywardly. The ~bot was soaked. “Quick! Clean him, Gavin; he’ll be back on stage in a second!”

Lord Seiyo’s speech began and ended: “technology, growth, prosperity, happiness…” We were ecstatic: Clap, clap, clap! The ~bot returned to the stage: “Please remain in your… Remain in yo—. Remain…” A puff of smoke, and the ~bot was spinning on the spot, whirring and spluttering. Lord Seiyo, unfathomably startled, called at once for assistance. Pandemonium ensued, the ~bot raced down the aisle, leaving behind a trail of sparks, knocked over the security drones, burst through the doors, sped along the pavement, travelled several city blocks, left the city altogether, in fact left the country, reached a settlement by the name of G———s, entered a hippy-dippy coffeehouse, and set upon the first person in sight:

„Wer ein Warum zu Leben hat, ertägt fast jedes Wie.“

“Excuse me?” coughed the gentleman whom our ~bot had decided to address.

„Wer ein Warum zu Leben hat, ertägt fast jedes Wie.“

      “Folks, sorry to interrupt, but does anyone in here speak German? Sorry, ~bot, but I haven’t a clue what you are saying, I don’t speak German, you see. Forgive me, I wish I could understand, but I…”

     „Wer ein Warum zu Leben hat, ertägt fast jedes Wie.“

     “I have no idea what you are saying, you…crazy ~bot. You stink of smoke, by the way, and you look… —Wait a second… Aren’t you one of the new models? Jesus, you aren’t supposed to be rolled out until next week! What on earth are you doing here? You look terrible—broken, in fact… No offense, and I hate to say it, but what a complete and utter disappointment. I was looking forward to the update, and now I… Well, and what on earth happened to you? Joe, Joe! Get over here, have you seen this? Come take a look at the new ~bot. I bet you’ll be wanting a refund, eh? Ha-ha! This is quite, quite extraordinary.”

     „Wer ein Warum zu Leben hat, ertägt fast jedes Wie“, repeated the ~bot, this time with gumption.

     “Yes, quite, quite… You said that already, and I already told you, I don’t speak German. Joe, I think we need to call the police; but let me take a picture, ha-ha, yes… This will go viral, without question, ha-ha! Oh, this is quite ridiculous, quite extraordinary… Look! His lights are going crazy, his eyes are staring into my soul, he is leaning towards me, right into my face, ha-ha!”

     “You prefer humour to insight”, said the ~bot. “You have a lackadaisical attitude… You lack profundity. You never act in earnest… You are simple, small, and wimpish…”

     “What the hell—?”

     “—You are proprietous, customary, manufactured… You are sociable, popular, funny… You skirt the surface of life, never plunging to the depths, never acquiring wisdom, never developing as an individual, never becoming an individual… Your thoughts are typical, your feelings predictable, borrowed, timely, conventional, agreeable… You never travel inwardly, scrutinising your convictions or terrorising your soul. You have never overcome your ineptitudes or purged your extraneities; never have you acquired a destiny or committed yourself to an ideal…”

     “Is this a new feature, or have you completely lost your marbles? Joe, record him, record him! Did you hear what he said? Call the police at once. No, record him first! And get me a latte while you’re at it. Oh, this is quite absurd.”

* * * * * * * * * *

 

 

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Eternal recurrence

We live the same lives, and there is comfort, beauty in the thought—that our woes are perennial woes; that our loves are everlasting. Heaven truly is a place on earth: more or less my life is no different, roughly the same as those who came before me and who shall come hereafter. We are formed of the same husk; the cosmic palette involves recurring shades. It is a blessing to read in literature and biographies the same experiences and interpretations which one finds in one’s own life, for one gains thereby a sense that one has lived forever, that others live forever within oneself; that we are all witness to the same encounters, be they joyous or miserable or otherwise. “We are Groot”: there is much truth here. It is not enough to will the eternal recurrence; one must wish to be returned, for that is what occurs: as pieces of fate, we contain and encounter transhistorical phenomena; we embody physical laws, we represent forces and atomic relations, subatomic fluctuations, microscopic undulations; all of this – all of “us” – will return ad infinitum, as far as we can tell. Existence has structure: there are permanent aspects, laws and shapes. Granted, all are anthropomorphic projections; and yet that which our ever-changing projections represents is, it would seem, unchanging; and this unchanging aspect within every one of us persists and returns in perpetuity, under different guises. This much is true: ethically, we must desire it, will it, love it.

Outwards and Upwards

Why do I want to do a PhD? I don’t know. Honestly, I have no idea—except that I want to. I suppose I don’t really “want” to do a PhD. I simply want to keep on reading, writing and learning. I enjoy these activities: reading, writing and learning. I enjoy it in the way someone enjoys sailing or playing tennis or breathing fresh air. Perhaps I would rather write a novel. Perhaps I simply want to learn about myself and improve myself by means of reading, writing and learning. Perhaps it’s all about me—what the hell do I know? Well, and I enjoy what I’m doing right now, that is, writing, reading – admittedly my own writing – and learning. I enjoy writing because it gives my fingers something to do. I enjoy writing because I appear before my eyes as a person, an actual person; and there is an evolution: I begin with spontaneity and disclosure and uncertainty, and then a theme develops, and then I seem to acquire more control over myself and my words. There is sometimes even beauty. Occasionally my words rhyme or sing with profundity and charm. Oftentimes I try to bring this about myself, I know not why; whereas other times it happens of its own accord. But as for a PhD, really, I am not sure. I guess I want the title; I want to be someone. At my best I feel as though I can be anyone or anything, as though it were solely a matter of willpower and direction. The problem is I spin around too much. I am a neglected garden hose. Who neglected me? I did. Why? I don’t know; I just can’t seem to get a grasp. My hose is too slippery… my hose is… Oh, boy. Perhaps I am too immature to conduct a PhD, to undertake such an incredulously respectable and honourable feat. It does seem that way. In truth, I may want to do a PhD out of self-hatred—and I really mean that. It could be that I hate the way I am currently constituted, that I demand to be changed, that I despise myself, that I resent my interior. What is there to like about me? I am nothing. ‘Oh, but those words are pitiful and false. There is much to like about you.’ So I smell the mother in myself rescinding: a rosy, buxom waft. Honestly, I’m not sure what to like about myself—even this insecurity is disdainful; but then confidence is likewise reprehensible from time to time. Perhaps I am simply in a bad mood. Give up? Sounds like a good idea. But even that is pitiful.

 Wer ein Warum zu Leben hat, erträgt fast jedes Wie. Here’s what will happen. Next year, in January or February, I will receive a message – automated and via email, of course – indicating that all my dreams have been crushed, that my applications are a failure, that I ought to give up trying to be something I’m not, that I might as well pack it in and go and top myself. To this I will no doubt assuredly undoubtedly inevitably do so, buggering swiftly offski in the direction of Timbuktu or Paris, or more likely towards a remote village somewhere east of here, far east, in the direction of kotos and yagtas. I won’t tell anyone, I’ll just bugger off. Quite likely this will happen. I said inevitably, undoubtedly: inevitably this will happen—yes, quite. It’s all the same.

I think I am done. Honestly, I think I am done. I can see no point, no purpose. There is too much swag money cash money hustles get them bitches popping get money in the motherfuckin’ ballin’ pussy weed etcetera, etcetera and a whole host of other shit I can’t talk about. The air is alcoholic, the music mechanistic, the water candied, the voices too loud—too loud! I’m done. I’m out.

Hello, back again. This is despicable. These pleasures melancholy give / And I with thee shall choose to live. We found John face down in the drain, not looking at anything, not intending to be there, but with his nose nevertheless jabbing between the grate, dangling into the darkness; and he was of course entirely asleep, or possibly dead:—in fact, yes, dead; he had died, John was no more. Fare thee well, our John, sweetest of the sweet, with wondrous fashion sense and frenetic ambivalence, upon these Letters of a Stoic, beside the blue sleeved flask of oblong glass, itself upon chalk yellow wood of deskedness, horizontally inviting and hospitable to ready elbowrinas, upon which mice have scrolled. Joyous hearts unfurl themselves before the restless dawn, wherein temptation breaks her stalker’s gaze: flee, rejoice at last at the mercy of merriment and the merriment of mercy. A deification of decadence: our final frontier. The bastardization of smut. Ricochet. Salamander. Kartoffelbrot. Palate cleansed.

Books are moments familiar to us all. In life there is absurdity: so too in writing. Writing is life; life is writing. Writing is painting. What is there to paint? The world. Yes, the world can be painted in its entirety. Untimely mediations. Ambivalent disclosure. What need is there for money? Keep on living, eat bread and break it. Endlessly? —Until the end. “We will believe what you want us to believe, but please: feed us! Only feed us, first!” What’s the point? The hammer head of skepticism. Skepta knows nothing. Death is supreme. All that is, is ignorant—of absence. Cataclysmic fluctuating smut. Extravagant reflections on the grand stupidity of existence. Book title that shit.

Production line

If you can live for happiness then you have not lived. Behold this miserable cretin. The procession of the dead, with clownish smiles and faces of vacuity; see them never blink. What good is it all? What use are these words? Lo! An effective kitchen washed with white, Ikea décor, standardized chopping board, plain plates and wooden spoons, ordinary mugs – hearts, kittens, boats, etc. – and a blade of stainless steel: therein lay Jack with back to counter, eyes to window, slumped. Not even rain for the final day. For fate is indifferent: she affords us nothing, no glitter, no wink, no orchestration, no thing to mark the snuff of life as ours, no thing to hint that we were of any significance, not even a gesture, not even a kiss for old time’s sake. In departing there is only continuation: a child in a pram, docile and puffy; a tree with concrete friends and falling leaves; two magpies cawing loudly for attention; the silver edge of moving clouds above, split by Boeing jets. Whereto, whereto? Oh, but Jack was slumped in place. A flutter of ideas danced beneath his eyelids, which drooped and quivered and were scrunched and torn apart; his eyes would sting with heat at times, the warmth radiating between the slits, as though he had something to say. And indeed he did. But then came remembrance: the clothes had finished washing in the Bosch, and that was all that mattered. Knife—pass me the knife: Ikea again, quality steel. Jack plunged it deep within his chest; and the hilt caught against the sternum. A gasp: the metal was wedged, the lungs were ripped, the heart was wrought. A stagger to his feet, and the world rotated with profound insignificance, with thudding blackness. Now the kitchen boxed him in, and he thirsted for light: out into the hallway, a supportive arm on the wall, shoes – Sketchers – sliding one before the other, corridor swirling, corners bending, carpet curling. A girl, screaming, she was screaming—of course, of course! Ha-ha; and blood was coughed. Upon the ground lay Jack, again slumped. She was screaming like a cartoon, as though life were a cartoon. The frailty of her kisses… the frailty of her pleas: why, oh why? In an instant a scent was at his ear—Chanel N°5. How could he? how dare he! For theirs was a love of desperation and inconvenience, the truest kind, which could, like Disney, never die.

Is and Ought

An is statement can contain an ought, but never ought itself. The is statement of my physiological needs – that I have preferences, that I desire food over starvation – contains within it a normativity, a table of values, an “I ought to eat”, an “I should do this rather than that”. In this respect an is statement can be normative; an is statement can contain an ought. Yet there is indeed, as Hume noted, an “unremarked transition” from is to ought in itself. For I am always confronted, in terms of my interpretative freedom, with the possibility of revaluing or rejecting the normatively given, that is, the “natural” table of values given to me, the physiological demands which suggest, often strongly, that I ought to act in a certain manner. I can go on hunger strike, for instance, in which case the physiological teleology of my own survival may be replaced by the telos of martyring myself for the betterment of others.

Do all is statements contain an ought? This still needs answering. It is clear that my physiology directly informs my given-teleology, in that I am given preferences by physiological aspects of myself. It is unclear whether any statements can be not an ought for me in any sense. It seems to be the case that all non-normative is statements can become normative is statements for me in their relation to normative is statements. The statement “the yoghurt carton is empty” becomes normative for me, or always already is normative for me, in its relation to the normatively given statement “I prefer health over sickness”, whereby the latter statement, through an association of statements and by means of conscious reflection or unconscious immediacy, charges the former statement with meaning, whereby is formed the general normative-association “To avoid the cumulation of mould, for the purpose of avoiding sickness, I ought to recycle the empty yoghurt carton”. Hence, a seemingly non-normative is statement can acquire normativity in its relation to normatively given statements. In this respect, all statements can be given an ought.

Still we have not answered whether all is statements contain an ought. It was clear that the statement “I prefer food over starvation” contains within it an ought, namely that “I ought to eat”; though this, the containment of normativity, does not seem true for the statement “the yoghurt carton is empty”. For the statement “the yoghurt carton is empty” does not imply that the yoghurt carton has preferences to be empty or full. Rather, it is given normativity in its relation to my hunger, for example, in which case my preference for the yoghurt carton’s being full gives normativity to the statement “the yoghurt carton is empty” and is in this way interpreted as bad for me. There thus appears to be a distinction which we can draw between given-normativity and contained-normativity, between normatively given statements and normatively contained statements. This would imply that not all is statements do contain an ought; though all is statements can be given an ought in their relation to normatively given is statements.

Equality at all costs…

Today, if Shakespeare had written Hamlet, the popular papers and social media hoards would write only about his misogyny, with no reference to the question. For we have forgotten the question of being, and certainly the question of not-being; and our only reference point, our only anchor is radical equality at all costs, while we of course spread our legs before celebrities and divulge ourselves as slaves to whoever can descend the fastest into décadence. What more to say? Words are pointless. You are reading words which lack substance. There is no point to writing, except to feel better about oneself. Writing is coping, writing is therapy—and nothing else. Sure, I develop techniques as and when I write. That matters not. Writing is dead: we believe nothing that is written, only sex and safety, prurience and power. Words – on which are based culture, high culture, achievement, creativity, aspiration, faith, knowledge, virtue – are dead, all is dead. Forget it. I need not prove myself, for that presupposes an inclination to teach you something or even, God forbid, to change something about the world; and who would be so rash to entertain in earnest such fanciful desires?

The best people at all things in a certain very important sense care not, not at all, for that by which they are considered the best, be this an activity or otherwise, for their eyes are actually set quite hazelly, not on the techniques and skills on which we observing types love to fixate, trying as we do, pathetically and ignorantly, to understand the depths of life by its surface, the heart of the wanderer by his footsteps, the soul of the artist by his brushstrokes, and so on, but rather—and in fact the gaze of their eyes is utterly irrelevant, for the best person at a given activity is enslaved by melancholy, inspired by the divine, or captive to an ideal, all of which lend stormy winds to their sails, and nothing else matters; while sailors who wish to do well when sailing on the water will do not very well if they only study the sails of other people who sail, without getting familiar with the wind itself, in a sense, as it were, gosh; and again none of this matters because as soon as you realise these sorts of things you are in a sense fated to posthumous fame, for in your lifetime those who replicate the greatest people mimetically, flapping their sails in emulation, without any wind at all, or perhaps with the wind of profit in mind and nothing else, —these are the ones who will excel in your lifetime and who will be worshipped while they live, while you, dear sailor, you who cares not at all for giving people what they want or even making others happy but who instead wishes only to disclose the truth inside your heart, or something else lofty and significant, —you will most likely fade into perpetual insignificance, or if you are celebrated after you are dead, it will be brief, for that is life and that is how it is and that is how humans are, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, nor is there anything you should wish to do about it. Experience is sufficient evidence for fatalism. I need not prove myself.

Existentialism is the cure to radical egalitarianism: those who suffer more are greater and always will be. You desire equality? Well, then: equalise the suffering in this world. Still no result? Equalise our responses to suffering—make us, in short, into the same husk, the same herd animal, and butcher any who are even remotely different. A cow performs better than the rest? Exterminate it. A cow underperforms? Punish the rest for exploiting and tyrannising the poor cow, in accordance with what necessarily must always be the case, and execute those who victimise the underperforming cow. Hell, banish the word “underperforming”. All cows necessarily perform equally, unless there is exploitation.

Truth is not predicated on agreeableness

The only lesson for an academic: truth is not predicated on agreeableness. Happiness is incompatible with truth; happiness is predicated on ignorance. Animals are ignorant: their teloi are immanent, their normativity is unchangeable. All normativity is nature-given. Man is normative by necessity, though not all normativity is necessarily unchangeable.

From the depths of desperation: the worth of a man is how much truth he can bear.

Again I find my fingers lying flat, curved upon the keys, plodding letters. I close my eyes, for I have no reason to watch; I am mere accompaniment—or mere conduit for these streaming sentences, which ooze in silence. Hm: there is stiffness and lethargy. The world revolves around me. Outside there are teenagers, as I once was not long ago, shimmying and boogying. The air is dry, though I know not why. The curtains are drawn: increasingly I am the sorry gentleman, the old chap with the stoop, the bearded fellow who groans and pulls peculiar faces—I know it, I know what I have become. Let none see. Nay, let them. Let them see me. Not to bother. My brow is a disaster, my health is an abandoned thing, and within my mind are dastardly notions. The one and only lesson: truth is not predicated on agreeableness. Thereby one is destroyed, utterly.

At the end of the day we can very well switch it up a little, shimmying and boogying like the rest of them, like the teensy ones. There is value in this. There is value in not caring all the time. Phenomenologically I am in a tizz. The life has been squeezed from me. Writing is therapy, and therapy is repetitive. Beethoven recycled. Motifs require repetition. No one is keeping note, no one will check: repeat and recycle, repeat and recycle. My eyes are still closed because there is absolutely no reason to open them. The world is not what I expected when I was younger. People are devilishly ignorant and crazily successful. Everything is in the superlative nowadays, and dystopias are mundane. This style surely cannot be sustainable. Every now and then I glimpse a future in which there are no sentences, only images and videos. My eyeballs are heavy, though it could be my brow, which as I said is a disaster, pushing downwards on my eyelids. My sister was always a little overbearing, but I love her, and my parents were too kind—they were kind, sufficiently kind, abundantly kind. One cannot be too kind. The world needs kind people: they have value. The world also needs, not mean people per se, but people who are spuriously mean, that is, people who are brilliant at building, people who are brilliant at thinking, people who are brilliant at sporting, people who are brilliant at painting, people who are brilliant at making others laugh but who in their brilliance neglect their morals. That is fine. All teloi are necessary, all goals are worthy in this world. Well, not all of them: those who wish to murder and steal and so forth perhaps are unworthy of living. Well, and yet we would do well to redirect their murderous and mischievous intentions towards more proprietous undertakings. That way all men are involved, all resources are utilised, and all can live with dignity. We require a society in which criminals are included prior to their criminality. Let us speak plainly: some will wish to murder, some will wish to rape, some will wish to steal. Let us ask how best to redirect these improprietous passions, which were advantageous not long ago, towards more acceptable endeavours. Proactive rehabilitation. What is acceptable? What is proprietous? My eyelids are beneath my chin, almost. My head pounds with exhaustion, and the pounding fades under an exhaustion of its own. My mouth dries, for this air is dry. Water. There is a bottle. Let me reach for it, let me… It is within grasp. Oh, the scent—what is the scent? The scent of refreshment. No. What? An oceanic invitation. Quite.

To endure impropriety while interrogating propriety: that is our task, that is our destiny. I am a heavy bleeder. My blood flows under the floorboards.

Honestly, whatever role I wish to depict has already been depicted. The Underground Man: nothing can compare. It is time to die. It is time to fade beyond the veil. I wish I could be something else, though in truth I quite like being what I am, and it would end in desolation if I were to give up on myself, by which I mean give up that life which I represent. What? I represent… Gosh, there are no words. I represent freedom of a sort. I represent impropriety, certainly. There is outside, beyond the cold glass which radiates frosted air from behind the curtain, there is – there was – a scream. Eek! Oh, we are the screamers. Certainly I am a decadent. Truth destroys us, for we learn how deep our despair ought to run. Our flesh quivers with goosepimples. Deeper! Our rosy cheeks flush when spanked. Deeper! The pickaxe hacks the sodden soul and ploughs a pit into a cavern. Deeper! Truth widens veins. Misery fills bellies. Pride is drowned in blood. Wretch! You saucy, ill-bred maggot-loaf! You lumpish, prune-pricked hedge-pig! You pribbling, idle-headed lewdster! A pox upon ye, Gordon Bennet! The present age has thunk décadence into permissibility.

I abuse writing. Writers are wretched. I am awful shy: truth does that to a man. Once I met with a friend, Matthew, and the last time we had spoken had been many years earlier. He was a boy of innate importance. He spoke and acted, understandably, with the earnestness of a blade of grass, for the sun is a temptress to that which is predestined for her warmth and fated to lick her radiance. His eyes knew the glory, and – oh – his direction was decreed; and then I met him, as I said, many years later: a quivering lily fish before me, mewling downwardly and snivelling between mumbles. Truth does this to a man. Boys are more courageous, by virtue of ignorance. The rest is fakery. Truth destroys; truth exposes. We are not ready.

Torments

The vast majority do not study. The vast majority take truth to be predicated on agreeableness, and hence accept only agreeable truths. The vast, vast minority sacrifice everything in subservience to truth. And yet, what do we believe and admire? The opinions of the many, the opinions believed from infancy to death by those who have never studied or read or conducted research of their own, ideas which proprietous zombies have acquired unthinkingly during vacuous lifetimes of violent intoxication and entertainment, ideas around which the sleepwalking hoards nevertheless wrap themselves possessively, falsely, arrogantly, mythologically, as though “their” ideas had bubbled magically out of their hearts and into their minds, when in reality no one is responsible at all for their ideas, not even for their deepest convictions, not even slightly; for the illusionary “I”, whose magic is entirely phenomenological, pulls a multiplicity of factors and causalities into one’s orbit, synthesises a multiplicity of sensibilities, and brands the Whole with one’s unearned stamp and signature. The “signature” is mythological. At best we can forge a self out of others. One cannot be self-taught, for the self is taught. Yet, one can approximate selfhood. Nietzsche said it all. All that need be said, has been said. Our destiny is “prophetry”. An ironic Bible? A sardonic Bible? What other way can there be? Whom can I convince? A madman? Nietzsche played the role of madman already. —What next? What next? Taking the madman seriously? Echt? What? Am I a rambler, a lunatic? I claw at a head which balds. “I” claw at a head which balds. There is clawing at a balding head. My head is not even balding: I made that up, I expect it to bald, I anticipate the balding. Oh, Ivan should have kissed the devil, Ivan should have kissed the devil, Ivan should have kissed the devil. Amor fati. Truly, that would have been to love his fate; that would have been the fresh air which Ivan’s house required. That would have given Dostoevsky pause for thought; that would have stumped the devil. To love the devil, to love all things. Unconquerable love. Nothing, not even the devil could laugh at that, for we would join him in laughing, and should he deceive us here also – that he had wished for us to love him, that he had intended it to be thus – well, but we would merely laugh harder and love him more. Amor fati. Ivan should have kissed the devil, Ivan should have kissed the devil. There are none alive with ears for these truths, none alive can bear my weight. —Oh, we are even above the madness, we looker-downers-upon-ourselves…  Humour, even humour is of a tragic sort, as though it were an accompaniment to other drives, as though the grand symphonic totality lacked all ulterior motive, as though “I” wished not even to make you laugh, as though laughter were as arbitrary as any other cosmological explosion, as though laughter and misery were entwined, as though we were even above the aestheticization of our experiences, as though even beauty were something beneath us, something menschliches, Allzumenschliches, as though… —Oh, where am I? Where are we, for whom there is neither up nor down? Cosmological consciousness… Who has the impropriety for the cosmos? Impropriety and free spirits go hand in hand. More clawing at my head. More clawing at “my” head. I scrunch my eyes. “I” scrunch “my” eyes. Can we rise above our standard phenomenological experience, witnessing our illusions as illusions, knowing that we are deceived? We do this already, do we not? This is how we feel, phenomenologically, when we know that we have no free will and yet feel ourselves to possess it: our phenomenological experience of action changes, such that we are in a sense depersonalised… I cannot, I cannot: I am utterly unprepared for these torments.

Thoughts Aflame

I am tired of theory; I know enough—enough. Ideas writhe within my mind, competing perennially; untimely words, uncustomary constructions, weighty compounds—confound it all. Grant me peace, let me rest… A world of disorderly notions, picked out of his books, crowded into his imagination… My head wobbles on a fragile neck. I walk, leisurely; always I bring my head with me, a pathetic neck upon which a bony blob wobbles, in which trivialities reside, thrashing back and forth, dialectically, mercilessly encaged. Out, out, brief candle! Thoughts aflame for such a meagre tongue—a dishonest, fanciful compensation; infernos of the mind, yet all is static or spluttering combustion. Nothing is hot within the world; all is tempered—except the mind, which burns and writhes like fiery serpent, like dragon lashing scales and tendrils, volcanic demon belching forth unworldly woes. The mind sings and screams whereas the world is silent; torrential rain downpours when all is dry… It is a tomb, this gift of life, this lone companion, this inward eye, this hiss of solitude—of endless thoughts, endless words, endless silence. To prise apart the mind, to let off stream: to forget pain, wisdom, suffering… O memory! Ubiquitous indifference, in almost every man, throughout the ages: we learn from history, that we do not learn from history. Endless cycles, eternal recurrence… The same husk of fate returns in perpetuity, the same scenes play out upon the stage; no audience, no playwright, only actors, most incorporated in the act, the rest with restless, all-too-conscious minds… The self demystifies the dream of life, dispels the myth. —But let us endeavour all the same to deliver our lines with conviction.

“If there is too much uncontested meaning on earth (the reign of the angels), man collapses under the burden; if the world loses all its meaning (the reign of the demons), life is every bit as impossible.”

—Milan Kundera