The Sexiness of Posthumous Fame.

Hurry, scientists and psychologists. How long before you discover in the champions of our customary virtues—that is, of occupational success, profit maximisation, bill-paying inclination, proprietous sensibilities, social prowess and bubble reputation, subservience to Health, unflinching self-sublimation, knowledge of sports, short sentences and conventional grammar, hollow concepts and empty opinions, fascination with trivialities, social media addiction, groupthink opprobrium, preparedness for societal gossip application, vita activa and sacrificium intellectus, timely religiosity and agreeable dogmatism, cursory soundbite sagacity—; how long before you discover in these people the insanity of sanity and the sickness of health, the self-alienation of an uncreative life, the weakness and timidity of conventional subservience, the base mediocrity of appropriate opinion, the flatness of business-driven inarticulacy, the sterility of zombie activity, the innocence of childish docility, the hollowness of inherited value, the vacuity of digital existence, the nunnery air of self-evacuation—?

‘Cindy! Make sure you have your preparedness-for-societal-gossip with you!’

‘It’s in my bag.’

‘Plug it in.’

‘Okay—it’s in. I feel prepared. L Y, mom.’

‘Love you, C. One more thing—quick question.’

‘What’s a “question”?’

‘It’s… Not sure, tee-tee. Will look it up.’

‘Done already: “a sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information”.’

‘What in Dog’s name is a sentence?’

‘What is “Dog’s name”?’

‘It’s just a thing. L Y.’

‘K! L Y 2, C. Bye.’

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Living through Nietzsche

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.’

Errors of Language

Nietzsche writes: “The concept of good and evil has a double prehistory” (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, ¶45). In truth, were he to apply his psychologist’s gaze back at himself at this moment, he would find that there are as many prehistories, as many independent variables to a given dependent variable as one wishes to identify; that the number correlates proportionately to the effort expended. One could find, for instance, that the movement of a billiard ball across a table has a single prehistory—the movement and collision of another, causally prior billiard ball—or a “double prehistory”—the movement and collision of another ball, and the movement and collision of the cue with said ball. Yet one could just as truthfully include: table flatness, table smoothness; players’ inclination to play billiards; suitable opening times and accessibility of venue; introduction to billiards by parents; player accuracy and power—and so forth, each of which independent variable itself has as many prehistories as one wishes to identify. Behind the statement “The concept of good and evil has a double prehistory”, then, we find Nietzsche’s “menschlicher, allzumenschlicher” will to order, to emphasise, to exclude. With more honesty and a sharper gaze, he would perhaps have written: “The concept of good and evil, as is true of any (necessarily historical) concept, has as many prehistories as one wishes or indeed has the time and willingness to identify, that is, as many independent variables as one has the time and means to conceive of; but for me there are two main prehistories which I find most relevant, and which I can hardly help myself from emphasising fervently enough that all other variables will appear uninvolved, not least by my use of the phrase “double prehistory”.

Note here a working example of an error of language (see ¶39). The statement “There is a double prehistory” seems to us to imply that there is not a triple or quadruple prehistory, but this does not follow logically. For just as the statement “There is a prehistory” does not imply that there are not other prehistories simultaneously (the statement “There is a prehistory does not contradict the statement “There are prehistories”), neither does the statement “There is a double prehistory” imply that there cannot simultaneously be additional prehistories (the statement “There is a double prehistory” does not contradict the statement “There are many prehistories”). This I take to be another instance of the ease with which man is led, due to various errors of language (though – pertinently, aptly – not exclusively by the errors of language) to believe in mutual exclusivity—of causes, of interpretations, of “prehistories”.

Why I will not use your language

Suppose you were to say: “I prefer X” or “(Please) use X rather than Y”.

  1. I do not recognise your right to determine what language I use.
  2. I want to be free to express myself in whichever manner comes most naturally to me. That is, I want my language to remain in the background, much in the way that a person riding a bicycle effectively need not think about cycling. Thereby they are free to enjoy the activity, to relish the environment, to cultivate talents, improve health, practice new tricks, converse while cycling, think while cycling, experience Being, and so forth. I want to enter into that creative state which psychologists call “flow”. None of the great artists, writers or thinkers—Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Nietzsche, etc.—could have produced any works of genius if there were barriers (self-censorship, self-abnegation) to their freedom to create and express themselves.
  3. Do you think you are “inclusive”? I think a case can be made that it is profoundly exclusionary, illiberal and intolerant to determine what language I should use. More tolerant, more inclusive and more liberal (I could easily argue) would be to permit me to use my own language, and you your own.
  4. “But it is only a request”. All requests are strategies by which to secure tacit consent to domination. I do not trust that you (or anyone, as an animal) would limit yourself to asking nicely if there were no legislation in place which secured my “right” to freedom of speech and expression, and which would punish you if you tried to impose your will on me through less tacit means. I distrust all requests.
  5. It is profoundly illiberal, intolerant and exclusionary to assume that everyone ought to (or must) support and indeed dedicate themselves to your particular (self-defeating, contradictory) concept of “inclusion”. I for one see greater societal need to emphasise artistic freedom and creation, playfulness with ideas, ease of expression, and so forth, by way of countering the ubiquity of mediocrity and decadence.
  6. The concepts of “liberalism”, “toleration” and “inclusion” are like banners which anyone can wield (see point 3). Most often these are wielded by those who claim to speak for “progress”. —They mean progress that is agreeable to them, of course. These people typically only tolerate those who share their ideas and interests. Ergo, self-contradictory. These concepts are mere political tools which anyone can use to assume the moral high ground for themselves, thereby constructing a logic (identity/difference) and an image according to which others are morally inferior. I distrust all talk of inclusion, tolerance and liberalism; there is no sense here for the tragic ease with which humans readily exclude others on the basis of assumed moral superiority.
  7. By requesting me to use your language, you enter into a master-slave relationship. You are the slave: you become dependent on my permission, my will to satisfy your request should you wish to experience “inclusion”. I think dependency is a terrible, unhealthy position to be in: you require someone else for the full expression of your will. If I (and everyone else on whom you are dependent) say no to your request, for instance, then you will never feel “included”, nor will you ever experience the accompanying feelings of worth, value, freedom, and so on. Secondly, to make a request of me (to attempt to dominate my will from a subordinate position) is for you force me into the position of master, whereby I become responsible for the future of your will and your sense of inclusion. Yet it is again illiberal of you to assume this role for me (I would rather have nothing to do with you). Thus you trap us both in positions of dependency and responsibility.
  8. Healthier than requesting others to change their language for you is to impose your own will upon the world, create your own values and linguistic constructions, and to do so while being free from the binary logic of master and slave. Create your own coinages, use your own language, and I will use my own. (Of course, neither of us has a right to assume that others will use our language or even understand us, and it would be illiberal and exclusionary if we were to demand this. Shakespeare was heroic for breaking free of the master-slave dialectic to create his own coinages and many great works of genius, but I would resist him the moment he tried to force me to use his language.)
  9. If society privileges those who feel “excluded” by language, by forcing (by request or legislation) others to change the way they express themselves, then the logical conclusion of this prioritisation of “inclusivity” is necessarily that we all become identical in thought, expression, language and appearance—in short, identical. For someone could and inevitably would always be offended or feel excluded by anything, absolutely anything. I could feel excluded by the fact that I am not you, for instance, which would obligate you to change for me. The conclusion is the death of the individual and the triumph of herd mentality. (Possible straw man.)
  10. The same absurdity can be exposed in the following: If I felt excluded by the English language during a conversation with you, it would be absurd for me to request that you spoke to me in Hungarian or German. (There are, of course, pragmatic objections to this absurdity, but these can be excluded for similarly pragmatic reasons, namely that this list is already lengthy.) I might feel excluded by English due to the historic acquisition of its concepts, for instance. But who would I be to assume that you should change your language for me, even if you spoke Hungarian, German and English fluently and had no preference? It is not for me to say or determine. One’s language is who and what one is; to ask others to change their language is tantamount to asking them to change the way they exist.
  11. Ultimately, I will only use your language if I want to (that is, if it accords with my interests, my intentions, my telos; if it comes naturally to me; if I want to be sublimated by you). I do not need to justify myself—indeed, the arguments above are but a politeness on my behalf and an attempt to convince you of your own illiberal, intolerant and exclusionary tendencies. I owe you nothing.

The Shadow of Ideas

Every philosophy has a shadow—of that which is taken for granted, that which is habitual and which need not be explained, of that which is unreasoned and unconsidered, of that which is imbibed and inherited, of that which is assumed and unquestioned. Those who wrote the Bible had instinct, I suppose—an abundance of instinct, for that was the prevalent terrain above which the Bible loomed. For Nietzsche, morality and sublimation were dominant, an abundance of morality, which by that very fact sickened the species; his effort to emphasise the role of the Will led to the formulation, “instinct is good”. Yet this statement, taken together with its shadow, in fact reads “instinct and sublimation are good”. This is a radical proposition, for it is profoundly “un-Nietzschean”. Ergo, however, Nietzsche was not a “Nietzschean”. More radically, to our ears: “Christ” (namely those who wrote about Christ) was not a Christian. For we exclude the shadows of Christianity and Nietzscheanism in our understanding of these terms.

Thou Shalt Be A Sofa Cushion

“Do you actually believe any of that?” —Points to Bible.

‘I believe some of it, yes’, I could have thought. ‘I believe it is nice to be nice, that it gives us positive feelings, that it is noble to help yourself and others, that a mixture of self-interest and self-negation is useful in society, is productive; that a degree of sublimation, specifically in the acquisition of consciousness, is a valuable tool with which to subsequently redirect the instincts, in the act of self-sublimation, towards less primitive and loftier ambitions, namely artistic endeavours and great cultural events; and I believe that very often the fullest expression of instinct requires altruism and kindness, given that there is natural precedent for it, as is explainable simply by recourse to game theory, in that it is effective to have more friends than enemies; though of course the ideology of morality – if it becomes hegemonic through state-sanctioned Christianity or media-entrenched liberal-egalitarianism and herd mentality – can, as with any ideology, encroach counter-productively upon human capabilities, drowning us in the swamp of myopia and mono-perspectival tyranny. The stuff about God, soul, heaven, sin, miracles, immortality, rebirth, spirit, and so on and so forth, is of course unbelievable, though in truth these are simply unknowable.’

“Ha-a, no, of course not”, I said.

“I was worried you were turning into a Christian. You’re not going to become a hermit, are you?”

‘Often the most creative activity’, I would have thought, ‘takes place in solitude. Certainly the philosopher or writer must learn to live alone with himself, and to seek out treacherous conditions, indeed to fight off with indefatigable fortitude the readily available comforts of this age of rampant mediocrity and sedative consumerism. The life of the hermit ought to be idolised…to some extent, at least—certainly moreso than the glorified sofa cushion against which all hermits are judged. Oh, to be sat on is to live, to sit on one’s instincts and to fart the feeble remainders in the direction of the television screen: thou shalt be a cushion! Thou shalt sit and be sat on!’

“Ha… No, I wouldn’t do that”, I said.

Perspectivism: ‘Myopia’ and ‘Pinching’

I like to think of understanding as a sphere which surrounds an individual, as though they were in a force field of sorts; or as a spectrum of visible light for which the complete spectrum forms all that can possibly be seen. Ideologies filter the world with certain colours: feminism has a shade, Marxism has a shade, Nietzscheanism has a shade, and so on. Our ability to conceive of new shades, new slices of reality is inexhaustible: the “complete spectrum” – which remains inaccessible and unknowable – seems infinitely divisible into ideologies; and so in this respect we will never fully account for reality with our understanding. I do, however, think that one who can embrace many ideologies unideologically – “one ideology is applicable here, another there, this one more than the other”, etc. – and in whom there is an ability to switch lenses readily and without anguish, is intellectually superior. (Note that advocacy of intellectual superiority is, of course, ideological.) For his account of the world, more vibrant in its multivariate analysis, does not reduce it to a single shade. (The antagonist we might describe as pragmatically superior.) Ideological reduction I term ‘myopia’. Myopia leads to belief in mutual exclusivity of causes, of explanations, of interpretations. Myopia is what is standardly meant when we describe someone as ideological. And yet, the project of perspectival acquisition is affected (constrained and enabled) by what I call ‘perspectival pinching’, for lack of a better phrase, whereby one is inclined, as a result of understandable biases and hermeneutical contingencies, to emphasise certain perspectives over others. My criticism of perspectivism extends to those who deny their ‘pinched perspective’, as it were; namely, those who lack the courage to self-actualise.