Nah, I will. & here — with a bit of “Beyond Good and Evil,” penned by Nietzsche — I bloody fucking go again:
❝ In the Jewish “Old Testament,” the book of divine justice, there are men, things, and speeches of such impressive style that the world of Greek and Indian literature has nothing to place beside them. We stand with fear and reverence before these tremendous remnants of what human beings once were. … To have glued together [the] New Testament, a sort of rococo of taste in all respects, with the Old Testament into a single book, as the “Bible,” and “the essential book,” is perhaps the greatest act of daring and “sin against the spirit” which literary Europe has on its conscience. ❞ — Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) (1886) — The bold highlight is mine.
A sinful act. A guilt upon one’s conscience. As in: when one’s upon their knees in the dark of the polished mahogany confessional box, willing themselves out loud to think of baby lambs and flower beds yet fully savouring the feeling of being aroused by the tantrically intimate intonation of the gentleman upon the other side of the divide who may or may not himself be now highly aroused by one’s confession-cum-fantasy of the ‘thing’ that happened with the milkman. Would a gentle touch be too much, you silently ask yourself as he begins to describe your Angelic Salutations and is want to linger on the requirement not to allow your hand, with or without object, to saunter (satanically) southward. But, ain’t the bible in fact the greatest work of literature peer-ee-ud? And the King James version one of the greatest works of translation and/or English prose full•stop? Well, here’s this post’s first purpose, to introduce you — one & only — to Jacke Wilson’s sonorous but soft voice. The voice is the narrator of a podcast called: The History of Literature. The narrator’s name (Jacke Wilson; that’s pronounced by him as ‘jack’ not ‘jayke’ / ‘jacki’) is, intriguingly, a pen name. I discovered this when I’d wanted to put a face to this mesmerising voice. Jacke, you see, touches upon the Old Testament (“The Hebrew Bible”) here and basically says that this compendium of stories far surpasses its one know literary predecessor: Gilgamesh and its near contemporary Greek works (i.e., Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad). Noah’s flood, Adam and Eve, human sacrifice and daughters laying with their dad, I mean, who could possibly make such stuff up ipso facto (by that very fact or act) it’s just gotta b divine, ain’t it? Hasn’t it? Well, let us see what Jacke has to say on this and some two hundred other works of literature:
William Wilson is a short story by one of my current favourite writers: Edgar Allan Poe. The novel covers a doppelgänger scenario and as I’ve read it said, it clearly explores the theme of the double (the delusional, the inner voice that will be called in extreme cases schizophrenia). In this mini novella, the second self haunts the protagonist and leads him to insanity and at the same time somehow represents his own insanity:
❝ Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality. ❞
#2 — 1899 The Heart of Darkness
The Heart of Darkness is by Joesph Conrad. Conrad one of my all time favourite authors not least because his mother tongue wasn’t English, he loved the sea and he wrote so well about the loneliness and torment of the human soul. Some of his stuff, especially The Secret Sharer, speak flipping volumes to those who just cannot, and do not, quite fit in. To those who can’t be ‘just another number,’ weekenders, latter-day talent show and reality TV viewer who today seem content (sedated/duped) with snapping and instagraming and content just to be, not, in other words, to think beyond and ask the question of why… Adam Curtis would explain this by way of his Century of The Self thesis. Never you mind my mercurial friend:
❝ The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.
We live as we dream – alone.
The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness. ❞
#3 — 1951 The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea is a novella by Ernest Hemingway. Now, like everyone wants to retrospectively label Conrad as racist (by today’s standards okay, yes) I hear most critics say about Hemingway, amazing master of succinct prose but an awfully misogynistic fellow (seems so I guess) yet, I’m all confused here and I ain’t no debutante gadfly. You see, I never know if we should judge authors/artists or simply consider the work of fiction or the painted picture or the chiselled nude as a thing of its very own being. I mean, we aren’t wanting to make acquaintance with long since passed away people, and we can’t — with justification — judge them (too harshly from afar) because how can we know the extent to which their parents and/or the societal norms that pounded and pummeled their formative years impacted on their empathy for other modes of fellow human being. ANY WHICH WAY, this little story may be meant for men, men that like to hunt and kill, but who cares! I see in it a tale of dogged determination, nature’s turning of the wheel and the reality of us being but a handful of dust; for however high we soar we will all be grounded by gravity’s pull and the biological clock that would have us dead and left out to the vultures/ hyenas/ wolves by the age of say, 37. Alas, now is the time to think of only one thing (doing my f’ing assignment on Hermann H. Hesse). Here without further ado is this quaint work:
❝ There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
There is no friend as loyal as a book. ❞
#4 — 1963 The Bell Jar
This is the post’s second purpose to introduce The Bell Jar — a sort of autobiography by Sylvia Plath (it could be termed a Roman-à-clef too as we are told that real people and events appear in each and every chapter). It will be known to most that Plath took her life soon after writing this book (1) and that she decided it to publish it in England under the pen name: Victoria Lucas (2). It often comes with a public health warning, but come on, nobody here (who is actually no body) who’s stared so deeply into the abyss would wanna b chaperoned and spoon-fed mollycoddle. You see, I’m hearing the dull sound of drums, I’m not getting sleep, but I am letting Jacke try and rock me off, I’m not getting into the set texts, but I am getting more into the mind of Plath (**her works I should say) so here, my dears, are a quartet of resources for you:
There is a book which says a fair bit about me — I went a bit ‘Radio Rentals’ (you know what I mean, a stint of, or a stretch at, ‘doolally’) and frenetically purchased the whole series. Of the set, there was this particular one that, for a bit, I totally cherished — it became my bible & my constant companion, my succour & my sanctum sanatorium (sic.[k]) — but after a time and in a cathartic act of getting-the-fuck-over-him, I dispensed with it (alongside its fellow brethren to the large green municipality garbage (no: ‘rubbish’; no“GARBAGE”) skip (bin or tin) beside the house in which I’m obligated to reside in). However, it found its way back to me and I, once more (“for better or for worse”), took it in again. You see, he’d ‘magically’ found high resolution electronic versions of it and all the other titles and sent them to me, as is his way, with artfully articulated apologies and long letters of regret and remorse for, amongst many other things, his self-destructive ways in which I all too often bare the brunt. He too, by the way, is a flipping expert in throwing everything away and beginning anew — he takes so-called “cleansing baths,” the idea being that baptism-like, he’ll rise from the waters shorn of sin and shed of snake oil (he being phoenix-like; the ashes, the lives of those he messes around with). But the things he throws out (with the bath water, so to speak) soon get reintroduced: for escape, he says — and I concur — is a fallacy because, one cannot escape one’s self (he and I both give short shrift to things like near death experiences being anything other than wholly imagined phenomena).
This is the book: As I seek context for its cover quotes, by way of organic light-emitting diodes, it stares luridly back at me, unblinkingly and unrelentingly. It, in my sore eyes, acts as a testament to the truism that knowledge rarely begets bliss. n.b., I’ll be heading out into the dunes real soon.
❝ Mind has no gender. ❞
— Mary Wollstonecraft An English writer and philosopher (1759–1797) who, inter alia, advocated for gender neutrality in all domains of society. “She” alas (not a lass) is almost unique in this anthology. Yet, maybe this whole endeavour is both infantile and futile; and thus a forte of man. But no! The millennia old quest to definitively discover, determine and frame consciousness is too important to be left to mankind alone. That we evidently aren’t represented in this field doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek and strive to become so: per ardua ad astra & all a dat.
❝ I think therefore I am. ❞
— René Descartes A French thinker (1596–1650) who is considered one of the instigators of modern (Western) philosophy (and a key member of La Ville Lumière), his most noted line: “Cogito, ergo sum,” penned in Latin, is quoted above. I can confirm to you here and now that I am very much alive and mulling over my abject melancholy tonight. Whether or, whether not, you too are thinking thoughts now in the dead of night, one can only speculate.
❝ We only think when we are confronted with problems. ❞
— John Dewey An American philosopher and psychologist (1859–1952) who believed profoundly in democracy, be it in e.g., politics, education or media communication; he once said that is was synonymous with the “ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity.”
❝ Humans are born free, yet everywhere they are in chains. ❞
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau A French/Swiss philosopher (1712–1778) who had great influence on the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe by way of e.g., his works: “Discourse on Inequality” and “The Social Contract” — cornerstones still of contemporary political and socioeconomic thinking (Rousseau was a member of La Ville Lumière). I am chained to memories of u; i am chained too by patriarchy and an increasingly bellicose and jingoistic society.
❝ Imaginations decide everything. ❞
— Blaise Pascal A French mathematician, physicist, inventor and philosopher (1623–1662). Pascal made important contributions to the study of fluids, concepts of pressure and vacuum as well as writing in support of the scientific method.
❝ To be is to be perceived. ❞
— George Berkeley An Irish philosopher (&c.) (1685–1753) who put forth a a theory which he called “immaterialism” which denies the existence of material substance, instead contending that things like books and pens are only ideas in our minds and exist only because we perceived them to be.
❝ The universe has not always existed. ❞
— Thomas Aquinas An Italian philosopher (1225–1274) who is considered to be the most famous of all medieval Christian philosophers. English philosopher Anthony Kenny contends that Aquinas is amongst the dozen “greatest philosophers of the western world.”
❝ Humans are animals that make bargains. ❞
— Adam Smith A Scottish philosopher and pioneer of political economy (1723–1790). known by some as “The Father of Economics” he is perhaps most famous for his work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), and the concept of ‘the invisible hand.’
❝ Humans are machines. ❞
— Thomas Hobbes An English philosopher (1588–1679) who’s considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy in large part because of his 1651 book Leviathan. This work was seminal in terms of setting out social contract theory.
❝ Humans are the measure if all things. ❞
— Protagoras An Ancient Greek philosopher (c. 490–420 BCE) who is said also to have said, “many things prevent knowledge, including the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life.”
❝ Happy is the one who has overcome their ego. ❞
— Siddhartha Gautama An Indian philosopher (c. 563–483 BCE) who was later lionised as the Buddha, he’s said to have said the following string of words: The mind is everything. What you think, you become.
❝ The human is an invention of a recent date. ❞
— Michel Foucault A French social theorist and philosopher (1926-1984) Foucault saw himself as a critic of modernity (see: la-ville-lumiere). Interestingly he was convinced that the study of philosophy must begin through a close and ongoing study of history.
❝ The ends justifies the means. ❞
— Niccolò Machiavelli An Italian thinker (1469–1527) who famously submitted the following: while it would be best to be both loved and feared, the two rarely coincide, and thus, greater security is found in the latter.
❝ There is nothing outside of the text. ❞
— Jacques Derrida A French philosopher (1930–2004), who is considered by some to be rather controversial in relation to his concept of “deconstruction” — a complex and nuanced approach to how we read and understand the nature of written texts. In an egalitarian kind of way he believed that we are all, “mediators and translators.” He said too that he never gave in to, “the temptation to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult.”
❝ Act as if what you do makes a difference. ❞
— William James An American philosopher and psychologist (1842–1910) who is said now to be the “Father of American psychology.” In a seminal work for the field of psychology — Pragmatism (1907, p. 45) — he wrote, “there can be no difference that doesn’t make a difference.”
❝ Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning. ❞
— Albert Camus A French philosopher (1913–1960) who said, “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” Even more interestingly, in my humble view, he argued that (hu)man(kind) is the only creature who refuses to be what they are. I dunno m8 but i fink he means we are but animals (dressed in garments) but we seek to act and pretend we are more higher than our baser instincts and our animistic (sum times cannibalistic) tendencies.
❝ Over one’s own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. ❞
— John Stuart Mill An English philosopher (1806–1873) who said the following: “Under whatever conditions, and within whatever limits, men are admitted to the suffrage, there is not a shadow of justification for not admitting women under the same.” He’s pretty bloody amazing actually. Not only was he for equality between the genders but he was also an advocate of free speech and the limiting of the powers of authority over the citizenry. . .
❝ The life which is unexamined is not worth living. ❞
— Socrates An Ancient Greek philosopher (469–399 BCE) who is considered to be one of the founders of Western philosophy. Interestingly so because he himself wrote nothing. What he did do, however, was persistently ask challenging questions.
❝ Humans are something to be surpassed. ❞
— Friedrich Nietzsche A German philosopher (1844–1900), who amongst other things, believed that so-called religious morality, with its emphasis on kindness, meekness, subservience to a greater good, and a focus on the afterlife rather than the present condition, did not reflect how the world actually works.
❝ The soul is distinct from the body. ❞
— Plato An Ancient Greek philosopher (c.428 – c.348 BCE) and was one of Socrates’ muses. In terms of, “the soul is distinct from the body”. . . I ask: is it though? I mean, like I said about them near death-experiences, you kind of know what to imagine, floating up off of the bed, your life flashing by condensed to a dozen at most vivid events splatters in stark relief. I mean who’s managed to can a soul? Who has actually continued bereft of their blinking body?
❝ Reason lives in language. ❞
— Emmanuel Levinas A French philosopher (1906–1995) known for his inquiries into existentialism, ethics and ontology.
❝ Truth resides in the world around us. ❞
— Aristotle An Ancient Greek philosopher (384–322 BCE) who said too: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. We should know tat it is from Aristotle’s writings and teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as the key problems to ponder and moreover, methods of inquiry. As the polymath did make clear: “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
❝ Knowledge is power. ❞
— Francis Bacon An English philosopher (1561–1626) whose work is credited with developing the scientific method hence sometimes being called “the father of empiricism.” For me it is the following words of his that I feel most affinity too: “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”
❝ Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. ❞
— Voltaire A French Enlightenment era philosopher (1694–1778) famous for his wit as well as his criticism of religion and his advocacy of freedom of speech. He was a founding member of La Ville Lumière. Tellingly he was fond of saying the following: Those who can make you believe absurdities (e.g., the supernatural) can make you commit atrocities (e.g., coercive indoctrination). This was especially the case, I’ve somewhere read, as an encore to peach soufflé.
“Aptenodytes Antarctica” illustration from ‘Cimelia Physica. Figures of rare and curious quadrupeds, birds…’ published 1796 (hand coloured engraving) by Miller, John Frederick (1759-96); Private Collection; The Stapleton Collection; English, out of copyright.
Now that’s a question to ponder…
❝ The fundamental cause of trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. ❞
— Bertrand Russell
The problem of how to live a life with meaning has puzzled philosophers since the days of ancient Greece, China, and India. Yet, for Nietzsche, the problem took on a new importance in the aftermath of the Enlightenment and what he saw this as resulting in; the death of god.
It is often said that Nietzsche is a nihilist but, it’s not so simple. In fact, much of his work is concerned with the problem of overcoming nihilism despite all the things (life problems) that drive people towards acting in a nihilistic way.
Friedrich Nietzsche: There are no facts, only interpretations.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster… if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Nietzsche’s was focused on this: in an increasingly secular and scientific society we humans could no longer turn to god/religion to find meaning. In the past (or for religious people today( the meaning of everything was assured by God. So, Nietzsche pondered, without the ability to turn to god, where could we find meaning?
Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: “master morality” and “slave morality”. Master morality values pride and power, while slave morality values things like kindness, empathy, and sympathy.
Nietzsche believed that the Christian morality, with its emphasis on kindness, meekness, subservience to a greater good, and a focus on the afterlife rather than the present condition, did not reflect how the world actually works.
Instead of relativism, Nietzsche advocates for something that has been called “perspectivism.” Simply put, perspectivism means that every claim, belief, idea, or philosophy is tied to some perspective and that it’s impossible for humans to detach themselves from these lenses in order to learn about objective Truth.
According to Nietzsche perspectivism isn’t the same as relativism because unlike relativism (which says all views are equally valid because they’re relevant to each person) perspectivism doesn’t claim that all perspectives have equal value — some are in fact better than others.
The Joyous Science is a liberating voyage of discovery as Nietzsche’s realization that ‘God is dead’ and his critique of morality, the arts and modernity give way to an exhilarating doctrine of self-emancipation and the concept of eternal recurrence.
In late 1888, only weeks before his final collapse into madness, Nietzsche (1844-1900) set out to compose his autobiography, and Ecce Homo remains one of the most intriguing yet bizarre examples of the genre ever written. In this extraordinary work Nietzsche traces his life, work and development as a philosopher, examines the heroes he has identified with, struggled against and then overcome – Schopenhauer, Wagner, Socrates, Christ – and predicts the cataclysmic impact of his ‘forthcoming revelation of all values’.
Human, All Too Human (1878) can be read as a monument to his personal crisis. It also marks the point when he matured as a philosopher, rejecting the German romanticism espoused by Wagner and Schopenhauer and instead returning to sources in the French Enlightenment. Here he sets out his unsettling views in a series of 638 stunning aphorisms – assessing subjects ranging from art to arrogance, boredom to passion, science to vanity and women to youth. This work also contains the seeds of concepts crucial to Nietzsche’s later philosophy, such as the will to power and the need to transcend conventional Christian morality.
This book better explains the cryptic aphorisms of Beyond Good and Evil and signalling a return to the essay form. In these three essays, Nietzsche considers the development of ideas of ‘good’ and ‘evil’; explores notions of guilt and bad consience; and discusses ascetic ideals and the purpose of the philosopher. Together, they form a coherent and complex discussion of morality in a work that is more accessible than some of Nietzsche’s previous writings.
The Will to Power contains some of Nietzsche’s most fascinating and combative writings on nihilism, metaphysics and the future of Europe.
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
— my why is you J and that is how I can bear the now (which basically is hell).