Filed under: Uncategorized — trinque @ 11:39 p.m.

In Martin Heidegger's What is Called Thinking, Heidegger points to Nietzsche's "the wasteland grows" as the descriptor of our time. By this he meant that our structure of meaning is disintegrating, and with it our ability to self-model. We are awash in and are the last-men, reciting the words of imagined voices of authorization as we erode.

Why have we gone mad? Heidegger via Nietzsche names the death of God, the all-superlative, all-integrator, the intergenerational foundation of western meaning. Nietzsche writes "we have killed him", though it would be better to say that Nietzsche marked the turning past-which God could no longer be constructed. As Jaynes describes in The Origin of Consciousness, this is not a unique historical event. The pantheon grew quiet in many cultures when the languages of their worshipers grew to sufficient complexity and capacity for self-reference, replaced by the dipole of mono-god and atomic worshiper, and the novel "internal narrative". Now, evidence for either end of the dipole is wanting; the self and superlative other drift apart and darken.

Nietzsche proposed a way out. His Zarathustra preaches a message of self-deification, of becoming the superman. It would be an error to imagine this meant that one must become like the old gods, the god-kings, those of divine right and infallibility. We've been down that road together, haven't we, and we know how it ends. Nietzsche was not proposing we return to the past; indeed, he proposed a turning *away* from precedent. What thwarts our exiting through Nietzsche's door? To him, it is our desire for revenge. "Behold, the wasteland grows. Woe to him who hides wastelands within."

The Nietzschean ubermensch is he who exists as a relationship between himself and the ideal being. It is a focal superlative, ever ahead. Nietzsche's concept of the eternal recurrence wraps the ubermensch such that past-present-future are connected. While the ancients considered cyclical time fact,1 there is utility in asking oneself to weigh choices as though they must be lived an infinite number of times. Whether cyclical or an arrow, one's actions stand eternally in time, their generations of consequences unending. The man's identity is the process of history understood as the endless project to define.

Psychological operating systems are not chosen.  They are imposed by culture, environment, and happenstance of experience. Read Heidegger, read Nietzsche, and see if their combined genius does not impose itself upon you as it has me, drawing a line of Promethean fire to the superlative future, the eternal project.

  1. And we'd be arrogant to dismiss this with incomplete systems of physical law in our hands. []


  1. Might it be that our failure to self-model just gives an appearance of a loss of meaning? Desire for honor (deserved admiration) might be innate, perhaps even together with the understanding that we should strive to be honored but be content to act honorably. When I look around what I see is not people without meaning, but those who have resigned against it and those who have rationalized that they're already serving it. Either way this is a sort of suicide. Similarly at a societal level what is there but collective suicide, desire for "ruins where once laid the facades of Ohio", or "a crony whose at least honest about it" or rationalization that symbols are enough, cause that's the most you'll get. The problem seems roughly equivalent to that of "false consciousness", but even still conscious awareness of the ideal might be enough for some to start fighting for a little dignity.

    Comment by backtrace — 2022/04/10 @ 5:57 a.m.

  2. What's the distinction in your view between someone resigned against meaning, and someone whose system of meaning is incoherently constructed and falling apart? How long does it fall apart before it's... apart?

    Comment by trinque — 2022/04/11 @ 6:36 p.m.

  3. A system of meaning incoherently constructed sounds about right. If true meaning rests in the spinal column however, one could never fall apart enough to be freed from the dissonance, or the self-loathing, hatred, and anger that follow. The dead ain't happy, and I have a feeling its got just as much to do with them having meaning as not.

    Comment by backtrace — 2022/04/11 @ 9:55 p.m.

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