276 For The New Year.
I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
341 The greatest weight.
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”
Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: “You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, “Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?
most religions stress that what you do and who you are in this life remains forever, and in some ways has always existed, and will at least in part determine the nature your existence for the infinite future. that is the nature of religion. but this is not quite the same as threat of repeat experience.
if every moment of your life were one to be eternally relived, over and over again, would you despair or consider each action so as to feel blessed with this fate?
are there some things you do now or would not do again that first time if you were to repeat it eternally? how does the idea of finitude affect your morality, and does that morality then even make sense?
meaning is a temporary construction overlaid onto what eternally is, which has no determination, no inherent meaning. everything eternal exists neutrally, otherwise it would eventually be destroyed. nothing unbalanced can remain.
nihilism as an affirmation of what is and what will forever be, not a denial.
.::.Filed in philosophical ramblings, resolutions | Tagged with happiness, nietzsche, optimism/pessimism | Comment (0)
Filed in philosophical ramblings | Tagged with nietzsche, optimism/pessimism | Comment (0)
“Is pessimism necessarily a sign of decline, decay, malformation, of tired and debilitated instincts…? Is there a pessimism of strength? An intellectual preference for the hard, gruesome, malevolent and problematic aspects of existence which come from a feeling of well-being, from overflowing of health from an abundance of existence?
…If the Greeks were pessimists and had the will to tragedy precisely when they were surrounded by the riches of youth…and if, on the other hand and conversely, it was precisely during their period of dissolution and weakness that the Greeks became ever more optimistic, more superficial, more actorly, but also filled with greater lust for logic and for making the world logical, which is to say both more ‘cheerful’ and more ‘scientific’ – could it then perhaps be the case, despite all ‘modern ideas’ and the prejudices of democratic taste, that the victory of optimism, the predominance of reasonableness, practical and theoretical utilitarianism, like its contemporary, democracy, is symptomatic of a decline in strength, of approaching old age, of physiological exhaustion? And that pessimism is precisely not a symptom of these things?”
“…modern man is beginning to sense the limits of the Socratic lust for knowledge…We should not now disguise from ourselves what lies hidden in the womb of this Socratic culture: an optimism which imagines itself to be limitless!…It should be noted than an Alexandrian culture needs a slave-class in order to exist in the long term; as it views its existence optimistically, however, it denies the necessity of such a class and is therefore heading toward horrifying extinction when the effects of its fine words of seduction and pacification, such as ‘human dignity’ and ‘the dignity of labor’, are exhausted. There is nothing more terrible than a class of barbaric slaves which has learned to regard its existence as an injustice and which sets out to take revenge, not just for itself but for all future generations.”
“The catastrophe slumbering in the womb of theoretical culture is gradually beginning to frighten modern man; in other words, he is beginning to suspect the consequences of his own existence…This insight marks the beginning of a culture which I now dare to describe as a tragic culture. Its most important feature lies in putting wisdom in the place of science as the highest goal. This wisdom is not deceived by the seductive distractions of the sciences; instead it turns its unmoved gaze on the total image of the world, and in this image it seeks to embrace eternal suffering with sympathetic feelings of love, acknowledging that suffering to be its own. Let us imagine a rising generation with this fearless gaze, with this heroic attraction to what is monstrous, let us imagine the bold stride of these dragon-killers, the proud recklessness with which they turn their backs on all the enfeebled doctrines of scientific optimism so that they may live resolutely, wholly and fully…”
–Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy (1872)
i have been down lately. and when i say down i mean like, feeling the bottom. do you know what the bottom feels like? i thought everyone did, but recently a friend of mine told me he’d just experienced a “bad day” for the first time that he could remember – like, 15-20 years. and my mind was sort of blown. that’s possible for a sane person?
the other day as we drove through west oakland i thought about this, about what he said, and i thought that it seemed impossible to me, to have that kind of mentality, when 1. all of the atrocities in the world are visible on every street corner and 2. to me it appears that all of us are always standing on the edge of a cliff. every day, living on the edge, the potential for falling into the abyss present with every breath taken, and that the spectrum of awareness goes from paralyzed with fear at one end to completely oblivious and doing cartwheels at the other.
i am not paralyzed but i am always aware of the edge.
later that night, my head buried in my pillow, i bemoaned my disposition and jay said “you just have to let go.” and i said: “how can i let go when i feel like i’m balancing on the edge?” he agreed with me, which is why i love him, but i’m sure there is some platitude about “faith” or something.
to be clear i know that there is nothing either objectively or subjectively “wrong” with my life. in fact it is by most standards BLESSED and i am not ungrateful. i am also aware of this idea of “creating your own reality” and choosing to ignore atrocities. i can’t. i can’t live in this world full of torture and persecution and injustice and just “focus on myself” and my beautiful friends and my beautiful life. yeah, if i blocked all that out – starting from my doorstep in west oakland to the regimes of oppression worldwide – life would be fucking grand!
and if you try to tell me you live the best, most non-consumer non-imperialistic socially-conscious life possible and that is all you can do so why not focus on your own happiness the rest is out of your hands/isn’t being a happy human a greater asset to the world than an angry one? i will 1. point out that your reading this on a computer/gadget made in China negates that defense about you not willingly having anything to do with atrocity and 2. respectfully and sort of jealously disagree while acknowledging that this is an ancient philosophical/POV debate.
the weird thing is, despite all this psychological torment i put myself through, and despite these occasions where i feel weighed down, overall i think i’m actually a happy person. just maybe not an optimist.
the point is that some days i don’t know how to take a step back from the edge, that edge where i can feel the present and future stew of everything and everyone, nothing and no one and feel like i am/we are falling forward.
anyway, stress work existential angst anxiety fear of the unknown self-doubt global unrest blah blah blah i did not have a good weekend and let’s not get any deeper into that other than to say that while yes, it is possible i might benefit from some therapy and/or medication, at the same time i am also always fighting my way back to the top so don’t worry too much (mom). i’m just emotional and dramatic.
as is often the case when i am down, my chronic shoulder/back pain flared up again yesterday to a more than just annoying degree. the fact that it’s been almost a year since i’ve written about it says a lot about how under control i have this still-undefined thing, but it has not been gone, oh no, and i have to be hypervigilant with my PT, and when i am down there, in the bottom my friend doesn’t feel? i am not vigilant. i am the opposite of vigilant. i am destructive. and if you are me and you live in San Francisco in the year 2012 you have access to a lot of tools for self-destruction.
so yesterday i was whiny and in pain and i didn’t sleep well last night and needed to not be typing and all that so today i only went to work for a couple of hours but that was OK because it was sunny and 72 degrees in february and so i left work and biked across town and went and hung out outside at cafe in downtown oakland until time for yoga. I KNOW, RIGHT? see why i’m depressed? #affluenza
this DJ person i live with is playing electronic music of whatever microgenre that is he plays (i’ll keep out of that debate) – i do not listen to electronic music unless said DJ is playing it at home or/ i am out dancing. i was actually quite offended when an old phish friend said “oh right you only listen to electronic music now” when i didn’t know some new band. on evenings when he is doing this, i am often in the bathroom listening the Velvet Underground or somesuch while i do one of any number of beauty treatments on myself (it’s only been 10 days since i last bleached my hair and i am already unhappy with the color gradient. UGH. maybe maryann is right; i should shave my head. ANYWAY.)
so just now i was there in the shower listening to Built to Spill Perfect From Now On (1997) which is still, now, 9 years after i first heard it on KALX, also while in the shower one morning sometime in 2003 when we lived in that brownshingle on Benvenue avenue in berkeley- wow that was a long time ago and wow it’s been since 2006 that we saw them live? holy crap. – it is still one of my favorite end-to-end albums to listen to from the first track to the last (my friend Allie talks about doing elliptical workout jams to rock music and i could def bust a long elliptical jam to Perfect From Now On.)
all that is to say that you should listen to it if you never have.
and also if any of you out there are going to good indie/psych/punk/emo rock shows in SF will you clue me in? i’m looking at you 40goingon28.
my younger sister used to say i was mean. and i was always defensive – no i’m not! i love people. LOVE. but the older i get, i think she was/is right. i can be CRUEL/i don’t know why. i mean, a guy i know who has the word “evil” as part of his nickname told me at the club on friday night that he has always stayed away from me because i seemed like someone he didn’t want to fuck with. am i really that unapproachable? man. but i am so soft on the inside.
and to cap off this completely boring old-skool whatididtoday/iamsoEmo blog post, here is what i ate today: Continue reading »Filed in autobiographical, food, health & vegetarianism, me myself and i, music | Tagged with affluenza, anxiety, optimism/pessimism, pain management | Comments (4)
the other night as we were falling asleep, jay asked: “what inspires you”. and i mumbled into the pillow: “optimists….”
when i said that, i was thinking mostly about the ongoing efforts and moving reports out of of Occupy Wall Street/occupy everywhere. but then yesterday we went to a baby shower that included (at least) 3 other pregnant friends besides the mom being showered. and during the part where people all gather as a group and speak their blessings for the parents-to-be, i looked around the room and thought about how incredibly optimistic you have to be to bring a child into this world we’re in right now, where most of the media is constantly negative, economies are in turmoil, practically everything our bodies touch and mouths eat is toxic, and is there any country on this planet that thinks their leaders are representing their best interests? and i thought about how hard it is for me to push aside all of the darkness, to focus on the good that is and can be created. and i was, in fact, inspired by the fact that so many of my friends believe in a beautiful future despite all this.
to mary and stephen: <3
(a little on the flip side: Hopelessness and hope. How can we love it all?)
later that evening, we went to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) 25-year celebration art and music ball. and there also, i was inspired. a crowd of people who believe not only in magic of human consciousness, but in actively fighting systems that try to oppress vehicles to greater health and knowledge in favor of corporate interests.
that and the psychedelic-influenced fashion, whimsically silly with a “i got dressed while high in the kostume kult tent at burning man” mix of sequins and yoga wear that states “i don’t give a fuck about societal norms” was entertaining, and yes, i dare say also inspiring. you might look kind of silly, but at least you look fun. maybe i’ve lived in northern california for too long, but weird in the face of normal is not only defiant, but also an expression of optimism.
i have my last 5 days of work this week before i take off for New York/Puerto Rico for the rest of the year. maintaining optimism is something i am continuing to work on as we ramp up to 2012. everyone: keep up the good.Filed in autobiographical | Tagged with #ows, exploding dog, optimism/pessimism | Comment (0)
there are some things i wonder if i should write about here and this is one of them.
i think one of the hardest things about falling in love with someone and committing yourself to them is that depending on your disposition, your internal balance of optimism vs pessimism, silently, you also simultaneously know, can see coming, what one of the worst days of your life is going to be. the day that they are gone. they day they don’t come home. whether by choice or by fate.
perhaps this is symptomatic of a latent fear of abandonment, but i think about this more than is probably healthy.
and then i think about how i will get on with out him. and if i will be ok. and it’s hard to see myself as being ok. i am almost 35 years old but i do not know how well i can take care of myself, alone. i see myself on certain days, days when he is away, days when no one is paying attention, days when i have no where to go/no one to be, and sometimes i don’t even bother to get out of bed. like i don’t even exist. and that if left alone too long, i would disappear. dissipate. without meaning.
others days are stronger, and i realize how alive i am. ramona puts into words something i have been feeling a lot lately:
It’s weird when you realize you’re actually doing okay. Living your life, everyday, not visibly breaking down, or even invisibly breaking down more than once a week. You’re not perfect. And I don’t mean not perfect in that faux self-deprecating way of people who didn’t make the frosting from scratch. You’re really not perfect. You’ve made some mistakes, and there was that one time. But you’re moving past that now, and by moving I mean time is moving by without any help from you whatsoever. There’s nothing you have to do to make your life go by, because that’s what it does. Go by…
…And you feel good basically, which is no small feat, but feels pretty small when you’re feeling good and realizing you need to get another hobby besides making yourself feel good.
it’s hard to balance – impossible some days – this helpless feeling of time going by and the desire to make something of yourself so you can feel good about it.Filed in me myself and i | Tagged with optimism/pessimism | Comment (0)
he wrote this (heavy sigh), and all i could think of to say was this:
from 10,000 feet, the way i look at it is there is no winning. this isn’t a game. therefore: there is also no losing. n’est pas?
sometimes this makes me feel incredibly, interminably pessimistic. i don’t believe in “true love’ as usually defined. i don’t believe in God, or even souls. i think humanity is animalistic, and our attempts at control are futile. i think this is all an accident. honestly, and i am not exaggerating when i say this, philosophically, metaphysically, i am a total nihilist. i do not believe ANYTHING has objective meaning. none of it. everything is subjective, and in my line of thinking that equates to meaninglessness on any scale outside your own brain.
other days, that point of view is the only thing that keeps me sane and alive, because if you look at it from the flip side – if nothing means anything then everything is ok, and somehow sort of beautiful.Filed in philosophical ramblings | Tagged with bhj, NaBloPoMo, optimism/pessimism | Comment (0)
this post was meant to be the first post of 2009, but it has been started many times and has taken a number of twists and turns. i’ve written some of it while angry, some of it while frustrated, some of it while hopeful, some of it while happy, some of it in one of my many other moods. i’m going to attempt to make all the pieces flow but it might seem a bit disjointed and it’s definitely as polished or coherent as i’d like it to be. i’m tired of working on it though, so here it is.
ariel wrote recently about coming into contentment around her age. i admit i have also been struggling with the aging process, but larger than anything superficial, although there’s that too, for me, it’s not so much about my age and what that means physically or culturally, but about how much time i have left. it’s also very hard for me to accept “i am where i am” when i’m not really where i want to be, and i feel like every day is a missed opportunity in a limited number of opportunities to get there. the problem is, i don’t know what “there” is, and every January 1 that rolls around gets a bit harder in that respect.Filed in autobiographical, burning man, resolutions | Tagged with optimism/pessimism, wanderlust | Comments (4)
from salon.com, this makes me feel better about….not feeling better about things.
A Gen X Response to Barack Obama aka “An open apology to boomers everywhere”
(clarifying side note, as there was some discussion about this over the weekend: Generation X is a term used to describe the generation of people born between the approximate years of 1965 to 1980, or 1968 to 1979, depending on the source.)
Filed in culture and random linkage | Tagged with optimism/pessimism | Comment (1)
Dear boomers: We’re sorry for rolling our eyes at you all these years. We apologize for scoffing at your earnestness, your lack of self-deprecation, your tendency to take yourselves a little too seriously. We can go ahead and admit now that we grew tired of hearing about the ’60s and the peace movement, as if you had to live through those times to understand anything at all. It’s true, we didn’t completely partake of your idealism and your notions about community. Frankly, it looked gray and saggy in your hands, these many decades later. Chanting “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” at that rally against the Iraq war made us feel self-conscious in spite of ourselves. We felt like clichés. We wondered why someone couldn’t come up with a newer, catchier, pro-peace slogan over the course of 40 years of protests. We knew we shouldn’t care that some of you were wearing socks with sandals and smelled like you’d been on the bus with Wavy Gravy for the last three decades, but we cared anyway. We couldn’t help it. It’s just who we are.
And look, we really did stand for something, underneath all the eye-rolling. We’re feminists, we care about the environment, we want to improve race relations, we volunteer. We’re just low-key about it. We never wanted to do it the way you did it: So unselfconscious, so optimistic, guilelessly throwing yourself behind Team Liberal. We didn’t get that. We aren’t joiners. We don’t like carrying signs. We tend to disagree, if only on principle.
i don’t generally have a lot of faith in human nature. why this is true is a whole complex topic for another time, but in general, i find humans to be illogical, quirky, and selfish. this includes myself. i realize that this is a really broad statement, and it’s a topic i would actually really like to discuss with people some time.
this, more than anything, is why i am not a true capitalist, because i see the choices that consumers and industry make. i see poisoned rivers and heaping landfills. i see resources exploited, and precious things destroyed. i see starving children and obese children. i see the gap between the rich and the poor getting wider and wider, and the power balance shifting in such a way that it seems it will never be narrowed without a truly bloody revolution. i therefore have little faith that human-controlled market forces are going to right any wrongs on this planet. although i do see a shift in terms of the economics regarding some aspects of the environment, i chalk that up to the fact that we all live on earth and have no choice but to care. but do we have to care about other issues – other injustices? will an american ever be forced to compassionately care about those negatively affected by our consumer choices in other parts of the world?
as such a pessimist, i was quite relieved and uplifted to read this “creative capitalism” speech from Bill Gates.
he discusses the causes of inequity and inequality in market-driven terms, but also offers an answer – simply:
If we can spend the early decades of the 21st century finding approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits and recognition for business, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce poverty in the world.
much like the texas billionaire who wants to build the largest wind energy development in the world not because he’s an environmentalist, but because he’d make a hefty profit, if we can make capitalism both profitable AND equitable – or at least not totally unfair like it is now – we’d be getting somewhere. the question is – is it really just human will that’s needed to shift in this direction, and if so, are we willing to do it? it seems a lot of people on this planet believe in group based social dominance, and that equality is not in their best interest. can i be optimistic enough and have enough faith in humanity to believe that those who are currently benefiting from the system actually WANT this change?
and for the record, i still find things like this repulsive, and not the kind of creative capitalism i think bill gates was talking about.Filed in culture and random linkage, environment, things you can do | Tagged with capitalism, economics, optimism/pessimism | Comments (2)
i am optimistic that there is an election next year, and that there is a turn of tide coming in politics, as was shown in november. i am optimistic that science is able to increasingly settle arguments about previously subjective experiences, like climate change, and therefore more things will be done to clean up our world and/or prevent further damage; for example, i am very optimistic about alternative energies. i am optimistic about the one good side effect of globalization, and that is that the average american is quite aware of what’s going on in other places in the world, at least moreso than 50 years ago, thanks to television, which does have its merits; i think people are starting to think much more in terms of global impact than they used to, which can only be a good thing. for myself, i am optimistic that i’ll finally be getting out of debt this year, which means that i will soon be able to travel like i’ve always dreamed of.
in general, i think he is quite right: i am a pessimist in words and say i have little faith in human nature, but in practice, i think most people try to do good things within their context, and as people are learning more and more about the world every day, that does make me optimistic.
of course i am also optimitic about my social life and my incredible friend network, and can only see the blooming relationships i have now becoming stronger and more valuable. because of this i am also optimistic that i’ll be accomplishing some things this year that i’ve been wanting to for quite some time – some of them yet undefined – but that overall my life is only going to get better; all signs point to good.
i am not officially declaring any resolutions this year, especially since they are pretty much exactly the same as last year, and the same as everyone else’s: eat better, exercise more, spend less. as these are ongoing, they’re not really resolutions. the only REAL resolution i have for this year, as referenced above, is to pay off the rest of my debt. i’m now below $10k…so OMG. by the end of 2007 i’ll be debt free!
mark morford also writes on optimism and resolutions:Filed in resolutions | Tagged with optimism/pessimism | Comment (0)