(..) einiges nicht in Ordnung

"Er hat sich augenblicklich zu der Erkenntnis durchgerungen, dass es in der Geschichte der Menschheit kein freiwilliges Zurück gibt. Aber das Erschwerende ist, dass wir ja auch kein brauchbares Vorwärts haben. Gestatten Sie mir, es als eine merkwürdige Lage zu bezeichnen, wenn es weder vorwärts noch zurück geht und der gegenwärtige Augenblick auch als unerträglich empfunden wird." R. Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, RoRoRo, 1978, p. 272.

(amateuristic English translation below)

It's definitely a bummer to think you're at least somewhat original - and then reread something you read so long ago you couldn't precisely remember why it retained the impression of greatness ... to find that much of what you thought was original wasn't just anticipated but anticipated by something you can't - honestly - claim not having known!

Anyway, here are the twin monsters of 'The Meaning of Life': cultural pessimism and utopianism, absolutism and essentialism - looking back to the more innocent times, of the past, or longing for the times to come where we will be redeemed, finally, and saved from all this mess which is the current.

The monsters are twins and therefore share the same genetic code - a denial of the present as the most loathworthy situation in which we possibly could be. That there's a single nature to these two ways of looking at life is clear from the random mixture in which those melancholic for more innocent, traditional, times can blend in the idea of original sin - or from the likewise logically odd idea of Utopians that what we really need to do is 'make' a future (ipso facto rapido presto) that is, essentially, quite the same as what we once naturally 'were' (or, at least, 'would have been' if there wasn't the interference of really bad (BAD!) people that ripped us away from 'nature').

It essentially makes no difference which side of this equation you choose: it will be a matter of neurotic control freaks policing the 'peoples' in line with the psychotic ideas of somebody that coincidentally created a die-hard following of some orthodox 'pure' gatekeepers before being killed (mostly by somebody whose nose they really got up with some moralizing opinion or other of what should or should not be done, or else: eternal damnation or some of the many variants thereof). The result is a 'politics as hysterics' which is unavoidably giving politics as such a pejorative connotation.

Politics as hysterics; the hysterics of wanting to put a stop to certain unacceptabilities (and at once, and conclusively) or the hysterics of blowing each individual unfairness up to a gigantic balloon that needs to be dealt with (once and for all, all over again). Which is why, by the way, it is so easy for people to switch opinions from left to right  and back and even hold any combination of left- and right-wing ideas at once: there is a common genetic code and a common behaviour of hysterical "being-right"-ness, that makes any of a number of coincidentally extreme point of view continuous in an eye of an engaged and committed beholder.

Maybe politics IS hysterics and maybe we should indeed get rid of politics; not to get into a more pure unpolitical state and not to go towards the blissfully apolitical state, in which people are 'checked' by other people to do 'the right thing' but to get to this state of administering the plenty that is the result of human creativity in bureaucratic but uncontroversial ways that give everybody at least what they need as subsistence, what they need to do their unmanaged & non-coerced 'whatever-it-may-be' bit that'll keep the wheel of human creativity rolling to ... wherever it damned well wants to roll (or better: rolls).

Not denying the present but enjoying that is is better than what came before - & that it can only go uphill from here. Uphill not because we are all pushing the rock with all of the effort we can muster in the 'right' direction but because some inventive lady is giving it an impetus in that direction because ... why the hell would she kick it down? What would be the purpose, over time, of people to keep that bloody rock down in a valley of miseries when with less effort it can be hoisted to new heights?

What do I have to offer?

Fuck melancholic anarchists. Welcome to decadence!

Optimism is all I have to offer. Not even clarity because a clear idea is not an idea I would want to express :-)

"He immediately came to the insight that - in human history - there is no voluntary 'Back!'. But the aggravating circumstance is that there is also no useful 'Forward!'. Allow me to put it to you that it is a most curious situation, in which there is neither a forward nor a back & in which the current moment is considered as equally unbearable."

Whilst writing this I was listening (again?) to Sonny Rollins, Soneymoon (it cheers me right up - what can I say!).

17:05 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: musil, decadence, tones, optimism, dynamics |  Facebook |



"Ausserdem lehrt die Zoologie dass aus einer Summe von reduzierten Individuen sehr wohl ein geniales Ganzes bestehen kann." Robert Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, Band I, p. 32, Rowholt (rororo), 1978.

(amateuristic English translation below)

I am tired. So I could just go with the irony of this. Make it easy on myself. Heroism is, after all, the easiest interpretation of human value. Heroism combined with some praise of the supporting sheepishness, insofar as it supports the eternal cycle of this heroic queen bee. The worldview of the many that are merely the fuel for the engine of greatness that, from time to time, delivers a prophet or a sage or an enlightened philosopher or a paradiggm-shifting artist.

But I won't make it that easy on myself. I won't take the opportunity presented by a book about somebody that does not achieve greatness - being written by somebody that obviously did achieve an extreme form of great notoriety. Someone that is - for the intellectuals - a hero of the written word. Nothing short of a Hercules of language and a prophet of postmodernity.

And so on and so forth.

I won't because I am a cultural optimist. As a cultural optimist I am committed to an assessment of the current state of affairs as not too bad despite how appalling earlier times were. Despite the heroism of the past and its sacrificing of hords of individuals whose faith was considered to be expendable in view of the greatness of heoes that were long gone but still had to be defended.

This optimism is in contrast to the prevalent cultural pessimism (specifically of elites that identify themselves with past heroism). In starkest contrast: cultural pessimists assess the current state of affairs as appalling despite the fact that earlier times have been marked by the best examples of heroic humanity.

(I should be able to find a witty chiastic way of summarizing the last two paragraphs in a one-liner but, hey!, I'm tired and summarizing is bloody difficult)

Back to the quote.

In both cultural optimism and pessimism the whole is greater than the individuals, & the difference lies in the sequence. Optimism means that the individuals of the past have combined (through noticed, unnnoticed and almost unnoticable efforts of them that were really without significant properties) into a continuously improved whole, of the progressively evolving present state of affairs. Pessimism has it that individuals of the present need to be humbly admitting their own nothingness in view of all past greatness in whose name they need to be prepared to sacrifice themselves (for God for the country and all that bullshit).

Not man but mankind learns!

That's it: not man but mankind learns. And this to the benefit to the people who will live tomorrow and to the credit of the people that lived before. Naturally, without the effort of stress and wanting to achieve greatness, or wanting to serve or stand proxy for greatness. That's it: anarchism (but not the anarchism that falls in the footsteps of the authority of past 'rebels' or teachers; the anarchism that burns not one's self in memory of a past goal but that burns the past thought into a creative movement of new thought).

Anarchism, it is something I need to update myself on. I'll keep you updated on the updating of myself (knowing full well that I don't tend to keep this kind of promises, so those reading this chronologically should not get their hopes up because I cannot promise to keep the promises I make).


"Besides, Zoology teaches us that the sum of reduced individuals may well constitute the most brilliant whole."

Whilst writing this I was listening to the wonderful broadcast 'Mixtuur' on klara.be, which is centainly worth the effort of going to a dutch website, starting the media player, navigating to the 'Net Gemist' section and launching the latest hour thereof

21:35 Gepost door Guido Nius in Muziek | Permalink | Commentaren (2) | Tags: decadence, learning, tones, musil, optimism |  Facebook |