It would seem, from the things that I have come to understand over the course of this life so far, that the age of 30 is a particular age that a man should deem as significantly important. I believe 30 stands above those other ages that society places importance on i.e. sweet 16, the big 18, the emergence into adulthood at 21, and such. Those ages are separated by a mere five years and at their peak are only perhaps nine or ten years away from a man as a child. At 30, a man has had time to think, to reflect, to do, to try and will action, to look at himself and begin to try and understand what or who he may be.
So, there in, having passed from infant to school boy and having been the lover, 30 is the incongruous line that sees him begin to pass over into, The Soldier, as Shakespeare so eloquently put it;
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth
What a tumultuous age, one is indeed faced with the fact that he should, by all recognisable norms and through the potent will that rests within him; strive for honour, recognition and reputation, even when faced with the cannon.
Now, here I am, looking down the barrel of that very cannon. Just where have I been, what have I seen, whom have I met and what have I done? What have I built for myself, what have I achieved, what have I created and what have I destroyed? Have I lived? Have I suffered? And if I have, why must I live? Why must I suffer?
Question upon question, a limitless amount that have built and surged and throbbed within me for as long as I can remember and where are the answers? There is one way, perhaps, a way others have used, they have created men to look in upon themselves and reflect, some of literatures most significant protagonists were 30.
The quarrel the writer faced within and without, the void they looked into, the pressure that they braced themselves against, the fear they gripped onto and screamed at with potent fury, all laid out on display for others to see. For us to read and engage with and take from and perhaps confirm some truth that deepens our understanding of who we are and what it is to be human.
A 30 year old Jay Gatsby returns home after The War to make his fortune and begin his pursuit of Daisy Buchanan in the Great Gatsby. Guy Montag is a 30 year old Fireman in Fahrenheit 451 who looks at the cinders of the books he has torched and weeps inside. The 30 year old Josef K in Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ is arrested for an unspecified crime and forced, in the face of utter hopelessness and the impenetrability of the institutions that surround him (and us all), to try and to reclaim his life. And of course, there is Meursault, the main character and narrator in Albert Camus’ ‘The Stranger’. A man who has to face the absurdity of life and a man who is only guilty of showing indifference to it. A man who must pay the price for coming to understand how to let go, as he says; ‘Everyone know’s life isn’t worth living,’ but for this he, society deems, he must be punished to the fullest extent of the law and must die.
So, for all of those writers there were questions. Life in all its rich bitterness and the questions that it presented to them and the expectation to learn and grow from what was thus presented, in the form of their own discovery or through absorbing that which another created. Each author found his own conclusions for each character given the culmination of action that brought the writer to that particular point, and they inevitably moved on without us knowing what they fully came to learn or understand. But I hope, we hope we can take something from what they were able to translate into a story for us to consume.
Now, I am here, at 30, this significant age, and I have written two novels and I have created my own worlds and my own characters and I have tried to explore and delve and of course, there are still questions, countless questions. One door closes and an infinite amount of pluralities open in front of me, and with every moment of every moment I must try to find some focus. Bring some resolve to the situation in order to bring about a better circumstance for the subjective me, the idea of myself and perhaps even a happier circumstance, and may I even wish that one day, even a great circumstance.
To question and explore seems to be the only route that ‘I’ can possibly go. Kant defined Enlightenment as; Man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity being the inability to use ones own understanding without the guidance of others. It is a virtue not to be guided, but to question and use one’s own understanding, I believe that wisdom can only come from one’s own enquiry, ‘Sapere Aude,’ is the phrase which coins this and roughly translates to say; have courage to use your own understanding, or simply; ‘Dare to be Wise’.
In this light, I have, since I can remember, always questioned that which is the most perplexing and perhaps the most ineffable problem of man, that of Will and Freedom. At a very innate level I have always experienced a duality within, something that has at one time driven me, at another made me stall, but always remained in my mind as a thing of great wonder. An unstoppable force constantly smashing against an immovable object, for as long as I exist it will remain within.
Unquestioned I believe it would have carried me through life without too much harm or foul, successfully and seen me reach relatively high standards of happiness, but its very nature seems beyond this. The duality of what ‘it’ is drives me to question and to think, and in this regard, it would seem that coming to confront ‘it’ has always been an inevitability, for which I am grateful but also troubled. It is not easy staring into the void, but it can reap unparalleled rewards. Aha, ye Gods! But, what is the route to that reward? Let me look here.
It seems to me this thing within is utterly insatiable and thus, problematic at best, and torturous at worst. This thing, the Goliath of my duality, my primordial drive, my lust and potency, my innate wants and needs, my Will, the thing that even with the most savage malfunctions of the brain will push any man or woman in which it lays inexorably toward life, it is a troublesome bastard.
What is life in the face of this? What does it make the subjective me? What more can ‘I’ possibly be if not, as Ishmael said, a fifth wheel to a wagon? My soul, my being, my presence inside this house of flesh and bone and chemicals and fats and sinew and viscera seems to be superfluous to its needs. It seems the thing within, the brain, the animal perhaps, would do perfectly well without me and, in fact it would do better! This leads me to constantly question why I am here, I am perhaps not yet learned enough to understand quite why my mind should exist, why in fact the seeming illusion of Free Will should so torturously be presented to me, when in fact, I am imprisoned, I am bound, perpetually, until the last beat of my heart, to be trapped within a body I have little if any control over. I have to sit, behind open eyes, and be tormented continuously with happiness that is fleeting, with memory that is involuntary, with thought that is either confusing or undecipherable and with behaviour that is dictated by a process that started long before I was even born. So, why? Why has this come about, why have I come to be? Why after 35,000 generations and 3 million years of evolution did it seem necessary to create this prison in which I am trapped eternal?
Schopenhauer said; ‘this is the worst of all possible worlds,’ I would have to agree. I am constantly surrounded by the gamut of despair, so what am I supposed to do in the face of this? Why must I suffer? I have will, but it is not necessarily free, I am driven by forces outside of what I would class as ‘I’. I can feel them, I know them to be there, and controlling them, resisting them seems to be the battle that I must fight and contend with daily. How can this be any life to lead?
I have natural wants and needs, I have drives, things that want this house of flesh to stay warm and fed, to have sex and procreate, to gain happiness and power. These are not thought up, these do not come about because of ‘me,’ they are independent of my intellect, my reason, they are motives of my will to life. In the face of these happiness is entirely fleeting, it is a constant impossibility, it is a useless uphill struggle to satiate ever wanting primordial drivers. Why then am ‘I’ needed?
It seems unjustifiable to me the reason for my consciousness. Happiness is not good enough a reason, happiness in the face of endless lust is useless and comes at an expense. Once happiness has dissipated only suffering is left and even if happiness is achieved, it only leads to boredom. So, is there anything outside of this? Is there something more than happiness? Is there peace that can be found and is there a reason for this suffering? Or perhaps beyond peace, is there greatness that will come from this?
Should I develop my awareness? Should I expand my knowledge and reason and intellect and morality and wisdom and experience and struggle and suffer to try and find a better way? What if outside of the intellect the growth of my awareness only causes more pain, more suffering? In deriving greater awareness of my inner being, of my will, in being able to understand and confront the beast that lays within, I am only coming to understand how much more I must thwart. The infinite wants of my brain and body are insurmountable, are awesome in size and overwhelming in power compared to ‘MY’ ability to satiate them. I am their eternal prisoner. So, the fallacy of reason gives me the idea, isn’t the answer to sneak away? To lay back and let all this be ridden out on the autopilot that I know to exist within me? Perhaps, the unquestioned life is the unfulfilled one, but is the unfulfilled one easier? And why should I choose pain? What does that make me? It would seem by increasing my awareness, by driving intellect I am torturing myself. I am discovering more and increasingly complex ways my will operates and I have to deal with these and confront these on an ever-widening battlefield. Why should I do so?
Camus said the instance of being alive makes us masochists. He said the only question of philosophy is whether or not one should commit suicide. If we are alive, we are capitulating to life and its ongoing and unavoidable suffering. We must try to decide whether or not life is worth living. Even if perhaps I am able to overcome will, even if I am able to defeat it and have real choice, be granted a freedom away from primordial motives and drivers deep within my inner brain that I have no conscious awareness of but push me inexorably through the world, I still have to ask the question, should I now kill myself? Though, it would seem to go beyond will completely is impossible, so even though choice is perhaps granted, reason and intellect are capable, they are only there as a means to try and satiate the will, and in this, suffering must exist, there is no escape, so what do I do in the face of this?
Perhaps this suffering can be given a purpose? But how can I possibly suffer if I am no more responsible for the microstructure of my brain than I am for my height?
Above and beyond the idea of the subjective self, of ‘Me’ that has to operate on the little legitimate information that it is able to perceive through its senses and has to suffer at the hands of life, there is a much grander problem, that of Free Will.
Being able to choose anything at all may be considerably diminished, if not completely eradicated by the brain and all its unconscious mechanisms.
I know, I understand that the apparent authorship over my own thoughts and actions is all but completely illusory. As said, the body that houses my subjective self contains within it 3 million years of evolution and 35,000 generations of will to life. This time and effort has brought about certain instinctual processes which slap the freedom that I believe I have out from underneath my chin, I have Will, but it is not necessarily Free. But, going beyond that there is a train of thought within modern philosophical circles that Free Will, beyond that which is contained within, and in a deterministic sense, is a totally incoherent idea all together, and if this is the case, what hope do ‘I’ have? I will now look at this briefly.
The popular conception of free will rests on two assumptions;
- That we were free to behave differently than we did in the past.
- I.E. You chose Booze A, but you could have chosen Booze B, the future is not set.
- We are the conscious source of our thoughts and actions.
- I.E. The experience of you wanting to do something is the approximate reason for you undertaking an action.
It has been argued that both of these assumptions are untrue. No one has been able to describe a way in which mental and physical events could arise that align with the idea of free will.
In a deterministic reality (and even quantum), I live in a world of cause and effect and either my Will is determined by a long chain of prior causes that I am not responsible for, or, it is the product of chance and again, I am not responsible.
There is a very basic serial killer argument which demonstrates the lack of free will. This man’s choice to commit a murder was determined by neurophysiological set of events in his brain, which in turn were determined by prior causes, such as; bad genes, the developmental effects of a troubling childhood and such.
All these events precede any conscious decision to act, so what does it mean to say that this murderer committed this act of his own free will? It must mean that he could have behaved differently, he could have declined the impulse or resisted it, because he was the conscious author of his thoughts and actions.
Now, if the serial killer was discovered to have a brain tumor that was responsible for a change in behaviour, such as increasing violent tendencies, then he is a victim of biology, he was unlucky to get the brain tumor, but still not free to choose. So, here there is a case of a physical event giving rise to particular thoughts and actions. Now, if I take the human brain and break it down to micro detail, then I see similar physical events equally responsible for the actions and behaviour of an individual, in every event, in every choice. If I could see how the physical interactions throughout life had sculpted the microstructure of a persons brain so it was guaranteed to produce different states of mind, then the basis of ascribing free will to those actions would possibly disappear. Just because at the moment it is not possible to predict with 100% accuracy the behaviour of a human, does not mean it is impossible to do so, and does not give way to free will.
Ah, ye, swine I shout and smash my fists down on the table at this! I have and feel the subjective experience of free will, but I know it cannot be mapped onto physical reality. I can no more control what I am about to think next than I can predict what you the reader is going to think next.
Thoughts appear in my consciousness, and are forced upon me.
From my point of view, at a base level, what you the reader is going to think next comes out of nowhere, association with the idea that you are thinking and choosing to read, gives the impression of coherence. Strip that away and thoughts are coming from a conglomerate of atoms sat in front of a computer screen, produced only out of a prior set of events and processes.
Thoughts appear in my consciousness, the voice in my head, myself, ME as a subject, it is in there and just saying things, coming up with things, presenting things to me, and many of these things are completely irrelevant to what I’m writing now. Thoughts emerge in consciousness, I am not authoring them, this would require that I think them before I think them, and if I cannot control my next thought and I don't know what it is going to be before it arises, where is my freedom of will?
I continually notice the point of what I believe to be conception. I know it before I know it, the idea I believe I have just conceived is present and I know and understand it before I am able to voice it within my internal monologue. I produce the conscious effort to make myself aware of it in some futile effort to try and understand the genesis point of my thoughts and what is providing me with conscious decision.
My brain provides me, the subject, in a very real way, with only a memory of the moment, if I touch my toes, the sensation of touch on both my finger and toe appears simultaneous, but in reality the brain is receiving signals from the hand before the toe, simply because the hand is closer to the brain. So, the brain is buffering the signals by itself, it is in fact, warping my perception of reality, and I have no choice in this or ability to change it.
The unconscious machinery that governs what I perceive also governs what I think and do and intend, and this is where notions of free will begin to evaporate. It has been demonstrated in a laboratory setting that people's behaviour on voluntary choices can be detected moments, sometimes even seconds before the person is consciously aware of having made the choice. Benjamin Libet famously demonstrated this by simply asking people to touch a button on the left or right of them, and then noting when they were first consciously aware of when they had committed to the act of pushing the left or the right. It was found that brain activity directs the action before the person, the subject, becomes consciously aware of choosing to perform it.
In this case, it is scientifically uncontroversial to say that some moments before you are aware of what you are going to do in making a simple voluntary action, in a time at which you are apparently completely free to do what you want, your brain has already determined what you are going to do, and you become gradually aware of this decision whilst you consider the idea of making it.
This is difficult to reconcile with the traditional idea of free will, and based on this, it has be questioned whether or not that we have the choice or the ability to do, to perform actions, but that instead we can, or indeed have to, chose not to do something that we have already been directed to do by our brains. However, even if there were no time lag between the conscious decision or choice and its neurophysiological underpinnings, even if it were completely simultaneous, there would still be no room for free will, because you still wouldn't know why it is you do what you do, or why you made one particular decision over the other.
The endurance of free will as a philosophical problem for not only myself but for humanity at large is brought about by the fact that we all feel that we freely author our thoughts and intentions and actions, however difficult it may be to make sense of this in logical or scientific terms.
The idea of free will emerges from a felt experience. At the moment the only philosophically respectable way to defend free will in light of what we know scientifically is by what we know as Compatibilism in philosophical circles, an effort to argue that free will is compatible with the truth of determinism.
Compatibilists argue that a person is free as long as they are free from any outer or inner compulsion that would prevent them from acting on their desires or intentions.
Sam Harris when speaking on the subject of free will, said being a Compatibilist is like saying; 'A puppet is free, as long as it loves its strings'. Compatibilists argue, that even if our thoughts are the products of unconscious causes, they are still our thoughts and actions, anything that your brain thinks or decides is something that you have done or decided. On this side of the argument, the fact that we can't always be aware of the causes of our conscious thoughts and actions, does not negate from the fact that they are ours, the unconscious neurophysiology of your brain is just as much you, as your conscious thoughts or any other part of you.
I don't think this holds ground against determinism, the prior causes within my life have determined the neurophysiological makeup of my brain. It also trades a psychological fact, the subjective experience of being a conscious agent, for a conceptual understanding of ourselves as persons. I’m not sure whether I still feel this way, but many people do feel identical to, and in control of, a channel of information being processed in their conscious minds, and they are mistaken about this. The Compatibilist says we are much more than this, we are the totality of the unconscious processing in our brain. But I don’t believe there is any way the subject can take credit for the unconscious mental life that is taking place behind conscious awareness. To say that a person is responsible for everything that goes on inside their skin, because 'it's all them,' is to make a claim that bears absolutely no relationship to the actual experience that has made free will a problem for philosophy.
Back to my question, my problem, how can the suffering that I endure be experienced as a free conscious agent if everything I consciously intend was caused by events in my brain that I did not intend or had no choice over, and over which I had no control? The simple answer is I cannot.
What does this mean? From what I have come to understand through the reading and self discovery I have pursued, the fact that my choices rely on prior causes does not mean that choice doesn't matter, and this is where determinism should not be mixed with fatalism. There is the mistake made of saying something whimsical such as, ‘Well if it's all determined, then why don't I just sit back and see what happens?” But to sit back and see what happens, is also a choice, and in turn, trying to sit back and do nothing is often much more difficult than it sounds.
My own take on it is thus, I cannot not help but make decisions, however, it would seem these decisions are the result of prior causes. The subject, that is ‘ME,’ does not experience the act of decision making as a computation based on the prior actions, but as a conscious decision based on choice, and I will never be able to change this, so there is little need to worry. I must move forward and strive to reach goals that I believe are available for me to reach.
I cannot step out of the stream of choice and effort, clearly choice and effort is part of the causal chain of life, if I hadn't have decided to write this essay, it wouldn't have written itself, but the choice of writing this essay was not necessarily determined by my own conscious decision, it was based on a line of prior causal events.
Effort begets behaviour and behaviour leads to outcomes in the world. The choices that I make are as important as I think, but the choices that I make come from prior causes that I cannot see and did not bring into being. Fundamentally I was not the author of a choice that will be made, but I will be lead to believe that I was, and this is the best I can hope for.
From the perception of the conscious mind, I am no more responsible for the next thing I think and therefore do, than the fact that I was born into this world.
I have not built my own mind, but I am held in the belief that I can control it.
This is obviously an extremely difficult concept to deal with and despite knowing and understanding what I have come to know and understand, it still causes a great deal of cognitive dissonance.
Free will for me is the biggest mystery and will undoubtedly remain so, on one hand I seem to know intrinsically that I have it, but on the other it cannot be mapped onto the reality of the world. Does this take something away from me? Does this mean what I must endure means less? I don’t believe so, it may remove the idea of the ego-centric life, it may demonstrate that we are all connected in some way, but it does not mean that what I feel is any less potent. Perhaps what it does bring in the realisation of the pointless suffering of existence in the face of a deterministic reality where free will cannot exist, can indeed, help bring about an even greater existence.
And in the pursuit of this better, greater existence in the face of all the questions that I have, and the roaring anguish I feel at my lack of free will, I look to the Overman, Nietzsche’s very own Übermensch.
For Nietzsche, philosophy had a definite practical purpose, it was to facilitate the emergence of the great individual, one who dedicates their life to growth and self overcoming, this is why I look to philosophy in the face of the questions I cannot help but pose. Nietzsche believed such a pursuit would provide one with the ability to affirm life in the face of suffering, pain and tragedy.
"There are heights of the soul from which even tragedy ceases to look tragic" - Beyond Good and Evil.
The Higher-Man is whom Nietzsche said he wrote for, and this man is separated from the rest of mankind by the constitution of his eternal being. Within the Higher-Man exists an array of powerful and potent drives and instincts, engaged in a continual battle with each other. Nietzsche said that before one can become the Higher-Man, one must first bear these burdens. One must battle with fear, love, truth, death, confusion, thirst for knowledge, and all of the other aspects of human existence.
Because of what the Higher-Man finds within himself, he is chaotic being, is always in conflict with himself, suffering greatly and is in constant worry of self destructing (something I can appreciate absolutely). In order to affirm life, Nietzsche believed the Higher-Man must impose order on his internal chaos, this is his ambition and this is why I look to the Higher-Man.
"To become the master of the chaos one is…that is the grand ambition here." - The Will to Power.
Because of the suffering that the Higher-Man must endure, there is the potential that he will evade his life's mission to become the Higher-Man by seeking out comforts of mediocrity via conformity.
Nietzsche postulated that within every person there is the; 'herd instinct'. This is an innate need to obey and conform. Individuals satiate this need via accepted morality, or the embracing of what is designated good and what is bad or evil, in their particular culture. This in turn leads to herd morality; 'I am good because I conform.”
“Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws" - Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Nietzsche noted that within this state the idea of standing aside from the herd morality is bad, and thus, the Higher-Man is bad because he stands apart.
"High and independent spirituality, the will to stand alone, even a powerful reason are experienced as dangers; everything that elevates an individual above the herd and intimidates the neighbour is henceforth called evil" - Beyond Good and Evil.
The Higher-Man disregards herd morality, he has sought out and invited the struggles that life has to offer and in doing so, begins to alienate himself. He is becoming different from others and from the society that produced him; he finds himself questioning everything, both his worth and the value of his pursuits.
The Higher-Man must go on to find courage, tenacity, disillusionment, and rage. Only in this state is his spirit able to deliver the “sacred “No.”" The “sacred “No”" represents the utter rejection of external control and all traditional values. To find this and pursue a life by his own life affirming morality, Nietzsche thought it was essential for the Higher-Man to separate himself from the herd and lead a life of solitude. Nietzsche believed that out of fear and laziness the masses structure their lives as to blind themselves from the deep questions of human existence.
"…for the objective of all human arrangements is through distracting one's thoughts to cease to be aware of life" - Untimely Meditations.
Therefore, if the Higher-Man is to achieve greatness in life, he has to contemplate questions that the herd is too weak and scared to ponder and to do this he needs his solitude.
"For now he will have to descend into the depths of existence with a string of curious questions on his lips. "Why do I live? What lessons have I learned from life? How do I become what I am and why do I suffer from being what I am?"” - Untimely Meditations
Facing the questions of suffering, the Higher-Man must begin to seek it out, provided he can find meaning for it.
"Man, the bravest of animals and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far" - On The Genealogy of Morals
When Nietzsche declared; "God is dead" it was to demonstrate that the interpretations of life's purpose by the Higher-Man would be unveiled as mere stories. In this space the Higher-Man begins to question whether or not any universal laws or virtues exist to guide him and give him purpose. Upon discovering that life has no purpose or goal, people may fall into despair under the suspicion that they are nothing but meaningless animals in a meaningless universe. Nietzsche had a suspicion that this would usher in an era of nihilism.
"Everything lacks meaning...without a goal or purpose to impose a meaning on ones suffering, one is left with the despair ridden conviction, that one suffers for no reason at all...Nihilism appears at that point, not that the displeasure of existence has become greater than before, but because one has to come to mistrust any 'meaning' in suffering, indeed, in existence…it now seems as if there is no meaning at all in existence, as if everything were in vain" - The Will to Power
Nietzsche eventually came to believe that nihilism was the result of the misguided desire for there to be an objective meaning to life that one can come to know and ultimately became the anti-nihilist and declared that nihilism is the result of the misguided attempt to acquire objective knowledge. Nietzsche didn't believe that truth existed, and in that regard, objective meaning or any form of objectivism at all didn't exist either. Nietzsche believed an individual is always confined within their own subjective interpretation of the world.
As one cannot escape from one's own personal perspective or interpretation of ones own life, Nietzsche believed the Higher-Man should give up trying to search for the truth, as it doesn't exist anyway, and instead, interpret existence in a way that is 'life promoting' - for in doing so, he can escape nihilism by creating meaning in his own life.
Therefore the Higher-Man comes to interpret the deepest question; "Why do I suffer?" in a way that is life promoting, as, through analysing his own suffering, he comes to understand that; "pain is not considered an objection to life" - ecce homo - but instead he comes to believe that a life without suffering or pain would be a miserable life. He believes that suffering is a precondition of greatness.
"You want, if possible - and there is no more insane 'if possible' - to abolish suffering. And we? it really seems that we would rather have it higher and worse than ever. The discipline of suffering, of great suffering-do you not know that only this discipline has create all enhancements of man so far?" - Beyond Good and Evil.
In turn, with great suffering comes great enhancement, the Higher-Man's ideal, and this is a necessary vision to keep him focused on his quest for greatness in his darkest hours, on his path to becoming the Overman.
"I teach you the Overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?" Thus Spoke the Zarathustra.
The Overman is a perfect and powerful being who has overcome all his fears and deficiencies and thus one who soars above the rest of mankind. Since ideals can be approached but never realised on earth, Nietzsche maintained that there has never there been an Overman and there never can be.
The best the Higher-Man can hope for is the attain the perfection and power of the Overman in rapturous moments, but this ecstasy cannot be maintained, and once again after this moment, one must always revert again to being human, all too human.
The Higher-Man, in his state of human, all too human, becomes aware of his fears and weaknesses, and subsequently become ashamed of the vast gulf that separates him from the Overman. In craving the perfection of the Overman, the Higher-Man will come to hate himself. This self-hate is the genesis of the Higher-Man's love for himself, for the Higher-Man comes to realise that without his inner deficiencies, and without his hatred of them he would have no motivation to grow and overcome himself, and thus would remain forever stagnant.
The Higher-Man who truly hates himself is on the path to making himself better. He must bite off the head of the snake that lays in his throat to overcome his despair, achieve greatness and become the Overman for a moment.
Thus, to become the Higher-Man and attain the affirmation of life, the highest state a human can hope to obtain, Nietzsche put forward two intertwining concepts.
Amor Fati & The Eternal Recurrence
Amor fati - The love of Fate - is the culmination of the Higher-Man's greatness. To love fate is to completely affirm life and is thus the most difficult task there is. The difficulty lies in the fact that existence contains so much evil, pain, suffering and tragedy, how can the Higher-Man affirm life in the presence of so much ugliness?
He much achieve great amounts of pain and suffering if he is to achieve greatness, so to affirm life, he must learn to love fate, because fate provides the suffering, and pain.
"It is out of the deepest depth that the highest must come to its height" - Thus Spoke Zarathustra
The Higher-Man will come to understand that evil, suffering, tragedy hold an inherent beauty, as latent within these aspects of existence is the potential for growth and self overcoming.
"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…and all in all and on the whole; some day I wish to be only a yes-sayer" - The Gay Science
Beyond this, the Higher-Man comes determine if he is in a state of 'Yes-Saying,’ meaning a state of complete life affirmation. To see whether this point had been reached, Nietszche constructed the Eternal Recurrence, a psychological test to gauge the state of the Higher-Man.
"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 it 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 and great in your life will have to return to you - all in the same succession and sequence…would you 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"
The Higher-Man in affirming life, understands his most tremendous moments are born from his darkest experiences, and therefore apprehends the suffering, tragedy and evil, with this understanding, he does not condemn life as a pessimist, but celebrates even the traffic aspects of life as a Yes-Sayer. As he nears his death, the Higher-Man wishes not for the peace of non-existence but wishes the Eternal Recurrence were true so he could repeat the struggle of life for all eternity.
"Was that life? I want to say to death. 'Well then! Once more!" - Thus Spoke Zarathustra
And thus, where am I left? In conclusion, I believe one cannot adequately atone for one’s existence, nor make a meaningful attempt to escape it, I must suffer with it, I must bear it, in all circumstances and under all pressures. There is a duty of pain, of the human condition that decrees my inexorable loneliness, my never ending suffering to be my journey and because of this, because this is what I am born into without want or choice, because I am thrust into this, it needs to be questioned. Every moment and instance, everything that I am mislead into thinking exists through the trickery of my own senses, every fleeting moment of happiness that takes place when I spasm in the throws on intoxication or explode into thundering orgasmic states, every bit of anger and bile that might creep up and drive me into actions of hate and maliciousness.
I must look into this and I must above all costs broaden my facility to observe, and increase the strength and power of the mind and soul that I possess to try and find a way in which the reason, the morality, the good within me can be shared and expounded.
Camus said, at 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures - be what he is. And, above all, accept these things and here I say this.
I must pursue my desires, lusts, burdens and confront them. I must do my best to reject conformity and engage in the pursuit of my own life-affirming morality through personal solitude where possible. I must pursue rapturous and ecstatic moments and fleetingly hold onto the bosom of the higher state. I must come to learn to love myself in the face of my inner deficiencies as it is these that provide me with the facility to become better and to grow and to never remain stagnant. I must face my fear in order to achieve greatness even in all its fleeting dispassion. I must come to love fate and I must come to love that which is presented by life without question, that of evil and brute ugliness, pain and suffering, and see within these things their potential for growth and self overcoming. Ultimately I must affirm life by becoming that Yes-Sayer and I must find the courage within to say yes to this life, again and for all eternity. I must understand my most tremendous moments are born from my darkest experiences, the pain and suffering and hate and anger and dread, I must come to know these lead to greatness, to true life so I can dance within it, so I can play and create.
I am Richard Galbraith
I am The Interloper.