Monday, March 30, 2015

Black Mirror, TV in the Time of Dystopia

I’m not a big TV watcher but when something keeps popping up in my cultural purview then I know I should pay attention. This was happening repeatedly with the British TV show Black Mirror that originally aired in 2011 (I’m obviously out of the TV loop) on Channel 4 and has three seasons. Everyone kept telling me to watch it so I did and it made me think about this time we are living in.  

To cut to the chase, Black Mirror is a show about telecommunicated dystopia whose undercurrents include love, sex, violence and dissociation. Created by Charlie Booker, there is no doubt his intention of mood and focus. The title alone is a reference to the constancy of the screen we are in front of and attached to. In his own words, “If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area – between delight and discomfort…The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone." This focus rings true throughout all the first two seasons, which I binge watched in less then 24 hours.

Maybe a good way to describe the tone of the show is to start with the first episode that is entitled “The National Anthem.” Here the plot is simple and twisted. Princess Susanna has been captured and her hostage(s) threaten to execute her at 4:00pm that same day unless the Prime Minister has unsimulated sex with a pig on live television. A brutal and effective storyline.

All of Black Mirror’s episodes are split into parts and these parts plop you into the next fold of the story. There is continuity but it’s a show that demands you pay attention and to make mental leaps with it. In the case of episode one, the parts are split in trying to think of alternatives, trying to find the captors and then finally the PM having to do the ghastly deed. Throughout, the spectator, those that are witness to the PM’s enforced bestiality on screen and you as the viewer, are central and complicit. The twitter feeds, the popularity ratings of the PM, and the media coverage of this ransom demand are all central to this storyline.

This is where the dystopic comes in and where the lines of mediation, mob think, and the grotesque capacities of human spectacle and the desire for it are centralized around technologies that effect the body. In the first case the technologies that articulate populist opinion effectively willed a man to have sex with a pig. In other episodes it takes on more directly embodied usurpation.

One such episode is “The Entire History of You” in which most people have a “grain” implanted near the back of their ear which allows them to record, and replay everything that they see and experience. They have a small button like device in which they can search and replay their archived lives and when this occurs their eyes film over white and they have a catatonic gaze while reviewing their past. This story was about the obsessive minutia of a husband and wife and an affair. The precision of replay, nitpicking, finding evidence and restructuring truths is all done through this memory retrieval device. It is unforgivingly anxiety filled and brutal in its relentless evaluation of self and others.

This implantation of a self is taken to a bizarre extreme in “Be Right Back” in which the husband dies and the wife using new software technologies literally replicates his body and personality through the archived avatar of his online content. This is a very familiar storyline, Frankenstein, and even more recently the movie “Her” but in this instance it is not the animalistic monster created by Shelley nor is it the stylized disembodied uber consciousness of Spike Jonze. Here it is creepy, sad and undesirable but oddly inescapable and understandable.

Other episodes have a touch more violence in them but throughout technology is the primary interlocutor of communication between people. Whether it is lovers, children, or politics, technology is this constant device, tool, and force that is an echo chamber for the human condition.

Booker peddles this line quite finely, is it a blessing? Is it a curse? From what I have watched it seems like it just is and that in itself is terrifying. The settings in which these episodes take place feel like near futures. The technologies are different but they are believable as well. They seem inevitable and possible which unnerves because of that closeness. In each episode all the characters, settings, and storylines change. You don’t get attached, you don’t get beyond the retelling of a circumstance and this also doubles this eerie disconnect. They are not characters in the long, connective, narrative arch format but are interchangeable and contained. This touches close to your own subjectivity because aren’t we all just one piece in a large storyline?

The themes of the technological dystopia are fascinating to see in this format because although it is dealing with some heavy stuff it is a TV show and it knows how to work within this medium. It very successfully is addictive and is hook-you-in type of TV, (which makes the whole mediation theme even more potent). But besides its formal successes I think Black Mirror has cultural poignancy because it reflects the times we are living and we seem to be sliding into the pit of this new time and feeling.

Anthropocene, Accelerationists, Late-Capitalism, Postmodernism, these are all buzzwords of the last few years and this is deeply a part of the art being made in all forms. Visual artists are making works about the body, the cyborg, animated disembodiment, and technologies of the self in the form of engineered processes and materials. Music has become hyper mechanized for the purposes of making the perfect formula song or to stretch out the scope of collective experience with sound waves. Movies are apocalyptic, intergalactic, and barren traumas both large and small. Clothing is rive gauche refugee. Science is the brain. Psychedelic drugs are popular again. Disconnecting, unplugging and not using social media is on an uptick. Finding a tribe, a crew, or a community seems more like a necessity then a socialized desire and the return to the land as a hermit or survivalist seems more appealing everyday.

All these things are happening, have been happing, and will continue to happen but this current feeling of peaking, or more as I said, a slipping into this state seems to be reflecting a turn of something. Maybe that turn is already here, maybe it has already happened. I’m not sure but there is anxiety in the air, there is a frenetic impulse to build, burn, escape, and to start anew.

Black Mirror is just one example of this larger trend and watching it I had an affirmed thought for this near future’s survival and that has to do with love. Love is the only thing that will keep us human. In Black Mirror technologies have affected the interactions of the body and sex but most intensely it perverts love and therein lays the greatest disquiet.

If this feeling I mentioned is the new state of things, if this is now the tenor of our times, perhaps, with hope and effort there can be a way to make love and the relationships that we have with others not doomed to the same imaginings of Black Mirror. This is the strangest thing about this new feeling. It feels doomed, procedural, and more then anything inevitable.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

This Week’s Art To Do List

Debora Delmar Corp., Upward Mobility at Modern Art Oxford

Does everything seem really, really, busy at the moment? For me yes, I feel like I am pinging and ponging this way and that and looking back at a week I just see a giant blur. I keep getting a blank space in my head when someone asks me what I did over the weekend and I know it was lot but it seems like just too much of an effort to recall.

London is different then New York when it comes to seeing things as spaces are spread out and it takes longer to get to them. Instead of going to the Lower East Side and bopping around and being able to see five shows in under an hour, in London you see one show a night maybe two if you plan it right. This is a constant source of grouchy murmurings on my end but it does change the viewing experience. You stay longer, you end up talking and meeting people you vaguely know and it feels less frantic overall. Private views (what they call openings) are more like mini parties then the stateside equivalent. They last longer and there is firm resolution to stay because frankly it took you over an hour and two busses to get there so damn right you are going to stay for a clip. While this is not a pace I enjoy overall, it does force you to tamp down that auto feeling of ‘must find escape route’ at art events. London is a stay-a-while type of place and no matter what, there’s always a pub, after party, dinner or drinks that follows so it’s not all that bad.

Below is a list to help me plan out my upcoming art week and if any of these interest you, swing by and say hi.

Isa Genzken Geldbilder at Hauser & Wirth [Wednesday]
One of my top five art babe crushes that I am excited to see what is new in that bag of tricks of hers. It will probably be massively crowded but hopefully it will have moments of sightlines to this new work. Her retrospective at MoMA was good but poorly installed.  Let’s see how they manage it in a gallery context (fingers crossed it’s not a visual pile up).

Columbidae, Essex/Olivares, Mélanie Matranga, Barbara T. Smith and Dena Yago curated by Laura McLean-Ferris at Cell Project Space [Thursday]
I always end up at the shows at Cell Project Space and only a few times have I been impressed. It has a certain curatorial vibe, which leans towards cool technology mixed with short and fast exhibition schedules. But I keep going because I know that it may just be possible that something will hit that “yes” button in my art brain. This is a group show with a denser vibe so let’s see if buttons will be pushed or not.

Serpentine Cinema: Rachel Rose and Anna Zett at Hackney Picturehouse [Thursday]
This is a double billing of videos by Anna Zett and Rachel Rose. They both seem smart and their films seem curious. There will apparently be animated dinosaurs, a violent hail storm and the Palisades. I doubt I will be disappointed.

Debora Delmar Corp., Upward Mobility at Modern Art Oxford (Private Preview) [Friday]
My girl and so proud of her! A whole museum full of DD amazing, its going to be so sic!

Chloe Seibert, Chloe Seibert Who’s He at Interstate Projects (NYC) [Friday]
Lil bit of a fudge here but gotta rep my crew. If you happen to be in NYC then this is a MUST see show. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Open Studios at Open School East [Saturday]
This is an amazing example of how things can be different if there is some will and a way. This is a free art school which supports and connects artists outside of the MFA, go into debt model. They will have an open studio for their participating fellows. Not sure what to expect but I’m sure it will be varied and diverse.

Monday, March 16, 2015

You Are a Master or You Are a Slave - Kojéve

I’m zonked out at the library and I have been typing for hours so I don’t have the will to think/type anything original today so instead I will share with you some extracts from Alexandre Kojèves Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. This section doesn’t get into his Hegel interpretation but lays out his thoughts on desire, recognition and the master/ slave relationship. I don’t agree with all he writes but I have to say upon reading it for the first time a few days ago it made me both excited and sad. Excited because it seems so relevant to how today is and sad because of that very same thing.

When reading it I thought a lot about the art world and how it functions within a capitalist system and what that all means for art and culture in general. Sort of a downer but I'd rather be down then glassy eyed.

Read it in full if your interest is peaked. 

Alexandre Kojéve, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, Basic Books, Inc. New York, 1969, (1939 original text)

The man who contemplates is "absorbed" by what he contemplates; the "knowing subject" "loses" himself in the object that is known. Contemplation reveals the object not the subject.

The man who is "absorbed" by the object that he is contemplating can be "brought back to himself" only by a Desire.

Desire that man is formed and is revealed-to himself and to others – as an I, as the I is essentially different from, and radically opposed to, the non-I. The (human) I is the I of a Desire or of Desire.

Consequently, the human reality can be formed and maintained only within a biological reality, an animal life. But, if animal Desire is the necessary condition of Self-Consciousness, it is not the sufficient condition. By itself, this Desire constitutes only the Sentiment of self.

…to satisfy hunger, for example, the food must be destroyed or, in any case, transformed. Thus, all action is “negating.”

For there to be Self-Consciousness, Desire must therefore be directed toward a non-natural object, toward something that goes beyond the given reality. Now, the only thing that goes beyond the given reality is Desire itself. For Desire taken as Desire – i.e., before its satisfaction – is but a revealed nothingness, an unreal emptiness.

In other words, in order that Self-Consciousness be born from the Sentiment of self, in order that the human reality come into being within the animal reality, this reality must be essentially manifold. Therefore, man can appear on earth only within a herd. That is why the human can only be social.

Human Desire, or better still, anthropogenetic Desire, produces a free and historical individual, conscious of his individuality, his freedom, his history, and finally his historicity. Hence, anthropogenetic Desire is different from animal Desire (which produces a natural being, merely living and having only a sentiment of its life) in that it is directed, not toward a real “positive,” given object, but toward another Desire. Thus, in the relationship between man and women, for example, Desire is human only if the one desires, not the body, but the Desire of the other; if he wants “to posses” or “to assimilate” the Desire take as Desire – that is to say if he wants to be “desired” or “loved” or rather, “recognized” in his human value, in his reality as human individual.

Thus, an object perfectly useless from the biological point of view (such as a medal, or the enemy's flag) can be desired because it is, the object of other desires.

…human history is the history of desired Desires.

…all Desire is the desire of a value.

Therefore, to desire the Desire of another is in the final analysis to desire that the value that I am or that I “represent” be the value desired by the other: I want him to “recognize” my value as his value. I want him to “recognize me as an autonomous value. In other words, all human, anthropogentic Desire- the Desire that generates Self-Consciousness, the human reality – I, finally, a function of the desire for “recognition.” And the risk of life which the human reality “comes to light” is a risk for the sake of such a Desire. Therefor, to speak of the “origin of Self-Consciousness is necessarily to speak of a fight to the death for “recognition.”

Without this fight to the death for pure prestige, there would never have been human beings on earth.

Without being predestined to it in any way, one must fear the other, must give in to the other, must refuse to risk his life for the satisfaction of his desire for “recognition.” He must give up his desire and satisfy the desire of the other: he must “recognize” the other without being “recognized” by him. Now, “to recognize” him thus is “to recognize” him as his Master and to recognize himself and to be recognized as the Master’s Slave.

For the truth of his subjective-certainty of the idea that he has of himself, of the value that he attributes to himself could have been nothing but the fact that his own Being-for-itself was manifested to him as an autonomous object; or again, to say the same thing: the fact that the object was manifested to him as this pure subjective-certainty of himself; [therefore, he must find the private idea that he has of himself in the external, objective reality.] But according to the concept of recognition, this is possible only if he accomplishes for the other just as the other does for him the pure abstraction of Being-for-itself; each accomplishing it in himself both by him own activity and also by the other’s activity.

This transformation of the world that is hostile to a human project into a world in harmony with this project is called “action,” “activity.” This action- essentially human, because humanizing and anthropogenetic- will begin with the act of imposing oneself on the “first” other man one meets. And since this other, if he is (or more exactly, if he wants to be, and believes himself to be) a human being, must himself do the same thing, the “first” anthropogenetic action necessarily takes to form of a fight…

For each must raise his subjective-certainty of existing for self to the level
of truth, both in the other and in himself.

In other words, only by the risk of life does it come to light that Self-Consciousness is nothing but pure Being-for-itself.

This means that man is human only to the extent that he wants to impose himself on another man, to be recognized by him. In the beginning, as long as he is not yet actually recognized by the other, it is the other that is in the end of his action; it is on this other, it is on recognition by this other, that his human value and reality depend; it is in this other that the meaning of his life is condensed. Therefore, he is “outside himself.” 

The Master is related in a meditated way to the Slave, viz., by autonomous given-being; for it is precisely to this given-being that the Salve is tied.

Since all the effort is made by the Slave, the Master has only to enjoy the thing that the Slave has prepared for him and to enjoy "negating" it, destroying it, by "consuming" it.

Therefore, it is solely thanks to the work of another (his Slave) that the Master is free with respect to Nature, and consequently, satisfied with himself.

The complete, absolutely free man, definitively and completely satisfied by what he is, the man who is perfected and complete in and by this satisfaction, will be the Slave who has “overcome” his Slavery. If idle Mastery is an impasse, laborious Slavery, in contrast is the source of human, social, historical progress.

The Master is not the only one to consider himself Master. The Slave, also consider him as such. Hence, he is recognized in his human reality and dignity. But this recognition is one-sided, for he does not recognize in turn the Slaves’ human reality and dignity. Hence, he is recognized by someone whom he does not recognize. And this is what is insufficient- what is tragic- in his situation. The Master has fought and risked his life for a recognition without value for him. For he can be satisfied only by recognition form one whom he recognizes as worthy of recognizing him. The Master’s attitude, therefore, is an existential impasse.

In becoming master of Nature of work, then the Slave frees himself from his own nature, from his own instinct that tied him to Nature and made him the Master’s Slave. Therefore, by freeing the Slave from Nature, work frees him from himself as well.

It is this work, and only this work, that frees-i.e., humanizes-man (the Slave). On the one hand, this work creates a real objective World, which is a non-natural World, a cultural, historical, human World.

This man will act as a “skillful” reformer, or better, a conformer, but never as a true revolutionary.

The Master can never detach himself from the World in which he lives, and if this World perishes, he perishes with it. Only the Slave can transcend the given World (which is subjugated by the Master) and not perish.

Monday, March 9, 2015

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

So yeah, the last few posts, weeks, months have been a little darker in vibe then most but I think that it was warranted with the cold, lack of sunlight and general what to do now that comes with the new year. Although I know many of you are still in some sort of tundra-esq snow/ice hell but I am actually thankful of the English weather of late, which has had longer days, warmer nights and flowers popping up. This is a fab feeling and one that makes the beginnings of the sexy summer vibes seem closer then before and you know how much I love my sexy summer vibes.

Anyways, this past week I have been feeling more up, more buzzy and more confident about what is to come in the near and far futures. I’ll take whatever I can get, happily, greedily and without guilt because who knows how long it will last.  So today I want to share with you a list of things that we all should do when things warm up.

Make out – Everyone should make out with everyone until they find that someone that is that something else. It’s weird to make out because you are actually sort of eating another person. Kissing is not an instinct but a socially evolved and culturally specified form of affection. The whole mildly suffocating each other as you are sharing this affection is quite absurd if you sit and think about it. But maybe that’s why it is so intimate. We get a little touch of death in this act which many times is the precursor for making life. Does this make any sense? I’m not sure; it just popped into my head. Regardless, it is probably the most fun and harmless thing one can do in connecting with another in that way so I say kiss away.

Spring Cleaning – I guess there is a reason why that phrase is that phrase. Spring starts to come and all that hibernating indoors and hording makes you look around and think, ‘I live in a shit pile.’ So then you get into hyper cleaning mode and de-clutter, throw away and re-arrange your domestic spaces. It’s amazing to do and then you feel like some sort of decorating god(ess) that tapped into some feng shui guru zone. I did this just this morning with my back garden and after I just sat there and imagined all the life, friends and parties that will take place there when it gets warmer. It doesn’t take money, it doesn’t take much time but when you do it, it does transform things in perceivable and right-now rewards way.

New Clothes/ New Look – Very similar to the spring cleaning impulse, the desire for new clothes or a new look always seems to poke at you as things warm up. You look at yourself in mirror and just think ‘get it together girl’ and instead of saying ‘ah fuck it’ like you did all winter you actually do something about it. Clothes, fashion, and style are three very different things but there is a mastery and an innateness to making them overlap and work so that they express the you that you are and the you that you want to be. It’s about performance, it’s about control, it’s about politics, it’s about social cues. It’s complex but don’t get too fixated on the immensity of it all. Just wear what you like, where what you want, being yourself is always, always the best look but don’t let yourself down by settling for the same-old-same. You will know what that means when you check out your reflection and either think, ‘yes.’ or ‘ah whatever it’s fine.’ Fine is never fine. Also, don’t ever-ever think clothes, fashion, style is about money. It’s about time in a way; if you do some of the time in the finding then you will save time in other ways.

Vegetables – All I want to do is eat giant bowls of vegetables with other vegetables on top of them and then even smaller vegetables on top of them and then they will go into my mouth and into my body and then out of my body and then I can eat more vegetables.

Music – I am really, really, really bad at having music in my life. I have always just had it, got it, and  around it by the people in my life. Of late, most of my close friends have not been huge music people so that has sorta dried out my music world. That has affected me and although I love my musically declined friends I know this has to change somehow. This will happen, without force or objective and spring seems to always bring music to me. It is an odd thing to realize that one hasn’t listened to music for days at a time. It’s depressing and somehow antithetical to what I think is a full way of living. Will I change my relationship through my own volition? No, it’s just not the way I am built but hopefully music friends will fill my life soon and share sound waves in the same space with me.

Water – The days that I will get to stick my body into water and swim and lay in the sun will be the happiest days of year. But seriously, London, where can one go to stick their body into water when it gets warm (not the River Themes please)? If you know or have a friend with some cottage by a lake or seaside message me.

Art – Oh yeah, this blog is about art, ha anyways, yes with spring comes more art. It’s a little bit of a drag at the moment but warm openings and art hopping does make the whole art scene seem at least mildly fun (although I am a total grouch and hate openings generally). But yeah, those first few when everyone is looking so sexy and fab and everyone is drinking and smoking and chatting, it feels like a party that starts early and one that you can leave without hard feelings. Those events make me feel like I’m in a fish tank. We are all in a fish tank and we are all staring into it while also being inside it and it feels odd but also okay. Also, who knows, maybe some art will be seen at some of these gatherings. That is the point of it all but maybe it’s better that way. Maybe it’s better to be surprised by being captured by something while jabbering around peers then seeking and thinking something will resonate just because it is alone in the room with you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Heart Nihilism - Excerpts, Nietzche's The Will to Power

The conversations that I have been having recently seems to be full with people searching for something, escaping, wanting, and/or desiring a form of becoming. These conversations have re-affirmed some of the ideas I have about authority, goals, construction of self, delusion and this never ending mortal coil. It’s an odd thing to feel liberated by knowing that things are all messed up and just not right with the world. It is liberating because from that awareness there is at least a glimmer of challenge, hope, altercation and even possible alteration of this state.

I think I have always been a nihilist but I am too anti-group and suspect to attach myself to anything definitively. Regardless, nihilism is a philosophy of thought that has always resonated with me (oh those teenage years and Schopenhauer). Nihilism like all things gets a bad rap in some contexts and deserved criticisms in others. What it is to me though is means to a clarity of knowing and that clarity induces starkness, which may sometimes seem like despair or void, but this clarity is essential, as it is only from that point (to me) that acceptance and change can actually occur. How can one alter realities if one is deluded from even seeing them? (Rhetorical).

In light of this tone of thinking, below are some excerpts from Nietzche’s The Will to Power from the section Nihilism. It makes me think a lot about this whole living thing and also how it reflects art and the art world, our sense of self and this postmodern condition we are living in. It’s a quick and memento like chapter, read it in full if you are further interested or compelled.

Frederich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, 1901 (translated by Walter Kaufman and R.J. Hollingdale, 1967)

From Preface:

What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism. This history can be related even now; for necessity itself is at work here. This future speaks even now in a hundred signs, this destiny announces itself everywhere; for this music of the future all ears are cocked even now. For some time now, our whole European culture has been moving as toward a catastrophe, with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.

Skepticism regarding morality is what is decisive. The end of the moral interpretation of the world, which no longer has any sanction after it has tried to escape into some beyond, leads to nihilism. "Everything lacks meaning" (the untenability of one interpretation of the world, upon which a tremendous amount of energy has been lavished, awakens the suspicion that all interpretations of the world are false).

The nihilistic consequences of contemporary natural science (together with its attempts to escape into some beyond). The industry of its pursuit eventually leads to self-disintegration, opposition, an antiscientific mentality. Since Copernicus man has been rolling from the center toward X.'

It posited that man had a knowledge of absolute values and thus adequate knowledge precisely regarding what is most important. It prevented man from despising himself as man, from taking sides against life; from despairing of knowledge: it was a means of preservation. In sum: morality was the great antidote against practical and theoretical nihilism.

(June 10, 1887)
But among the forces cultivated by morality was truthfulness: this eventually turned against morality, discovered its teleology, its partial perspective-and now the recognition of this inveterate mendaciousness that one despairs of shedding becomes a stimulant. Now we discover in ourselves needs implanted by centuries of moral interpretation-needs that now appear to us as needs for untruth; on the other hand, the value for which we endure life seems to hinge on these needs. This antagonism-not to esteem what we know, and not to be allowed any longer to esteem the lies we should like to tell ourselves-results in a process of dissolution.

The nihilistic consequence (the belief in valuelessness) as a consequence of moral valuation: everything egoistic has come to disgust us (even though we realize the impossibility of the unegoistic); what is necessary has come to disgust us (even though we realize the impossibility of any liberum arbitrium' or "intelligible freedom"). We see that we cannot reach the sphere in which we have placed our values; but this does not by any means confer any value on that other sphere in which we live: on the contrary, we are weary because we have lost the main stimulus.
"In vain so far!"

(Spring-Fall 1887)
Pessimism as strength-in what? In the energy of its logic, as anarchism and nihilism, as analytic. Pessimism as decline-in what? As growing effeteness, as a sort of cosmopolitan fingering, as “tout comprendre" and historicism. The critical tension: the extremes appear and become predominant.

Nihilism, then, is the recognition of the long waste of strength, the agony of the "in vain," insecurity, the lack of any opportunity to recover and to regain composure—bein ashamed in front of oneself, as if one had deceived oneself all too long.

(Spring-Fall 1887)
Nihilism represents a pathological transitional stage (what is pathological is the tremendous generalization, the inference that there is no meaning at all): whether the productive forces are not yet strong enough, or whether decadence still hesitates and has not yet invented its remedies.

Presupposition of this hypothesis: that there is no truth, that there is no absolute nature of things nor a "thing-in-itself." This, too, is merely nihilism-even the most extreme nihilism. It places the value of things precisely in the lack of any reality corresponding to these values and in their being merely a symptom of strength on the part of the value-positers, a simplification for the sake of life.

Every purely moral value system (that of Buddhism, for example) ends in nihilism: this to be expected in Europe. One still hopes to get along with a moralism without religious background: but that necessarily leads to nihilism.- In religion the constraint is lacking to consider ourselves as value-positing.

(Spring-Fall 1887)
The nihilistic question "for what?" is rooted in the old habit of supposing that the goal must be put up, given, demanded from outside some superhuman authority. Having unlearned faith in that, one still follows the old habit and seeks another authority that can speak unconditionally and command goals and tasks. The authority of conscience now steps up front (the more emancipated one is from theology, the more imperativistic morality becomes) to compensate for the loss of a personal authority. Or the authority of reason. Or the social instinct (the herd). Or history with an immanent spirit and a goal within, so one can entrust oneself to it. One wants to get around the will, the willing of a goal, the risk of positing a goal for oneself.

The lower species ("herd," "mass," "society") unlearns modesty and blows up its needs into cosmic and metaphysical values. In this way the whole of existence is vulgarized: in so far as the mass is dominant it bullies the exceptions, so they lose their faith in themselves and become nihilists.

The ways of self-narcotization.- Deep down: not knowing whither. Emptiness. Attempt to get over it by intoxication: intoxication as music; intoxication as cruelty in the tragic enjoyment of the destruction of the noblest; intoxication as blind enthusiasm for single human beings or ages (as hatred, etc.).- Attempt to work blindly as an instrument of science: opening one's eyes to the many small enjoyments; e.g., also in the quest of knowledge (modesty toward oneself); resignation to generalizing about oneself, a pathos; mysticism, the voluptuous enjoyment of eternal emptiness; art "for its own sake" ("Ie fait") and "pure knowledge" as narcotic states of disgust with oneself; some kind or other of continual work, or of some stupid little fanaticism; a medley of all means, sickness owing to general immoderation (debauchery kills enjoyment).
1. Weakness of the will as a result.
2. Extreme pride and the humiliation of petty weakness felt in contrast.

The reduction of growing gloom.- Our pessimism: the world does not have the value we thought it had. Our faith itself has so increased our desire for knowledge that today we have to say this. Initial result: it seems worth less; that is how it is experienced initially. It is only in this sense that we are pessimists; i.e., in our determination to admit this revaluation to ourselves without any reservation, and to stop telling ourselves tales-lies-the old way.

That is precisely how we find the pathos that impels us to seek new values. In sum: the world might be far more valuable than we used to believe; we must see through the naiveté of our ideals, and while we thought that we accorded it the highest interpretation, we may not even have given our human existence a moderately fair value.

(Spring-Fall 1887)
The "predominance of suffering over pleasure" or the opposite (hedonism): these two doctrines are already signposts to nihilism.
For in both of these cases no ultimate meaning is posited except the appearance of pleasure or displeasure. But that is how a kind of man speaks that no longer dares to posit a will, a purpose, a meaning: for any healthier kind of man the value of life is certainly not measured by the standard of these trifles. And suffering might predominate, and in spite of that a powerful will might exist, aYes to life, a need for this predominance.

"Life is not worthwhile"; "resignation"; "why the tears?"a weakly and sentimental way of thinking. "Un monstre gai vaut mieux qu'un sentimental ennuyeux.” deserves to be repudiated.

At this point nihilism is reached: all one has left are the values that pass judgment-nothing else. Here the problem of strength and weakness originates:
1. The weak perish of it;
2. those who are stronger destroy what does not perish;
3. those who are strongest overcome the values that pass judgment.
In sum this constitutes the tragic age.

One fails to see, although it could hardly be more obvious, that pessimism is not a problem but a symptom, that the name should be replaced by "nihilism," that the question whether not to- be is better than to be is itself a disease, a sign of decline, an idiosyncrasy.

The nihilistic movement is merely the expression of physiologieal decadence

(Nov. 1887-March 1888)
To be comprehended: That every kind of decay and sickness has continually helped to form overall value judgments; that decadence has actually gained predominance in the value judgments that have become accepted; that we not only have to fight against the consequences of all present misery of degeneration, but that all previous decadence is still residual, i.e., survives. Such a total aberration of mankind from its basic instincts, such a total decadence of value judgments-that is the question mark par excellence, the real riddle that the animal "man" poses for the philosopher.

(March-June 1888)
The concept of decadence.- Waste, decay, elimination need not be condemned: they are necessary consequences of life, of the growth of life. The phenomenon of decadence is as necessary as any increase and advance of life: one is in no position to abolish it. Reason demands, on the contrary, that we do justice to it. It is a disgrace for all socialist systematizers that they suppose

What should be fought vigorously is the contagion of the healthy parts of the organism. Is this being done? The opposite is done. Precisely that is attempted in the name of humanity. -How are the supreme values held so far, related to this basic biological question? Philosophy, religion, morality, art, etc. (The cure: e.g., militarism, beginning with Napoleon who considered civilization his natural enemy.)

The most dangerous misunderstanding.- One concept apparently permits no confusion or ambiguity: that of exhaustion. Exhaustion can be acquired or inherited-in any case it changes the aspect of things, the value of things.

The cult of the fool is always the cult of those rich in life, the powerful. The fanatic, the possessed, the religious epileptic, all eccentrics have been experienced as the highest types of power: as divine. This kind of strength that excites fear was considered preeminently divine: here was the origin of authority; here one interpreted, heard, sought wisdom.- This led to the development, almost everywhere, of a will to "deify," i.e., a will to the typical degeneration of spirit, body, and nerves: an attempt to find the way to this higher level of being.

The herd instinct, then-a power that has now become sovereign-is something totally different from the instinct of an aristocratic society: and the value of the units determines the significance of the sum.- Our entire sociology simply does not know any other instinct than that of the herd, i.e., that of the sum of zeroes-where every zero has "equal rights," where it is virtuous to be zero.- solution?" Duration "in vain," without end or aim, is the most paralyzing idea, particularly when one understands that one is being fooled and yet lacks the power not to be fooled .

Let us think this thought in its most terrible form: existence as it is, without meaning or aim, yet recurring inevitably without any finale of nothingness: the eternal recurrence.

This is the most extreme form of nihilism: the nothing (the "meaningless"), eternally! The European form of Buddhism: the energy of knowledge and strength compels this belief. It is the most scientific of all possible hypotheses. We deny end goals: if existence had one it would have to have been reached.

Morality consequently taught men to hate and despise most profoundly what is the basic character trait of those who rule: their will to power. To abolish, deny, and dissolve this morality-that would mean looking at the best-hated drive with an opposite feeling and valuation. If the suffering and oppressed lost the faith that they have the right to despise the will to power, they would enter the phase of hopeless despair. This would be the case if this trait were essential to life and it could be shown that even in this will to morality this very "will to power" were hidden, and even this hatred and contempt were still a will to power. The oppressed would come to see that they were on the same plain with the oppressors, without prerogative, without higher rank.

There is nothing to life that has value, except the degree of power-assuming that life itself is the will to power. Morality guarded the underprivileged against nihilism by assigning to each an infinite value, a metaphysical value, and by placing each in an order that did not agree with the worldly order of rank and power: it taught resignation, meekness, etc.

What does "underprivileged" mean? Above all, physiologically-no longer politically. The unhealthiest kind of man in Europe (in all classes) furnishes the soil for this nihilism: they will experience the belief in the eternal recurrence as a curse, struck by which one no longer shrinks from any action; not to be extinguished passively but to extinguish everything that is so aim- and meaningless, although this is a mere convulsion, a blind rage at the insight that everything has been for eternities-even this moment of nihilism and lust for destruction.- It is the value of such a crisis that it purifies, that it pushes together related elements to perish of each other, that it assigns common tasks to meu who have opposite ways of thinking-and it also brings to light the weaker and less secure among them and thus promotes an order of rank according to strength, from the point of view of health: those who command are recognized as those who command, those who obey as those who obey. Of course, outside every existing social order.

Who will prove to be the strongest in the course of this? The most moderate; those who do not require any extreme articles of faith; those who not only concede but love a fair amount of accidents and nonsense; those who can think of man with a considerable reduction of his value without becoming small and weak on that account: those richest in health who are equal to most misfortunes and therefore not so afraid of misfortunes-human beings who are sure of their power and represent the attained strength of humanity with conscious pride.