Tag Archives | Friedrich Nietzsche

Laozi, Nietzsche and Kropotkin: Are The Common People Good?

Pic: Hugh Rankin (PD)

Pic: Hugh Rankin (PD)

What say you, Disinfonaughts? Are the common people, and the uncivilized, good? Are they better off than those on high?

via Bao Pu 抱朴

I picked up Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals (1887) yesterday and found a passage which immediately made me think of Laozi. Here’s Nietzsche, writing about the origins of the concept of “good” :

… the judgment good does not originate with those to whom the good has been done. Rather it was the “good” themselves, that is to say the noble, mighty, highly placed, and high-minded who decreed themselves and their actions to be good, i.e., belonging to the highest rank, in contradistinction to all that wasbase, low-minded and plebian. It was only this pathos of distance that authorized them to create values and name them … Such an origin would suggest that there is no a priori necessity for associating the word good with altruistic deeds, as those [English] moral psychologists are fond of claiming.

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Kenneth Smith: Cultural Critic of the Modern Era

Kenneth SmithIn 1988 artist and philosophy professor Kenneth Smith began writing a philosophy column called Dramas of the Mind in The Comics Journal. Smith’s column ran there intermittently for the next twenty years. Smith wrote about philosophical issues as they relate to modern civilization, covering ethics, violence, sex, education, science, art, etc. Smith wrote powerful analysis of contemporary manias and delusions in a blazing, take-no-prisoners style. His insights into the modern age are penetrating and worthy of the great cultural critics and essayists of the past, in the traditions of Chomsky, Mencken, Bloom, Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Vidal, Žižek, etc. Certainly his is a voice that deserves greater exposure.

This information page gives an overview of Kenneth Smith, links to many resources, and posts scans of his classic run of TCJ columns. The scans contain his most essential writing, but there is a Tumblr blog and a Gaim library that provide quotes from longer pieces.… Read the rest

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X-Men: Speed Mutation

[disinfo ed.'s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on December 6, 2001. Some links may have changed.]

As biotechnology and corporate gene patenting replace the bomb as our nightmare of choice, Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000) initiates the evolution of its own history.

What is to be feared, what has a more calamitous effect than any other calamity, is that man should inspire not profound nausea; also not great fear but great pity. Suppose these two were one day to unite, they would inevitably beget one of the uncanniest monsters of the “last will” of man, his will to nothingness, nihilism.

~~ Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals

The alien essentially, as extraterrestrial or monster, is neither natural nor supernatural but fantastic. It is frequently preternatural or anomalous, a permutation of the “natural” order such as the “maladjusted” X-Men. The X-Men are mutants  freakish, genetic deviants who are feared by and often in fear of the very people they are trying to save.… Read the rest

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The Matrix: What Is Bullet Time?

[disinfo ed.'s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on February 12, 2001. Some links may have changed.]

Neo: Right now, we’re inside a computer program?

Morpheus: Wild, isn’t it?

What if reality was false and your nightmares were true? Is the present the past and the future happening now?

Thomas Anderson begins examining these questions. Anderson begins having doubts about reality. He has lived in the year 1999 until he is contacted by the enigmatic Morpheus, who leads him into an alternative dimension. Now it is 200 years later, and the World has been laid waste and taken over by advanced artificial intelligence machines. Anderson questions whether he is actually in a present day city, or wired up with millions of others, blissfully unaware into a massive virtual framework (“Matrix”) in the future. The computers have apparently created a false version of 20th Century life to keep humans enslaved, while AI machines draw power from their bodies.… Read the rest

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Do What Thou Wilt Is The Whole Of The Law

Great Beast 666Aleister Crowley, an early 20th century occultist, asserted that “Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law.” (Crowley 1978). Crowley’s statement is the closest maxim I have found to be representative of human ethical theory. By acting upon this maxim, each individual is forwarding the well being of all humanity. This is because through the process of competing forces the most useful for that specific set of circumstances will arise as the victorious force. However, this does not mean that any issue contains any inherent ethical meaning, rather in the context of the specific “game” that is being played pragmatic value can be assigned.

Eastern philosophical theories highlight the illusory nature of human existence. For instance, if we look at early Indian traditions, we inevitably recognize that the world has no logical basis for being “real.” Early Hindu thought had various different darsanas, which ranged in thought on a variety of issues.… Read the rest

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Wall Street and the Psychology of Power

AtlasJames Curcio writes on Modern Mythology:

The Occupy Wall Street movement has taken aim at “the 1%,” but so far there has not been a great deal of consideration given to the culture or psychology of power.

Countering the charged, idealistic cry of the protesters comes the more cynical stance that “there will always be a 1%.” That, perhaps, it is human nature to claw our way to the “top of the pile,” to slay the sitting King and take the throne. Certainly, that is a model we see mirrored in the heroic myths of antiquity.

As a result of our nature, are we forever cursed to live out a narrative of master / slave, of fascist dictator, of oppressor and oppressed? Should we resign ourselves to the “grim meathook future” that seems the inevitable outcome of the myth of the Leviathan, supposing no agents of chaos destabilize the true obsession of fascism?… Read the rest

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Reconsidering Nietzsche

Over at Harper's, Scott Horton asks Julian Young six questions about his new book Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography:
2. Nietzsche wrote that a “deadly insult” had come between himself and Wagner. You suggest that you’ve learned what it was. Wagner had long disapproved of Nietzsche’s close friendships with men–love he held could only exist between the sexes–and by 1877 he was offended by the developing anti-Wagnerian tenor of Nietzsche’s thought. To Nietzsche’s doctor he wrote that the cause of the patient’s many health problems–which included near blindness–was “unnatural debauchery, with indications of pederasty.” His former disciple was, in other words, (a) incipiently gay and (b) going blind because he masturbated. Somehow Nietzsche learned not only of the existence of the letter but of its the exact wording. That was the “deadly insult.” 3. In a review of your book, reformed neoconservative Francis Fukuyama chides you for writing repeatedly about global warming in the context of Nietzsche’s thought. He seems to feel that this discussion is frivolous. How do you react to this critique? Well, as you say, Fukuyama has seen the error of his ways. So he’s not a global warming skeptic...
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