expanded September 16, 2004
Synopsis: Collection of brief explorations in Prometheanism inspired by Nietzsche's aphorisms and other short forms, addressing the need of evolved shorter forms of philosophy designed for the web.
Friedrich Nietzsche is mainly known for his challenging and provocative quotations, often misunderstood out of context. His famous quotes usually come from his use of a unique extended aphoristic form to counterbalance the long discourse more usual in philosophy. The classic Nietzschean aphorism (as in The Gay Science and Beyond Good and Evil) would approach an enigmatic puzzle for the reader to solve, or at least a complex challenge for the reader to grapple and in doing so become enlarged and educated by the demanding process (whether or not they could precisely understand Nietzsche’s intent). Such a condensed, punctuated form of expression, and its implicit challenge intended to inspire a process of self-development, has other eclectic relatives around the world, such as the Middle-Eastern parable tradition and East Asian philosophy-poetry such as Japanese haiku and Zen koans, as well as the modern fondness for reproducing pithy quotes on internet pages, and in a lesser and looser sense, (we)blogs. The following scintillae, little sparks to kindle the Promethean flame, are offered here as a revisitation and revision of all those punctuated traditions in philosophy, and as yet another approach to the way of Prometheus.
"Emphatically. Emphatically. Emphatically."*
You must understand what I mean, not how I say it. If, in your mind, this preceded not only what I say, but what everyone said, your world would shift off its poles…
* Said of expurgative pranayama breathing by A. Crowley according to R. A. Wilson.
Like butterflies wise things are fleeting and fragile. Catch them and grasp them too tightly and you crush them into lifeless corpses of their former beauty. Hold them too long and they suffocate. Let them go when the time comes and their offspring return to your open and waiting hand.
Everything in Your World is a Model
Saying that all concepts and ideas, all thinking employs models, in itself employs a model, a model about the universality of models. And yet, this in no way negates the achievement of universality in that description, or the remedy in that knowledge of craft.
Improving Tool Use
We need more attention given by great minds to how, when, with what direction, to what ends we use our tools, instead of just ever more on developing and improving them. Among these tools I count technologies and their applications, but also the other tools we use to act, think, describe, and understand: language, logic, strategy, science, mathematics, art…
Identity in 4 Provisional Truths
You are what you eat.
To us, the lovers of light, men and women appear as would-be suns and stars. But those insensate to light only fear black holes.
Toward a Reliable Faith
In an almost tangible sense all logic, all language, and in fact all thinking and conceiving amount to circular reasoning; everything refers to something else, and depends upon other evidence, ultimately resting on nothing but ‘faith’. The question becomes not whether something stands on its own, self-evident and self-proving — for everything depends — but rather: "what other things of their own reasonable reliability support this something?"
True and False
If one must think in terms of being true and false, it is best to consider that anything and everything might be true. And on another approach, also to consider that anything and everything may be false. And then to keep these two assumptions at once, then reconcile the productivity of both approaches.
Waiting for External Affirmation
Few of us unlearn enough dependence of mind to become remarkable in our own right. First we must decide whether we truly want independence of mind or not. Most of us individuals think we would all like to be able to approve and justify ourselves, to stand alone, sufficient. In all honesty with themselves, so many people still just want their
to hand them a universal card they can read and show certifying:
Promethean Growing Pains (dedicated to K.)
An end of innocence and an early acclimation of a Promethean mentality comes at the decision between comforted suffering and an infliction of sharp liberation. The preparation comes always with practicing on oneself, but the affirmation of the difficult path comes when the Promethean becomes willing to risk the misunderstanding and enmity of others to do what strong living requires. No longer can one remain careless or carefree who has taken the necessary harsh measures toward another who needed then the resolve of a surgeon more than the accommodation of a friend.
Beasts of Burden Suffer No Gadflies
Instead of inuring themselves to discomfort that might teach and strengthen, typical people flinch from the slightest discomfiting thing; yet they accept the teaching of expecting and bearing suffering and misery in great amounts from which they learn nothing.
If You are that One
Thoreau wrote to Emerson: "When will the world learn that a million men are of no importance compared with one man?"
When one man speaks no longer of "a million men" in his world.
Extremity in Moderation
People-at-large tend to dismiss with that bad word, "extremism." Stay in the middle! Everyone else is there! they would like to exclaim (not too loud). This muddling moderate middle only fits in a bipolar spectrum, seeing things between extremities, a false ruler of measurement in one dimension. Really, whatever the "moderate" are wont to deprecate is the expression of some ideas or principles which stand to be judged on their merits or flaws... as is the case with any "moderate" position too, however uncomfortably the moderate flinch at the implication of principles in their opinions (however watery, inconsistent or popular). The other insult, "radicalism," literally suggests having a radix, a root, in some principle – at best distaste, at worst horror, to the meek measured tumbleweeds.
We Individual Nodes of Complexity
The meaning of individualism: the preferred approach for the parts of an individual is integration into a whole of complementary aspects, the preferred approach for groups of individuals is not integration into a unity, but decentralization, diversity, ramification, variation, specialization, generalization — and association accorded by independently derived self-direction.
Gatekeeping The Mental Polis
The many modern people determined at the conscious level of self-image to "keep an open mind," people reticent to acknowledge the power of ideas to influence them, would typically not think to block out ideas that could lead them astray (or more likely, refuse to see the biased barriers they do hide behind). They always prefer to think of themselves invulnerable to cognitive subversion, conscious masters of all results. But like an old walled town with open gates, an open mind lies open not only to traffic in benefit, interest and provocation, but to invaders and subjugators insinuating their way in, to tricksters, to manipulators, to Trojan horses. At least the 'closed-minded' ancients and medievals knew this fact that 'open-minded' naive moderns refuse to notice. Even in reaction against ideas, and certainly in unknowing adoption of a pattern of thought or mode of semantic expression, people often follow the ideas that come to them. But no one who has ever lived with gates open wants to return to the habit of having them closed. The new traders and travelers within ourselves will not have it! and one should heed the voices of the future among one's inner multitude.
Well then, the metaphor implies we charge our inner watchmen and gatekeepers with this duty: know when to open the gates and when to close them, know when to resist outside influences by seeking isolation and when to look outward to trade and novelty. And most importantly, at all times keep a watchful eye on what trouble follows newcomers to your teeming cerebral population. Unlike a town, however, which sort of overreaction — towards open or closed — would produce more dangerous results for a mind remains an unclear question, especially looking to hazy far-off implications.
Doppelgängers of Self-Reflection
Remind yourself that so many emphatically portray themselves embracing, even exemplifying those qualities they avoid valuing by their behavior… they even represent aversion to precisely what they themselves do, and project the very faults onto others which they detest and fear in themselves.
Any landscape may be seen with clarity from a high enough viewpoint.
The Morality Leading the Blind
Again and again, when considering some issue of which it is said there are two sides populated by advocates, I realize if they asked me the inherent question, “who is right and who is wrong?” I should have to say, “neither one!” But one who asks such a question, never understands such an answer.
Again and again the assumptions useless, the models ill-fitting, the process sense(s)less and rife with error, and then the conclusions off mark. Again and again, the same essential mistakes on the deep level, where it matters, so that the most quarrelsome share more than they would like to know: the very same kind of mistakes… along with some little difference marking each, for which either one side cares little, and little realizes remains the only hold of either on "truth."
When blinded men touching the flank of an elephant bicker and wrestle with blinded men touching the trunk, who is the greatest fool of all? The men who felt the rough flank and said, “a crocodile!”? The men who felt the coiling trunk and said, “a serpent!”? All those unseeing, for bloodying noses while vying for the right kind of ignorance? Maybe, the man who has learned to see — and picks.
Taking Neither Side
You ask where I stand on some or another political struggle, some or another war, some or another government or insurgency, some or another political force, platform, party? A sword is double-edged, and you ask me, which side? Each side has an edge. Both sides can ream flesh and split bone, and cleave the heart in two.
Yet Another Stage-Play Distracting From Freedom
As they say, How little things have changed! Many have compared the parallels between the present world crisis of power-accretion and imperialism to the rise of National Socialism in Germany seventy years ago, especially the suppression of dissent based on the threat of terrorism (like the Reichstag fire). But then to profit from this sort of dramatic comparison, some theatrically indicate the suppression of ostensibly peaceful protesters, such as in Miami, as though this fits that pattern of victimization of civilized people by tyrants. Consider though, this is supposed to elicit sympathy for activists supporting political cronies who advocate forcefully barring free trade and seizing the engines of economic activity for their own particular causes, by setting up publicized protests of those "free trade" organizations — bankrolled by alternate cronies in influential corporate business and government with alternate causes — which in fact already studiously restrict the competition of free business and regulate free trade in their favor at every opportunity, but smartly claim just the opposite. Protests such as Miami in 2003, and the world situation encapsulated by it does indeed resemble that leading up to Berlin in 1933 in that policemen and thugs for the fascists openly clash with their more socialist counterparts in the street. Both insist upon their polar difference, and both claim the upright moral standing which is thought to deserve the power of the state to rule the individual. And just as with Berlin, let no one's sympathies be drawn to the more pathetic nature of the also-vicious underdog.
Sensible but Shortsighted
It is pointless to inform oneself on the problems of the world unless one will also move to meet them. Otherwise, one should cease wasting energy, attention and worry and simply live as is possible, unless or until those problems come home.
An Invocation of Remembrance [from Post Mortem]
must be done
are at war"
The Consequence of Killing
When one kills, one destroys a life, and one destroys a world. A world of perception. A world of experience. A unique world. The enormity of this consequence, however justified, however necessary, must never be forgotten. It never goes away.
In War Prometheus Weeps
A disembodied burning question:
Their answer in tongues:
Their answer in acts:
above Prometheus cries,
We Prometheans enjoin connecting individuals only in the relations of a Promethean society, never to bond them in common chains. In hard terms of force then, we are speaking of replacing systems of society essentially based on compulsion needing exceptions of freedom, with a system of society founded on freedom needing exceptions of compulsion.
In seeking a Promethean society, do we Prometheans seek a utopia? A chimerical paradise? A no-place? We seek: eutopia, ouk outopia – a well-place, not no-place. I admit to eutopian "fantasies."
Typing the State
archism knows the state today as a
The Telling Future of Futurism
The project of apprehending the future, anticipating the future as a panacea, has long attracted designers and architects of future visions. Yet the future itself sees methodical and conventional men attracted to these visions, then indifferent men, and as always, attracted by the masses, the parasites among men, the bureaucrats among men, and some tyrants. Beyond the life of its dreamer, a vision itself should mean nothing — how a vision will live on in the minds of men should mean everything. If a grand design only flows from artistry to iron grip, it ought never to have been earnestly devised at all. Better no schemes at all than fuel for petty schemers. Better no control over the future, than no future at all.
Individual freedom is more a precondition than a panacea, and more an arable than an abundance.
Power Anticipates Corruption [from Power and the Corrupted]
The saying "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" is accurate enough for many cases, but more often applicable is the amended principle "power draws the corrupted, absolute power would draw the absolutely corrupted."
The diminutive part of a man becomes his politics.
The Importance of Play
Playful is not far removed from experimental.
Forbid Your Guilt
Feel only enough guilt to remember what it was like to feel more.
Nunc Est Bibendum
Exploit pleasures when and where you can find them, in the stomach or the head or the fingertip or the eye. And even playfully and guiltlessly, engage them with some seriousness, for you may not always find opportunity.
Carpe diem; pluck the day from the vine before too long. Hedonism is no sin, and no error — so long as one seeks pleasures satisfying enough. And is working now for the future not the deepest, most lasting and most yielding of these pleasures? Mihi.
Why I Write
I do not write about what I write despite the appearance that few care for what I write, or whether I write it or not. I write about what I write because few care about it.
My Own Commandment (or, Why I Philosophize)
wants blow about, and my pleasures.
the artifacts of these characters
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