Author Topic: Faustian Odour, Cross, Death, and Grave as Elixir of Life  (Read 386 times)

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Faustian Odour, Cross, Death, and Grave as Elixir of Life
« on: February 25, 2017, 06:25:53 am »

From the moment he held the writings of Schopenhauer in his hands, philosophy, rather than philology, became the force that pulled Nietzsche away . In October 1865, Nietzsche discovered the two volumes of The World as Will and Representation in a secondhand bookshop in Leipzig. He purchased them on the spot and perused them as soon as he got home. As he reported in one of his autobiographies, he was walking on air. He read in Schopenhauer that the world construed by reason, his-torical meaning, and morality is not the actual world. True life, namely the will, roars behind or underneath it.
In letters and diaries of his years in Leipzig, between 1866 and early 1868, an attitude of deep emotion manifested itself, one that could almost be called a conversion. The notion that the essence of the world, its very substance, was based not in reason or logic but in dark, vital instinct was immediately apparent to him. First and foremost, however, he had found confirmation for his passion for music in Schopenhauer's idea of redemption through art.  One has to gain control over one's own life by means of self-denial. For a period of two weeks, Nietzsche forced himself to go to bed no earlier than two in the morning and to get up no later than six. He prescribed himself a strict diet, created his own clois-ter, and lived like an ascetic He shocked his mother by providing chilling details from his ascetic workshop, writing to her on November 5, 1865, that a person needs to decide whether to be stupid and content or clever and full of renunciation. We are either a "slave of life" or its master. The latter is possible only if we discard the "goods of life." Only then is life
bearable for those of us who do not wish to remain trapped in animal existence, because our burden is dispelled and no strings bind us to life anymore. Life is bearable because it can be disposed of without pain" . As Nietzsche wrote to Rohde in October 1868, the "ethical air, the Faustian odor, cross, death, and grave"  were what fascinated him about Schopenhauer. "Cross, death, and grave" did not depress him; on the contrary, they seemed to be an elixir of life. Nietzsche found Schopenhauer's gloomy outlook enticingly provocative.

 He even saw his neighbors in a different light. Since Schopenhauer had removed the "blindfold of optimism" from his eyes, his vision had grown keener, and life seemed "more interesting, albeit uglier," he wrote to his friend Hermann Mushacke on July 11, 1866 . When his friend Carl von Gersdorff was in the depths of despair over the death of his cherished brother, Nietzsche wrote to him on January 16,1867: "It is a period in which you yourself can put to the test what is true in the doctrine of Schopenhauer. If the fourth book of his major work now leaves an ugly, dreary, annoying impression on you, if it does not have the power to lift you up and to lead you out from the out-ward intense pain to that melancholy but happy mood we experience when listening to noble music, in which you see the earthly veils fall away: then I will have nothing further to do with this philosophy. Only a person who is filled with pain may pronounce a decisive judgment: the
rest of us, standing in the stream of things and of life, only longing for that negation of the will as an island for the fortunate, we cannot judge whether the consolation of this philosophy would also gratify us in times of deep mourning" ,Schopenhauer's consolation worked for his friend, which kept the two of them, Friedrich Nietzsche and Carl von Gersdorff, united in the spirit of philosophy.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 06:29:43 am by Holden »
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.

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Only those moments count, when the desire to remain by yourself is so powerful that you'd prefer to blow your brains out than exchange a word with someone.

What they ask you for is actions, proofs, works, and all you can produce are transformed tears.
-Cioran(New Gods)
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.

Kaspar Hauser

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  • Life teaches me not to want it.
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Only those moments count, when the desire to remain by yourself is so powerful that you'd prefer to blow your brains out than exchange a word with someone.

This reminds me of how I would feel some mornings upon reporting to work.  In my mind, I had my own agenda.  It was torturous to have to ignore or repress whatever was important to me at the time in order to focus on the to-do list presented to me by a "superior".

It's a wonder that anyone can follow instructions or follow orders of any kind.

The Mother is concerned that the cat is not eating much and just lays around all day.  She's the kind of person who wants to "take care of things", whereas I am more of the type who lets Nature take its course.  Now, my mom is having trouble with her vision, so, until she has some kind of lasar surgery done, scheduled for next week some time, I have to do all the driving.

I'm not going to drive the cat to the vet to be put down.  She's not in severe pain and we give her some medication to ease the pain.

She just sleeps all the time and doesn't eat.

My agenda?  I want to continue to march through math problems in an old text book with discolored pages. 

I imagine if the cat and I were to switch places, if I could hardly see, did not want to eat food, and lost interest in mathematics.  It is as Schopenhauer explains: life teaches us not to want it!  Nature takes its course, and eventually, nothing will matter to us at all.  The sick and dying are in a totally different orbit than the healthy.   In the end we will just want to die.  Until then, we exist for what?   To work through exercises in text books designed to teach us the language of mathematics?

That's what it has come down to for me; and, while it may seem pathetic, it is certainly preferable to feigning interest in celebrity culture, Hollywood nonsense, professional sports, politics, the career cult, or the "romance cult" ...

To each his own, they say.

There must be a reason we are not aware of our own grumpiness or irritability until we are forced to interact with others.  The desire to remain by myself is very powerful in me.  I am not interested in what others are interested in, and I am finally in a position where I do not have to justify or explain why I choose to study what I am studying.   

Other people often want to know what the reason is.  They need to know what the "goal" is ... There is no goal other than the satisfaction of curiosity.

In such a pointless existence, this is simply how I endure time.

If I were forced to interact with others or subjected to the will of another, if I had to report to a so-called "superior", subjected to daily humiliations, perhaps I would prefer a bullet in the head.

Someone had commented that, if I continue to just work on math problems, I will not be able to carry on everyday conversations with people.  So be it.  I don't care to discuss my worldview with others, face to face, that is.  I have been writing in notebooks for my entire life, and now I hardly even want to write about this life as I am tired of hearing myself write the same things over and over again.

This is why studying mathematics brings me some relief.  It gives me something to think about while I am in this Limbo.

Why discuss things with anyone?   I usually play the baffoon, something like, "Look at me, all I do is study mathematics from morning to night.  I don't want to 'find a girlfriend'.  I don't want to 'find a job.'  I certainly don't want to 'find Jesus'."

It is quite a relief to have reached a point where I don't want to discuss life with anyone.  People will reach their own conclusions, but there is no sense in arguing.

And yet, here we are, having a kind of written conversation, validating to one another this powerful desire to be by ourselves, alone.   We have come to certain conclusions about this life, and it is diffilcult to suffer the personalities of others who may not have done as much thinking, and who most likley are not nearly as honest.

Most human beings use language to deceive, not to communicate.

As for the cat, euthanization is most likley the most humane course of action.   I remember you stating that we all know how to die.  Our innermost kernel is Nature itself, and death is a built-in process of life.  The cat knows how to die. 

It is interesting to witness that, for me, it may come down to however long she is able to make it to her littler box.  I know my maternal grandfather wanted to be euthanized when he could no longer make it to the bathroom.

He used to like solving crossword puzzles.   Maybe I work through math problems in a similar manner that he worked on crossword puzzles.   When does life become not worth living?

According to Schopenhauer or Cioran or Ligotti, life is never worth living.  Nobody's life is worth living.  So, these movie stars and politicians, or even those who promote "success" in the modern careerist cult of the self, are not fooling me with all their talk about "fulfilling their dreams".

We endure existence until we can't take any more.  If we have our health, that is great, but it is temporary.  If we live long enough, we will reach a point where we will long for death because living becomes unbearable.

So, yes, we are on Earth, and there is no cure for that.

It's mind boggling that so many countless creatures are caught in this.

Of course, there is no mention of any of these kinds of ruminations in texts about mathematics or programming, which is, I will admit, a creepy thing, to me.   There are theorems and axioms, solution sets, laws, definitions, proofs, but nothing for the heart.

Mathematics may be meaningless for the heart.  It is strictly for the head.

And so, while the cat refuses to eat, as we all must do, eventually, I will muster up the required enthusiasm to consume tuna and rice to give the brain the energy it requires to be able to "think".

At long last I have finally reached the point where I am resigned to not having any solutions for the people of this Earth.  There are no solutions to the problem of having been born.  The best we can do is to not reproduce.  And woe to you if you have a pet but do not have cash to burn to hand over to a vet as her death approaches.   I will do my best to disuade my mother from taking responsibility for another animal. 

I do not want to be responsible for another creature's well-being.  That's something that finally made me realize I want nothing to do with romantic entanglements.  I do not want to be made to feel obligated to cure someone of the burdens of their own existence.

I see what life is, and I refuse to go along with the great lies people tell themselves.  My mind will not be dominated by some ambitious careerist.  Let them sparkle some other sucker's eyes!

I am not the one.

Listening to myself think, I totally understand why I would not be suited for being some kind of "teacher".

 That I have a powerful desire to be alone with math textbooks and computers is just as well for society.   It takes me more than half the day just to motivate myself to eat.   I totally sympathize with those who take to drink.   The thing is, that only makes life even more of a nightmare, making it more likely that one will be getting into altercations which will lead to involvements with police, psychiatric wards, jails, the courts ...

What to tell the youth coming up through the "eduction" system?

"Read Schopenhauer and study some mathematics.   Try not to reproduce.  Avoid romantic emotional entanglements.   We are all doomed.  Work on all the exercises, including the odd numbered ones with the solutions in the manual.  Partial solutions and hints to the even numbered exercises will be available on the website.  Avoid confrontations with police and psychiatrists.  There won't be an exam.  This is a gradeless university, so there is no GPA to be concerned about.  Go in peace."


I would not put myself in the position Socrates found himself in.  The best thing to learn from Socrates is what not to do.  If you do not want to be condemned by society, do not attempt to instruct their children in matters which the parents are clueless.

"Cross, death, and grave" did not depress him; on the contrary, they seemed to be an elixir of life. Nietzsche found Schopenhauer's gloomy outlook enticingly provocative.

Ironically, yes, I think a gloomy outlook on life makes it more bearable.   What all these positve thinkers and seekers of happiness fail to understand is that the very desire for happiness is the main cause of misery.  Do you see the simple solution to the problem of unhappiness with life?

Just resigning oneself to be miserable alleviates that misery quite a bit.   Then one can go about getting through each day while either ignoring or openly slandering those who proclaim to be happy.  What I am is content.  The irony is that my contentment comes from not demanding that I be happy!

This is for almost exactly the same reason why Nietzsche found Schopenhauer's gloomy outlook enticingly provocative.

Analogous to this is my approach to mathematics.  It is mainly because I do not aspire to master much of what I study that wards off haste and despair.  I have no delusions about attaining any kind of superhuman skill.  I am content to remain an "explorer". 

We just have to accept that most of society is a farce.  Neither love nor money makes the world go 'round.   Self-deception makes the world go 'round.  Those low on self-deception will be at a major disadvantage in a society based on lies, fraud, and delusion/fantasy.

Yellowfin tuna steak chopped up and fried up in butter with left-over Basmati rice. 

This has been going on for millions if not billions of years.  I'm here now. 

"Hi, my name is Will-to-Live, and I'm addicted to breathing."

In the meantime, perhaps it is best to mock and slander those who "preach" about some kind of "God" or "Plan" behind all this.  No, I'm too kind to openly mock people's delusions; but I appear to be losing the ability to lie and pretend, so I am no longer fit for polite society.

"The only 'win' is to throw a monkey-wrench, a rock, into the Meat Grinder."

Slander the Universe and spill your seed on the ground.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2017, 09:21:17 pm by Deadbeat Math Junkie »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

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A philosopher  once assured me, many years ago, that he had converted his cat to veganism. Believing he was joking, I asked how he had achieved this feat. Had he supplied the cat with mouse-flavoured vegan food? Had he presented his cat with other cats, already practising veganism, as feline role models? Or had he argued with the cat and convinced it that eating meat is wrong? My interlocutor wasn’t amused, and I realised that he really believed the cat had opted for a meat-free diet. So I ended our exchange with a simple question: did the cat go out? It did, he told me. That solved the mystery. Plainly, the cat was supplementing its diet by covert hunting. If it ever brought home any of the carcasses – a practice to which ethically undeveloped cats are sadly prone – the virtuous philosopher had managed not to notice them.

It is not hard to imagine how the cat on the receiving end of this experiment in moral education must have viewed its human teacher. Perplexity at the absurdity of his behaviour would soon have been followed by contemptuous indifference. Seldom doing anything unless it serves a definite purpose or gives immediate satisfaction, cats are arch-realists. Faced with human folly, they simply go their own way.

The independence of cats is one of the features most admired by those of us who love them. Given their evolutionary history as solitary hunters, it is easily explained. Seeking their prey alone, cats – with the exception of lions and sometimes cheetahs – have not developed patterns of collective action and hierarchy of the kind found in dogs and other pack animals. “Herding cats” is a metaphor based on fact: cats don’t live in herds. As they are highly territorial and notoriously picky in their eating habits, they make an unlikely candidate for domestication. And yet, more than almost any other species, cats have learned to live on intimate terms with human beings. How has this come about?

As Abigail Tucker explains in her immensely informative and enjoyable book, wild cats need space: large tracts of land that can sustain the sources of meat that are their sole food supply. Human settlements posed a big challenge to these “hyper-carnivores”. When forests are cleared for farming, native prey species disappear, or shrink in numbers. Lacking the prey they relied on in the past, wild cats can only turn to animals that human beings have domesticated – cattle, sheep and the like. Inevitably, this makes cats enemies of human beings. It is not recreational hunting or the use of body parts as aphrodisiacs that is condemning so many wild cats to extinction, though these disgusting practices are hastening the end of wild tigers. It is habitat destruction, an inevitable concomitant of human expansion.

So, it is all the more extraordinary that one particular type of cat – Felis silvestris, a small and sturdy tabby – should have been able to spread worldwide as a result of learning to live with human beings. By invading the villages that were established 12,000 years ago in parts of what is now Turkey, these cats were able to turn the human shift to a more sedentary life to their advantage. Preying on other animals attracted by stored seeds and grains and harvesting waste meat left behind after slaughtered animals had been eaten, they made human settlements into reliable sources of food. Recent evidence points to a comparable process taking place independently in China roughly five millennia ago, when a central Asian variety of Felis silvestris pursued a similar strategy.

Having entered into close proximity with human beings, cats were quickly recognised as being useful to them. Employing cats for pest control on farms and ships became common. They spread to parts of the world where they were not previously known. In many countries, they outnumber any other species as co-inhabitants.

Cats initiated this process of domestication themselves, and on their own terms. Unlike other species that foraged in early human settlements, they have continued to live in close quarters with human beings ever since. For a minor predator, it is an extraordinary triumph. As Tucker writes:


A house cat is not really a fur baby, but it is something altogether more remarkable: a tiny conquistador with the whole planet at its feet. House cats would not exist without humans, but we didn’t really create them, nor do we control them now. Our relationship is less about ownership than aiding and abetting.


Predictably, there has also been a counter-reaction against cats. Tucker highlights the aims and methods of this movement:


. . . the worldwide ecological community is, in some areas, attempting full-on felinicide. People bomb cats’ lairs with targeted viruses and deadly poisons. They rain hell on cats with shotguns and hounds. Australia is leading the fight . . . the government has bankrolled pioneering research in cat poisons, including the development of a toxic kangaroo sausage called Eridicat. The Australians have also tested the Cat Assassin, a metal tunnel into which cats are lured and then misted with poison. Scientists have considered despatching Tasmanian devils (carnivorous marsupials that live wild only on the island of Tasmania) to dismember cats.


Among these advocates of felinicide are the authors of Cat Wars. For Peter P Marra and Chris Santella, cats are “environmental contaminants like DDT” which spread diseases and disrupt ecological balance. A chapter luridly entitled “Zombie Makers” describes how cats spread rabies, parasitic Toxoplasma gondii and the pathogen responsible for the Black Death. According to the authors, schizophrenia, which they describe in simplistic terms as “a severe brain disorder”, can be caused by infections emanating from cats. These fearful zombie-makers are also responsible for the deaths of countless birds (Marra is the director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre). The only solution is to reduce cat numbers and eliminate stray cats completely. Making sure the reader is clear about what they are recommending, the authors write: “Euthanasia must be part of a successful solution.”

Marra and Santella make some attempt to appeal to cat lovers by suggesting that cats be kept indoors and allowed to work off their excess energy on feline versions of hamster wheels. If “cat owners” insist on giving their animal companions experience of the outdoors, “they can get a leash and walk their cats as tens of millions walk their dogs”.

It is obvious from these examples that the authors – unlike Tucker, whose delight in the species is evident on every page – have little knowledge of and even less affection for cats. Do they imagine that cats will accept life on a leash as dogs have done? Are they so ignorant of the differences between the two species? Maybe not. They seem bent on feline mass extermination. At the end of their book they write:


With cats wandering the landscape it is not difficult to imagine a time in the not-so-distant future when your son or daughter enters a natural history museum and comes upon a small exhibit for a piping plover, a roseate tern, a Hawaiian Crow, a Florida scrub-jay, a Key Largo cotton mouse, a Choctawhatchee beach mouse, a Catalina Island shrew, a Lower Keys rabbit, or any number of other species from islands and continents around the world – with the label “Now Extinct”.


As can be seen from this passage, the principal rationale for a mass cull of the cat population is environmental conservation. But the risk that cats pose to the environment is not enough alone to explain the authors’ intense hostility to Felis silvestris. The danger of disease can be countered by programmes such as Trap-Neuter-Return, widely implemented in the US, in which cats living outdoors are taken to clinics for vaccination and spaying and then released. The risk to birds can be diminished by bells and other devices. (Birds also spread diseases, some of them potentially fatal, but this is rarely mentioned by cat haters.) More fundamentally, it is distinctly odd to single out one branch of a non-human species as a destroyer of ecological diversity when the main culprit in this regard is by any reasonable measure the human animal. With their superlative proficiency as hunters, cats may have altered the ecosystem in parts of the world. But it is human beings that are driving the planetary mass extinction that is under way.

Another striking feature of the campaign against cats is how little attention is given to the benefits they confer on human beings. For most of the time in which they have cohabited with people, cats lived outdoors. It is only relatively recently that they began to live in human households in large numbers. What is it that has allowed them to make this evolutionary step? Ailurophobes will say it is the anthropomorphism of cat lovers, who treat their feline housemates as surrogate human beings. But for many cat lovers, I suspect the opposite is true. What they cherish is not how cats resemble us, but their differences from us. Living with cats opens a window into a world beyond our own and teaches us something important about what it means to be human.

One of the most attractive features of cats is that contentment is their default state. Unlike human beings – particularly of the modern variety – they do not spend their days in laborious pursuit of a fantasy of happiness. They are comfortable with themselves and their lives, and remain in that condition for as long as they are not threatened. When they are not eating or sleeping, they pass the time exploring and playing, never asking for reasons to live. Life itself is enough for them.

If there are people who can’t stand cats – and it seems there are many – one reason may be envy. As Jeffrey Masson, whose The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats is the best book on cats ever published, has written:


In English, if not in “cat”, the word contentment conveys something of a feeling of being at peace with the world or with yourself. It is more of a state than a fleeting emotion. A person can be happy (momentarily) without being content. Contentment cannot be purchased; happiness, on the other hand, has a price. For us, happiness is a serious business.


Whereas human beings search for happiness in an ever-increasing plethora of religions and therapies, cats enjoy contentment as their birthright. Why this is so is worth exploring. Cats show no sign of regretting the past or fretting about the future. They live, absorbed in the present moment. It will be said that this is because they cannot envision the past or future. Perhaps so, though their habit of demanding their breakfast at the accustomed hour shows they do have a sense of the passage of time. But cats, unlike people, are not haunted by an anxious sense that time is slipping away. Not thinking of their lives as stories in which they are moving towards some better state, they meet each day as it comes. They do not waste their lives dreading the time when their lives must end. Not fearing death, they enjoy a kind of immortality. All animals have these qualities but they seem particularly pronounced in cats. Of all the animals that have lived closely with human beings, cats must surely be the least influenced by them.

“When I play with my cat,” Montaigne wrote, “how do I know she is not playing with me?” With creatures that can be understood only partly by us, one can only speculate about their inner life. Yet it is tempting to suppose that the secret of feline contentment is that cats have no need to defer to a picture of themselves as they imagine they should be. Certainly they have a sense of dignity: they avoid people who treat them disrespectfully, for instance. Yet cats do not struggle to remake themselves according to any ideal self-image. Not inwardly divided, they are happy to be themselves.

Again, it will be said that this is because they have no moral sense. There are many cases of heroic devotion in which cats have risked pain and death to protect their kittens. But it is true that they cannot be taught moral emotions in the way dogs have been taught to feel shame. Cats are certainly not virtue signallers. Nor – except when it concerns their offspring – are they at all inclined to self-sacrifice. But given that cats, consequently, do not kill other cats or anything else in order to become martyrs to some absurd belief system, that may be no bad thing. There are no feline suicide-warriors.

The moralising philosopher who believed he had persuaded his cat to adopt a meat-free diet only showed how silly philosophers can be. Rather than seek to teach his cat, he would have been wiser to learn from it, as Montaigne did. Living in accord with their nature, cats do not need moral instruction. Dissatisfaction with our natural condition, on the other hand, seems to be natural for human beings. The human animal never ceases to strive for some higher form of life. Cats make no such effort. Without any process of laborious cogitation, these lucid, playful and supremely adaptable creatures already know how to live.
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.