Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Neitzschian knot

Its been said that until recently history was the study of dead white guys, one might add that philosophy is the study of the writings of dead Greco-Roman, British and German guys. I strongly suspect that were it not for the harsh economic imperatives of life I'd be off in a library surrounded by various texts and engaging in frivolous academic debate about what a particular philosopher "really meant". But being no Pannish figure or perhaps I could rely more so upon the assurance that my parents didn't raise a fool, I wasn't even prepared to make philosophy my minor. Economics and political science being far more practical as many economists are gainfully employed. While as the head of the philosophy department at the U of M remarked while lecturing "with my philosophy degree if I wasn't doing this, I'd be pointing out that this pair of running shoes also comes in a high top." On the other hand I've climbed the ladder of practicality even further to law. Make no mistake about it - lawyers are the professional equivalent of the Borg. Resistance is futile - you will need us in some capacity eventually. Run, hide, shake your fist.....we are borg.

But I digress, I studied political philosophy through both the political science and philosophy departments which was a wonderful theoretical analysis exercise and exposes one to a range of viewpoints that you might otherwise be unaware. Sadly, I'm not probably better versed in Marxist principles than the twits who set up tables at campus group recruiting days. Yet as one shifts through the sand of misguided and debunked theories there are some luminaries of the past whom reading sheds light on our present state of affairs.

Although some might think it strange - Neitzsche in my mind is the most relevant of all deceased commentators on the current state of western civilization. The man was raving mad at the end of his days, which was apparantly the result of having contracted a venerial disease but I feel no particular need to rehash comments about the fine line between genius and madness.

One of the central topics of Neitzsche's writing was the advent of nihilism. The belief in nothing, essentially the belief that all things were equal and that nothing was exclusively better than any other. A lack of any moral direction and any firm belief in anything and a prevailing skepticism about all things. This of course was written in the mid to late 1800s. I find myself taking this perspective and analyzing its relevance today and the empty relativism that gets bandied about is in truth nothing more than nihilism. The fact that there are simultainously crudes for pot and against tobacco in the works and embraced by the same political parties - again nihilism.

I could probably stretch the idea and say our current Sienfield government "the government about nothing" was vaguely nihilistic in that Paul Martin has spent every moment since he became Prime Minister attempting to be on both sides of every issue save for the desirablity of his removal from office. Paul returned to his past decisive form to clearly state "please don't fire me, I'm really sorry" on national television.

Yet a better example is the prevailing disconnect among the average person whom sees politics as being all the same, all politicians are crooks and it doesn't really matter all that much which of them gets in there. That mood of dissapointment, futility and indifference between alternatives seems to dove tail rather nicely with what Neitzsche concieved. We're a country underwhelmed by scandal, and where morality has become ethreal, where that line in the sand is a whisp that dances farther and farther away to the tune of whatever lobby group strikes the fancy of our childlike elites. One moment gay marriage is fashionable, soon we here that Belgium is adopting poligamy - I'm now waiting for constitutional scholar Peter Hogg to step forward and debase his intellectual incumin in exorting the supreme court to bring in poligamy as "we aren't going to win the gold medal on this one, Beligum and the Netherlands are already ahead of us."

Tolerance is nothing more than code for nihilism. Its a failure to be able to distinguish between the merits of competing views, its a smashing of the moral compass and a loss of direction for a society. The exclusion of the ability to distinguish that which is more worthy from that which is not colors much of our public debate. Every instance you hear some pinko NDP supporter raging against corporation and whatever percentage of the population owns x amount of wealth and demanding transfers in wealth - consider on what level it makes sense to demand such legalized theft 1) your a greedy jerk who just wants free money 2) your of the delusional persuasion that your mere existance entitles you to wealth as your no better or worse than anyone else - even if you work 2 monthes a year before collecting EI as opposed to working an 80 hour week.

Ironically it falls now primarily to the Catholic and evangelical churches, Neitzsche's favourite whipping boys, to fight some insurgent action against the collective moral shrug that has over taken western civilization. It may be Kissenger's rear guard against inevitable defeat, or simply preserving the library through a dark age for a resnassaince. Which leaves someone as agnostic as myself in an odd position, believing in truth leaves me the strange comrade in arms of organizations whom beyond my believe in enduring and factual truths I don't necessarily have a great deal of agreement with. Which puts me in a strange position perhaps somewhat akin to Christopher Hitchens. I'm not a subscriber to religion...but at least they believe in something.


At 3:19 a.m., Blogger Adam said...

Nice Blog my friend. Much better than mine!

Adam Hunter

At 10:44 p.m., Blogger John the Mad said...

Welcome back. Have you read any G.K. Chesterton by any chance? He nailed the spirit of the age perfectly and did not go insane. Something to think about. (Mind you he's very Catholic.)

At 11:11 p.m., Blogger Chris said...

No, I can't say I've read any G.K. Chesterton. Although I'm not really prepared to write in depression over syphallus as Neitzsch's downfall however despondent his analysis of modern morality might have been.

And thanks John, its good to be back. I think I like a few other people burned out over the frenzy over the election that was not.

At 5:53 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, your political point of view is stupid, OK, anyone can live with that, there are millions like you.

But for fuck's sake, do not mess with philosophy and Nietzsche! You have no idea what are you talking about, and Uncle Fritz is shaking in his tomb hearing your babbling... Remember: think before talking nonsense... and then shut up.


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