Often a great act is not truly great; it is only the confusion of our times that is great. We deny what we do. We seem to require ... even crave the confusion, have a vested interest in gripping and holding back the ever flowing tendencies of nature with monstrous demands: “Nature must be that. I command it not to be this.”
We all have our doubts and fears and want a certainty secured, fixed in time and space, something to cling to so as not to be swept away into the uncertain. And so in great or small acts we grip and hold back what would otherwise flow on nobly according to its own law of becoming.
This “certainty” stands as a giant monolith in the great river of time, not stopping so much as flooding and stripping away the surrounding soil, striking out into jagged forks what had until then been coming together ... what would have remained tributaries toward a simpler, grander force are now trickling streams and stagnant puddles.
What is it that we “believe”? That repetition is boredom ... that we must and can escape the natural tendency to finish where we begin.
This escape ... this false “certainty” is the confusion on whose behalf we cling to immovable measures which fix that very confusion into place ... and for which, in such a panic, we cling to our monolith all the more fervently, that being the “great” and “immovable” Savior.
By ruler and pen, we etch out our goals in straight lines, from point A to point B, today and tomorrow and thereafter ... never seeing that this straight line is but a single small point along equally real points of a great cycle, spiraling up toward an unintended and unseen point C. Thus, when I walk from point A to point B, two journeys take place: one of space and one of evolution — the linear journey completed in its thousand steps horizontally included a vertical step — a higher destination — the stronger traveler.
It is the truly great act in life to simplify one’s own circumstance: with one command, to let go of this fixed monolith to chaos, have this letting go settle one’s existence into comprehensible layers ... to resist all that would stop and have sensory objects fixed in place. In this, we seem contrary to nature, even in our most natural state, for we resist those leaden desires which all others believe imperative. We grip the only valuable reality, the ultimate truth, the light of all things: repetition, also known by the name of its consequence, becoming. But to place this one jewel firmly within our grip, we must empty our hand of all else. One cannot have the repetition of instances by holding onto a single instance.
Our “stopping place” is with the flow of the river, as a bark which floats downriver is fixed to the flow, and for this we cut loose every certainty and desire which would moor us to our own times.
The brave and mechanically strong find an impetus whose result is indecency, irrationality, and tyranny. The brave and mechanically weakfind an impetus toward decency, rationality, and balance. But every third party concludes the opposite ... until the new actuality becomes habit ... history.
A valuable book may be torn to pieces without diminishing the human spirit, just so long as the words have already been read and understood. To feel the loss of the book — at its material destruction, even though one had already digested its contents fully and had aligned oneself toward its overall direction — is evidence that one values the non-human being over human becoming, the static thing over the dynamic process. In response to the fear of our unknowable future we would rather freeze ourselves into a single stage of growth at the expense of the entire metamorphosis.
As an alpha becomes more powerful and proficient, his herd increases. Consequently, he must submit, to greater and greater degrees, to the increasing power of the herd. He compromises his power with his own success. To maintain some degree of control he must exploit the new word-sets and standards by which the herd attempts to reverse rank values. He must mouth “Equality,” “Liberty,” and “Justice” and be seen in public to bow to their supremacy.
The conditions are now present where the superhero of virtue can shame a dominance event by accurately describing it. Truth is on the side of the subordinate. Ironically, it is the subordinate's shame ... his dominance cravingwhich serves as the motivation to demote the dominant by accurately describing the overt dominance gesture.
An eye for the spirit of human becoming would find innumerable subtle devices, which would appear static, but which over time would prove their great worth to the process. For example, the chair does more than the desk; food, more than the plate it is served upon; a physical affection holds more love than an ideal love which pours itself through a sieve, believing itself exempt from the need for physical touch, and so becoming unknowingly duplicitous. The human spirit as such is a consequence of conditions and is not the rational explanation of itself. The two stand side by side, the condition preceding them. It is easy for the explanation to deny that which cannot express itself, and how can the condition to expression have anything to say for itself? If one believes in the totality of the explanation, then one’s science becomes as duplicitous as one’s idealism had been. When one refuses to split, ironically, by refusing to deny one’s other half, one’s twin, then one is forever tracing things back to their beginning ... to their ineffable unity. Science cannot explain our spirit fully, and the spirit is not the knowledge of its own beginnings and endings, yet all things necessary to the process of increasing knowledge are nonetheless completed — and not without our exalted sensation. Unity is. The wheel rolls. Each point is demonstrated to stop and touch at a particular point. We do not by that very observation stop the wheel.
There really is no such thing as an insubordinate beta. What we really have here is a collision of two alphas, one of which is of a cruder form, stronger in the ability to cross the borders of decency to preserve status, but weaker in its capacity for patience, and with little pride in excellent performance. We will call this cruder version, the real alpha. He has his dominance mechanism working for him. If he were a sailor, he would be the one who sailed only down wind.
We call the more refined, the alpha-minus. He is forced by his circumstance into a frustrating demotion – into the apparent“beta status.” He must reach for a new standard by which to evaluate his world again and find himself of adequate value. Now, direct, mechanical, and vulgar means are “beneathhim” to an even greater degree than before. For his pride depends upon the reversal of precisely that value standard set by crude dominance. He must resist his instincts, lest he lapse into an undignified bout of one-upmanship or inhuman cruelty. If he were a sailor, he would thus tack against the wind in the opposite direction of the real alpha. He rejects the brute force or the crude exposé, and secures the “spiritual” or the “honorable.” He trades mechanical power for the sublimation of what would otherwise have been his own victimization. He trades pride for humility, instance for repetition, power for truth, “the pen is mightier than the sword”....
The velleity, the Independent Repetition, must be invited into the foreground. It comes when permitted but will not be manipulated. All that is required is the elimination of every extremity. To desire any single thing more than the ascending repetition is to stop that repetition and fly apart into chaos. We may appear very much like the old ascetics, yet the art of repetition is not an act of self-infliction or atonement: to delight in every good thing ... to find it distilled and bottled into a quintessence is our goal, and for this we must crave above all other things the exalting repetition.
The conditions which result in insubordination make one clever. The greatest dangers are:
If the hidden aim of insubordination is actually achieved, the new, unchallenged Alpha status is the achievement of the conditions for stupidity.
Beta status accepted is the achievement of the conditions whose resolution is also stupidity, but two-fold: one has the “privilege” of setting one's boot on others in exchange for the privilege of being stepped on oneself. That is, within the conditions for intelligence, one opted instead for the maintenance of stupidity – and then paid too dearly even for that ...
It does not matter how well we hammer our gold into dishes. The fruit still rots. Better to eat the peach now and to hammer our gold into something hard enough for time. Quick and enduring pleasures ... for there are none in between.
He is honest in spite of himself? This man is honest because appearing honest for the sake of honesty lends him a sense of dignity through his appeal to others’ religious and scientific sentiments. He appears honest in spite of himself because he wants to flatter himself with what he imagines they are thinking. He can even flatter himself with what he imagines the dead would have thought about his extreme honesty.
But this other man wanted to flatter himself with an identity superior to their sentiments. With his honesty he is not flattered by what they are thinking, but only by surpassing what they are capable of thinking. It is the exposure of their ignorance that proves his superiority. He is most honest when he shocks the living and rankles the dead. Now he is honest in spite of himself and in spite of them too.
We take art to be something alien to our nature, something above science, something that resists the laws of mechanics or is at least destroyed by them. We think that there is a fundamental difference between the art and the artificial. But there was an age that thought differently. There was a time when the word, “art,” was a blood relative to the word “artificial.” The confusion began when we stopped making art. Now, our modern artists, make ideas. The work of art, they would have us believe, is incidental to the philosophy that sells it.
As an impetus to fearless honesty, the intellectual conscience – private guilt – is inferior to the prospect of fame for one’s honesty. With guilt, one is never motivated forward, only backward. One never affirms, but only reacts. One finds no right to posit a goal and chase it. Nonetheless fame alone is a grand motive to lie, and philosophers and poets are more often charlatans than not ... often more concerned with the minimum requirements for shepherding the maximum number of followers than with the maximum courage for a severe honesty that more often than not requires a break with one’s own herd ... a distinction between private consciousness and herd-thought. But of course this latter only wants to trade the maximum number of worshippers for a smaller group who have the maximum height of fearless understanding. Honesty, at its highest, is still only our immature desire to throw over our shoulders glory and honor.
Of course, this greater vanity usually threatens the presumptions of the majority, and so one must settle for notoriety and perhaps, with a lot of luck, a few unflinching readers. If one can accept the role of vanity in one's every pursuit, one is half-way there. Honesty includes this half, or it is nothing – for if one’s honesty does not admit to vanity, it is only vanity.
Truth is often a solution to a confrontation with a dominating social organ. It wants revenge and a reversal of ranks. The fact that it achieves its overthrow by securing the true is only a stroke of luck. We will hazard ambiguity: nature determines the outcome, not the moralist — in the sense that the conditions, not the moralist, determine the outcomes — and the moralist is an outcome and therefore not really a moralist after all. Eventually however, despite its dishonest beginnings, the motive can actually build up a superior being — andquite honestly. These highest expressions are rare, but they could not develop in any other way. If one wants truth, one also wants a mental overthrow of the dominant. But one cannot have both truth and peace. Truthfulness, in abundance, is an irritation that one rubs ... but must never cure.