Posts Tagged ‘overman


John Cage//Nietzsche//Techniques of Listening and Life

John Cage, from Silence

But this fearlessness only follows if, at the parting of the ways, where it is realized that sounds occur whether intended or not, one turns in the direction of those he does not intend. This turning is psychological and seems at Ilrst to be a giving up of everything that belongs to humanity-for a musician, the giving up of music. This psychological turning leads to the world of nature, where, gradually or suddenly, one sees that humanity and nature, not separate, are in this world together; that nothing was lost when everything was given away. In fact, everything is gained. In musical terms, any sounds may occur in any combination and in any continuity.

Is this not a certain technique for achieving what Nietzsche intended in the figure of the overman? It seems uncannily similar, and Cage’s arguable political naivete aside, it presents at least the glimmer of a course of aesthetic action (the positive suppression of positive intention) for the goal that Nietzsche, as I read him, set out.

If nothing else, silencing yourself for a bit makes for a good exercise.


The Martyr

has martyrdom been thought in relation to the desire for an irreproachable death? that suicide is not more common is surely because it places a burden on the family, friends, and reputation of the suicidal person. to commit suicide is to open yourself to infinite reproach as not only the weakest and most cowardly but most selfish.

martyrdom is death beyond reproach. what is desired is not the bounty of the afterlife, but the exoneration of the life lived. this is the secret to christ’s appeal. this being beyond reproach, beyond responsibility, beyond the web of human relations, beyond even morals is the seductive promise of martyrdom. the martyr thus has much in common with the overman, the transhuman, the immortal.

a question: can a suicidal person become a martyr? does the selfishness of suicide cancel the gift of the martyr? is the desire for death beyond itself a cause for reproach?

February 2020
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