“Ich wohne in meinem eigenen Haus,
Hab Niemanden nie nichts nachgemacht
Und – lachte noch jeden Meister aus,
Der nicht sich selber ausgelacht.”
Ueber meiner Hausthür.
F. Nietzsche, Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, Reclam, 2000, p. 5.
[Motto der Ausgabe 1887]
(amateuristic English translation: I live in my own house //have never copied anybody //And – sneered at every Big ‘Master’, // who did not mock himself. [On top of the door of my house] – note: I don’t like Master which is why I put ‘Big’ in front of it, not because I think that makes it better but because it makes explicit the awkwardness of ‘Master’)
Shorter Friedrich: I did it my way!
This is my house. I refuse to accept that it is a lesser house because it is a house unconnected to known houses. You can fuck off when you are looking for something that can give the comfort of a quality label. I know it’s the winners that pick the winners; whenever somebody well known mentions something, that something gets an aura of importance.
There is logic to this lack of madness. I will explore that logic below the fold (such that I can keep track of how many of you are interested in exploring this logic); just click the ‘Read More’.
But before going to the logic of the lack of madness, let’s go to the logic of madness.
Doing it your way is the way of madness. By definition it will be a personal break-through and by consequence it will be a thing that is hardly understood and hard to understand. Madness is creativity. It is madness to say something that, as of yet, cannot be said. Sheer madness to have the ambition to say something that will, definitively, change the ways in which future generations understand things. Better: can understand things.
But most of what is created is crap. And if it isn’t crap, who will be the judge of that? The knowledge that it isn’t, is never a certain knowledge. In other words: even if it isn’t crap, it might well be crap, for all you know at the time of creating it. More than this there is a maximum amount of madness that can be digested. When you go beyond that proportion, you get into the territory of gibberish. Newton might have done whatever he wanted, he could not have come to relativity – not merely because he did not have the mathematical or other tools, but because the existing language required such a lot of adaptation before relativity became merely mad.
That is the logic of the lack of madness. For every mad and helpful creation there will be 666 unhelpful ones & for every mad creation tout court there will have to be at least 666 to the power 666 statements that repeat a previous mad and helpful creation because that will be what it takes for the last one to be understood generally enough for the new one to be able to take hold of someone.
That is why we allow the winners to the pick the winners and that is why the only contributors to new insights will be at best considered as secondary sources. It is also why mostly only very serious and dreary people mark turning points in our intellectual history; because they have the stamina and endurance to keep on repeating the same novelty over & over again. Only the dreary take themselves seriously enough to keep on hitting on the same nail and to get close to the winners of a past day. Their motivation is not the novelty but the ambition to be the winner of the next day.
There are a few exceptions – they stand the test of time. Not because they are better but because they happen to be one of the exceptions. The rest of us: we merely changed history for the better, our anonymity is the blanket under which it is possible to remain independent enough to not be worried to much at being taken as madmen.
(this analysis only works for the sciences, including litterature, because madness is the default expectation in arts)
Only atheists can be real believers.
[Whilst writing this I was not listening to the ‘Best of Frank Sinatra’ – although I maybe should’ve, & I certainly could’ve – but to Valentin Silvestrov, Sacred Works, Kiev Chamber Choir, ECM New Series]