“Er hat sich augenblicklich zu der Erkenntnis durchgerungen, dass es in der Geschichte der Menschheit kein freiwilliges Zurück gibt. Aber das Erschwerende ist, dass wir ja auch kein brauchbares Vorwärts haben. Gestatten Sie mir, es als eine merkwürdige Lage zu bezeichnen, wenn es weder vorwärts noch zurück geht und der gegenwärtige Augenblick auch als unerträglich empfunden wird.”
R. Musil, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, RoRoRo, 1978, p. 272.
[Amateuristic English translation: “He immediately came to the insight that, in human history, there’s no voluntary going back. But the really aggravating circumstance is that there is also no useful way forward. Allow me to put it to you that it is a most curious situation in which there is neither a way forward nor a way back and in which the current moment is also considered as equally unbearable.”]
[Re-osted from The Old Site, original dd. 15-04-201. This is the last one, if you find more here, they will be new.]
It’s definitely a bummer to think you’re at least somewhat original – and then reread something you read so long ago you couldn’t precisely remember why it
retained the impression of greatness … just to find that much of where you thought you were original wasn’t just anticipated but anticipated by something you can’t honestly claim not to have known!
Anyway, the twin monsters of ‘The Meaning of Life’ are cultural pessimism and utopianism, or in other words absolutism and essentialism. Looking back to the more innocent times of the past, or longing for the times to come where we will be finally redeemed and saved from all this mess which is the current.
The monsters are twins and therefore share the same genetic code: a denial of the present as the most loathworthy situation in which we possibly could be.
That there’s a single nature to these two ways of looking at life is clear from the random mixture in which those melancholic for more innocent, traditional, times can blend in the idea of original sin. It is equally clear from the likewise logically odd idea of Utopians that what we really need to do is ‘make’ a future (ipso facto rapido presto) that is, essentially, quite the same as what we once naturally ‘were’ (or, at least, ‘would have been’ if there wasn’t the interference of really bad (BAD!) people that ripped us away from ‘nature’).
It essentially makes no difference which side of this equation you choose: the end result will be a matter of neurotic control freaks policing the ‘peoples’ in line with the psychotic ideas of somebody that coincidentally created die-hard followers. The result is always a ‘politics as hysterics’ which is unavoidably giving politics as such a pejorative connotation.
Politics as hysterics, that’s it.
The hysterics of wanting to put a stop to certain unacceptabilities (and at once, and conclusively) or the hysterics of blowing each individual unfairness up to a gigantic balloon that needs to be dealt with (once and for all, all over again). Which is why, by the way, it is so easy for people to switch opinions from left to right and back and even hold any combination of left- and right-wing ideas at once: there is a common genetic code and a common behaviour of hysterical “being-right”-ness, that makes any extreme point of view continuous in the eye of an engaged and committed beholder.
Maybe politics IS hysterics and maybe we should indeed get rid of politics. Not to get into a more pure unpolitical state and not to go towards the blissfully apolitical state, in which people are ‘checked’ by other people to do ‘the right thing’ but to get to states of administering the plenty that is the result of human creativity in bureaucratic but uncontroversial ways that give everybody at least what they need as subsistence, what they need to do their unmanaged and non-coerced ‘whatever-it-may-be’.
Whatever keeps the wheel of human creativity rolling let it roll wherever it damned well wants to roll (better: rolls) is OK.
Not denying the present but enjoying that it is better than what came before – &
that it can only go uphill from here. Uphill not because we are all pushing the rock with all of the effort we can muster in the ‘right’ direction but because some inventive lady is giving it an impetus in that direction because … why the hell would she kick it down? What would be the purpose, over time, of people to keep that bloody rock down in a valley of miseries when with less effort it can be hoisted to new heights?
What do I have to offer?
Fuck melancholic anarchists. Welcome to decadence!
Optimism is all I have to offer.
[Whilst writing this I was listening (again?) to Sonny Rollins, Soneymoon (it cheers me right up – what can I say!).]