Unreal Nature

January 4, 2015

He Cannot Do Without

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

… Never again would you rest in an infinite confidence, you renounce abiding with a last wisdom, a last goodness, a last power, and unharnessing your thoughts.

This is from the essay ‘On Nietzsche’s Side’ found in The Work of Fire by Maurice Blanchot (1949):

… And thus [Nietzsche] comes to recommend patience against oneself as a technique, the will to “take sides against one’s inclinations,” the search in oneself for what is dangerously opposed to oneself.

… In no way can the idea of the Death of God be the expression of a definitive knowledge, or the outline of a stable proposition. Anyone who wants to draw certainty from it, some “There is no God” in the dogmatic sense of banal atheism, it cunningly deflects away from complacency and calm. “God is dead” is an enigma, an assertion ambiguous because of its religious origin, its dramatic form, the literary myths it follows upon (Jean-Paul’s, for example, or Hölderlin’s). The parodic parable that Nietzsche once used proclaims this ambiguous quality. In the parable, men are prisoners. Jesus is the son of their warden. Yet this warden dies just at the instant when his son announces to the men: “I will make all those who believe in me free, as surely as my father lives.” We see the entangled nature of the situation: to be free, one must have faith in the warden’s son and that this warden is alive; but if he is dead, the men are not freed, Christ’s promise is no longer worth anything; without a warden, the prison becomes eternal. Naturally, the parable also has this other meaning: that men cannot win their freedom from a strange phrase, but from the awareness that the warden is dead.

… “God is dead” cannot live in Nietzsche as knowledge bringing an answer, but as the refusal of an answer, the negation of a salvation, the “no” he utters to this grandiose permission to rest, to unload oneself onto an eternal truth, which is God for him. “God is dead” is a task, a task that has no end.

… But, finally, what does Nietzsche say about the Superman? Exactly what he says about the gods: “Always, we are lured higher, up to the realm of the clouds: there we put our motley empty theories, and now they take on the name of Gods and Supermen — are they not pleasurably light, just what is right for such thrones, all these gods and supermen? Ah, how tired I am of all that is insufficient!” And of the eternal Return? “Perhaps there is nothing true in that — let others fight about it.” And of the Will to power? “Power makes one stupid. … Power is tiresome. … Would we want a world in which the action of the weak, their freedom, their reserve, their spirituality, their adaptability would be lacking?” And of the possibility of renouncing God? “You would never pray again. … Never again would you rest in an infinite confidence, you renounce abiding with a last wisdom, a last goodness, a last power, and unharnessing your thoughts. Man of renouncing, are you ready to renounce everything? Who will give you the strength? No one has yet had this strength.” And finally of the collection of his “truths”? “My life is now all in this wish that things be very much other than the way I conceive them, and that someone would make me disbelieve my truths.”

… we see why the negation of God never arrives at its end. It is because all that is question in God, exhausting enigma, interrogation, remains valid for Nietzsche, who adopts it as his own, under other names and often under the name of God. [ … ] On the contrary, all that is answer in God, solution to his enigma, cure for his wound, is pushed away as a cowardly, deceiving subterfuge, an illusory base thrown into the abyss. On the other hand, as God is never an answer separated from the question, affirmation without negation, the movement of surpassing endlessly finds obliquely what it rejects, by its ambiguous tendency to give itself and experience itself as absolute. Jaspers wonders if the negation of God, in Nietzsche, is not the restlessness, always in movement, of a search for God that no longer understands itself.

… he feels he is God’s accomplice, not because he seeks God without knowing it, as Jaspers tends to say, or because he cannot do without the affirmation of God, but because he cannot do without the negation of God.




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