Monday, July 28, 2008

Live Dangerously

If I were to look behind me and wonder, how I became the guy I am? Who influenced my thoughts to live the way I do, then I can say it without hesitation that it is Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. Paradoxically both were Germans. (Another German who inspired me during my childhood was Adolf Hitler, but later coming to understand his politics, Yuk!!! he is no more my hero) I will talk about Marx later. But today I will talk about Nietzsche.

I came across Nietzsche, with his quote ‘I am no man, I am dynamite’, with that I was hooked. And when he said ‘.. .believe me! - the secret of realizing the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment of existence is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships out into uncharted seas! Live in conflict with your equals and with yourselves! Be robbers and ravagers as long as you cannot be rulers and owners, you men of knowledge! The time will soon be past when you could be content to live conceal in the woods like timid deer!” with that I became his slave. The screen saver on my computer system has the words ‘ Live dangerously’ floating around.

And I believe that being true to oneself is to live dangerously , which Nietzsche was. I believe that with his statement that ‘God is dead” we enter into modernity. While there have been atheistic philosophers, but the impact of this statement is missing in them . It is missing because they offer some other substitute system to god , either society, science or something else. Nietzsche rips apart that comfort by making man responsible for himself and every individual responsible for himself though trapped in chaos . It is,Nietzsche's way of saying that the idea of God is no longer capable of acting as a source of any moral code or teleology as a comfort. He recognizes the crisis which the death of God represents, for existing moral considerations. The death of God is telling that humans are no longer able to believe in any such cosmic order since they themselves no longer recognize it. The death of God not just leads to the rejection of a belief of cosmic or physical order but is also to a rejection of absolute values - to the rejection of belief in an objective and universal moral law, binding upon all individuals. Verily one must have courage within oneself to dance with the stars and with existence.

Nietzsche believed there could be immense possibilities for humans without God. Relinquishing the belief in God opens the way for human abilities to fully develop. The recognition that "God is dead" is a freedom to become something new, different, creative, a freedom to be something without any predefinitions forced us to reject the baggage of the past which is be a heavy burden.

But the paradox is that we in our hearts don’t want freedom. We prefer to follow the the herd wearing blinkers. We live the lives which our fathers in their fear chose for us. Lives which was chosen by their forefathers. Is this all life is ? Living a life not by our making, and forcing our children to live their lives as per our fears, under the facade of freedom......

Freedom is the essence of the human situation. We are thrown in a situation not of our making, not by choice either. I can personally vouch for that. In the blink of an eye everything changes. What was a myth and something we could never have visualized becomes reality. Our reality. And the world does not really care and goes on its own way. This is the startling truth. So I don’t think there is anything called as absolute realty, for all times and all location. As Buddhism tells everything is impermanent, or annicca.

So that’s it in black and white , we are thrown into a world not of our choice nor our making but yet we are supposed to live by the rules which nobody has made, and which nobody really cares. And so how do we live? (I would rather phrase the question as why do we live? I have found no convincing answer for that except that it is given , period .) but back to my original question of how do we live, I just say “Live Dangerously’ , as i said I have it on my screensaver but I don't . And I live my life as almost everybody does...'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Link to Existentialism blog of the course participants

Now we have a digital space for the course participants of Certificate course in Existentialism. Congratulations to Ravi for mooting the idea and Kanasu for hoisting it and volunteering to be the admin.