Monday, August 26, 2013

The Human Condition

"All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment."
- Nietzsche, Zarathustra

It's always an infuriatingly disjunctive experience to hear people very reasonably stating unreasonable things. And no, I'm not talking about old Fritz.
As is evident from their tone and content, my "humanity" posts are almost always immediately caused by some snippet of world events or commentary on same which has infuriated me. More often than not, they come about as I sit at my computer losing yet another match of various strategy games while listening to the audio of some video online.

The previous post and this one both come on the heels of speeches by the religious side of this debate. That I am getting it half a dozen years out of date, you must forgive. We escapists are an insulated lot by design.

Much of the argument for the use of social ills boils down to an attempt at inducing surrender in progressives.
"You cannot live without religion. You cannot live without corporations. You cannot live without armies. You cannot live without boy-bands. No matter how much we screw you over, you have no choice but to bend over and take it."
This is the "human condition" argument, the argument that we as individuals are housed in human bodies and that our nature is therefore inescapably human with all its animal tendencies and that nature is unchangeable, that it makes universal, eternal, inescapable demands.

This is in itself a religious attitude: "as it was, so shall it ever be." It is testament (as is the term testament itself, by-the-by) to the deep scars left by the dark ages in our communal accumulation of knowledge. Such absolutism evidences the senility of the wisdom of the ages.
I will not enumerate the many aspects of our society which would seem unconditionally inhuman to a 1st-century b.c.e. rabbi. Even without addressing the validity of intrinsic humanity as a concept, it should be obvious that the qualities presented as intrinsic at various points in history are mere fads in the greater scheme of intellectual advancement. We can and must expand this to include such classic universals as faith or love or the quality termed "humanity" itself.

We exist not on one continuum but many.
There is the proliferation of life which should be seen not as a conglomeration and interaction of discrete species but as a continual diversification of a single flow of genetic variation. We are all that single primordial replicant eating itself, breeding with itself, growing itself.
There is the capacity for information processing, from crystal resonance to the feedback loops within a single living cell to the attraction/avoidance patterns of simple minds like fish, lizards, dogs and capitalists to the truer awareness of a Siddhartha Gautama and beyond to those born and unborn for whom the grand questions of philosophy are mere quasi-superstitious waffling.
There is the spread and diversification of culture, of communication living through us, from the changing character of a dog pack to chimps' various fads in tool-making to libations wasted on stone altars and slogans shouted in grimy industrial-age city streets to the incarnate zeitgeist of something like the Internet.
The least evident perhaps, and the most thrilling, is the continuum of identity itself. If is fallacious to say that we possess consciousness. We are consciousness housed in a physical body. We are the tail, and on a good day we can wag the dog. The more we shift along this continuum, the less relevant our outward human form becomes.

The only constant is change. If we define monsters as inhuman, then we are all monsters by the standards of our forebears. Ask your Habilis Hominid ancestors if you don't believe me. To advance, we must not fear our monstrous natures. If it is inhuman to deny faith, then be inhuman. Be the monster tearing others' safety blankets to tatters. You are not losing any more than you are gaining. You are only shifting yourself imperceptibly forward along one of your many axes. However there is something even less human than being a monster, and that is denying the truth of change; it's the illusion of stagnation. We cannot exist in a thermodynamic equilibrium, either as individuals or societies. We slide backwards or forwards in some way with everything we do. Your choice is not between being human or monstrous. It is between being a monster, or dead. Humanity is an illusion.

We are told that humans cannot be fair or kind or creative without religion or greed or outward control, among many other supposed absolutes.
Because these absolutes are human.
Yet many of us are already doing just fine without subscribing to those absolutes.
What are we then?

I for one am Werwolfe. Now you know one of the reasons for this, my assumed, chosen, true identity. I am the shifting, inhuman monster, bestial and transcendent, sub and super-human at the same time. And I only wish I could bite a few people now and then.

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