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Patreon Q&A Sep 23: Integration, Disintegration, and Non-Zero-Sum Games.
And the value of both sickness and health.
Bold are questions. Everything else is my answers.
In your work you talk about both differentiation and integration. As a self-described schizoid, you are clearly highly differentiated. But do you believe you can be the hero/shaman if you're not integrated?
I am integrated. All of the "parts" of me are unified in the service of a single aim. That means there is little to no internal conflict in me. The internal conflicts that do arise are typically resolved quickly because I have a clear hierarchy of values. This is not to say that my hierarchy as it currently exists is infallible or unchangeable. It is only to say that at the moment I am not experiencing much negative emotion, which is typically the sign that you need to re-examine your beliefs/values. I feel good, whether anybody else feels good about me or not. I am integrated, whether it looks that way to you or not. That doesn't mean I get everything right or that I don't make mistakes. I get things wrong sometimes. I make mistakes. But that's just life. If other people don't like it, maybe they should look at their own shortcomings.
I'm sure I will disintegrate again in the future, but that's not happening right now.
If your communication style in your new mode of being reduces your connection into society, and also the spread of your message, is that a forward or backward step in your opinion?
I have no illusions about my "message" being palatable to most people. It's not for most people. I am not here to win popularity contests. I'm here to tell the truth as best I can. Maybe I'm not doing a good job of that, but I am trying. I feel good about my effort, although not necessarily about every product of that effort. I'm not going to hide my mistakes and I feel no need to apologize for them, at least not at the moment. If you don't feel good about my effort, there's not much I can do (or want to do) about that.
And does it represent the manifestation of a true positive-sum game?
Yep. Manifesting your potential in the world is a game that everyone can play. I want to see as many people manifest their potential as possible. Doing so requires shedding the assumptions of the "ascetic ideal" along with the belief systems that justify it. Doing so also means living with integrity. My goal is to undermine the ascetic ideal and facilitate the process by which people manifest their potential in as many human beings as I can. That is a non-zero-sum game. Everyone can win at that game.
At the same time, I want to win. What I mean is that I, too, want money and power and everything that comes with that. This is not in conflict with the fact that I want to make the world a better place for everyone. The fact that I want to win doesn't make the game I'm playing any less of a non-zero-sum game. The idea that any display of selfishness is evil is the basis for what Nietzsche called "slave morality", i.e., the ascetic ideal. The idea that "selfishness" is bad is an obstacle to optimal personality development. Being dishonest or phony is "bad", at least from my perspective. Honest selfishness is not bad.
Here is a nice paper about "healthy selfishness and pathological altruism".
Slave morality is the water you swim in, so I can understand why anything other than that may look unpalatable to you. I just don't care. And I don't care much about what others think about it either. I do want to make sure I am communicating clearly, but I recognize that my "message" won't be palatable to most people no matter how clearly I communicate it.
Nietzsche knew that as well. From "The Antichrist":
The conditions under which I am understood, and then of necessity—I know them only too well. One must be honest in matters of the spirit to the point of hardness before one can even endure my seriousness and my passion. One must be skilled in living on mountains —seeing the wretched ephemeral babble of politics and national self-seeking beneath oneself. One must have become indifferent; one must never ask if the truth is useful or if it may prove our undoing. The predilection of strength for questions for which no one today has the courage; the courage for the forbidden; the predestination to the labyrinth. An experience of seven solitudes. New ears for new music. New eyes for what is most distant. A new conscience for truths that have so far remained mute. And the will to the economy of the great style: keeping our strength, our enthusiasm in harness. Reverence for oneself; love of oneself; unconditional freedom before oneself.
Well then! Such men alone are my readers, my right readers, my predestined readers: what matter the rest? The rest—that is merely mankind. One must be above mankind in strength, in loftiness of soul—in contempt.
Such men alone are my readers too, are they not?
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I hate people who don't understand me. I don't. I just can't cater to them at the moment. Most people are going to judge me and hate me no matter what I do, so who cares? I'm going to say what I think, and let the chips fall where they may.
Let me reiterate. I'm not here to win popularity contests. It's unlikely that I will be "popular", at least not at first. I am not a "man of the people". I am not a guru. I am not Tony Robbins or Oprah. I am a lot more like Nietzsche. Nietzsche was basically unknown during his day. He died insane and alone. He died great.
I would gladly die insane and alone, as long as I achieved greatness along the way. This is not to say that I want to die insane and alone. It is also not to say that I will definitely achieve greatness. It is only to say that I am going to do what I think is right, and let the chips fall where they may. The reactions of other people are just not a big concern of mine.
Do you believe you are becoming more or less integrated-in-service as a result of your transition?
Integration is a process. I am integrated at the moment, but I will very likely disintegrate again in the future. Then I will re-constitute myself from that as well. And then I'll do it again.
And every time I do it, I'll be a little more complex than I was before. And a little more powerful. And a little more conscious. And a little more awake. And maybe even a little more wise, although I don't know about that.
Below is a long passage from John Richardson's book "Nietzsche's System", which I think adequately describes my attitude:
Like the slave, the overman experiences the world's flux quite directly: his drives tend to fly apart, and he suffers from their struggle. This flux within is his sickness. But he doesn't respond to this pain as the slave does, by blaming and attacking the drives that produce this flux and by trying to freeze himself into an objective or moral perspective (and activity) quite foreign to them. Nor indeed does he proceed as the master type has, by pruning his drives into a simpler and univalent set, able to maintain itself stably. He overcomes that painful disunity by creating a coherent practice that bears those opposites in a newfound but tentative balance. He creates this new self not to endure but in the expectation that it will be dissolved or disrupted by still-new forces and pressed into a still-higher synthesis with them.
Of course, the overman identifies with this practice he creates; he prides himself in the distinctive life he is making. But he loves it also for its roots and its fruits, for the different behaviors it's coming from and going toward. Thus he identifies across the borders of his own activity, thereby 'realizing' its true contextual identity. He acts in the view that his practice has come from and will go back into ways of life ambiguously other than this one that defines him. He makes his new self as out of something other and as on the way to becoming something other again. He shapes an organized viewpoint (and practice) out of the disparate forces he finds at hand, giving these parts a richer expression and sense. But he shapes this viewpoint not as an end or culmination but as one to be given a richer sense in turn, by being itself destroyed and replaced.
This shows how he grasps his behavior as a becoming: from one other, toward another other. He experiences not just the 'internal' temporal rhythm to his way of life but the 'external' temporal flow by which it's generated and destroyed. He's not, like the master, quite 'habituated to' or 'immersed within' his current activity. He wills destruction, death, and going under as the master doesn't: he strives to create a self, but one he intends to dissolve into suffering conflict again, for the sake of one still further. This makes his own temporal structure transparent to him: he acknowledges the relevance to what he is of a differing past and future, acknowledges this not consciously but in how he wills.
By reaching this way across the borders of his self, the overman's will has great temporal stretch. But it has it another way, too: the overman is also defined by his special social role, by how he shapes his society's overall course. He does for it just what he does for himself: he creates for it, too, a great health, out of the nihilism he finds it in. This is why he's [in Nietzsche's words] "a world-ruling spirit, a destiny". His being the overman, and the highest type, lies not just in what he is or how he wills 'in himself' but in this role he plays, in his place in a context, which is what we expect, of course, from that contextual ontology we've already found in Nietzsche. The overman 'is' (partly) what he brings his society from and then toward.
So he has in fact two roles: he's the announcer of nihilism or the death of God, the destroyer of resentment's values [i.e., slave morality, the ascetic ideal], and he's the creator of new and healthier values. He's the one who tips a nihilistic society over into a new health.
Of course, from the perspective of a nihilistic society, that "new health" will look like insanity, or worse. Oh well. I'm planted in the ground and I'm not going anywhere.