Second Apocalypse and Philosophy

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  • Emwama
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« on: November 24, 2022, 05:14:55 am »
Hi everyone! I know this sight might be dead and the No-God series some far-off, fragmentary thing, but I thought it might be nice to reread the PON and AE series and try to find direct textual evidence for what might be philosophical 'inspirations'/basis for the world and thought of the books. There are of course more general comments that can be made, as many have discussed in this very website. However, as someone pursuing philosophy as a profession, I am interested in Bakker's use of fantasy as a vehicle for speculation.

This is something I've just started to delve into in more detail, as prior readings of the series involved little more than recognition of connections, as opposed to deliberate investigation and rumination. I was reading Nietzsche's second essay in On The Genealogy of Morals when I stumbled across a few couple and longer passages that seem to explain some of the reasoning behind the Nonmen's view of themselves in relation to humans, as well as their slow fall into insanity. This is a bit of writing, but I do think it is illuminating, so I'll include more for the sake of those without a copy (Ecce Homo/Genealogy Kaufman edition) First:

"If we place ourselves at the end of this tremendous process, where the tree at last brings forth fruit, where society and the morality of custom at last reveal what they have been the means to: then we discover that the ripest fruit is the autonomous individual, like only to himself, liberated again from morality of custom, autonomous and supramoral (For 'autonomous' and 'moral' are mutually exclusive), in short, the man who has his own independent, protracted will and *the right to make promises*--and in him a proud consciousness, quivering in every muscle, of what has at length been achieved and become flesh in him, a consciousness of his own power and freedom, a sensation of mankind come to completion. This emancipated individual, with the actual *right* to make promises, this master of a freewill--this sovereign man--how should he not be aware of his superiority over all those who lack the right to make promises and stand as their own guarantors, of how much trust, of how much fear, how much reverence he arouses--he 'deserves' all three, and how this mastery of himself necessarily gives him mastery of circumstances, over nature, and over all more short-willed and unreliable creatures?"

"The 'free' man, the possessor of a protracted and unbreakable will, also possesses his measure of value: looking out upon others from himself, he honors or he despises; and just as he is bound to honor his peers, the strong and reliable (those with the right to make promises)—that is, all those who promise like sovereigns, reluctantly, rarely, slowly, who are chary of trusting, whose trust is a mark of distinction, who give their word as something that can be relied on because they know themselves strong enough to maintain it in the face of accidents, even “in the face of fate”—-he is bound to reserve a kick for the feeble windbags who promise without the right to do so, and a rod for the liar who breaks his word even at the moment he utters it. The proud awareness of the extraordinary privilege of responsibility, the consciousness of this rare freedom, this power over oneself and over fate, has in his case penetrated to the profoundest depths and become instinct, the dominating instinct. What will he call this dominating instinct, supposing he feels the need to give it a name? The answer is beyond doubt: this sovereign man calls it his conscience"

"“How can one create a memory for the human animal? How can one impress something upon this partly obtuse, partly flighty mind, attuned only to the passing moment, in such a way that it will stay there?”

Pg. 61: "One can well believe that the answers and methods for solving this primeval problem were not precisely gentle; perhaps indeed there was nothing more fearful and uncanny in the whole prehistory of man than his mnemotechnics. “If something is to stay in the memory it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory”—this is a main clause of the oldest (unhappily also the most enduring) psychology on earth. One might even say that wherever on earth solemnity, seriousness, mystery, and gloomy coloring still distinguish the life of man and a people, something of the terror that formerly attended all promises, pledges, and vows on earth is still effective: the past, the longest, deepest and sternest past, breathes upon us and rises up in us whenever we become “serious.” Man could never do without blood, torture, and sacrifices when he felt the need to create a memory for himself; the most dreadful sacrifices and pledges (sacrifices of the first-born among them), the most repulsive mutilations (castration, for example), the crudest rites of all the religious cults (and all religions are at the deepest level systems of cruelties)—all this has its origin in the instinct that realized that pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics."

There are further section that discuss asceticism which I found interesting in justifying the similarity observed by Achamian between (1) the Nonmen philosophy and religion explicated by Nil'giccas in his speeches to the scalping company (also obviously as a judge Holden analog) and (2) Dûnyain philosophy/system of beliefs.

The above sections seem, for me, to be extremely beneficial in understanding the Nonmen as a nonhuman race with distinct psychological characteristics distinct from humans, which expresses itself in substantial alienness being ascribed to how they behave (in comparison particularly to humans). That is because the Nonmen are biologically a race of Nietzsche's 'free men', at least in affect if not totally in having qualities like genuine free will. Are humans not painted as precisely these "short-willed and unreliable creatures", in comparison to the strong and proud race of the Nonmen? Their culture is one composed entirely, either out of biological necessity or enculturation, individuals who can make promises, be absolutely assure and affirming of their freedom and power and the decision's following. This points to explaining why the Nonmen are so proud, viewing their actions, in comparison to humans, as 'always a choice' (this is I think was mentioned by Moenghus's torturer or somebody in Ishterebinth). The constant comments made by the Nonmen in seeing humans as being like flames quickly snuffing out, as being innocent in a way despite their obvious flaws (like troubled children we continue to love). However this pride in light of the 'fear and reverence' inspired by the superiority of the Nonmen also expresses itself in their 'dominating' instinct in a 'noble', warrior virtue talked about by Nietzsche, which prides those who act precisely as one who can 'make promises' on the basis of their autonomous power as an agent, as a free person. The problem, however, is that for humanity, this ideal is not expressed in biological necessity or totalizing enculturation, but as an extremely unlikely and contingent possibility. 'Weaknesses' for the Nonmen would simply be daily examples of faults in human agency, contradictions in judgments, unauthenticity in action, and our more general moral, as opposed to supramoral (the will to power is amoral) conceptions. I thought this was an interesting way of viewing the Nonmen, as a race of 'noble' individuals, but also as embodiments of Nietzschean conception of what constitutes genuine 'humanity', which diverges in its ammoral character. The Nonmen appear alien in presentation could be then a product of their inherent amorality, as simply lacking the conception of good or evil so definitive of Nietzsche's genealogy.

Regarding the Nonmen's madness, it primarily stems from Nietzsche's conception of forgetfulness and memory. Forgetfulness is a beneficial process for Nietzsche, which allows one to exist in the present, to distinguish time and to allow for a continual/sustainable processing of sense experience. Memory is unique then for Nietzsche, being "an active desire to not rid oneself, a desire for the continuance of something desired once, a real memory of the will." When reading this passage my mind went surprisingly to the Nonmen, as I was just starting my reread. Is the Dolour not the negation of this 'memory of the will'? After the Womb plague and the wars with the Inchoroi and the fall to Men, the Nonmen are almost in a permanent racial trauma, a heart wrenching tragic fall from grace, where the millennia have robbed them of any capacity to experience 'an active desire to not rid oneself' of any particular moment. This then produces the problem of memory and the Nonmen's sanity. In being incapable of actively forming new memories (the extent to which this is true is arguable), the Nonmen are attempting to hold on to past memories as a means of structuring new experiences. This produces a continuous and exponential reduction in how real the experience of the Nonmen, to mean real experience as present and actual experience (in the narrative for example) as opposed to memories. Page 61 clearly seems to provide, if we take these previous arguments to be true, that the Nonmen engage in violence and degradation precisely as discussed in the narrative under largely Nietzschean notions. As a side note this reference to "where solemnity, seriousness, mystery, and gloomy coloring still distinguish the life of man and a people" can apply at least on the surface to the aesthetic character of the Nonmen.

Okay that was a huge nerd out I'm sorry lol. Most likely no one will even read this but it was nice even so to express this in writing

[EDIT (Madness): I fixed your one open italics tag.]
« Last Edit: November 24, 2022, 04:55:12 pm by Madness »


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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2022, 06:24:05 pm »
Some here do still read!


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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2022, 06:01:22 pm »
People do still read things here, if less frequently than a few years ago. Unfortunately I'm not much of a philosophy buff so I can't really direct the conversation further. I do appreciate the words, nice to read you.
One of the other conditions of possibility.