Bakker and Nietzsche

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What Came Before

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« on: May 14, 2013, 09:31:34 pm »
Quote from: Auriga
My second "Bakker and.." thread.

What influences from Nietzsche's philosophy can we see in Bakker's books, and what parallels?

The most obvious one is Kellhus and his embodiment of the Nietzschean overman, a person who is totally unbound by morality and has complete control over himself, letting him control others. If I remember right, the first PON book opens with a Nietzsche quote.

Any other ideas?

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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2013, 09:31:41 pm »
Quote from: Galbrod
This is a great thred to start! In addition to the series opening up with a Nietzsche quote (as mentioned above), the books are packed with ideas and concepts that are (in my mind) close to the reasoning of Nietzsche. You can for example compare the central theme of before-after in the series to the following ideas of Nietzsche:

"Cause and effect: such a duality probably never exists; in truth we are confronted by a continuum out of which we isolate a couple of pieces, just as we perceive motion only as isolated points and then infer it without ever actually seeing it. The suddenness with which many effects stand out misleads us; actually, it is sudden only for us. In this moment of suddenness there are an infinite number of processes which elude us. An intellect that could see cause and effect as a continuum and a flux and not, as we do, in terms of an arbitrary division and dismemberment, would repudiate the concept of cause and effect and deny all conditionality."

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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2013, 09:31:46 pm »
Quote from: Meyna
+1 Galbrod. Wow. I never thought the Nietzschean undertones were so strong in the Dunyain philosophy.

+1 Auriga, too, for starting the thread and making the original connection.

Ninja Edit: Overman and Uberman are the same thing :lol:

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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2013, 09:31:50 pm »
Quote from: Auriga
Quote from: Meyna
Wow. I never thought the Nietzschean undertones were so strong in the Dunyain philosophy.

Yeah, the Dûnyain ideology is fairly Nietzschean - they've taken his premise of "God is dead, so there is no true morality other than rational self-interest" to its logical extreme. They also seem to follow Nietzsche's idea that true enlightenment can't be attained humanely, so they've bred themselves into something beyond human. And, like true ubermenschen, they've erased all ethics and morals in themselves, which are just obstacles in their path to the Logos.

(Of course, you can argue that there's no such thing as a totally amoral organism, just as there's no such thing as an absolutely indifferent mind. Life is a manifestation of need, after all, and so it is by definition caring. Even if this care and love is only towards the self.)

Nietzsche also said this, in his "Beyond Good and Evil":

I never tire of underlining a concise little fact which these superstitious people are loath to admit — namely, that a thought comes when “it” wants, not when “I” want . . .

So, the Dûnyain are turning themselves into self-controlled minds who have thoughts only when and how they want. Kellhus is pretty much the embodiment of what Nietzsche called the "Apollonian" soul - the will to overcome, to dominate, to force chaos into order.

(Cnaiur, on the other hand, is closer to what Nietzsche called the "Dionysian", the irrational and disorderly. He's described in pretty Nietzschean terms - we hear that Cnaiur "looks down on all outlanders as though from the summit of some godless mountain.")

Quote
Overman and Uberman are the same thing


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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:00 pm »
Quote from: Madness
That quote from Beyond Good and Evil is the Nietzsche quote from the beginning of TDTCB ;).

That cat should be an emoticon.

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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:04 pm »
Quote from: Bakker User
Quote from: Auriga
(Of course, you can argue that there's no such thing as a totally amoral organism, just as there's no such thing as an absolutely indifferent mind. Life is a manifestation of need, after all, and so it is by definition caring. Even if this care and love is only towards the self.)

Though couched in somewhat different terms, this is essentially one of the biggest puzzles about the Dunyain for me, especially given Bakker's other writing.

But I should bring up another thread for that.

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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:09 pm »
Quote from: Galbrod
Life would only be a manifestation of need under the condition that identity is established which, in its turn, require memory. If there is no recollection of events leading up to a certain point in time, even caring for one self becomes an impossibility. Thus the tragic fate of the nonmen erratics and their (from the outside) gradually more depraved behaviour becoms a rather natural effect of their lapse of memory - moving from caring individuals (even if only caring for themselves) towards step by step transforming into beings of pure becoming.

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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:14 pm »
Quote from: Auriga
Quote from: Galbrod
Life would only be a manifestation of need under the condition that identity is established which, in its turn, require memory. If there is no recollection of events leading up to a certain point in time, even caring for one self becomes an impossibility. Thus the tragic fate of the nonmen erratics and their (from the outside) gradually more depraved behaviour becoms a rather natural effect of their lapse of memory - moving from caring individuals (even if only caring for themselves) towards step by step transforming into beings of pure becoming.

Tr00 dat. In many ways, the Nonmen's loss of memory is a form of death. Their personalities are lost, to the point that they become beings that only experience but don't really live, since they don't have any true "self" as a point of reference.

(Which is also why I find most ideas about the afterlife a bit dumb. There is obviously something beyond death, but it won't really be me experiencing it, since all my physical senses and memory will be gone. What makes us into who we are, after all, is just configurations of neurons. The atheist fear of "eternal darkness after death" is equally stupid, since I won't have a physical mind that experiences this black void. I do believe in a continued existence after death, in some state or other, but the "self" will have transformed into something else. Anyways, I'm just rambling here, and this convo about death and the afterlife is a bit off-topic to my Nietzsche-thread.)

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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:19 pm »
Quote from: Auriga
Any more thoughts on Nietzschean themes in PON?

IMO, there's a pretty interesting parallel between Nietzsche's fate and Kellhus' at the end of TTT. As we all know, Nietzsche went insane at the end of his life when trying to rewrite the superego (as his worldview was all about gaining mastery and  freeing the individual from the restraints of the ego).

Similarly, Moenghus says that Kellhus has gone insane from seeing the Thousandfold Thought. To us readers, it seems that Kellhus is the height of sanity and pure reason, but Moenghus might prove to be right. Did this also remind you guys of Nietzsche?

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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:24 pm »
Quote from: Madness
Quote from: Auriga
Tr00 dat. In many ways, the Nonmen's loss of memory is a form of death. Their personalities are lost, to the point that they become beings that only experience but don't really live, since they don't have any true "self" as a point of reference.

This - this is what led to my if Dunyain conditioned Ishual and taught them [beings that only experience but don't really live] that they could develop new entities [self as a point of reference], diminishing or living off of the pain of their "past" selves - the "selves" of the original Nonmen.

Also, I apologize, Auriga, I just don't know enough/haven't understood enough Nietzsche to really comment.

What you write seems internally valid though :).

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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:30 pm »
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote
Overman and Uberman are the same thing

(I think it's Neil Cassidy's cat)

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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2013, 09:32:35 pm »
Quote from: Meyna
Quote from: Callan S.
Quote
Overman and Uberman are the same thing

(I think it's Neil Cassidy's cat)

Linking to that site is broken, it seems. Here is the image again:

Anyway, I do hope I'm right in thinking that there are no differences between Overman and Uberman, save translation the cat picture captured my reaction, in any case  :D

HeartofKoringhus

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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2022, 05:13:11 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
« Last Edit: November 24, 2022, 05:21:46 pm by Madness »