Posted by Danielle J Haliczer on July 29, 2003 at 22:25:25:
There is a quagmire of thought out there, and demagogues raising their heads again - I've been around, and finally I get it I think, thinking is a bit of a problem itself - and I've written this piece but it isn't finished yet. I seek a fraternity of mankind against violence. Anyway, tell me what you think, note also the similarity between Herman Hesse the author - book "If the War Goes On", in relation to the USA...
Equality, Freedom, Justice.
Three Blind Mice - See how they run!!
These 'notions' have driven the evolution of man from what is known of written human history, and certainly what has been explored in anthropology, and anthropological psychology.
To mans own detriment he has qualified the attainment of these three ’notions’ with material gain, at least in the same one sided precept as dominion.
In the dawning of his species - the first Homo sapiens, these would have been more like image-concepts.
We can see that the human brain had developed an ability compensating and commensurate with mans weak stature among and against other species in striving for survival.
Homo Sapiens developed a stretched lapse of reason based on a substrate of mind which allowed a lengthier reflective capacity than other animals that we know of, hence, ‘means to an end‘.
This also allowed for an immense capacity to reflect sensations, to feel pain.
At the very least man inherited his limbic brain, impulses common to animals for survival - Freeze, Fight, Flight and Mating. Man also become an intensely emotional being, the human species has more nervous tissue and a final concentration of it in the brain so that together with a reflective capacity, memory, he has a great capacity to reflect the world.
His ability to hesitate and think, guarded his survival from Homo Sapien to the man of learning, talking, creating, writing.
This dual capacity to feel and hesitating ability to question lent itself to adaptation in a hostile environment enabling his survival through three elementary concepts, most likely preceding thought or word precepts:
1) Safe Dwelling / Cave / Home / Land
2) Tools / Weapons for defence
3) Group behaviour to preserve his species
One of the best films ever made to allude to this struggle was “Quest for Fire”.
Now poised on the brink of annihilation of his kind, he must reconsider what future survival requires, given wars will not cease if freedom remains associated with the gaining of lands and resources, for the whole earth and the majority of mankind bleeds for the very elementary concepts that preserved him in his infancy - but as an adult - have not served him well as a coping strategy.
I would argue that man is still an infant. I understand that the emotional capacity is foremost in intelligence, and in denying or hiding from this, man has not grown up, he is still an infant hiding behind tools, and doctrines - unfortunately the tools are nuclear weapons and the prevailing doctrines that seize men in the hour of horror and poverty are doctrines of violence and hate. They guarantee an abysmal future if at all for our children and all life.
Can man become humane?
Can man overcome the legacy of his evolutionary development, including the whole of written history?
The so called ‘progress’ that has lead us to the brink of annihilation must itself be questioned.
What is progress?
If man is not content with his lot and if he continues to consider these ‘notions’ in a one sided manner, that is materialistically - the machines of war at his disposal in the present time, will certainly dispose of him.
I would also argue that ‘considering’ is worth consideration itself.
All fallen empires and nations rush to save themselves.
I hold ‘consideration’ blind in so much as the whole reality of the state of the planet has poised men as if like a mouse feigning death before a predatory Cat. Frozen in fear.
This is elementary psychology, the four ‘f’s as they are known: Flight, Fight, Freeze and mating.
FREEZE is the most common when the predator has or at least appears to have overwhelming odds against its prey. Furthermore, predators require privacy in order to desecrate their prey.
We have been conditioned to think less of our emotions if not dull them or make theatre of them, and fear is the most prevalent current today, evidenced in all arenas of human thinking that seem stung by rather absurd questions and arguments of old, as if old men were holding a conference on the precipice of the abyss - that thought is a prisoner if you like, hiding, stale, frozen, and unyielding to the plight of mankind.
Let them dance the night away, and hold conferences forever and a day, while they do not bare a relationship to the suffering and plight of mankind, let their volumes of thought and doctrines gather in the libraries for future consideration while those acting for the survival of humanity now, may later refine their manners and adopt the correct paradigm that such fruits have borne.
Nations - Adult Infants in a Vicious Play Ground
I do not believe that any Nations or Empires in fact, the whole cannon of human history which has associated ‘liberty’, ‘freedom’, and ‘equality’, with machines of war and money bags, is no different than nor grander than the other, and it is shameful that they carry on much like school children, hurling epithets, ganging up on each other, and yet all these countries have post-war dreams that went amiss, hopes, and some not even the chance at that, the third world turned to dust bowls.
Yet all these peoples teach their children to play fairly and share and mature - who is fooling who?
Each step in our ability to ’perfect’ ourselves, from primitive tool making to gun powder, and modern science today, and equally in the gift and cunning of consciousness, that man is able to build thinking machines, has delivered artifice that is quite breathtaking.
This spiral of ‘progress’ has at the same time, with every revolution, increased the disproportion between man to such a profound magnitude - for the masses of mankind we see exactly the opposite of what history promised:
Striving for equality and freedom from want, we have on an immense scale delivered to the masses of mankind: Inequality, Injustice, and extreme material privation.
Only a few men are now at the top of this ‘civilization’, but they are prisoners none the less, having no control over when or how it will crash and which of them will fall from grace. I find it unreasonable to argue they are ‘evil’ anymore than previous classes riding waves of revolt to different forms of economy.
Previous runs of history have already shown that the type of liberty they enjoy is despotic, sycophantic and mistrustful.
Surrounded by a sea of human want they barricade themselves in, and are deprived of the ‘equality’ with other men that perhaps they hoped the previous revolution which rose them to power would bring.
They are far from emancipated, equal, and prisoners of mistrust. I do not despise them, they are simply products of the past as are we all : Each generation fashioning the future of the next, constricting it none the less. It is on a microcosmic and macrocosmic level the victim who is able to stop the pattern, that is, to cast a different pebble into the current.
Men have prevailed against incredible adversity with little on the plate. There are notable exceptions, the most noteworthy of all being Jesus Christ, and the many thousands upon thousands whom history has not noted, but whose humanity breathed the will to live in other men under tremendous conditions of want, suffering, injustice and cruelty.
Are these Humane men pure melancholy of the past?
The only non-arbitrary question that divides mankind now, is how to attain peace.
I would argue that Jesus Christs mission when he went out into the wilderness to be ‘tempted’ by ‘Satan’ was an attempt in fact to show fellow man that thirst, hunger, and material privation do not enslave a man, rather man can prevail with his humanity over material want.
I can see from his writings that did not ‘agree’ with oppression any more than Martin Luther King or Gandhi or the Dali Lama. It is in their understanding that masses of man, in the time of Jesus Christ and certainly today, cannot be jettisoned to peace.
If somehow all were free of material want, what of their natures? There conditioning from their past?
I understand then that the seemingly ‘impossible’ pebble thrown into the current, as Herman Hesse put it, of being Humane and striving through peaceful means to endure whatever the cost, will leave the next generation the nature to cope and be commensurate with that future.
I feel history ringing out a certain pattern - “please do not repeat me”. Can we get to a peaceful future without violence?
A man can choose to starve rather than steal or kill his brother and by that measure not add to the suffering of other men with vice and inhumanity.
The same theme is explored again and again throughout time before the time of Jesus Christ and certainly after.
In the words of Dostoyevski, “The Brother’s Karamasov”
“Fathers and teacher, I am thinking, what is hell? And I am reasoning thus: The suffering that comes from the consciousness that one is no longer able to love.”
“The whole purpose of man surely consists in proving to himself that his a man and not a cog in a machine.”
“At some ideas you stand perplexed, especially at the sight of human sins, uncertain whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide, ‘I will combat it with humble love,’ If you make up your mind about that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force; it is the strongest of all things and there is nothing like it.”
He like many others, saw a different current, a wave, which beguiles men, the human ego, the wave of human emotion.
Emotions, that humane self that is too shameful to admit of, and we have made a theatre of it instead. Musicians and poets and artists and actors, and are ourselves an audience on our own emotions.
We are frozen much like many men in Germany, dying inside as they saw fellow men tortured, asking themselves, will I risk my own family by helping that person, or will I turn my back for a temporal certainty of my survival? What was the cost?
There were many Germans who fought the demagogue Hitler, but they were too few, and I imagine the rest of Germans afraid if they stood up, their family would suffer.
One man suffered incredibly for the sake of his conscience, his understanding of humanity, and he was very much alone.
I quote at length the German poet an writer, Herman Hesse (1877-1962), who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, received the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt in 1946 and the Peace Prize of the German Booksellers in 1955.
“The truth is simply that money, power and all the possessions for which men torment and ultimately shoot each other mean little to one who has come to himself, to a self-willed man. He values only one thing, the mysterious power in himself which bids him live and helps him to grow. This power can be neither preserved nor increased nor deepened by money and power, because money and power are the inventions of distrust. Those who distrust the life-giving force within them, or who have none, are driven to compensate through such substitutes as money.” p 83 Essay entitled ‘Self-Will’ from the book “If the War Goes On”
Writing on Hesse, Steven Gilbar, 1974 - Several of Hesse's novels depict the protagonist's journey into the inner self. A spiritual guide assists the hero in his quest for self-knowledge and shows the way beyond the world "deluded by money, number and time."
"For even the most childish intoxication with progress will soon be forced to recognize that writing and books have a function that is eternal. It will become evident that formulations in words and the handling on of these formulations through writing are not only important aids but actually the only means by which humanity can have a history and continuing consciousness of itself."
(Hesse in Reading in Bed, ed. by Steven Gilbar, 1974). See ….. http://www…..
Note in his autobiography that he also professes his philosophical influences were Benedict de Spinoza who has been revived at this point in time, and it is not an accident that all human thinking converges when the question of the survival of this species is at stake.
Can we grow up?
The whole era of enlightenment is coming under fire.
Men who talk about humanity are being called ‘obscurantists’ and ‘moralisers’ and certainly ‘ignorant’ and ‘god fearing’ as well.
How can the epithets cease with such a calamity at hand?
The very conditions that lead to the rise of Hitler prevail again in the United States of America.
Cowardice is Bravery
A million Herman Hesse’s would have turned the tide. He called for Germany to be a coward and suffer the mockery of other nations.
He asked that a whole people learn as we expect our children to do, they cannot have everything. To learn humility, to be capable of sharing. To accept grief as an opportunity to learn. To grow up.
Can this great nation formed from children of all our countries - rise to the occasion?
We must support anyone in her ranks who sees the melee, and is willing to eat bitter fruit now for the sake of themselves and all mankind, and we with them.
It is always easy for man to think freely when times are good, there are no demagogues, no cries for action, no herd instinct. When times get tough, history shows only that man acts like a herd.
There are megalomaniacs on all sides, in Herman Hesse’s eyes, these were Nationalism and Technologists.
Will we imitate history, or uphold the foundations upon which the USA fatherland was built?
Thomas Paine - “Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern for it; but I should suffer the misery of devils were I to make a whore of my soul.”
Abraham Lincoln - “Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It seeks no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessors, however illustrious. It thirst and burns for distinctions….”
I would ask anyone in the world to read at least this one book, if just this essay by Herman Hesse, “If the War Goes On” - specifically, “Zarathustra’s Return”.
Herman Hesse - The Duality of Man
Hesse poses the man of action, the herd instinct, as Horace the poet before the time of JC put it “Oh Imitators, you slavish herd!“
"The few capacities and pursuits in which I happened to be strong had occupied all my attention, and I had painted a picture of myself as a person who was in fact nothing more than a most refined and educated specialist in poetry, music and philosophy; and as such I had lived, leaving all the rest of me to be a chaos of potentialities, instincts and impulses which I found an encumbrance and gave the label of Steppenwolf." Haller feels that he has two beings inside him, and faces his shadow self, named Hermine. This Doppelgänger figure introduces Harry to drinking, dancing, music, sex, and drugs. Finally his personality is disassembled and reassembled in the 'Magic Theatre' - For Madmen Only.
"There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself."
Are we a Herd?
“Oh imitators, you slavish herd”.
- Horace (Poet, 65 BC - 8BC)
This is the man that in the hour of desperation, reaches for his purse, marches on other nations in the name of freedom as it has been for all time. Marxism or Capitalism - both emancipation from want. Both seize men to win lands and so forth in their hour of utter deprivation and horror.
They do not count on the individual. They count on the herd.
One of my favourite authors, Colin Wilson in his book “A Criminal History of Mankind” who has spent much time working with the FBI and speaking with serial killers, as well as being a prolific writer - associates this herd instinct, the infant man that has not learned to suffer and play fair, in fact operates much like the mind of a criminal. It is a temporal insanity of sorts, magical thinking, short
sighted and always self-defeating.
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