The Cave Of False Consciousness, V of IX

Posted by on April 15th, 2010 at 10:00 AM

“Whither is God” he cried.  “I shall tell you. We have killed him
you and I.  All of us are his murderers.  But how have we done this?
How were we able to drink up the sea?  Who gave us the sponge
to wipe away the entire horizon?  What did we do when we unchained
the world from its sun?  Whither is it moving now?  Away from all suns?
. . . Is there any up or down left?  Are we not straying as through
an infinite nothing?”

(The Gay Science #125, Kaufmann tr.)

For Nietzsche it took a “madman” to declare the most blatant of modern actualities, “the death of God.”  For archetypal truths demand anomalous heralds, most of all they demand original minds bearing the least burden of institutionally conferred respectability and authority.  Count on it that moderns as moderns could never comprehend what “God” ever actually signified in human consciences or cultures:  Nietzsche’s revelation is not about the inadvertent “loss” of faith or belief, it is rather about what subjectivizing faith and belief —constitutionally incompetent as they are to perceive or comprehend any kind of Whole or Logos whatsoever—have so viciously done to the very possibility of “the divine” or “the transcendent” in the first place, that is, to the possibility of humans rising above their miasmal idiotia or self-interested, parochial narcissism.  Modernity, without of course comprehending what its own “ethos” has so insidiously been up to, has been in the business of extinguishing truth itself, along with every other kind of value and principle and authority.  In antiquity and the middle ages, egomania even in the form of the vilest kinds of barbarous self-centeredness did exist but was not only execrated as a lunacy and sin but also grasped as a idolatrous principle in contrariety to Nature, Society, History, Culture, Values, Divinity, and Truth.  But in modernity this outlaw-principle of self-exceptionalism (again, Nil admirari, “Nothing is to be respected”) has extruded from its own viscera all rules, logics, methods, verbalisms, self-righteousness, and impunity, in order to arrogate to itself the powers of something superordinate, preeminent and infinite, a self-darkling God fathering a galaxy of ideological perspectivisms long ago purged of contrarian premises and insights—constellations of “crusading” i.e. virulent false consciousness.  The culture of modern (capitalist, scientistic) “alienation” is the culture of the wrecking ball, of the mindless squad of assassins and vandals, of the facile Delete-key that moderns take for a ritualized “freedom”:  of the Orwellian Memory-Hole that is their “minds.”

Centuries ago modernity’s architected/orchestrated preconceptualisms could have been recognized as the strategic lies crafted by a viral totalitarianism, a usurpational gangster-ideology stabilizing for itself a “system of rights and laws” that was nothing more than self-serving fiats, racketeering writ large as racist and techno-ideological sanctimoniousness.  Brecht/Weill, Lang and others precociously grasped this of Nazism, which was the visage of nihilism with the mask of bourgeois self-respectability dropped away:  all that was forbidden as street-level crime was gleefully embraced as a sacrosanct self-entitlement by the Sovereign at the top of the hierarchy.  Indeed it was “bourgeois/Weimar or liberal/modern society’s” self-discreditation as organized fraudulence and venality that made feasible the seizure of the system of power by an even more radical form of organized fraudulence and venality, Nazism, thuggery scientized and rendered up as a metaphysics, the “revolution of Nihilism.”  In our time Tony Soprano recognized his own kind among mendacious Presidents and Senators, but he has too much residual honor and self-honesty as a self-respecting, work-ethic thug to be assimilated to their ilk.  —The last shall be first, the bottom shall be the top, and the motto of the modern power-apparatus becomes Who cares which way is up? The deader God gets, the more useful His still-narcotic cadaver and awesome accoutrements become to the acolytes of nihilist expediency.

Do moderns imagine they have a containable even if potentially mortal problem with “the financial and banking sector” and its egregiously piratical executives?  Like serial killers, these megalo-looters are merely self-licensed to live out the core-fantasies pandemic throughout a species of civilization at large, a dysculture become a planetary modus vivendi (as not just Africa and Latin America, Russia and India and China all manifest).  In an enthusiastically self-endorsing self-parody, this is the modernly well-known name of our “ethos” or dementia:  “Too much is not enough.”  —“Egologism” today owns the playing field, the umpires, the playing equipment, the rulebook and the authorities who interpret and revise it, the media rights to broadcast and make money off of its all-encompassing game, as well as both the players and the public who came out with their kids to enjoy the “sport.”  This is our modern Cave, or as Kafka put it:  “We are digging the pit of Babel.” Because of course, from a Tower one at least has a view, a “prospect” that puts things in some sort of perspective or proportion; but within a pit there is only the cloying, claustral captivity of disposable hirelings immired in the self-dug grave of their own idiotia.

Not any sort of “science” but an organized nescience or deliberate/designed/engineered ignorantism that wields “consciousness” and its self-unfathomable limitations as mere blunt instruments—thus, the programmed delusionality of all that is structurally “unthinkable” for right-thinking or successfully, ideologically imprinted moderns—constitutes the ruling profile of dysfunctional cultures, and modern or bourgeois society has an encompassing nescience like the maw of the ocean.  What will this blind and demonic Moloch ultimately do with us, after we have fed to its consuming furnace of materialism and egomania all that was ever dear or vital to us?  The gulf weekly grows wider and wider between the enormous numbers sunk in the diversionary “commercial” dreck that tones and directs their mentalities, and those numerically insignificant few who struggle still to see and understand beyond the horizons of philistine “culture,” who care about what is true and not just what is acceptable, conventional, rewarding, entertaining, placating, or “useful.”  Certainly, historical catastrophes are only monstrously distracting and dementing, never “illuminating” for the great mass of the victims who conspired to make them inevitable:  ego itself would a thousand times rather perish than confess to itself its gross incompetence to orient itself in the mind-warping field of social and historical powers.  “Ego” is nothing less, in the vast majority of humans, than this triumphal delusionariness, this drunkenness with Self, as inept to master its own inner domain of feelings as it is to make sense of the actualities engulfing it.

In pseudo-democratic societies, this difference, this chasm between the most and the least ineducable or incompetent—the benighted and the enlightened, those ignoranti who are only content when oblivious or self-absorbed and those cognoscenti driven to “live knowingly” regardless of the pains and punishment—is necessarily the most offensive and impermissible topic in an otherwise licentious, contentious, abrasive, but eminently controllable Babel of crypto-plutocracy (hidden right out in plain sight among the sightless:  such is the power of “faith,” i.e. “not wanting to know what is true” [Nietzsche]).  Raising such issues as basal rationality or irrationality is definitely not the way to curry popularity or gull the Many, and in “democracies” everything inevitably devolves for formal or procedural reasons into just such a truthless and manipulated numbers-game.  The people—inept to figure out when its “own” opinions have been mass-shaped, steered and intoxicated—imagines itself to have become a “God” precisely when it is barely qualified even as humanly rational any longer.  Most moderns are less and less competent to “know” anything, the longer the sludge of mindfuckery—the La Brea tarpits excreted by an ideological Tartarus—coagulates around their organs of central witlessness.

For the sake of their privileged self-interest, some may still be driven to sharpen their reductive mentalities, but for moderns at large the indisputable reality of their “culture” is its profound privation of anything like the Greek imperative for aristeia or excellence, the need to concentrate utmost authority, wisdom and truth in one’s connoisseurial intelligence for the sake of a well-navigated, farsighted, fully responsible and significant life, rooted in ultimately valid and not just “appealing” laws, concepts or principles.  Minds among moderns in general have fallen to the blighted condition of being utensils useful to just about anybody other than their immediate owners, who are necessarily enured to their own self-uncertainty and viscerally apathetic to their own manipulability; as tools to be worked on by other tools and for the sake of yet other tools, moderns symptomatize a culture that in truth has neither values nor any concept of truth, and certainly no code or ethos obligating all humans who possibly can to achieve extraordinary forms or degrees of intelligence.  The basal crises of human nature and the human condition are never going to be accessible in their radical lawfulness to educational, intellectual and spiritual mediocrities, who have learned to “know” and “understand” only enough “to get by.”

Again and again humans ravenous for godlike power lack any primordial hunger for godlike wisdom and self-constraint:  it is vastly easier to contrive a world mechanized for totalitarian control than one rich in Argus-eyed culture and value-intelligence.  Banauseia and douleia are visceral and characterologically necessitous drives, blind and doubt-free imperatives; neither of them obliges humans to learn anything like the severely arduous art of going against the impulses and compulsions of their own natures, the way aristeia does.  The “market” is an ideological blueprint for a world-order in which both banausoi and douloi are guaranteed to be told exactly what they want to hear:  in the process of consolidating systemic power, precisely what the Many and the moguls do not care to be told is pulverized and suppressed.  “Knowledge,” “understanding,” “education,” etc. in the end are merely hypocritical honorifics conferred on the amoral skills most serviceable to the empire and its current pantheon of cronies and other useful idiots.  Among its other strategic monopolies, modern megalo-wealth and –power have to corner the market on intelligence, scientific and professional expertise, and all other assets of acuity; for mavericks with some residual conscience about values and autonomy, this society long ago modulated into an merciless Ice Age.  Most moderns, even modern “educators,” truly have no cultivated powers that deserve to be called an autonomous or a penetrating “mind,” but only deeply ingrained habits and entrained abstractions or featureless platitudes, amorphous and self-righteous emotionalisms, and intellectually doctrinaire methods, techniques and routines.  For the vast majority, “reality” is merely what is reassuringly echoed back to them by their fellows’ house of mirrors, the self-reinforcing orderliness of the sheepfold.  Banal “truth” is nothing but what it is presumed to be, the product of such nests of ordinariness or familiarity; for “truth” is to such antenna-less or culture-free mentalities just a communal placebo, matters so unexceptionable and unquestionable as to raise no critical suspicions.  It is “what can afford to be taken safely for granted.”  But such a notion never is actually valid or rational, and most of all is delusive and fraudulent in periods of crisis.

Moderns have to suffer such symptomatizing afflictions because, overwhelmingly, they are grossly lacking any animating, organized and articulate ethos of values or value-intelligence enabling them to self-diagnose their mental and moral plagues:  it is values alone that can identify the most profound moral socio-psychopathologies, and values—the decisive and foundational principles for the sake of which humans long ago existed, acted, united into political communities, and strove to make themselves exemplary and memorable individuals—have indeed been deracinated, ground down and killed at the very root by, first, Christianity and, today, the juggernaut-philistinisms of scientism and capitalism.  Something not just “false” but altogether alien to both values and actual human nature has been erected as a façade of moralisms and rationalizations, and this surrogate not only is not any kind of active and actual “value” but furthermore anesthetizes moderns to both the existential and the essential meaning and need for values, and militates against and aborts anything that threatens to develop into value-intelligence, conscience, ethos, or culture.  That toxin, that cellular acid against the very possibility of values or moral culture, is routine or banal nihilism, and modernity is blithely pervaded with it; it is the mother’s milk of the normalized predatory, parasitic, pathetic, and perfidious drives that we fig-leaf with some obligatory, folksy and incoherent rhetoric.

Moderns are not so much “participants” in as casualties of a “value-free” massified culture that is truly a dysculture, an obscurant encumbrance mutually reinforcing and being reinforced by their helplessly inert or slavish mentalities:  they see, hear and feel nothing even remotely dubitable about their own brutish and inane ways of living because mass-education, mass-rhetoric, mass-marketing, and mass-conditioning marinates them in its cosmetic obviousness, its bludgeoning banalities that pass for Nature’s primordial Way and God’s own Revealed Eternalisms.  Not a culture but an asphyxiating miasma of toxic and narcotic solvents, this pseudoculture or ideological worldview turns the organismic and individual proteins of true culture into a slurry of moribund cells, a sloughed-off, inert and pathetic dreck.  Not just turbo-capitalism but Nazism, systematized and organized nihilism, have been this miasma’s historical masterpiece before and will be again and again, for as long as its licentious laissez-faire passes as sanity and rationality.  The incompetence of even educated and professional mentalities to see this is an effect integral to the insidious controls of that dysculture:  no one looks such a Medusa-truth in the face and retains his employability and respectability.

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