Thursday, February 27, 2003


"I teach you the overman. Man is something that is to be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?"
--Friedrich Nietzsche

Do I really want to talk to you about Michael Jackson? For me, it’s not so much Michael himself as what he has come to represent. The violent Michael media orgy we’ve just passed through has been quite an unusual spectacle. It’s impossible to delineate where Michael has manipulated the media and where he has been victimized by it. Is he a pathetic, isolated naïf—a misunderstood Frankenstein’s monster with good intentions? Or is Michael a rapacious pedophile—a true monster—shielding himself with wealth and resources that are almost incomprehensible to us? I don’t really care anymore.

I can barely listen to Michael now. His appearance and demeanour have become so spectrally alien that I cringe when he appears on television. I can’t assess what I think about the content of his statements because of the instinctive recoil he engenders in me.

For me, Michael has come to represent the ultimate failure of self-creation. Michael has sought to engineer his entire existence—control every aspect of his being using money. He has created his own little world and changed himself to better suit that world. Now, the surgeries have left him with a nose that is collapsing. I heard someone comment that over the years he has come to resemble an elderly white woman. I think he more and more becomes a figure of skeletal death.

My sister once used the word “posthuman” in a conversation with me. A quick google on that word brings you to cyberspace vistas of “transhumans” and “extopians” and genetic engineering and smart drugs and cybernetics and artificial intelligence. There is a multitude out there that believes that technology can be brought to bear in order to engineer an evolutionary leap in mankind—engineer ourselves beyond Homo sapiens. Part of me is fascinated by the technology. Why not? I use a computer and a car and take medicine when I’m sick. Why should I fear science? Other than weapons of mass destruction, science has been my friend.

I wonder though, how much of this movement is born out of deep-seated self-loathing? Control over the body also includes breast and penis augmentation, multiple and ultimately debilitating cosmetic surgeries; and disorders like anorexia. Are so many of us driven to imagine better human beings because we hate ourselves? Is our willingness to risk the extinction of diversity—a la “Gattaca”—a symptom of our collective inability to be satisfied with ourselves as human beings. When we are all perfect will we then be happy? Francis Bacon once said:

"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness of proportion."

Monday, February 24, 2003

Sermon Under the Mount

How am I?

Let us turn now in our Nietzsche anti-prayer book to his thoughts on Life. You have to look a little beyond where he says, “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything,”—he’s just being iconoclastic there kids. No, turn instead to his discussions with Life—a kind of deity for the ultimate atheist. That is, of course, not including Nietzsche’s own ego, which we recognize as his one true faith, but will politely ignore for the purposes of this sermon.

At the summit of the craggy mountain of existence, Nietzsche gazed in wonder upon Her awe-inspiring countenance. He communed with Life and later said to the faithless:

“This secret spoke Life herself unto me: ‘Behold,’ said she, ‘I am that which must ever surpass itself.’”

How am I? I am crawling in the dirt, half-blind, in the foothills of that mountain. I have gazed upon its treacherous slopes in fear and desire. I know, deep in the tattered remains of my soul, that there is a way. I know that there is a path to that summit. Somehow, I will create a map from the debris scattered here in the foothills. I will become my own Sherpa—indifferent to the cold thin air and crumbling terrain.

I have embarked on this journey not out of a lust for conquest. I have no desire to bend this Life to my will. Rather, I would commune with Life on mutually agreed upon terms. I would win Her heart, openly and honestly. I will dazzle Her with feats of strength and bravery—impress Her with my hard-won wisdom. She will take my hand and we will move forward as one.

I just need a quick nap before I begin.


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