Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Mental Freedom

It is quite clear that any person who has managed to educate himself, who has managed to free himself from slavish submission to his society's socialisation, or subtle brainwashing--without feeling any shame, guilt, or fear because of being thus unique and different from the 'herd'--will have become very strong emotionally--very strong-willed, or strong-purposed, and will be quite capable of most any behaviour which his society may otherwise label as aberrant, deviant, anti-social, or violent--if such should be his wish. Such a person as this is truly free--and only this type of person is truly free.

His society, it is true, if it becomes aware of just how dangerously free he is (and his mental freedom can be a real danger to it), will quickly and inevitably try to imprison him, which is to say, to immediately and drastically try to curtail his mental (and physical) freedom. This is why it is often said that there is only a thin line between genius and insanity; and by 'genius' I mean mental freedom, brilliance of thought, and the daring, courageous strength of will to follow any impulse through to its logical conclusion, regardless of what consequences it might entail.

Quite simply, the 'herd', the mass of mankind, cannot easily or readily distinguish between 'insanity' and 'genius' (as I define it here); and thus it is that those few, rare souls who have found and followed a radically different vision or mindset will usually be perceived by the majority to be quite abnormal, quite the 'freak of nature'--possibly even quite insane--because, as stated, they possess a seemingly dangerous mental freedom: the usual rules of 'right' and 'wrong' mean little or nothing to them (and recall what Hesse had to say in this connection), and they are therefore very unpredictable in behaviour, and very uncontrollable; their majority will thus understandably fear them, and will nervously try to control (and imprison) them (though this is not to excuse such behaviour on the part of societal majorities).

Apollinaire was quite correct: Sade was, without question, just such a free spirit and mind as this. Nietzsche was another (also Whitman and Thoreau). Sade, if his intellect and depth of knowledge did not outshine Nietzsche's, at least dared to express his mental freedom in a far more direct and physical a manner than Nietzsche (evidently) did. Nietzsche apparently was more content to merely roam the field of the world mentally, without so much feeling the need to 'pull the nose of society', as it were, or to translate his natural impulses into physicality, action, or violence.

And other free minds have existed also, from age to age. Usually, they were either crucified, imprisoned, or burned at the stake--when they could be apprehended. Those who somehow eluded capture usually lived on the fringes of society, as outcasts, rogues, bandits, or even pirates. Every age has seen them; in the Middle Ages they were called variously as either 'Crusaders', or 'Vikings', and when those names no longer "covered a multitude of sins," poor Gilles de Rais was left holding the bag. He merely lacked the social event of sufficient magnitude to justify his untoward actions in the eyes of his majority. Very often in modern times, wars have provided this justification for modern man. It has been said before that every generation needs a good war, and here is the reason why.

I think it important to clarify here, for the weak, exactly what I mean: the Overman need not necessarily become a Sade, a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Dahmer. But he certainly can be, if that be his nature. The basic idea is to not be AFRAID to become ANYTHING, if it be your nature, or lot in life, to become it. Admit to every hidden impulse that resides within you; do not be afraid to accept and claim ANY part of yourself--your inner being. Poet, Painter, Saint, 'Sinner' or Rebel ... all are EQUAL possibilities to the Overman. He only knows that he will most definitely become SOMETHING, and would rather kill himself than become a spineless 'milquetoast' like so many of the quivering jellyfish he sees around him, who somehow pass for MEN, for real human beings. He has a passion for life and self-expression which WILL NOT BE DENIED, whatever may stand in the way.

One final word: compared to this GIANT, this brilliant, mentally-free SUPERMAN, the mass of mankind seem nothing so much as a mass of quivering, bewildered, fog-bound MICE. The Overman is the only one who can see and understand clearly. And it seems to me, if I remember correctly, that Nietzsche himself said much the same thing once, save that he used the word 'ape' instead of 'mouse'. The basic question for mankind: what is it to be--mice, or men?

"I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" I choose to take my life into my own hands, to be beholden to and responsible to no one; to live my life for better or worse as myself, for myself, and by myself; I choose to be strong, to gather my will unto myself, and to give it free rein, to let it loose upon the world, be that for what others may call 'good' or for 'ill'; I choose, in short, to be a MAN.

31 March, 1995--11 February, 1999.