Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The School of the Prophets

Those that want [i.e., "lack"] friends to open themselves unto
are cannibals of their own hearts. ... The parable of Pythagoras
is dark, but true; Cor ne edito, 'Eat not the heart'. ...

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

To wish to feel 'normal' and 'accepted', loved and wanted--is this not an indisputable facet of the human condition? Hence the often overwhelming appeal of the 'herd', or 'popular' peer group. The 'normal' mainstream majority appeals to us because we receive 'positive reinforcement' from most members thereof when we have successfully ingratiated, or conformed, ourselves to it. This, in turn, causes us to feel 'normal' and 'accepted' ourselves. And of course, this feeling of acceptance causes us to desire ever more and more to conform ourselves to the dominant, stasis-loving majority. And behold how many of us are veritable slaves to this basic human need, this condition which is so very difficult to completely turn one's back on!

And yet, to escape from this tunnel-vision way of life (and thinking!) is imperative, if one wishes to grow through experience to discover the ultimate truths and ends of life. Unfortunately, there is just no other way presently seen. One must be willing to become a non-conformist; one must be willing to turn one's back on the society of one's fellow-beings, to spend years (if necessary) in the solitary deserts, like John the Baptist; to climb the mountain alone, as did Moses, before bringing down to humanity a new vision of reality or the Divine. One must be willing to forego the feelings of normalcy and the acceptance of one's peer society--hence one's peace of soul--if one is to follow truth to wherever it may lead. As Nietzsche truly knew and said, to be devoted to truth, one must be prepared for the painful, jarring feelings of dislocation that come from feeling oneself set apart and isolated from all that is or ever will be 'whole', 'normal', 'healthy', or 'popular'. And this is, of course, the paramount task of every real philosopher--this relentless questioning of life and its perceived values, and one's relationship therewith. As Nietzsche also said, one must re-evaluate all values--that is, question everything, take nothing whatsoever for granted. And how many people are able and willing to consistently do this? How many of us run for shelter the minute the storm threatens!

And the end of all this is predetermined: this isolating dislocation, if pursued to its bitter, lonely end, can lead only to either genius, insanity, or suicide, or perhaps all three at once.

"Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny. ..."

C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

T.J. White, July 1st, 1994