Saturday, June 18, 2005

Am I a Master?

When reading Neitzsche, it is human, all too human, to entertain, for a moment, or longer, it can last years for some but should only last five minutes, the idea that you are a master. That you are, by nature, a master, and you are only being held back by X, Y and Z. That if only such and such would change, then I could take my rightful place as the arbiter of right and wrong. All this amounts to is what everyone else thinks, "If only everyone would listen to me." If I were king for a day. This is an understandable and forgivable fantasy. It is painful how long it takes for some, but everyone must realise, eventually, that if they were, by nature, a master, they would already be arbitrating to everyone what is right and wrong. They would have already seized the day, seen the lay of the land and worked it to their advantage to be the one on top, saying do this do that, being in control and letting people know what to think. If they were masters they would not have spent their time constructing debates, winging and whining from their misfortunate locale - they would have already commanded. All it amounts to, these people who think that if only they were born at the right time and place, if the world was different, like the recent neo-nazis at the Uni of Newcastle, if only the world were constructed for them, I'm saying, all it amounts to is just that typical slave fantasy of imagining what it would be like to be the master. A master is a master. Anyone who imagines or wishes they were is just like everybody else, a slave with a fantasy of a better life that could be - a nobody, vanishing in the dust of time.

If you are worried about the dusts of time, let me ask - what do you care for them? The dust of time does not care for you, so what do you care for them? Who do you love? Where does meaning reside? Let who cares for you be the summation of your significance. Before my grandfather died he said that what matters is having somebody who understands, and you don't have to explain.


MH said...

There are two points, Mr Pascoe, I would like to see clarified. The first is whether you are referring to Nietzsche’s ‘Masters’ or the ‘Ubermensch’? It has been a while since I read Nietzsche, but, if I am correct in my recollection of ‘The Genealogy’, the Masters have actually been displaced by the ‘Slaves’ never to return. As such, it should be the status of Ubermensche to which we aspire, and the desire to be a Master would be anachronistic.

The second is whether the claim that ‘masters’ (or Ubermensch) would have already seized control is valid. I seem to remember that Nietzsche is incredibly vague (and I mean that in both the sense that it is incredible, and that it works contra Nietzsche’s credibility) on the nature of the Ubermensch, too the point where I do not think that any such claim could be made.

Samuel Douglas said...

On some counts I am inclined to agree that we should aspire to be more than human, rather than simply 'Masters'. I also agree that it does not follow that a master would be ruling if they were to exist. Sadly, and this depends on your interpretation of Nietzsche on this score, it seems likely that a master would be a dangerous anachronism, and more likely to be found in jail than a boardroom or parliament. There seems good reason in the literature to think that to be a master in this day and age would be nothing to write home about. I mean, the slaves did put it over them in the first place, due to the "dialectical inefficacy" of the masters. I think that Bill is pretty well on the mark with regard to people who sit around wishing they were a 'master'. If we should aspire to anything at all, it is to take the best parts of both slave and master moralities and mentalities in order to acheive more than we currently are.

Bill Pascoe said...

Firstly I have to say I was drunk and couldn't sleep when I wrote that.
Secondly, it has been a long time since I read Neitzsche too.
You are probably right that I should have made a distinction between masters and Ubermensch. But I did tend to think that the two were fairly analogous anyway.
I agree that 'natural masters' would be anachronistic and wind up in jail. In fact I once knew someone, who in the age of masters would have been a great hero, if not a master, and the last I heard of him he was getting electric shock treatment every day in North Queensland.
I do think that people might tend to get carried away with the idea that they should be a master, or are an ubermensch, but that they are just frustrated by the times. Also, someone destined to become one of those, would need to start small and work their way up. The point I was trying to make, is that those characters - the master and ubermensch are just so outstandingly extraordinary that people would not be able to do anything but see them as master, or as ubermensch, so that their rise to glory would be a foregone conclusion, it would be effortless. They would very easily, go into parliament if that is what they felt like, they wouldn't be such a clutz as to wind up in jail, or they could just as easily overthrow parliament - and their will would be the whole of the law.
That's a pointless sort of speculation, anyway. What was I really trying to say?
Nazi theory would be funny if it didn't get people killed.
And, feeling a bit cynical, that people shouldn't delude themselves about their lot in life.