07 November 2017

Walking through walls

It is said that the sport of rugby was invented in 1823 when a kid playing football at Rugby School, England, just decided to run up the field holding the ball, which was previously not part of the rules - thus creating his own, new set of rules*. This is the same phenomenon as Nietzsche spoke about with the Übermensch.  Those great Gnostic movies of the late 90s, Dark City and The Matrix, made the case that the Nietzschean Superman (in gender-neutral form, natch) is someone who can literally walk through walls or through hails of bullets, because they have realised that the Black Iron Prison we all live in is not real, that Big Brother is not in fact watching you at all, that the law of Karma/gravity is only a physical one, that There Is No Spoon. But shorn of the special effects, the real message is that the one who is "beyond good and evil" can simply ignore social rules and norms and thus do what they want.

That's what you're really talking about here, expanded from the playing field to the social field. As the noted screenwriter John Rogers, a man who has written a lot of entertaining stuff on criminality and is something of an expert on it, notes:

The man who will literally say anything and is impervious to being rebutted or shamed or called out is the bad kind of Übermensch who can only be brought into line by force alone.

So what is the difference between a Nietzschean Superperson, a cartoon supervillain, and the Gnostic/Buddhist/Sufi enlightened one / qalandar / Holy Fool? Old comic books offer us the example that Superman and Batman both live by a code (eg: they don't kill anyone, not even if they desperately need killin'). Superman, in particular, was created by two left-wing Jews and spent his early comic book adventures beating up on slumlords and other predators upon the innocent.

It is therefore possible to live outside of the Law, beyond good and evil, beyond what anyone else thinks about you. But if you don't write your own law, and live by it, you become a monster, a "Black Brother" (not to be confused with a Funk Soul Brother). The problem with being able to walk through walls is that ordinary people kind of rely on those walls to live their lives. Otherwise you're just a giant in the playground kicking over people's sandcastles, and people themselves for that matter, not even because they deserve it but because you no longer give a shit. This is of course why a liar - who knows what he says is false - is much less dangerous than a bullshit artist - someone who just doesn't care.

* Much like Jedidiah Springfield, this may only be a legend, but the point still stands. 

ETA: How could I forget? Far too many on the Left are forgetting that the difference between us and the Right is that we are aiming at building a new collective reality, a True Mass Enlightenment - not just allowing some Giant in the Playground to kick ass on our behalf, an authoritarian Daddy who will kick over the walls on people we think should be hurt. These are the people who suckle at the teets of every personality cult, turning flawed leaders like Lenin or Chávez into religious icons, metastasizing cancers on socialist discourse; these are the people who think that criticisms of the Corbyns or the Sandersersers is treason. These are people who would flip to fascism in a heartbeat if they thought the company would be pleasant enough.