Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lady GaGa Does Not Speak Of Me

"To recognize untruth as a condition of life--that certainly means resisting accustomed value feelings in a dangerous way; and a philosophy that risks this would by that token alone place itself beyond good and evil."
-Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil," # 4

"Forgive me the joke of this gloomy grimace and trope; for I myself have learned long ago to think differently, to estimate differently with regard to deceiving and being deceived, and I keep in reserve at least a couple of jostles for the blind rage with which the philosophers resist being deceived. Why _not_? It is no more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than mere appearance; it is even the worst proved assumption there is in the world. Let at least this much be admitted: there would be no life at all if not on the basis of perspective estimates and appearances; and if, with the virtuous enthusiasm and clumsiness of some philosophers, one wanted to abolish the "apparent world" all together--well, supposing _you_ could do that, at least nothing would be left of your 'truth' either. Indeed, what forces us at all to suppose that there is an essential opposition of 'true' and 'false'? Is it not sufficient to assume degrees of apparentness and, as it were, lighter and darker shadows and shades of appearance--different 'values,' to use the language of painters? Why couldn't the world _that concerns us_--be a fiction?" (BGE, #34)

Crucially, Nietzsche also champions "honesty" as the virtue of his philosophers of the future. Nevertheless, the "will to truth" that characterizes--in _On the Genealogy of Morals_--the posture of the ascetic Christian priest comes under full assault in Nietzsche's work. This is because "Truth" is itself a moral precept, a moral posture that assumes a "doer behind the deed," a Christian "soul" that is the "truth" of who one is. Foucault brilliantly documents how the institution of the confessional, a wholly perverse disciplinary practice, normalized over the course of 400 years the idea that somehow I need to tell the truth of myself, my desires, my hidden wishes, my repressed pleasures. (Yes, clumsy psychoanalysts are little more than defrocked priests.) Thus, Nietzsche asserts: "Christianity gave Eros poison to drink: he did not die of it but degenerated--into a vice." (BGE, #168)

(Note, please Nietzsche's invocation of the Greek homoerotic "Eros," the Victorian medico-moral concept of "degeneracy," and "vice." Eros, as a matter of homosexuality, is, in Nietzsche's time, the time Freud eclipses, pathologized as a hereditary condition of perversity termed "degeneracy". Freud assaults this pseudo-scientific diagnostic category of homosexuality in his "Three Essays," and Foucault--History of Sexuality, 1--credits Freud for that _political_ opposition to the moralized eugenics of sexuality typical of the Victorian age. Crucially, Foucault, in "Discipline and Punish" charts the shift from "criminality" to "vice," the latter being an "essential" "quality" of one's "soul" produced by disciplinary power. That is, Nietzsche, in this aphorism, theorizes as a faggot.)

Nietzsche's "untruth," which is a necessary (and typically unacknowledged) condition of life, is akin to Freud's concept of "fantasy" as a necessary mediator that "colors"/"frames" all perception--an ontological perspective first articulated by Plato in the _Symposium_. This is an untruth that is "true": "We no longer believe that truth remains truth when one pulls off the veil; we have lived too much to believe this." (The Gay Science, Preface to the Second Edition, # 4) That is, to "unmask" truth is to dissolve truth itself, to lift its skirts elicits only Demeter's laughter. That is, to demand, for instance, the "truth" of love, to strip it of its veil of fantasy, is to foreclose the very possibility of desire (eros, Plato tells us, is a "demon," the necessary in-between that mediates). Thus, though Nietzsche will say "Love brings the high and concealed characteristics of the lover into the light--what is rare and exceptional in him: to that extent it easily deceives regarding his normality" (BGE, #163), he still maintains: "Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil." (BGE, #153)

What links Eros and "untruth," what constitutes the essential nexus, is precisely the affirmation of fantasy (veils, masks, fictions, the painters tonal 'value') as the mediating third point that relates oneself always already to the world, oneself, and others. To this extent, both "true" fictions and love stake out a space of appearance beyond the (Christian) morality of good and evil. To be honest with oneself, and with another, is always to conclude--if a conclusion is demanded--"I don't know" as an acknowledgment of the fundamental opacity of the subject to himself, and to others. Indeed, it is this opacity that allows freedom: the artist's capacity to create, to live "life as literature" (to borrow from Alexander Nehamas)...

--What? the truths I discover I create? :the dangers of a voyage only the most cunning hero would dare.

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