Tuesday, May 22, 2007

JUST DO IT – As long as “IT” isn’t reflective...

Excuse me for veering away from the tender lamb I had in my sights: to understand what ressentiment is, how ressentiment is understood as an inability to respond actively, and whether or not it is possible to distinguish between responses which are active and responses which are otherwise.

I take this passage of Nietzsche’s as one of his most active responses to the question about active responses:

“That lambs dislike great birds of prey does not seem strange: only it gives no grounds for reproaching these birds of prey for bearing off little lambs. And if the lambs say among themselves: "these birds of prey are evil; and whoever is least like a bird of prey, but rather its opposite, a lamb—would he not be good?" there is no reason to find fault with this institution of an ideal, except perhaps that the birds of prey might view it a little ironically and say: "we don't dislike them at all, these good little lambs; we even love them: nothing is more tasty than a tender lamb."

To demand of strength that it should not express itself as strength, that it should not be a desire to overcome, a desire to throw down, a desire to become master, a thirst for enemies and resistances and triumphs, is just as absurd as to demand of weakness that it should express itself as strength. A quantum of force is equivalent to a quantum of drive, will, effect—more, it is nothing other than precisely this very driving, willing, effecting, and only owing to the seduction of language (and of the fundamental errors of reason that petrified in it) which conceives and misconceives all effects as conditioned by something that causes effects, by a "subject," can it appear otherwise. For just as the popular mind separates the lightning from its flash and takes the latter for an action, for the operation of a subject called lightning, so popular morality also separates strength from expressions of strength, as if there were a neutral substratum behind the strong man, which was free to express strength or not to do so. But there is no such substratum; there is no "being" behind doing, effecting, becoming; "the doer" is merely a fiction added to the deed—the deed is everything.”

I wonder : is this an active response to what an active response is, or evidence that Nietzsche has an inability to respond actively?

Say that I take away this unappealing imagery of the eagle and lamb and simply think in terms of desire… I replace the eagle of this story with desire, and the lamb with what I will call the object of desire. Better, though, would be to do this: I replace both eagle and lamb with one kind of thing ( but it’s not a thing, it’s an act, a deed,) – Lightning Bolt Desire—which is the doer of desire, the deed of desire, and the object of desire all rolled into one…

The story is now about acting immediately, without hesitation or reservation…It’s about seizing the day, getting what you want without “thinking” about it, without “wondering” if getting what you want is right or wrong. It’s about having a desire which is so natural that it is unthinkable that it be questioned. It is acted upon without reflection.

You want something, you go after it. You “JUST DO IT,” as the Nike advertising campaign recommended. You are your desire –

Is that what it means to have the ability to respond actively?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yusef, thank you for that magnificent Nietzsche quote. I know it, but had forgotten it.

I just want to acknowledge your post even if I don't have the time to answer in such detail as I would like - and which your post deserves.

I think your de-activation of the subject and the object is the right approach. This de-indididuation is also healthy I think.


6:28 PM  

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