Sunday, August 05, 2007

Autonomy and Morality

To rape boldly is still to rape, and to rape is immoral, whether boldly or not. Similarly, to affirm an act cannot change it from an immoral act to a moral one. To affirm an act may affect it aesthetically, even though it seems grotesque and horrific in the case of rape even to suggest such a thing, but it cannot affect it ethically. Baudelaire has drawn the harshest possible line by affirming bold rape, and I suppose he’s done that for a good reason – but what is it?

Nietzsche seems at times to morally condemn ressentiment…If he was actually offering a moral condemnation of ressentiment, this would be exceedingly odd. He does not morally condemn the most atrocious acts – among an enormous world-encompassing collection of atrocious acts ressentiment seems so mild, surely tolerable, especially in comparison to so many others. Why would ressentiment be singled out as if it were the most reprehensible of actions, more reprehensible than murder, rape?

Orla recently quoted Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra,

“I will speak unto them of the most contemptible thing: that, however, is THE LAST MAN!"

The LAST MAN is definitely not a bold man. But is the LAST MAN truly to be reckoned the most contemptible thing? Is not a rapist, an arson, a poisoner, or a Jack-the-Ripper, or a Mack-the-Knife, not obviously much more contemptible? The LAST MAN is obviously a bore, but is he contemptible? Just how sad is it to be a bore, and in what possible sense is to be boring the worst? An aesthetic sense?

To hell with the aesthetic!

However, I don't believe Baudelaire or Nietsche's ideas are intended to have very much to do with the aesthetic, to be intended to provide an aesthetic critique, a critique of the ethical from the point of view of the aesthetic.


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