The Body as God.
- The reason I haven't posted a lot lately is that I've been exploring
the "depths" of nihilism (nihilism has neither depths nor heights).
The reason I am writing this now is that last night I saw how I could
terminate my exploration in a Nietzschean fashion.
To do that, I first have to explain what I mean by nihilism. To me
true nihilism is the view that there is only the mind; that everything
is a hallucination, every thing exists only in the mind. This includes
one's own body as well as other bodies. For a true nihilist, there is
no reason to suppose that there are other minds.
I have named this view "solosomniism", because it is the consistent
form of solipsism: even the self (Latin *ipse*) of solipsism is part
of the hallucination, of the "dream" (Latin *somnium*). As Harry
Neumann, whose book was central to my exploration, writes:
"There is nothing in (or behind or above) things to make them more
than empty experiences, impressions as Hume called them. Reality and
everything in it is nothing but empty impressions, experiences,
bigotries, dreams whose dreamer is himself a dream."
[Neumann, Liberalism, page 15.]
Nietzsche explored this view in a posthumously published passage
titled "The fundamental certainty of Being". I will publish my
translation and comments on that passage in my next post.
Now this "solosomniism" is, from Zarathustra's perspective in his
speech Of the Despisers of the Body, a view to which one is
"persuaded" by one's "spirit" (or mind: German *Geist*):
"What the sense feeleth, what the spirit discerneth, hath never its
end in itself. But sense and spirit would fain persuade thee that they
are the end of all things: so vain are they."
[Thomas Common trans.]
And not just the end, but also the beginning! The first cause! Now
Nietzsche rebukes the view that the "sense" be the beginning of all
things in Beyond Good and Evil:
"To study physiology with a clear conscience, one must insist that the
sense organs are *not* phenomena in the sense of idealistic
philosophy; as such they could not be causes! Sensualism, therefore,
at least as a regulative hypothesis, if not as a heuristic
principle.- What? And others even say that the external world is the
work of our organs? But then our body, as a part of this external
world, would be the work of our organs! But then our organs themselves
would be-the work of our organs! It seems to me that this is a
complete reductio ad absurdum [reduction to an absurdity]: assuming
that the concept of a causa sui [cause of itself] is something
fundamentally absurd. Consequently, is the external world *not* the
work of our organs-?"
[BGE 15, entire.]
Logically, either the external world, which *includes* our sense
organs, is the work of the *mind* -- and if one believes this one
cannot study physiologically with a clear conscience --, or the
external world, including our sense organs, really exists -- and it
seems that Zarathustra believes this in the aforementioned speech.
Now according to Zarathustra, the mind is only "something in the body"
(*Etwas am Leibe*); an "instrument of thy body"; a creation of the
body, "as a hand to its will".
If we allow ourselves a little Biblical symbology, then, we might say
the mind, whose vanity "would fain persuade thee that [it is] the end
of all things", is to the body as Lucifer is to God. For pride and
vanity are poles: vanity is simply a relative lack of pride, even as
"cold" is simply a relative lack of heat. "Pride", therefore, is
simply the name of a relative surplus of pride, even as "vanity" is
the name of a relative lack thereof. Thus we may say that it is pride
that tempts the mind to "set itself in Glory above [its] Peers" (that
is, above other minds) and to trust "to have equall'd the most High",
to speak with Milton.
But this pride comes before a "fall", a fall into the "abyss" of
nihilism. Nay, the mind must bow down before the body, even as Satan
should have bowed down before the Christ -- the Christ understood as a
symbol of the Self, to speak with Jung -- that is, a symbol of the *body*:
..... "him who disobeys
Mee disobeys, breaks union, and that day
Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls
Into utter darkness, deep engulft, his place
Ordain'd without redemption, without end."
[Paradise Lost, Book V, verse 611-615.]
This "blessed vision" is the beatific vision of the symbol of the Self:
"Because the symbol of the 'child' fascinates and enthralls the
consciousness, its redeeming effect is transferred to the consciousness."
[Jung, Towards the Psychology of the Child Archetype, 3A.]
- To me this is old news, but it may be helpful to some.
The lion and child from Zarathustra's speech Of the Three
Metamorphoses correspond to the heroes and the Greek gods,
respectively, in WP 940.
René Guénon describes the transformation from hero to god in his The
Language of the Birds:
"Elsewhere we read of heroes, like Siegfried in the Nordic legend, who
understands this language of the birds as soon as they have overcome
the dragon, and the symbolism in question may be easily understood
from this. Victory over the dragon has, as its immediate consequence,
the conquest of immortality, which is represented by some object, the
approach to which is barred by the dragon, and the conquest of
immortality implies, essentially, reintegration at the center of the
human state, that is, at the point where communication is established
with higher states of being. It is this communication that is
represented by the understanding of the language of the birds."
[As quoted in Claudia Crawford's essay, "Nietzsche's Dionysian arts".]
In the Kabalistic Tree of Life, a glyph which on the microcosmic level
represents the human body, the central sphere is called the
Christ-center, and is the point where the lower and the higher self
connect. The lower self is the ego, the conscious self; the higher
self is the unconscious self, sometimes simply called "the Self".
Avatars or incarnations of God, like Christ, Krishna, etc., are
symbols of the Self:
"He who has seen me has seen the Father."
"[T]he spontaneous symbols of the self, or of wholeness, cannot in
practice be distinguished from a God-image."
[Jung, "Christ, a Symbol of the Self".]
We must be careful, however, to distinguish between the Self as
*unconscious* self and the Self as the *whole* self. The Self as
*whole* self *includes* the ego, the conscious self. The Christ, the
"child", etc., are symbols of the *whole* self, the integrated self.
These are images or personifications of the integrated personality.
But there are also symbols of only the *unconscious* part of the self
(which, though by far the greatest part, is still only a *part*). The
image or personification of the unconscious part of the self is called
the anima in the male and the animus in the female. The anima has a
feminine character to complement the masculine character of the male's
ego; the animus, vice versa. Now the "child" or androgynous god
symbolises the *union* of these opposites -- the integrated self.
Because the symbols of the integrated self have an androgynous
character, they are easily confused with the anima or animus -- anima
or animus images are easily mistaken for them. But to focus on the
anima or animus has the opposite effect of focusing on the symbol of
the integrated self: it furthers the disintegration of conscious and
unconscious elements of the personality rather than integrating them.
Cf. http://uselessscience.com/forum/index.php?topic=231.0 I'm "Dragon
- That Jung thought Christ was a symbol of the Self does not mean he
though everything was right with it:
"In the empirical self, light and darkness form a paradoxical unity
[cf. Ecce Homo, on TSZ, 3]. In the Christian concept, on the other
hand, the archetype is hopelessly split into two irreconcilable halves".
[Christ, a Symbol of the Self (from *Aion*).]
These two halves are the Christ and the Antichrist. Now the Church had
a "solution" to this onesidedness:
"Although the exclusion of the power of evil was something the
Christian consciousness was well aware of, all it lost in effect was
an insubstantial shadow, for, through the doctrine of the *privatio
boni* [privation of the good] first propounded by Origen, evil was
characterized as a mere diminution of good and thus deprived of
We see here that "evil" is regarded as a lack of "good", even as cold
is a lack of heat. In this lies the key to our solution.
Good and evil are here regarded as *poles*. There are gradations:
lesser and greater evils, that is, lesser and greater privations of
the good. We Nietzscheans need only turn the poles around to effect a
"[T]he Devil's account is, that the Messiah fell, & formed a heaven of
what he stole from the Abyss."
[Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.]
"Good", as opposed to "evil", is simply a euphemism for "weak". And we
can easily see that weakness is a -- relative -- lack of strength.
"Good" (weakness) is a privation of "evil" (strength). The Christ is
not the strong glare of light, but the soothing darkness (lack of
light, privation of light). The Antichrist on the other hand is the
strong glare of light:
"And verily, ye good and just! In you there is much to be laughed at,
and especially your fear of what hath hitherto been called "the devil!"
So alien are ye in your souls to what is great, that to you the
Superman would be frightful in his goodness!
And ye wise and knowing ones, ye would flee from the solar-glow of the
wisdom in which the Superman joyfully batheth his nakedness!
Ye highest men who have come within my ken! this is my doubt of you,
and my secret laughter: I suspect ye would call my Superman -- a devil!"
[TSZ, Of Manly Prudence.]