unnecessarily confessional post

by Arran James

Amor Fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
– Nietzsche

I cannot remember a time I wasn’t dissatisfied with life. Of course there have been moments, hours or weeks, even months, when this unimportant absurdity, made to seem so vast and harrowing by the confines of mortal consciousness, has been a continuous joy and wonder. And I would not expunge from those moments their claims to truth but remain in fidelity with the causes that lead me to those experiences in which misery seemed a distant error of an eternal child. And I thank those who led me to those moments of forgetting. Not enough. Always the return. The tenor and the leitmotif, the climate of my existence has been a collapse in suspension. An old joke of mine: it took me a long time to build a life for myself out of disappointment and despair. It is difficult to live a life, even in this place and time of abundance and relative ease, and even then I’m not sure I have lived even that. There are only ever attempts at living (never lives) and it has only been the certainty of death that has propelled me forward. Maybe that’s why I am most able to make others laugh and behave as though I were free, light and ridiculous when in despair.

This is why I can interpret the quote that opens this post in one way alone. This moment in Nietzsche’s writing is often taken as his attempt at overcoming the sink into nihilism that he diagnosis Western civilisation of having fallen into. It is a moment, among others, that set the tone for a philosophical attitude that has been characterised as affirmationism. Why give into resentment, to the negative passions? Only act affirmatively, produce but do not destroy!
But Nietzsche doesn’t say this. ‘Someday’, he says, ‘I wish’. These are the crucial words. The nihilistic attitude is in thought negated but the affirmative moment is deferred to some nondescript time to come that the ‘wish’ element does not even make into a certainty. There is no necessity here, no Messianism of happiness. This is a wish. A fantasy that prevents the fall into the abyss of a night with no dawn. Our wishes keep us distant from our goals but likewise keep at bay the temptation not to exist any longer.

Perhaps despair is what makes it possible for me to go on. Perhaps, prior to anything else, despair is precisely that to which one must say Yes.

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