A Polluted Stream

“Verily, a polluted stream is man. One must be a sea to be able to receive a polluted stream without becoming unclean.”
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1885). Prologue 3

I really don’t want to be that guy; you know, the basement-dwelling naysayer who spends his days angrily typing an endless list of grievances, complaints and misgivings about this wacky world we’ve woven for ourselves.  The internet is filled with blogs of just that sort, a virtual battleground populated by lone wolves and losers who feel they alone know the truth–which they conveniently stumbled upon while eating waffles in their unwashed underwear, holed up like Raskolnikov in their mother’s basement.

Unfortunately, I have a brain, a computer, and nothing to do for the next twenty minutes, so I will momentarily assume the role of miserable misanthrope with a monkey on each shoulder and a dull axe in hand.

Our nation has devolved into a place avaricious puerility and overwhelming narcissism, a once-pristine stream polluted by hundreds of years of blatant foolishness and political chicanery.  I’m not so arrogant to assume that I alone am the keeper of TRUTH in a world overpopulated by fools and overgrown children–I don’t even know what the truth is–but I do know, without the pithiest of reservations, that thousands of years of human evolution (and the easy living it’s delivered) has led us into a quagmire of self-love and unrequited fear thanks to free-for-all capitalism and the mechanisms of marketing and advertising that keep it afloat.

We, as Americans, have been convinced to want what we don’t need and need what we don’t necessarily want.  We all need (and usually want) food; what we don’t need is winter squash in summer, summer strawberries in winter, and steak every night of the year.  We all need shelter, but not opulent mansions complete with a British butler and a sexy maid.  We all need love, but not 3 million friends on Facebook.

Hyperbole aside, anyone can see that the typical American life revolves around materialism and appearances.  Due to the competitive drive inherent in our species, our need to own more (or at least appear to own more) than the next guy has produced a nation of planned obsolescence and the idiots who love it.  Our stream is polluted with unnecessary commodities that we’ve been convinced are necessary accouterments for a proper American life.  A return to simplicity is the only option if we want future generations to enjoy the stream that we’ve profaned with the “needs” of yesterday.

I’d love to say more on the subject, but duty calls.  If anyone reads this at all, I’d be interested in a dialogue on the subject.  I also suggest “Consumed” by Benjamin Barber, an excellent book on the subject of infantalism, consumerism, and puerility.


Seeking for Seekers

But Zarthustra became sad and said to his heart:

“They do not understand me: I am not the mouth for these ears.  Too long, perhaps, have I lived in the mountains; too long have I listened to the brooks and trees: now I speak to them as to the goatherds.  My soul is calm and bright as the mountains in the morning.  But they think I am cold and I jeer and make terrible jests.  And now they look at me and laugh: and while they laugh, they hate me too.  There is ice in their laughter.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Is this not all of us?  At least, those of us–and there are many–who might once have been called seekers, had the term not been hijacked by melodramatic spiritualists and the irony-pushers of America’s pretenscious and meaningless art scene.

So why seek?  Why isolate yourself from the rest of the world in search of something deeper when the rest of the world has not only concluded that there is nothing worth seeking beyond self-fulfillment, but also doesn’t give a damn if there is?  Why step out into the tundra alone and naked, where each step towards knowledge is one step further away from the cold yet comforting embrace of civilization?  Why even give a damn?

I don’t know, and neither do you.  In fact, if you think you can answer any of these ancient and individually meaningless questions, go find another blog.  It is in the not-answering that the Zarathustras of the world are interested in.  Zarathustra knows only one thing: God is dead.  Everything else is speculation.

ERGO, THIS IS A SPECULATIVE BLOG.  There is no place here for definitive answers and the flies who wallow in them.  We can only wonder, and wander, and try to keep the flies of the marketplace off our exposed skin.

Call me pretenscious, or at least tell me how to spell it.