Philofolly

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Philosophers have created some of the most colorful vacancies in the minds of men. At no time is that more evident than now - philosophy as a profession of university professors, its concerns, even its most theological and metaphysical, all subsets of economics and politics.

The squelching of all narrative forms in philosophy was really the indication that it had faded into obsolescence - one more of the humanities forever beholden to science and trendy historical narratives. Before this squashing of all narratives, it was no better than it is today, but there was, at the very least, the illusion that it could be fun. Today, it is considered real to the extent that it is not fun. 

There is no philosophy of folly. Is this not an argument against it? While one would be tempted to name Nietzsche in his madness and De Sade in his brazen terrorism, one can't help but see them clutching onto truths too terrible to be left alone - so many scabs healing over a great Enlightenment wound. The whole of Stoicism has nothing to teach us of folly. No quietism can measure its full breadth. It is not contained in eastern affectations nor is it left to the side of vitalist force ever spinning through a world of becoming. Artists and poets are closest, and even they dress folly up in so much melancholy and pretend to put so many concerns before them - exalting so many sensations they've never felt.

Do the poets and visionary artists not cringe at the very vigor they wasted on the youthful sensations they imitated from the novels, sagas and poems they most admired? They know deep down that it was not love as such which disappointed them but a particular love they created in their own breasts - a symbol, and nothing more, of their need for unearned affirmation. We scoop them up in the fanciest moments of their lives - youth, the great friend of the poet - and carry on taking them at their word. If an institution could be raised up in the name of this buffoonery, it would have suffered a revolution more bloody than the French or the Bolshevik and twice as fast. Yet because we wish to belong to the great artful folly (a means of turning away from our true folly), we embed our affinities, our tastes and addictions for such romance deep within us. 

Our hearts dare not speak the name of the folly that has no bittersweet memory - If it could be framed in such a dewy, wonder eyed way, it would not have been counted as folly by us in the first place. Perhaps this is why I am so endeared to the conviction of Michelstaedter. His understanding of Persuasion was, perhaps, only a confused expression of his need to do foolish things for no reason, knowing full well that the accountability in which he would need to be held afterward could be explained by the forces of history, the forces of art and religion. The action that is its own cause and its own effect, its own full means and end, is a terrific fantasy, perhaps one worth building a belief system around (and what are philosophies if not contenders for possible beliefs? love of wisdom always attempting, impossibly a bettering of life though we know that wisdom and life are hardly companions). The designation of a 'pure act', an unconditioned or undetermined act is enough to fill the rugged individualist at heart with enough light and warmth to comfort the legion of his woes, even if they can never be fully vanquished by it. Suffering in the name of some final understanding, some personal eschatology which promises that one can come to fully realize and embody something which is already known intellectually, the individualist guiltily realizes that he has internalized the tyrant to such a degree that it cannot be untangled from his sense of personal morality, no matter how rugged, obstinate or clear in its disregard for good and evil. 

Moral hysteria is only partially to blame for moral anxiety in the face of one's own folly, for there has never been a satisfying conclusion as to why some piece of rusty 'goodness' can even survive in those who have gotten a whiff of the great lie. The very anxiety which drives all of Socrates' dialogues is masked by a concern for a justification of the very practice they are taking up. If he could have kept his mouth shut or become a poet, perhaps Socrates would have died at the hand of a jealous student rather than by the authorities. 

So much power sought in the wrong places - this is all of philosophy. All power-philosophies suggest what only appears to be folly as a symptom - the indication of a misdiagnosis! It is the ultimate anti-value of history, in that all systems have, one by one, sought to disprove its existence within whatever new prevailing context had any sense to frame it. Is it dissolved in dialectic? Melted into amor fati? Prohibited by dogmatism? Punished by law? Corrected by culture? Ostracized by society? 

And this is only a series of names for the same angle! We haven't even touched upon the terrible truth of the matter - that philosophy's lack of folly is precisely a feature of it, a constituting faculty, the unnamed devil to the God that runs the show. Is the Logos itself not a piece of mental equipment designed for the purpose of erasing whatever of the animal was left in man? 

It is then quite curious that we make a distinction at all between the Tower of Babel and the Logos, for they really are the same thing - striving for a common language to erase that in man which was merely animal. Now even any attempted return to the animal must be moralized, appropriated by some eschatology. Stupidity must be placed in its proper place, along with intelligence, and if it is supposed that intelligence is to be valued, we cannot rightly have too much of it, hence the distinction between intelligence and whatever else there is, just as we cannot have everyone speaking one language as there would be no thought. Babel survives precisely in the Logos as an impossible truth to ascertain - a purity ever revealing itself in a shifting becoming. Old Heraclitus even held onto a hope through his tears that he sought to eradicate with his actions, perhaps unknowingly. 

On the surface, this great tension whose character we insist must have a point of resolution through a conflict between two armies of value, manifests as gnosis, realization, initiation, conversion, truth itself. Philosophy cannot finally understand folly because it cannot but be what it is if it is not moving into the space which folly inhabits and cutting off all of its life force. The poets and the songwriters, without understanding the nature of their involvement, do their part to sing in the song of this victory which was never theirs nor that of the philosophers to begin with.

The shrewd historian turns away from his work with a terrible shudder, knowing that the long song of time has only been the apocalyptic story of an enduring lack, an insatiable mistake that keeps on making itself with no possible end.