Thursday, August 13, 2009

On blogging (and other unfinished things)

Recently I finished writing an essay, titled “Art of Living as a Tragic Fate, An Autobiographical Reading of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo.” My friend Heru Hikayat is organizing an exhibition at Semarang Gallery, which will open later this year, and he invited me to write one of the catalog essays. So I did – and, of course, comments are welcome. However, every time I write on Nietzsche, I certainly hope it is the very last time. I love his writings. I love to hate his writings. I hate to love his writings. A continuous struggle to make sense of the multifarious multiplicity called ‘Nietzsche’. Nietzsche’s life and oeuvre deal with the possibility of self-becoming, of self-creation. During the process of reading and writing, I could not help but ask myself the question what consequences an egalitarian interpretation of his work would have. In my essay I mention that turning Nietzsche into a self-help guru will make his work harmless; Nietzsche’s focus on tragedy will then be impatiently brushed aside. He is critical of mediocrity. After I finished writing my essay – that’s the good thing of a deadline, otherwise writing will never find temporarily an ending – I had a chance to read a book by Hal Niedzviecki: Hello I’m Special, How Individuality Became the New Conformity. Niedzviecki is critical of our pop culture. Pop culture gives us the illusion that we are all special. If we are special, respect is our due. However, if everyone is special, no one is. If deviating from the norm is the norm then nothing is deviant. The celebrity cult thrives exactly on the fact that only a few can be one the inside. And if we cannot become famous, then, at least, we can indulge in the extreme antics of the Paris Hiltons of today or the has-beens of tomorrow. Me, me, me…but the narcissist avoids interactions with the world and he or she already has a fixed idea of him- or herself. We can also read this as the fear of really becoming an individual, that we style ourselves in the latest fashion to be absorbed by the masses, i.e. fashion as a lifestyle instead of styling oneself as an individual, fashion as a lifestyle only shows surfaces, a surface that does not reveal any depts. Zygmunt Bauman writes that “through reducing the self to a surface, to something one can control and arrange at will, it offers the self security against intruders […] (Life in Fragments).” In his book, Niedzviecki asks the following question: “Why put your life on the internet for public consumption?” Sure, I don’t have a Friendster or Facebook account, but I obviously have a blog. And sure, I don’t pour my heart out online, but still, my musings can be considered personal. Philosophy, after all, is not merely an academic but also a personal endeavor. But why do I have a blog? What does it mean that an x-number of people from Texas and Iran visit my blog? What does it mean that my name gets an y-number of hits in Google's search engine? I do not consider my thoughts as original; my thinking is more of a recycling-reconnecting kind of process. Wittgenstein told his students at Cambridge University that if they have nothing original to say then they should seek a different profession. He put the bar high-up. It is safe to say that Wittgenstein is in a different league as a philosopher than I am. Time to look for a new line of work? Wait, wait, wait…

No comments: