I’ve been reading Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, and a passage in the third essay, “What is the meaning of aesthetic ideals?” intrigued me:
…[I]t is certainly best to separate an artist from his work so completely that he cannot be taken as seriously as his work. He is after all merely the presupposition of his work, the womb, the soil, in certain cases the dung and manure, on which and out of which it grows – and consequently, in most cases, something that must be forgotten if the work is to be enjoyed.
Nietzsche is writing specifically about Wagner here, but the sentiment can be positioned to apply to any artist one finds objectionable whose work one might appreciate were their “character” not at odds with an expected ideal. It strikes me that this approach is often taken in regards to Crowley’s works in particular, especially for those who might otherwise be reluctant to dare engaging in the material. Continue reading
Ye Olde Morality
Most Westerns are familiar with the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai – the ten “thou shalt not”s. This system of ethics as set forth literally in stone by God and delivered through Moses is practically the perfect symbol of what I propose to call “old morality.” Old morality consists essentially in the belief that there is an absolute law of conduct, often rewarded with promises of heaven or some kind of pleasure and punished with verdicts of various types of suffering, even eternal suffering in a fiery “Hell.” This notion of absolute morality is most apparent in the Jewish religion, with its ten commandments (Judaism actually has 613 commandments in total), but it also appears in both Christianity and Islam (the “five pillars of Islam”). Both of these religions are characterized by their insistence on sin and the punishment of hell following sinful actions. These types of absolute morality are also apparent in many forms of Buddhism where they have “sila,” which consists usually of five “thou shalt not”s. In some forms of yoga, there are what is called “yama” and “niyama” which are essentially five “thou shalt”s and five “thou shalt not”s.
Now, this old morality being by definition founded on a notion of “absolute moral conduct,” is also necessarily quite inflexible. Not only did Moses invoke God as the source and authority of his commandments, but they were set in two gigantic tablets of stone.
In the course of history, one might say that these commandments, Jewish and otherwise, were necessary for that particular time. It can be agreed that many of these guidelines were (and still can be) effective if employed in the right circumstances, in the right cultures. For example, Continue reading
“Nothing is true; everything is permitted.”
– Hassan I Sabbah
“I tell you: one must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: you still have chaos in you.”
– Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra Continue reading