“The most spiritual men, as the strongest, find their happiness where others would find their destruction: in the labyrinth, in hardness against themselves and others, in experiments. Their joy is self-conquest: asceticism becomes in them nature, need, and instinct. Difficult tasks are a privilege to them; to play with burdens that crush others, a recreation. Knowledge –a form of asceticism. They are the most venerable kind of man: that does not preclude their being the most cheerful and the kindliest.” –Nietzsche
The Übermensch, or Overman, is the primordial prodigy, the interdependent-self, the chameleon of the human condition, the epistemological elite longing to emerge. The Overman is the “genius” that Jesus spoke of in the Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth the genius within you, it will free you. If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you.” In a world where the majority of people have not brought forth the genius within themselves, it is no wonder things are being destroyed. It is therefore the duty, indeed the quest, of overmen the world over to bring forth the genius within themselves, to stand as beacons of hope, to go forth as walking examples of genius incarnate, so that others may learn how to do the same. Here are six signs you may be on the sacred path of the Ubermensch.
1.) You Have Perfected the Art of Self-Overcoming:
“The man who discovers a new scientific truth has previously had to smash to atoms almost everything he had learned, and arrives at the new truth with hands bloodstained from the slaughter of a thousand platitudes.” –Jose Ortega y Gasset
You have freed yourself from the smoke and mirrors of “security” and the illusion of “comfort.” Indeed, you have freed yourself to create new freedom. You have once again transformed yourself into a self-propelled beast, a sacred cycle, the walking personification of the life-death-rebirth process of the human condition. Self-overcoming (self-interrogation) is a tool of conviviality that you use to dig up the courage within the primordial self so that it may defend itself, and life itself, against the degradation of the inert self. The inert self is the part of us that wishes everything would stay the same. You understand that it is precisely this part of us which must be overcome, because permanence is the ultimate illusion. Fixed conviction is a grave error that leaves us petrified and stuck. Like Daniel Kolak wrote in Experience of Philosophy, “There is a frozen sea within us. Philosophy is an axe.” You have learned how to use this axe with self-actualized precision, and you have therefore become quite adept at bringing meaning to the meaninglessness.
2.) You Have the Ability to Transform Suffering Into Strength:
“To live is to suffer and to survive is to find meaning in this suffering.” –Nietzsche
You are willing to suffer in order to discover your greatness, knowing that pain is the ultimate teacher next to nature herself. You are purposefully vulnerable, realizing that it’s the only way to learn about the weakness within invulnerability. You recycle your vulnerability by propelling yourself and others to create waves of change in a world starving for change. You direct your passion and your compassion by spreading your art and your heart only across what matters most. Like Simone De Beauvoir, your “contemplation is an excruciation only because it is also a joy.” You seek tasks that would cause others to curl up into a ball of fear, because you have learned how to transform fear into courage. You realize that the secret to transforming suffering into strength is to embrace, and thereby subsume, the vicissitudes of change. You do not fear change because you’ve learned how to change fear into a courage of the most high.
3.) You Accept Your Own Dionysian Nature and Use it Appropriately:
“The struggle of maturity is to recover the seriousness of a child at play.” –Nietzsche
As a liberated artist you represent the Dionysian endeavor toward wild, carefree creativity. You have chosen to embody a wide spectrum of the human experience, lusting for the gruesome ecstasy of the sensual world yet capturing and expressing it all through your art. The Dionysian innovator is a perfect example of divergent thinking, which you embrace with all your heart. The Apollonian artist, on the other hand, relies on convergent thinking; which is fine, as balance is necessary. But since we live in a rigid, stuck-in-the-muck, overly convergent thinking society, you see how important Dionysian energy really is. You are not a collection of mirrors reflecting what everyone else expects of you. You are self-shattered, Chaos theory in motion, laughing mightily with God’s tongue in your cheek. You declare to the lopsided Apollonian culture, “You can have your Apollonian rigidness; I’ll take Dionysian courage and astonish you all.”
4.) You Are Neither Restricted by Tradition Nor Bounded by Convention:
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” –Friedrich Nietzsche
You shirk tradition and convention in order to remain open to what the vicissitudes of change have to teach you. You refuse to live out a harried life of nine-to-five slavery, wasting your days on heartless corporations that don’t give a damn about anything except making money. Instead, you wish to live a life of adventure full of doing what you love to do, despite the powers that be and in spite of the tyranny that wishes to contain you? You use rebellion and the art of Social Gadflying as a tool for obliterating unsustainable hierarchies, and as a leveler of close-minded elitist pretension. You’re not driven by petty revenge or egoistic one-upmanship. You emphasize and actualize what you disrupt, seeking not to discredit and embarrass the status quo of your mischief, but to shock it into becoming more self-authentic. Yours is a celebration of the soul instead of the conditioned reflex and self-aggrandizement of the ego. You love what you profane, weaving your knowledge and experience together with the status quo, you honor your engagement with it even as you tweak it out of its extremism. You show them the door to their freedom and declare: “enter if you dare!”
5.) You Are Willing to Risk All For the Enhancement of Humanity:
“You go above and beyond them: but the higher you climb, the smaller you appear to the eye of envy. And he who flies is hated most of all.” –Nietzsche
“He who flies is hated most of all”? You fly anyway, soaring over the culturally constructed illusion of it all. You are willing to be “the odd man out,” refusing to give into the unconscious peer-pressure of the herd-instinct. Your conscious awareness propels you past the unconscious comfort zone, which is infective and causes others to want to do the same. You are wholly natural and holistically ascetic. The unconscious of anyone living in an artificial manner senses you as doubly dangerous. Everything about you irritates them, your way of writing, your sense of humor. They sense nature in you, and they are afraid. They are afraid that you will call them out; that you will break their soft illusory shell of “security” and “safety,” and reveal the pulsing blister of the vulnerable Self suffering underneath. You are an icon of iconoclasm, a force of nature that leads by example whether or not anybody else decides to “follow.” You are willing to die bringing water to the wasteland.
6.) You Seek Power Over Power:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” –Abraham Lincoln
You have learned how to break the chain of obedience that plagues mankind. You have cut the strings dangling down from the highest echelons of power. You are capable of clipping yokes and cutting away the straps that bind the heavy burden of parochial values. You have turned the tables on the “powers that be” by getting power over power. You realize that those at “the top” deserve neither your pity nor your rancor. They deserve nothing more than your unadulterated laughter and high humor: a thumbing of your nose that all at once keeps them in check and prevents their “absolute power” from corrupting absolutely. But you have also learned, as Naseem Nicholas Taleb suggested, that “you don’t become completely free by just avoiding being a slave; you also need to avoid becoming a master.” And so you have learned to recycle your own mastery. You have dared to rejoin your rationality with your primordial unconscious. You live multi-dimensionally, refusing to live the one-dimensional life of the typical man. Indeed, you stand in defense against the typical man, the “last man,” the “despicable man,” the “man who would destroy everything despite himself.” You stand in defense of those who would horde power by empowering the powerless and teaching them how to expiate that power. You disclose the world with the purpose of freedom and further disclosure, and by the same action try to free others from enclosure into disclosure. Deep within you find the exigency which is common to all men and women: the will to freedom, the will to power, and the will to conquer both so as to make compassionate action manifest. Like David DeGraw said, “The more you empower people, the more empowered you become. It creates a positive feedback loop, an evolutionary feedback loop that cannot be stopped.”
About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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