Z, Contributing Writer
“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.” – Albert Einstein
“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus
The Prince was written by Machiavelli to show those in power how to hold onto their power. Self-inflicted Philosophy is being written to show those who are not in power how to take that power away, and then how to expiate that power.
This article will focus on how to use the concept of self-inflicted philosophy as a precursor to starting a revolution. Its basic premise is simple: philosophical morality wherein notions of “right/wrong” are derived from the natural dictation of “healthy/unhealthy” rather than the human opinion of “good/evil”. By focusing on what is healthy for one’s self, for one’s society, and for one’s environment, one sheds the superfluity of dogmatic good/evil misconception and is then able to act according to natural order. Understanding this concept is the first step one must take before attempting to start a revolution.
The Art of Self-interrogation: questioning to the nth degree. Self-interrogation is not about finding answers, it is strictly about questioning answers. In so far as answers are found they are founded in order to be questioned to the absolute roots of their conception, then analyzed for biases, incongruities, and unnaturalness, so as to make obsolete, or to attempt to make obsolete, any preconceived notions derived from opinionated conceptions found not to be congruent with natural order. One must question in this way so as to achieve the higher-state of awareness that is required for a revolutionary mindset. This method of questioning shaves the superfluity of irrationality and dogmatic rigidness, and opens one up to the creative, fluid vicissitudes of evolutionary revolution.
The Art of Hypocrisy: This art is two-fold. The first “fold” focuses on the ability to admit to, and own-up to, the inevitability of one’s own hypocrisy. The one who can come to terms with his own hypocrisy realizes that the very act of pondering existence is an act of hypocrisy. He realizes that hypocrisy is as natural a part of the human condition as love is. He is then free to create and lead and, having taken the Hypocritical Oath, to implement change with little fear or doubt. The second “fold” focuses on the ability to laugh at the futility of existence. The art of hypocrisy is the ability to have a sense of humor in the face of absurdity.
The Art of Rebellion: the third of the seven arts of self-inflicted philosophy, focuses on how to use art itself as a method for rebellion: from writing to music; from painting to graffiti; from poetry to novel. All artistic movement is an act of creative rebellion. Rebellious Creators are those who have the courage, the wit, and the acumen to create art despite the powers-that-be, despite the law, and despite what is considered to be good or evil; who realize the democratic dream of equality, justice and peace and the creation of ideas that give mankind the chance to live by values that bring meaning to and are sustainable to life. The Rebellious Creator is a walking catalyst for evolutionary change turned revolutionary.A preeminent tool for a revolutionary is the ability to use and implement symbolism into his/her every action.
“Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?” – Hunter S. Thompson
The Art of Illusion: This is probably not what you think. The art of illusion is an understanding of the fundamental aspect of reality: infinity. This is the theoretical side of self-inflicted philosophy, and finds a lot of its jargon in theoretical physics and consciousness studies. Insofar as it applies to being clearheaded enough to start a revolution, one need only read Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse.
Carse’s theory, in short, is: a finite game is played with the purpose of winning (thus ending the game), while an infinite game is played with the purpose of continuing the play. As it pertains to starting a revolution, the idea is to know the boundaries that finite players are stuck in, while practicing the art of illusion through infinite play. Our plutocratic regime seeks to win through finite play, thus eventually ending all play, or at least controlling it. We the revolutionary, on the other hand, seek play through the infinite game of life, thus continuing all play.
-Finite games: have a definite beginning and ending. They are played with the goal of winning. A finite game is resolved within the context of its rules, with a winner of the contest being declared and receiving a victory. The rules exist to ensure the game is finite. Examples are debates, sports, receiving a degree from an educational institution, culture, language, or war.
-Infinite games: on the other hand, do not have a knowable beginning or ending. They are played with the goal of continuing play. An infinite game continues play, for the sake of play. If the game is approaching resolution because of the rules of play, the rules must be changed to allow continued play. The rules exist to ensure the game is infinite. The only known example is life.
“The rules of the finite game may not change; the rules of an infinite game must change. Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries. Finite players are serious; infinite games are playful. A finite player plays to be powerful; an infinite player plays with strength. A finite player consumes time; an infinite player generates time. The finite player aims for eternal life; the infinite player aims for eternal birth. The choice is yours.” – James P. Carse
The Art of Progressive Sustainability: This is the heart of self-inflicted philosophy. As a revolutionary you must know your people. The majority of people don’t know how to live in a balanced way. They don’t understand the concept of moderation. They don’t even know what it really means to be healthy. Because they have, almost all of them, forgotten how to listen to nature. What is known as nature deprivation. The art of progressive sustainability takes the definition of eco-moralism and magnifies it across the board of human/environment interaction. It teaches balance. It teaches moderation. It teaches one how to be healthy in mind, body, soul, and in environment.
The archetype of the New-Hero arises from the art of progressive sustainability. A typical hero is one who has conquered, and reigned, and monopolized; in the sense that they have bested the opposition. A New-hero, on the other hand, is one who has done all that the typical hero has done but who also recognizes the need for expiation, for giving back, for completing the natural cycle of life. In this way he is able to relieve his physical burden as well as his psychological guilt, and he becomes a hero for the masses as apposed to simply a hero for himself. Compassion, moderation, and balance are the key. A New-hero is aware of this. He is able to overcome his “need” for things, and is then able to give back what he has conquered through a modern day potlatch: a giant party or festival focusing on the redistribution and reciprocity of wealth, or, to use Ernest Becker’s term from Escape from Evil, Hero-expiation.
The Art of Individuation: The archetype that arises from this art is the New-layman. The typical cycle of mastery is layman-to-expert-to-master. A New-layman completes the circle of mastery. A New-layman is a master unbounded by his mastery. A New-layman is able to step outside of his domain of mastery and into other domains where he will no longer be considered a master but a layman. A New-layman does this in order to broaden his mastery, self-interrogate, and self-humiliate. In this way the New-layman is able to maintain an open and fertile mind, and he avoids the trap of the master-complex. He is loose, resilient, fluid, and on the move in a world that is constantly changing. He harnesses the power of vicissitude by being open-minded, compassionate, and non-susceptible and non-dogmatic to predisposition or expectation. To the extent that he is free from the shackles of dogma, he can respond healthily to different cultures that are at constant loggerheads with each other. He knows that it isn’t about having the right answers, it’s about knowing how to ask the right questions. A New-layman is perfect for leading any revolution.
The Art of Transcendence: This is perhaps the most difficult of all the arts, because it is about how to deal with self-actualization, power and the anxieties that arise because of it. In a lot of ways the previous arts are all stepping stones to this art; similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is the art of synthesis; of natural metamorphosis; of the balance of power. It is about using all of the knowledge that one has gained as symbolic, archetypal structures of power over the human condition itself; not in a mystified, hocus-pocus kind of way, but in an enlightened, higher-state of awareness kind of way. One who embraces the art of transcendence seeks to transcend the limits of being human; he seeks to alter and play with the plasticity of the ego-animal dilemma of existence; he seeks to redefine God. In this capacity he redefines himself and the world, and thus is able to speak Albert Camus’ words with authority, “I rebel, therefore we exist.”
Self-inflicted philosophy breaks down into seven basic arts: the art of self-interrogation, the art of hypocrisy, the art of rebellion, the art of illusion, the art of progressive sustainability, the art of individuation, and the art of transcendence.
It is, and will always be, a work in progress.
About the Author
Z, 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. His recent works can be seen here and also found at Z’s Hub.
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