Wake Up, Rise Up: Shining like Gold in Dark Times
Gary ‘Z’ McGee, Staff Writer
“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” –Henry David Thoreau
Behold, I am the world’s first Self-inflicted Philosopher and I’m here to tell you: You’ll reap no evolution if you don’t sow a little revolution.
The current existential interregnum is a collision of conscience, the ushering in of an eco-conscious romantic instrumentalism and an antidote to modern drift. Your task, if you would be free thinkers, is to balance the deconstructive with the regenerative, to apply your intellect like an acid to any and all debilitating belief structures and unsustainable systems, while also employing a playful imagination in order to contemplate and construct new ideals and new systems that both enliven the spirit and respect the environment. Do not doubt your value to society as thinkers. Dissolve the distinction between Philosopher and Artist, between Thinker and Aesthetic. You –we– are both. Create atmospheres of thought that envelope other philosopher-artists; places to learn, unlearn, and then relearn: a super-massive cloud of revolutionary thought that launches ideas into the world like lightning bolts. Your longing for intellectual autonomy is both a shared opinion and an opinion that needs to be shared.
I beseech you, young radicals, autonomous intellectuals, freemen, freewomen, freethinkers, you who would dare to stretch comfort zones, shatter mental paradigms and flatten boxes others cannot seem to think outside of, paint the world with your hard-earned pain, run down the hard path toward your own liberated intellect. Create from the depths of your primordial jouissance. Don’t seek secure footing. Tear up the ground beneath your feet, and then plant seeds. Keep moving. Repeat. Show us the ecstasy and the agony of your pursuit of truth. Art is your vehicle. Poetry is your power. Subsume Emerson’s 1884 essay “The Poet”: the “true poet who stands among partial man for the complete man, who traverses the whole scale of experiences, and is representative of man, in virtue of being the largest power to receive and to impart.” The vision of a new humanity is in our hands. It is our duty to address, undress, distress and then de-stress the soul of man. As the prolific street artist Banksy tagged, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
Behold, I am the world’s first Disaster Shaman and I’m here to tell you: You are a force of destiny first, a man or woman second.
You are a force of nature first. Like Camus said, “I rebel; therefore we exist.” You who are breaking the history of the world in two, what came before you is a stepping stone for what comes after you. It is our task not to adorn society but to remake it. We are here to ventriloquize the powers-that-be into awakened consciousness. Let us dare to look both creation and annihilation full in the face. We have world-making potential inside of us. We still have chaos with which to build stars. Let us create new worlds even as we efface old ones. Let us assume the role of New-hero, New-layman, and New-oracle. Let us dissect our soul, cutting it open and revealing the pulsating ignorance of our cultural cognitive dissonance. Such compost is ripe for new seeds. I insist, along with Nietzsche, that the most tyrannical of the “old tyrannies” are found within the self. Let us exorcise these tyrannies, lest we become tyrants ourselves.
The world is ready for this kind of change. Even as it thrashes about and lashes out. Its thrashing is denial. Its lashing is fear. It’s easy to fall into the clutches of denial. It’s easy to remain within the coziness of the comfort zone. But like Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote, “When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.” We are all of us “great ships” if we just allow ourselves to be. It takes courage, immense courage, tantamount to herculean proportions. But it’s our denial. It’s our fear. Nobody else can feel it for us. It’s time we kicked ourselves in the ass. It’s time to rebel so that “we” can exist.
Like Kahlil Gibran surmised from reading Nietzsche, “Always have we been our own forerunners, and always shall we be.” We need autodidacts of the first order, with a fearless moral inquiry: freelance artists, antagonistic writers, and radical philosophers. Or, better yet, all three combined. We need intellectuals who stand outside of social and moral structures, and are daring enough to integrate their thinking with their doing, in order to rescue philosophy itself from the hypocrisy of its own abstraction. We need writers who plant holistic seeds in close-minded soil. We need artists who break outdated laws in order to enliven outlawed creativity. We need philosophers who ask tough questions, who interrogate the powers-that-be and tear down unsustainable ignorance by building up sustainable intellection.
As it stands, we are in conflict with a sordid and malignant regime. Now more than ever we need mindful madcaps willing to sound out the antiquated ideals and parochial stopgaps that have led us into the current cultural wreckage. The current system doesn’t want us capable of critical thought. It wants us passive, ignorant, and fearful. We counteract the system by being aggressive, knowledgeable, and courageous with our critical thinking. The death throes of the plutocratic regime are the birth pangs of eco-moral sustainability. The process by which our democracy becomes eco-moral will be the shift from an exploitative system to a relationship-based system of governance. Not hierarchal government but anarchic governance. Hierarchal government is more about power and control, which leads to tyranny. Anarchic governance is more about freedom and cooperation, which leads to liberty. Let us have the courage and compassion for anarchic governance rather than hierarchal government. Like Eliezer Yudkowsky said, “You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.”
Caught-up, as we are, in this buckling existential threshold, it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it is there, blinking like a beacon. Sometimes it takes seeing the forest for the trees, before we can see the light. The key is not to get too caught up in reaching it, but to enjoy the adventure being the thing. In between, there will be much heartache. Our souls will warble in their sheathes. Our hearts will buckle and bend. We will have been changed. But there’s nothing saying that change can’t be for the better. There’s nothing preventing us from using it as a sharpening stone toward a more precise version of ourselves. The future can either be wide-open and healthy, or closed-off and unhealthy. If we remain on our current unsustainable path it will surely be the latter, but we can still decide to change course and create a new path toward sustainability. It’s in our hands. Let us have the courage it will take to tear down the old and build up the new.
I am the world’s first Self-inflicted Philosopher. I am the world’s first Disaster Shaman. I am the world’s first Eco-moral Anrcho-fallibilist. And I am here to tell you: I have squeezed every last drop of slave’s blood from my mind body and soul, knowing that had I not done so, had I not challenged the entire notion of slavery, I would have just become a new boss or master in a violent exploitative dog-eat-dog system. But if all the blood is painfully squeezed away then a free person emerges. I am Crazy Horse. I am Buddha. I am Übermensch. I am Christ. And not even death can stop those who are free.
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.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
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