One Boiled Frog

it's getting warm out there.

His own calling he conceives as that of a doctor; for, as he said of Plato, Nietzsche himself also “received from the apology of Socrates the decisive thought of how a philosopher ought to behave toward man: as their physician, as a gadfly on the neck of man” (IV, 404).

Nietzsche’s prescriptions are, in Kant’s language, hypothetical imperatives and do not involve any absolute obligation. If a man does not want to be healthy, the most that can be said against him is that he is diseased to the marrow or, in Nietzsche’s later terminology, decadent. The criterion of naturalism should be found in the sanction of valuations or moral imperatives. In Nietzsche’s early value theory the sanction is, unlike Kant’s, naturalistic. No principles are invoked that are not subject to investigation by the natural sciences.

Nietzsche’s difficulties in this essay arise from his consideration of the “supra-historical.” With the “historical” and “unhistorical” he had been able to deal in terms of life and health, not profoundly perhaps, nor brilliantly, but apparently to his own satisfaction. The “supra-historical point of view,” however, threatens to upset his entire scheme. What, then, is the “supra-historical”? Nietzsche imagines the question put to a number of people “whether they would wish to live through the last ten or twenty years once more.” He is sure that everybody would answer “No”—but for different reasons.

In Nietzsche’s words, they “believe that the meaning of existence will come to light progressively in the course of its process.” The “historical man” has faith in the future. The “supra-historical” man, on the other hand, is the one “who does not envisage salvation in the process but for whom the world is finished in every single moment and its end [Ende] attained. What could ten new years teach that the past could not teach?”

Empirical facts do not seem to him to warrant the belief that history is a story of progress, that ever greater values are developed, and that whatever is later in the evolutionary scale is also eo ipso more valuable. “The goal of humanity cannot lie in the end but only in its highest specimens.” Perhaps there is no more basic statement of Nietzsche’s philosophy in all his writings than this sentence. Here is the most crucial point of his philosophy of history and theory of values—no less than the clue to his “aristocratic” ethics and his opposition to socialism and democracy.

He maintains in effect that the gulf separating Plato from the average man is greater than the cleft between the average man and a chimpanzee. Most men are essentially animals, not basically different from chimpanzees—distinguished only by a potentiality that few of them realize: they can, but rarely do, rise above the beasts. Man can transcend his animal nature and become a “no-longer-animal” and a “truly human being”; but only some of “the philosophers, artists, and saints” rise to that point (U III 5). The unphilosophic, inartistic, and unsaintly mass remain animals. Hell is, so to speak, man’s natural state: only by a superhuman effort can he ascend into the heavens, leave the animal kingdom beneath him, and acquire a value and a dignity without equal in all of nature.

Then Nietzsche looked at the productions of the great artists and philosophers. Would he gauge the worth of these men by the mass of their productions, by the average excellence of their works—or by their greatest works?29 Again, the answer cannot be in doubt. Leonardo has left fewer paintings than have most painters; but we should not judge him a poor painter on that account. We judge artists, and also philosophers, by their “masterpieces.” We say that if Beethoven had just written some one symphony which we consider his best, then he would be as great a composer as has ever lived, even if he had never written anything else. If Shakespeare had written just Lear or Hamlet, his place would be secure. If Spinoza had written only the Ethics, he would still be one of the greatest philosophers of all time.

The birth of tragedy, Dionysus and Apollo, Socrates and Goethe, Strauss and Wagner become, in Nietzsche’s vision, symbols of timeless themes. The conception of organizing the chaos turns out to be of the utmost significance: introduced in an apparently historical account as the essence of the Apollinian genius, it remains one of the persistent motifs of Nietzsche’s thought—and nothing could show more clearly how the connotation of the Dionysian is changed in his later works than the fact that Dionysus is later associated with this very power of integration and self-discipline.

When I say that a serious look at our pre-historical ancestors will open up avenues for us to move toward a sustainable future, the typical response comes off as something like “so we should just give up all technology and go bushwhacking?” I respond, conceding that improved technology can at least serve as a stop-gap to mitigate the damage we are doing right now. But it is not the end solution; only people can save the world.

This is not in the same line of the old “guns don’t kill people…” mantra, but instead that literally no amount of technology we produce will enable to live sustainably on this earth—on the spiritual level. And this not speaking in the religious-spiritual sense, but in the sense of feeling integral to the earth—that one is inseparable from our environment. Technology cannot assert our unsegregated existence with the environment; it can only mediate our currently disconnected relationship. With technology, we can now choose if it can shorten or lengthen our lifespan, we can choose whether or not parts of it become our tools of convenience. Technology is the assertion that our environment is a passive entity for exploitation by our active devices.

I emphasize active with italics because our definition of activity is distorted. Imagine a field of straw grass with a tree in the middle: for our definition of activity, absolutely nothing is happening. This is because I did not introduce any entity that is modernly considered having agency. In this vision, there is no person acting upon the earth, so nothing is happening. Yet if the importance of our environment is equal to our own existence, then it is obvious that hundreds of thousands, if not millions (billions?) of actions are taking place among a tree and straw grass: Each and every organism in this picture is thriving, converting energy from the sun into usable matter to grow and procreate and spread. Our global culture is accustomed to believe that activity only exists when humans enact their will upon the earth. Because actions by all other lifeforms are hypothesized to stem from “genetic instinct” their qualifications for existence are subordinated by our own.

Technology is a product of this thinking. Technology is always a tool of activity, one that manipulates the materials and lifeforms of our earth to enact the desires of our species and culture. Up to the 20th century, the development of technology appeared to endlessly improve our status on this earth; instead of “surviving”, the common person was able to “thrive”. This is because the human population on this earth using all of this technology could sustain its side effects: 200 million, 1.2 billion, 4 billion people could only produce so much pollution and extreme effects on the environment. But now we are approaching 9 billion people with access to nearly the same amount of technology, and find ourselves in a pickle.

If I applied the most stereotypical Silicon Valley question “will it scale?” upon technology, I think we will have to answer “no”. We could not survive 9 billion people using vehicles—battery or gas-fueled—nor could we even deal with 9 billion refrigerators running. While some complain that economic inequality is the primary failing of global civilization, one can also argue that it is the only thing keeping our global society from destroying its environment with technology. This is not to argue for the economic subjugations of people around the world; it simply highlights an observation that our luxury goods seem to ask for more environmental destruction than that which is more accessible.

9 billion solar panels and wind turbines and hydro-whatevers are also asking for inordinate amounts of plastics, metals, fossil fuels, and physical space to use, until the next billion humans arrive. And the next. And the… Someone may calculate a sane amount of solar panels for our current lifestyle, but does not account for the technology that will be taken for granted next generation, requiring even more alternating currents. I think people enjoy the fantasy stories of a finite amount of people put on spaceships or otherworldly colonies, based on the optimistic assumption that the population will remain stagnant and supported by the same level of technology in perpetuity. It is easier to understand, and does not ask the question: “will it scale?”

In conclusion, I believe that technology will need to be our stop-gap, like fighting fire with fire. But technology is not the solution to saving the world. It will be the choices we make as philosophically-driven human beings that will make our lives sustainable or ready to drive off a cliff. It is when we can find the sustainable methods of spiritual living that unlock the ability to not rely on technology to mitigate environmental destruction.

Pyrometallurgy: This process involves burning EV batteries at high temperatures to remove any unwanted plastics or organic matter, and results in only a fraction of the original material being recovered – usually just the copper, nickel or cobalt. A common pyrometallurgical process for EV batteries is smelting, which is simple but also not very ecologically friendly as the process requires the use of pollution-causing fossil fuels.

Hydrometallurgy: A common hydrometallurgical process for EV batteries is leaching, which is the process of soaking lithium-ion cells in strong acids to dissolve the metals into a solution. The success rate of recovering materials, particularly lithium, is much higher using this technique, but it can be an expensive and complex process. Up until now, mining lithium has been viewed as a cheaper and easier alternative to leaching, but it is gaining in popularity as EV use continues to grow. [(CarsGuide: Electric Car Battery Recycling: Can Lithium Batteries be Recycled?)]

Traditional economic incentives continue to point electric vehicle manufacturers down the default path of extracting virgin resources rather than thoroughly recycling the old. When vehicle consumers demand bargain bin prices, the manufacturer will do whatever is necessary to move “down market” and compromise any promising qualities of electric cars so that they are cheap enough to produce and can attract larger portions of the market. Already, Tesla is attempting to remove costly cobalt from its batteries, a material that improved its batteries’ recyclability.

The trend of compromising electric vehicles serves as a window into the phenomenon of “down market” production: These products become less durable, more plastic, with components that are more prone to being thrown in the trash rather than re-used for future potential use. As the economies of scale have always functioned, the lower a product’s price, the higher its hidden cost to the environment and human well-being.

Don’t be too distracted by the switch from combustion engines to electric: You still have plastic and metal trash serving as the chassis and interior that, as the vehicle moves “down market”, is more willing to jump into a landfill than into another car owners’ hands.

Effective battery recycling should be priced into the manufacturing of electric vehicles—even if it costs five thousand, ten thousand dollars more. It appears as though current car culture does not like to consider the death and afterlife of a vehicle, which allowed manufacturers to reduce prices and raise hidden costs as they underinvest in a vehicle’s full lifecycle. But we may have another chance to “price in” a future vehicle’s supposed sustainability by combatting down market pushes, demanding that electric vehicles deliver on a promise of moving people using only a fraction of the waste involved in combustion engine cars.

These electric vehicles will last 10 to 20 years. Where you do want them to end up? We have an unprecedented chance to speak up on these issues; we weren’t prepared or even cognitively ready for the mechanical violence cars had unleashed on us and the environment during the 20th century; now we have had more than a century of vehicular death and decay to understand where we might want this technology to go for the next one hundred years. Make these vehicles safer for people and the environment, during their lifecycle and after.

What this means is the creation of a kind of techno-utopia that extends far into the sky, with farming skyscrapers that enlist gravity to help with agricultural recycling of composted animal wastes. It will extend deep underground as well, where freight tunnels will connect factories and robotic vehicles will move things around in ways that don’t disturb our surface life. It will contribute large amounts of electricity to satisfy its own huge need for it. (“Cities as a Climate Survival Mechanism”, [Kim Stanley Robinson])

Of course! The climate city needs more, more, MORE! Dig further into the earth, reach higher into the sky! Tunnel, burrow, blast your way into the climate city! The techno-utopia will only be complete when more technology solves the problems of technology!

Eco-activist Lierre Keith produced a chart for her 2013 Earth at Risk interview differentiating between the Beatnik-styled “alternative culture” and a resistance-based “oppositional culture” (seen below). Lierre describes alternative culture as a kind of impotent expression of individualism:

In the alternative culture, the focus is on individual change. That’s a hallmark of liberalism. Only individuals can change, so individuals are the only worthy project for change. Injustice becomes an excuse for narcissism. The idea of “personal example” is seen as some kind of activism. This is where you get all the emphasis on things like your personal carbon footprint. Am I the only one who has noticed? The only time that men try to prove they’re smaller is when they’re comparing carbon footprints. (Keith, Earth at Risk)

Her summarization of alternative culture is essentially that of a postmodern culture, one that seeks to push social boundaries within its cage rather than question it altogether. On certain points, I strongly agree with Keith’s extolment of her oppositional culture: the acceptance of a strong moral code, active political engagement, and understanding power structures in order to dismantle them are all key to meaningful change. However, I find that her dismissive ideation of alternative culture may throw out the baby with the bath water. Keith rejects alternative culture’s celebrated “personal example” methodology, which makes sense until she projects its failings onto the primacy of the individual.

And in all that time, over all those invasions, the face-to-face example of a sustainable, egalitarian culture has never once changed the invading culture. It has never once brought on an epiphany in the invaders. That’s never once, in ten thousand years. “Personal example” does not work. The dominant culture will not change because it beholds the beautiful nonviolent values that we hold in our hearts, and it will not change because it sees our life-affirming, free-range compost piles. There are no exceptions. We’re going to have to give this one up. (Keith, Earth at Risk)

I understand that Keith is coming from a framework of “which resistance culture gets things done?” Given Keith’s dichotomy of alternative and oppositional cultures, one will most likely opt for the latter. But Keith willfully ignores that culture is composed of individuals who find value in combining their strength to push an idea on others. If we are going to understand power structures, we should also apply it to Keith’s oppositional culture, who even lists “socializing the young” as an imperative to accomplish goals. “Get them while they’re young” is fundamental to retaining cultural power over people, and it is a direct admission that converting individuals is important for the group; there is no culture that exists that is not comprised of individuals unconvinced by its premises. Thus, I can’t think hat Keith is rallying against the individual but is rather arguing that Nietzschean self-styling is not enough to change the world. Of course it’s not, because Nietzsche’s goal for self-styling was only to validate one’s existence in the universe; Postmodernism appropriated the concept, promising that self-styling would become what Keith coined as the “personal example”, a lifestyle for others to behold and emulate once they see its objective value.

The damaging part of Keith’s chart is the separation of global change into two opposites: cultural/psychological and economic/political. I have no criticisms of her push to attack concrete institutions and power structures, but I want to defend the power of changing the world in terms of individual psychology and global culture. Coming back to “socializing the young”, Keith finds some value in alternative culture with regard to the participation of youth in resistance movements. “Of course, there is also a positive side to including teenagers in a resistance movement. The gifts of youth include incredible moral vigor, courage, passion, idealism. Every movement needs an infusion of those gifts, regularly.” By “socializing the young”, you are converting energetic, idealistic individuals to contribute to the oppositional culture. You are creating the psychological and cultural foundation of your oppositional culture. But you are also guiding them away from the irrationalities and pitfalls of Postmodern/“alternative” culture, by channeling their idealisms toward a moral goal instead of letting their unfulfilled idealisms turn into directionless alienation.

It is this wanting to channel ideals that caused me to balk at the name “oppositional” culture. A culture that only exists in opposition to the dominant one will always need the dominant one to survive. Unless Keith is purposefully narrowing her focus on the short and medium-term, an oppositional culture will inevitably disintegrate if its dominant half collapses. The oppositional culture will have no basis for existing if it accomplishes its goal of “opposition”. Keith’s oppositional culture presents a powerful “no” to the current state of affairs, but only cursorily determines what “yes” it wants, which she outlines as the second of her two-part goal:

Part 1: To disrupt and dismantle industrial civilization; to thereby remove the ability of the rich to steal from the poor and powerful to destroy the planet. Part 2: To defend and rebuild just, sustainable, and autonomous human communities; and as part of that, to assist in the recovery of the land. (Keith, Earth At Risk)

Maybe Keith is much more descriptive of Part 1’s tactics than Part 2 because she wants to focus on the now, leaving later for others. Or perhaps, like many radicals, Keith enjoys the grandeur and drama of Part 1, which is why she brushes off Part 2 supporters as the “permaculture wing” or “voluntary simplicity people”. Maybe the crowd she imagines for the second phase are weekend warriors, but those most loyal to Part 2 will be the foundation of the future, the individuals who will actually carry out a sustainable society. Some portion of Part 1 supporters, just like the globe’s militaries, will be opportunists just looking to destroy something. It is important to recognize this so Part 1 doesn’t end up like every other revolution in the history of civilization, which has led us up to this moment in time, smothering out the powerful “yes” to sustainable human communities.

Keith created an alternative culture straw man that is inarguably less effective compared to her heroic oppositional culture. However, there are more nuanced forms of resistance cultures that might bridge the gap between the nihilism of alternative culture and the short-term thinking of oppositional culture. I won’t coin a name right now, but we know that it is one that knows cultures are comprised of individuals, and no resistance movement will exist without them.

I have a tenuous relationship with our environment. I love it for its beauty and functional aesthetics; that is, I can overlay my own objectives onto its curves and ditches and valleys and hills as if the land were made for one such action. A thin creek crossing means that I can hop over it and continue my walk. A cliff means I need to go another way. There are very few times that I blame our environment for being inhospitable to a walk. If I am vehemently against the application of “what is, is” to a world that is human, all-too-human, I do say of our environment: que sera, sera.

And that is where my relationship with our environment nearly ends. I have little to no passion for identifying its rocks, plants, and animals, they are progressive forms of our environment’s expression—along with ourselves of course, but even a bird approaches the world with a bit of solipsism. I appreciate when other, more capable biologists can identify and explain the functionings of the life among us—especially if a plant life is edible or a species is rare! But I realize that this abstraction of our environment, this labelling of each and every moving and growing piece is a social interaction: without others to share these labels with, birders and dendrologists have a private language for a world that does not care what it is called, nor needs to know what it does so instinctually.

Alone, my relationship with our environment has no private language, for it does not speak. It is a beautiful being, with many shapes and sizes moving about, but does not need my validation. That would be like an ant complimenting the front lawn for its accomplishments. I believe that people attempt communication with the environment for the naïve thought that if and when it speaks, it would be finally worth all this time and effort of protection.

However, in its several billion history of non-communication, our environment can still emit truths for us to discover, with the most pertinent being: it is not predicated on our existence.

This truth must be what the biologists and physicists and naturalists and spiritualists lose when they start labelling pieces of our environment. With each new label and innovative description of our reality, they forget that these labels and concepts won’t disappear with us, they’ll just exist, incommunicable until other species arrive, wanting to communicate with their environment. The reality is that we are not labelling and conceptualizing for the benefit and protection of our environment, but for the benefit of ourselves.

This must be heard for the next generation of environmentalists, who have been besieged by myths of our relationship with our environment from spiritualists and naturalists, which also resulted in a distortion of science’s role in our lives. The environmentalists of yesterday believed that we are disconnected from our environment, that the living world was like an unprotected infant perpetually abused by our evil species. Paradoxically, these environmentalists believed that Latin names and dissections of our environment brought us closer than before. But here are two abstractions of our species’ relationship with our environment, one constructed to instill guilt and suspicion with our environment and the other to develop a one-sided relationship, where we ask the incommunicable world to appreciate what we have done for it. On both sides, our environment says nothing, for it is inconsequential to the matters of the material world.

I do not want to diminish the achievements of yesterday’s environmentalists, but to re-contextualize their primary objective; our guilt and passions were not developed out of a love for “the environment”, but out of a respect for ourselves and in extension, our human-livable environment. We are guilty for having treated ourselves so poorly the past few millennia, for having destroyed our home. We want to connect with our home, so we try to understand how it works so we can pass that knowledge on to future generations to build on that knowledge and treat our home with care more based in reality. But yesterday’s environmentalists thought that they were against “People”; little did yesterday’s environmentalists know that they were attempting to find words to be the most respectful to them.

  1. A T-Corp perpetuates itself as a means to a living, not as a means to profit. It is motivated by sustained occupational passion, not growing revenue streams.
  2. T-Corps do not show promise of growth and scale to investors, only a promise of long-term, sustainable existence. T-Corps seek investors with reasonable payback structures, investors that accept the T-Corp business model, and those who are willing to take active roles in increasing company capabilities.
  3. A T-Corp is not a collection of shared idealists, but a group of people who have skills to increase the capability of the business’ success in producing a living. It is only coincidental that members of a T-Corp may share similar ideologies.
  4. There are no employees in a T-Corp, only partners/members. That is, all members of the T-Corp do not work for wages or salaries, but the fruit of their company’s success.
  5. All members share an equal income from the T-Corp, or a value unanimously accepted by members.
  6. A member is added only if they can extend the capability and revenue of the T-Corp to support their own living. They should not be added if it diminishes the living of existing members (unless members unanimously accept taking a reduction in living standard).
  7. Members of the T-Corp are the T-Corp (Part 1). Leaving the business requires immediate replacement as each member is integral to its operation. If most or all original members are replaced, carefully consider why this particular T-Corp exists in the first place.
  8. Members of the T-Corp are the T-Corp (Part 2). The T-Corp is not beholden to the objectives of the business, but serves that which works for all members as a good livelihood.
  9. Revenues are overwhelmingly re-invested into the company, whether through member enrichment, company technology improvements, or any investment that secures a higher standard of living for every member. Profits are invested into local community initiatives.
  10. This statement of principles is not a final draft — in fact, a T-Corp 10 must be scrutinized and likely modified to fit the needs of a particular business. The T-Corp 10 draft is finalized when it becomes useless.

A friend recommended to me the YouTube channel MemeAnalysis. Since it’s produced in the form of a video essay, I’ll try doing one myself, but in the lazier Daily Show kind of way.

I enjoyed the thesis, Memes Matter, because it’s an alliteration and because it’s true: Memes are a hugely portable media format that offers the audience two questions: 1) Are you familiar with the imagery and sentiment? And 2), if yes, then what’s your opinion? If you fail the first question, a possible follow-up awaits: Why don’t you know? You have been on this social media platform for years, and yet you don’t know the symbolic language of this meme. Why don’t you know? Many people might let the question go, but the purveyors of memes might follow up to understand the new vocabulary.

I think memes work in natural process, like gravity and the flow of water. The meme flows through down materials in the ground; some pieces are inclined to absorb and others deflect it depending on their inherent physical properties. People have their own physiological and psychological circumstances that develop what they are inclined to accept and ignore in terms of language and idea. But some form of meme, eroding the edges of individualized thought by constant flow, will inevitably break through and impact the constructed identities of its receiver.

Why would this happen? Why are memes breaking down a so-called “individualism”? I think it’s because individualism is an effect of thoughts and experiences unshared. The meme helps project the assumption that all people can relate to its experience. If people haven’t, then the meme doesn’t apply to them, and the meme is just visual noise or a curiosity. If people do relate, the meme feels prophetic and humane. At times, the meme’s symbolism may latch onto a once unshared thought or memory, and re-define it in the context of the meme’s symbolism rather than of the individual’s persona conception of it. In the context of religion, born-agains can re-narrativize their previous, secular life as a necessary process to find God.

We see every day how words are re-defined for a constantly changing culture: In politics, Republicans and Democrats have switched functional roles over the past two centuries, but the two party words evoke only a single vision for most. The words Liberal and Conservative may stay the same, but the underlying philosophies behind each word change all the time. Memes work to do the same thing, by asserting shared language over specific activities, identities, and ideologies. Think about how you can’t seem to have a Marxist perspective of the world without using the same words used by the original author. This is because Marxism was more powerful as a linguistic phenomenon than a practical one: The ideology created a shared language that helped people conceive the world through its linguistic lens.

Memes are much more humble. Memes don’t explicitly state they are human universals, they just knock on the door every few moments asking you to think about it for a second. Unlike Marxism, which requires the whole system of conception to focus or none at all, Memes can work through attrition: They chip at personal experiences without any system; they take what they can get. There’s no end goal here, which also highlights the decentralized nature of the meme: Each one is its own kingdom, and is happy with the little piece of turf they acquired. The only thing memes in aggregate accomplish is the constructed belief that there is nothing new under the sun in terms of the human experience. Spiritually this means a different end to history, by asserting that life is now just a re-run, so we can sit back and watch.

So memes do matter, but my foundations are quite different compared to MemeAnalysis. Even worse, I don’t even know where all these memes are coming from—I’ve never heard of 95% of what’s explained on MemeAnalysis’ channel. I see these meme images zooming and panning on the video essay and I don’t know what context they are posted in. How do people react to these things? This is like being shown some ancient carvings without any information on the where or why of the carvings. I’m just getting someone’s personal interpretation of the carving.

So then I feel I’m not really watching an analysis of the meme itself, but how it can be processed through MemeAnalysis’ philosophical framework. This is fine for an opinion writer like myself who doesn’t try to confound conjecture with statement of fact, but the tone of MemeAnalysis is that of a historian that had been hiding out in public libraries for centuries. Rather than analyzing or interpreting given memes, I’m seeing someone divine the truth out of them.

In the video “Gamers Rise Up,” MemeAnalysis is matter-of-fact about their diagnosis of gamers prior to GamerGate.

The gamer was initially a pleasant child, kept to himself, in a pleasant little world, content to play their games, troll the web, and lust for gamer girls. An insular way of life. It wasn’t until 2014, and the GamerGate event that the Gamer would be thrust from his cocoon of pleasure, and into a radicalized political landscape.

The Gamer, as he stood, was impotent. The typical racism and misogyny are not deep felt hatreds, but merely an aesthetic, a very powerful means of opposing the prevailing culture they felt wronged by. When the political right read this as a victory over the youth, they quickly found young disenfranchised people have no real beliefs. Just a rebellious spirit. There is no political alignment of todays energetic youth, and as different forces, establishment media, and alternative radicals fight to politicize and moralize the outbursts of chaotic youth, it will be up to the kids to refuse these ideological shackles.

For the Jungian world of MemeAnalysis, a video gamer is turned into a monolith: The Gamer. As we see above, The Gamer is quiet, yet seething with chaotic energy. They might follow the rules in interpersonal social settings, but while playing video games and engaging in online discussions, a rebellious nature is found. Apparently, The Gamer is not politically aligned, much to the consternation of establishment parties.

But to believe this, we have to assume that The Gamer archetype does exist, and that no individual video gamer is safe from The Gamer covering for self-identity. That is, in order to believe in The Gamer, you have to assume that there is little diversity in a given activity, hobby, or occupation; the meme is constructed on the assumption that someone else must have experienced this as well. It’s an echo chamber in which you might find yourself in the repetition of others.

The problem with this kind of “psycho-sociological” analysis of a meme is that you are going to have to create the symbol—the meme—first, and then desperately seek out behaviors that will fit it. In tarot cards and mentalism and other forms of psychological magic, this works well because people default to seeking identity in the easy-to-follow narratives of archetype. This narrative, with specific keywords that help keep one in their archetype—provides framework-specific vocabulary for people to have a mutual understanding of each other within that given framework. This is a process of “horoscoping”—to throw out a thousand vague characteristics of a group or person and see what they adopt and ignore, and tell them that it was their sign that defined them.

There are people that fit The Gamer archetype. But constructing these people from the archetype only serves to undermine a multi-sided, layered identity. If MemeAnalysis is asking “why does this meme matter?”, I would answer that its because we are seeing language and symbol construction in real-time; yes, the language is crude, exclusionary, and anti-individualistic, but that’s the point of language. Because a private language cannot exist, it must be compromised by all parties that agree to it. However, if this agreement of compromise is not recognized, and the language object is interpreted as a window into the human mind rather than an a product of ever-transforming culture, then you will produce a pseudo-psychology—and the problem of failed psychology is compounded by Jungian theory, which seeks to project from the individual onto the group. You then create a deformed sociological perspective from the innocent and simple question all memes ask: “Am I alone in having experienced this?”

I would conclude that MemeAnalysis is an interesting channel, but I’d watch it with some considerations: When watching, you should pay special attention to how the meme is processed by MemeAnalysis, through a Jungian, early-Nietzschean, classicist way; the consistent use of this framework turns the habitual into the ideological. Whether intentional or not, MemeAnalysis has its own assumption: that this mixed theory is the key to understanding the meme and thusly the people who popularized it. A true historian does little to question the ideological forces behind their constructed history.

The most revealing question is: “What have you really loved till now?” The answer will show you “your true self which does not lie deeply concealed within you but immeasurably high above you, or at least above what you usually take for your ego”. As we contemplate our self-chosen educators and meditate upon the dearest features of those we have elected from millions past and present to help us shape our selves—we envision our true nature which we would realize if we were not too lazy and afraid.

Yet Nietzsche also says in Ecce Homo: “To become what one is, one must not have the faintest notion what one is” (EH II 9). Here he condemns singleminded exertion to reach one goal and suggests that some of our detours turn out eventually to have been invaluable.

We might say that his tribute to Schopenhauer was such a detour and that the author of the Untimely Meditations did not yet have any clear notion of what he himself was. When Nietzsche proceeds to consider Schopenhauer’s honesty and integrity and—of all things—his “cheerfulness”; when he meditates on the advantages of Schopenhauer’s “separation” from the universities and on the dangers of “loneliness” and of the “despair in truth” and concludes, “life itself means being in danger”—one will readily believe that this is not meant to be an accurate likeness of Schopenhauer but rather Nietzsche’s description of the character he himself hopes to develop. Here is the kind of life he admires and hopes yet to realize.

Schopenhauer is viewed supra-historically as a symbol, and Nietzsche writes not as an “antiquarian” historian but as a “monumentalistic” artist who emphasizes certain traits at the expense of others because his concern is not at all with the past as such.

“Every great philosophy … as a whole says always only: this is the image of all life, and from this learn the meaning of your life. And conversely: read only your own life and understand from this the hieroglyphs of universal life. This is how Schopenhauer’s philosophy, too, should always be interpreted first: individually, by the single one [Einzelnen] alone for himself, to gain insight into his own misery and need.”

“There are certainly … tremendous forces, but they are savage, primordial, and utterly merciless. One looks upon them with uneasy expectations as upon the seething cauldron of a witch’s kitchen: any moment it may flash and lighten to announce terrible apparitions … the so-called Nation State … is … only an increment of the general insecurity and menace … and the hunt for happiness will never be greater than when it must be caught between today and tomorrow: because the day after tomorrow all hunting time may have come to an end altogether. We live in the period of atoms, of atomistic chaos. … Now almost everything on earth is determined by the crudest and most evil forces, by the egotism of the purchasers and the military despots. The State, in the hands of the latter … wishes that people would lavish on it the same idolatrous cult that they used to lavish on the Church.”

Nietzsche objects to the State because it appears to him as the power that intimidates man into conformity. Christianity, as he sees it, was originally a call to man not to conform, to leave father and mother, and to perfect himself.

Nietzsche’s opposition to political liberalism cannot be analyzed in this context either—but one statement that helps to explain his position can be found in the Meditation on Schopenhauer: “How should a political innovation be sufficient to make men once and for all into happy inhabitants of the earth?” (4). Nietzsche opposes not only the State but any overestimation of the political. The kingdom of God is in the hearts of men—and Nietzsche accuses Christianity of having betrayed this fundamental insight from the beginning, whether by transferring the kingdom into another world and thus depreciating this life, or by becoming political and seeking salvation through organizations, churches, cults, sacraments, or priests. He will not put his faith either in a church or in a political party or program, for he believes that the question of salvation is a “question for the single one.”

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.