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An Acquired Taste

By C. Rommial ButlerPublished 2 years ago 5 min read

“Man as he has appeared up to the present is the embryo of the man of the future; all the formative powers which are to produce the latter, already lie in the former: and owing to the fact that they are enormous, the more promising for the future the modern individual happens to be, the more suffering falls to his lot. This is the profoundest concept of suffering. The formative powers clash. The isolation of the individual need not deceive one—as a matter of fact, some uninterrupted current does actually flow through all individuals, and does thus unite them. The fact that they feel themselves isolated, is the most powerful spur in the process of setting themselves the loftiest of aims: their search for happiness is the means which keeps together and moderates the formative powers, and keeps them from being mutually destructive.”

Excessive intellectual strength sets itself new goals; it is not in the least satisfied by the command and the leadership of the inferior world, or by the preservation of the organism, of the “individual”.

We are more than the individual: we are the whole chain itself, with the tasks of all the possible futures of that chain in us.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

This was the answer to a soul-searching query of mine. How could something written over a century before by a man I’ll never meet be the answer to a question I asked today? Synchronicity is the term C.G. Jung used to describe this phenomenon.

Synchronicity: noun: the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection

It’s easy to write this off as nothing more than the habit of the human mind to arrange thoughts into self-aggrandizing patterns. Sometimes, this is the case. But sometimes the coincidences are anything but mere, and the pattern anything but pleasant to behold. This must remain for each of us to discern on our own. However, like any uncomfortable truth, we ignore this feedback loop from the universe at our own peril.

That I happened to come to this point in The Will to Power so soon after an attempt to divine my path forward reeks of predestiny and synchronicity. In some ways, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I am starting to think of it as an acquired taste, like learning to enjoy certain liquors and foods. I do not see the hand of any benevolent god or higher power in this.

I see an opportunity to create a path through undiscovered wastes. Before we understood our earthly climate, explorers undertook multiple expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, some sincerely believing that beyond the frozen tundra was a lush new world waiting to be discovered.

We now know that there is only more frozen tundra. But the journey nevertheless yielded knowledge which otherwise would have remained hidden. So it is with those like myself who possess “excessive intellectual strength”, as Nietzsche calls it. This intellectual strength is of no practical use in the majority of everyday matters, and often intimidates or repulses those who do not possess it. Yet it is the impetus that drives future discoveries, as Nietzsche himself has proven again and again.

I may freeze to death at the poles, but I would rather die trying than fail from lack of courage. Each of us, or at least so I suspect, possesses a sacred duty to become that which we have the greatest aptitude to be, though I also believe that to undergo this process must remain a choice, or else its value, to the species and the individual, is rendered nil.

Incidentally, another small bit of synchronicity:

In his high school welding class, my brother Bert made a hammer into which he inscribed the family name and gifted it to my father. After my father passed in 2020, we were going through his things, and Bert encouraged me to keep the hammer. I happily obliged.

Over the ensuing months, I have used it as a paperweight to hold open many books from which I sought to quote in various notes, journals, and essays. Most prominent of all, those of Friedrich Nietzsche, with whose work my own most certainly forms a chain as above described.

Nietzsche became known, due to his methods, and by his own admission, as one who “philosophizes with a hammer”. He uses the hammer to test those idols which we’ve made as symbols of truth, to see if they crack up under pressure.

They all do, of course. Much like the event described in Percy Shelley’s poem Ozymandias, the sands of time do not spare even the greatest among us from eternity.

The struggle to free oneself from ideological conditioning is a war of attrition that can only be won once all is lost.

Eternity does not belong to us. We belong to eternity. At first this may seem an excuse for amoral behavior, but upon closer inspection we realize: to harm others is a waste of time that could otherwise be spent bathing in the sun, stretching the muscles of our minds to an elasticity that could comprehend the eternity to which we will one day inevitably return.

As with the anecdote about Diogenes of Sinope and Alexander which I have mentioned elsewhere, this is all the more reason not to stand in another’s light.

I spent the first forty years of my life purposely pushing buttons to see what they do rather than trusting the label beneath them; defying moral traditions and social conventions to discover whether they held true; experimenting with madness in various ways to try to understand what, if anything, comprises sanity.

I would not recommend this as a sound morality for normal people. The results can be discomfiting to the neurotypical mind.

For instance:

Death is the most convenient thing for the dying. It ends all their troubles. For those of us left behind, however, it increases our burdens. For grief is the price of love. Yet love is one of the few experiences in this life worth paying for. One may even say that love is priceless.

The soft inevitably overcomes the hard, but the hard dies in the throes of ecstasy, whereas the soft complacently withers away.

I do not begrudge people their idols, anymore than I curse eternity for burying them in the sand.

I wander the wastes, plucking curios from hidden dens where others dare not search, finding a world of wonder which never ceases to amaze and delight.

In the scope of forever, I haven’t long to go, but I suspect I’ll never be completely gone, even when my name is forgotten and all that remains are faded fingerprints dissolving from the handle of a rusted hammer.

Yet perhaps that artifact, unearthed by a future inquiring mind, will amaze and delight.

Other philosophical meanderings from C. Rommial Butler:


About the Creator

C. Rommial Butler

C. Rommial Butler is a writer, musician and philosopher from Indianapolis, IN. His works can be found online through multiple streaming services and booksellers.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Cathy holmes2 years ago

    Very interesting a d thought provoking. Well done.

  • This was a very interesting read

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