Occasional Note about the Overman

Safranski says the overman is “an ideal for anyone who wants to seize power over himself and who wants to fully develop his virtues; who is creatively productive and who masters the whole register of human intellect, creativity and imagination (“und der auf der ganzen Klaviatur des menschlichen Denkvermögens, der Phantasie und der Einbildungskraft zu spielen weiß”)”, actualizing the whole of human potential. Referring to David Lynch´s Inland Empire Die Zeit makes reference to Transcendental Meditation (which Lynch practices) and that in Transcendental Meditation the highest form of consciousness – unity consciousness – enables a person to perceive “all forms of life as manifestations of the same cosmic being, the boundary between internal and external world becomes permeable, the self is mirrored in all manifestations of the world…” and Der Spiegel adds in a respective review of Inland Empire that for someone transgressed to this level “reality and fiction do not exist anymore; space, time, dream and waking state amalgamate into an all-embracive experience” … indeed, when something like this comes in an organic, authentic way you have the consciousness of the overman (and Die Zeit concludes: “When everything is connected and the whole world fits into a single mind, the (artist) is allowed to perform gigantic leaps with his material, become overarching and eject fragments into the orbit – and yet trust his intuition that the inner, and universal, cohesion remains firm, alive and well.”).

Pessoa proclaims: Overman will not be the strongest one but the most comprehensive! Not the toughest one but the most omniferous! Not the freest one but the most harmonious! – as a distinction against Nietzsche´s somehow stressed vitalistic amor fati ideal; erected by Nietzsche against his own (occasionally suicidal) despair about the perception of everlasting existential misery in the world (“eternal recurrence of the same”) and eternal impossibility of authentic communication with mankind for folks like him. Indeed, overman is the hyperset over man. The intellect as well as the psychology of overman is NOT resemblant to those of man. The overman is the intellectual and psychological superconductor.

Kafka said: “I never wish to be easily defined. I´d rather float over the people´s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable, more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person.” And it is true that personhood will not be a compatible category for the overman and he will not feel comfortable with it. When you look at the overman you rather sense some fluid, malleable aura of white light or so. This is not so because of (some more delicate form of) narcissism but because of transcendence. While sophisticated people will try to “make their life a work of art”, the overman will feel uncomfortable with that and moreover deem that inadequate, since an artwork refers to something pompous, and finalized, and static. The overman will rather be the de/transpersonalised center of art/creativity/intellect, somehow like a naked singularity around which anything can happen. (As I have stated on various occasions now) a woman who knew Kafka said about him that Kafka was the only individual who thought like a human should think and who felt how a human should feel. Being the only one who thinks like a human should think and who feels like a human should feel (apparently) makes you the overman; and bearer of the paradox that, in this position, you are both most eccentric to and most at the center of the human experience (making your perception usually double-faced, always fluctuating, undecidable and irritating; beautiful, frightening, and empty; still you remain in control over it.)

When Wittgenstein as a young student of philosophy met Frege to challenge him he unsentimentally noted afterwards that Frege “swept the floor” with him. There are no indications that that experience affected his ego. When some years later Wittgenstein swept the floor with any philosopher there neither are indications that it went to his head and bloated his ego. In fact Wittgenstein (and people of his kind) did not seem to have much of an ego (in the common understanding). Overman also means transcendence of the ego. Reportedly, schizotypals have a nebulous ego respectively may experience the ego as an instance that is somehow vacant and would need to be filled. Instead, they have a sense for connectivity including transcendent connectivity. So, their self is nebulous and ghost-like, but they are keen at establishing (and transforming) connection with the outside world in an authentic way. Because of lack of integration of ego they are the most integrated persons, and the overman will be hyper-integrated along these lines; likewise the subjectivity of overman is so pronounced that 1) the sense for it evades the notion of personhood 2) their “self” becomes of objective importance. (Unfortunately, when I repeatedly posted about that in the schizotypal group with the hope that people in it could relate, they obviously could not relate much (which triggered a depressive shock in me one more time).)

Kafka said: “Life is merely terrible; I feel it as few others do. Often – and in my innermost self perhaps all the time – I doubt whether I am a human being.” Wittgenstein´s last words on his death-bed were: “Tell them I´ve had a wonderful life”, a statement his doctor and friend considered “enigmatic”. Indeed, because of his intensity and excitability (a feature common of schizotypals) and the sophistication of his mind as well as of his virtues and values the overman may be safe (or hyper-safe) in this world, nevertheless the question of happiness remains as the overman is a misfit in this world and all the joyous sensations of perception, rationalization and legitimization frequently (and, well, ultimately) collide with reality; the intensity of perception of the world on the one hand and the superficiality and emptiness of the world on the other hand. Apart from that schizotypals usually score high at anhedonia, i.e. inability to truly experience joy. Nietzsche says that one has to understand that the world is full of small, beautiful things to which we can stick to nevertheless. And that the world is actually deeper and more profound than the occurrences (Die Welt ist tief / Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht / Weh spricht: Vergeh! / Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit), therefore we actually are safe in a world like that, regardless of what we might think or experience emotionally.

I want to add that the question of happiness for the overman is a delicate, maybe even an irrelevant one, and Pessoa notes that we actually might not know at all what we feel. When somebody asks me about how I feel I usually respond “um”, “mh” or “hm” (if I say anything at all). That is true because I am neutral most of the time. On the other hand my emotions can be very intense and I wonder how the emotions of people who can make so distinct statements about their emotional states frequently deem as emotionally not actually present (so to say). Kafka, who was overwhelmed by his emotions and at the same time a highly functioning artist and bureaucrat, mourned that while it is easy for him to describe his room, describing his inner state deems him the most difficult. Pessoa´s descriptions of his inner life in the Book of Disquiet are cool paintings. Emily Dickinson´s poems are somehow situated at a plane constructed by the meta-level of emotionality and intellectuality (I see white forms in the sky, deepened and stratified in themselves, when I look at them). As the intellect of the overman permanently creates and then destroys again (so to say) and emotions are fluctuating the same way it is difficult for the overman to find stability in anything. Because of his ghost-like inner life/self the overman may feel forlorn and because of his fluidity undefined. Humor will usually be present but not necessarily (as some people think) a savior since humor just means you´re able to look at things in another, unconventional, off-the-wall way, including your own demise. The overman is rooted with his head in the sky and with his feet deep in the ground, and his interior is the endless hall of mirrors. Because of this he has to stabilize himself in his own complexity.

Wittgenstein´s last words were: “Tell them I`ve had a wonderful life”. Aleister Crowley´s last words reportedly were: “I am perplexed”. Wittgenstein was one of greatest philosophers, respectively as a meta-philosopher above the level of philosophers and he wrote a very precise prose to explain thoughts so radical that almost no one was able to understand. Crowley, as it seems to me, was an intelligent psychopath who said his excrements were sacred and who wrote a convoluted prose to express base ideas. According to legend, the psychopathic ego views people and stuff as highly separated from each other and because of this the psychopath has the ability to flexibly adapt to other people (in order to exploit them), whereas the schizotypal ego views everything as highly connected and is unable to play any role, with the schizotypal just being himself at any given moment to such an extent that not even the ego has a specific function, an actual role or identity (i.e. the schizotypal just being himself). Crowley was quite monolithic and self-assured and knew how to deal with people and influence them, Wittgenstein was relatively estranged among humans and seemingly troubled. Crowley, in his life, never was perplexed (therefore his last words were deemed as “enigmatic” by some), Wittgenstein was professionally perplexed all the time. From the perspective of hyperspace or the “spheres” it was the other way round. I hope I have not done wrong against Aleister Crowley; I may take a closer look at him maybe later in life.