Notes Before Death: Some thoughts

Notes before Death, as the title suggests, begins with the author’s morbid musings on his own mortality:

I have been swept up in stirrings towards oblivion, which I had never before known. Until recently the contemplation of death had the more typical effect of instilling fear into my heart, causing me nothing more than thoroughgoing grief and terror. But now, I find that the terror has dissipated, and the concept of dying holds an immense appeal, not just for the psychological catharsis brought by the notion of taking a grand and decisive step

Having entertaining various kinds ‘hipster nihilism’ myself, the literary kind is perhaps the least destructive, as its purveyors seek to produce prose and flourish in a thematically-rich (read: morbid) context, in an art for art’s sake kind of way.

I’ve wondered whether there is a ‘type’ or psychological predisposition to indulging in existential examination. It seems that the ‘cool kids’ are just too busy being cool to worry about Kierkegaard or Sartre or the memoirs of any other eminent misfits. But depressive nihilist he is not, and I get the sense that at times he is in it more for the wordplay, in mixing literature with philosophy, although it’s quite possible that being an Existentialist, he is simply following the conventions of the genre.

The second part of the book focuses on sexuality. He goes on to detail the various stages of his consciousness, from happy childhood to his Edenic “fall” from which point everything changed:

But the changes that took place were in fact of no good whatsoever, in any familiar usage of the term. No… change was plainly bad in this case. I suspected such at the time, but was implored to believe otherwise by authoritative forces; thus, out of seemingly called-for deference to authority, I refrained from mourning what should properly have been mourned, and instead trusted in my elders, only finding out later what I had truly known all along: that my elders were either deluded by or compliant in the corruption I rightly espied lurking behind their smarmy smirks.

Echoing his previous work Confessions, Nowicki brings to light the inner turmoil faced by so many of us. Yet he does not accept the ‘stiff upper-lip’ proscription, but rather extrapolates and wrings-out, explains, whines and dines on the contradictions and circularity inherent in the coming-of-age process. In sub-chapters “Redbuffed” and “Flailure” we are treated with the awkwardness of his teenage alienation in a highly male-brain fashion, rejecting that the most ‘well meaning’ parental advice that what seems to be wrong with everything is ‘just in one’s head’.

There is a thematic consistency in Nowicki’s work and one of the things that stands out to me is his perceived need to be motivated to action in a pure and moral way. Just as he wished he could be immune from corruption and degradation of flesh, and its attendant social striving to become ‘wanted’ and a ‘fucker’, he would prefer not to try and please with his writing and express his himself without thought or reference to the readers of his writing:

..I wished to achieve a similar sort of integrity in my work, never asking the reader to meet me halfway, never making flattering unctuous overtures to him, never attempting to win him over to the “cause”, never trying to make him like me or feel in any particular way about what I was telling him. The notion of being a manipulator disgusted and repelled me, not simply because I thought it was the wrong way to approach others, but also because I felt it demeaned the artist, rendered him more of a mountebank than a soothesayer, more a prostitute than a prophet.

In this chapter deriding the crowd pleasing artist, in his insistence not to crowd-please or ‘be a fucker’, he doth protest too much. In forming and creating a voice that defines itself by not pleasing, in an act of conscious authenticity, one is acknowledging the crowd nonetheless, and is counter-signalling in an alternate way, whether it takes the form of a studied indifference or a bombastic guitar-solo.

As Nowicki is a kind of ‘acting moral conscience’ to the outrage-seeking white-nationalist fringe, (or as counter-signaling in the alt-right, you decide), I’m going to take a note out of his book and question his motivations. There is something distinctly American about the author’s constructed hyper-authenticity. He paints himself as the the awkward, unabashed loser. “Look at me, I’m not going to pretend sex and puberty isn’t awkward – I’ll even wear it on my sleeve!” with an all-knowing smile and glee when he gets reactions from the more easily agitated 1488ers – is he in fact the manipulator?

I offer the following general defence of the more vigorous defenders of the undefendable: When you reject social norms, take on the mantle as an outcast with regard to your understanding of history, politics, media, gender relations, demographics, the economy, the prevailing order in toto – liberalism – then there is bound to be a bit of fumbling in the dark as we attempt to articulate new answers, and a new lens with which to interpret and huge events. I’m inclined to be less harsh to wearers of Iron Crosses and ideological revisionists, since it’s a kind of ‘first stop’ of casting off the reigning ideology – adopting what you know holds immense power in a talisman-like way – that will cause superstitious wailing and absurd displays of faux-outrage, although at some point we need to ‘step over’ the baggage of 20th century conflicts.

In one of his teenage humiliations, he describes how while travelling on a bus with other high-school students, he got into an argument about whether sex was a ‘good thing’ or not (guess which side he was on). Predictably, everyone ganged up against him. But aha! I have a quote that sums up the entire point of it. He enjoys his self imposed alienation!

Though our debate no doubt had the effect of alienating me still further from my peers— who at the very least found my ideas somewhat freakish, and at worst thought me odious for attacking what to them was close to sacred— nevertheless, I felt pleased with the interaction, since it at least indicated a level of engagement with them, something I had felt very little acquainted with as a youngster, being, as I was, a general “eyesore in the architecture” at that time. Here, I was at least being noticed, and noted, rather than scrupulously avoided, as was more typical.

His attention seeking goes exactly to plan, and he gets to feel special all over again.

Despite (obviously) being a fan of Nowicki’s I nevertheless became exasperated with the unending navel-gazing in Notes before Death. His particular brand of florid prose is at times the self-indulgent literary equivalent of a grown man prancing around in a tutu. It all seems deliberate – to cause the reader to squirm with the superfluousness of his inquiry and heavily linked, premised and padded paragraphs. It is interesting to note the difference in style between the writing in theology compared to his flood of self-indulgence and then his fictional novels.

It’s certainly not a ‘pure expression’ (in the self indulgent parts) –  it is highly self conscious, yet you want to keep reading because he explores questions  most of us don’t want to – of our wretchedness and pathetic need for validation and human attention. Note that in all cases flesh (be a wanker not a fucker), fame, and mortality he can never get to where he wants to go – which by all accounts looks to be heaven. I think we should embrace our carnality, rather than ponder and moan about it. To look for the joy in the animal as life passes from it, into the eyes of the girl as she winces in pain and pleasure, in the fear and anxiety of the person seeking your approval.

At some point we come face to face with the baseness of our existence as violent, horny and hungry bipedal apes with a highly developed moral instinct that need be sublimated towards greatness, rather than navel gazing of the East or the self-flagellating, self-cuckolding of liberalism. There cannot be the passionate intensity without the hardship, the loyalty without adversaries. It’s not pretty it’s beautiful. Insert mishmafag quote.

In his essay on Christian theology and the Crucifixion, Nowicki attempts to reconciling the vengeful, jealous G-d of the Old testament with the more liberal and forgiving God of the New testament. As Nowicki soberly describes, the ancient Israelites, were like their modern descendants in their untrammeled sense of righteousness. Christian morality (or even liberal leftists) cannot provide a moral basis to support the biblical nor post-biblical crimes. But Talmudic Judaism has no difficulty with this because it’s good for the tribe.

The figure of Christ, whether you believe the story or not, has a powerful impact on the mind. The idea of existence outside of our ability to conceive of it could be profound or it could be just another tool of manipulation. The concept of ‘fully human and fully God’ is illogical, and this kind of Christian metaphysics is more complex than the kind of codified web of rules and laws that consist Talmudic Judaism. I’ve been interested in theology on an off during my school years, but I’m not going to say too much about this chapter. There’s Dugin quote from his Essay ‘Dostoyevsky and the Metaphysics of St. Petersburg that is relevant here.

“But let’s consider a Christian not in holiness, not in monkshood, not in asceticism and the hermitic life. Will the idea set by the Old Testament order be valid for him? No. He is christened, which means born from above, and consequently God is with him too. Inside, but not outside. Therefore, even being a sinner, the unworthy one too lives beyond the old man, in the new being, in the stream of the undeserved light of Grace. Observing or not observing Old Testament legislation has nothing to do with the intimate essence of the Christian existence.
Of course, it is more convenient for a society to have dealings with those who are obedient and observe rules. For a Christian society too. But all this doesn’t have any common measure with the Church sacrament, with the mystical life of a believer. Here the most interesting element begins. A Christian, by overstepping some Old Testament commandment, in fact demonstrates that he did not complete in himself the mysterious nature of the New Man, the potential personality cast by the Holy Spirit in the font of christening.”

It’s hard to believe the trope that ‘the best parts’ of Paganism and Judaism are what made Christianity. I’ve not seen this case made, only stated. I’ve also heard all sorts of other convoluted claims bouncing around the Alt-right, such as why Christians are in fact the opposite of Jews and why it’s more anti-Jew to be Christian than Pagan due the repudiation of their covenant, that Christians ‘improved’ their God and use their sacred text. I see it as a text that was compiled. The mystical power of the Holy spirit and the story of Christ, as explained later in his notes holds immense appeal, although the logical progression and end point of Christian weakness causes a lot of cognitive dissonance. Trying to shoe-horn tribalism and White Nationalism into Christianity clearly causes a lot of commotion, but I’m more tired of this kind of thing than anything else.

Catholicism or all mainline Christianity is a system. It is roughly coherent if you accept the premises but logically (within our human sense of ‘logic’) it comes apart on closer inspection. The convictions that I have or had may just be a product of my familiarity – or even superstition – I instinctively cross myself when I hear an ambulance or when I see a blind or disabled person – although there is a perversity to this also, a kind of ‘lucky me’. I can only reconcile life to God if he has very little to do with it. There’s a lot more about theology in the later part of the book, which I may write about in the future. For now, these are my somewhat disjointed and incomplete thoughts on the book.

Overall the thread of death loosely unites the series of essays in this book. It shows you the ‘different characters’ that the Nowicki plays when writing on theology, memoir and journalism. Now that I’m writing this conclusion several months after having read it, what stands out to me is the playful earnestness of the style in the first half, and the humour of the embarrasing stories. It’s a bit of a mescla of ideas, opinions, stories and theories, and some serious theology at the end. Have a read of it, and there’s likely to be some part that will interest you.

 

Gustav

 

2 comments

  1. “To look for the joy in the animal as life passes from it, into the eyes of the girl as she winces in pain and pleasure, in the fear and anxiety of the person seeking your approval.”

    That’s too shallow, always made me stop reading further. (She “winces” in pain due to my four-inch dick. What a joke, but that’s beside the point.) But shows that Schopenhauer is correct:

    “Das fortwährende Daseyn des Menschengeschlechts ist bloß ein Beweis der Geilheit desselben.”

    (Loosely translated: “The perpetual existence of mankind merely is proof for its horniness.”)

    All great moralists knew that our animalistic side needs to be tamed. As a Christian, I actually wrestle with the question of why such a debasing, vulgar and despicable drive like sex exists. My own musings I wrote down in “No sex in Garden Eden” on my website.

    All thinkers worth their salt saw that sex poses a problem: this goes for Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche especially. Otto Weininger, Philipp Mainländer come to mind as well. Also, Gómez Dávila too:


    Sexual promiscuity is the tip society pays in order to appease its slaves.

    To liberate man is to subject him to greed and sex.

    Sex does not solve even sexual problems.

    When the modern consciousness suspends its economic routines, it only oscillates between political anguish and sexual obsession.

    The 19th century did not live with more anguish because of its sexual repression than the 20th century with its sexual liberation.
    Identical obsession, even when the symptoms are the opposite.

    The problem is not sexual repression, nor sexual liberation, but sex.

    It is impossible to convince the fool that there are pleasures superior to those we share with the rest of the animals.

    Nowicki seems to be the only contemporary thinker who is able to see how wicked and destructive sex is; how demeaning that we were produced this way. He writes about this in Considering Suicide. Schopenhauer was aware of it, too:

    “If now optimism were right, if our existence were to be thankfully recognised as the gift of the highest goodness guided by wisdom, and accordingly in itself praiseworthy, commendable, and agreeable, then certainly the act which perpetuates it would necessarily have borne quite another physiognomy.”

    Christians actually have no answer as to why this debasing drive exists; most likely a curse by God due toto man’s disobedience in Garden Eden. Even Seraphim Rose speculates in his book on Genesis that sexuality did not exist in Garden Eden.

    However, the last paragraphs shows that most people lack deep introspection; most are shallow, are “takers”. Like my father, this worthless asshole, who simply satisfied his wicked lust and thereby flung me into this penal colony, this hellhole of a world.

    Name me one reason why I should continue to live not only in this decadent and vulgar modern world, but then also as a mentally ill ugly hunchback, who is at the bottom of society, in physicalband mental pain during his waking hours. One reason. There is none — except if one believes in God. Because this is the only argument one may make against suicide. However, as an atheist, this did not bother me, so I hanged myself in my early twenties; now, as a Christian, I have to endure this useless existence I never asked for — at least my worthless genetic line will die out with me.

    Those who cannot control their flame of lust are mere animals. Kierkrgaard agrees:

    ANOTHER MENDACIOUS USE OF CHRISTIANITY

    No doubt very many, and very different, things preoccupy people. But if one were to name just one thing of which one would say that it was the only thing people are preoccupied with, it would have to be relations between the sexes, sexual desire, propagation, etc. — for human beings are, after all, mainly animal.

    That is why everything, absolutely everything that human hypocrisy can invent comes together on this point, as on no other. If you really want to learn to recognize human hypocrisy, this is where to look. For it is precisely because here we are standing at the lowest level — something they would be too ashamed simply to admit — that here hypocrisy comes into its own. Hence the elevated talk of the profound seriousness of propagating the race, of the great benefaction of bestowing life upon another human being, etc., all of it calculated in addition to refine the voluptuousness of desire.

    The great benefaction of bestowing life on another human being. Bless my soul! A tired lecher, an old man who hardly has the sensual power — the truth is they were unable to control the flame of lust. But one puts it hypocritically by saying that they intended to perform the great benefaction of bestowing life upon another human being! Thanks! And what a life, this miserable, wretched, anguished existence which is usually the lot of such an offspring. Isn’t it splendid? Suppose murder and pillage and theft were similarly made into the greatest, most priceless benefaction! And what is putting a man to death compared with bringing such a wretched creature into life? For even if it is commonly considered a melancholic thought (as, if I recall, one of my pseudonymns says somewhere, or is to be found somewhere in my journal, or in any case a remark I made long, long ago) that there should be greater guilt in giving life than in taking it — even if in general it may indeed be too melancholic, yet in the case of the offspring whose life is destined to be sickly it is not an exaggeration. Yet this hypocrisy about a great benefaction is upheld; the child is supposed never to be able to give thanks enough — instead of the father never being able to expiate his guilt even if he went on his knees, in tears, before the child.

    But to the hypocritical use of Christianity. This is making it look as though Christian parents — and of course in Christian countries everyone is a Christian — beget Christian children — but then coming into existence is identical with receiving an eternal salvation. Aha! So the meaning of Christianity has become the refinement of the lust of the procreative act. One might perhaps otherwise just stop, see if one can control the urge, hesitate to give another person life merely to satisfy sexual desire — ah, but when one begets eternal, eternally blessed creatures, isn’t the best and most Christian thing not to do anything else all day long if that were possible?

    (1854; XI I A 219)
    From Papers and Journals, translated by Alistair Hannay

    1. I forgot to mention that I believe “life”, existence to be boring-ass shit I never would have chosen if asked. That’s most likely why that disgusting sex drive exists. Schopenhauer is correct to ask (paraphrased) “who would be so cold and bring someone into this world by an act of pure reason alone?”. Only an imbecile. So lust lures us, and there is no logical connection between the pure and innocent child, and that dirty, debasing and ugly copulation leading to it. (But the last bit I think I mentioned in “No sex in Garden Eden.”)

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