Monday, March 10, 2014

Becoming Masters of the Universe

In the beginning, there was He-Man. My dearly departed mother, so she told me, used to enjoy reading Greek mythology when she was in high school. I wonder at times if our tastes and desires our passed down to us through genetic encoding. Whoever invented the world of that popular cartoon from the early 1980s, whose action-packed episodes would pull me to the television every morning with exponential gravitational strength, must have a read a little mythology himself of the ancient Greeks. And probably a little Nietzsche, too.

On the other hand, maybe not. The wiki page of Roger Sweet, the creator of He-Man, doesn't mention any of his influences. In fact, Roger Sweet says the genius of creating He-Man was in its simplicity--take a bulky, brody-chop, beef-cake toy and place it in any conceivable environment, whether it be a sci-fi world of deep space or a fantasy universe with wizards and warlocks, and you got a story. Such entrepreneurial clarity, however, lacks both genius and creativity in all respects.

Should we mention here that the copyrights-holders of Conan the Barbarian sued Mattel over the production of He-Man? He-Man began conceptually, in the early comics written with the release of the toyline, as a good-guy barbarian. The Conan people, who were in the process of making a deal with Mattel for Conan toys, claimed that our superhero was ripped off from Arnie's iconic, muscle-bound lead.

He-Man, and Conan the Barbarian, are Nietzschean comic book conceits of the Ubermensch, just as Superman was. Both He-Man and Superman, like many superheroes, have everyday, mundane alter-egos used to protect their families and loved ones from evil villains who would harm them. He-Man's alter-ego Adam, like Clark Kent, portrays traits of character unbecoming to any true hero, such as timidity and indecision, so that one would never suspect that Adam and He-Man are one and the same person.

Leave aside for a moment the fact that Nietzsche probably did not have a literal barbarian in mind when describing the values of the Ubermensch. Although he did admire the "masters" of the ancient world, their nobility, their strength to rule themselves, their drive to become artists, writers and aristocratic rulers of ancient Greece. "Man is a rope between animal and the Overman," thus spake Zarathustra. When we were barbarians, we were animals, lions, "blonde beasts" who could conquer and rule those who were weaker in the animal kingdom. But since we've developed immortal souls, we've turned inward--as Kierkegaard says: "Christianity is inwardness." Evolving our immortal souls, we've tamed ourselves, domesticated our wild animal instincts, mutated from lions to sheep. Society and "progress" have turned us and the rest of Western Civilization into a world of emasculated, hipster Adams and Clark Kents. On the other hand, since we've civilized ourselves, we've become more interesting as well, deeper, more sophisticated, more reflective and introspective. Nietzsche doesn't want a return to the barbarism of old, but calls us to become, in a way, new, happy barbarians.

To do so, we have to escape our herd institutions, become great despisers of the "common good"--the good of the sheep--and learn how to control, understand and express our Will to Power: the underlying Life Force of all organic matter, if not the entire universe. Little boys intuitively understand what this Will to Power thing means, which is why we fall in love with our He-Mans or Supermans or Batmans or GI Joes as children. I think there are many of us who still understand what it means as we become men. We strive to become Masters of the Universe, in our homes, our jobs, our family life, our art--whatever it may be, even something as simple as mowing our yards on the weekends. No man wants to be mediocre and mundane, but different, exceptional, great. We desire excellence in all we do even if that excellence expresses itself in strange, mystifying ways to the eyes of the world--to everyone else who goes about life as if they'll get to live forever in heaven. In the face of failure, suffering and death, we still have to try to lift the control panel out of the tub room, to launch it through the window, in order to escape the corrupt institutions that control us.

Very few people understand what the Will to Power entails. And it's unfortunate that, those who deny the reality of or fail to understand the Will to Power, all too often strive to exercise political power, the basest of all forms of power, over everyone else. But the herd should be abandoned and ignored! Not surveilled, imprisoned and slaughtered. All too often, the herd elects its own sheep-ruler, a wolf wrapped in priestly white linen to blend in, the "first among equals," one who perhaps even believes his own lies, and one who, in his cunning duplicity, leads the herd to the slaughter house as it follows him with deafening cheers of gratitude and reverence.

In his "Masters of the Universe" speech, Alex Kurtagic expresses some ideas in the video below with which I disagree, especially the assertion that "Western Culture is individualistic." No, it's not. The war against individualism and liberty amongst some in the Alternative Right remains to be the most flawed and idiotic battle they have waged against the modern era. Dude, the values of "globalism," "universalism," "radical egalitarianism," "modernity," and "progress" cannot be reconciled with individualism or liberty. Believing that the values of individualism and personal liberty were born of The Reformation and The Enlightenment, many on the New Right associate those values with the Jacobins and the guillotine, forgetting that individualism and liberty existed prior to the horrors of the French Revolution.

Without the possibility of liberty there can be no heroes. With no individual liberty, no individuals can rise above the herd. There can be no difference, no hierarchy, no natural aristocracy without the existence of individuals who can fly where eagles dare, free from their political, social and cultural chains.  Such freedom will mean, necessarily, that many baby chicks will flee from their nests when their wings are too weak only to fall to their bloody deaths. So be it. As Proudhon said, "It is liberty that is the mother, not the daughter, of order." Therefore, only a degenerate class of tyrants would wish to rule with an iron fist. In becoming Masters of the Universe, we must master ourselves and our lives, not the rest of the world. That's the fundamental difference between a He-Man and a Skeletor, a Superman and a Lex Luther, an Ubermensch and Barak Obama.

Comic book villains, like villains of ancient mythology, illustrate for us shining examples of what happens when the Will to Power goes dreadfully wrong, when the Will to Power is misused or corrupted by former or ruined supermen, those who could have achieved greatness, but instead became monsters--powerful creatures lacking even the ancient barbarian instincts of nobility. They are nothing less than human malfunctions of excellence, the high stock of magnificence who were, for one reason or another, abandoned by their parents, raised as living abortions who survived the blade and the vacuum of reality, but who were terribly mutated, transformed, scarred...

George Washington, after serving eight years as President, could have become a king for life, but instead chose to relinquish his office for the good of the nation. Likewise, Barry Goldwater insisted many times in his life that he was never very interested in running for President, and Ron Paul said he was very hesitant and reluctant to accept the power of the executive branch were he elected to office. That's nobility. That's the spirit of a true and honorable leader or ruler. In opposition to such attitudes, as we can see in the awesome performance of Frank Langella playing Skeletor, we notice that the Will to Power can be appropriated for less than noble ends--the unchecked desire to rule the world and shape it to one's own idyllic conception of what it should look like: social engineering par excellence to create the New Jerusalem.

Though their hidden motives prevail to be the exact same, our contemporary "Progressive" masters just aren't as honest as Skeletor was in 1987. To defeat them, we must become masters ourselves and exercise the Will to Power in all sorts of new, creative ways. Alex Kurtagic provides some useful advice for advancing in that direction. Enjoy!

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