We Aren’t What We Aren’t

We aren’t what we aren’t.

For millennial this was always an accepted truism.

Sure, there were always a few who believed they were what they weren’t.

They went around to others saying I am what I’m not.

They wanted to believe what they weren’t so they acted out what they weren’t.

Those around them said “No, you aren’t what you aren’t, but go ahead and believe it, just keep away from me.”

Thinking that you are what you aren’t was one definition of insanity.

Those who thought they were what they weren’t kept to themselves with no demands on others to participate in their unreality.

So thousands and thousands of years went by and the truism of not being what you aren’t remained a truism because most didn’t believe you could be what you weren’t.

But a new postmodern world culturally was growing where the idea that you were what you weren’t was a new normal splintering the truism that held for millennial.

It became fashionable to be what you weren’t.

Friedrich Nietzsche in a one-page essay, “The Madman,” published in the periodical, Gay Science, in 1887, was writing about modern culture in “the age of science and reason” where we had just declared, “God is Dead!” The question: Is Western culture really ready for the philosophical ramifications of “killing God?”

Excerpt from The Madman

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us–for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.

“Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men…”

One commentator explaining his essay writes: “The horizon defining the limits of our world has been wiped away. The center holding us in place has vanished. Our age, which more and more is coming to be called postmodern, finds itself afloat in a pluralism of perspectives, a plethora of philosophical possibilities, but with no dominant notion of where to go or how to get there. A near future of cultural anarchy seems inevitable.”

It came at the end of the Twentieth Century and the beginning of the Twenty-First Century.

It came when those who believed they were what they weren’t demanded that others accepted that they were what they weren’t.

Acceptance wasn’t enough.

We must serve the wishes of those who aren’t what they aren’t but they believe they are.

The Madman also had this to say:

“Are we not plunging continually?Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions?

Is there still any up or down?

Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing?

Do we not feel the breath of empty space?”

We have no reference point for backward, sideward, forward, up, or down.

You cannot be what you’re not. That’s an old truth. But it’s still truth.