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The Last Messiah [PDF / EPUB] The Last Messiah The supreme text of Antinatalist despair Norwegian philosopher Peter Zapffe re imagines the human condition as a continuing state in which the human organism has over evolved and over lived its own bi The supreme text of Antinatalist despair Norwegian philosopher Peter Zapffe re imagines the human condition as a continuing state in which the human organism has over evolved and over lived its own biological necessities through its over sized superfluous brainTragic lyricism and sublimation result Something suspiciously Buddhist here as well ignoble truthsFans of Nietzsche and EM Cioran will devour this text greedily A short essay but hits hard leaving a lasting impactEnjoy.

10 thoughts on “The Last Messiah

  1. says:

    Reducing the Critical Global Glut of CognitionI can’t find the flaw in Zapffe’s argument There is only one way to save the planet from biological devastation That is to eliminate the virus which is its cause the species Homo sapiens Our species is not the apex of evolution but a cognitively overdeveloped branch of life a diseased vector which cannot cope with the conseuences of our abilities nor even with a full recognition of what our abilities are We spend most of our lives attempting to hide from ourselves through a repertoire of tactics isolation anchoring distraction and sublimation for limiting our consciousness of just how bad we have made things We are self created spiritual morons Foregoing these tactics leads to a simple and probably the least unpleasant solution “As long as humankind recklessly proceeds in the fateful delusion of being biologically fated for triumph nothing essential will change And humans will persist in dreaming of salvation and affirmation and a new Messiah There is one conuest and one crown one redemption and one solution – Know yourselves – be infertile and let the earth be silent after ye” The fertility rate today is half what it was in 1963 So we’ve made a start Since men are congenitally irresponsible it’s up to you girls to keep up that stride across the finish linePostscript The novelist Thomas Ligotti has produced an expanded version of Zapffe’s position

  2. says:

    American author Thomas Ligotti is one of the greatest living writers of supernatural horror fiction He isn't nearly as well known as novelist Stephen King since Ligotti sticks with his muse and literary inspiration by writing short stories Nope not even one novel from Thomas Ligotti However Ligotti did write a work of nonfiction recently The Conspiracy Against the Human Race I'm listening to the audio book at the moment Fascinating Admittedly although I don''t share the author's view that human life is one unending nightmare I have been greatly enjoying his reflections As part of his pessimistic thesis Ligotti repeatedly refers to Norwegian philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe and his essay The Last Messiah I was intrigued thus my review Below are direct uotes from Zapffe's essay with my corresponding comments A breach in the very unity of life a biological paradox an abomination an absurdity an exaggeration of disastrous nature Life had overshot its target blowing itself apart A species had been armed too heavily – by spirit made almighty without but eually a menace to its own well being The idea here is somewhere along the evolutionary line in order to sustain our survival we humans developed a consciousness that empowered us to envision the future and past to conceptualize to use symbols and language to abstract But as it turns out to our disadvantage our developed human consciousness propels us into a world were we are forever attempting to construct meaning a world were we are constantly yearning and fretting for what we don't have a world where our stream of consciousness is endlessly spinning obsessively over a past we can't undo and a future we will never reach in a word perpetual suffering Added to this we are painfully aware of our own inevitable death And yet he could see matter as a stranger compare himself to all phenomena see through and locate his vital processes He comes to nature as an unbidden guest in vain extending his arms to beg conciliation with his maker Nature answers no it performed a miracle with man but later did not know him Not one plant or mineral or animal shares in our uniuely human consciousness thus on Planet Earth we are alone By the way this is much of the appeal of science fiction making contact with other forms of intelligent somewhat human like life forms Zapffe goes on to highlight four strategies we human take in order to shield ourselves from the ghastly truth of the reality of our human conditionIsolationBy isolation I here mean a fully arbitrary dismissal from consciousness of all disturbing and destructive thought and feeling In other words we seal out the reality of our constant moving toward death and dying by packing such thoughts and reflections in a mental closet The methods we use to keep the closet door shut are nearly infinite from nonstop humming to obsessive TV watching to addiction to booze tobacco and drugs to out and out denial Anchoring The mechanism of anchoring also serves from early childhood; parents home the street become matters of course to the child and give it a sense of assurance We wrap our individual identity up with some larger group or cause family friends country religion sports team The craving for material goods power is not so much due to the direct pleasures of wealth as none can be seated on than one chair or eat himself than sated Rather the value of a fortune to life consists in the rich opportunities for anchoring and distraction offered to the owner According to Zapffe the major appeal for owning houses than we will ever use and having money in the bank than we can ever spend is to ground ourselves in the identity of someone with great wealth Sidebar Ironically the wealth a person has the others tend to look forward to the death of that person so they can get their hands on the wealth DistractionA very popular mode of protection is distraction One limits attention to the critical bounds by constantly enthralling it with impressions A prime mode of distraction in our modern world being a workaholic making one's work the alpha and omega of life SublimationThe fourth remedy against panic sublimation is a matter of transformation rather than repression Through stylistic or artistic gifts can the very pain of living at times be converted into valuable experiences Positive impulses engage the evil and put it to their own ends fastening onto its pictorial dramatic heroic lyric or even comic aspects Ah those artistic and literary types To take suffering and death and use them as the topics for making a film or writing a novel or painting a tragic subject The artist is facing up to suffering and death but at an aesthetic distance so as not to feel the full force of its brutal sting Know yourselves – be infertile and let the earth be silent after ye” One solution Zapffe proposes stop having kids Not a popular position Just take a gander at the statistics included in the link below Link to Zapffe's essay to World Statistics philosopher Peter Wessel Zapffe 1899 – 1990

  3. says:

    The Last Messiah is an essay that encapsulates Zapffe’s view on the human condition and stands out as an important work in the sphere of philosophical pessimism The views expressed can be classed as a kind of evolutionary existentialism in that Zapffe propounds a view on the nature of human existence that incorporates an evolutionary perspectiveFor Camus human life is comparable to this absurd activity in that our condition and the world do not meet our desires we want meaning a fundamental reason for our existence but we are unable to find such a meaning or purpose This is a point that Zapffe also underscores The boulder is the meaning we try to construct be it scientific metaphysical or religious but they inevitably fail to meet our need for meaning according to Camus anyway and this causes us to construct another meaning with the process repeating itself like in the case of SisyphusMan is a tragic animal Not because of his smallness but because he is too well endowed Man has longings and spiritual demands that reality cannot fulfill We have expectations of a just and moral world Man reuires meaning in a meaningless world While the argument could be made that Zapffe is perhaps unduly pessimistic in his outlook I do think he delivers a keen insight into the human condition by focusing on the evolutionary perspective It seems clear that our biological evolutionary imperatives do not always closely align with human well being and at least on some accounts such imperatives seem diametrically opposed to our happiness For example in Buddhism craving is cast as the root of human suffering yet craving serves a crucial biological and evolutionary function; it makes us constantly feel unsatisfied with what is projecting satisfaction on what could be causing us to constantly strive but never gaining lasting satisfaction only temporary satisfaction But this treadmill of desire is what keeps us motivated to survive and reproduceZapffe refers to the human organism as a “biological paradox” but actually I think while his analysis of the human condition may hold true it is not so hard to see why the human intellect is as it is even if it leads to the uniue human experience of existential angst Evolutionary trade offs are commonplace There are countless examples of where an advantageous change in one trait leads to a disadvantageous change in another trait In the case of humans we can easily see that our degree of intellect as advantageous in a strictly biological context but at the same time we can say that we have too much intellect and awareness that it makes us prone to a wide spectrum of negative states from rumination to horrific despairHowever in evolutionary terms we might posit that the benefits of our highly or overly evolved intellect outweigh the downsides even if experientially for the individual those downsides entail existential panic and an indefatigable kind of discomfort Zapffe notes however that most people avoid the real horrors of seeing the human predicament clearly with “pure example of life panic being presumably rare” This is because “the protective mechanisms are refined and automatic and to some extent unremitting” Evolution is not a perfect system of design so even if the protective mechanisms don’t successfully work for all individuals or don’t work all the time with life panic sometimes rising to the surface our overly evolved intellect is nevertheless beneficial overall within a strictly evolutionary framework In one part of the essay Zapffe postulates four methods humans have used for limiting the contents of their consciousness1 Isolationwhich involves “a fully arbitrary dismissal from consciousness of all disturbing and destructive thought and feeling” It is an avoidance of thinking about the human condition and the terrible truths that Zapffe believes this entails He also describes the techniue of isolation by uoting a certain ‘Engstrom’ whose identity remains uncertain “One should not think it is just confusing”2 Anchoringwhich involves the “fixation of points within or construction of walls around the liuid fray of consciousness” This reuires that we consistently focus our attention on a value or ideal the examples Zapffe gives include “God the Church the State morality fate the laws of life the people the future”3 Distraction which is when “one limits attention to the critical bounds by constantly enthralling it with impressions” – this prevents the mind from examining itself and becoming aware of the tragedy of human existence It is easy to think of how we in modern times incessantly distract ourselves with external stimulation; some examples Zapffe gives include entertainment sport and radio4 Sublimation which Zapffe calls “a matter of transformation rather than repression” It involves turning “the very pain of living” into “valuable experiences” He continues “Positive impulses engage the evil and put it to their own ends fastening onto its pictorial dramatic heroic lyric or even comic aspects” He also notes that the essay The Last Messiah itself is an attempt at such sublimation For Zapffe sublimation is “the rarest of protective mechanisms” Most people can limit the contents of their consciousness using the previous three mechanisms staving off existential angst and world weariness But when these forms of repression fail and the tragic cannot be ignored sublimation offers a remedy a way of turning the unignorable “pain of living” into creative positive aesthetically valuable works One potential criticism I would level against Zapffe’s essay is that the mind may already naturally repress consciousness without any artificial methods of repression in place This is known as the ‘reducing valve theory’ of the mind expounded by philosophers such as Henri Bergson and CD Broad and then later popularised by Aldous Huxley This theory also appears to be with modern research on human consciousness For example research has demonstrated that the human brain has evolved a large scale network called the default mode network DMN that represses consciousness to limit the amount of information reaching conscious awareness Thus the repression of consciousness seems to be biological and inbuilt and not just artificial as Zapffe argues

  4. says:

    He comes to nature as an unbidden guest in vain extending his arms to beg conciliation with his maker Nature answers no it performed a miracle with man but later did not know him He has lost his right of residence in the universe has eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and been expelled from Paradise He is mighty in the near world but curses his might as purchased with his harmony of soul his innocence his inner peace in life’s embrace Even as the child sets out on the river of life the roars from the waterfall of death rise highly above the vale ever closer and tearing tearing at its joy Man beholds the earth and it is breathing like a great lung; whenever it exhales delightful life swarms from all its pores and reaches out toward the sun but when it inhales a moan of rupture passes through the multitude and corpses whip the ground like bouts of hail Not merely his own day could he see the graveyards wrung themselves before his gaze the laments of sunken millennia wailed against him from the ghastly decaying shapes the earth turned dreams of mothers Future’s curtain unravelled itself to reveal a nightmare of endless repetition a senseless suander of organic material The suffering of human billions makes its entrance into him through the gateway of compassion from all that happen arises a laughter to mock the demand for justice his profoundest ordering principle He sees himself emerge in his mother’s womb he holds up his hand in the air and it has five branches; whence this devilish number five and what has it to do with my soul? He is no longer obvious to himself – he touches his body in utter horror; this is you and so far do you extend and no farther

  5. says:

    Suffering is a part of the human experience and we all have our ways of dealing with suffering as well as how to deal with the constant pain that comes with existing in the normal world There are people out there who've decided to truck through life even through its pains and sufferings but then there's the people who choose to succumb to despair and then there's the people who want to spread the misery around to everyone else not allowing it to be enough for them themselves to be nihilistic but have to have everybody else around them to be as miserable and nihilistic as they are Zapffe is much like 'new atheist' gurus Hitchens and Dawkins not particularly as arrogant as the two but rather in his attempt to spread his own miserable existence to everybody else around them in an almost evangelical zeal He also apes off of Nietzsche without seeming to comprehend Nietzsche's end goal even as detestable as it is Zapffe does acknowledge Nietzsche's influence but decides to abandon Nietzsche's idealism in favor of advocating for mankind's desolation in fact I even joked on another review of this that him and Rust Cohle from True Detective should hang out in fact I wouldn't be surprised if Nic Pizzolatto used this essay as an influence for True Detective as it influenced horror author or as I like to dub him horror's Nietzsche Thomas Ligotti If there is one thing the two get right from Nietzsche it is how to figurative punch you in the stomach from the sheer power of their arguments Nihilism is persuasive as this essay shows and it can be hard to counter But at the end of the day the battle between hope and despair in the human condition relies on a choice the choice to embrace hope or to embrace despair As for the majority of the human race I think that we've managed to see that there is hope love and beauty to be found from this world and that often tanks baseless nihilism and despair Monty Python's Eric Idle couldn't have had it any betterhttpswwwyoutubecomwatch?vSJUhl

  6. says:

    The Rust Cohle handbook If I were a committed antinatalist nihilist Zapffe would be my idol

  7. says:

    Peter Wessel Zapffe delivers a poetic and grounded essay on the tragedy of human existence Consider the following all historical societies are devoid of any authentic emotion and we may as well read Nietzsche and still argue there's joy in life in one form or another; as if happiness is an unfinished business since fuck knows when As long as this logic persists ignorance will be the guiding light through the fields of agony paint some happy people stomping on the bloody earth and you'll get a view worth a few vomits The Last Messiah reminds us that human suffering is the basis of the very nature of our species thus pointing to the right direction if someone still stupidly cares to make things better I know I do so 5 stars

  8. says:

    Perfect rating for the writing for the ideas perspective for the shock value everything about this is masterful Zapffe makes the tragic than tangible and than relatable in this short piece Despite its brevity it reuires time to sit and think and still reuires at it's close Incredible

  9. says:

    A pillar to my everyday existence

  10. says:

    Whoever added The Last Messiah to GoodReads gave it an overly enthusiastic description that is really really not in keeping with the tone of the essay itself it is dark it is gloomy it is so handsomely depressing that one might just expire in disarray and in awe

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