Monday, December 15, 2014

Awake in an Interesting Manner

In "The Gay Science" (1888), Nietzsche writes, "We have no dreams at all or interesting ones. We should learn to be awake the same way--not at all or in an interesting manner.

This aphorism piques my interest because it touches on Nietzsche's idea that the awakening to knowledge should be experienced as pleasure (i.e. "the gay science")--as "cheerful," not "serious." 

How much that we hear, listen to, even memorize fails to awaken us to knowledge? How much that we hear, listen to, even memorize, even accept as "the truth," is like dreamless sleep? 

The awakening to knowledge that delights us is that which corresponds to our inner selves, our passion, that inchoate innerness that we are constantly in the process of discovering--if we bother to--like (to use Nietzsche's analogy in the preface to On the Genealogy of Morals) bees ("honey-gatherers of the spirit") always on the lookout for something to bring back home to the hive.

"Awake ... in an interesting manner"--this involves the moments, the dreams, the insights we do remember because that forever-under-construction, never-finished sense of self finds something there with which to connect, thus discovering and defining a part of oneself ... for oneself.

To live interestingly is to remain, as much as possible, in a state of wanting to "find out"--also an interesting phrase because it suggests that knowledge, wisdom, meaning, whatever, is to be "found," pulled in from the "outside" and then, perhaps, turned into honey.

To be awake uninterestingly is, perhaps, not to be awake at all?

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