Contemporary Art: The Superman’s Betrayal

undermining of all the above by a value free science would mean that the roots of the old man’s standards in nature are cut.

In undermining the ancient notion of a natural order, modernity has laid bare for Nietzsche the true “order”: the world as a forum for strife hovering above a faceless void.

For if the world of our experience presupposes no transcendent order, are not all beings constituted hic et nunc, completely in themselves — even as they are, in the face of the abyss, not at all? If it is not their transcendent foundation that is inviolable, but their own particular constitution — dare we say, their authenticity — is there any way for two beings to face one another if not in mistrust, compelling them to violence? In the absence of natural relationships, is there anything but violence of, and against authentic monads? Similar considerations led Nietzsche to declare that life is a stage for Will to Power. And from this tremor, there is no refuge into any milder atheism: for indeed, what else but Will to Power is available to Descartes’ subject when all of his abstract universals, his constructed divinities departing from any natural ones, have been uncovered (note also the prior discussion of pragmatism)?

Divested of any appeal to transcendence true or fase, man now has only his will — his force — left

Portrait of Anne, watercolor, 2022, Joachim Bayens

at his disposal.

Does he direct it towards willful ignorance of the deeper implications of the new science and its fait accompli? Will he live inside a rotting corpse, blindfolded, going through the motions of his mannerisms and regulations? Or does he look upon the value-free world of our new science as the stage for an unprecedented project: The willful, even violent, creative generation of a new life that can sustain man in full awareness of his Godless world, so that he may thrive and revel in it?

Will he smash all idols, penetrate all screens over the underlying vortex of life that the new science has incontrovertibly revealed; Will he abandon mercy in favor of Will to Power?

Nietzsche is unequivocal: The man of the future must be the man who faces the abyss and freely inspires humanity to love it, to live in the face of it, beyond all past constraints masking it, and reveling in the pain of it.

Such a man would accomplish this by the art of writing, as Nietzsche aims to entice us with his poetic vision of the Superman, and surely music and painting, too.

The new ground of the arts is to be sought in ecstatic participation in the obscure fate of the superman.

It is only in the face of this problem of the relationship between nature and man that contemporary art could arise. For where art, indeed, human life itself, ceases to be imitation of natural order and a revelation of its secrets, no longer a return to the origins, but a departure from them, it cannot be but “creative”: civil life eo ipso becomes generative of things ontologically unprecedented, and in light of prior considerations, violent vis-a-vis its precedents.

The contemporary artist rejects nature as unchanging order providential to art. More precisely, this is typically explained according to a NeoMarxist modification of Nietzsche: divinity (whether understood as legally binding Will or natural Mind) is a cudgel by which history’s weak have been beaten and art — as personal self-expression — limited; a mirage perpetuating and justifying the margin’s exploitation by prudish plutocrats, the bourgeoisie, in other words, or the white man. The contemporary artist frees the downtrodden by humiliating the bourgeoisie with intrepid

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