Sunday, December 04, 2005

Going West

If man is a journey to the shores of the superhuman, as Nietszche would have it, if our purpose is the pursuit of an ever receding horizon, a slow, trundling wagon train out of the East of our history and on to the mythic West of human perfection, then surely mediocrity is the tribe of painted savages that threatens our way.

How shall we deal with this enemy? Shall we, like so many others before us, circle our wagons, and make a stand in whatever place the mediocre first attacks us? Shall we hide behind our chattels, cowering in the dubious safety of our common plight, content to stay rooted in the middle of this wilderness where our hearts have led us, dreaming that someday the savages shall leave us and we shall be able to continue on our path? Given the choice between the world and our selves shall we surrender the world?

Or shall we, seeing the foe approach, take us to our swiftest horses, and abandoning forever whatever possessions we may have carried with us, race wildly towards the landscapes where we were headed, hoping to outrun our pursuers and cheat death that way? You will say this is a false hope, for mediocrity comes well mounted, and no man can escape it forever, but surely a trial of how far we can get before it catches us can be made, and it is possible, after all, that in making so unexpected a break we may win nearer to the goal than anyone has before.

But what when the pursuers are upon us? What when we hear the thud of their hoofbeats drawing closer, hear the pant of their breath as they approach? Shall we not turn then, shall we not fight? No. For how can one hope to fight with mediocrity when it comes in such large numbers and so well armed? How can one even begin to match its skill in destroying unless one becomes a part of it? I put it to you now that all stands are useless, that the truest pride lies in freedom, in the liberty of flight. To fight mediocrity is not merely to attempt the hopeless, it is to give it a dignity it does not deserve.

They say only cowards are shot in the back. Perhaps I am a coward then, for refusing to face up to the 'reality' that you would have me contend with. For my part I would rather dream, would rather fall with the arrows of mediocrity piercing me from behind, spurring myself forward as long as I have the strength, and dying, when the time comes, with my face still turned toward the far horizon of my ambition, if only to prove that my priorities never faltered.

Let others keep to their common sieges. I shall ride and ride until I have the heart left. And if no one shall come with me, or if others shall fall behind on the way, then I shall ride alone.


ozymandiaz said...

I've often enjoyed reading Nietzsche but oddly enough seldom agreed. I believe it is due to the relationship between his writings and my past philosophy. I won't get into that here but I will argue this point; mediocrity is the wake of greatness, the shadow created by the light. They are inseparable. As great people stride to make life better for all, the byproduct of mundane jobs and lives. (i.e. Alexander Bell invented the phone for greater and more efficient long distant communication and now we have the likes of phone operators and sanitizers*). So ride as fast as you can but you can't get away. For that matter, the faster you ride for that mythical horizon, the more greatness you acquire, the more mediocrity you create.

Falstaff said...

Oz: Good point. I'd still rather be the one creating opportunities for others to be mediocre than being the mediocre one myself.

Mrudula said...

Ah! Mediocrity! Can one get away from it. We are surrounded by it. Most of the time it tries to drown you. The only way to get away from it is to swim hard and get there before it gets you. It is a very tiresome thing, and can tire the quarry like a pack of wild dogs. But you can get there before it gets you. You can get there...