Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Love Of Fate

Like most of what he said, Nietzsche's idea of Amor Fati had a deep impression on me. After I first read about it, I wanted to tattoo it on my wrist, partly as a reminder and partly to affirm my belief that to truly live life, you have to accept all of it. Then, I forgot. I'm trying to work out how it happened, and I think it had something to do with finding Vincent; I became so happy, sadness seemed like a betrayal of what I had discovered. I remembered the tattoo the other day, and struggled to remember what it had meant to me; how accepting everything was a beautiful ideal, and the most genuine way to live life. Then a few days later I read this in a Rolling Stone interview with Springsteen from 1992:

I've struggled a lot over the past two, three years, and it's been real rewarding.
I've been very, very happy,
truly the happiest I've ever been in my whole life.
And it's not that one-dimensional idea of "happy".
It's accepting a lot of death and sorrow and mortality.

I think I rail so hard against things I think are wrong, I forget that some things are to be accepted; that if I don't accept them, there really isn't a point. It's probably part of getting older, realising that living doesn't have to be all about fighting; it's as much about embracing things as they come. I told a friend I feel partly to blame for hurting my ribs because I don't exercise, and she suggested it might be another example of me putting unnecessary guilt on myself (she thinks a lot about how different people work, and why), so I thought about it and came to the conclusion that taking blame was a way of taking control, in a situation where my main struggle has been based in powerlessness. Now I see that maybe that was what I needed to accept; I've been so quick to accept the good things that have come, like Vincent, (and have probably given myself credit for them), and been so protected by them that I've been almost immune to things that might otherwise have personally affected me, and then when something has (being sick and unable to live the way I'm accustomed to for an entire month) I've felt frustrated and inadequate for not being able to cope with it, when there was no need to cope.

Springsteen goes on to say

It's putting down the script and letting the chips fall where they may.

Which at first I thought wasn't about amor fati, but now see is taking it to its logical conclusion. It's not about being passive, letting things just happen to you and not trying to improve things or live in a way that's true to who you are. It means realising you're not in control, in that you are not as powerful as you might think you are, and in that you cannot take responsibility for everything. I've never subscribed to the smug belief that Everything Happens For A Reason; I remember someone saying it to me when something terrible had happened and trying to imagine what reason could possibly justify it. I think it would be better if we just said Everything Happens. It's far more comforting, it doesn't presuppose responsibility or lack of responsibility.

One of the greatest things about Springsteen's lyrics is his amor fati, even in songs written long before this interview took place. Recognising the value in lives that aren't valuable in capitalist terms, and celebrating what happens in these lives is, to me, what makes amor fati so liberating (even though Richy didn't mean it this way); it's about seeing the beauty in what is real. Fate is hard to love sometimes, but if life is what you're about, and you want to say yes to it (sounds even better in my favourite lecturer's American accent), you have to try.

And lastly, a song that sometimes drives me up the wall but that I've been listening to a bit this past week. I like to think that there doesn't have to be a time for anything you don't want there to be a time for, and that's not a bad way to get things done, but it's nice to sit back and think maybe there is. Also this song reminds me of my cousin saying it plagiarises the bible, which pleased me very much.

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