Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Anxiety is one of the fine names for philosophy as a practice of insomnia, when it stays up late at night, its forehead pressed against the window, keeping watch over the living and the dead, hoping that the dawn will not come and wipe out every trace of memory. Philosophy is a practice of insomnia. All of us, as living human beings destined to die, are looking for consolation. But the anxiety that inhabits us is not appeased by words. It keeps watch in the face of the greater mystery of what it is to ‘be in the world.’ Why? Why are we here? To what ends? Why is there pain? Why mourning? Why the succession of births and days? We suffer nonconsolation. And from the depths of time we have been speaking of the depths of ‘night.’ What other word is there to signify that which escapes, which slips away, which withholds knowledge of another time, knowledge of myth and mysteries, and keeps us in the dark? Philosophy was born with anxiety, with questioning, with insomnia. It takes upon itself the ills of the world, and thus it cannot sleep. The wound does not heal. Philosophical thought keeps watch at the hour of sleep and dreams. It has to answer for the Other: who? you, him, all of you, everyone, here, now, at once—before any possible acquittal, says Levinas. Insomnia means not being able to give oneself over to the certainty of love, to the self-evidence of words, to the presence of the world. It means being haunted.
Nietzsche - Thus Spake Zarathustra: