(Associated Content) by Robert Mann
Reading through The Stranger, The Bald Soprano, and of course Sartre in college, I could never understand how existential writers subscribed to so many Anglo-European niceties. Some even used their reputations and signatures to support the moral rightness of certain universal causes.
Though the beneficial hindsight of history is now on our side, there is a disingenuous element to declaring independence from God then subscribing so closely to a Judeo-Christian culture and a sense of morality.
Nietzsche brought focus to the various modernist philosophies, not by declaring that God is dead, but by presenting the Übermensch or Superman. Divorce from God was only part of the postmodernist experience - living beyond any external moral bounds and answering only to edicts of the individual ego marked the full potential of modern man. Religion and moral codes were the realm of lesser men without the strength to aspire. Though Nietzsche's words have reverberated for generations, the final decade of his life was lived humbly in severe mental illness under the care of his mother and sister.
If there have been any incarnations of the Übermensch down through the history of time, Charles Manson is surely one of them. The Internet is chock full of Manson's 1988 interview with Geraldo Rivera, which surely culminated with the following statement by Manson: "I don't break laws, I make laws. I'm the Lawmaker." The horrific murders that Manson oversaw and this reflective statement were a two-fold "shot heard round the world" for modern philosophy. First, Nietzsche's Superman took a human form. Second, postmodernism was transferred from the intelligentsia to the common man.
While I appreciate my college studies of modern philosophy from the standpoint of art and evolution of thought, there was always suspicion for the divide between thinking and living. No, it is not necessary to live out our every thought, but putting forth a paradigm for existence comes with certain expectations. If a definition of life cannot be adopted by its primary advocates, perhaps it should be re-classified as something less serious or at least less real.
These words are by no means meant to cast aspersion on the genius or abilities of the writers mentioned. The poetry of their writing and thought holds an austere beauty for any reader. It is the fruition of their cumulative work that invites questions of authenticity and horror. Whether existentialist, postmodernist, secular humanist, or some related title, for the true believer, Charles Manson is the chosen one.