“Indeed, we philosophers and “free spirits” feel, when we hear the news that “the old god is dead,” as if a new dawn is shone on us; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, premonitions, expectation. At long last the horizon appears free to us again, even if it should not be bright; at long last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of knowledge permitted again; the sea, OUR sea, lies open again, perhaps there has never yet been such an open sea.” (Nietzsche)
And yet, with no anchor, nothing at all to direct this new found freedom, exhilaration is soon experienced as a terrifying nightmare of unfreedom. The wide open sea is daunting for “our infinite freedom thus becomes a cagelike freedom or an unfreedom in which it is impossible to choose.”
And yet…and yet, choose we must, choose we do. For there is no going forward otherwise. So many of us in these moments shall flee and return to habits of old that grounded us, firmly taking root with every desperate part of our being. For some, habits of old will wear the same old hat, and others, especially for those clever to evade this regressive route, a new hat is delightful. The transvaluation of values demands the complete eradication of all received standards that step in to threaten and oppress life, or rather the affirmation of life. Here human suffering has no place. Life is lived as an affirmation, it is the will to power, that instinctual drive to feel empowered, enlarging in perpetually expansive mode. But caution yourself, this is not a furious storm (after all this fury would equally nullify existence) but directed movement channeled by reason in search of life affirming opportunities to creatively direct and command the path one shall take. This is a laborious and painful course to charter, for sure.
Authenticity in this case seems to lie exclusively in assuming responsibility for the choices one makes within this framework. And yet, though necessary it seems insufficient to capture what is at heart an issue for being. A sense of ownership, ownness if you will, better expresses what it means to take a stand for who one is or becomes which involves commitment.
Is authenticity necessarily at odds with the pursuit of happiness? Well yes it is. What a fiasco! Setting happiness as a state one puts oneself in the act of pursuing obliterates its very possibility. Immediately the subject is transposed, suspended, bracketed and thereby set distinctly and irreparably beyond her ownmost possibility. She scans her innermost needs and desires in search for some unabiding resource from which she may draw happiness, and lurks amongst the ever-changing world in the hopes that she might find her anchor. A consortium of prizes are discovered but nothing of sustenance. In truth the duration of this happiness is proportionate with the extrinsicality of the object. Where the object of happiness is clearly off in the horizon or the periphery of one’s sense of personal comportment, the shorter lived the experience of happiness will be. An engaged subjectivity is the mode and mood of authenticity where “happiness” is not a project, where the pursuit of happiness does not find oneself aggressively, albeit seamlessly, removed from the act of being, existing, living.