Servility is whenever one embraces unequivocal truths about reality.  This is how servility and the ascetic ideal are linked, as noticed by Nietzsche in his Genealogy of Morals.   Now, this insight should definitely not be transferred into a different light to imply that objective reality doesn’t exist or that it is morally wrong (or right) to be servile.   These links are psychological and only have moral implications further down the track.  That is, intellectual shamanism calls forth the question of what it means to submit to the truth and whether this is always necessary.

To imagine reality as a small bubble of oxygenated consciousness inside which you or I dwell is to see it as the intellectual shaman sees it.  I’m in this bubble and I feel safe.  I’m surrounded by my truths, pressing in on me somewhat, but this state of being is reassuring.   Maintaining awareness is oxygen, meaning I can breathe.   I’m a spaceman walking on the moon right now, but nothing phases me.   I’m only worried about losing oxygen, losing consciousness, for then I die.

Death is inevitable, but it is the fear of death that keeps us fixated on the truth as an oxygen supply.

Now let us imagine a different scenario.  For some reason humans have come to associate truth with perserving life, but the relationship is more tenuous than had been presumed.   For instance, truth turns out to be socially defined  — meaning it has an unstable quality by its nature.  Or truth is a boundary set up by your mind, that doesn’t really correlate with objective reality very much.   Take the space helmet off and you will still be fine.

Most people don’t live long enough to see historical perspectives:  boundaries of reality shift.  That which seems true to people today will seem like superstition to those who populate the future.

The ascetic ideal, meanwhile, constrains us.  Humans are prone to proceed cautiously through life, watching their steps.   But intellectual shamanism counsels that a too narrow mode of consciousness, all suited up with helmet on and cautious steps, is also a form of death.   One dies inwardly bit by bit.

Death is not a great thing, but Bataille goes on and on about it.  You would almost think he was inclined to celebrate the act of dying, but that isn’t it.   It’s the opposite. He is constructing formulations for opposing the ascetic ideal, without totally going mad and losing it.   You need to pay attention to safety and freedom.  A bit for tradition and a bit for me.   Otherwise your safety mechanisms will destroy you and you will be none the wiser.

So don’t focus so much on the truth side of things and start to live a little.

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