"To breed an animal with the right to make promises--is not this the paradoxical problem nature has set itself with regard to man? and is it not man's true problem? That the problem has in fact been solved to a remarkable degree will seem all the more surprising if we do full justice to the strong opposing force, the faculty of oblivion. Oblivion is not merely a vis inertiae, as is often claimed, but an active screening device, responsible for the fact that what we experience and digest psychologically does not, in the state of digestion, emerge into consciousness any more than what we ingest physically does. The role of this active oblivion is that of a concierge: to shut temporarily the doors and windows of consciousness; to protect us from the noise and agitation with which our lower organs work for or against one another; to introduce a little quiet into our consciousness so as to make room for the nobler fuctions and functionaries of our organism which do the governing and planning. This concierge maintains order and etiquette in the household of the psyche; which immediately suggests that there can be no happiness, no serenity, no hope, no pride, no present, without oblivion." --Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals
which is to say, oh oblivious present, that without censorship, denial, inattention, there is no promise. No future. Promise is oblivious to obstacles: it believes. It is passive, unconscious. I said yesterday that belief is innocent, but maybe it's more accurate to say that belief is asleep:
The consequences of N's thinking, the cost--to make promises (we must) in oblivion, in forgetfulnes--is more than high. It's terrifyingly negating. It zeros out. No promise, no oblivion: not really.
And yet, all day every day, it's acceptable. Who am I to hold responsible for breaking a promise? Surely I'm culpable, just for believing somebody's shit. It comes to that now, right? What were you thinking when you promised me X? M'dear I simply wasn't thinking. Thanks, N. Now we're all off the ethical hook. You're original--if tortured--about the same old shit, but you didn't have Dr. Phil telling you to get your shit straight, either.
Scarier: N is less concerned with promise (which seems passive, autonomous, mechanistic, part of breeding) than he is with willful oblivion (do do do do do): action. The active filtering process (in order to make right decisions, such as, perhaps, the decision not to make promises). The purposeful closing of windows and doors to unpleasant, uncomfortable, even squalid, filthy inevitabilities.
The phone rang yesterday all day and all day I listened to myself instead. I don't remember what I dreamt. At three o'clock I rose in the dark and prepared my work. By the time the sun was noticable in the office window, I'd forgotten myself again: I need to talk to you--am worried about M. Are you free?--my my my project promises to you to the others are in need of approval, a signature. Help me read and read well, okay? Remember me? It's Sarah, Rob, Jane. Jane. Will run with it, if you say so. Gotta run. The 27th instead of the 20th? Don't you think? I AM overwhelmed just now, but can't acknowledge it, and neither can you. Focus here. Zenith here. For the sake of the others who wonder at your ability to filter, pay attention, make priorities that don't involve yourself--fuck it, it's hardly about you--the greater cause, the whole, your collecitve, pay attention now: we don't make enough, we make way too much, we pay, how much do you get paid, anyway? Jesus, close the blinds. It's too bright in here to see anything. Oh well, the connection is lost anyway, as we'd expect in any ten-minute presentation, yes? You forget: I didn't promise you anything would happen, right? Right?
R promised to call with news of M. What news is eating at me now. I told her, damnit: don't put me off with such notes. I'll be up all night. She forgets to call. So it is that sleep, my oblivion, promises to wait. It does.
I don't do suffering.