Stop Holding Back!

The following is an exercise in thumos (in Greek meaning: spiritedness, anger, liveliness, fieriness). My Nietzschean thesis is that our culture has become soft and that our time calls for the cultivation of toughness.

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Stop holding back! Just stop it! Stop giving up, giving in, shrinking back. Just–just stop with all the restraining!

Don’t you feel the dissipation, the cowering, the smallness of shrinking back? Can you still remember what it felt like to burst forth into life and to become alive with Life?

Come on!

I mean: Come on!

Hell is ‘I feel hurt.’ Hell is ‘What I hear you saying is….’ Hell is flatness, the flattening out of liveliness.

You don’t kill people anymore. You kill their fieriness by making it impossible for fieriness to achieve form, utterance, articulation. Take the air out of everyone’s lungs: that’ll do it!

Nobody is great anymore and nothing is grand. None of it got killed, only stifled, stymied, put out. So went greatness and grandness without notification or notice.

Let the heart-fire loose! Let it breathe, let it burst forth, let it ignite into who-knows-what. Only let it!

Letting loose isn’t the same as physical violence, isn’t brutality, isn’t aggression, not necessarily. Letting loose pours one into speaking, acting. Let loose and articulate clearly.

Wildness: the spirit howling in controlled song.

Too much of this ‘non-violent communication.’ Too much of the ‘From my perspective,’ ‘In my experience…,’ ‘For me…’: holy shit! Enough of the bullshit! Aren’t you feeling nauseated? I am.

Here’s a way to stifle the fieriness of the spirit: have everyone go around in a large group and give feedback. Feedback? Blah. I remember the creative writing group I was in some years ago. The tacit rule was that you had to begin with four ‘I like…’ statements and then you were ‘given permission’ to make one watered-down criticism or vague recommendation. De-oxycenating.

Where are all the thick skins these days? Huh? Where are all the tough ones? Whence all the soft souls, the meeknesses, the sheer timid, whispering, quilted voices?

There’s so much bullshit today, I mean seriously, and it dries up, squashes, crushes the power of speaking up, of staking oneself, of becoming alive, and of daring to be wrong. I prefer the one who dares to be wrong to the one who says what’s appropriate and probably right. This is an aesthetic judgment: boring.

And there’s a massive amount of crap lingo these days: ‘being vulnerable,’ ‘being raw,’ ‘being present,’ ‘being open.’ And everything and everyone is ‘really’ genuine and ‘really’ generous and everything. And we’re all so grateful and blessed and kumbaya. How any, not to say all, of this is possible I don’t know. In any quantity, let alone such high quantities, flattery is nauseating. So is bullshit. And sentimentality.

Sentimentality destroys the proper value of all things.

Can’t we just stake ourselves on speaking the truth? On acting bravely? How about facing up to things: for once? For once?

Come on now! Have a real go at it!

Courage lies in the conceptual space of Fear and the Good. Look at fear, confront it, face up to it–and transcend it by grasping the Good so firmly. Get tough and growl a little at life. Don’t expect awards or even to live. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Relativism says there’s nothing worth dying for. Then who cares about the relativist? Most think there’s no reason in confronting our fears, just in finding a cure-all. So much the worse for the myriads of fearful.

We must become a Power, a living force like the wind, the sun, a Power that gets poured, concentrated, cultivated into clear thinking, right speech, right conduct. Our foes: bullshit artists, namby-pambyism, and kumbaya. Don’t respond to any of them because you’ll lose if you adopt their terms. Simply: own the center line.

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Practical Philosopher, Ph.D. | Rinzai Zen Buddhist ( | Examining What Technologists Are Taking For Granted

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