Back to Herd Mentality of Illusion and Disillusion14 Aug 2017 5 mins read (900 words)
After spending the summer in a secluded, easy form of life in the rural northern Lazio region along with my mother; where I was able to unwind the predispositions imposed by the New York city environment. After 3 months of rest, I am on my way back.
During the summer I was left alone with my thoughts and books, just like a hermit—as Nietzsche would say in Beyond Good an Evil—away from the herd-like mentality of people living in the city of illusion and disillusion. In fact, by now I have become entirely assured by the thought that came across my mind a while back in while I was in New York: those who claim to be happy if they where to ever live in New York their whole adult life—are likely illusioned and disillusioned for good. I wonder if I would ever read this again and realize that I was the one who became an illusion and a disillusion.
But perhaps I may use Nietzsche to convey better what I mean to say. But even before I do that, let me quote him on what he has to say about being misunderstood:
Every profound thinker is more afraid of being understood than being misunderstood.1
For some reason this made me want to switch the topic, and focus on another aspect that might be related to illusion and disillusion.
We are living at an age where most who dream of writing, and eventually dream of coming up with a ‘kick-ass’ Medium article to gain as many views and likes as possible. It is a ‘platform’ where ideas are reduced to a mere currency of exchange within a platform of commodified ideas. To write on such a platform, means that you have to write to be understood by as many as possible—this is the currency. In such a way, you convey your unique idea (which in reality, is not that unique) to the mass that has the same herd-mentality as you. Your end-goal is to be understood as best as possible, nothing else.
In other words, the herd mentality by which you seek being understood are prejudices and ways of thinking that you share with others, whether this is an ideology, a view, etc. But the only thing that makes you different from others, is the idea your are trying to convey. And an idea, is nothing but a Dawkin’s meme: a sort of a virus that exploits the resources of your brain by turning it into a machine that produces new memes, that then gets transmitted into other people’s brains; in the same way a virus exploits the resources of a cell by turning it into a machine that produces new viruses, that then get transmitted and infect other cells.2 Your Medium article has only one end and purpose—to be transmitted and understood—a cancer for understanding, so to speak.
This is the problem, because people’s minds become part of a larger herd, but unfortunately, this turned out to be a evolutionary trait that made the formation of societies possible. It would be impossible to communicate intents and ideas to other people, if our intents and ideas could be understood by others. But the irony is that these people, who are part of this herd mentality, denounce totalitarian regimes since individuality becomes oppressed and the hive-mind becomes controlled by the state. But one thing they don’t realize, is that their own minds are part of a hive-mind totalitarian regime consisting of Medium articles and memes; where the understandability of written works directly correlates to the stock prices of a publishing house, whitin the system of capitalist illusion and disillusion.
Ok, let me stop there.3
It seems that I was no longer following what I was preaching in the beginning about the illusions and disillusion. I starting arguing that everyone seeks to convey their idea in a way that can be understood to the herd mentality; while I myself, hypocritically, was writing in way that can be easily understood to the reader. In other words, I began with writing to not be understood, and now that I became a sell-out, I began writing in order to be understood. But let this be abolished once again, and I’ll write again from a hermit perspective—without attempting to be understood by the herd-mentality.
Let me return back to Nietzsche then:
The hermit does not believe that any philosopher—assuming that every philosopher was first of all a hermit—ever expressed his real and ultimate opinions in books: does one not write books precisely to conceal what one harbors?4
Nietzsche wrote what he harbored—or he tried to at least—that is why his philosophy is so great. But imagine all the great minds who wrote books to be understood by the herd-mentality of the mass, and the thoughts they decided to spare and conceal from being unleashed out of their minds. And imagine all those who have optimized their thoughts in a way that makes them more easily understood by the herd-mentality mass. This is just another form of brain cancer that has not yet been diagnosed, and I’m the first one to diagnose it—you are welcome.
Oh, so why was I mentioning this when I was talking about going back to New York in the beginning? Well, this is why I argued for being misunderstood in the first place.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Beyond Good an Evil, §290 ↩
Daniel Dennett. From Bacteria to Bach and Back, pp. 173 ↩
Notice my satirical reproduction of a typical method employed by today’s herd mentality bloggers: A few bold words occupying a whole paragraph in an attempt to lure all the attention of the reader. ↩
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Beyond Good an Evil, §289 ↩