Apothegms of Resentment
"One is punished best for one's virtues."
"The great epochs of our life are at the points when we gain courage to rebaptize our badness as the best of us."
Growing up I frequently heard that the greatest revenge is success. As a boy I accepted it as agreeable because I thought that creative productivity was an output of intense emotion caused hitherto by inexorable circumstances. This contrived much of my teenage years, actually—learning about my compatibilities with people, subjects, or hobbies. A friend, who was something of a poet then—whose handwritten poem she gave me I had kept in my breast pocket for years—asked me whether sadness was worth the art—a profound question when you are only 15. The only correct answer I knew was that sadness was consciousness and whatever its tame opposite would be (because it certainly wasn’t the fugitive happiness) would lend itself to ignorance of art completely; but of course it was more complex because emotions themselves don’t denote the inclination toward art, otherwise everyone would be an artist—though I suppose everyone “is” today, or has the knowledge for it, clearly obfuscating the distinction between is and phony; the latter inducing a burden that I suspect separates the artistic wheat from the chaff (or, the Charlie Parkers from the nobodies).
If Nietzsche intends to define virtue in the teleological sense—one is, only so insofar as he fulfills his practical function—then he is correct to say that if the man created and destined for command resorts to self-denial and retirement, he is wasting his virtues. But also, because one may be destined for command does not necessitate another is appropriate to take it up: hence, “it is immoral to say that what is right for one is fair for another.” There is an “order of rank” which exists between us (the Charlie Parkers vs the nobodies; the crackerjack vs the dilettante; the is vs the phony), but the hierarchy is not a perfectly imagined straight line: the is can be a nobody who is a dilettante, while the crackerjack a Charlie Parker who is a phony. Nevertheless, this inequality is not grounds to justify a philosophy of equality, or seething in debilitating resentment (contra galvanizing resentment); this appeal to universalism would be immoral, pathetic, and worthy of contempt; it is indicative of the intellectually bankrupt and an immoral use of hostile emotion which, when used well, may be a '“rebaptism” that the bad may become our best.
The practice of judging and condemning morally, is the favorite revenge of the intellectually shallow on those who are less so, it is also a kind of indemnity for their being badly endowed by nature, and finally, it is an opportunity for acquiring spirit and becoming subtle—malice spiritualizes.
Malice indeed spiritualizes.
I half agree that man is ‘destined’ for anything at all—whether it be for a life of command or sloth. But that we can move freely about demonstrates to me that even if our intrinsic personality and tolerance repulsed us from one thing or another, our extrinsic self-discipline can be placed against it. This tells me that will as some biological predisposition, disregarding sexual matters which is impossible to untether ourselves from anyway and therefore always a causa prima, is directed from resentment, as an in spite of, negation of, malice toward, that which is against us.
Therefore, we are not subjected to an ‘order of rank’ unless we fasten our own constraints. Who are we to pity ourselves? So long as we do not relish in our slavery by seeking, in our hatred of those who are better than we, for a divine justice where we are all equally debased, we can climb up the order through our own will, or rather, ill-will, i.e., resentment.
While that intense emotion directed toward success could be any emotion at all (e.g. sadness/anger after a breakup or death; repulsion at some current state of affairs), for whatever vengeance it hunts to realize, resentment was at the core of most of what I did so that, at risk of offending Nietzsche, I consider it a basic of morality—so this “philosophical psychology” might be my truth, certainly, but notwithstanding this postmodern circumvention, I am no less alone in it than Schopenhauer when he found an audience; Camus when Sisyphus was realized alive in all of us; or God, when for the last time at every present moment he is recognized in renouncement.