Passionately Provoked

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star

Friedrich Nietzsche


Truer words were never spoken.

Every contemporary self-help book I pick up claims it can help us find the power to cope with life’s evils if we follow its instructions. As modern humans, we strive for serenity because we now know that it’s healthier for our bodies and minds. There are thousands of books, products, and medications designed to help you reduce, manage, and survive stress. I think I’ve tried them all. To attain higher consciousness, we must be peaceful and accepting and nonjudgmental at all times. We must not get angry or take offense. We must never have the urge to give some annoying asshole a good slap. We’re told to socialize more and go to church and be spiritual and join clubs and meditate and pray and and blah blah blah.

But without chaos in our hearts, nothing would ever get done.

Much of the advice we are given to help us lead better lives seems to directly oppose our instincts as human beings. It would take an extraordinary human indeed to train oneself to accept with composure the abuses and inequities of our world. How would we incite ourselves to greatness if we aspire to become detached and impassive? It is this very discontent we harbor in our souls which drives us to achieve great things.

Creativity comes in many forms, not just art. I believe our modern world in all its glory is the result of men and women driven by chaos.

I believe we should all try to curb our agitation, especially about the small stuff. But, many of the most respected artists and thinkers in history have suffered deep personal issues, and it made them who they were—positive proof of the creative power of chaos.

Is it possible to find a happy medium?

Starry Night over the Rhone, Vincent van Gogh

11 responses to “Passionately Provoked

  1. Yes, there is a kind of energy in chaos, because every time a chaos starts to become organized it looses some of its potential to transform into everything we can imagine. Owning this variability is an important aspect of the human spirit so we shouldn’t try to get rid of it because this would make us less human.

    I’m nobody who is peaceful or too much adapted because I think arguments and confrontaion are an important step of development. How should opinions and ideas change if they don’t have to be defended in arguments?

    So I think it is very suitable that you chose Nietzsche for your intrductory statement because I don’t know another philosopher who standed in for his or her theories in the way Nietzsche did. What do you think about his philosophy, Debra?

    Beautiful posting, very nice style 🙂

    LG, Robert

    • I respect Nietzsche and have many thoughts on his philosophy and life. So much chaos, alienation, torment—the high price he paid to pass on his legacy of brilliance and insight.

      But the labels we attribute to great thinkers are open to interpretation, yes?

      For example, I don’t believe that Nietzsche was as nihilistic as the term is defined. Are you? I think he wanted to analyze or interpret it more than he believed it. He helped shape it.

      As we mentioned in our conversations about personal paradise, I hope to meet him someday! Ha ha…

      • How I would love to meet him too! He is one of the thinkers I admire, because he did not walk the beaten path. He believed in himself, he doubted himself – he was human – with all his strengths and frailties.

  2. “Finding a happy medium.” That’s fraught with several meanings. I concur about chaos, pain being motivators for creativity. I’m not a self-help oriented person although I admit to reading Norman Vincent Peale many years ago to bolster teenage angst. Van Gogh found his “medium.” I write my blog because I see a profound disconnect in people and nature. I think it heal-able, but I may be wrong. My writing stems from seeing chaos, destruction of finite resources and correctable pathologies. I get angry, frustrated and cuss a lot. Too much is made of being composed, impartial, etc. I think we must be gentile, but when anguish visits the innocent, I’ll be un-gentile. No apologies. I’m anxious to read more of your posts.

    • The last few lines of your post—that is it exactly. A couple of years ago I read the popular book “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.” One of the agreements is “don’t take anything personally.” The author said that even if someone killed someone he loved, he would not take it personally or respond in anger, etc. I think this philosophy is bullshit because it’s absolutely impractical–no–impossible. Was he lobotomized and is not telling us? Books like these end up making people feel like failures.

      Our writings are born of the wars we wage within ourselves. And how awesome and lucky we are to have an outlet!

      • Totally agree, that philosophy is bullshit writ large. Like the statement, “Was he lobotomized and is not telling us.” Even when someone kills someone you love? Stupid author — the worst kind of navel-gazing.

      • This author sounds like a severely afflicted Type-B personality. Type B’s have never made history.

        • You mean the self-help book authors?

          • The author of The Four Agreements. It just goes to show that even “laid-back,” when carried to an extreme, is dangerous. I know some Type B’s who are totally lethargic and seem incapable of any kind of real emotion. Type A’s get all the bad press but we are the movers and shakers.

  3. Of course, sorry, I didn’t re-read the previous comment.

    Ann you are so wise. I think we have a lot in common, though I am still squirming around the bottom rungs of the ladder of life. But you “get” me.

    Of course we should all strive to not be so stressed out, I wish I could curb mine, as it’s unhealthy for our minds and bodies. But without it, we’d still be living in the stone age. Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, I don’t know. We seem to be heading that way anyway, all these gadgets have given morons the anonymity to be as mean as possible. And that’s not the kind of chaos I’m talking about. You know what I mean.

  4. I do know what you mean, the good kind of chaos that ultimately brings about change, which is of benefit. And yes, I do get you! The passion, the challenging, the fury, the clear vision, the deep love and compassion, all that is you, and also me. And never let me hear you say you’re squirming around the bottom rungs – the addicts and unfortunates who live in colonies in abandoned New York basements do that. Like me, you have opted out of the corporate rat race, even tho it is lucrative, to do jobs you love, are good at, and are needed. We need wordsmiths, artists, housecleaners and rebels, you are all those and I salute you.
    By the way, please google up Dennis Rodman, a particular favorite of mine. He is turning 50 next week and wait until you see this specimen, whether you’re into sports or not, I think you would dig this guy. Like you, he is what I see this wonderful decade as being all about. Have a lovely evening.

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