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Can someone help me understand what this card is saying/ talking about. I get the tag, but IDK warrants


The AFF assumes the role of the ascetic priest who suffers in their role as the savior of the herd. In their attempt to master and banish suffering, ressentiment is turned inward as feelings of guilt flourish. The drive to resolve the suffering of the world is rooted in a will to self-protection. Liberalism’s management of suffering is a life denying will to nothingness which attempts to sterilize existence and freeze the movement/becoming which is constitutive of life’s meaning.

Abbas ‘10/Asma, Professor and Division Head in Social Studies, Political Science, Philosophy at the Liebowitz Center for International Studies at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Liberalism and Human Suffering: Materialist Reflections on Politics, Ethics, and Aesthetics, London: Palgrave Macmillan, pg. Pg. 68-71//Raunak Dua

This card has been modified for gendered language


We are told that the ascetic priest, inhis [their]role of the saviorand shepherd of thesick and the sufferinghad to have been sick him[their]- self. Nietzsche writes, “It cannot be the task of the healthy to nurse the sick and to make them well—the necessity of doctors and nurses who are themselves sick; and now we understand the meaning of the ascetic priest and grasp it with both hands.”51 The ascetic priesthim- self suffers,despite (or because of) adopting the role of the savior of all other sufferers. Nietzsche talks about the art of the ascetic priest, his[their] skill at representation, at a few different places in the text. The very fact that he [they] seeks out the suffering to claim dominion on is part of his [their]art and mastery. his [their]historical mission as savior,shepherd, and advocate stems out of his [their]mastery of his [their]suffering at all times.Not only has he [they] been able to simply deaden his [their]pain by subjecting himself to more, and effectively “reveling” in it, but he [they]also has turned his [their]ressentiment against itself, whereby he [they]no longer seeks the answer, the agent, and the cause outside of himself.But this is accompanied by the notion of guilt and sinwith an immoderation that contradicts his [their]labor, and an exchange of some illusions for others when the suf- ferer ceases to be intoxicated by fantasies and when suffering makes him apprehend the world in its not-too-flattering reality. It is at this point that, while the suffering is ridof the crutches of a contempt directed outward, the ascetic priest nestles his [their]prescribed sufferingin the crutches of contempt toward oneself, dissimulated by illusions and artifice. Nietzsche calls the ascetic priest “an artist in guilt feelings”52— the notions of guilt, sin, debt, suffering as punishment, all took form,were created, in the hands of the ascetic priest; they were the seeds and fruits of his [their]labor. Furthermore, the transformation of the invalid into a sinner is the priceless and timeless masterpiece of the ascetic priest’s art, to which the multitudes have constant access and of which, at the same time, they are objects. It is this art that requires the ascetic priest to “evolve a virtually new type of preying animal out of himself, or at least he [they]will need to repre- sent it.” The priest would need to represent (or represent, darstellenTheater of the Ascetic 69“a new kind of animal ferocity in which the polar bear, the supple, cold, and patient tiger, and not least the fox seem to be joined in a unity at once enticing and terrifying.”53 Accompanying this is his [their]con- fidence in his [their]art and ability to dominate the suffering at all times. In a sentence that is decidedly the crux of Michel Foucault’s Nietzschean lineage in thoughts on madness, science, therapy, and the exploration of the confessional roots of sexuality, Nietzsche writes, “He brings salves and balm with him, no doubt; but before he [they]can act as a physi- cian he [they]first has to wound; when he [they]then stills the pain of the wound he [they]at the same time infects the wound—for that is what he [they]knows to do best of all, this sorcerer and animal-tamer, in whose presence everything healthy necessarily grows sick, and everything sick tame.”54The shepherd exists so long as the herd exists, which is why the ascetic priest has to constantly combat anarchy and the threat of dis- integration of his [their]flock posed by ressentiment.This is where Nietzsche tells us that the priest’s accomplishment of altering the direction of the ressentiment(a feat that Nietzsche deems to be the “supreme util- ity” of the ascetic’s art and the only “value of the priestly existence)55 is rooted not in some selfless love of mankind but in an artful and strategic act of self-preservationon part of the ascetic priest. Here, three things loop back to themes put forth in this book’s Introduction—and give us clues to where the secret of the health and longevity of liberalism and its privileged subjects reposes. First, there is an aesthetic component—both in terms of artifice and of sense expe- rience—to the suffering of any subject in liberal society. Second, the seeming simplicity and “barebones” nature of the framework of liberal justice is stilted upon feverish negotiations of the meaning of life and death. As the following excerpt suggests, the affixing of the suffer- ing god in the Greek drama foretells the liberal drama that replaces a democracy of suffering with the drama that features singular notions of suffering, life, and death in principles of justice, no less Apollonian in incarnation than the late Dionysus(the Dionysus of the Twilight of the Idols rather than the Birth of Tragedy):56 We have now come to the insight that the scene [Scene] together with the action is basically and originally thought of only as a vision, that the single “reality” is the chorus itself, which creates the vision out of itself and speaks of that with the entire symbolism of dance, tone, and word. . . . The chorus sees how Dionysus, the god, suffers and glorifies him- self, and thus it does not itself act. But in this role, as complete servants in relation to the god, the chorus is nevertheless the highest, that is, the 70 Liberalism and Human Suffering Dionysian expression of nature and, like nature, thus in its frenzy speaks the language of oracular wisdom, as the fellow-sufferer as well as wise person reporting the truth from the heart of the world. . . . Dionysus, the essential stage hero and center of the vision is, accord- ing to this insight and to tradition, not really present in the very oldest periods of tragedy, but only imagined as present. That is, originally tragedy was only “chorus” and not “drama.” Later the attempt was made to show the god as real and then to present in a way visible to every eye the visionary figure together with the transfiguring setting. At that point “drama” in the strict sense begins. Now the dithyram- bic chorus takes on the task of stimulating the mood of the listeners right up to a Dionysian level of excitement, so that when the tragic hero appeared on the stage, they did not see something like an awk- ward masked person but a visionary shape born, as it were, out of their own enchantment.57 This excerpt brings to light two distinct currents I find intertwined in my relation to Nietzsche’s work on suffering. The first includes his [their]conceptions of the Dionysian and the Apollonian as they span his [their]oeuvre, occurring together. The second involves the characters of the ascetic priest and the tragic artist that are developed more unevenly in different texts. It is difficult to do justice here to how I see these two currents evolve in relation to each other. Suffice it to say, for now, that considering them together is necessary for grasping Nietzsche’s critique of ressentimentThere is no way to regard ressentiment as a moral sickness and a sickness of Christian and liberal morality with- out seeing it as a political and aesthetic pathology and a pathology of Western liberal politics and aesthetics.So, the next time the Genealogy inspires a defensive reaction on the part of all of us who are the “sick” and the “memorious”58 within liberal capitalism, perhaps we must remember that the confessional is not the place to expel it. That is not where we will be saved. A real, honest look at the political economy of liberalism as embodied in liberal representation and its accompany- ing ubiquitous ascetic theater—where not even the Dionysian, as a redemptive impulse, is safe—will give us some clues to where and how the sins of liberal capitalism must be begun to be atoned for. The “new” drama that Nietzsche talks about signals to how liber- alism reifies modes of suffering and action via the ritual personifica- tions, objectifications, and subjectivations that suffuse our sensuous existence and our attempts at imaging ourselves and making this world thus. This drama thus demands different sensuousnesses, dif- ferent performances, and different submissions. But, importantly for my purposes here, so do resistances to it. Bachmann’s Todesarten refer Theater of the Ascetic 71 to the domain that opens up when the hegemonies of life and death, of health and vitality, demand us to be subjects in a particular way, where any challenge to these deaths can perhaps ultimately take the shape of suffering, and dying, differently. The ascetic’s self-preserving self-abnegationis the only undoing of the self liberalism knows—as it passes for the victim of its own contrived pathos and tragedies, forcing the rest of us to rise to the occasion to save it every time it proclaims a threat to itself(forgetting very quickly that its very raison d’etre was that it would save us from each other and ourselves). The ascetic priest combats suffering by placing a “monstrous valu- ation” on life, and it ishis [their]“evaluation of existence” thatthe priest demands obedience of in order for something to be put right.59Need- less to say, the very notion of putting right by deeds or anything else assumes compliance with what life and its rightness would be.It is thisideal of life and existence that gives the impression that the ascetic labor is one that chooses life and affirms life, as is believed by those who revere itbutthe fact that it chooses to value a life that opposes and excludes “nature, world, the whole sphere of becoming and transitoriness” is, for Nietzsche, the reason why the ascetic’s labor is one rooted in the denial of life.60 Nietzsche locates this ascetic ideal in the “protective instinct of a degenerating life which tries by all means to sustain itself and to fight for its existence.”61 Nietzsche thus terms the ascetic ideal “an expedient,” and “an artifice for the preservation of life,” adding that “life wrestles in it and through it with death and against death.” The true substance of willing within an ascetic’s labor is characterized further—“a hatred of the human, and even more of the animal, and more still of the material; a hor- ror of the senses, of reason itself; a fear of happiness and beauty, a longing to get away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, wishing, from longing itself—all this means a will to nothingness, an aversion to life.”62 Since the ascetic priest’s dominion rests on so little, and sincehis [their]entire faith, will, power, interest relies on an ideal of merely existing and merely preserving,he [they]doeslive fairly precari- ouslybut with hope!Regardless of his [their]intentionality and sincerity, this denier of life willy-nilly ends up functioning as a life-conserving and “yes-creating” force.Any wonder, then, how, and on what terms, liberalism keeps preserving and renewing itself, and at what cost we preserve and renew ourselves as its willing, unwilling, wanted, and unwanted subjects?

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Not an expert. There are three warrants. The first is that 

the very notion of putting right by deeds or anything else assumes compliance with what life and its rightness would be.It is this ideal of life and existence that gives the impression that the ascetic labor is one that chooses life and affirms life, as is believed by those who revere it—but the fact that it chooses to value a life that opposes and excludes “nature, world, the whole sphere of becoming and transitoriness” is, for Nietzsche, the reason why the ascetic’s labor is one rooted in the denial of life.

Essentially, the ascetic's idea of what behaviors are morally good is very narrow and static, and excludes a lot of good and valuable things, like striving to be awesome. This is bad because striving to be awesome is awesome.

The second is that

he been able to simply deaden his pain by subjecting himself to more, and effectively “reveling” in it,

Nietzsche often argues that empathy recreates suffering by causing both the original sufferer and the one who pities them to suffer. But the suffering of the second person is useless theater that does not help them to develop strength or overcome an obstacle within their life.

The third is that

before he can act as a physician he first has to wound; when he then stills the pain of the wound he at the same time infects the wound—for that is what he knows to do best of all, this sorcerer and animal-tamer, in whose presence everything healthy necessarily grows sick, and everything sick tame.”

Oftentimes, moralists first create feelings of guilt in people, and then relieve them of those feelings. Imagine an evil psychiatrist who talks his patients into feeling helpless or worthless, then books them for another session, same time next week. There's a similar dynamic here. When the author goes on to talk about how the ascetic priest has to "combat anarchy and the threat of dis-integration of his flock posed by ressentiment" and wants "to save [liberalism] every time it proclaims a threat to itself", "merely existing and merely preserving" the status quo, they're extending this criticism, and mixing it with argument #1 a little bit. The goal is to keep the flock coming back over and over again, which means making them feel guilty, but also offering them momentary relief from that guilt. Going beyond a strict reading of the text, we might speculate that a better ethical system would seek its own annihilation, as a transition into something better, rather than its own endless perpetuation.

I'm not very clear on the connection of all this to liberalism except that liberalism is a political system that's supported by people who seek to relieve suffering. I think the author believes that there's a worthwhile analogy between #3 and how liberalism has constant crises that demand action, but that analogy is not very well fleshed out in the above passage IMO.

Edited by Chaos
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