what is war? "a condition of active antagonism."
antagonism? the "condition of being an opposing principle, force, or factor."
as opposed to what? which force? to be is to continually wage a battle with opposing instincts within oneself. a dynamic conflict of domination and subordination. to be means taking sides against oneself.
with this premise of "internal opposition" i'd like to probe an ancient taoist text, the art of war.
let's backtrack to philosopher f. nietzsche, who speaks a constant "wrestling of opposite forces." reality for nietzsche, is a flux of contradictions. an authentic individual must not only acknowledge this fact, but seek to promote similar oppositions within himself:
(...) a given quality contends against itself and separates into opposites; everlastingly these opposites seek to reunite. odinary people fancy they see something rigid, complete and permanent. in truth, however, light and dark, bitter and sweet are attached to each other and interlocked at any given moment like wrestlers of whom sometimes the one, sometimes the other is on top. (PTAG, 5)a wrestling act. here's another one: "one is fruitful only at the cost of being rich in contradictions; one remains young only on condition the soul does not relax, does not long for peace." (TI, morality as antinature, 3)
this nietszchean auto-poesis (the making of oneself) is fundamental to overcome the stagnation posed by self-satisfaction, which paradoxically is something we all seek. change means (inner) conflict engendered by opposites (friend, enemy, self). authentic self is he/she who is determined by this intensity of self-oppositions.
let's not beat around the bush. we can now entertain the opening words in the art of war:
1. military action is important. it's the ground of death and life... so it is imperative to examine it.
how can there be a "military" of oneself?
military relates to armed forces. soldiers! what's a soldier? one who actively serves a cause. which?
one, any, whether event or condition in which one is responsible for an action or result.
i can see myself as a soldier on my way to battle with myself in an unforeseen event. any situation is in principle a pure beginning. here we must accept the uncertainty principle: everything begins in confusion and obscurity. the emergence of clarity is the result of this internal wrestling which leads to never-ending clarification. am i not responsible for this most significant cause? is is not mine? is it not my duty to fight? (think of the literal? non- literal? meaning of the b. gita).
is this the end?
a new battle will have to be fought. and why not?(...) he who has overcome his passions has entered into possession of the most fertile ground … to sow the seeds of good spiritual works in the soil of the subdued passions is then the immediate urgent task. the overcoming itself is only a means, not a goal; if it is not so viewed, all kinds of weeds and devilish nonsense will quickly spring up in this rich soil now unoccupied, and soon there will be more rank confusion than there ever was before. (WS, 53)
i'm closing this post next wednesday at 11pm.