The Sense & The Ego

The Sense & The Ego

Notes on Nietzsche , Goethe and the very personal meaning of life



6/2/20224 min read

Set sense

With the incredible abundance of in-depth thoughts in Friedrich Nietzsche, it is difficult to find a favorite thought. One that comes very close to this is Nietzsche’s idea that, if you look closely, every person actually has his or her own philosophy.

In other words: one’s own life with its experiences from earliest childhood shapes the practical philosophy of the individual to the highest degree.

Appropriately, it is then drawn to the appropriate texts & justifications accordingly. At best, these in turn expand that private philosophy into a larger and freer view of the world.

For me, the destruction of life, which I perceived as the self-destruction of my own life, was formative, as exemplified by my mother and my uncle Roland. Due to the distance of the generations from the child’s point of view, the complexity of their lives will always remain partially hidden from me, and with it the reasons for the inner despair, which in both cases led to alcoholism and physical as well as social decline, but it was intuitively clear to me that this was a dangerous whirlpool, which I had to powerfully oppose.

One source of strength that I have always felt drawn to in life, to varying degrees, is the Christian faith. At the age of about 8-10, I sank so far into it that I also thought of becoming a priest. With the extreme determination that was always mine , which was sometimes difficult to distinguish from fanaticism and stubbornness, I attended early Mass during the week even before school started and meditated myself into praying the rosary.

With increasing erudition and a certain narcissistic delight in my own intellect, I then began to question all this with the greatest delight in destruction and intellectual shenanigans, especially in the context of communion classes that were soon to begin.

The second way into the faith led after end of my marriage & family and the accompanying feeling of a certain lostness & ungroundedness about the music of Bach. I can still see the picture in front of me: my playing children on the playground of Liesborn in Westphalia, which also had a kind of sound sculpture where you could try out your very own sound, with the beautiful abbey in the background:

All at once it was clear to me how the music I composed took on a new meaning: in humility before God and His creation.

This, it seemed to me, made Bach’s music so great above many others: His willingness not to let his talent shine as an end in itself, but to humble himself in a certain way, in order to set himself a framework of his own free will, to the perfection of which he now makes his contribution. Building on this basic thought, I now let myself be led and tried to open myself to the path that God had chosen for me.

And the more real life weighed on me, be it with unhappy relationships or material worries, the more I gained by meditating and concentrating on this path that can only be found in secret. So, in a way, began the “Orchestra of Cultures” and even more “Spirit of One” and the “Choir of Cultures”.

But back to my experience of my immediate life: it seemed to me that the unhappiness of my mother and uncle, and to some extent of my father, sprang on the one hand from a sense of loneliness and defenselessness, and on the other hand from a longing for affirmation and love. These are all absolutely understandable human longings, which are probably inherent in everyone. But what if there is no equivalent on the outside of oneself ?

I cannot force another person to end my loneliness. I can change my life at any time. But what if I lack the confidence to do so? What if I lack confidence in myself ?

All parents know how hard it is to do justice to just one child. With multiple children, it will be difficult to always have focus and love that meets every need of the child. Thus, it will always have a justification to hold parents responsible for lack of love and encouragement, and thus also for that inner emptiness and bad choices in one’s life. It is easy to project the lack of love in one’s own life onto one’s partner, onto God, onto society, and if it is not reciprocated, to blame it in turn for one’s own unhappiness.

But perhaps the fault already lies in the fraying of the search for meaning ? In so many ways the longing of the ego for confirmation and meaning of one’s own life is scattered in the vague hope that as many confirmations as possible will make one’s daily waking up easier.

To me a radically simple way seems to be the best: Set a priori that your existence has a meaning. Set a priori that every existence has a sense. It is not even decisive what exactly this sense is: knowledge, beauty, truth, love…. All of these are ultimately just sub-answers to the strong claim:

That I am has a meaning.

Which one, that will become clear… Similar, but nevertheless different, is Goethe’s sentence of: “The meaning of life is life itself,” which, however, leaves room for a slight absurdity, since it is a realization of a superior for which one, in a certain way, relinquishes responsibility.

I am concerned with the willful setting of the individual: I recognize that the search for meaning in any form leads only to unhappiness and self-destruction. Therefore, I assert my own sense.

This idea is then closer to Nietzsche’s much-maligned concept of the superman. It goes along with my life experience that with all the difficulties of life, which can easily lead one into despair and tiredness of life, the solution is ultimately always to be found in oneself.

The prayer may also sometimes relieve the first despair as a push prayer and hope may lead one a few steps further.

But precisely if one takes seriously the Christian concept that man is a God-gifted being, then the highest probability of solving any problem is to be found in oneself or, more precisely, in the God-gifted part of our being. And no matter how hidden the solution may be: the conviction that the place of the problem ( namely the I ) also holds its solution is the greatest possible power of one’s own life.

And since in each of us not only the invidiual life is at home, but also the universal power of the life, we have also always, even if sometimes more difficult, access to this urine inspiration of the universe spanning the whole cosmos. Everyone may develop their own ways to get there: Tranquility, nature, mediation, prayer, music, art, poetry… they all open paths.

The decisive factor is the inner conviction of being the source of strength oneself.