Processes – By @augustine_cerf
By Augustine Cerf
On Day One I had a slight crisis of identity. The emphasis on selling oneself made me feel as though I had to clearly set the parameters of the self I’m going to be putting on the market, yet I couldn’t quite articulate a fitting definition for myself. A knowledge gap had been opened and it fuelled a rather frantic need to fill it. Yet filling it meant latching on to a comfortably finite definition – I tried to grasp at absolutes. Ben’s incredible masterclass yesterday gave me the jolt that I needed to kill this reductive thinking. The very attempt to define the self, I came to realize, is a destructive distraction from the continual processes of becoming that actually make you vital.
Day 2 was all about learning to live in the moment, inside those ongoing processes. And that’s something I can get really get on board with. The definitions we give to ourselves are man born out of his own head, out of fixed ideas and ideals that are resistant to change and that, in domesticating you into stock identities, fail to honour the unregulated, ever-changing processes that open up spaces in which creativity can happen. It’s really hard to keep sight of that, especially when what makes us singular is what is most resistant to being pinned down. Saying “I am…”, Ben taught us, binds you to dangerous absolutes – in becoming married to who you think you are, you shut yourself off from change and opportunity. Today at least, I am content not to quite know in fixed terms what I am selling when I sell myself.
I often call on Nietzsche’s theory of eternal recurrence when I feel like I am losing sight of what is important, getting into negative thought patterns or just stagnating, so I’ll share it with you here. He asks us to imagine that we will relive our lives again and again infinitely, every single detail of it. Just picture it: a little demon leaps out of nowhere and is like “Alright mate, this life as you now live it and have lived it, yeah, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more.” If you apply that to every day of your life, you’ll find you don’t want to eternally relive the morning you spent wasting away in bed or on Facebook. It’s a simple thought but it triggers a strong emotional and imaginative response. In fact, it’s actually a pretty horrifying thought but that horror can be harnessed powerfully. Eternal recurrence makes you want to create a life that adds up to something, that has aesthetical grandeur or creative value, that is coherent and that plays out as strikingly as the films you’re elated to replay, the ones which allow you to discover new elusive details every time. Maybe that’s a little bit ambitious or a little bit pretentious but the thought of eternal recurrence itself helps me to recalibrate, to make decisions and to motivate myself. And it does so without imposing a need for absolutes or for definitions – it makes you think of yourself as in a state of becoming, an ongoing and unfolding narrative that you can strive to craft only as a process. And it helps you to be ruthless in scrapping the habits that are holding you back. You just don’t want to be the guy eternally reliving that evening that you spent picking your nose and worrying about whether to order Chinese or Indian.