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The Last Messiah

The Last Messiah

The following is a 1933 essay written by Peter Wessel Zapffe. It was originally written in Norwegian, though it was translated into English by Gisle R. Tangenes for the March/April 2004 issue (Issue 45) of Philosophy Now magazine


Cultural history, as well as observation of ourselves and others, allow the following answer: Most people learn to save themselves by artificially limiting the content of consciousness.


The human being saves itself and carries on. It performs, to extend a settled phrase, a more or less self-conscious repression of its damaging surplus of consciousness. This process is virtually constant during our waking and active hours, and is a requirement of social adaptability and of everything commonly referred to as healthy and normal living.

I propose that this, taken to extreme, is the core of the authoritarian mindset. They cannot deal with reality per se, so they scale it back to a pale imitation, then present this as "reality". While the black and white thinking (and other logical fallacies) work in their repressed world, they fail in the harsh reality of daylight. Lacking the tools to see this, authoritarians react to this dichotomy by lashing out, denial and increased insularity.

(On edit, adding a little more)

Anchoring might be characterised as a fixation of points within, or construction of walls around, the liquid fray of consciousness

Authoritarians anchor themselves to their little mantras, their urban myths, their simplistic take on religion - a theology not much more advanced than children's Bible stories.

The closer to main firmaments a certain carrying element is, the more perilous it is to touch. Here a direct protection is normally established by means of penal codes and threats of prosecution (inquisition, censorship, the Conservative approach to life).
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