My view of people has been coloured by two great philosophers – Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Both developed roughly concurrent philosophical ideas of how people work, years before any of Freud’s psychology got in the way and, arguably, messed things up. Schopenhauer, in Die Welt As Will Und Vorstellung, argued that there is a driving force behind life, a quasi-mystical Will (that can be interpreted scientifically as maybe the urge to procreate and continue the species) that causes us to engage in actions. All life, whether bacterial, animal or botanical responds to this urge, moving forward in an endless progression. Later Nietzsche came along and developed “The Will To Power”, which is something roughly similar, but I won’t talk about that because the Nazis used it.
In lower forms of life this Will is blind. It merely exists as the thing that keeps the mechanism ticking, causing the endless actions of continued existence. It can’t be questioned or thoroughly dissected, and in many ways bears similarities to the Chinese folk concept of Tao or Dao. Schopenhauer was apparently influenced strongly by oriental tradition, and I think his Will is strongly similiar to the the idea of Chi or Qi.
But that’s by the by.What I think is that human beings are aware of a Will and mis-ascribe it to God or gods, whereas it’s a purely internal thing. We have an implacable will to go on, to improve ourselves in all sorts of ways and develop who we are, even when things become hopeless. We seek to improve ourselves and our surroundings, to leave our mark on the world.
I think my Will is very firmly placed on being a writer. I’ve always been aware of my desire to write, regardless of opinion as to my talents. I’ve always been driven to fill the world with words.
A lot of that comes from my childhood. Living in the far north, far away from what I still see as the real world, I think I was forced by circumstance to develop fantastical inner worlds to escape to. I learned to read at a very young age, and I didn’t watch a lot of television (it wasn’t an option, because I spent most of my time not at school in the business my parents ran), so my main source of entertainment was books. When I did watch television it was usually very early in the morning, so it was TransWorldSport on Channel 4 or the Open University lectures. I’m not sure what relevance that has, but still. I grew up surrounded by words, and I knew that there was an intrinsic power to words. They could be used to soothe or hurt. When the bigger boys at school picked on me, I responded with insults, because they were what I had. It ended up working out pretty well, because there’s a place in school for somebody who can fire off a harshly-worded insult.
What I’m driving at is that we are moulded by our surroundings and our genes, but it is our Will that makes who we are. We see what works for us, and we assess our talents, and we become the people we are by applying our Will to ourselves and the world.
And maybe we become the people we were meant to be.
There will be no comics today. Instead, here’s a picture of Kat Denning’s boobs.