“Won’t you lend your lungs to me?”
By Nameless Therein
“Ecce homo,” behold the man! These words, proclaimed by Pontius Pilate when presenting a bloody and ravaged Jesus to an incensed crowd prior to his crucifixion (John 19:5), formed the title of one of Nietzsche’s last works. Of these, Walter Kaufmann has commented that “none has proved harder to understand than Ecce Homo.” During his final days, Nietzsche is said to have written “a few mad but strangely beautiful letters” before “darkness closed in and extinguished passion and intelligence. He suffered and thought no more. He had burnt himself out.”
Ecce homo. Behold the man. In choosing this title, Nietzsche was not suggesting a “close similarity between himself and Jesus” but nearly the opposite: “Here is a man! Here is a new, a different image of humanity: not a saint or holy man any more than a traditional sage, but a modern version.”
Both characterizations are relevant to the current state of the o9a. Contrary to the seductive parachute-morality of the delightful blackguard Kurgan in Highlander, who declared that “it’s better to burn out than fade away,” I don’t think any of us want to see this tradition hornswoggled out of its inheritance, either burning out and extinguished from its “fruitless deeds of darkness” or fading away as a self-fulfilling effigy.
In a recent article titled “O9A: A Moral Dilemma?”, The Seven Oxonians insisted that the o9a should be considered defunct. I couldn’t disagree more. The issue of culpability and responsibility is a serious question considering the mendacious charges levied against the o9a by the media and renewed attempts to ban it as a terrorist organization. But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling rage, contempt, and disgust at the gaggle of moral mountebanks, psychopaths, degenerates, and pedophiles who have damaged the name of the o9a irrevocably.
Irrevocably? Maybe. But I think we all know better than to buy into the mendicant bullshit and skullduggery the media is selling us, outstretched and offered in obligation as a gift, as charity, while foiled and furled as a corpse and a curse, an ethical guillotine. Yes, we all know better. No one here is a stranger to tragedy. And the stories we hear in the media of the easy targets and impressionable lives ruined by callous disregard for the well-being of others is tragic. Unconscionable. Despicable. Who among us would sanction the kind of behavior we hear about the o9a daily in the media, let alone encourage it? Not anyone I would call my own. Time and time again, we’ve seen that opponents of the o9a aren’t interested in logic-chopping, fact-based argumentation, or any evidence it has to offer. They are interested in one thing: erecting a strawman in the mires of their moral Gethsemane worthy of chopping down.
But who can blame them? The Seven Oxonians are right in one important respect: the disavowal of any responsibility for said acts based on the o9a’s “anarchic nature” is completely disingenuous. For a tradition that prides itself on honor and the integrity required to uphold it, it’s disgraceful that anyone claiming association with this tradition can stand idly by and pretend the very real lives ruined, destroyed, and demolished by individuals who drew inspiration from their own radical misinterpretation of something so entrenched in enigmatic mystery and misdirection – “so well hidden by a ‘Labyrinthos Mythologicus’” – that only one or two individuals per decade can discern its hard-earned truths is nothing more than a theoretical pretext to eschew any responsibility! It’s shameful.
Yes, who can blame them? Who can blame the media for chopping down a strawman we provided? And who can blame anyone for insisting that the o9a should be considered defunct, that its “moral defects render it unsuitable as a modern practical guide to Lapis Philosophicus”? Some might say that it’s hard to find fault with either side. But viddy well, o my brothers and sisters, viddy well: find fault we must, and with both, for the o9a is very much alive.
Betwixt this bunker of suspicion and hostility there lies a deeper truth, a truer burden, a window of canteened doubt, charisma, and care. I care. We all do. Are we to just stand idly by and watch the holes we’ve bored at the base of this ship sink our kin and kith forever? Absolutely not. No, for all my years in academia studying philosophy, there’s one philosophy I live by: if there’s a chance, we have to take it.
So behold the man! What is needed now is not blame or random acts of cruelty, but decisive action, encouragement, clarity, precision, and a baseline of inspiration necessary to bring out the best in the o9a’s best and brightest. What is needed is a different image of humanity, a different o9a: “not a saint or holy man any more than a traditional sage, but a modern version.”
Now, in the words and moon-folk melancholic wisdom of Townes Van Zandt, who said all this better than I ever could: “Won’t you lend your lungs to me? Mine are collapsing.” If we’re banned, we’re banned; but at least we’ll tell the world that we tried.
Won’t you lend your lungs to me?
Mine are collapsing
Plant my feet and bitterly breathe
Up the time that’s passing
Breath I’ll take and breath I’ll give
Pray the day’s not poised
Stand among the ones that live
In lonely indecision
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you’ve found
You fool, it’s only moonlight
And if you stop to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
Better leave this dream alone
Try to find another
Salvation sat and crossed herself
And called the devil partner
Wisdom burned upon a shelf
Who’ll kill the raging cancer
Seal the river at its mouth
Take the water prisoner
Fill the sky with screams and cries
Bathe in fiery answers
Jesus was an only son
And love his only concept
Strangers cry in foreign tongues
And dirty up the doorstep
And I for one, and you for two,
Ain’t got the time for outside
Keep your injured looks to you
We’ll tell the world that we tried
“Singing for the sake of the song”
March 8, 2023
 Walter Kaufmann, introduction to Ecce Homo, by Friedrich Nietzsche, trans. and ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 202.
 Kaufmann, 202.
 Kaufmann, 204.