Here’s something you probably didn’t know: when you hear people talking about sticking it to The Man, and how The Man is always on your back – the phrase was coined by Heidegger in his book Being and Time. “Das Man” is, basically, “the THEY” – or in other words, everybody else. Das Man already has the rules of the game and the way they think you should do things, but none of it is authentic for you, as a unique person. Listening to Das Man leads to inauthenticity. (An un-examined life.) As long as you are mildly obeying the structure’s society has set for you, without questioning anything, you are inauthentic. This is because, human beings are uniquely able to become aware of their own being, and to take responsibility for it. We have the potential to become DaSein, or the Being which is aware of its own Being: the self-actualized person. The way we get to this self-mastery is by first becoming anxious about life and death in the face of Time. Our Being-Here, or Being-There, is temporal and so necessarily limited. (We are going to DIE! Oh my God!) The realization that Death knocks on every door, makes us become fully aware (painfully, tragically aware) of our own fragile but beautiful existence. This anxiety in the face of death, leads to the desire to be always fully conscious, to make every decision matter (as Carlos Castenada advises by saying “every decision is a life or death decision, because you never know if it will be your last.”) Which, in turn, leads to authenticity.
Why does it matter? Well, because it’s midnight and I have a test on this tomorrow morning. But more importantly, because it’s true. We ARE going to die, and every minute spent in inauthenticity, without being painfully and tragically aware of the beauty of life, is a minute wasted. And I’ve spent about the last 3 to 6 months in inauthenticity, which, as always, is leading me to a small crisis. (My life has no meaning, I don’t enjoy anything I do, blah blah blah.) Which, as usual, will cause me to engage in meaningless self-abuse like getting drunk or flirting with girls I don’t really care about, which will lead to some personal tragedy which I will get through and then find all this new meaning and gratitude again. There are simpler ways, but it takes concentration, and the active desire to ENJOY EVERYTHING.
That being said, back to my original point about Das Man: The problem with Das Man, is that he doesn’t really exist. There is nobody “else” out there, victimizing you. Everybody is a victim. But everybody has the ability to make changes. It’s like 10 artists working on a joint canvas with no judge. Everybody will always be adding what they want, in their own style, covering up others’ work with their own, and everybody will always be frustrated. You can’t covet a little corner to yourself. You can’t go off and start your own painting on a new canvas. (Somebody made the canvas for you, you need to pay for it, you’re going to have to work to afford it.) The ONLY way to deal with life is to enjoy painting a lot, not care about protecting or preserving your work, not worrying about the future, and just have fun painting.