Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Nietzschean Crime

In a moment of frustration yesterday at the slowness of a major research and exchange program I've been developing over the past year or so, at its twists and turns, at uncreative bureaucratic inertia and unimaginative and fearful academic doings, at serious political differences and narrow ideologies, and at the seemingly constant deferment of the payoff, I decided to work on the perfect crime. This won't be a full-time project, but a pastime, which will make the crime's perfection all the more delicious through the insouciance of its effort. Ideal perfection would be the crime that is not a crime, and effort that is not effort. I imagine sitting here doing nothing while the crime bathes its brilliance around me (or radiates from me, the guiltless criminal?).

Although seemingly unwise in a public forum such as this, I don't mind telling you of my intent to develop the perfect crime because it is a crime for which there does not yet exist any penalty, so perfect is it. In fact, this perfect crime itself does not yet exist, since "crime" necessarily implies concomitant moral and/or legal sanction. The perfect crime is not simply one of great efficiency at its execution and its circumventing of moral norms and law. That's the "perfect" crime of slaves. My perfect crime is a Nietzschean "transvaluation of value," a criminal mastery so superb that it involves the very creation of the sanction at the same time as the crime. The sanction will depend entirely on my whim. If I require the thrill of transgression, I will write up moral laws to transgress. Otherwise, the essence of the crime's perfection will be in its crimelessness, for only the criminal can determine the perfect crime to be a crime or not.

My perfect crime also does not yet exist as a concrete concept. It cannot - what an inglorious fate for the perfect crime to step into this world's flaccid flows and breaks. It is called a "crime" merely due to the inability of our worldly language to adequately express its transcendence. Only the contours of the crime exist, necessary negative conditions as it were of the perfect crime.

Its method does not yet exist. Murder is the oldest crime. It is bound to base, slavish passions of jealousy or covetousness. Thievery, extortion, blackmail are crimes that historically required the existence of society before they could exist. Blackmail, for instance, is impossible without the perpetrator's desire for the lucre that gives him standing in society. The victim's perception of damage to his reputation within society is the engine that drives the success of blackmail. The perfect crime, however, fits no existing category. It is not crass violence for petty gain. It is not mere theft of the objective desires of society. It does not seek power over the masses as some incoherent end in itself. It is not yet written into history as a crime; it will create its historical circumstances.

The goal of the crime is not mundane. Nietzschean slaves seek money from their crimes. Money is a function of slavish dependency, having only instrumental value and only as recognized by others, who blindly seek out money for reasons determined from without. They are benighted by value that, tomorrow, could have no value whatsoever, leaving them in a state of suspended nothingness. Riches are only necessary to the crime should it require earthly resources - should it require the assistance of slaves clamoring for money - but it will disdain these resources as signs of a corrupt world. The goal will be determined by the crime itself. Its execution and its achievement, its method and its goal, its theory and its practice shall be One.

The crime will be perfect. I and only I, the guiltless criminal, determine perfection. The crime will not be recognized by others. If they are affected by the crime, they will not recognize the expense they have paid for bringing its sublimity into the world. They will go about their business unaware. Or, perhaps better, my guiltless criminal will grant them glimpses of the crime only to convince them that the crime is to their own benefit. They will then seek over and over to have the crime committed against them. The guiltless criminal will enlist the planet in his crime. The crime will become The Good and the criminal a saint.

And yet, today I pronounce to you that I shall behave. Such is the greatness of the perfect crime.


Kitu said...

You have, if I am not mistaken, begun to write your book.

Professor Pea said...

I have some suggestions.

Well, they might be real crimes though.

Nevertheless, let me know if you want a list.

helmut said...

Most definitely. Send the list.

beajerry said...

Because I read this, I am now a SEMI-clueless victim.