To dance or not to dance? Modes of No Saying.
In his discussion of asceticism, Nietzsche distinguishes between two ways of saying no. On the one hand, there's the priest who says no to life, no to the body, no to health. And then there is the no saying of the strong man, such as the athlete, who says no as a way to affirm his vitality, his health, his strength.
The no of the strong man is in fact a yes — it affirms who he is, how he goes. The no of the weak, of the priest, is a turning away from life.
Conceptually, this is all quite clear. But in life the distinction is not always easy to maintain.
A few weeks ago, I was out with a young woman enjoying some cocktails when she suggested that we go dancing. It seems an innocent enough request (forget, for the moment, that she knows me rather well and was quite aware that such a request of me is not innocent). Everything in me — well, perhaps not everything — began to reel.
I am not one who dances, I said myself. I've never danced in any public venue. It's not how I roll, as the kids might say; or it's not in my constitution, as Nietzsche might.
But do I not dance out of fear? Out of some ingrained hatred of the body, of my body? Is my not dancing perhaps a nihilism rather than an affirmation?
Do I go dancing with this young woman? Or not?
I did, honestly, consider going. But inertia was too much to overcome and I dillied and I dallied and I debated and I stressed until, finally, I declined: "No," I said.
In so doing, did I deny life? Or affirm myself?