A Nietszchean Crime

Tom Hilde in Phronesisaical:

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 Nietszchean “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.

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