Nihilism Now! Monsters of Energy by Keith Ansell Pearson and Diane Morgan

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Blurb: Have we had enough? But enough of what exactly? Of our mourning and melancholia? Of postmodern narcissism? Of our depressive illness and anxieties of not ‘being there’ any longer? Enough of enough! We now ask: what of the future of the human and of the future of the future? Is it now possible to produce revitalised ways of thinking and modes of existing that have digested the demand for transhuman overcomings and so are able to navi- gate new horizons of virtual becoming? Is it possible to save thought from its current degenerative and vegetative state at the hands of a smug and cosy postmodern academicism? Can we still invent new concepts?

If one follows certain influential contemporary accounts, it would appear as if the experience and question of nihilism have become passé. Is not the urgency informing the question of the `now’ of nihilism redundant and otiose? For Jean Baudrillard, for example, there is now only the simulation of a realised nihilism and little remains of a possible nihilism (a nihilism of the possible) in theory. In relation to previous forms of nihilism ± romanticism, surrealism and dadaism ± we find ourselves in an ‘insoluble position’. Our nihilism today is neither aesthetic nor political. The apocalypse is over, its time has gone and lies behind us:

The apocalypse is finished, today it is the precession of the neutral, of the forms of the neutral and of indifference. (Baudrillard)

Baudrillard goes on to make the claim, terrifying in its full import, that all that remains is a ‘fascination’ for these indifferent forms and for the operation of the system that annihilates us.

Surely, Baudrillard is being ironic when he claims that this mode of nihilism is our current ‘passion’? How can one be passionate about indifference and one’s own annihilation? As Baudrillard acknowledges, this is the nihilism of the observer and accepter. It is the nihilism of the passive nihilist who no longer aspires towards a transcendence or overcoming of the human (condition), but who simply announces and enjoys its disappearance, the spectator watching the spectacle of his own demise. History, politics, metaphysics, have all reached their terminal point, and willing nothingness appears to be the only desire of the will available to the post-modern mind:

The dialectic stage, the critical stage is empty. There is no more stage . . . The masses themselves are caught up in a gigantic process of inertia through acceleration. They are this excrescent, devouring, process that annihilates all growth and all surplus meaning. They are this circuit short- circuited by a monstrous finality. (Baudrillard)

Diane Morgan and Keith Ansell Pearson Nihilism Now Monsters of Energy

Solitude: Thought of the Day 18.0

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A reason Nietzsche ponders solitude is that his is largely a philosophy of the future. There is heavy emphasis in Beyond Good and Evil on the temporal nature of the human condition. He posits that “the taste of the time and the virtue of the time weakens and thins down the will.” In order to surpass current modes and fashions in thinking, one must become removed from the present. The new philosopher is necessarily a man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and so he is solitary and in contradiction to the ideals of today. Fundamentally, Nietzsche sees current Europe (and especially Germany) as not yet prepared for an overturning of present morality. Although he does predict the time is approaching, there is the overarching sense throughout Beyond Good and Evil that Nietzsche expects (and even embraces) the fact that his philosophy needs a significant passage of time to be understood. His work is lonely. He labors to lay groundwork for the philosophers of the future who will continue on this path someday.

The life of the free spirit is solitary because it requires the recognition of the untruth of life in order to be beyond good and evil. Religion and democratic enlightenment in Europe have forged a herd mentality of mediocrity which has rejected such a possibility. In this society, everyone’s thoughts and morality are given equal merit. Nietzsche despises this because it forces us to reject our nature; both the ugliness and the beauty of it. He tells us that religion is able to teach even the lowliest of people how to place themselves in an illusory higher order of things so they may have the impression that they are content. This herd mentality protects the pack and also makes life palatable. It is also the first enemy of anyone looking to discover their own truths. Nietzsche concludes his book by reflecting on the wonders of solitude. For the free spirit, solitude is life-affirming because the absence of the stifling dogmas of the herd allows for the greatest expansion of one’s sense of self. To be truly beyond good and evil one must be removed from grappling with the order and morality imposed by democratic enlightenment and religion. Only when one stands alone vis-à-vis the herd is greatness and nobleness possible. Upon being removed from the seething torrent of austere and rigid thinking now strangling Europe, the free spirit foments his own morality and thrives.

Absurdity. Drunken Risibility

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I feel that absurdity is not just a human condition but ineluctable and if i deviate from this thought I would just be exhibiting presumptuousness. The thought in here might be lacking brevity, but what is requested is a brickbat. I surely think that it ain’t a bumf. I would like to expatiate on the topic of absurdity; it might be sardonic on myself and at times these collection of phrases might be depicting platitude; for if they fail in their motives; they remain uncanny. Its not a motley; as a matter of fact it isn’t variegated also, due care has been taken not to smudge it; but the thought finds its essence in writing lest it should smother my thoughts and will not remain ethereal. After this prolegomenon, the absurdity is:

1) absurdity is a human condition.

2) culturally i’m an outsider, but would cease to be one and want to be balanced; would like to understand the human soul and escape from triviality, and to do this I need to know how to express myself, for it is the means by which i can know myself and the possibilities awaiting me.

3) destiny is all we want to escape but cannot, and since all our actions are directed against the inevitable they are absurd; because we sense this absurdity, we feel anguished.

4) on god, he is not merely dead, but along with him, even man is dead; standing alone under the empty heaven with no scope of remedy.

5) each man must come to his own personal vision of life, and it is not a particularly happy destiny is suffering and death; which he can defeat by affirming human dignity and participating in a sense of brotherhood with other men (sorry for the theosophical inputs!)

6) like the Tolstoy of “the death of Ivan Ilyich”, the hero can preserve his honesty by continuously fighting death and trying to forget its existence.

p.s. this could be because of my flirting with the surrealist movement in the last century and a complete break with the enlightenment and the romanticism so often in the limelight in the classical philosophy. To conclude I  would like to point out three things as prolegomenon: this will give you an insight into the twilight zone of absurdity:

the poet Cavafy who says:

you won’t find a new country, you won’t find a new shore..there is no ship for you, there is no road, as you have wastd your life here, in this small corner, you have destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

Samuel Beckett, in his often qouted phrase: nothing is more real than nothing.

The 4th century bc Sicilian rhetorician, Gorgias of Lentini:

nothing has any real existence, and that if anything real did exist it could not be known, and that if anything were to exist and be known it could not be expressed in speech.

7) man is seen more clearly as having, if he is honest, no purpose. although he can and does get trapped in fixed ideas about himself and the world which reify him rather than being a Being, he finds the over abundance of things, which limits freedom, nauseating and recognizes that just as habits conceal his attitudes, so, language too has become a dead thing, limiting communication and emphasizing hs solitude. He can no longer think that he has a nature proper to himself; he is simply the sum of his actions, each of which is a delibrate choice in a given situation.

8) existentialists have concluded that self is nothingness which could only ‘become’ through acts and words; scientists have suggested that all acts are meaningless, and philologists have shown that language, too, is arbitrary and meaningless as a means to knowing reality.

9) don’t we think that life as a mechanical quality and has a sense of loss of mystery, the loneliness of individuals and their difficulties in communicating in a language also deadened by habit….