Friday, 6 November 2015

Nihilism and annihilation

While theories about undeveloped amygdala, or the rabbit strategy of welcoming predators into an overpopulated meadow may have some merit, when you see a man who wishes to destroy himself and his homeland, look to the formation of his conscience for the answer to this dark and ugly riddle.

[Postnihilism I would define as 'what happens after nihilism': i.e. the psychological consequences of nihilism.]

There are many blindspots in the sad, psychotic, death-seeking Western world - and one is the refusal to see that the mainstream public account of the basic nature of 'Life, the Universe, and Everything' leads to nihilism, alienation and despair - a life that is self-defined as meaningless, purposeless and utterly alone.

(And that a life bursting with Twitter, parties, holidays and sexual experiments makes not the slightest difference.)

Modernity not only teaches, but propagandizes for, celebrates futility.

Yet refuses to examine the premises which lead to this conclusion.

You might imagine that if your basic beliefs lead to inevitably despairing consequences, then the first thing to do is examine those beliefs: to check whether they really are entailed and unavoidable? Whether the basic beliefs are a consequence of honest enquiry - or, whether the basic beliefs are just as much a part of the shallow, spinning, soundbite culture as are the despairing conclusions?

Modern culture would have us believe that its fundamental basic beliefs in nothingness are simply the result of hard-nosed 'science'. (There is no God because science.) But the people asserting this... well, do they strike you as thoughtful people? Do they strike you as deep people - as people who have grappled with the nature of the human condition through the long watches of the night; pondering in solitude and in earnest conversation before reluctantly and with searing misery concluding that life is nothing?

It is the way that fundamental problems are death with that appals - by not dealing with them; by the most impatient and cursory repetition of platitudes, that is so appalling about modern postnihilism.

It is as if we have thrown-away not just life but even the possibility of life, and done it on a whim! - and the only tenacity and long term stubborness evident in our culture, and in its representative people, is the refusal to reconsider the validity of this arbitrary, passive, un-thinking opinion.

We are sure of nothing except that reality is nothingness. And this is not the kind of conclusion that we can ignore, because the meaning (or unmeaning) of life underpins every conversation, every news report, every human communication.

Nihilism batters us in explicit assertions, but it also permeates our being as the air we breathe and the water we drink: the whisper that it all means nothing, nothing nothing...

The world offers unprecedented distraction, pleasure, fun - yet we seem to want only death. And that is, alas, perfectly rational. If someone finds life worthless because it feels bad now, then how can we persuade that life is nonetheless worthwhile - except by suggesting it may not feel so bad in the future, so why not stick around and see? To which the obvious response is why bother?

Telling a despairing man about his enormous and expanding scope to forget about the ultimate questions, and instead immerse himself in fun and games is an answer (if it is any kind of answer) to a different problem - not the state of postnihilism that has driven The West to embrace its own cultural and personal annihilation.

(Nihilism... annihilation... The link, the causality, isn't exactly subtle!)