nihilism : brave new world

Seduced. The abolition of logic and its replacement by spontaneity. The will to nothing. No permit requited. The strange guest, nihilism, at the door. Somehow the grain of the new, a weird perversion of creationism which combines the anxiety of annihilation and castration always seems to slide towards the racial. Its an ideology of “our freedom and liberty” wrapped in the flag, guaranteed by the constitution; an ideology devoid of content that just has to be exported to the rest of the world. Those crazy Afghans just don’t get Andy Warhol. Hopeless. Has Iraq ever produced a giant like Jasper Johns?

---"Triumph of Death," with its resounding overtone of mocking nihilism, is not for the squeamish.--- Read More:

…Instead of blaming our children, we need to look at ourselves. For Arendt, education requires teachers who “love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices.” We must teach them about our world, as it is. And that means, we must teach them about what it means to live in a world in which there are no higher values that can sustain meaningful protests and rebellions. This is the world of nihilism Nietzsche saw emerging 130 years ago. And it is the world David Brooks is, in some ways, trying to articulate, even as he also refuses it and condemn it in his columns….

---Some racial nihilists are extreme individualists, who only recognize the rights of individuals (and perhaps only the existence of individuals) in a very atomistic sense, not recognizing the rights (and perhaps the existence) of the biological group of which they are a part, whose existence transcends the sum of its parts and is potentially immortal. This excessive preoccupation with the atomized individual, divorced or separated from the context of the larger genetic continuum of which it is a part, is a classic example of not being able to see the forest because of the trees. The individual entities, whether tree or human being, come and go in their generations, but the larger entity of which they are a part, whether forest or race, lives on. It is the enduring reality, the continuing reality, the continuum. The life of the individual is transient and passes quickly. It is the life of the forest or race that is potentially immortal. But one cannot exist without the other. The single individual and the forest or race, the part and the whole, both depend on the health and well-being of the other.--- Read More:

…We need to reconcile ourselves to the corrupting and debilitating nihilism of our world if we have any hope of educating young people who might be able to resist it. Arendt writes:

Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same tame token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. Read More:

---Kuspit:Picasso’s whole art -- certainly in its Cubist, Surrealist and Cubo-Surrealist phases -- can be said to be premised on the contemptuous dismissal, not to say nihilistic rejection, of classical beauty, indeed, deliberate violation of its idealism in the name of a perverse regression to primitive pre-art. De Kooning carried this art-defeating -- and self-defeating -- nihilism to a point of no return to classical beauty, leaving only the dregs of art -- his last shallow paintings, with their inert gestural shards, a sort of reified, flattened, deadened and dead-ended painterliness and primitiveness,... Read More:

There is a certain paranoia involved, a paralysis of the senses that seems attracted to the delusions of messianic ideologies. The totalitarian world of fantasy and conspiracy theories and Ben Bernanke spitting on my grandmother. And liberal society appears especially vulnerable to totalitarian movements whose brand of nihilism rooted in blood and soil tends to become racial in short order. It was not happenstance that Nazism replaced the liberal Weimar republic as Leo Strauss pointed out.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, with its scientific rationalism is an embedded part of our culture. Very much an accounting equation like Jeremy Bentham’s bookeeping ledger between pleasure and pain. Profit, as happiness is a number. The leftovers after suffering has been subtracted and fully amortized. H.P. Lovecraft: “All rationalism tends to minimalize the allure and importance of life, and to decrease the sum total of human happiness.” The rejection of tradition and classical values do not necessarily end in nihilism but the flirting usually gets serious and the propaganda against the kitsch and excess of the normative is often justified and necessary. Still.  Hannah Arendt: “the calculus of pleasure of the puritan moral bookkeeping of merits and transgressions to arrive at some illusory mathematical certainty of happiness or salvation”.


…In her long essay On Violence, Hannah Arendt suggests a method of redeeming violence from the evil that spawns it by viewing it as something inherently human, and thus in opposition to the dehumanizing tactics of evil in the twentieth century. “It is no doubt possible to create conditions under which men are dehumanized,” she writes, “such as concentration camps, torture, famine… under such conditions, not rage and violence, but their conspicuous absence is the clearest sign of dehumanization.” She goes on to present violence as something which is lamentable in the case of the individual, but both necessary and, indeed, laudable when viewed through a wider lens, across humankind: “It is as though life itself, the immortal life of the species, nourished, as it were, by the sempiternal dying of its individual members, is ‘surging upward’, is actualized in the practice of violence.” Read More:
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