@uspic¡ous Fish¿!
Delirious With Weird

Wednesday, October 22, 2003  
Decide who you want to be and take steps to make that who you are. Do something differently every day. Notice when a situation arises which necessitates you respond, and pledge not to respond in the manner which is typical of you. Do not be bound to system and definition because of who you think you are. Be aware at every second that you do not have to be acting the way you are acting. Reduce all angles to zero.

"If you are ten degrees and walk a mile from your origin then you may appear broad but it is an illusion. If you are no degrees, zero, then you have no origin and you are as broad as you are non-existent. With OK Computer Radiohead opened up to 180 degrees and walked a mile and appeared to be everything. Where do you go from there? Back upon yourself? No. You dissolve yourself, you become no degrees, and you become no degrees by going full circle, reaching 360 and closing."

Dissolve yourself. At this point you can go in any direction and the direction is decided by YOU.

A conversation between young Sam and I. Which just happens to be, in a roundabout way, about this kind of thing.

From last January...

Are we talking extreme existential desolation here? Nihilism as result of existential hopelessness, voidness of the soul, post-God lack of purpose? My favourite subject. Taxi Driver, Keep The Aspidistra Flying, Fight Club, Nausea, The Outsider, hooray! Urban masculine postmodern existential miserablist ennui! All the protagonists and all the writers are male! Because we, men, aeselfish wee bastards! Oh yes! Guilty at our lack of success, beauty, at repulsed by our repugnant laziness and selfishness and lack of drive and passiona nd commitment, crippled by our inferiority complexes, we invent existentialism! "I am not lazy, I am not selfish, I am deeply sensitive and profound and in great philosophical pain at all times..." I love it. And I also hate it. William and I regularly discuss at length techniques for living in a modern world and not succumbing, aggreeing that the best way is to get to the bottom of the existential trough and then bounce back up again (both of us having seemingly done this - my particular rock bottom was reached in a strange confluence of drugs, drink, Sartre, perfume, ecological disgust and complete absence of faith and hope = great fun!), realising on the return journey just what a twat you've been. The point at which nihilism occurs as a possible alternative/way out/solution is, I believe, just before you hit the bottom of the trough.
But isn't nihilism as idealism = purposelessness as purpose? The belief that no principles or beliefs can have meaning is in itself a belief and does in itself have a meaning! Isn't therefore the pursuit of nihilism an effort in itself and therefore un-nihilistic? Is it something that requires conscious thought or is it achieved by regressing to the idiot savant state, or Deleuze & Guitarri's condition of the schizophrenic? And at that point are you nihilistic or do you just act in a way which is nihilistic? And is there, at root, a difference?

But anyway. How to bounce back up? Become Zen! Yes yes yes. Abdicate from the Western duality of mind(spirit/soul) and body, of art and science, of romantic and classical! Yes yes yes. Seriously, I read The Tao Te Ching and The Tao Of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, plus some Debord and Heidegger and lots of stuff about Buddhism and so on and so forth, thought about things a lot until I came to the conclusion that it's not that bad. All these things that piss you off (the mundanity of most discourse, the insincerity of everyday communication, the insidiousness of business, the ulterior/interior motives of government, the dehumanising effects of city life, the unstoppable flow of capitalism, the creation within us of false and disproportionate desires [we're not all gonna be beautiful artists, rock stars, writers, monarchs footballers], pollution, any of it, all of it), you can avoid some of them (don't like living in the city? Don't live there! There is always a way out) and those you can't avoid you can live with, and even enjoy some of them (those petty, redundant conversations - just 'cos they're petty doesn't mean they're evil, doesn't mean they can't be enjoyed or productive). Culture itself does not make anyone into a pariah, it can't, it's a thingy, it doesn't exist, it's just a collection of stuff we do. You make yourself into a pariah and therefore you can unmake yourself into a pariah too. And you keep reading and you keep listening and looking, and you see the people who are getting on with their lives and are happy and you don't copy what they do so much as how they do it, because it's not about events or objects or articles but rather about approaches. Nihilism! Yay! It's escapable, and existential angst which causes it is escapable too!

are you nihilistic or do you just act in a way which is nihilistic? And is there, at root, a difference?

A mate of mine kept on cheating on his girlfriend, and everytime he'd do it, he'd ring me the next day and say "but I'm not a bad person am I? I don't mean to do it!" After a while I got bored of this little roleplay, and replied, very sensibly, "if cheating on one's girlfriend makes one a bad person, then you ARE a bad person, simply because you do cheat on your girlfriend. The intention matters not one jot." We try and seperate the 'being' from the 'acting' when really they are one and the same, the 'being' in our logic tied to the 'soul' and the acting tied to the 'body', when there is no duality between the two! Stop talking about your liver or your legs or your ears as if you bought them and realise that they are you and you are them and that that is not a big thing, it's just the way it is and they can change and you can change and nothing is immutable! Yes yes yes!

Nihilism = bad for you, and objectionable, and yet you still quite enjoy it, like wallowing in self-pity or picking a really bad scab. It gives you an excuse to be shit and to be a shit, takes off any of that oh so burdonsome weight of expectation, for a little while at least. Cos you either grow out of it or you die! A|nd the weight of expectation is never really gone anyway, never really divorced, it just gets hidden, and it'll come back. After all, that's why you're a nihilist, isn't it? Getting rid of the weight of expectation means embracing now and not the future or the past, and nihilism is about not even embracing now, not embracing anything, except futility, and that's wrong, because now isn't futile! Now is great!

So, to conclude, nihilism = dud. Getting out of nihilism = classic.

-- Nick Southall (n.j.southall@ex.ac.uk), January 22nd, 2003.

For more...

Next, read The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart.

You do not have to be the way you think you are.

10/22/2003 07:38:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005