Disinformation Interview

c1b2f1b7477fccd5e4efb469ff277332Brian Whitney interviewed me for Disinformation.com.

My Interview With a Nihilist Means Nothing, As Does Your Life

It looks like people are already getting all worked up over nothing!

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5 thoughts on “Disinformation Interview

  1. Got a philosophy email advertising your new book and look forward to reading it.

    I was curious: do you recognize any analogous patterns between nihilism and philosophical taoism?

    • I do think there are connections between the two. One of the most dramatic is Taoism’s similarity to moral nihilism, in which good and evil are claimed not to really exist. If good and evil are likened to the yin and the yang, then their relationship is such that one is so intertwined with the other that we cannot say that anything is purely good or purely evil. This is very close to saying that there really is nothing that is “good” or “evil” in the world at all. The world just “is.” As Nietzsche wrote, it is “beyond good and evil.”

      There is also something akin to ontological nihilism that I detect in Taoism. If the point of Taoist practice is to melt away into nature (Wu Wei), then this could be thought of as suggesting that the individual should disappear; just cease to exist by becoming one with the universe. In terms of the individual, the idea is to become nothing at all.

      Do you think that there are other connections?

      • Yes, exactly; the meta-ethical similarities between moral nihilism and taoism are fascinating to me. I’m currently wondering if nihilism could be, through enantiodromia, a dismantling of western moral psychology’s egocentricity?

        I was homeless when I was young and then was a wanderer and inadvertently learned wu wei, though I had a different name for it then. I don’t know that I experienced a disappearance of ego, so much as I hadn’t built grand edifices to or of ego that needed to be maintained. My finite energy was still, quiet, aware-flowing in reality, versus being consumed in ego edifying rituals people seem to accidentally conflate with reality. It’s like everyone is mangled, crippled and forced into awkward, unnatural positions by their fear of the ghosts they dream up. The way your characters in the book get strange diseases is exactly how I visualize sociological reality lol. I really can’t wait to read it.

        Do you understand wu wei in this way? My brain falls down the rabbit hole thinking about ontological nihilism…then it climbs out and tells me to piss off.

        The pattern I’ve been noticing everywhere and that prompted me to ask you is tied to your dialogue in the interview about active nihilism producing the emptiness and thus, the freedom for new growth, new flow. I fucking love it: active nihilism and action of non-action lol :-))

      • You’ve really got me thinking now. The idea of active nihilism may be very much like the sort of productive, creative emptiness that eastern philosophies such as Taoism highlight. In both cases the human individual becomes something like a conduit for the emergence of energies that are not its own. When Nietzsche writes about active nihilism, it is the expression of the primal will to power that is facilitated. In Taoism, as I understand it, something similar occurs as the power of the universe flows like water through the individual.
        In the book, the diseases that the characters suffer from are intended to be physical manifestations of their inner thought processes; or perhaps their inner thoughts are manifestations of their physical conditions. In either case, precisely what you are describing is going on. There is something distorted, twisted and tortured about their existence in the world. None of them are successful in breaking free of this, however. They all remain trapped in their distorted versions of reality. One of them is trapped by a quasi-mystical sense of “oneness,” while another is trapped by a constricted, rigid and logical sense of order. The narrator is trapped by a sense of burning urgency, never really overcoming it, but, perhaps, coming to a sense of resignation that might be a prelude to the sort of creative emptiness that you are describing: active non-action.

  2. You’ve really got me thinking as well. Your book and perspective is exciting. It brought back so many memories of my younger path and the characters expressed so many of the patterns I experience along my current path.

    “The idea that the world consists of an ever unfolding succession of details leads my mind backward to contemplate past history, encouraging me to trace out the contours of events that have culminated in my “now.”That each superficial moment of my life is a crescendo articulating and consolidating all that has ever transpired roots me to a past that I have never consciously experienced, but which nonetheless helps me to understand how I became what I have become. A sense of resignation accompanies the feeling of awe that this thought inspires in me. I feel full at the same time that I feel helpless; momentous at the same time that I feel fatalistic. I am all that I have become.”- The Nihilist, John Marmysz

    It’s fun quoting you to you. This is a place I’m familiar with. I experience all the details as the new life at the end of branches and roots and I enjoyed your imagery of “crescendo articulating and consolidating”. Sometimes I get the visceral feeling that I’m a drop of foam momentarily flung from the wave and I’m just hanging there in alien atmosphere.

    What if the assumptions the characters make of Self catalyze their patterns of mutilation? What if those energies, that universal flow, were perceived as Self and the ego consciousness we identify as Self was perceived as more of a sense impression, composed of many dimensions of sense impressions? Would that change anything?

    Am I what I see, smell, think, feel, intuit, touch, sense, taste…my judgments, my perceptions? Am I what you say I am? Am I what I say I am? Am I my virome and biome? Am I all that has come before me and all that will come to pass? Am I a node in a noosphere? Am I a drop on Indra’s net? If I knew could I find the place, a point in spacetime where I begin and you end?

    “I was wandering about with no direction or purpose. I existed in the moment, and the moment had no meaning or significance without the direction offered by a long-term goal.”- The Nihilist, John Marmysz

    This brought to the front again this feeling that I’ve started backwards in comparison to my companions. I’m content with process defining the goal, but they seem to only be content when goal defines process. If I define myself and then create the process, is it possible to do so without self-mutilating to fit into the role? What are the prerequisites of authenticity? Is it more important to unfold or mold? Am I drowning myself behind the dam I’ve built?

    Heraclitus’ fire was fucking genius.

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