Laughing at Nothing

laughingatnothingExplores the concept of nihilism and argues that it need not imply despair, but can be responded to positively.

Disputing the common misconception that nihilism is wholly negative and necessarily damaging to the human spirit, John Marmysz offers a clear and complete definition to argue that it is compatible, and indeed preferably responded to, with an attitude of good humor. He carefully scrutinizes the phenomenon of nihilism as it appears in the works, lives, and actions of key figures in the history of philosophy, literature, politics, and theology, including Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus, and Mishima. While suggesting that there ultimately is no solution to the problem of nihilism, Marmysz proposes a way of utilizing the anxiety and despair that is associated with the problem as a spur toward liveliness, activity, and the celebration of life.

Editorial Reviews:

“Marmysz is original, insightful, and displays a keen knowledge of the typologies of nihilism, craftily tracing, among other things, the historical, existential, and political uses and misuses of the word. This is one of the best books I have read.” ā€” Weaver Santaniello, author of Nietzsche and the Gods

“Engagingly written, well-organized, and succinctly argued, this book shows how humor can bring the threat of nihilism into new, less disabling perspectives and teach us how to find affirmative, hopeful lessons in its outlook.” ā€” Donald A. Crosby, author of A Religion of Nature

SUNY Press



Review of Laughing at Nothing in Philosophy and Literature.

Review of Laughing at Nothing in the British Journal of Aesthetics.

Philosophy of the Joker: A video program on the nihilism of the Joker, drawing on the ideas in Laughing at Nothing.

Existential Files #43: Interview with John Marmysz

Existential Files #44: Interview with John Marmysz

The Madness Continues