Nihilist Quotes

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I think we are just insects, we live a bit and then die and that’s the lot. There’s no mercy in things. There’s not even a Great Beyond. There’s nothing.
John Fowles (The Collector)
Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is a catastrophe. The basic fact of existence – of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do – is a catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me – and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no “do-overs” to employ a favored phrase of Xandra’s, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death.
Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch)
You are putting yourself in serious danger...' I think that I preferred to put myself in serious danger rather than confront my shame. My shame at not having become someone, the shame of not having made my parents proud after all the sacrifices they had made for me. The shame of having become a mediocre nihilist.
Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (Persepolis, #2))
NIHILIST, n. A Russian who denies the existence of anything but Tolstoi. The leader of the school is Tolstoi.
Ambrose Bierce (The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary)
The point is, there is no feasible excuse for what are, for what we have made of ourselves. We have chosen to put profits before people, money before morality, dividends before decency, fanaticism before fairness, and our own trivial comforts before the unspeakable agonies of others
Iain Banks (Complicity)
There are some arenas so corrupt that the only clean acts possible are nihilistic.
Richard K. Morgan (Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1))
Sex is mathematics. Individuality no longer an issue. What does intelligence signify? Define reason. Desire - meaningless. Intellect is not a cure. Justice is dead.
Bret Easton Ellis
The fact is that previously they were simply dunces and now they've suddenly become nihilists.
Ivan Turgenev (Fathers and Sons)
One of my teachers told me I was a nihilist. He meant it as an insult but I took it as a compliment.
Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted)
Both Bratva and thieves in law would like to call themselves nihilists and anarchists because they don’t support the established government, but they govern nonetheless, and you can’t be an anarchist unless you follow its rule. Crime and anarchy are no more synonymous than nihilism and existentialism, or fatalism and determinism; so many isms there was bound to be a schism.
Tanya Thompson (Red Russia)
Certainty is not to be had. But as we learn this we become not more moral but more resigned. We become nihilists.
Allen Wheelis (The Moralist)
I am a terrorist and nihilist in theory as the others are with their weapons. Theoretical violence, not truth, is the only resource left us.
Jean Baudrillard
Socialism is nihilistic, in the henceforth precise sense that Nietzsche confers on the word. A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists.
Albert Camus (The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt (Vintage International))
A nihilist is a man who doesn’t acknowledge any authorities, who doesn’t accept a single principle on faith, no matter how much that principle may be surrounded by respect.
Ivan Turgenev (Fathers and Sons)
I am no nihilist. I am not even a cynic. I am, actually, rather romantic. And here’s my idea of romance: You will soon be dead. Life will sometimes seem long and tough and, god, it’s tiring. And you will sometimes be happy and sometimes sad. And then you’ll be old. And then you’ll be dead.
Tim Minchin
Life," Garp wrote, "is sadly not structured like a good old-fashioned novel. Instead an end occurs when those who are meant to peter out have petered out. All that is left is memory. But even a nihilist has memory.
John Irving (The World According to Garp)
Life is possible only by the deficiencies of our imagination and our memory.
Emil M. Cioran (A Short History of Decay)
[T]he worst kind of nihilist—the kind who isn't even aware he's a nihilist.
David Foster Wallace (The Pale King)
I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind - and that of the minds of the ones who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town.
William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying)
I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind -- and that of the minds who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town.
William Faulkner
Indifference is the revenge the world takes on mediocrities.
Oscar Wilde (Vera Or The Nihilists)
I might be a nihilist except that I don’t believe in anything.
Mitchell Heisman
His hatred for all was so intense that it should extinguish the very love from which it was conceived. And thus, he ceased to feel. There was nothing further in which to believe that made the prospect of feeling worthwhile. Daily he woke up and cast downtrodden eyes upon the sea and he would say to himself with a hint of regret at his hitherto lack of indifference, 'All a dim illusion, was it? Surely it was foolish of me to think any of this had meaning.' He would then spend hours staring at the sky, wondering how best to pass the time if everything—even the sky itself— were for naught. He arrived at the conclusion that there was no best way to pass the time. The only way to deal with the illusion of time was to endure it, knowing full well, all the while, that one was truly enduring nothing at all. Unfortunately for him, this nihilistic resolution to dispassion didn’t suit him very well and he soon became extremely bored. Faced now with the choice between further boredom and further suffering, he impatiently chose the latter, sailing another few weeks along the coast , and then inland, before finally dropping anchor off the shores of the fishing village of Yami.
Ashim Shanker (Only the Deplorable (Migrations, Volume II))
The world has become sad because a puppet was once melancholy. The nihilist, that strange martyr who has no faith, who goes to the stake without enthusiasm, and dies for what he does not believe in, is a purely literary product. He was invented by Turgenev, and completed by Dostoevsky. Robespierre came out of the pages of Rousseau as surely as the People's Palace rose out debris of a novel. Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose.
Oscar Wilde
[T]he very multiculturalism and multiethnicity that brought Salman to the West, and that also made us richer by Hanif Kureishi, Nadeem Aslam, Vikram Seth, Monica Ali, and many others, is now one of the disguises for a uniculturalism, based on moral relativism and moral blackmail (in addition to some more obvious blackmail of the less moral sort) whereby the Enlightenment has been redefined as 'white' and 'oppressive,' mass illegal immigration threatens to spoil everything for everybody, and the figure of the free-floating transnational migrant has been deposed by the contorted face of the psychopathically religious international nihilist, praying for the day when his messianic demands will coincide with possession of an apocalyptic weapon. (These people are not called nihilists for nothing.) Of all of this we were warned, and Salman was the messenger. Mutato nomine et de te fabula narrator: Change only the name and this story is about you.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Tegularius was a willful, moody person who refused to fit into his society. Every so often he would display the liveliness of his intellect. When highly stimulated he could be entrancing; his mordant wit sparkled and he overwhelmed everyone with the audacity and richness of his sometimes somber inspirations. But basically he was incurable, for he did not want to be cured; he cared nothing for co-ordination and a place in the scheme of things. He loved nothing but his freedom, his perpetual student status, and preferred spending his whole life as the unpredictable and obstinate loner, the gifted fool and nihilist, to following the path of subordination to the hierarchy and thus attaining peace. He cared nothing for peace, had no regard for the hierarchy, hardly minded reproof and isolation. Certainly he was a most inconvenient and indigestible component in a community whose idea was harmony and orderliness. But because of this very troublesomeness and indigestibility he was, in the midst of such a limpid and prearranged little world, a constant source of vital unrest, a reproach, an admonition and warning, a spur to new, bold, forbidden, intrepid ideas, an unruly, stubborn sheep in the herd.
Hermann Hesse (The Glass Bead Game)
This is what our essential being-in-the-world is – nihilistic annihilation.
Arvydas Šliogeris (Names Of Nihil (On The Boundary Of Two Worlds: Identity, Freedom, & Moral Imagination In The Baltics))
People always thought if no one believed in God and we were nihilists then people would go around murdering each other. That didn't happen at all, we just bought a lot of things with credit.
Noah Cicero (Best Behavior)
Nihilism is the rejection of the principles of civilisation as such . . . I said civilisation, and not: culture. For I have noticed that many nihilists are great lovers of culture, as distinguished from, and opposed to, civilisation. Besides, the term culture leaves it undetermined what the thing is which is to be cultivated (blood and soil or the mind), whereas the term civilisation designates at once the process of making man a citizen, and not a slave; an inhabitant of cities, and not a rustic; a lover of peace, and not of war; a polite being, and not a ruffian.
Leo Strauss
Evil is ancient, unchanging, and with us always. The more postmodern the West becomes — affluent, leisured, nursed on moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multicultural relativism — the more premodern the evil among us seems to arise in nihilistic response.
Victor Davis Hanson
... Like having to be able to say to yourself, ‘I am pretending to sit here reading Albert Camus’s The Fall for the Literature of Alienation midterm, but actually I’m really concentrating on listening to Steve try to impress this girl over the phone, and I am feeling embarrassment and contempt for him, and am thinking he’s a poser, and at the same time I am also uncomfortably aware of times that I’ve also tried to project the idea of myself as hip and cynical so as to impress someone, meaning that not only do I sort of dislike Steve, which in all honesty I do, but part of the reason I dislike him is that when I listen to him on the phone it makes me see similarities and realize things about myself that embarrass me, but I don’t know how to quit doing them—like, if I quit trying to seem nihilistic, even just to myself, then what would happen, what would I be like?
David Foster Wallace (The Pale King)
If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone. I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment; or as the Nazi liked to say, ‘of Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.
Viktor E. Frankl (The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy)
Dying in our sleep won’t solve anything in the long run, even if a nihilist would argue it’s coming down the pike at some point anyway, so we might as well embrace it.
Ann Aguirre (Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1))
I would sooner lose my best friend than my worst enemy. To have friends, you know, one need only be good-natured; but when a man has no enemy left there must be something mean about him.
Oscar Wilde (Vera Or The Nihilists)
I am superhero! I am the Nihilist! My superpowers include logical detachment, emotional invincibility, and the ability to blend in anywhere. I work alone and am never compromised by romantic entanglements, and I don't have a costume because who the fuck cares?
Lianne Oelke (Nice Try, Jane Sinner)
The hope that fuels the pursuit of endless economic growth – that billions of consumers in India & China will one day enjoy the lifestyles of Europeans and Americans – is as absurd & dangerous a fantasy as anything dreamt up by Al-Qaeda. It condemns the global environment to early destruction & looks set to create reservoirs of nihilistic rage & disappointment among hundreds of millions of have-nots – the bitter outcome of the universal triumph of Western Modernity, which turns the revenge of the East into something darkly ambiguous, and all its victories truly Pyrrhic.
Pankaj Mishra (From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia)
I am a socialist, a nihilist, a republican, anything that is anti-reactionary!... I want to turn everything upside down to see what lies beneath; I believe we are so webbed, so horribly regimented, that no spring-cleaning is possible, everything must be burned, blown to bits, and then we can start afresh...
August Strindberg
My quietness is a consequence of my deeply entrenched nihilism. I don’t believe there is any real value in my or anyone else’s speaking, and I think that all of human existence is fundamentally unimportant.
Emily R. Austin (Oh Honey)
There is nothing so annoying as to be fairly rich, of a fairly good family, pleasing presence, average education, to be "not stupid," kindhearted, and yet to have no talent at all, no originality, not a single idea of one's own—to be, in fact, "just like everyone else." Of such people there are countless numbers in this world—far more even than appear. They can be divided into two classes as all men can—that is, those of limited intellect, and those who are much cleverer. The former of these classes is the happier. To a commonplace man of limited intellect, for instance, nothing is simpler than to imagine himself an original character, and to revel in that belief without the slightest misgiving. Many of our young women have thought fit to cut their hair short, put on blue spectacles, and call themselves Nihilists. By doing this they have been able to persuade themselves, without further trouble, that they have acquired new convictions of their own. Some men have but felt some little qualm of kindness towards their fellow-men, and the fact has been quite enough to persuade them that they stand alone in the van of enlightenment and that no one has such humanitarian feelings as they. Others have but to read an idea of somebody else's, and they can immediately assimilate it and believe that it was a child of their own brain. The "impudence of ignorance," if I may use the expression, is developed to a wonderful extent in such cases;—unlikely as it appears, it is met with at every turn. ... those belonged to the other class—to the "much cleverer" persons, though from head to foot permeated and saturated with the longing to be original. This class, as I have said above, is far less happy. For the "clever commonplace" person, though he may possibly imagine himself a man of genius and originality, none the less has within his heart the deathless worm of suspicion and doubt; and this doubt sometimes brings a clever man to despair. (As a rule, however, nothing tragic happens;—his liver becomes a little damaged in the course of time, nothing more serious. Such men do not give up their aspirations after originality without a severe struggle,—and there have been men who, though good fellows in themselves, and even benefactors to humanity, have sunk to the level of base criminals for the sake of originality)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Idiot)
… the major enemy of black survival in America has been and is neither oppression nor exploitation but rather the nihilistic threat—that is, loss of hope and absence of meaning. For as long as hope remains and meaning is preserved, the possibility of overcoming oppression stays alive. The self-fulfilling prophecy of the nihilistic threat is that without hope there can be no future, that without meaning there can be no struggle.
Cornel West (Race Matters)
There’s something nihilistic about not having children
Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
One of my teachers told me I was a nihilist. He meant it as an insult but i took it as a compliment.
Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted)
In 1965, a psychologist named Martin Seligman started shocking dogs. He was trying to expand on the research of Pavlov--the guy who could make dogs salivate when they heard a bell ring. Seligman wanted to head in the other direction, and when he rang his bell, instead of providing food, he zapped the dogs with electricity. To keep them still, he restrained them in a harness during the experiment. After they were conditioned, he put these dogs in a big box with a little fence dividing it into two halves. He figured if the dog rang the bell, it would hop over the fence to escape, but it didn't. It just sat there and braced itself. They decided to try shocking the dog after the bell. The dog still just sat there and took it. When they put a dog in the box that had never been shocked before or had previously been allowed to escape and tried to zap it--it jumped the fence. You are just like these dogs. If, over the course of your life, you have experienced crushing defeat or pummeling abuse or loss of control, you convince yourself over time that there is no escape, and if escape is offered, you will not act--you become a nihilist who trusts futility above optimism. Studies of the clinically depressed show that they often give in to defeat and stop trying. . . Any extended period of negative emotions can lead to you giving in to despair and accepting your fate. If you remain alone for a long time, you will decide loneliness is a fact of life and pass up opportunities to hang out with people. The loss of control in any situation can lead to this state. . . Choices, even small ones, can hold back the crushing weight of helplessness, but you can't stop there. You must fight back your behavior and learn to fail with pride. Failing often is the only way to ever get the things you want out of life. Besides death, your destiny is not inescapable.
David McRaney (You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself)
Pity preserves things that are ripe for decline, it defends things that have been disowned and condemned by life, and it gives a depressive and questionable character to life itself by keeping alive an abundance of failures of every type. People have dared to call pity a virtue… people have gone even further, making it into the virtue, the foundation and source of all virtues, - but of course you always have to keep in mind that this was the perspective of a nihilistic philosophy that inscribed the negation of life on its shield. Schopenhauer was right here: pity negates life, it makes life worthy of negation, - pity is the practice of nihilism. Once more: this depressive and contagious instinct runs counter to the instincts that preserve and enhance the value of life: by multiplying misery just as much as by conserving everything miserable, pity is one of the main tools used to increase decadence - pity wins people over to nothingness! … You do not say ‘nothingness’ : instead you say ‘the beyond’; or ‘God’; or ‘the true life’; or nirvana, salvation, blessedness … This innocent rhetoric from the realm of religious-moral idiosyncrasy suddenly appears much less innocent when you see precisely which tendencies are wrapped up inside these sublime words: tendencies hostile to life.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Anti-Christ)
I never feel weird about being the main character in the nontransferable, nonexistent movie of my life. That’s totally fine. What makes me nervous is a growing suspicion that this movie is fucked up and devoid of meaning. The auteur is a nihilist.
Chuck Klosterman (I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined))
The born again nihilist has nothing to blame for their fall
Dean Cavanagh
Art as the single superior counter-force against all will to negation of life, art as the anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, anti-Nihilist par excellence.
Friedrich Nietzsche
He was too tough to experience disappointments and resentments — negative affections. In this nihilist fin de siècle, he was affirmation. Right through to illness and death. Why did I speak of him in the past? He laughed, he is laughing, he is here. It's your sadness, idiot, he'd say.
Jean-François Lyotard
And, increasingly, I find myself fixing on that refusal to pull back. Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence—of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do—is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me—and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no “do-overs” to employ a favored phrase of Xandra’s, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death. [“Complaints bureau!” I remember Boris grousing as a child, one afternoon at his house when we had got off on the vaguely metaphysical subject of our mothers: why they—angels, goddesses—had to die? while our awful fathers thrived, and boozed, and sprawled, and muddled on, and continued to stumble about and wreak havoc, in seemingly indefatigable health? “They took the wrong ones! Mistake was made! Everything is unfair! Who do we complain to, in this shitty place? Who is in charge here?”] And—maybe it’s ridiculous to go on in this vein, although it doesn’t matter since no one’s ever going to see this—but does it make any sense at all to know that it ends badly for all of us, even the happiest of us, and that we all lose everything that matters in the end—and yet to know as well, despite all this, as cruelly as the game is stacked, that it’s possible to play it with a kind of joy?
Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch)
Children were quite disturbing really. It was difficult to think about children for long. They were all fickle little nihilists and one was forever being forced to protect oneself from their murderousness.
Joy Williams (The Changeling)
The proudest, the most independent of women, if I can but succeed in communicating my passion to her, will follow me unreasoningly, unquestioningly, doing all I desire. Out of a nun I once made a nihilist who, I heard later, shot a policeman. In all my wanderings my wife never left me for an instant, and, like a weathercock, changed her faith with each of my changing passions. - On the Way
Anton Chekhov (Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov)
For romantic young people like he is, the world always looks best at a distance; and a prison where one's allowed to order one's own dinner is not at all bad.
Oscar Wilde (Vera Or The Nihilists)
Nihilists! I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
HUGS, another one of the many benefits of not being a nihilistic, psychopathic automaton.
Rick Remender
It was a uniform that signified that one was a kind of downtown aesthete; not necessarily nihilistic, but a monk in the bohemian order.
David Byrne
Though violent action is sometimes associated with nihilism, what makes such activity nihilistic, it seems, is the belief that ultimately nothing will come out of it. When nihlists throw themselves into activity it is with the understanding that its only goal is the expression and dissipation of their life's energy. Any creative product will eventually be consumed by decay. Since there is nothing that humans can do to mend the separation between themselves and reality, they can never actualize their supreme standards of worth and value. This world must remain substandard no matter what we do to try and change the situation.
John Marmysz (Laughing at Nothing: Humor as a Response to Nihilism)
If you believe in nothing, if life can have no real objective meaning and all is socially constructed; then pleasure is absolutely necessary as an analgesic, and distraction is the primary philosophical argument. The politically correct are nihilists, that is reality-deniers, and when there is no reality then the only positive is pleasure.
Bruce G. Charlton (Thought Prison)
Despite the doctor’s orders, I bought myself several cartons of cigarettes (…) I think that I preferred to put myself in serious danger rather than confront my shame. My shame at not having become someone, the shame of not having made my parents proud after all the sacrifices they had made for me. The shame of having become a mediocre nihilist.
Marjane Satrapi (The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis, #1-4))
If being a nihilist, is carrying, to the unbearable limit of hegemonic systems, this radical trait of derision and of violence, this challenge that the system is summoned to answer through its own death, then I am a terrorist and nihilist in theory as the others are with their weapons. Theoretical violence, not truth, is the only resource left us.
Jean Baudrillard (Simulacra and Simulation)
The atheists I know, virtually all of whom are happy and mentally healthy, might more properly be called anti-nihilists. We are mainly optimists who love our lives and find them to be full of meaning and purpose.
Dan Barker (Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning)
We shall unleash the nihilists and the atheists and we shall provoke a great social cataclysm which in all its horror will show clearly to all nations the effect of absolute atheism; the origins of savagery and of most bloody turmoil. Then everywhere, the people will be forced to defend themselves against the world minority of the world revolutionaries and will exterminate those destroyers of civilization and the multitudes disillusioned with Christianity whose spirits will be from that moment without direction and leadership and anxious for an ideal, but without knowledge where to send its adoration, will receive the true light through the universal manifestation of the pure doctrine of Lucifer brought finally out into public view. A manifestation which will result from a general reactionary movement which will follow the destruction of Christianity and Atheism; both conquered and exterminated at the same time.
Albert Pike
Bruno withdrew from the field of history more resolutely than Vigo; that is why I prefer the former’s retrospect but the latter’s prospect. As an anarch, I am determined to go along with nothing, ultimately take nothing seriously – at least not nihilistically, but rather as a border guard in no man’s land, who sharpens his eyes and ears between the tides.
Ernst Jünger (Eumeswil)
For myself, the only immortality I desire is to invent a new sauce.
Oscar Wilde (Vera Or The Nihilists)
There must be no final truths; only burning questions.
John Marmysz (The Nihilist: A Philosophical Novel)
Trump’s election didn’t turn the Republican Party into a nihilistic, win-at-all-costs, political-racketeering scheme. The fact that the Republican Party is a nihilistic, win-at-all-costs, political-racketeering scheme is what led to the election of Trump.
Dan Pfeiffer (Un-Trumping America: A Plan to Make America a Democracy Again)
My consultants recommended several nihilists and existentialists but I rejected them all. A black turtleneck sweater does not a misanthrope make. Nihilists and existentialists tend to be bohemians, who invariably run in packs; despite their alienated stance, they have always struck me as a sociable lot who surround themselves with people because they are forever saying "Nothing matters," and they need someone to say it to.
Florence King
Nihilists embrace life's existence by the acceptance of nothingness
Martijn Budel
To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, not something you do.
Christopher Hitchens (Letters to a Young Contrarian)
you’re too angry to be a nihilist.
Lisa Henry (Dark Space (Dark Space, #1))
Yes, I'm reckless and sometime express no concern for my own well being, and I express a misanthropic view of the world, but to have an opinion, you can't be a nihilist.
Marilyn Manson
The nihilist looks around at everything and comes to terms with what seems to be obvious. The sun is one tiny dying star in an enormous universe. One day the sun will burn out or explode, destroying us all. The earth is a molten rock that could either be blown up by nuclear weapons or an erratic comet. We are one of the seven billion nameless faceless ones currently living on this rock. What does our existence matter to this rock floating around a dying star within the expanse of an enormous universe? Not much.
Jon Morrison (Clear Minds & Dirty Feet: A Reason to Hope, a Message to Share)
All these nihilists and cynics are really just cowards. They act as if everything’s meaningless because that means ultimately there’s nothing to lose. Their attitude seems unassailable and superior, but inside it’s worthless.
Benedict Wells (Vom Ende der Einsamkeit)
when ‘morality’ is attacked as a method of class oppression, and a nihilistic attitude towards morality that encourages the notion that ‘all is permitted’ in the name of ‘free expression’, it is the Left that has – whether deliberately or not – laid the basis for paedophilia as a political movement, as it has with sundry other ‘minorities’.
Kerry Bolton (The Psychotic Left)
As soon as some of our young ladies cut their hair, put on blue spectacles, and called themselves nihilists, they became convinced at once that, having put on the spectacles, they immediately began to have their own “convictions.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Idiot)
Hakeem: A wise man once said that suffering produces perseverance, character; and character, hope. Andre: Since when did spouting masochism make one wise? And the sacraments of a bitter existence? Who deemed that a vaunted prize? Nihilistic philosophy only births more pain. It's fruitless to espouse folly, repackage it as wisdom, and spew it in a wise man's name.
Booker T. Mattison (Snitch)
My view of writing "Coldest Girl in Coldtown" was to take every single thing that I loved from every vampire book I had ever read and dump it into one book--everything I like--trying to evoke some of the decadence… Vampires are a high-class monster: They want to dress up. They want to drink a lot of absinthe, or force their victims to drink a lot of absinthe. They have big parties and have elegant rituals. I think that's a thing we associate with vampires--they are the royalty of our monsters. We expect them to be rich, we expect them to be well-dressed. I wanted to have some of that be true because I like it, and have some of it not be true because it's kind of weird. I wanted to put in the idea of infection, which I was really interested in and which was a big feature of the vampire books I read growing up. And, the fear and desire for infection--the way in which our urge towards loving vampires is nihilistic. Our fear of them is our survival instincts kicking in.
Holly Black
There is no religion and no philosophy that can give us a comprehensive answer to the whole of our problems, and the abandonment and isolation of the individual who is given no answer, or only inadequate answers, to his question lead to a situation in which more and more cheap, obvious solutions and answers are sought and provided. As, everywhere and in all departments of life, there are contradictory schools and parties, and an equal number of contradictory answers, one of the most frequent reactions is that modern man ceases to ask questions and takes refuge in a conception that considers only the most obvious, superficial aspects, and becomes skeptical, nihilistic, and egocentric. Or, alternatively, he tries to solve all his problems by plunging headlong into a collective situation and a collective conviction, and seeks to redeem himself in this way.
Erich Neumann (The Fear of the Feminine and Other Essays on Feminine Psychology)
It is of course no secret to contemporary philosophers and psychologists that man himself is changing in our violent century, under the influence, of course, not only of war and revolution, but also of practically everything else that lays claim to being "modern" and "progressive." We have already cited the most striking forms of Nihilist Vitalism, whose cumulative effect has been to uproot, disintegrate, and "mobilize" the individual, to substitute for his normal stability and rootedness a senseless quest for power and movement, and to replace normal human feeling by a nervous excitability. The work of Nihilist Realism, in practice as in theory, has been parallel and complementary to that of Vitalism: a work of standardization, specialization, simplification, mechanization, dehumanization; its effect has been to "reduce" the individual to the most "Primitive" and basic level, to make him in fact the slave of his environment, the perfect workman in Lenin's worldwide "factory.
Seraphim Rose (Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age)
I am as sure as I am of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has never seen.
Archibald Alexander Hodge
Whereas a belief in an absurd world arises out of the fundamental disharmony of a person searching for meaning in an apparently meaninglessness universe, an existential nihilist displays impassive intellectual stoicism towards their eventual mortality while embracing a passionate artistic commitment to munity against the underlying syndrome of insignificance and confusion encasing life.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
Nothing was holy to us. Our movement was neither mystical, communistic nor anarchistic. All of these movements had some sort of program, but ours was completely nihilistic. We spat on everything, including ourselves. Our symbol was nothingness, a vacuum, a void.
George Grosz The Autobiography of George Grosz 1955 (George Grosz: An Autobiography)
But it must be seen that the term 'catastrophe' has this 'catastrophic' meaning of the end and annihilation only in a linear vision of accumulation and productive finality that the system imposes on us. Etymologically, the term only signifies the curvature, the winding down to the bottom of a cycle leading to what can be called the 'horizon of the event,' to the horizon of meaning, beyond which we cannot go. Beyond it, nothing takes place that has meaning for us - but it suffices to exceed this ultimatum of meaning in order that catastrophe itself no longer appear as the last, nihilistic day of reckoning, such as it functions in our current collective fantasy.
Jean Baudrillard (In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities)
In any case, Klossowski, mentioned again during Acéphale's sessional meeting of 25 July 1938, would later return to his opposition between Nietzsche and Bataille in a lecture given in 1941 at the end of a retreat in a Dominican monastery, 'Le Corps du néant', later printed in the first edition of his book Sade my Neighbour (1947) and which Bataille later told him he 'does not like'. Here Klossowski recapitulated the two stages in the evolution of Nietzsche's thought outlined in Löwith's essay 'Nietzsche and the doctrine of the Eternal Return', which he had reviewed in Acéphale 2: 1. Liberation from the Christian YOU MUST to achieve the I WANT of supra-nihilism; 2. Liberation from the I WANT to attain the I AM of superhumanity in the eternal return. It is precisely in this 'cyclical movement', according to Klossowski, that man 'takes on the immeasurable responsibility of the death of God'. Furthermore, he associates Bataille's negation of God with the negation of utility upon which the notion of expenditure was founded, and hence the source of his 'absolute political nihilism'. His conclusion, however, was a little more ambiguous: 'In his desire to relive the Nietzschean experience of the death of God [...] he did not have the privilege [...] of suffering Nietzsche's punishment: the delirium that transfigures the executioner into a victim [...] To be guilty or not to be, that is his dilemma. His acephality expresses only the unease of a guilt in which conscience has become alienated because he has put faith to sleep: and this is to experience God in the manner of demons, as St. Augustine said'. Unlike Nietzsche. who 'accused himself' of causing the death of God 'in the name of all men' and paid for his guilt with madness, unlike Kirillov, the nihilist in Dostoyevsky's Demons who chose to commit suicide so as to kill men's fear of death and thus kill God himself, Bataille shows us this frightful torment of not being able to make his guilt real and so attain that state of responsibility that gives knowledge of the path to absolution.
Georges Bataille (The Sacred Conspiracy: The Internal Papers of the Secret Society of Acéphale and Lectures to the College of Sociology)
The young nihilists," Dad called us. "What are nihilists?" "Nihilists believe that nothing has any meaning. They believe in nothing." "Yeah," said Earl. "I'm a nihilist." "Me, too," I said. "Good for you," Dad said, grinning. Then he stopped grinning and said, "Don't tell your mom.
Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
It was sometimes feebly argued, as the political and military war against this enemy ran into difficulties, that it was 'a war without end.' I never saw the point of this plaintive objection. The war against superstition and the totalitarian mentality is an endless war. In protean forms, it is fought and refought in every country and every generation. In bin Ladenism we confront again the awful combination of the highly authoritarian personality with the chaotically nihilist and anarchic one. Temporary victories can be registered against this, but not permanent ones. As Bertold Brecht's character says over the corpse of the terrible Arturo Ui, the bitch that bore him is always in heat. But it is in this struggle that we develop the muscles and sinews that enable us to defend civilization, and the moral courage to name it as something worth fighting for.
Christopher Hitchens (The Enemy)
I am no ecological Pollyana. I have borne, and will continue to bear, feelings of wholehearted melancholy over the ecological state of the earth. How could I not? How could anyone not? But I am unwilling to become a hand-wringing nihilist, as some environmental 'realists' seem to believe is the more mature posture. Instead, I choose to dwell, as Emily Dickinson famously suggested, in possibility, where we cannot predict what will happen but we make space for it, whatever it is, and realize that our participation has value. This is grown-up optimism, where our bondedness with the rest of creation, a sense of profound interaction, and a belief in our shared ingenuity give meaning to our lives and actions on behalf of the more-than-human world.
Lyanda Lynn Haupt (Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness)
There is no such thing as progress or regress. The world is not getting better and better, nor is it getting worse and worse. It is simply moving along into the future, reiterating in different configurations the patterns that have already occurred. We can’t help but play a role in this unfolding drama, but it is a mistake to think that what we do makes any difference to the grand scheme of things.
John Marmysz (The Nihilist: A Philosophical Novel)
In the American way of life pleasure involves comfort, convenience, and sexual stimulation. Pleasure, so defined, has little to do with the past and views the future as no more than a repetition of a hedonistically driven present. This market morality stigmatizes others as objects for personal pleasure or bodily stimulation. The reduction of individuals to objects of pleasure is especially evident in the culture industries--television, radio, video, music. Like all Americans, African Americans are influenced greatly by the images of comfort. These images contribute to the predominance of the market-inspired way of life over all others and thereby edge out nonmarket values--love, care, service to others--handed down by preceding generations. The predominance of this way of life among those living in poverty-ridden conditions, with a limited capacity to ward of self-contempt and self-hatred, results in the possible triumph of the nihilistic threat in black America.
Cornel West
My interest in Sufism began when I was a college student. At the time, I was a rebellious young woman who liked to wrap several shawls of ‘-isms’ around her shoulders: I was a leftist, feminist, nihilist, environmentalist, anarcho-pacifist…I wasn’t interested in any religion and the difference between ‘religiosity’ and ‘spirituality’ was lost to me. Having spent some time of my childhood with a loving grandmother with many superstitions and beliefs, I had a sense the world was not composed of solely material things and there was more to life than I could see. But the truth is, I wasn’t interested in understanding the world. I only wanted to change it.
Elif Shafak
More profoundly, Nihilist "simplification" may be seen in the universal prestige today accorded the lowest order of knowledge, the scientific, as well as the simplistic ideas of men like Marx, Freud, and Darwin, which underlie virtually the whole of contemporary thought and life. We say "life," for it is important to see that the Nihilist history of our century has not been something imposed from without or above, or at least has not been predominantly this; it has rather presupposed, and drawn its nourishment from, a Nihilist soil that has long been preparing in the hearts of the people. It is precisely from the Nihilism of the commonplace, from the everyday Nihilism revealed in the life and thought and aspiration of the people, that all the terrible events of our century have sprung. The world-view of Hitler is very instructive in this regard, for in him the most extreme and monstrous Nihilism rested upon the foundation of a quite unexceptional and even typical Realism. He shared the common faith in "science," "progress," and "enlightenment" (though not, of course, in "democracy"), together with a practical materialism that scorned all theology, metaphysics, and any thought or action concerned with any other world than the "here and now," priding himself on the fact that he had "the gift of reducing all problems to their simplest foundations." He had a crude worship of efficiency and utility that freely tolerated "birth control", laughed at the institution of marriage as a mere legalization of a sexual impulse that should be "free", welcomed sterilization of the unfit, despised "unproductive elements" such as monks, saw nothing in the cremation of the dead but a "practical" question and did not even hesitate to put the ashes, or the skin and fat, of the dead to "productive use." He possessed the quasi-anarchist distrust of sacred and venerable institutions, in particular the Church with its "superstitions" and all its "outmoded" laws and ceremonies. He had a naive trust in the "natural mom, the "healthy animal" who scorns the Christian virtues--virginity in particular--that impede the "natural functioning" of the body. He took a simple-minded delight in modern conveniences and machines, and especially in the automobile and the sense of speed and "freedom" it affords. There is very little of this crude Weltanschauung that is not shared, to some degree, by the multitudes today, especially among the young, who feel themselves "enlightened" and "liberated," very little that is not typically "modern.
Seraphim Rose
Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.
Oscar Wilde (Vera Or The Nihilists)
Double suicide or it wasn't love.
Sean Kilpatrick (Gil the Nihilist: A Sitcom)
If you want to be a private eye, you have to get used to such things as hideous depression and abject despair.
Arthur Byron Cover (The Platypus of Doom and Other Nihilists)
I'll never be happy, how can you love me, I'm awful, I'm covered with spiders, I'm doomed.
Iris Murdoch (The Message to the Planet)
I'm made for misery, misery, misery, I'm made to be destroyed!
Iris Murdoch (The Message to the Planet)
Nothing made me happy.
Ottessa Moshfegh (Homesick for Another World)
I was always just there. In a perpetual nihilistic malaise of ennui and lots of other SAT words.
Aaron Goldfarb (How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide)
Am I a nihilistic postmodernist or a New Ager in academig drag?
Timothy Morton (Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World)
To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.
Christopher Hitchens
But I am not a nihilist. I do like some things. I should add that I have never been able to stand at a high place without thinking about jumping off.
James Simon Kunen (The Strawberry Statement)
Cornel West (Race Matters)
With nihilism, no discussion is possible; for the nihilist logic doubts the existence of its interlocutor, and is not quite sure that it exists itself.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Works of Friedrich Nietzsche)
At what point do we admit that the NFL’s true economic function is to channel our desire for athletic heroism into an engine of nihilistic greed?
Steve Almond (Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto)
Yet “nothing” is not quite Faulkner’s last word, only the next to the last. In the end, the negativist is no nihilist, for he affirms the void.
Greil Marcus (History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs)
Before, there were Hegelians; now there are only nihilists.
Ivan Turgenev (Fathers and Sons)
In all of its operations, cinema ceaselessly strives, and fails, to make present a world hopelessly beyond grasp. For this reason cinema is, in its very nature, a nihilistic medium.
John Marmysz
Nihilistic passion, adding to falsehood and injustice, destroys in its fury its original demands and thus deprives rebellion of its most cogent reasons. It kills in the fond conviction that this world is dedicated to death. The consequence of rebellion, on the contrary, is to refuse to legitimize murder because rebellion, in principle, is a protest against death.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
Biblical eschatology fundamentally challenges the "official" scientific idea that the universe will end in a violent heat death, and instead that the cosmos will be set free from its decadence. It calls us to consider the sobering similarities between ancient pagan cosmologies (creation began with war & violence between the gods) and modern naturalism as a nihilistic, philosophical worldview (all will end in astronomical war & violence). Instead, the revelation (apocalypse) of the Lamb is that God created out of love and love will win in the end.
David D. Flowers
What is causing this mysterious perpetual air of inconvenience to slowly engulf the evening. It is not merely emptiness but an awakening in itself about nothingness. Leave behind what was never yours and accept the fact that momentary pleasures and hideous treasures will perish too soon; so will your pride be snatched away by nothing. Mathematicians often say an instance tends to infinity. But, in actual sense, is anything even close to infinity? Nullify yourself and disappear into zero, for that is what we call the beginning; the beginning of the end.
Ranjani Ramachandran
Punks are nihilists who see no tomorrow at all, and dwell in a culture of death music and death imagery. Appropriately, Return focuses on a group of punks who bear names like Trash, Suicide, and Scum, their very names indicating their lack of respect for the world, and themselves. They see themselves as nothing in a world that doesn't value them, and won't survive an apocalypse.
John Kenneth Muir (Horror Films of the 1980s)
Prior to Y.P.W.c.’s Freedom of Speculation Act, credible sociohistorical data on the origins and evolution of Les Assassins des Fauteuils Rollents from obscure, adolescent, nihilistic Root Cult to one of the most feared cells in the annals of Canadian extremism was regrettably patchy and dependent on the hearsay of sources whose scholarly veracity was of an integrity somewhat less than unimpeachable.
David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest)
Nothing hurts except my heart, but I'm trying not to use it. I read my books. Existential or nihilist ones. I have no patience for books that pretend life has meaning. I have no patience for happy endings.
Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything)
Philosophy, in its longing to rationalize, formalize, define, delimit, to terminate enigma and uncertainty, to co-operate wholeheartedly with the police, is nihilistic in the ultimate sense that it strives for the immobile perfection of death. But creativity cannot be brought to an end that is compatible with power, for unless life is extinguished, control must inevitably break down. We possess art lest we perish of the truth.
Nick Land (Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings, 1987-2007)
Don't you ever save me again. Do you hear me, you hotheaded little incendiary? Don't help me, rescue me, offer me succor, or do me a favor. Do you understand, you nihilistic dynamitard! Don't you dare ever save me again!
Joanna Jordan (Temptation's Darling)
Depressed, negative, and pessimistic people were often treated like lepers in this world. It was as though people feared catching what they had. Perhaps because what they were saying made sense? Hell, if everybody would see the world as it truly was, we’d all be depressed. But if that were the case, there wouldn’t even be any people. For nobody would want to bring a child into this fucked up world if they truly understood the sorry state of things. The fact that we kept on breeding showed that delusion was necessary for the continuation of the species.
Keijo Kangur (The Nihilist)
The two time periods of the novel represent two stages in the evolution of the Russian intelligentsia: the sentimental, literary 1840s and the rational and utilitarian 1860s; the time of the liberals and the time of the nihilists.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Notes from Underground)
Dalin must have whiffed the anarch in me, a man with no ties to state or society. Still, he was unable to sense an autonomy that puts up with these forces as objective facts but without recognizing them. What he lacked was a grounding in history. Opposition is collaboration; this was something from which Dalin, without realizing it, could not stay free. Basically, he damaged order less than he confirmed it. The emergence of the anarchic nihilist is like a goad that convinces society of its unity. The anarch, in contrast, not only recognizes society a priori as imperfect, he actually acknowledges it with that limitation. He is more or less repulsed by state and society, yet there are times and places in which the invisible harmony shimmers through the visible harmony. This is obviously chiefly in the work of art. In that case, one serves joyfully. But the anarchic nihilist thinks the exact opposite. The Temple of Artemis, to cite an example, would inspire him to commit arson. The anarch, however, would have no qualms about entering the temple in order to meditate and to participate with an offering. This is possible in any temple worthy of the name.
Ernst Jünger (Eumeswil)
Upon reflection, I realize that your image of me right now might be a bit skewed. Actually, kind of fucked. I am neither a nihilist, inordinately depressed, nor jaded. Though I can be and have been all of the above, and fully expect to be again.
Kergan Edwards-Stout (Songs for the New Depression)
Subvert the social and civil order! Aye, I would destroy, to the last vestige, this mockery of order, this travesty upon justice! Break up the home? Yes, every home that rests on slavery! Every marriage that represents the sale and transfer of the individuality of one of its parties to the other! Every institution, social or civil, that stands between man and his right; every tie that renders one a master, another a serf; every law, every statute, every be-it-enacted that represents tyranny; everything you call American privilege that can only exist at the expense of international right. Now cry out, "Nihilist-disintegrationist !" Say that I would isolate humanity, reduce society to its elemental state, make men savage! It is not true. But rather than see this devastating, cankering, enslaving system you call social order go on, rather than help to keep alive the accursed institutions of Authority, I would help to reduce every fabric in the social structure to its native element.
Voltairine de Cleyre (The Voltairine de Cleyre Reader)
Following the horrors of 9/11, Fukuyama and his ideas were derided as triumphalist nonsense. But he was only half wrong. Fukuyama, a Hegelian, argued that Western democracy had run out of “contradictions”: that is, of ideological alternatives. That was true in 1989 and remains true today. Fukuyama’s mistake was to infer that the absence of contradictions meant the end of history. There was another possibility he failed to consider. History could well be driven by negation rather than contradiction. It could ride on the nihilistic rejection of the established order, regardless of alternatives or consequences. That would not be without precedent. The Roman Empire wasn’t overthrown by something called “feudalism”—it collapsed of its own dead weight, to the astonishment of friend and foe alike. The centuries after the calamity lacked ideological form. Similarly, a history built on negation would be formless and nameless: a shadowy moment, however long, between one true age and another.
Martin Gurri (The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium)
I refuse to despair in this moment. I refuse to allow myself to fall into the dark chambers of pessimism, because I think in any social revolution the one thing that keeps it going is hope, and when hope dies somehow the revolution degenerates into a kind of nihilistic philosophy which says you must engage in disruption for disruption’s sake.… I believe that the forces of goodwill, white and black, in this country can work together to bring about a resolution.… We have the resources to do it.…
Tavis Smiley (Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year)
Seeing the failures of both comunism and anticomunism, I chose nothing, a synthesis that neither capitalists nor communists could understand. You may think that I'm being a nihilist, but you could not be more wrong. While nihilists thought life was meaningless and rejected all religious and moral principles, I still believed in the principle of revolution. I also believed that nothing was full of meaning - in short, that nothing was actually something. Wasn't that a kind of revolution in itself?
Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Committed)
You can say whatever you like to me. I make no moral judgments." Cassandra was slow to reply, momentarily distracted by his eyes. They were blue with dapples of brilliant green around the pupils, but one eye had far more green than the other. "Everyone makes judgments," she said in response to his statement. "I don't. My sense of rights and wrong is different from most people's. You could say I'm a moral nihilist." "What's that?" "Someone who believes nothing is innately right or wrong." "Oh, that's dreadful," she exclaimed. "I know," he said, looking apologetic. Perhaps some gently bred young women would have been shocked, but Cassandra was accustomed to unconventional people. She'd grown up with Pandora, whose twisty-turny, hippy-hoppity brain had enlivened an unbearably secluded life. In fact, Mr. Severin possessed a kind of contained energy that reminded her a little of Pandora. One could see it in the eyes, the quicksilver workings of a mind that ran faster than those of other people.
Lisa Kleypas (Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels, #6))
The downfall of liberty which in every case followed the success of these attacks demonstrates in hard facts what we said before: that freedom of thought is rendered pointless and must disappear wherever reason and morality are deprived of their status as a force in their own right. When a judge in a court of law can no longer appeal to law and justice; when neither a witness, nor the newspapers, nor even a scientist reporting on his experiments can speak the truth as he knows it; when in public life there is no moral principle commanding respect; when the revelations of religion and of art are denied any substance; then there are no grounds left on which any individual may justly make a stand against the rulers of the day. Such is the simple logic of totalitarianism. A nihilistic regime will have to undertake the day-to-day direction of all activities which are otherwise guided by the intellectual and moral principles that nihilism declares empty and void. Principles must be replaced by the decrees of an all-embracing party line.
Michael Polanyi (Meaning)
Those who ignore or belittle karmic cause and result are followers of the nihilist heretics. Those who base their confidence only upon the view of emptiness will plunge lower and lower toward the extreme view of nihilism. Those who catapult into this negative direction will never find freedom from the lower states of existence and will be far removed from the higher realms. They say that doctrines emphasizing conventional meanings such as cause and result, compassion, and meritorious accumulations will not bring buddhahood, whereas the uncontrived definitive meaning that resembles the sky is what the great yogis must meditate upon. Among nihilistic views, that is the epitome; and among lower paths, that is the lowest of all. How amazing to claim that, by blocking the cause, a result can be accomplished.
Longchen Rabjam (Dudjom Lingpa's Chöd: An Ambrosia Ocean of Sublime Explanations)
In that regard, one final clarification is in order. Trump is now the most powerful head of state in the world, and one of the most impulsive, arrogant, ignorant, disorganized, chaotic, nihilistic, self-contradictory, self-important, and self-serving. He has his finger on the triggers of a thousand or more of the most powerful thermonuclear weapons in the world. That means he could kill more people in a few seconds than any dictator in past history has been able to kill during his entire years in power. Indeed, by virtue of his office, Trump has the power to reduce the unprecedentedly destructive world wars and genocides of the twentieth century to minor footnotes in the history of human violence. To say merely that he is “dangerous” is debatable only in the sense that it may be too much of an understatement.
Bandy X. Lee (The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President)
Everything about them is blighted, dead. Feelings flake off & fall in dust. The senses, vitrified, can no longer experience pleasure; they crack at the least provocation. Each of us, within, was as if devoured by conflagration, & our hearts were no more than a pinch of ashes. Our souls were laid waste. For a long time now we had believed in nothing, not even nothingness. The nihilists of 1880 were a sect of mystics, dreamers, the routineers of universal happiness. We, of course, were poles apart from these credulous fools & their vaporous theories. We were men of action, technicians, specialists, the pioneers of a modern generation dedicated to death, the preachers of world revolution, the precursors of universal destruction, realists, realists. And there is no reality. What then? Destroy to rebuild or destroy to destroy? Neither the one nor the other. Angels or devils? No. You must excuse my smile: we were automats, pure & simple. We ran on like an idling machine until we were exhausted, pointlessly pointlessly, like life, like death, like a dream. Not even adversity had any charm for us.
Blaise Cendrars (Moravagine)
Now I know it to be merely a function of the mind - and that of the minds of the ones who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town
William Faulkner
Destroying your enemies—even destroying a planet—was understandable. But this wasn’t simple destruction. It was annihilation; obliteration. The very fabric of the Force had been shredded. Anyone capable of turning an entire planet into a nihilistic abomination had to be completely mad.
Drew Karpyshyn (Revan (Star Wars: The Old Republic, #1))
At first he found it amusing. He coined a law intended to have the humor of a Parkinson’s law that "The number of rational hypotheses that can explain any given phenomenon is infinite." It pleased him never to run out of hypotheses. Even when his experimental work seemed dead-end in every conceivable way, he knew that if he just sat down and muddled about it long enough, sure enough, another hypothesis would come along. And it always did. It was only months after he had coined the law that he began to have some doubts about the humor or benefits of it. If true, that law is not a minor flaw in scientific reasoning. The law is completely nihilistic. It is a catastrophic logical disproof of the general validity of all scientific method! If the purpose of scientific method is to select from among a multitude of hypotheses, and if the number of hypotheses grows faster than experimental method can handle, then it is clear that all hypotheses can never be tested. If all hypotheses cannot be tested, then the results of any experiment are inconclusive and the entire scientific method falls short of its goal of establishing proven knowledge
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance)
A nihilist is a man who judges that the real world ought not to be, and that the world as it ought to be does not exist. According to this view, our existence (action, suffering, willing, feeling) has no meaning: this 'in vain' is the nihilists' pathos—an inconsistency on the part of the nihilists.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Will to Power)
Good parenting, from my perspective, is like building a three-foot retaining wall against a four-foot wave. The kids have to make up that extra foot. That wave wants to drag them into an undertow where sound judgment is suspended, where the valueless, uncaring, and ultimately nihilistic cool reigns.
Greg Gutfeld (Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You)
The radical hermeneutic of suspicion that characterizes all of post-modernity is essentially nihilistic, denying the very possibility of creative or healing love. In the cross and resurrection of Jesus we find the answer: the God who made the world is revealed in terms of a self-giving love that no hermeneutic of suspicion can ever touch, in a Self that found itself by giving itself away, in a Story that was never manipulative but always healing and recreating, and in a Reality that can truly be known, indeed to know which is to discover a new dimension of knowledge, the dimension of loving and being loved.
N.T. Wright (The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is)
On Turgenev: He knew from Lavrov that I was an enthusiastic admirer of his writings; and one day, as we were returning in a carriage from a visit to Antokolsky's studio, he asked me what I thought of Bazarov. I frankly replied, 'Bazaraov is an admirable painting of the nihilist, but one feels that you did not love him as mush as you did your other heroes.' 'On the contrary, I loved him, intensely loved him,' Turgenev replied, with an unexpected vigor. 'When we get home I will show you my diary, in which I have noted how I wept when I had ended the novel with Bazarov's death.' Turgenev certainly loved the intellectual aspect of Bazarov. He so identified himself with the nihilist philosophy of his hero that he even kept a diary in his name, appreciating the current events from Bazarov's point of view. But I think that he admired him more than he loved him. In a brilliant lecture on Hamlet and Don Quixote, he divided the history makers of mankind into two classes, represented by one or the other of these characters. 'Analysis first of all, and then egotism, and therefore no faith,--an egotist cannot even believe in himself:' so he characterized Hamlet. 'Therefore he is a skeptic, and never will achieve anything; while Don Quixote, who fights against windmills, and takes a barber's plate for the magic helmet of Mambrino (who of us has never made the same mistake?), is a leader of the masses, because the masses always follow those who, taking no heed of the sarcasms of the majority, or even of persecutions, march straight forward, keeping their eyes fixed upon a goal which is seen, perhaps, by no one but themselves. They search, they fall, but they rise again and find it,--and by right, too. Yet, although Hamlet is a skeptic, and disbelieves in Good, he does not disbelieve in Evil. He hates it; Evil and Deceit are his enemies; and his skepticism is not indifferentism, but only negation and doubt, which finally consume his will.' These thought of Turgenev give, I think, the true key for understanding his relations to his heroes. He himself and several of his best friends belonged more or less to the Hamlets. He loved Hamlet, and admired Don Quixote. So he admired also Bazarov. He represented his superiority admirably well, he understood the tragic character of his isolated position, but he could not surround him with that tender, poetical love which he bestowed as on a sick friend, when his heroes approached the Hamlet type. It would have been out of place.
Pyotr Kropotkin (Memoirs of a Revolutionist)
And, increasingly, I find myself fixing on that refusal to pull back. Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence—of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do—is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me—and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no “do-overs” to employ a favored phrase of Xandra’s, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death.
Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch)
Man wants to reign supreme through the revolution. But why reign supreme if nothing has any meaning? Why wish for immortality if the aspect of life is so hideous? There is no method of thought which is absolutely nihilist except, perhaps, the method that leads to suicide, any more than there is absolute materialism.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
It’s not that the Dude believes in nothing—he’s no nihilist. It’s just that he entertains ideas so gingerly. Since he’s never angling from any fixed position, he can examine each new conceptual element without trying to chisel it into some concrete pillar of belief. Taoism calls this approach the “state of the uncarved block.
Oliver Benjamin (The Tao of the Dude: Awesome Insights of Deep Dudes from Lao Tzu to Lebowski)
Liberalism rests on an abstract and ahistorical conception of the individual self and its realisation. What is needed is an examination of the historical and physiological evolution of human agency (which is what [Nietzsche] attempts in a Genealogy of Morality) in order to demonstrate the existence of different human types and different moralities.
Keith Ansell-Pearson (An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker: The Perfect Nihilist)
At present, humankind is far from reaching any consensus on these questions. We are still in the nihilist moment of disillusionment and anger, after people have lost faith in the old stories but before they have embraced a new one. So what next? The first step is to tone down the prophecies of doom and switch from panic mode to bewilderment. Panic is a form of hubris. It comes from the smug feeling that one knows exactly where the world is heading: down. Bewilderment is more humble and therefore more clear-sighted. Do you feel like running down the street crying “The apocalypse is upon us”? Try telling yourself, “No, it’s not that. Truth is, I just don’t understand what’s going on in the world.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
Every reflection today, whether nihilist or positivist, gives birth, sometimes without knowing it, to standards that science itself confirms. The quantum theory, relativity, the uncertainty of interrelationships, define a world that has no definable reality except on the scale of average greatness, which is our own. The ideologies which guide our world were born in the time of absolute scientific discoveries. Our real knowledge, on the other hand, only justifies a system of thought based on relative discoveries. "Intelligence," says Lazare Bickel, "is our faculty for not developing what we think to the very end, so that we can still believe in reality." Approximative thought is the only creator of reality.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
I don't care about my life.
Andrew Martin (Early Work)
Go to the poor, be the poor. Go to the people, be the people.
Russian nihilist proverb
Există un cuvânt minunat:nimic.Nu te gândi la nimic.Gândește-te doar la clovnul care plânge în cadă,și căruia papucii îi șiroiesc a cafea.
Heinrich Böll (The Clown)
أظلم الأوقات في تاريخ الأمم هي الأوقات التي يؤمن فيها الإنسان بأن الشر هو الطريق الوحيد للخير
عن فلسفة العدميين Nihilists
Lilith’s smile widened, as she scoffed, “Civilised beings? Millennia come and gone, and the only conclusion I can come to is that your kind should have stayed in the trees.
Daniel MacKillican (Ama)
You’re all senators to me, senator.
Sean Kilpatrick (Gil the Nihilist: A Sitcom)
People complain about the obscurity of poetry, especially if they're assigned to write about it, but actually poetry is rather straightforward compared to ordinary conversation with people you don't know well which tends to be jumpy repartee, crooked, coded, allusive to no effect, firmly repressed, locked up in irony, steadfastly refusing to share genuine experience--think of conversation at office parties or conversation between teenage children and parents, or between teenagers themselves, or between men, or between bitter spouces: rarely in ordinary conversation do people speak from the heart and mean what they say. How often in the past week did anyone offer you something from the heart? It's there in poetry. Forget everything you ever read about poetry, it doesn't matter--poetry is the last preserve of honest speech and the outspoken heart. All that I wrote about it as a grad student I hereby recant and abjure--all that matters about poetry to me is directness and clarity and truthfulness. All that is twittery and lit'ry: no thanks, pal. A person could perish of entertainment, especially comedy, so much of it casually nihilistic, hateful, glittering, cold, and in the end clueless. People in nusing homes die watching late-night television and if I were one of them, I'd be grateful when the darkness descends. Thank God if the pastor comes and offers a psalm and a prayer, and they can attain a glimmer of clarity at the end.
Garrison Keillor
If a 'superman' undoubtedly constitutes a central idea of the whole of Nietzschean thought, it is in terms of a 'positive superman', it is not that grotesqueness in the style of d’Annunzio, nor the 'blond beast of prey' (this is one of Nietzsche’s poorest expressions) and not even the exceptional individual who incarnates a maximum of the 'will to power', 'beyond good and evil', however without any light and without a higher sanction. The positive superman, which suits the 'better Nietzsche', is instead to be identified with the human type who even in a nihilistic, devastated, absurd, godless world knows how to stand on his feet, because he is capable of giving himself a law from himself, in accordance with a new higher freedom.
Julius Evola
Every age has its own collective neurosis, and every age needs its own psychotherapy to cope with it. The existential vacuum which is the mass neurosis of the present time can be described as a private and personal form of nihilism; for nihilism can be defined as the contention that being has no meaning. As for psychotherapy, however, it will never be able to cope with this state of affairs on a mass scale if it does not keep itself free from the impact and influence of the contemporary trends of a nihilistic philosophy; otherwise it represents a symptom of the mass neurosis rather than its possible cure. Psychotherapy would not only reflect a nihilistic philosophy but also, even though unwillingly and unwittingly, transmit to the patient what is actually a caricature rather than a true picture of man. First of all, there is a danger inherent in the teaching of man's "nothingbutness," the theory that man is nothing but the result of biological, psychological and sociological conditions, or the product of heredity and environment. such a view of man makes a neurotic believe what he is prone to believe anyway, namely, that he is the pawn and victim of outer influences or inner circumstances. This neurotic fatalism is fostered and strengthened by a psychotherapy which denies that man is free. To be sure, a human being is a finite thing and his freedom is restricted. It is not freedom from conditions, but it is freedom to take a stand toward the conditions. As I once put it: "As a professor in two fields, neurology and psychiatry, I am fully aware of the extent to which man is subject to biological, psychological and sociological conditions. But in addition to being a professor in two fields I am a survivor of four camps-concentration camps, that is-and as such I also bear witness to the unexpected extent to which man is capable of defying and braving even the worst conditions conceivable.
Viktor E. Frankl (Man's Search for Meaning)
As for the belief that humanity is mostly good, Secular humanism, when in that alignment, always presumes the existence of a higher power, or some god-like influence on man. Because it then becomes the belief that people are generally good and should be protected from the wiles of religion, as though this dark, vague and ignorant force once fell from the heavens, latched onto the purer hearts and minds of men and women, and, in all its forms, controlled and polluted the whole of human history. He says, 'When we defeat religion, humanity will be free.' But, if he were duly consistent, if he were really at all as secular as he claims, he might as well admit to what is actually an underlying brand of nihilistic cynicism: 'When we defeat humans, humanity will be free.
Criss Jami (Healology)
Life — for me — is neither good nor bad, neither a theory nor an idea. Life is a reality, and the reality of life is war. For one who is a born warrior, life is a fountain of joy, for others it is only a fountain of humiliation and sorrow. I no longer demand carefree joy from life. It couldn’t give it to me, and I would no longer know what to do with it now that my adolescence is past...
Renzo Novatore (I Am Also a Nihilist)
His puppets have a nihilistic spirit, if you'd understand what I meant by that. Sometimes his puppets won't perform at all. He just lets them sit there, watching us. Then he has them look at each other and then back at us until it feels as if they have information, some kind of dreadful information about each and every one of us, and you begin to wish they'd decide to keep their mouths shut forever.
Helen Oyeyemi (What is Not Yours is Not Yours)
Nietzsche does not seek a completely politicized existence in which a private realm of existence is abolished. On the contrary, he wishes to preserve a private/public distinction. His quarrel with modern liberal society is that, although its ideology of the privatization of politics allows individuals a tremendous degree of private freedom, it does so at the cost of undermining notions of culture and citizenship.
Keith Ansell-Pearson (An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker: The Perfect Nihilist)
Mis-information is rampant in this great age of mass-information. While we have more access to learning than ever before in the history of the world, we’re actually getting dumber it seems. The amount of (mis)information at everyone's fingertips has lured us into a false sense of knowing. Whether it be information about science, politics, or theology, our society is suffering from an inability to research, process, filter, and apply. At the same time we seem entirely oblivious to the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) that is nihilistic and libertine, making everything relative and subjective. And Satan himself rushes to blur our vision, stirring up the dust of confusion. The church must respond by teaching the critical faculties of logic and spiritual discernment, embedded in a cohesive framework of fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding). We must obtain a reasonable faith that is consistent with historic Christianity and relevant for our post-modern age. Otherwise, those rejecting the blatant errors of religious fundamentalism will be susceptible to every wind of false doctrine and repackaged heresy imaginable. They will leave the orthodox faith and accept something that vaguely resembles Christianity, but in reality is a vile concoction of demonic lies.
David D. Flowers
Eternal Rest. If I have the temerity to prefer my own definition of the spirit of Buḍḍha's doctrine, it is because I think that all the misconceptions of it have arisen from a failure to understand his idea of what is real and what is unreal, what worth longing and striving for and what not. From this misconception have come all the unfounded charges that Buḍḍhism is an "atheistical," that is to say, a grossly materialistic, a nihilistic, a negative, a vice-breeding religion. Buḍḍhism denies the existence of a personal God—true: therefore—well, therefore, and notwithstanding all this, its teaching is neither what may be called properly atheistical, nihilistic, negative, nor provocative of vice. I will try to make my meaning clear, and the advancement of modern scientific research helps in this direction. Science divides the universe for us into two elements—matter and force;
Henry Steel Olcott (The Life of Buddha and Its Lessons)
Philosophy reminds us who we are. We are animals that endlessly aspire to overcome ourselves. We are creatures torn between the desire for stability and dissatisfaction with what we have. Being human is, in its very core, a conundrum,
John Marmysz (The Nihilist: A Philosophical Novel)
It is modern narrow-mindedness to relate the church only to the world of human beings; it has always been cosmos-orientated too, and is so still. If the church sees itself as the beginning and germ of the new creation, then the present ecological crisis is not just a crisis of modern civilization. It is the church’s crisis in this civilization as well. The suffering of weaker creatures is the church’s suffering too. ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together.’ What suffers is not just ‘our natural environment’; it is God’s environment as well. The modern nihilistic destruction of nature is nothing other than practised atheism. The perpetrators are excommunicating themselves from the community of creation. In the face of this danger, a new cosmic spirituality is developing in many groups and churches today, a spirituality in which we reverence God’s hidden presence in all living things and hope for their future in the kingdom of God.
Jürgen Moltmann (Sun of Righteousness, Arise!: God's Future for Humanity and the Earth)
Conformity is one of the nihilistic temptations of rebellion which dominate a large part of our intellectual history. It demonstrates how the rebel who takes to action is tempted to succumb, if he forgets his origins, to the most absolute conformity. And so it explains the twentieth century. Lautreamont, who is usually hailed as the bard of pure rebellion, on the contrary proclaims the advent of the taste for intellectual servitude which flourishes in the contemporary world.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
The attitude of letting go, of letting things be as they are, of non-attachment, does not imply a condition of reactive distancing or detachment, and is not to be confused with passivity, dissociative behaviors, or attempts to separate yourself even the tiniest bit from reality. It is not a pathological condition of withdrawal adopted to protect yourself. Nor is it nihilistic. It is exactly opposite: a supremely healthy condition of heart and mind. It means embracing the whole of reality in a new way.
Jon Kabat-Zinn (Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment--And Your Life)
Perhaps I can follow a heroic existential nihilist’s sterling example of surviving the harshness of reality by employing an attentive narrative examination of my recalcitrant life to extract shards of personal truth and elicit a synthesizing purposefulness of my being from the darkness, anarchy, and chaos of existence. Perhaps through the act of engaging in a deliberative examination of the ontological mystery of being and investigating the accompanying stark brutal doubt that renders a materialistic life intolerably senseless, absurd, and meaningless, I can confront the baffle of being and establish a guiding set of personal values to live by in an indifferent world. Perhaps by using the contemplative tools of narrative storytelling, I can strictly scrutinize the key leaning rubrics veiled within an array of confusing personal life experiences. Perhaps by engaging in a creative act of discovery I can blunt the pain and anguish that comes from the nightmarish experience of suffering from an existential crisis.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
But the old 1840s split between the religious, patriotic, Slavophile establishment and the progressive, humane, revolutionary Westernizers was giving way to the exacerbated conflict between the alienated positivist radicals of the 1860s who adopted the name Turgenev had given them, Nihilists, and those who thanked Russian Nationalism, Orthodoxy and Autocracy for the bloodless liberation of the serfs, introduction of trial by jury, reduction of the draft from twenty-five to five years, partial decentralization of
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Demons)
It's actually not true that our literary culture is nihilistic, at least not in the radical sense of Turgenev's Bazarov. For there are certain tendencies we believe are bad, qualities we hate and fear. Among these are sentimentality, naivete, archaism, fanaticism. It would probably be better to call our own art's culture now one of congenital skepticism. Our intelligentsia distrust strong belief, open conviction. Material passion is one thing, but idealogical passion disgusts us on some deep level. We believe that ideology is now the province of the rival SIGs and PACs all trying to get their slice of the big green pie...and, looking around us, we see that indeed it is so. But Frank's Dostoevsky would point out (or more like hop up and down and shake his fist and fly at us and shout) that if this is so, it's at least partly because we have abandoned the field. That we've abandoned it to fundamentalists whose pitiless rigidity and eagerness to judge show that they're clueless about the "Christian values" they would impose on others.
David Foster Wallace (Consider the Lobster and Other Essays)
You want your agony to have a certain sophistication, no? You don’t want people to think you’re some simpleton who just suddenly realized life is hard, do you? Well, then, first you need to build a solid foundation, and that is what the following chapters are all about: bringing out the little turtlenecked French nihilist in you as a child. You need to cultivate your neuroses. Even if you only have one mental breakdown later in life, this early work will make it easier for you to “lose it” with gusto when the time is right.
Jacqueline Novak (How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows)
Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence—of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do—is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me—and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool. Sinkhole of hospital beds, coffins, and broken hearts. No release, no appeal, no “do-overs” to employ a favored phrase of Xandra’s, no way forward but age and loss, and no way out but death. [“Complaints bureau!” I remember Boris grousing as a child, one afternoon at his house when we had got off on the vaguely metaphysical subject of our mothers: why they—angels, goddesses—had to die? while our awful fathers thrived, and boozed, and sprawled, and muddled on, and continued to stumble about and wreak havoc, in seemingly indefatigable health? “They took the wrong ones! Mistake was made! Everything is unfair! Who do we complain to, in this shitty place? Who is in charge here?”] And—maybe it’s ridiculous to go on in this vein, although it doesn’t matter since no one’s ever going to see this—but does it make any sense at all to know that it ends badly for all of us, even the happiest of us, and that we all lose everything that matters in the end—and yet to know as well, despite all this, as cruelly as the game is stacked, that it’s possible to play it with a kind of joy?
Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch)
Kafka’yla yaptığım bir konuşmayı hatırlıyorum, çıkış noktamız bugünkü Avrupa ve insanlığın çöküşüydü. ‘Bizler,’ demişti Kafka ‘Tanrının zihnine üşüşen nihilist düşünceler, intihar fikirleriyiz.’ Bu bana önce Gnostik dünya görüşünü hatırlattı: Kötü bir demiurg olarak tanrı, dünyaysa onun düşüşü. ‘Hayır.’ dedi Kafka ‘bizim dünyamız Tanrının kötü bir ruh haline, kötü bir gününe rastlamış.’ ‘Öyleyse bu bildiğimiz dünya dışında umut olabilir mi?’ diye sordum. Gülümsedi: ‘Elbette yeterince var hatta sonsuz umut var ama bizim için değil.
Max Brod
The loss of a hierarchy of values is dangerous for two reasons, as Nietzsche sees it. Without such a hierarchy values prove anchorless, unstable, and shifting. It is not that all values have disappeared under nihilistic conditions; we may, on the contrary, witness a proliferation of competing values, but the relation of these values to each other is unsecured. And from this follows a second danger that without a hierarchy of values there can be no human greatness. We will not be capable of achievements that require deep, long-term, unwavering commitment. We can see what Nietzsche has in mind from our own contemporary culture which displays precisely such a loss of a hierarchy of values and is thus already nihilistic in Nietzsche’s sense. In this culture of ours the most trite and trivial counts in consequence as much as the greatest and most profound. Triviality itself has, indeed, become a value for us and all values have become trivial. What is acclaimed today is discarded tomorrow. Our values have been reduced to fashions and as such to something of no consequence.
Hans D. Sluga (Politics and the Search for the Common Good)
This horde of rubes strolled into Tokyo thinking it holds hope and possibility!! They totally believe they're gonna be respectable human beings!! But in mere months, all these scumbags will run dry of confidence and hope and become broken wrecks whining incessantly on twitter!!
Inio Asano (Dead Dead Demon's Dededede Destruction, Vol. 4 (Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction))
This rock has seen billions of years of living organisms and will see many more once we die and turn to dirt. Our life is but one tiny, brief, insignificant piece of this vast universe. So, why, the nihilist argues, do people really think that it is important to be a “good person”, get good grades, or get a good job? What difference could that possibly make to anything? Nihilism is an honest evaluation of what a universe without God would look like. Nietzsche was right about that. Where he went wrong was in thinking this was true of the actual universe.
Jon Morrison (Clear Minds & Dirty Feet: A Reason to Hope, a Message to Share)
We know that Nietzsche was publicly envious of Stendahl's epigram: "The only excuse for God is that he does not exist." Deprived of the divine will, the world is equally deprived of unity and finality. That is why it is impossible to pass judgment on the world. Any attempt to apply a standard of values to the world leads finally to a slander on life. Judgments are based on what is, with reference to what should be—the kingdom of heaven, eternal concepts, or moral imperatives. But what should be does not exist; and this world cannot be judged in the name of nothing. "The advantages of our times: nothing is true, everything is permitted." These magnificent or ironic formulas which are echoed by thousands of others, at least suffice to demonstrate that Nietzsche accepts the entire burden of nihilism and rebellion. In his somewhat puerile reflections on "training and selection" he even formulated the extreme logic of nihilistic reasoning: "Problem: by what means could we obtain a strict form of complete and contagious nihilism which would teach and practice, with complete scientific awareness, voluntary death?
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
When viewed historically the development of philosophical liberalism has to be seen as inseparable from economic liberalism (laissez-faire capitalism). The effect for Nietzsche of the domination of the polity by a money-economy is that the basis for a strong communal, ethical life is undermined, and culture is overtaken by philistinism. The expression, and realisation, of true individuality becomes almost impossible in the modern world. For Nietzsche liberalism emancipates the ‘private person’ (of bourgeois society), but not the ‘true individual’. It lacks a conception of culture.
Keith Ansell-Pearson (An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker: The Perfect Nihilist)
Once upon a time there was much talk of the apathy of the masses. Their silence was the crucial fact for an earlier generation. Today, however, the masses act not by deflection but by infection, tainting opinion polls and forecasts with their multifarious phantasies. Their abstention and their silence are no longer determining factors (that stage was still nihilistic); what counts now is their use of the cogs in the workings of uncertainty. Where the masses once sported with their voluntary servitude, they now sport with their involuntary incertitude. Unbeknownst to the experts who scrutinize them and the manipulators who believe they can influence them, they have grasped the fact that politics is virtually dead, and that they now have a new game to play, just as exciting as the ups and downs of the stock market. This game enables them to make audiences, charismas, levels of prestige and the market prices of images dance up and down with an intolerable facility. The masses had been deliberately demoralized and de-ideologized in order that they might become the live prey of probability theory, but now it is they who destabilize all images and play games with political truth.
Jean Baudrillard (The Transparency of Evil: Essays in Extreme Phenomena)
It would be an exaggeration to say that the war turned people into highbrows, but it did turn them into nihilists for the time being. People who in a normal way would have gone through life with about as much tendency to think for themselves as a suet pudding were turned into Bolshies just by the war. What should I be now if it hadn’t been for the war? I don’t know, but something different from what I am. If the war didn’t happen to kill you it was bound to start you thinking. After that unspeakable idiotic mess you couldn’t go on regarding society as something eternal and unquestionable, like a pyramid. You knew it was just a balls-up.
George Orwell (Coming Up for Air)
As far as you are able to gather from hints scattered through these letters, Apocryphal Power, riven by internecine battles and eluding the control of its founder, Ermes Marana, has broken into two groups: a sect of enlightened followers of the Archangel of Light and a sect of nihilist followers of the Archon of Shadow. The former are convinced that among the false books flooding the world they can track down the few that bear a truth perhaps extrahuman or extraterrestrial. The latter believe that only counterfeiting, mystification, intentional falsehood can represent absolute value in a book, a truth not contaminated by the dominant pseudo truths.
Italo Calvino (If on a Winter's Night a Traveler)
It may be that you, my dear X, recognise something of yourself in these instances; a disposition to resistance, however slight, against arbitrary authority or witless mass opinion, or a thrill of recognition when you encounter some well-wrought phrase from a free intelligence. If so, let us continue to correspond so that I may draw from your experience even as you flatter me by asking to draw upon mine. For the moment, do bear in mind that the cynics have a point, of a sort, when they speak of the “professional nay-sayer.” To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.
Christopher Hitchens (Letters to a Young Contrarian)
I find myself fixing on that refusal to pull back. Because I don’t care what anyone says or how often or winningly they say it: no one will ever, ever be able to persuade me that life is some awesome, rewarding treat. Because, here’s the truth: life is catastrophe. The basic fact of existence – of walking around trying to feed ourselves and find friends and whatever else we do – is catastrophe. Forget all this ridiculous ‘Our Town’ nonsense everyone talks: the miracle of a newborn babe, the joy of one simple blossom, Life You Are Too Wonderful To Grasp, &c. For me – and I’ll keep repeating it doggedly till I die, till I fall over on my ungrateful nihilistic face and am too weak to say it: better never born, than born into this cesspool.
Donna Tartt (The Goldfinch)
In other words, in their own ways, both systems basically attempt to follow the Buddha in addressing the same fundamental problem of clinging to reference points or extremes. They just tackle this issue from different angles, with different terminologies and methods. As Harris says: Nagarjuna and Asanga ... have set themselves the common task of rendering traditional Buddhist doctrine in such a way that it can be used to tackle particular problems. Furthermore it is pointless categorizing them as nihilists or idealists or anything else of the kind. They should be seen as expositors, adapting traditional doctrine to meet the needs of particular tasks while at the same time leaving the body of the doctrine fundamentally unchanged and unquestioned.
Karl Brunnholzl (The Center Of The Sunlit Sky: Madhyamaka In The Kagyu Tradition (Nitartha Institute))
In a world where the great questions have been solved and geopolitics has been subordinated to economics, humanity will look a lot like the nihilistic “last man” described by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: a narcissistic consumer with no greater aspirations beyond the next trip to the mall. In other words, these people would closely resemble today’s European bureaucrats and Washington lobbyists. They are competent enough at managing their affairs among post-historical people, but understanding the motives and countering the strategies of old-fashioned power politicians is hard for them. Unlike their less productive and less stable rivals, post-historical people are unwilling to make sacrifices, focused on the short term, easily distracted, and lacking in courage.
CUSINS. No: the price is settled: that is all. The real tug of war is still to come. What about the moral question? LADY BRITOMART. There is no moral question in the matter at all, Adolphus. You must simply sell cannons and weapons to people whose cause is right and just, and refuse them to foreigners and criminals. UNDERSHAFT [determinedly] No: none of that. You must keep the true faith of an Armorer, or you don't come in here. CUSINS. What on earth is the true faith of an Armorer? UNDERSHAFT. To give arms to all men who offer an honest price for them, without respect of persons or principles: to aristocrat and republican, to Nihilist and Tsar, to Capitalist and Socialist, to Protestant and Catholic, to burglar and policeman, to black man white man and yellow man, to all sorts and conditions, all nationalities, all faiths, all follies, all causes and all crimes. The first Undershaft wrote up in his shop IF GOD GAVE THE HAND, LET NOT MAN WITHHOLD THE SWORD. The second wrote up ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIGHT: NONE HAVE THE RIGHT TO JUDGE. The third wrote up TO MAN THE WEAPON: TO HEAVEN THE VICTORY. The fourth had no literary turn; so he did not write up anything; but he sold cannons to Napoleon under the nose of George the Third. The fifth wrote up PEACE SHALL NOT PREVAIL SAVE WITH A SWORD IN HER HAND. The sixth, my master, was the best of all. He wrote up NOTHING IS EVER DONE IN THIS WORLD UNTIL MEN ARE PREPARED TO KILL ONE ANOTHER IF IT IS NOT DONE. After that, there was nothing left for the seventh to say. So he wrote up, simply, UNASHAMED. CUSINS.
George Bernard Shaw (Major Barbara)
Negativity as a source for social theory tends to reject the impulses to repair social relations that appear to us irreparable, and in that light, our work might seem quietistic, apolitical, nihilist, defeatist, or even irresponsible. By engaging closely with sociality and with our own deep-rooted tendencies to think about its zones of optimism and longing, we are seeking to make a persuasive case for the necessity of recognizing the importance of addressing structural antagonisms in any analytic of the social. In doing so, we seek to affirm negativity's central role in any antinormative politics. We hope this conversation might permit a reframing of the antisocial thesis that has already generated such lively debate and so much important theoretical work by its critics and adherents alike. Part
Lauren Berlant (Sex, or the Unbearable)
In his movie The Seventh Continent, Michael Haneke depicts a normal middle-class family who, for no apparent reason, one day quit their jobs, destroy everything in their apartment, including all the cash they have just withdrawn from the bank, and commit suicide. The story, according to Haneke, was inspired by a true story of an Austrian middle-class family who committed collective suicide. As Haneke points out in a subsequent interview, the cliché questions that people are tempted to ask when confronted with such a situation are: “did they have some trouble in their marriage?”, or “were they dissatisfied with their jobs?”. Haneke’s point, however, is to discredit such questions; if he wanted to create a Hollywood-style drama, he would have offered clues indicating some such problems that we superficially seek when trying to explain people’s choices. But his point was precisely that the most profound thoughts about whether life is meaningful occur once we have swept aside all the clichés about the pleasure or lack thereof of “love, work, and play” (Thagard), or of “being whooshed up in sports events and being absorbed in the coffee-making craft” (Dreyfus and Kelly). Psychologically, or psychotherapeutically, these are very useful ways of “finding meaning in one’s life”, but philosophically, they are rather ways of how to avoid raising the question, how to insulate oneself from the likelihood that the question of meaning will be raised to oneself. In my view, then, the particular answer to the second question (what is the meaning of life?) is not that important, because whatever answer one offers, even the nihilist or absurdist answer, is many times good enough if the purpose is to get rid of the state of puzzlement. More importantly, however, what matters is that the question itself was raised, and the question is posterior to the more fundamental one of whether there is any meaning at all in life. It is also intuitive that we could judge someone’s life as meaningless if that person has never wondered whether her life, and life in general, is meaningful or not. At the same time, our proposal is, in my opinion, neither elitist, nor parochial in any way; I find it empirically quite plausible that the vast majority of people have actually asked this question or some version of it at least once during their lives, regardless of their social class, wealth, religion, ethnicity, gender, cultural background, or historical period.
István Aranyosi (God, Mind and Logical Space: A Revisionary Approach to Divinity)
Hatred of the creator can turn to hatred of creation or to exclusive and defiant love of what exists. But in both cases it ends in murder and loses the right to be called rebellion. One can be nihilist in two ways, in both by having an intemperate recourse to absolutes. Apparently there are rebels who want to die and those who want to cause death. But they are identical, consumed with desire for the true life, frustrated by their desire for existence and therefore preferring generalized injustice to mutilated justice. At this pitch of indignation, reason becomes madness. If it is true that the instinctive rebellion of the human heart advances gradually through the centuries toward its most complete realization, it has also grown, as we have seen, in blind audacity, to the inordinate extent of deciding to answer universal murder by metaphysical assassination.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
Her reaction had not been unusual. Anti-natalism—the idea that humans should not breed—was not a popular view. Not even amongst most green freaks. This despite the fact that all the troubles that existed in the world existed solely because of human beings. Despite the obviousness of this idea, admitting this to the average person was like confessing to a murder. Even in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where all that existed was misery and squalor, humans, in their never-ending capacity for delirium, would without a doubt still continue bringing new people into this world instead of realizing that doing so was both cruel and insane. That was how strongly the delusion that life was good was embedded into us. It had to be since otherwise there wouldn’t be any humans around. Life was like a pyramid scheme that had to be constantly shoved down the throats of new victims in order to keep the scam going.
Keijo Kangur (The Nihilist)
Neo-primitivism’ is an observable process of cultural involution today that consists of a return to the behaviour of primitive masses, a decline of cultural memory and the appearance of social savagery. There are countless signs of this new primitivism: the rise of illiteracy in schools, the explosion of drug use, the Afro-Americanisation of popular music, the collapse of social codes, the retreat of general culture, mastery of knowledge and historical memory among young people, the dilution of contemporary art into the nihilist brutality of less-than-nothing, brutalising the masses and stripping them of culture by audiovisual media (the ‘cathode religion’),[185] the increase in criminal activity and barbarous behaviour (social savagery), the disappearance of a civic sense, the accelerated crumbling of homogeneous social norms and collective disciplines, the impoverishment of language, the reduction of social codes, and so on.
Guillaume Faye (Convergence of Catastrophes)
On 28 June 1914 the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia, a heartland of the South Slavs. Philosophers refer to ‘the inevitable accident’, and this was a very accidental one. Some young Serb terrorists had planned to murder him as he paid a state visit. They had bungled the job, throwing a bomb that missed, and one of them had repaired to a café in a side street to sort himself out. The Archduke drove to the headquarters of the governor-general, Potiorek (where he was met by little girls performing folklore), and berated him (the two men were old enemies, as the Archduke had prevented the neurasthenic Potiorek from succeeding an elderly admirer as Chief of the General Staff). The Archduke went off in a rage, to visit in hospital an officer wounded by the earlier bomb. His automobile moved off again, a Count Harrach standing on the running board. Its driver turned left after crossing a bridge over Sarajevo’s river. It was the wrong street, and the driver was told to stop and reverse. In reverse gear such automobiles sometimes stalled, and this one did so - Count Harrach on the wrong side, away from the café where one of the assassination team was calming his nerves. Now, slowly, his target drove up and stopped. The murderer, Gavrilo Princip, fired. He was seventeen, a romantic schooled in nationalism and terrorism, and part of a team that stretches from the Russian Nihilists of the middle of the nineteenth century, exemplified especially in Dostoyevsky’s prophetic The Possessed and Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes. Austria did not execute adolescents and Princip was young enough to survive. He was imprisoned and died in April 1918. Before he died, a prison psychiatrist asked him if he had any regrets that his deed had caused a world war and the death of millions. He answered: if I had not done it, the Germans would have found another excuse.
Norman Stone (World War One: A Short History)
From its foundation and by its very nature, the church is cosmos-orientated. It was a modern and a dangerous contraction when the church came to be narrowed down to the human world. But if the church is cosmos-orientated, then the ecological crisis of earthly creation is the church's own crisis, for through this destruction of the earth - `bone of its bone and flesh of its flesh' - the church is destroyed. When the weaker creatures die, the whole community of creation suffers. If the church sees itself as creation's representative, then this suffering on the part of the weaker creatures will turn into its own conscious pain, and it will have to cry out this pain in public protest. It is not just our human environment that is suffering; it is the creation which is designed and destined to be `God's environment'. Every intervention in creation which can never be made good again is sacrilege. Its consequence is the self-excommunication of the perpetrators. The nihilistic destruction of nature is practised atheism.
Jürgen Moltmann (The Source of Life: The Holy Spirit and the Theology of Life)
Terror is an artery. Running unfailing channels of bloodied thoroughfares by dint of the wilds beyond our knowing. Fluctuations and murmurs are audible within the splintered leeway of our preserve as a consequence of interstices modeled in such brutality. This appended artery offers no direction; idle and at times desultory. Bloodstained tracks and avenues guide casualties. Terror, like death, is not complicated, nor is it simple. It is but routine—natural. To call it otherwise is to parsimoniously say that birth is effortless, hurricanes are facile, and earthquakes are meek when they are a lot more. Myths, parables, and allegories lie in the construct of terror. Kings have fallen and succeeded in the yarns of terror. Simple men have been turned into heroes due to terror. Villains have been great orchestrators in the art of terror, allowing sole individuals and denizens to feel their makings. A soul never needed God to feel terror. The most nihilistic can undergo such a dreadful emotion. Animals are perfect examples of this. They are well-equipped creations to the world of terror and death, holding no cognizance to deity or creator. Terror is quite exclusive as it is a function of the mind, conducted by the intersections and throughways of nerves and bounded to that alone. Although it approaches with university, like hunger or sickness, it is selfish by fashion and segregating in nature. But death is quite opposite… death is all embracing. Disregarded and glossed over, it is never reserved or inaudible, especially if you listen hard enough. Death transmits a signal that can be discerned if you listen hard enough. Frail in birthing, the airing is not limited to the clairvoyant, though they are a standard audience. The most simple-minded can hear this. But they choose to ignore it for whatever grounds. Even in the obviousness of it when it comes in dream, awaking its public in night terrors and cold sweats, it should be heeded. In lurk of dark uncertainties the signal should be adhered in this societal horrific caprice. Death is a declaration waiting to broadcast the haunting awareness of our own deterrence. And within these pages is its proclamation.
J.C. Whitfield
The essence of cool, after all, is not giving a fuck. And let’s face it: I most definitely give a fuck now. I give a huge fuck. The hugest. Everything else—everything—pales. To pretend otherwise, by word or deed, would be a monstrous lie. There will be no more Dead Boys T-shirts. Whom would I be kidding? Their charmingly nihilistic worldview in no way mirrors my own. If Stiv Bators were still alive and put his filthy hands anywhere near my baby, I’d snap his neck—then thoroughly cleanse the area with baby wipes. There is no hope of hipness. As my friend A. A. Gill points out, after your daughter reaches a certain age—like five—the most excruciating and embarrassing thing she could possibly imagine is seeing her dad in any way threatening to rock. Your record collection may indeed be cooler than your daughter’s will ever be, but this is a meaningless distinction now. She doesn’t care. And nobody else will. If you’re lucky, long after you’re gone, a grandchild will rediscover your old copy of Fun House. But it will be way too late for you to bask in the glory of past coolness. There is nothing cool about “used to be cool.” All of this, I think, is only right and appropriate.
Anthony Bourdain (Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook)
In the end, Buchanan was one of the paleocons to back Trump and many of those who formerly loathed most of what Yiannopoulos and what he represented decided to change their minds and back the winning horse, not only of Trump, but also of the new libertines of the online irreverent ‘punk’ right. Having lost Buchannan’s conservative culture war, they were perhaps strategically right to calculate that the only way they can ever have at least some of their ideas heard again would be to back a groping, lecherous, godless presidential candidate and a libertine figure such as Yiannopoulos and his army of online racist, foul-mouthed, porn-loving nihilists, who in many ways represent everything people like Buchannan are supposed to stand against. The rise of Milo, Trump and the alt-right are not evidence of the return of the conservatism, but instead of the absolute hegemony of the culture of non-conformism, self-expression, transgression and irreverence for its own sake – an aesthetic that suits those who believe in nothing but the liberation of the individual and the id, whether they’re on the left or the right. The principle-free idea of counterculture did not go away; it has just become the style of the new right.
Angela Nagle
MT: But you are. You are justifying it. RG: I'm trying to show that there's meaning at precisely the point where the nihilistic temptation is strongest today. I'm saying: there's a Revelation, and people are free to do with it what they will. But it too will keep reemerging. It's stronger than them. And, as we have seen, it's even capable of putting mimetic phenomena to work on its behalf, since today everyone is competing to see who is the most “victimized.” Revelation is dangerous. It's the spiritual equivalent of nuclear power. What's most pathetic is the insipidly modernized brand of Christianity that bows down before everything that's most ephemeral in contemporary thought. Christians don't see that they have at their disposal an instrument that is incomparably superior to the whole mishmash of psychoanalysis and sociology that they conscientiously feed themselves. It's the old story of Esau sacrificing his inheritance for a plate of lentils. All the modes of thought that once served to demolish Christianity are being discredited in turn by more “radical” versions of the same critique. There's no need to refute modern thought because, as each new trend one-ups its predecessors, it's liquidating itself at high speed. The students are becoming more and more skeptical, but, and above all in America, the people in power, the department chairs, the “chairpersons,” as they say, are fervent believers. They're often former sixties' radicals who've made the transition to administrative jobs in academia, the media, and the church. For a long time, Christians were protected from this insane downward spiral, and, when they finally dive in, you can recognize them by their naïve modernist faith. They're always one lap behind. They always choose the ships that the rats are in the midst of abandoning. They're hoping to tap into the hordes of people who have deserted their churches. They don't understand that the last thing that can attract the masses is a Christian version of the demagogic laxity in which they're already immersed. Today, it's thought that playing the social game, whether on the individual or the group level, is more indispensable than thinking…it's thought that there are truths that shouldn't be spoken. In America, it's become impossible to be unapologetically Christian, white, or European without running the risk of being accused of “ethnocentrism.” To which I reply that the eulogists of “multiculturalism” place themselves, to the contrary, in the purest of Western traditions. The West is the only civilization ever to have directed such criticisms against itself. The capital of the Incas had a name that I believe meant “the navel of the world.
René Girard (When These Things Begin: Conversations with Michel Treguer (Studies in Violence, Mimesis, & Culture))
A desire to attain short-term happiness while laboring under the weight a looming death sentence is an obvious paradox. Suicide, as distinguished from medical euthanasia, is an emotional reaction to the absurdity of life. Suicide is a panic-stricken reflex induced by the sinister twins of fear and foreboding. A rational person does not commit self-murder because their longing for happiness is incongruent with their present day reality. Suicide is a superficial response to hard times; suicide is a pusillanimous solution. A more measured reaction and, therefore, ultimately a braver and logical tactic is to meet life’s pillbox of irrationality headfirst. Upon soul-searching reflection, a thinking person accepts that while he or she might never comprehend a unifying meaning of life they still prefer to experience each permitted day of life to the fullest. A pragmatic person accepts the cold fact that happiness is fleeting and death is inevitable. By acknowledging and accepting the underlying absurdity of life, the prisoner awakens to discover his own humanity. By refusing to cooperate with death, by working each day to expand personal consciousness, by savoring each moment of life regardless of its hazards, adversities, misfortunes, and seemingly lack of overriding purpose, an impertinent ward of time transcends his or her incarnate incarceration.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
Since every I is, in itself, fundamentally criminal in its attitude toward the State and the people, we must recognize that to live is to transgress. Unless we accept death, we must be willing to kill in order to be unique. "You are not as noble as a criminal, you who do not desecrate anything." Moreover Stirner, still without the courage of his convictions, specifies: "Kill them, do not martyr them." But to decree that murder is legitimate is to decree mobilization and war for all the Unique. Thus murder will coincide with a kind of collective suicide. Stirner, who either does not admit or does not see this, nevertheless does not recoil at the idea of any form of destruction. The spirit of rebellion finally discovers one of its bitterest satisfactions in chaos. "You [the German nation] will be struck down. Soon your sister nations will follow you; when all of them have gone your way, humanity will be buried, and on its tomb I, sole master of myself at last, I, heir to all the human race, will shout with laughter." And so, among the ruins of the world, the desolate laughter of the individual-king illustrates the last victory of the spirit of rebellion. But at this extremity nothing else is possible but death or resurrection. Stirner, and with him all the nihilist rebels, rush to the utmost limits, drunk with destruction. After which, when the desert has been disclosed, the next step is to learn how to live there. Nietzsche's exhaustive search then begins.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
It has been the strange fate of Tibet, once one of the most isolated places on earth, to function as a laboratory for the most ambitious and ruthless human experiments of the modern era: the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and now a state-imposed capitalism. After having suffered totalitarian communism, Tibetans now confront a dissolute capitalism, one that seeks arrogantly, and often violently, to turn all of the world's diverse humanity into middle-class consumers. But it seems wrong to think of Tibetans, as many outsiders do, as helpless victims of large, impersonal forces. It is no accident that the Tibetans seem to have survived the large-scale Communist attempt at social engineering rather better than most people in China itself. This is at least partly due to their Buddhist belief in the primacy of empathy and compassion. And faced with an aggressively secular materialism, they may still prove, almost alone in the world, how religion, usually dismissed, and not just by Mao, as "poison," can be a source of cultural identity and moral values; how it can become a means of political protest without blinding the devout with hatred and prejudice; how it can help not only heal the shocks and pain of history- the pain that has led people elsewhere in the world into nihilistic rage- but also create a rational and ethical national culture, what may make a freer Tibet, whenever it comes about, better prepared for its state of freedom than most societies.
Pankaj Mishra (Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond)
Apart from a few explanations that are not the subject of this essay, the strange and terrifying growth of the modern State can be considered as the logical conclusion of inordinate technical and philosophical ambitions, foreign to the true spirit of rebellion, but which nevertheless gave birth to the revolutionary spirit of our time. The prophetic dream of Marx and the over-inspired predictions of Hegel or of Nietzsche ended by conjuring up, after the city of God had been razed to the ground, a rational or irrational State, which in both cases, however, was founded on terror. In actual fact, the Fascist revolutions of the twentieth century do not merit the title of revolution. They lacked the ambition of universality. Mussolini and Hitler, of course, tried to build an empire, and the National Socialist ideologists were bent, explicitly, on world domination. But the difference between them and the classic revolutionary movement is that, of the nihilist inheritance, they chose to deify the irrational, and the irrational alone, instead of deifying reason. In this way they renounced their claim to universality. And yet Mussolini makes use of Hegel, and Hitler of Nietzsche; and both illustrate, historically, some of the prophecies of German ideology. In this respect they belong to the history of rebellion and of nihilism. They were the first to construct a State on the concept that everything is meaningless and that history is only written in terms of the hazards of force. The consequences were not long in appearing.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
Causes of the advent of pessimism: the most powerful desires of life have been hitherto the most slandered, so that a curse weighs on life. For we comprehend that these self-same instincts are inseparable from life, and one therefore turns against life. Whereas the mass, which has no feeling at all for this conflict, flourishes, while the conflicted type miscarries and, as a product of degeneration, invites antipathy–that the mediocre, on the other hand, when they pose as the goal and meaning of existence, arouse nausea and indignation. And the individual, faced with this tremendous machinery, loses courage and submits. The herd, the mass, 'society', unlearns modesty and blows up its needs into cosmic and metaphysical values. In this way the whole of existence is vulgarised; and in so far as the mass is dominant it bullies the exceptions, so that they lose faith in themselves and become nihilists. The question 'for what?', after a painful struggle, even victory. That something is a hundred times more important than the question of whether we feel well or not–and consequently whether others feel well or not. The predominance of suffering over pleasure, or its opposite (hedonism) are already signposts to nihilism. For in both cases no ultimate meaning is posited except the appearance of pleasure or pain. But for any worthy man, the value of life is certainly not measured by the standard of these trifles. A suffering might predominate, and in spite of this, a powerful will might exist, a Yes to life, a need and acceptance of this predominance.
Friedrich Nietzsche (The Will to Power)
Nietzsche envisaged a cultural revolution in which our appreciation of language and our conceptions of truth and knowledge would undergo a fundamental transformation. This emphasis on the crucial importance of language does not mean that Nietzsche is guilty of idealism. For him language is a material phenomenon which is rooted in our animal bodily human needs and which has historically evolved. In one of the opening sections of "Human, All Too Human", for example, he attacks philosophers for lacking a historical sense which results in their inability to grasp the fact that the human animal is a creature which is not an 'aeterna veritas' but is one which has 'become'; the same applies to the human faculty of cognition. 'Everything' Nietzsche insists, 'has become. There are no eternal facts, just as there are no absolute truths'. Consequently, he argues, 'what is needed from now on is historical philosophizing, and with it the virtue of modesty.
Keith Ansell-Pearson (An Introduction to Nietzsche as Political Thinker: The Perfect Nihilist)
Înainte de a întâlni absurdul,omul cotidian trăiește cu un scop,cu grija viitorului sau cu grija care se justifica.El își evaluează șansele,se bizuie pe ceea ce va fi mai târziu,pe pensie sau pe munca fiilor lui.Mai crede că își poate orîndui viața după voia lui.De fapt,acționează ca și cum ar fi liber,chiar dacă toate faptele nu fac decât să contrazică această libertate.După ce a descoperit absurdul,totul e zdruncinat din temelii.Ideea că "sînt",felul meu de a acționa ca și cum totul ar avea un sens sunt dezmințite amețitor de absurditatea unei morți posibile.A te gândi la ziua de mâine,a-ți fixa un scop,a avea preferințe,toate presupun credința în libertate,chiar dacă îți dai seama că nu o ai.Dar,în acea clipă,știu că acea libertate superioară,acea libertate de a fi,singura pe care se poate întemeia un adevăr,nu există.Nu sunt liber nici pentru că mă perpetuez,ci sclav,și mai cu seamă sclav fără speranța unei revoluții eterne,lipsit de arma disprețului.
Albert Camus (Fața și reversul; Nunta; Mitul lui Sisif; Omul revoltat; Vara)
Transgression has been embraced as a virtue within Western social liberalism ever since the 60s, typically applied today as it is in bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress. So elevated has the virtue of transgression become in the criticism of art, argued Kieran Cashell, that contemporary art critics have been faced with a challenge: ‘either support transgression unconditionally or condemn the tendency and risk obsolescence amid suspicions of critical conservatism’ as the great art critic Robert Hughes often was. But, Cashell wrote, on the value placed upon transgression in contemporary art: ‘In the pursuit of the irrational, art has become negative, nasty and nihilistic.’ Literary critic Anthony Julius has also noted the resulting ‘unreflective contemporary endorsement of the transgressive’. Those who claim that the new right-wing sensibility online today is just more of the same old right, undeserving of attention or differentiation, are wrong. Although it is constantly changing, in this important early stage of its appeal, its ability to assume the aesthetics of counterculture, transgression and nonconformity tells us many things about the nature of its appeal and about the liberal establishment it defines itself against. It has more in common with the 1968 left’s slogan ‘It is forbidden to forbid!’ than it does with anything most recognize as part of any traditionalist right. Instead of interpreting it as part of other right-wing movements, conservative or libertarian, I would argue that the style being channelled by the Pepe meme-posting trolls and online transgressives follows a tradition that can be traced from the eighteenth-century writings of the Marquis de Sade, surviving through to the nineteenth-century Parisian avant-garde, the Surrealists, the rebel rejection of feminized conformity of post-war America and then to what film critics called 1990s ‘male rampage films’ like American Psycho and Fight Club.
Angela Nagle (Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right)
Rebellion's demand is unity; historical revolution's demand is totality. The former starts from a negative supported by an affirmative, the latter from absolute negation and is condemned to every aspect of slavery in order to fabricate an affirmative that is dismissed until the end of time. One is creative, the other nihilist. The first is dedicated to creation so as to exist more and more completely; the second is forced to produce results in order to negate more and more completely. The historical revolution is always obliged to act in the hope, which is invariably disappointed, of one day really existing. Even unanimous consent will not suffice to create its existence. "Obey," said Frederick the Great to his subjects; but when he died, his words were: "I am tired of ruling slaves." To escape this absurd destiny, the revolution is and will be condemned to renounce, not only its own principles, but nihilism as well as purely historical values in order to rediscover the creative source of rebellion. Revolution, in order to be creative, cannot do without either a moral or metaphysical rule to balance the insanity of history. Undoubtedly, it has nothing but scorn for the formal and mystifying morality to be found in bourgeois society. But its folly has been to extend this scorn to every moral demand. At the very sources of its inspiration and in its most profound transports is to be found a rule that is not formal but that nevertheless can serve as a guide. Rebellion, in fact, says— and will say more and more explicitly— that revolution must try to act, not in order to come into existence at some future date in the eyes of a world reduced to acquiescence, but in terms of the obscure existence that is already made manifest in the act of insurrection. This rule is neither formal nor subject to history, it is what can be best described by examining it in its pure state—in artistic creation. Before doing so, let us only note that to the "I rebel, therefore we exist" and the "We are alone" of metaphysical rebellion, rebellion at grips with history adds that instead of killing and dying in order to produce the being that we are not, we have to live and let live in order to create what we are.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
The war against ISIS in Iraq was a long, hard slog, and for a time the administration was as guilty of hyping progress as the most imaginative briefers at the old “Five O’Clock Follies” in Saigon had been. In May 2015, an ISIS assault on Ramadi and a sandstorm that grounded U.S. planes sent Iraqi forces and U.S. Special Forces embedded with them fleeing the city. Thanks to growing hostility between the Iraqi government and Iranian-supported militias in the battle, the city wouldn’t be taken until the end of the year. Before it was over we had sent well over five thousand military personnel back to Iraq, including Special Forces operators embedded as advisors with Iraqi and Kurdish units. A Navy SEAL, a native Arizonan whom I had known when he was a boy, was killed in northern Iraq. His name was Charles Keating IV, the grandson of my old benefactor, with whom I had been implicated all those years ago in the scandal his name had branded. He was by all accounts a brave and fine man, and I mourned his loss. Special Forces operators were on the front lines when the liberation of Mosul began in October 2016. At immense cost, Mosul was mostly cleared of ISIS fighters by the end of July 2017, though sporadic fighting continued for months. The city was in ruins, and the traumatized civilian population was desolate. By December ISIS had been defeated everywhere in Iraq. I believe that had U.S. forces retained a modest but effective presence in Iraq after 2011 many of these tragic events might have been avoided or mitigated. Would ISIS nihilists unleashed in the fury and slaughter of the Syrian civil war have extended their dystopian caliphate to Iraq had ten thousand or more Americans been in country? Probably, but with American advisors and airpower already on the scene and embedded with Iraqi security forces, I think their advance would have been blunted before they had seized so much territory and subjected millions to the nightmare of ISIS rule. Would Maliki have concentrated so much power and alienated Sunnis so badly that the insurgency would catch fire again? Would Iran’s influence have been as detrimental as it was? Would Iraqis have collaborated to prevent a full-scale civil war from erupting? No one can answer for certain. But I believe that our presence there would have had positive effects. All we can say for certain is that Iraq still has a difficult road to walk, but another opportunity to progress toward that hopeful vision of a democratic, independent nation that’s learned to accommodate its sectarian differences, which generations of Iraqis have suffered without and hundreds of thousands of Americans risked everything for.
John McCain (The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations)