The Weird and the Rational: The Cutting Away
“Nihilism is not an existential quandary but a speculative opportunity.” ― Ray Brassier
“Nothing Matters” – the motto of Ambrose Bierce
“I am a nihilist because I still believe in truth…” – Ray Brassier
“This is the great lesson the depressive learns: Nothing in the world is inherently compelling. Whatever may be really “out there” cannot project itself as an affective experience. It is all a vacuous affair with only a chemical prestige. Nothing is either good or bad, desirable or undesirable, or anything else except that it is made so by laboratories inside us producing the emotions on which we live. And to live on our emotions is to live arbitrarily, inaccurately—imparting meaning to what has none of its own. Yet what other way is there to live? Without the ever-clanking machinery of emotion, everything would come to a standstill. There would be nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to be, and no one to know. The alternatives are clear: to live falsely as pawns of affect, or to live factually as depressives, or as individuals who know what is known to the depressive. How advantageous that we are not coerced into choosing one or the other, neither choice being excellent. One look at human existence is proof enough that our species will not be released from the stranglehold of emotionalism that anchors it to hallucinations. That may be no way to live, but to opt for depression would be to opt out of existence as we consciously know it.” ― Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
For a while I have been battling what some would call Left meloncholia and others would call a mugging by reality, but perhaps I would prefer to see it as a tragic unveiling. Tragic in the sense that as a philosophical and ideological project that I would have called Marxism, I have felt a drift for a long while now. Too many reifications masking as spectres to haunt god knows what. But then again, what does God know.
I have been increasingly unable to move past simple moral answers lately as so much discussion seems to be on emotive reaction level. To get past this and try to see things clearly, some of trains of though have been increasingly nihilistic and eliminative to look at the structures and reasons that create the situation we are in but that gives little consolation in regards to morality. It’s not that there can ever be a reason devolve of emotive logic, as all reasoning is reasoning for something. The more problematic thing is to get one actually wants, one must look at the world as it is, not as one would like it. This involves increasingly cutting away from the emotional self-privileging, and even to a great extent, deliberating embracing objectivity not as a goal of pure reason, but as a way to to embrace want. Yet in doing so, in eliminating such ideological structures, one finds that one is eliminating the very scaffolding that supports the efface of value.
I have opposed modernity and the children of the Enlightenment–to use a rather grandiose phrase–to understand and embrace it’s disenchantment. Embracing the Enlightenment now would put one at adds with those humanists who see themselves as its children, and the increasingly contradictory forms of liberalism which they have produced. The philosopher Ray Brassier points out that to follow the implications of the Enlightenment to their conclusions, one would have to be more anti-humanist than even the flippancy of the post-modernists could muster against modernist humanism. In other words, if you eliminate religious thinking entirely you also eliminate most valuations that favor any notions of things like rights or human dignity. This larger inconsistency seems to be problematic for us now, and leaves many without the strength to offer of even an consistent, if arbitrary, criterion for judgment.
This lack of a willingness to commit to a consistent impulse even if it a purely emotional one is a way not to self-overcome, and if I am interested in a change in the current not being able to overcome the self does not leave much hope anything like a “revolutionary subject” to arise. My loyalties may still be anti-capitalist and my critique of wisdom may still be very deep, but one cannot deny that the demands placed on oneself to overcome the production of the attitude of class is far beyond if we cannot even overcome the inconsistencies in the ideologies which we claim to believe but under which we do not operate.
I don’t know that my current obsession with the both logic and conversely the absolute a-logical “calculus” of the weird tale and the anti-narrative poem is a sign that my prior worldview breaking itself down. That I have followed this creative destruction to an end in which I see a lot of anxiety. This is both a point of meta-philosophy and personal identity crisis for me. But identities are the Ur-form of ideology in the end, and when the ideology no longer helps, identity soon follows.
So that is in which the “weird,” the uncanny, that which reminds one of the cold illogic of logical world view–which emerges itself as a tragic or belittling experience enables one to see what the end road of it all really is. IF you want to change the world, you must not just be the change you want to see. You must be more than that, but in doing that, you must realize what you are valued without such a commitment.
These a-logical narratives remind us that our means of making sense of the world, however necessary they are, cannot make any demands on reality itself and that in larger scales most of what we are is dross and idle chatter. The creature comforts of modern production and the way value operates in the market place the way G-d once did in a temple gives us the emotive drive we need as it gives us the abstraction that makes itself concrete. The concrete absolute is far more frightening than other our numinous ideas of G-d or our mechanistic fetishes of currency forms.