So for the last week I've been working on a new essay. I'm pretty excited about it.
I'm returning to something I've written about many times before. Nihilism.
The title of the essay is 'Nihilism, Magic, and Amusement'.
It involves five sections, five questions, and five answers
Q1: What precisely is nihilism?
A1: Nihilism is the state of a culture that has run into a dead end. Nihilism is the condition of a culture that has destroyed its sources of emotional renewal, leaving it without means to reinvigorate its individuals and communities.
Q2: What is the relationship between nihilism and the western tradition of rational thought?
A2: Our tradition of rational thought (i.e. our logocentrism) has destroyed our faith in traditional ways of living by analyzing them to death. We have inquired so intensely into forms of social organization, and have discovered no rational basis for those forms of organization, that we have left ourselves with no emotionally healthy forms of organization. Logocentrism has destroyed our capacity for communal living.
Q3: What has truly been lost in the conversion to nihilism?
A3: We have lost our capacity for magical experience. That is to say that we no longer have rituals that serve as ways of focusing the emotions of communities.
Q4: What has come to replace magical rituals?
A4: Amusement, that is, forms of representation that are merely enjoyable in their own right, have come to replace magical, communal, and emotionally beneficial rituals. We simply amuse ourselves, we drink, we do drugs, we watch meaningless TV, we amuse ourselves because our communities have collapsed.
Q5: What are we to do with the way that amusement dominates our culture due to our lack of magical rituals?
A5: We must find a way to reinvigorate aesthetic and magical forms of experience. We must find ways to be expressive, we must find ways of organizing and focusing the emotions of our communities. We must reconstitute aesthetic-mystical forms of experience. For it is the only antidote to our technological-logocentric nihilism.
This is the flow of my essay. I have written the first three sections. The final two await.
This fits into my plans for the future in two ways.
First, the next book I plan to read is Friedrich Schiller's On The Aesthetic Education Of Man. As far as I understand, Schiller proposes that aesthetics is the only proper basis of education. I find this highly compelling. I suspect his book will have much to offer me.
Second, I believe this project will help me understand how the AZI project is related to nihilism. For more than a year I have been committed to developing the idea of an 'aesthetic existence'. I have attempted to create an experience for myself that is compassionate, gentle, and above all, expressive. This, I believe, is what an aesthetic existence would be: a mode of being that emphasizes being expressive within highly confined historical circumstances. That is to say, I wish to use the conventions of my time to express myself as intensely as possible. Even if I am merely selling donuts and coffee. I may be your coffee robot, but I am a beast. A force of expression that you will never reckon with.
This task of becoming more expressive, more aesthetic, is a direct response to nihilism. Because nihilism, as a cultural state, is about logocentrism, rational criteria, and not about uncertain expressiveness. The aesthetic existence, therefore, is a way of trying to embody the antidote to our cultural nihilism.
I'm angry. And I'm trying to express myself out of that anger.
I hope to turn my anger into a cure.
I am nihilism. I am the cure.