“Nihilism” is the linguistic-aesthetic form our anxieties take after the humiliating experience of having our phantasies displaced by a world outside our ego. But this is just step one in a much richer experience of humility. Every step taken after nihilism is a movement towards something infinitely more substantial, yet significantly less dramatic. We return home to a dark wilderness within which we had always already carved our niches. So we need not resent this state of affairs. We can embrace the opportunities afforded us and celebrate our circumscribed and awkward freedoms by adapting and assembling, or fleeing and founding new communities. We can become different.
Nothing is more essential in a full and genuine apocalypticism than the coincidentia oppositorum which it realizes between an absolute No-saying and an absolute Yes-saying, one inseparable from the final advent of an absolute darkness and an absolute light. This is luminously clear in Nietzsche’s proclamation of the death of God, already the madman’s proclamation of the death of God (The Gay Science, par. 125) reveals that we are now straying as through an infinite nothing, night and more night is coming on all the while, a night of the world which is an apocalyptic night, and one which is the deepest ending in history. Here, the death of God is not only an ultimate historical event, it is the most ultimate event that has ever occurred, one wiping away our entire horizon. But even if this is the darkest of all nights, it is nevertheless the most glorious of all possible dawns, for it releases an absolute and final Yes-saying, a Yes-saying which is the very opposite of ressentiment, and a Yes-saying whose revelation is Nietzsche’s ultimate calling. Now and only now a history inaugurated by ressentiment is ending, an ending that is the ending of the actuality of every possible subject, and is that ending precisely because it is the death of God. Yet this is the very death releasing a final and ultimate nihilism, a nihilism which is the tomb of God, and a nihilism which is the very arena of the ecstatic affirmation of a uniquely modern or postmodern Eternal Recurrence.[source]Humans are fundamentally coping-beings: by composition and disposition we seek to make sense and understand ourselves in the context a world teeming with multitudes of others, and overflowing with danger and opportunity – creatures required by circumstance to adapt. But what adaptations are possible for us this late in the ‘game’?
As Levi Bryant has stated:
It is our circumstances themselves, the material reality of our world, that has become nihilistic, not the thought of this or that thinker. Indeed, I suspect that many of us are terrified and anguished by this objective nihilistic darkness that approaches and that may very well have happened, as Timothy Morton suggests. Perhaps we are already dead and we just don’t yet know it.Meanwhile, the majority of North Americans tend to reject such realizations and then bury their accompanying dread of finitude and animality through consumption and/or fantasy - with T.V or self-medication no less than simple commodities - in order to sooth the pain of their existential fears and resentments. To be sure, there are differences in the manner people respond but i believe the push and pull of consumption and distraction remain paramount.
I believe the task of conscious observers (and not just intellectuals) today is to begin to indulge rather than mask the nihilistic forces of contemporary life – forces that manifest and register existentially, environmentally, and poltically in a variety of objective ways. We must partake instead of continuing to deny the dark revelations of current crises in order to push each other towards more earthly, or creaturely, that is to say ecological modes of thinking and doing. Realizing and coping-with the transcorporeal facticity of life entails communicating and making explicit our intimate connections with the planet and its beings, but it also requires us to explore and engage the inherent precarity and ontological vulnerability with-in the natural world through association, design and infrastructure.
Post-nihilist praxis is thus an experimental mode of embodied enagement oriented towards operationalizing novel and actionable solutions, communications and adaptations to the myriad of creeping potencies of nonhuman flows and assemblages both within and without. If we are to rebuild from the ruins of this mad civilization the important work to be done is decidedly practical.