Radicalizing Pessimism: Toward an Inhumanist Core


Where I’m at is that having plunged for years and drunk from the well of nihilist and pessimist thought I realize that yes… we are that accident of things… the universe is as both nihilists and pessimists stipulate: is absolutely indifferent and unaware of our existence… but, that’s the point: we aren’t, we are very aware of our difference and consciousness… so do we passively sit back and accept that indifference or do we take our accidental difference as something unique and new in this universe of absolute indifference and nullity and thereby act on it: do we in other words invent the possibility of accepting the absolute indifference as the ground zero of thought, and work or think from that indifference and unknowing? Is there a path that absolutizes nihilism and pessimism, works through it and radicalizes it? And thereby opens up that circle of our difference to something new?

Most extreme nihilists argue we are an ‘error’ that the universe will sooner or later eradicate. But this is to impute a telos and god-like invention-creational powers to the universe as if it were aware and definitely concerned rather than indifferent to our plight. Too believe the universe has allowed an ‘error’ to take place in the invention of consciousness is to impute a power of knowledge and foresight to a supposed non-entity and non-agency. So to me the very bedrock of most extreme pessimists from Mainlander, Bahnsen, Zappfe, Cioran, and Ligotti have imputed a notion that has nothing to do with the indifferent universe which knows nothing of errors, and all too much human-all-too-human diagnosis of the pessimists themselves. So do we accept this notion of ‘error’ as if along with Fermi’s paradox and the Great Filter we will be eradicated because of some hidden form either in the universe or ourselves that is in-built leading toward total annihilation? Or, should we radicalize the extreme pessimists even further and strip even them of their all-too-human forms of thought, and thereby break the circle of their still too human negations into a more inhuman philosophy yet to be reckoned?

4 thoughts on “Radicalizing Pessimism: Toward an Inhumanist Core

  1. This is THE quintessential post-nihilist thought; from the ruins – always. Something Arran and I and you have been saying for over a decade. Radicalizing absolute nihilism is akin to a hard reboot. We can’t help but create meaning (via inherent biological and evolved sense-making) and build up from the perpetual ruins of signification. We are that coping-being that is at one completely delusional and yet immanently entangled in the non-linguistic real. Operating from an axiomatic negation we make our way trembling and immature in a wilderness of flows, assemblages, expressions and signs. What we are left with is a negatively capable pragmaticism.

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    • I agree. It’s this sense that by negation we wipe the slate clean, but to do this means something different than most people would assume: we must traverse the fantasy of the human absolutely, rather than rejecting it outright. Only in this way can we truly push past the limit barrier of this conceptual and metaphoric destitution. As you say a hard reboot which unlike some viral computer driven erasure offers instead a secret quest that like archaeologists of some forgotten and ruinous world of fragments begins digging among the ruins of this lost world for traces of something that once had a human face…

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      • The error of the pessimists is not an error of judgement but exclusion. The problem lies not in what they include in their diagnoses but in what they leave out. So many pessimists are like those psychiatrists who can see mental illness as only a neurological aberration, who deny that schizophrenic speech can convey anything illuminating about an aetiology or presentation. Of course the universe is meaningless – it isn’t an object out in the cosmos secreted in a place we might discover, that’s our old mistake. Just the same, we’ll never be able to point to schizophrenia in a human brain because it’s the wrong place to look. Neither schizophrenia or meaning are things.

        And the nihilists who posit humanity as an error or as possessed by a dark and secret desire for our own annihilation (indeed, temptations I’ve lingered over once or twice) are no nihilists at all. Rather, they are inverted religious types who would reinsert the meaning and purpose from the universe that they parade about as having shown as a sham and lie.

        I don’t talk in terms of post-nihilism anymore, because I’m not convinced our culture has yet become nihilistic enough. Just look at its edgy philosophers like Nick Land who want to talk about rabid nihilism in order to piss on humanity as if it were special enough to be pissed on, or raise up a new negative image of God in the machine. Worse than nihilism, it’s tawdry and boring.

        As far as the human goes. Well, as a practical reality we rediscover it every morning. I’d only be a little ashamed to be accused of being an existentialist, because existence is a practical matter, and being human is a thing I engage in all the time, even when I dream about our possible post-human progeny. As far as such practical eliminativism goes, I have a quote from Marcuse in my head:

        “The human reality is an ‘open system’: no theory, whether ‘Marxist’ or other, can impose the solution”.

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