On Fatalism, Pessimism and Life

There is a kind of knowledge that strips whatever you do of weight and scope: for such knowledge, everything is without basis except itself.

—E. M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

Though the word “fatalism” is commonly used to refer to an attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable, philosophers usually use the word to refer to the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do. This view may be argued for in various ways: by appeal to logical laws and metaphysical necessities; by appeal to the existence and nature of God; by appeal to causal determinism. There are two forms of fatalism which have appeared “Logical” and “Theological”: the first, by appeal to logical laws and metaphysical necessities; the second, appeal to the existence and nature of God. Of course, some would add a third from the defunct physicalism of the early twentieth century which argued for “causal determinism”.

Some confuse pessimism with fatalism. Schopenhauer the arch Pessimist in fact advocated ways – via artistic, moral and ascetic forms of awareness – to overcome a frustration-filled and fundamentally painful human condition. Of course, pessimism is not singular and anyone who has read the various philosophers of the post-Kantian tribe for and against it cannot be reduced to some singular edifice. Let’s face it Schopenhauer read the Upanishads every night before bed most of his life. A man who would read these sayings is not a fatalist or determinist.

In some things I’m inclined to pessimism while being fatalistic toward others, but I’m neither a pessimist nor fatalist. People love to reduce you to a framework or set of ideas they can deal with but when they find a being who lives contradictions and is contrarian, they either dismiss him or see him as something other than a philosopher. I’m not a philosopher and never pretended to such a pretentious avocation. I read, learn, study many things in life but do not hold any absolute position. I’m neither a nihilist nor a abyssal irrationalist, but on the contrary I’m neither a rationalist nor an analytical thinker in the American sense. Yet, I have read widely in them all. Why do we feel the need to be pigeon holed in some straight-jacket of thought? To me this is an absurdity…. I will not be imprisoned in someone else’s system no matter how much I may or may not agree with its basic premises.

I’ve always been drawn to the monstrous others. I’m a monster myself. Abnormal. Yes, I’ve never pretended to be normal. Normality is for the sleepers of time rather than the dark vitalistic monstrosity of becoming this thing. I’m no rationalist and have followed the daemon and its dark impulses in all things. People speak of the post-human and maybe I was never human to begin with but something sidereal to it. A visitant from alternative dimensions of strangeness…

A Fragment from My Book on Thomas Ligotti

Just to give people a sense of the depth I’ve been going into Ligotti over the past decade. I have accumulated notes, commentaries, philosophical and critical asides, and so much material that I’m slowly going back through it with the notion of editing out the repetitions and focusing on honing the various threads into a new stage which will incorporate Ligotti’s techniques, symbolism, thematic elements, philosophy, influences, didacticism, and personal life which permeates his oeuvre. Trying to compress a thousand pages of notes and commentaries into a work that can actually be published economically is my goal. Here is the opening fragment of one essay on Allan and Adelaide – An Arabesque (1989) an early work by Ligotti,

Harold Bloom once described Poe’s poetry as an “extreme mode of Platonic Idealism, with its valuation of mind (self and soul) over body and the external world. Poe dwells, with the rest of us, in Plato’s Cave but wants, more desperately than most do, to find his way out into the disembodied light.” Thomas Ligotti wants to believe in some form of transcendence but knows it’s a fools dream so instead his fables lead the wary reader down into the hell of silence, limitation, and solipsism.

This story opens with the subtle and ambiguous lines from Poe’s sonnet Silence which echo the dangers of isolation, reclusiveness, and self-limitation. Let’s read these lines again:

There are some qualities—some incorporate things
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
—Poe, Silence – A Sonnet.

Aristotle observed this about qualities: “one and the selfsame substance, while retaining its identity, is yet capable of admitting contrary qualities. The same individual person is at one time white, at another black, at one time warm, at another cold, at one time good, at another bad. This capacity is found nowhere else… it is the peculiar mark of substance that it should be capable of admitting contrary qualities; for it is by itself changing that it does so”. He would attribute four types of qualitative opposites: correlatives, contraries, privatives and positives. In the epigraph above Poe tells us that certain things — substances that take a material form have a “double life” which brings together opposites and contraries from both the transcendent realms and the mundane. What is this “double life” that is neither wholly transcendent nor fully mundane?

Ligotti toys with the reader here, leaving us with only part of Poe’s poem which is suggestive and will introduce one of the abiding themes in his oeuvre — ambiguity. One is never sure whether what one is reading is dealing with inner experience or with some inner strangeness from beyond the pale. William Empson in his classic work Seven Types of Ambiguity describes his seventh type as “the most ambiguous that can be conceived, occurs when the two meanings of the word, the two values of the ambiguity, are the two opposite meanings defined by the context, so that the total effect is to show a fundamental division in the writer’s mind.” At the heart of Ligotti’s vision is a subtle and ‘fundamental division in the writer’s mind’ which permeates every tale he wrote.

One of Poe’s early admirers John Phelps Fruit said, “Poe was deeply impressed with the idea of Silence as the eternal voice of God, as the music of the spheres” — which we mortals cannot hear.”4[ Fruit, John Phelps. The Mind and Art of Poe’s Poetry: [1899]. Cornell University Library (June 25, 2009)] Ligotti never heard the voice of “God”, but there is another voice and power at the core of our universal degradation that he would know which emerges from many of his tales. In the current tale this monstrous thing at the core of existence goes by the nom de plume the Horror-Maker: “For the source of these questions was the very genius of demonic dread—that Horror-Maker known to me from a thousand dreams where sudden dread usurps all serenity like a panic cry of “Fire,” of “Murder,” of stealthy “Invader.” (AAA) He will go on to describe this monstrosity, which is worth quoting at length:

Its presence always permeates the dream: fog with a pallid face drifting in through an open window. It fuses its tormented spirit with dead objects, animating things which should not move or live, breathing a blasphemous life into the unliving. One glance at a design on the wall catches this Horror Maker engendering a world of writhing creatures there. It lives in all things, and they tilt and flutter with a menacing absence of purpose or predictability. Finally it melds with the slowly coagulating shadows, and now it is without limits as it spreads to command a domain of quivering darkness. The universe becomes its impossible body, its corpse. As the blackness of space is its corrupting blood, so the planets are multiple skulls of the freakish beast; the paths of doomed meteors trace the architecture of its labyrinthine skeletal frame; spasms of dying galaxies are its nervous tics; and strange stellar venues of incomprehensible properties are the chambers of its soul. Within this universe the dreamer is trapped, his dreams confined to the interior of a form other than his own. But finally this Horror-Maker moves from outside to inside the dreamer, subverting his heroic autonomy, and becoming one with him. Now it is he himself who generates those nightmares from that design on the wall. Every glimpse conjures universes of cavorting horrors, and ultimately even the crystal absence of the void becomes populated by every monstrosity that can or cannot exist. There is no refuge from the living void, the terror of the invisible. And the focus of my fear sharpened into hideous implications about my sister and myself. The interrogations of the Horror-Maker could not be evaded, unless I was willing to remain in that dream forever. [Italics Mine]

Ligotti’s vision is set within surreal, nightmarish landscapes, convey a consistently anticosmic or world-rejecting attitude toward existence and creation. Petra Mundik describing Cormac McCarthy which could as well be describing the work of Ligotti remarks: “The marked absence of divine intervention in the face of extraordinary depravity suggests, at best, total divine indifference to human suffering, or at worst, the presence of a malevolent demiurge.”5[ Mundik, Petra. A Bloody and Barbarous God: The Metaphysics of Cormac McCarthy (p. 14). University of New Mexico Press. Kindle Edition.] The ancient Gnostics turned the Bible inside out and the Platonic mythology of the Demiurge on its head and created Evil as central to the ontological horror of existence. Although Gnosticism is a divisive term in the scholarly journals it is still a useful designation for my purposes. As another scholar relates it,

‘Gnosticism’ is still a convenient ‘label’ to represent an anti-cosmic tradition in which the Platonic Demiurge undergoes a radical transformation and in which the separation between the First Principle and the demiurgic one appears to reach its most extreme.6 

Ligotti himself says this of the ancient Gnostics “I liked the Gnostics because they cursed the same things I’ve cursed: the Boss of the Bible, the ways of the world, and so on. Of course, they always had their own absentee Boss way out there beyond contemplation or criticism, and I could never follow them to that place.”7[ Paul, R. F., and Keith Schurholz. “Triangulating the Daemon: An Interview with Thomas Ligotti.” Esoterra No. 8 (Winter/Spring 1999): 14–21.]

Matt Cardin another scholar of Ligotti’s work describes this malevolence along with the three primary themes that pervade his work, saying: “first, the meaninglessness—or possibly malevolence—of the reality principle behind the material universe; second, the perennial instability of this universe of solid forms, shapes, and concepts as it threatens to collapse or mutate into something unforeseeable and monstrous; and third, the nightmarishness of conscious personal existence in such a world.”8[ Cardin, Matt. What the Daemon Said: Essays on Horror Fiction, Film, and Philosophy (p. 21). Hippocampus Press.]

Robert M. Price in his classic essay The Mystagogue, The Gnostic, The Secret Book tells us that Ligotti’s characters are all “gnostic questers” seeking the “keys to an impossible kingdom”.9[ Schweitzer, Darrell. The Thomas Ligotti Reader. Wildside Press; First Soft Cover Edition (April 9, 2003) (p. 34)]

Yet, Ligotti himself describing ironically the underlying antics of such an impossible quest suggests that it is all a parody: “a self-parody of my erstwhile craving for “enlightenment in darkness,” which obviously never worked out.”10[ Bee, Robert. “Interview with Thomas Ligotti.” Thomas Ligotti Online. 11 April 2005 (originally published in 1999). http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=231 ]

There’s a double edge to this irony in which the “double life” described in Poe’s poem takes on a strange twist in Ligotti’s ironic fables of the weird. There was a time when Ligotti ambiguously sought the very thing which is unattainable an “enlightenment in darkness” – a dark romanticism that pervades many of the tales. The same goes for many of his readers as well, as Cardin will suggest,

“In true Ligottian fashion, perhaps his stories will always speak most vividly to those rare persons in whom the seed of darkness has already been sown. In their own half-conscious pilgrimage toward a dark enlightenment, these sensitive seekers will follow Ligotti willingly into the depths of the nightmare, and there in the echoing stillness of the silent, staring void they will find that they are looking into the radiant black reflection of their own shadowed souls.”11[ Ibid. (p. 24).] [Italics Mine]

So far, I’ve been tempting the threshold of this essay, a way into this early tale by Ligotti about twins. This is the difficulty of entering into any tale of Ligotti, it sends one off into a veritable history of the weird before one even has a chance to describe the tales themselves.

I’ll stop here since the essay is way too long for one post… just a teaser!

The Blood Poetry of Joe Koch: Convulsive

Unencombered by obscene wealth, Warynne carved out a sunspot in a city that screamed with artificial light.

—Joe Koch, Convulsive

These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
And I with thee will choose to live.

—John Milton

Reading Convulsive is like wandering through the new earth, a blood poetry of the inhuman selving emerging from our collective nightmares giving birth to an Ovidian dreamland of murder, mayhem, and glorious decadence. Horror can be delicious, and Joe Koch has hit the discordant harmony between the lapidary shaping exquisite stone life and the Master Chef kneading the morsels of infinitesimal fleshly delights into marvels of midday insouciance. These stories lead the aficionado into bone biting chills under Dali Sunscapes of a metamorphic light that channels the depths of hell as our own lives in time. If the ancient blood gods of Sun and Moon, Marduk and Sin, from Sumeria to Babylon were to become machinic and Deleuzean they would ride this rotten vessel into extinction, then give birth to a futurial daemonism of earth and sky. Read it today or be splayed in the convulsions of unreason:

On Cruelty as an Aesthetic Art

To discover whether or not a man is a prey to madness, you need merely observe his smile.

—E. M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist

Cruelty begins and ends in fear and horror. As Cioran suggests later day supplicants of a lesser cruelty are disposed toward others or ourselves only through the terror of aesthetic horrors. Weird tales yank us out of our passive complaisance in the staid torpor of our late civilization where the mundane parade of atrocity is handled by dictators and outlaws. Instead of pondering the inanity and stupidity of these earthly antagonists which we have no power to confront we enter the aesthetic portals of weird tales where the mundane turns metaphysical and strange, where terror begins the moment the mind is confronted by its own extreme awareness of the unknown and unknowable mysteries of Self and World. The darkest humor is that which neither ironizes nor steeps us in the jackals call but lashes against our complicity with the stupidity of our age, self, and world. The laughter of gods ends where the daemon’s hyena jibes lynches even our most sacred beliefs. As Cioran tells us,

“The tyrant in us trembles; he must act, discharge his rage, take revenge; and it is upon ourselves that he does so. So decides the modesty of our condition. Amid our terrors, more than one of us evokes a Nero who, lacking an empire, would have had only his own conscience to persecute.”

—E. M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist

The Dark View

I think each of us early on begins to have a disposition toward reality that stays with us till we die. Some seek harmony and beauty, others horror and existential anxiety within the contours of life and experience. The one tends toward an optimistic outlook, the other pessimistic. Much of this comes from early childhood experiences, happy or traumatic. A child growing up in sunny California will probably have different feelings and a happier disposition than one growing up in a war-torn country suck as Ukraine is right now. This is not some iron-clad rule, but rather a subjective observation or truism. For me the horror of life began with a strange psychopathic child who followed me through Middle-School and into High School. It started with him stealing an artwork I’d spent months on for a class assignment. No one at the school every caught him. But later in life after pondering all the various incidents of his strange psychopathic behavior on the periphery of my life I have come to the conclusion it was him.

The next incident came when I played tether ball in school, a game we had which consisted of four people trying to hit a ball around a post till it was completely wrapped up. We’d just finished a bout when a big guy with a shock of red hair walked up to me, asked my name, then said to me: “If you ever say things about my sister again, I’ll kill you.” Then he slugged me in the stomach and head till I fell down. My friends pulled him off of me. I was dazed and confused. I didn’t know him or his sister and hadn’t ever spoken ill of anyone much less his sister.

Next incident came after a long day of mowing yards on a Saturday at neighbors’ homes to earn money to buy things I liked. I went to the local 7-Eleven and bought a Cherry Slurpee which was ice-cold and tasted so good. I walked outside and a big guy was leaning up against an old Ford roadster who asked my name. I told him. Then he looked at me and said: “If you ever bother my little brother again, I’ll kill you.” Then he, too, slugged me, my drink went flying, my eyeglasses fell and broke. He came down on me pinning me and pummeled me till some adults pulled him off. He screamed “I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you…” as they took him off.

There were others, but the final one happened in High School when I had just bought a Honda 305 Dreamcycle motorcycle and was heading home from school one day. There was a stretch of lonely road about two miles long that was a short cut but not used a lot except by country people. I was riding along it when a car pulled out behind me from a ditch. It began speeding up on me so I thought I’d pull over and let it pass, but instead in my rearview mirror I could see it was heading right at me. I felt fear and terror realizing if I didn’t do something it was going to kill or maim me. I hit the gears and took off like a bat out of hell. The car kept gaining on me but at the end of this road was a turn off that led to an old farmer’s house and I zipped and slid right and almost skidded and crashed but luckily caught my balance and zoomed forward. As that car passed, I caught a glance of a face I remembered from Middle-School. It was the boy I’d known back in art class who always seemed to joke and make fun of me so long ago…

I want go into the myriad incidents in which he was the instigator and tormentor of my young life. Why? I don’t think there is an answer, at least not one that makes sense under the auspices of Reason. One can study the literature of psychopathic creatures such as this and still not truly understand their motivations. For me it was a doorway onto the demonic underbelly of human nature as it turns dark. We live in the aftermath of psychoanalytical culture and DSM-5 that can label all this, but that does not explain it; it just explains it away under categories of normalization. What are these beings? They seem to be of a different order and lineage from the rest of us. I no longer question them, but the strangeness of the world they live in. Their hell impinges on ours in bewildering ways that most of us would rather not know or understand.

Just know that it was such incidents that led me to a darker view of life and others. Knowing that there are real monsters in the world, ones that look and appear like us but are not is a terrible knowledge to bare. So many other dark places invaded my mind and life from Viet Nam to physical and emotional abuse that the tendency toward pessimism and horror became not only an existential path of survival but the actual truth of the way things are for me in this world.

Like many my comic nihilism and fatalistic laughter began as a defense system against despair and the truth that the world is not what we think it is: the paranoiacs basic credo. I learned to overcome this as the years progressed and I began to read deeply in literature, philosophy, psychology, and horror-decadence about the various truths of the dark side of life from criminology to insanity. My naturalistic and scientific bent came out of this study over decades realizing just how sick a portion of our civilization is and how rooted in fear, anxiety, and murderous impulse driven by irrational forces that none of us can control.

As I gained a foothold on to Shakespear’s dark intent, onto the darker view of human nature and existence and how people do become monstrous I also seemed to perceive that underlying the whole universe was this darker pattern of malevolence. When I came upon the whole tradition of decadence and then the world of Weird Tale writers from Lovecraft to Ligotti I sensed others knew this same pattern.

Gnosticism seemed to become a critical overview of the dark side of the Western traditions, overturning both Platonic and Christian worldviews for a view onto reality that was built on the dark principle of malevolence. Like anything these are fictions that help us get on with our lives. In themselves they are neither objectively nor subjectively true, but they are true to a mode of apprehension that speaks the language of the soul (whatever you want to make of it). In many ways the whole underbelly of hidden traditions from Magic, Hermeticism, Witchcraft, materialism, pessimism, decadence, etc. are part of the dark view, and have always been rejected by the mainstream culture of the West.

The ancient Gnostics would have seen Ligotti as one of their own, except that Ligotti agreed up to a point, saying, in one of his interviews:

“I liked the Gnostics because they cursed the same things I’ve cursed: the Boss of the Bible, the ways of the world, and so on. Of course, they always had their own absentee Boss way out there beyond contemplation or criticism, and I could never follow them to that place.”

I agree with Ligotti on the dark malevolence at the core of our existential anxieties and fears, and that there will be on Deus ex machina to come save us from this bleak universe. I’m at that point in life that a summing up of my own thoughts on the matter have an urgency for me at least. Not getting any younger…

The Fantasist as Idealist

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Lovecraft wanted to be seen as a scientific minded and hardnosed thinker, and yet he was part of the whole Idealist tradition which if he’d been confronted by that notion would have been strangely disquieted. But in this passage one sees his Idealism emerge:

“The time to begin writing is when the events of the world seem to suggest things larger than the world—strangenesses and patterns and rhythms and uniquities of combination which no one ever saw or heard before, but which are so vast and marvellous and beautiful that they absolutely demand proclamation with a fanfare of silver trumpets. Space and time become vitalised with literary significance when they begin to make us subtly homesick for something “out of space, out of time”. . . . To find those other lives, other worlds, and other dreamlands, is the true author’s task. That is what literature is; and if any piece of writing is motivated by anything apart from this mystic and never-finished quest, it is base and unjustified imitation. (Selected Letters 2.142–43)

Lovecraft was never satisfied with the naturalist vision of the universe but sought something beyond and outside, a strangeness that was part of the Romantic vision of the marvelous and beautiful. This “homesickness” for another realm is pure Platonism. Ideas were more real to him than a materialist would ever condone, and it was this that makes him an Idealist. This is one reason Lord Dunsany was his favorite writer, and the one who influenced his work most: the fantasist as Idealist.

Plagiarism and Influence: The Monster of Repetition – Echo and Quote

Every writer is influenced by previous works, one cannot help but becoming part of this infinite stream. Literary plagiarism is that fine line between original and stolen insight. As an example, most of Shakespeare’s plays were derived from previous playwrights, lesser-known works that were either part of the mix of current playwright material or had gone into disuse. In our time Shakespeare would probably be considered a plagiarist. My feeling is just the opposite, as T.S. Eliot stated on more than one occasion stated the obvious:

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.” (Sacred Wood)

It’s this sense of difference, this swerve from the previous work, the change ever so slight that gives us something new, original. Stealing thoughts, sentences, words, etc. is not in itself plagiarism no matter what the modern money criers say, it’s this path between quote and echo that reverberates throughout all the arts. As Harold Bloom once suggested the “Originals were themselves not original” which as he’d explicate man times was the truth of all art.

Influence is a strange and weird manifestation of that crossing over between one mind and another. As stated above some writers quote directly from others, while some will mutate and transpose certain thoughts into new metaphors or images. Those who can do this best become that strange thing: an original writer who is able to transform her tradition into current parlance and currency of time and place. There are only so many human stories, and only so many ways of saying things. As one Wallace Stevens once said

The man-hero is not the exceptional monster,
But he that of repetition is most master.”

Eliot himself would become a master of the quote, quoting others in repetition of their work fitting it to the “correlative objective” of The Wasteland. Others like Borges would become masters of the echo, repeating the gestures and works of others in the guise of a new emperors clothes such that readers who know could see what was hidden while others would gawk on as if the King were not naked at all.

The only ones who are affronted by plagiarism are those who seek monetary gain, a capitalist sin. For this many a good writer following thousands of years of literary echo and quote mechanics has seen his-her work go down. Sad.

Surviving Bleakness

The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti

“I wanted to believe that this artist had escaped the dreams and demons of all sentiment in order to explore the foul and crummy delights of a universe where everything had been reduced to three stark principles: first, that there was nowhere for you to go; second, that there was nothing for you to do; and third, that there was no one for you to know. Of course, I knew that this view was an illusion like any other, but it was also one that had sustained me so long and so well — as long and as well as any other illusion and perhaps longer, perhaps better.”

—Thomas Ligotti

My greatest love, my Lady and my Light, Linda Marie died on this day in the year 1999 which left an empty hole in my being which I know will remain unfilled for the rest of my life. It was just after this that in my ghost and zombie phase I ran into the work of Thomas Ligotti’s Nightmare Factory. I don’t even know why I picked it up in the local drugstore. The blue cover with all the bleak figures seeming to be as lost as I was in this tormented world of desire awakened something in me, a slight stirring of dark revelations at hand, something that might if even for a moment alleviate my strange torpor. I must say I engulfed these stories over one long weekend. They spoke to me from somewhere deep within, awakened those dark fires that haunt us all, left me bewildered and even more estranged and alien than I was already. And, yet they seemed to say things I was already thinking about life and my own existence and experience. His works would become immersed in my rereading’s of Schopenhauer, Bataille, Land, Cioran, Lem, Dick, Ballard, Twain, Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Borges, Pessoa and so many others… In Ligotti I found a questioning being, a being tired of the same old round of optimistic shibboleths that are tossed about by the self-help gurus and metaphysical clap track of sunny days and reasons why life is so grand and magnificent. No. I was done with that. The one thing that had given my life any meaning at all was lying six feet in the ground because of the viciousness of humans. I’ll not go into that. Ligotti opened up that dark world like a torrent and yet he gave it the stamp of an aesthetic appeal rooted in horror of both self and others, of this thing we are conscious beings aware of our (in)existence. This alone should send us all to that brink of suicidal madness, but it doesn’t; instead, it offers us art, the excellence of time-bound discipline in the oldest form of survival on this planet – the thought of a thinking being in the face of an inexplicable mystery. Ligotti’s insight was to look at the Medusa eyes wide open and live… that is, if you can call this life – Life.

I remember even as a child I began separating people into the artificial imbeciles – the bots with their cheery smiles and optimistic outlooks; and us others, the tormented beings like myself, who knew all too well that the world and the universe were hell and we’d been caged in its darkness, trapped by its alien agents of despair to live out a life of utter hopelessness. The only thing that helped me bluff my way through this bleak existence was my ability to make people laugh: the comic nihilist par excellence. I probably don’t let that out too much here. But in life when faced with all these sleepers, these happy bots roaming around the periphery of one’s existence what else do we have?

Argument or Insight?


“Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

Schopenhauer was of that school of thought, the singular, that argument without insight is useless and a waste of a philosopher’s time. I’ve seen it. Many books on philosophy, psychology, neurosciences etc. that I read of late have excellent argumentation which is beyond repute and full of eloquence and design, but Insight? No. Most of it repeats the arguments and insights of others without ever adding original thought to the mix so that one is left in the end with why I read this work which gives so little but says so much. How many thinkers today actually have anything to say? Where are the insightful ideas and concepts today? Philosophers at the moment seem to be repeating the gestures of the past two hundred years, moving in circles within circles trying to outdo Kantian thought with every form of Analytical and Synthetic argument seeking a way past this old buzzard who has set all the traps beforehand. Some have given up the ghost of philosophy for the sciences, others are in bedlam of linguistic and analytical hell, others discover the curse of Hegel, while still others seek to do away with the problem altogether in a non-human, inhuman, posthuman, or transhuman Outside. In the end what is there left?

Concepts always stand in for something already absent: an insight, which comes only through singular experience. The Philosopher as the supreme conceptualist tries through language, mathematics, or logic to capture and trap that original insight in a concept, then through argumentation seeks to clarify and communicate this. If he succeeds, he adds to our knowledge and understanding. Most fail miserably in one form or another which is why we return over and over to certain thinkers more than others: this is the canon of Western Philosophy that seems to gather the insights that sustain this whole endeavor.