The rosy side of nihilism
“On the Media” had a thought-provoking show about nihilism recently. It traced the origin of nihilism, existentialism, Dadaism, through the Beats, the ’60s and their devastating end, through punk rock, to where we are today, turning on the news, watching journalists being beheaded, and all of the insanity.
I love Dadaism. Makes complete sense that after the disillusionment of World War I people would just throw up their devastated hands, and return to a really dark but absolutely childlike way of creating. I would totally cut up a bunch of words out of the newspaper, put them in a bag, and pull them out to create poetry, if I felt like nothing meant anything anymore. And while nihilism and Dadaism make us tend to think of everything sucking, I think there is a beauty to the fact that humans choose to create in the wake of horrible circumstances and not being able to trust anyone. I mean, there is a reason why many believe the best art is that which is created after heartbreak. How effin’ cool are we in that way?
OK, we’re also terrible beasts, which is why we get ourselves into these situations in the first place. And I will be first to admit the turgid darkness that makes a warlord disgusting is potentially in me, too, because I am human. That said, I’m pleased to report that this life has not proven to take me down that road. I’m sure I’ve hurt a few people inadvertently, and I feel bad about that, but my general state of being is to appreciate and live and love and other things you could paint on a piece of weathered wood and sell in a beach town shoppe next to piles of taffy because we need more crap to buy and sugar.
My point is, while I watch all the religions fight and politicians spin their wheels under the guise of making the world run and giving us the illusion of safety and millions of people buying into a whole bunch of BS, I also see the glimmer of the unexamined. While lots of people are believing things that just are not true, the rest of us have the opportunity to explore what might be true. Even if it is just looking outside at nature and how all that works. Looking at our pets, maybe, and marveling at how these creatures exist in such whole beauty.
Let the “rulers” rule. Yeah, it is a complete bummer that so many jerks control so much of the money. And that so much of their lives are about controlling other people and yet more money. But if you don’t buy into money and control being the most important thing in the world those lives seem even perhaps wasted. We’ll all wonder now and then: “What could I do with that much,” but then let’s not take for granted the gifts that are already in front of us. They’re all ours.
Jenn Sutkowski, optimist, nihilist, vegetable, mineral.
This Full Frontal column was first published in the Newport Mercury.
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It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.