Thursday, 12 April 2012

Nothing Ever Happens

Existential nihilism and metaphysical solipsism make for a bad combination. In fact they may even be mutually exclusive - I haven't quite made up my mind on that.

It's all well and good believing that my reality is the only true reality, and that other beings are merely representations of myself. That at least leaves one with a feeling of immense power and untouchability. But combine that with the belief that existence is pointless, without meaning, and you're (I'm) left with a rather redundant outlook. Further; the futility of searching for or assigning meaning being fully acknowledged, leaves one with little alternative but to sit and thumb-twiddle.

This is a brilliant quote from Donald A. Crosby (he's merely another representation of me, but it would be wrong not to let you (also me) know which (other) me came up with it): "There is no justification for life, but also no reason not to live. Those who claim to find meaning in their lives are either dishonest or deluded. In either case, they fail to face up to the harsh reality of the human situation".

Poor Dr Crosby is labouring under the misapprehension that he and others that are not me are real, separate beings, but apart from that he makes a good point: I exist and I may as well embrace that fact, because no other facts can be verified. I do celebrate the fact of my existence purely for that reason. It's all I can be sure of, so there's really nothing else to celebrate, ever. And I can only celebrate the knowledge, as opposed to making use of it or acting on it in some way, because it has no inherent worth or usefulness; it just is.

This is a philosophy of ever-decreasing circles, and I can begin to see why Descartes' (my) famous soundbite is perhaps the most well-known philosophical phrase there is. It's a deliberately pithy summation which just about perfectly describes the simplicity and brutality of existence.

It all sounds rather bleak, but actually it's just neutral, benign. Not that that's any better than bleak. It may even be worse.


  1. Hello:
    We, as nothing other than a representation of you, have missed that part of you which manifests itself in the form of Decade 4. You, as a representation of ourselves, have been sorely missed in the silence which has ensued over the past several weeks.

    At the risk of siding with the said Dr. Crosby, we believe that we may well exist. But for what purpose defeats us in the here and now.

  2. Hello [again]:
    re: our reply to your comment on our latest post, this should, we hope, take you to a trailer of 'Very Annie Mary'

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  4. I've been in love with this idea for a long time. I first came across it through Bishop Berkeley, but I expect he wasn't the first. He was thinking (and strolling, and riding, and eating, and everything) in the eighteenth century, where I must now think you put him. The eighteenth century, of course, is another of your constructs. The good thing about only existing in your head is that we can all rub along together, but then you conduct quite a lot of aggravation in your head as well :( Anyway you had me, your creation, come across your other creation, George Berkeley, and had me enjoy his ideas (i.e. your ideas). You will make me dramatically précis them by having me (and Berkeley) arrive at the only end his speculation could take him, namely that he was God. Except of course it's you who must be God. I'm not sure how you had his Church react to his ideas (Church of Ireland I think you put him in), but if you've been playing the thing out properly I'm guessing you had them disapprove. It's an amazing creation this world of yours, God. How you keep track I'll never know, but then perhaps it's not necessary. A little memory loss and you could wipe us! Not that it would matter. We're only thoughts. I was going to say love Alec, but of course it's you saying it. What's your current thinking on self-love, Lord? Anyway your advice to you is award yourself love, and hugs, and a kiss or two from this thought called Alec. :) xxxx

  5. Jane and Lance:
    What an interestingly Welsh choice. I haven't seen the film, but will seek it out. My selection would probably be the Hal Ashby gem, Being There.

  6. Alec:
    I'm never sure whether to stay in character when replying to comments here. I suppose I should: Alec, you're one of my favourite recent creations, and I'm sorry for the aggravation - it does feel rather selfish of me to put you through it merely for my own sense of completeness and realism. If it's any consolation, none of it is actually directly happening since it's only hinted at in my interations with you. I don't know how I keep track of everything either, but I'll certainly do my best to maintain a healthy and productive narrative for you, Jane and Lance and my other characters around these parts.
    Much warmth in your general direction,
    Ben x

  7. hey Ben, what's with the lack of comment on our blog lately? we rely on you, y'know!

  8. Send me an email, Ben.

    Let's talk.