How does a nihilist live?
I'm very thankful for the thoughtful emails I get. Most people want a handout (please review my mediocre, undistinguished, pathetic metal band) or want to attack me in the guise of posing questions to me (how can you claim you know anything when you don't believe in anything?). The latter think their cleverness is tearing down someone above them, and that makes them happy, since deep inside they know they're mediocre. The former are just welfare cases in disguise, and deep inside they know that the reason they're not getting anywhere is that they suck.
However, some thoughtful questions really cut to the chase and point out that people have questions about things that are second nature to me now. Such a question arrived today: How does a nihilist live? I'll try to answer that in a conversational form so that we don't get lost in the intricacies of philosophy, because the pragmatic effects of nihilist belief are more important than detailed philosophical "proofs."
First, you do not ask others how you should live. All of the answers are before you.
Nihilism is discerning what is real from what is unreal. We do exist in reality. In it, some things actually exist and others are phantoms of our mind. Strip away the latter and focus on the former. If you have trouble figuring it out, go spend time in a forest. Buddha meditated under a tree, Jesus had his woods for 40 days, Nietzsche had his mystical trances and Arthur Schopenhauer had long nights ignored by his family. Take advantage of boredom, and natural surroundings, to decipher your world.
Truth doesn't exist. Truth is our perception of what does exist; our assessment of it. You will have to find the truth that's appropriate to your own life. Note that I did not say "your own truth." Individualism is the greatest con job ever. You are the product of those who came before you in your bloodline, and the factors of your life. You do not exist separately from the world and you cannot escape this state. Furthermore, there's no point. Pursue truth as it is evident to you. If you're insane, your role in the universe is to be the insane failure that others mock and later, kill.
Not everyone can do this. In my view, there's no shame in saying "Look, I'm not a leader - show me a right path and I'll get to work." Even that however requires an evaluation of reality and acceptance of some of its basic traits. Your bloodline will be serving the commands of others until it evolves otherwise. I've accepted that I'll never be a Brad Pitt or Andres Segovia, but I'm not really bothered by that; I'm too busy being what I am. For that reason, I've got some general suggestions here.
The single most powerful weapon you have is your own preference. People can force all sorts of shit on you, but they can't make you accept certain things except as necessary. For example, if the government decrees that everyone must have a morning enema on pain of death, you'll submit to it, but even if every other person you know then chooses to have an afternoon enema as well in order to show their patriotism, you can reject that behavior by not doing it. You'll stand out in a crowd. Big deal. It's not like most of these drones are paying attention to anything.
You will have to have some kind of work. Pick something that's inoffensive. There are plenty of good jobs, for example, in helping environmental agencies. Apply and rise. You won't get the same salary or public respect, but you're a nihilist now, and you recognize that public respect is as meaningless as it is fickle. Create a life for yourself instead and don't commit the same transgressions that make society odious. Affirm reality. Cease destruction of nature. Nurture your own culture. Reject modernity.
As becomes obvious, the people around you are tools; that is to say, they are grateful followers who passively lap up the rancid semen of industrial society and are grateful for the "opportunity." While in a just world they'd get a hollowpoint to the forehead, that's not going to happen for a few decades, so content yourself with this: create a better example of humanity and leave them in your dust.
Most of your toolish coworkers, neighbors, people you meet on the street, etc. are capable of two modes of conversation: entertainment and personal situation. They'll discuss endlessly the "important" movies and television they see, not noticing that these repeat themselves on a three-year cycle, and they'll talk about the weather or their hemorrhoids or other "important" issues of personal comfort. They cannot talk about ideas. Therefore, reserve ideas as the grounds on which the few smart people meet.
If you talk to normals, talk about basic aspects of life, namely events in our time. You don't have to take a side as long as you express an intelligent opinion. Make it clear you don't watch TV or movies. Talk about the good things you see in life, like something great a person did, or something you observed in nature or perceived about life itself. But don't fall into their trap. Seinfeld and Friends and ER are transient garbage that will not matter at all, and these fools are wasting their lives on this stuff. Don't let them pull you into the same trap.
Normals also have a tendency to express groupthink sentiments, and then test others with them. Such things as "Isn't it terrible about that genocide in Darfur?" are probes to get you to either conform or be identified as a lone wolf. If you respond with "I think it's funny" or "We need fewer people" the wailing and lashing out by the crowd, which HATES lone wolves, begins (the lone wolf has what the crowd never will: integrity, and for this reason, they hate it). The best response is indifference. "I didn't hear about that" will get you a lecture, but "I think politics is made-up crazy stuff" will leave them baffled. They ask you about something "serious" in their world; show them it's not serious in yours. Don't even take the issue itself seriously.
NORMAL: DID YOU HEAR HOW BUSH STOLE THE ELECTION?
NIHILIST: OH, THEY'RE STEALING ELECTIONS NOW. HOW FUNNY. DID YOU KNOW BELL PEPPERS ARE A GOOD SOURCE OF VITAMIN C?
NORMAL: OMFG I HEARD AL-QAEDA IS PLANNING TO ATTACK US!
NIHILIST: YOU KNOW, VAN GOGH REALLY CAPTURED THE ESSENCE OF SUSPENSE IN HIS SURREALISTIC PAINTINGS. MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO CHECK THEM OUT.
NORMAL: GASOLINE IS TOTALLY EXPENSIVE THESE DAYS.
NIHILIST: MONEY EVERYWHERE. I MADE AN INTERPRETIVE SCULPTURE OUT OF MY COMPOST HEAP.
This drives normals nuts because it plays into their basic fear, namely that someone else knows something they don't know and thus is not subject to the laws of the crowd. However, if you do this without being aggressive, they have no way to justify lashing out at you and no way to handle what you've said. Let them keep discussing their "entertaining" TV (entertainment is for people who cannot find a purpose of their own in life; it's like slavery, but it's "fun") while you spend your time on more interesting things. Their unease will grow as they watch you, and it will help destroy them.
Be careful with your money. Some idiot comes around the office asking for birthday donations, or money to help the children in Sudan or whatever -- blow it off. "No thanks," is all you need to say, and if they start asking more questions, they're in the wrong socially and nonsense replies are appropriate. "I'm saving up to buy a nuclear submarine" or "The price of ice cream and motor oil just went up" is an appropriate response. If you feel like you're talking to kindergartners, well, you are. These people are mentally immature and should be treated accordingly.
When you shop, don't buy garbage. You will be tempted because who isn't? But recognize what's crap and avoid it. You may have to pay $2 more for the metal version of some everyday object over the plastic one, but then you won't need to replace it for thirty years. Morons fear people with this kind of wisdom, because it reveals morons in contrast as unable to make such decisions. Don't spend your money on idiotic entertainment, flashy cars, or houses in trendy neighborhoods. Pick a good place and live independently. You don't need any of that crap (if you're a nihilist).
Finally, don't accept their view of reality. They'll blather on about "progress" and other inventions of the human mental phantasm, but if you recognize these ideas are basically junk food for the mind, you can bypass it and focus on other things. If after two years have passed, you've learned a language and an instrument while they're still watching TV, they'll start to revere you. Then, profit from their idiocy and put the money to a good use, like buying up the remaining free forest land out there or translating Pentti Linkola into English. Nihilists bypass illusion and work on reality, and from it they get stronger while the herd stagnates. Most importantly, they laugh while doing this. And who wouldn't?
November 14, 2004