Nihilism Begone!

Do you ever feel like everything is old, tired, has been done? Have you attempted to come up with something creative, only to stop with the feeling that others have done it already, better than you could do it? Do you feel bored? Do you find yourself secretly wishing for the annihilation of all that exists?

is this you?

Aristotle says that all philosophy begins in wonder. You are suffering from a lack of wonder. You’ve had a wonder-ectomy. You are experiencing the strange phenomenon only found in humans: hatred of being. You’ve seen all that there is and it leaves you flat. Things that used to be good are no longer good. Nihilism is creeping up to you on cat paws. Beware!

Nietzsche writes of eternal recurrence, the idea that all things have been and will be again, as "the highest formula of a Yea-saying to life that can ever be attained." The nihilist says abolish everything, it is better that it not exist. The opposite of the nihilist (the vitalist?) rejoices even in the eternal recurrence. It is good that things have been, and it is good if they happen again. See The Gay Science 341. What if someone said to you:

This life, as thou livest it at present and hast lived it, thou must live it once more, and also innumerable times; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh. . . Wouldst thou not throw thyself down and gnash thy teeth, and curse the demon that so spake? Or hast thou once experienced a tremendous moment in which thou wouldst answer him: "Thou art a God, and never did I hear anything so divine!"

If you are really a non-nihilist, or I would say a man of faith, you would agree with Nietzsche in this passage. Yes, I know Nietzsche was not a man of faith, but nobody’s perfect. You would agree with Julian of Norwich, to whom it was revealed "It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." Even the bad stuff is for the good, if only you could see it.

Another approach is given by G.K. Chesterton. You may be bored with life. You may say that all has happened before, that everything is tired and exhausted of meaning, that the cosmos is just so much vulgar trash strewn across the void. You are looking at it the wrong way:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

The more joy you can take in things even as they are, with all of their flaws, the closer you are to the divine.

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