I watch this video and listen to the lyrics. It is Friedrich Nietzsche's nihilism in song. With absolutely no feeling or emotion she shrugs and sings: "Is that all there is to a fire? Is that all there is to love? Is that all there is to life?". I can't really describe why, but this song gives me a very positive feeling, a calm feeling, soothing, harmony. This may sound strange, since the song is describing a feeling of emptiness and nothingness.
Well. The thing is I have a very ambivalent view of Nihilism. The reason this song makes me feel calm is quite obvious. I am a very intense person who rides the roller-coaster all the time. I like to scream, I am emotional, I am political and I fight for a change in the system all day every day. And since I was really little I've had a hard time letting go of things. I get obsessed by things and than feel a compulsion to do something about it.
So. Nihilism and it's passiveness and nothing really matters-attitude, can be a nice retreat for me at times. Nihilism also has some interesting analytical points at times - because things are never black or white. However, I know that Nihilism in it's exact form is counter-productive in that it always presents everything as relative, so queerfeminist and anarchist struggles for example don't really matter, because after the revolution things won't be perfect anyways. Everything is just shades of grey. And yes, nothing will ever be perfect, but it can be much-much better than today's world, and yes everything is shades of grey and not black and white, but there are many-many different shades of grey. Let's go for a lighter tone, instead of a darker one.
Cuz even if their is light in today's world, the shade of grey is dark, with a capitalist system that is fundamentally flawed in that it doesn't give a shit about some people having virtually nothing whereas other people have billions. It's a dark shade of grey. So is patriarchy, heteronormativity, racism and loads of other -isms. Fundamentally flawed is a nice way of putting it. I would rather say Fucked up.
So. Many of the authors I am drawn to are the ones who dare to travel to these places of darkness. Very, very dark gray. Almost black. Some people call them nihilists because they sound so damn negative and dark. But I don't think they are Nihilists, because they are still politically constructive. I am thinking of authors like Elfreide Jelinek, Jamaica Kincaid and Valerie Solanas, but also somebody like Arundhati Roy (and artists like Diamanda Galas, PJ Harvey, especially her latest album, Antony Hegarty and Fiona Apple). And maybe also Virginie Despentes, who's film Baise Moi did not impress me, cuz it did not seem politically fluent enough. However her book King Kong-theory sounds interesting. It opens with the following:
“I am writing as an ugly one for the ugly ones: the old hags, the dykes, the frigid, the unfucked, the unfuckables, the neurotics, the psychos, for all those girls that don’t get a look-in in the universal market of the consumable chick.”
When I read Jelinek, Kincaid, Solanas and Roy I find myself wanting to quote every other thing they write. They don't just describe bullshit in society, they dig into it, dissect it and than throw it in your face. It may hurt, but if you're ready for it you will peel it off your face and dare to look at it yourself. They don't spend time trying to make things look all flowery and pretty, cuz things aren't (usually) flowery or pretty. Solanas and Roy spend time describing the light they seek to find beyond the darkness. The flowers that can grow out of the shit so to speak. Kincaid and Jelinek don't really do this, which is fine. Jamaica Kincaids anti-racist, postcolonial feminism in Annie John, A small place and The autobiography of my mother totally blew me away. The way she describes falling in love with the smells she was taught to detest and spend time meticiously cleaning away, like the smell of her sweaty armpits and un-washed pussy. The way she laughs at "The man who looked at her as if she was the center of the universe, the only woman on earth", and than dryly comments that it is the men who know how to look at you in that way in particular who surely have an eye for many-many more and than dryly comments that it doesn't matter cuz why are we so obsessed with ourselves and our ego's that we feel the need to be someones center of the universe anyways? We are not the center of the universe.
For me, the point of nihilism is that we must examine ourselves and the bullshit that we are doing - to ourselves, to others, to the world. We must examine ourselves thoroughly, cuz if there ever is going to be a world filled of light (a light shade of grey) we must dare to look straight at the dark, learn to navigate through it. I don't want to be a hippie saying that everything's so wonderful and love, peace and understanding. This is brain-deadness, hippie-dippy airheadness, that is so non-analytical that it makes me sick to my stomach. We must see and be aware of the power-structures in order to fight them, but the difference between my stance and the nihilistic-stance is that I don't EVER want to succumb to the status quo, the existing power structures. When I look at the reality of the world today I can sometimes feel quite nihilistic. But when I think about how to change things I see and I know that digging yourself deep down into nihilism won't do it. So I've forced myself to divorce hope from reality. Divorce hope from realism. I can sound really negative (I need the negativity to be able to cope sometimes) and angry (Sometimes I need to say FUCK OFF when somebody oppresses me) sometimes, but never bitter, never cynical. Never giving up. Never surrendering to the powers that be. Never compromising with my visions. Because today's society simply is unreasonable and I know that we can build something better.
Or as Ani Difranco states it in the song Asking too much: "I want someone who can see the pointlessness but still keeps their political purpose in mind. I want someone who is a tortured soul - some of the time". Maybe what we are doing doesn't have a direct effect, maybe it is in some way pointless. But maybe it does. Maybe it does. And that maybe is worth enough to make it worth doing, because in the end all we can do is do everything we can to try to build another world together. So let's atleast try.
(Oh yes. It's very therapeutic for me to write about my love-hate-relationship with nihilism).