Sunday, March 04, 2012

The uncanny guest of post-nihilism

Nietzsche delivers the message that ‘god is dead’ with a parable where a madman goes into a 19th century European marketplace with a lantern at high noon asking ‘where has god gone?’ to the atheist-filled marketplace (in The Gay Science). Whereas previously the church had provided meaning to life and an endpoint to the story (e.g.; salvation), god was now dead and the marketplace was taking the church’s place in providing value and meaning to life, and there was no endpoint to the story, just nihilism (nothingness, e.g.; life is meaningless). Nietzsche presciently predicted the arrival of nihilism as ‘Europe’s uncanny guest.’ (from remarks by Robert Harrison at the Roundtable on the topic of "Nihilism" on February 29, 2011)

One could then ask, in the figurative marketplace for the new faith, what next uncanny guest might be lurking as the successor to nihilism? Post-nihilism could be the turning back to ‘something’ from ‘nothing,’ perhaps as many subjective virtual somethings as there are and will be ‘individual’ intelligences. The inward-turning path to individual liberty, choice, and subjectivism continues to prevail as opposed to a regression toward normative objective truths. Degreed objective truth (akin to degreed belief) is merely a transport layer for convenience and social lubrication but not a content layer. Early clues of the move towards greater subjectivism can be seen in the modern economy 2.0. The marketplace continues as a literal and figurative metaphor with an important mechanism for commuting meaning being the increasing value of the new currencies: reputation, status, attention, intention, etc. supplementing and perhaps eventually superceding money and labor. The need for stories and endpoints has as much relevance as ever.

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