Look around you.
Plastic people. Their faces growing into the masks they wear. Living recycled lives. In sedentary ruin. No one knows what they’re doing. Everyone’s pretending to be okay. Blind-folded chase. Faking happiness. Fighting suffering. Flashing words. Loving themselves. Telling jokes. Contorting smiles. Shedding tears. Making a hobby out of watching someone suffer. A steaming pile of garbage, humanity. Oblivious to their own oblivion. Who’s going to tell them none of this matters? That they are going to become an insignificant stat on an insignificant planet.
Listen. You are a brief virulent disease that once spread through the history of this universe. Stop improving. Stop searching. Stop trying. Stop posing. You. Piece. Of. Shit.
Nihilism is a philosophical doctrine that makes it a point to convince you asking for your last wish is kinda pointless – before it actually convinces you to die. Nihilism, as you can tell, is not for the faint-hearted. Still, there’s no escaping it. We all experience flavors of nihilism at various points in our lives. When crude verbiage manifests into hopeless thought-rummage. With philosophies like Buddhism and Stoicism seeing some light, nihilism is content hanging back in the dark. Because unlike other philosophies, you don’t have to go in search of nihilism. It will find you!
And it’s never been easier to find you. You are the center of the universe after all.
Nihilism has stayed away from philosophical notoriety in spite of being long pervasive. It can be traced back to Greek philosopher and man-who-famously-called-Alexander the Great-a-wastebasket, Diogenes. Considered one of the founding fathers of Cynicism, Diogenes went into nihilistic trances often, hopelessly searching for ‘honest men’ and leaving instructions to donate his body to the wild animals outside the city walls. With no real name until the 18th century, nihilism spread like an epidemic of unknown cause affecting everything from art, literature, and religion until it found its way back to its origins in philosophy. It took 19th-century German philosopher and man-who-raised-a-pet-mustache, Friedrich Nietzsche to acknowledge something’s darkly deformed and that no one’s talking about it.
Today, nihilism has made its way into our heads without much of a formal introduction. It’s the feeling that hampers you from waking up in the morning long after sleep has left. It’s the feeling which makes you snicker at everyone who looks remotely happy. It’s a feeling that neither wants to know the path nor walk the path – only reject the path.
According to Nietzsche, the cure for these symptoms is to have a “why” big enough to wake you up every morning; a “why” to make you crawl a path peppered with pieces of glass if that’s what it takes.
The irony now, however, is that the symptom has become the disease: “I haven’t found a why and hence I have no reason to wake up!”
Nietzsche’s ‘he who has a why can bear any how’ is working against itself. Because how does he bear (himself) who has no why? This is where nihilism finds itself today. The cure has become the cause. Where do we go from here?