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Vomit.Greek.VaseA specter is haunting Western Culture—the specter of nihilism. Pulled between the nails of fundamentalist dogma and liberal tolerance, extremist asceticism and capitalist excess, total violence and passive peace, Truth is stretched, ripped apart like Jesus on the cross, Damiens on the quartering table, or Oprah in the pilates machine. But the tearing of the limbs and flesh reveals nothing human inside—organs, heart, a soul—only abyss. The Last Man reigns.

A suicide bomber blows herself up in the market. The negation of the body, hers and the bodies of others, an affirmation of the idea. Something. Some “thing.” No thing. Through the nothing-ness, the absolute emerges. But as what? Just that—Death and Nothing-ness.

At the same moment, the actress vomits into the toilet so that she may fit into the dress and exemplify Beauty. She too is at war, facing the explosions of the camera bulbs as she walks down the red carpet, trying to affirm her self in and through these negatives. As her image expands, her body withers, until all that’s left is the simulacra. Death and Nothing-ness.

A recovering addict, having stood, toes hanging, over the canyon of annihilation, decides to live, finding solace and recovery in meditation. He foregoes all that is Dionysian and begins to worship at the altar of Apollo. A simple diet of juice (flesh ripped apart, pulp squeezed) and breathing (the nourishment of ether). He turns away from the world, toward the oceanic “AUM” of the Cosmos. He travels to Tibet, climbs the Himalayas to the sacred temple, and is never seen or heard again. Ascension. Enlightenment. Departure. Gone. Death and Nothing-ness.
Execution of Damiens
The Wall St. wizard, making billions from hedges that become topiary and fences that surround his mansion, turning it into a fortress, cutting off sightlines from the neighbors—they cannot see he, he cannot see me. Profit from predicting the cycles of scarcity and surplus, increasingly, betting on scarcity. Poverty, famine, drought, melting, melting, melting—he sees the increasing warmth only as the medium of alchemy, that turns all that is natural into coin. He transcends luxury and the cycle of exchange itself, and only lives on his cloud in his Xanadu with his seventy-two virgins. Allahu Akbar. “The point, is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” The Platonic “Good.” The God of Abraham. The Gold of Gordon Gekko. All transmuted into the Good-God-Gold. Melting. Melting. Melting. Death and Nothing-ness.

Nihilism lives. The human chooses this nothing, and it becomes the τέλος, an ἐντελής that guides the self to its own destruction. Inside the code of survival is its own negation, which is to say, its own truth. We pull back the veil of Sophia, and see that her face is the most radiant Beauty precisely because it is not there.

© anthamatten 2015


Cage Against the Machine

The voice of alatheia is the sound of silence.


Zizeck, Against the Grain

Slavoj Zizek on Against the Grain



…and though eudaimonia is usually translated as “happiness,” this translation is very misleading because what we mean by happiness now is nearly diametrically opposed to Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia. First, when we ask “Are you happy?” we usually mean, “Are you feeling happy?” That is, we equate happiness with the emotion of the moment, a mere feeling, a psychological state. For Aristotle, however, happiness points to a whole, one’s overall being, the totality of one’s life, eventually an entire life. Though we may be happy at this moment, that is, feeling good, etc., given the outlook of our whole life–what it has been, where we are, where we are going–it may be the case that we are absolutely miserable, alienated, cynical, already dead. Likewise, though at the moment, I may feel depressed, angry, tired, etc., if the question is posed about the life independent of the individual moments that make it up, then one may in fact be happy (in fact, the conditions for the possibility of that happiness are precisely these moments of diremption, of enduring the pain, growing in and through it).

Secondly, the common usage of happiness is determined by things, stuff, the material world. Happiness is equated to a pay check, the things one has or will have.

momentary feeling vs. a whole life
things (material) v. habits of virtue
static vs. developing
individual v. social

Indeed, Aristotle wants us to move beyond the mere nutritive or apetitive fulfilment of the plant or animal soul, but, Aristotle, eternal biologist, forever wedded to the soil, retains the nutritive, botanical metaphors even when talking about a human soul. that is, to know if a human is happy, one must interrogate that soul like one would interrogate an acorn, asking the very same questions: are you growing? are your leaves green? do you draw nourishment from good soil? are your producing seeds and blooms? is your trunk strong? did you withstand the storm? will you live for another season?

By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.