by Andy Nowicki
The monstrous predominance of default agnosticism—the reflexive mindset of our era—reinforces a terrible gloominess in the sensitive soul.
Those of a more obtuse psychic composition are able to avoid the snares inherent in such a circumstance, since—being frivolous by nature or by habit—they can slough off such rhetoric with the sort of automatically-generated aplomb supplied by their carelessly-cultivated shallowness. Unfortunately, it cannot be so for those mindful enough to follow premises through to their logical conclusions. These instead are like the one who, in the words of T.S. Eliot, found himself “much possessed by death/ And saw the skull beneath the skin.” For such as Eliot’s protagonist, being smacked in the face with the prospect of moribund, maggoty meaninglessness is simply too much to endure. Such seekers as these are aware of a need for greater nourishment than what they are being offered, else they will starve.
And make no mistake: it is perfectly fitting, and moreover a sign of spiritual health, to reject the miserably unsatisfying default agnosticism so often deceitfully pawned off as “common sense.” There is indeed an oppressive morbidity to a culture which places instrumentality over form and means above ends, which tells us that the ultimate questions (Why am I alive? What happens after I die?) aren’t worth asking, since they can only be viewed as “unknowable”; meanwhile, in the agnostic's materialist conception, one’s precious God-given mortal instrumentality is accorded no dignity whatsoever, being deemed little more than “meat,” it is regarded as fit only to rot unceremoniously once it perishes bodily.
At the same time—in spite of these untenable and unsavory connotations with the practice of agnosticism, which in truth amounts to little more than enforced secularism (it being proclaimed as an absolute that absolutely nothing greater can ever be known beyond the reality of the physical world)—there is for the literate cultural dissenter an undeniably useful aesthetic appeal to acutely-rendered nihilism, because it at the very least is refreshingly honest in owning and admitting its despair. It lays bare what more disingenuous ideologies attempt to disguise, or to adorn with fraudulent baubles and nauseating niceties.
Such artful effusions were employed in my 2009 novel, Considering Suicide, wherein the free-slinging vulgarian narrator heatedly attacks the liberal-left Zeitgeist and its smelly little orthodoxies, which in his mind are grounded in a fundamental untruth, since no call for “social justice” (in this case, opposition to so-called “homophobia”) makes sense in the absence of an appeal to a transcendent reality; thus, the secularist liberal “LGBT” cult of anti-discrimination effectively undermines itself:
So “God is not a Republican,” as you like to lecture us with your bumper stickers. Guess what, he ain’t a Democrat either….He’s not there….If God doesn’t hate fags, He doesn’t stand in solidarity with cornholing, cunt-shunning, HIV-chasing, limpwristers either. God’s not going to help the fruits that are being turned into vegetables thanks to the miracle of AIDS….He doesn’t care about you…You have to exist to care...
Nihilism, here as elsewhere, can serve the purpose of breaking down the gate and storming the bloated Bastille fortress of the witless series of ideologies which increasingly predominate. But such a rhetorical tool can only be brandished ironically, can only function as a means to an end, the end being the restoration of truth. The purpose of the employment of such rhetorical extravagances must be viewed in context. Taken by itself, in isolation, such a rant as the one excerpted above—with its clear atheistic connotations—is every bit as destructive as the bogus perspective it assails.
We must be on guard against similar temptations to indulge in de facto outbursts of petty nihilism today. In our electronic age, where largely contrived news stories blow up almost instantaneously, and receive almost instant attention from pissed-off commenters of nearly every stripe and orientation, it is all-too easy to get caught up in the highly ephemeral struggles of the present, and much more difficult to comprehend that what’s “here” today is very often “gone” tomorrow. What seems like an earth-shattering, epoch-shaking event at a given moment is typically totally forgotten in about two hours or so, give or take a few minutes. The tendency, in such cases, is to see the “now” as something momentously crucial and ever-present, rather than passing rapidly, and to become desirous of a satisfying quick fix… sometimes even to hope for something abruptly and horrifically cataclysmic to take place, in order that things may be shaken up soundly and permanently.
I have often witnessed commenters on Facebook and elsewhere openly wish for an immediate economic or social collapse, presumably for the psychologically cathartic benefits such an eventuality would bring the commenter in question (i.e., the high will be brought low and scores will finally be settled, etc.). What such thinking fails to take into account is not only the immense callousness of such sentiments (no matter how many innocents would be hurt by such a catastrophe, it is still deemed worthwhile, given one’s state of being fed up and pissed off), but also the extent to which such commenters abandon prudence and common sense, succumbing instead to the wretched pseudo-allure of what might be called “presentism.”
The internet and social media in general facilitate this malignant obsession with the now. More than ever before, there is a prominent proclivity—among those who should know better—to value the immediacy of the comment box smackdown or the Facebook flame-war, and in turn, to shun the even-keeled, steely-minded, stoical approach which correctly views the trappings of the contemporary as…well, temporary. This now-centric mania, in turn, feeds upon its own rancor; indulgence in such fervid compulsions brings about a rabidity of spirit which is not only personally unbecoming but also rhetorically counterproductive.
As our world collapses around us, and our nurturing traditions continue to erode in influence among the “official” organs of societal power, we mustn’t waste our time responding with hand-wringing lamentations and groans of impotent outrage. Instead, it is incumbent upon us to hunker down and build for the future. We must quietly, determinedly pass along to our children that which sustained our ancestors, while maintaining faith in both the justice of our cause and in our ultimate prospect of triumph. Today is not forever, thanks be to God.