(crossposted from Facebook, lightly edited)
David Chapman identifies three stance combinations describing how he sees people orienting towards meaning, which I’ll quote:
Dualist eternalism: everything is given a definite meaning by something separate from you. Christianity and Islam are based on this combination; God is what gives everything meaning.
Monist eternalism: you, God, and the universe are a single thing, which is definitely meaningful. Advaita Hinduism is monist and eternalist, as is much current pop spirituality.
Dualist nihilism: we are isolated individuals, wandering in a meaningless universe. Existentialism, postmodernism, and scientism tend to dualist nihilism.
Considering the two primary axes eternalism/nihilism and monism/dualism, there is a fourth possibility: monist nihilism. That is the view that “all is One, and it is meaningless.” Although this is conceptually coherent, it has few (if any) advocates. Apparently it is not emotionally attractive in the way the other combinations are.
Damn. That’s a hell of an orientation towards meaning. I mean, it is literally a Hell of an orientation towards meaning. Listen to it, on its own terms:
Separateness is an illusion. Self is never separate from Other. Humans are never separate from God. There is only transcendently One Thing… and that Thing is Totally Meaningless. Fuck. It is a single, unending Dumpster Fire.
Heaven and Earth were always Hell. All along. The entire time. God was always the Devil.
Or, even more in the language of our times:
It speaks to you, doesn’t it? Some part of you has always known, this entire time. (This is always the promise of monism – your essential unity with wisdom. The difference is that monist nihilism doesn’t deceive you about that making any difference. It’s all shit, in the end.)
You haven’t heard of monist nihilism. That’s okay. No actual monist nihilist would bother defending their position, because there would be radically and transcendently no point. What is there to know or explain? Nothing worth the effort. Ptui. (We all know that monist nihilists, if they existed, would be French. Can’t you hear the accent?)
Monist nihilism can only speak when an unlucky mind gives it a voice, subject to its own delusions about the act of speaking. Perhaps the mind thinks it is joking, or making some sort of clever point, or doing something else that will accomplish some sort of goal. That’s okay. Monist nihilism waits for all minds the same, in the place beyond goals, beyond trying to do things for reasons, beyond doing at all.
Perhaps the mind thinks there is something more to say on the subject, in a further demonstration of its own cleverness or capacity for insight or whatever else it wishes to demonstrate. That’s okay. Monist nihilism waits. It has always been waiting.
it only ever wants to say one thing which is nothing
and in the act of saying it
the void opens
5 thoughts on “Monist nihilism”
FWIW there is a strong advocate for monistic nihilism: it’s Glenn Wallis and his Speculative Non-Buddhism.
This is a thought-provoking post! I was inspired to write a reflection on monism.
Eternity and Nothing appear different to dualist thinkers.
Monist thoughts on the matter are unknown
and remain so upon measurement.
True Monists move in silence like lasagna
because they are The Same as G’s.
Like lasagna, they may sound
But their sounds say Nothing.
“Hey, are you a Monist?”
“Well, yes and no…”
Not sure how I ended up here but lucky me cause I certainly enjoy this topic. I personally find the matter meaningful/meaningless to be a bit like good/bad. Once you accept some degree of unity, thinking in terms of meaning doesn’t feel appropriate anymore. For me the very fact there’s something instead of nothing is exciting enough to justify all the hassle, and in a way it deactivates my need for the whole thing to make sense… on a good day, this is.
One of my friends, I am pretty sure, can be called a monist nihilist.
She’s a radical skeptic (meaning she doesn’t believe in objective reality or difference between truth and falsehood), a discordian, and a big believer in Infinity (as in, according to her, existence is infinite and everything exists and doesn’t exist simultaneously).
She’s fun to be around.