Saturday, May 23, 2020

Extra Notes: "Nothing In Life Really Matters"

I'm on YouTube a lot, usually in the late evenings before bed. Typically I'm listening to cherished songs, or searching for great "new" (to me) music, like this, or this, or this. Or this.

Sometimes I look for informational or inspirational videos. As the hours on YouTube add up, its algorithms seem to get more and more intuitive with what I'm looking for. I'd say they get it right maybe three times out of ten, but hey--that's not too bad.

Of the seven times they get it wrong, only occasionally do they get it very wrong.

This was one such time.

The video's author starts by talking about how bitter he was that he stepped in a puddle and got his fancy shoes mussed up. From there, and with high-quality videography and special effects (whether they are his or not isn't clear), he swan dives into a nihilistic cesspool, proclaiming, in a somewhat wishy-washy fashion, that "nothing in life really matters."

(If you're going to be nihilistic, I mean, go for it! "Really" matters? Fuck that! "Nothing in life matters!" Go for the gold--or, in this case, the biggest, the mushiest turd in the pool!)

Against my better judgment, I slogged through the rest of the video; then, shaking my head, deleted it from my history, telling those thirty-percent-accurate algorithms that I did not want anything like it appearing in my suggested feed. I didn't downvote it; that I reserve solely for videos that support Trump, or runaway capitalism, or tearing children from mother's clutching arms, climate change denialism, or other completely radical evils.

Instead I thought about it for a week or so, then decided to respond to it here, on this blog.

(I have learned that commenting on YouTube is almost always a stupid thing to do, and so I do so only very rarely.)

Where to begin?

Let's start with the blatant materialism soaking the video's every frame like a wasting disease. If you were to pick a single philosophy responsible for most of the rampant destruction humans are wreaking on the planet to the point of endangering all life on it, materialism would be the hands-down winner. There is nothing but matter. Consciousness is an illusion. God doesn't exist. There is no afterlife. Morality either doesn't exist or it evolves from endless class warfare that evolves from evolutionary biology, and is adhered to only by the weak and the ignorant. There is no ultimate purpose to life, to nature, or to the universe. Life is absurd, and meaning is either an illusion itself, or a pathetic tagger-on that comforts the pathetic and the weak, who are too pathetic and weak to come to terms with Desperation, the only authentic human intuition or feeling worthy of notice.

(Note: intuitions and feelings are not material things, but I digress.)

Materialism is amoral--which, to my view, means immoral. Especially in this day and age. This video is an erect paean to it.

So here is how it is, yo. Your life is meaningless. Everything that happens to you is meaningless. Then you die.

Compared to the age of the universe, you are less than nothing. Compared to its size, less than even that. You aren't even an infinitesimal spark on the cosmic stage. This earth isn't either, even though it's been around for some five billions years. Neither is the sun. Or the galaxies. It's all destined for heat death quadrillions of years hence. Ergo, nothing in life matters. Not "really."

(Never forget to hedge your bets!)

The video at that point ends.

As an antidepressant, it's got a lot to be desired.

I could write an entire book tearing it, and its underlying philosophy, to shreds. And in fact, I have. Multiple times. Almost everything I write is a direct refutation to it, from my fiction to my poetry to my meditations and rants. So I won't be too longwinded here. If you would know how I feel in detail, start pretty much anywhere in my library and proceed.

Here, then, I shall fire back with only the biggest and bluntest cannonshot.

Let's start by considering that:
  1. Nothing matters; or
  2. Some things matter; or
  3. Everything matters
The position "nothing matters" is a profoundly, even radically, immoral one. It doesn't take much thought to arrive at that conclusion. Your children don't matter? Your wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend? Your home? How about war and oppression? How about democracy and peace? How about education? How about community and friendship? Those don't matter? Really?

Because something exists for a tiny instant compared to that of the nearly eternal existence of the universe by no means lessens that thing's importance. In fact, to my view, it expands its importance to the same nearly infinite proportions as the universe itself--especially if it's something like love or friendship! It is a grotesquely immature and demonstrably malevolent assertion that minimizes that precious thing, even if offered ignorantly or innocently.

Okay, then. That means that either some things matter, or everything matters.

I don't believe a human being can live sanely believing that everthing matters. I've certainly known a few who have tried--old girlfriends, mainly; and my grandmother on my hateful father's side. When everything acquires gravity, then you will be crushed. Usually what comes out the other side is a bitter, manipulative, materialistic wretch, ironically enough. That I've seen many times as well.

Which leaves one and only one sane choice. Some things matter.

I won't go into a philosophical refutation of materialism. There are many far more skilled and qualified to do so than me, the philosopher and theologian Keith Ward primary among them. I have read many of his books and watched pretty much every video of his lectures on offer on YouTube. He's as good as they get, and I can't recommend him highly enough. The bottom line is this: materialism is a very suspect philosophy, one fraught with all sorts of logic gaps, ones made ever deeper and wider as the science materialists worship shows with greater and greater insight just how wrong it is.

Much that matters--if you're even remotely close to a moral person--is immaterial, including morality. Education is immaterial. Love is immaterial. Democracy is immaterial; and so is peace. Justice is immaterial, as is friendship, perception, and philosophy itself. Mathematics is immaterial.

Some things matter.

What things matter to you determines, ultimately, who you are as a person, your character. If nothing matters to you ... then what does that say about your character?

Something to think about.