Glen, over at Event Mechanics has written a nice diary entitled Parallax of Nihilism, or Nihilism as a Pure Event, dealing with some of the themes I’ve been discussing with regard to fantasy lately. When Glen writes, “[n]ow the obvious point is that for a nihilist, or most of my generation, or pretty much every teenager, every activity is an idiotic activity”, in response to an earlier post where I describe fantasy as an idiotic activity that looks for no reason beyond itself, I confess that I’m a bit disturbed as I didn’t realize I had become a part of a generation or had become dated. I suppose this had to happen sometime.

Glen goes on to write,

The entire universe and especially human existence is singular idiotic activity (chaosmos). There is no essential cultural or discursive threshold that differentiates non-idiotic activity from idiotic activity. The question of idiocy is instead precisely one of enthusiasm or the affective associations and qualitative consistency of those associations that implicates us in various assemblages in action. I call idiocy stupidity. As I constantly rant on about here I try to have an intimate relationship with my stupidities.

Here I find myself wondering whether, in psychoanalytic terms, this too couldn’t be a certain sort of fantasy. That is, couldn’t conceiving the universe in terms of meaninglessness be a way of mastering the universe and all self-Other relations by knowing in advance what those relations are? Moreover, in a universe where everything is meaningless, haven’t I profoundly undermined any potential for anxiety by forestalling the possibility that there could be anything meaningful, and by having surrendered any reason to act or do? Or, to put it a bit differently, isn’t this the ultimate way of defending against the enigma of the Other’s desire, by negating any sort of belief in the Other altogether?

This, I think, can be situated in terms of religious belief. It is sometimes suggested that the religious are weak or soft of mind as they require the reassurance of God to make it through life. However, what if, following Kierkegaard, it is not belief that pacifies anxiety, but rather a lack of belief that pacifies anxiety. While it’s certainly true that there’s a kind of horror in recognizing that you simply drop out of existence altogether with death, isn’t it far more horrifying to imagine, in folk-theological terms, an all-seeing god that knows your every thought and deed, who’s will is inscrutable, and who desires for you to live a particular life without telling you precisely what that particular life should be? Isn’t this what Kierkegaard is getting at in Fear and Trembling, when he talks about being siezed in one’s singularity, knowing that God has called upon you for something, without knowing what that something is? There’s a way in which the absence of God is far more reassuring than the presence of God (we don’t defend against the Other for nothing), and there’s a way in which it’s far more reassuring to believe that it’s all meaningless, that nothing ultimately matters, that we can make no difference, than it is to believe that there is a bit of meaning, that some things do matter, and that what we do does make a difference. Perhaps the Lacanian prescription would be to be capable of affirming meaning or action, even when all meaning has collapsed. None of this, of course, is to chastise Glen, only to point out that fantasy can be a wily thing.

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