It is important that we start out distinguishing nihilism from what this term commonly refers to in popular lingo, which is fatalism. Fatalism is an outright negative posture, and is conducive to extreme individualism by assuming the worst out of situations. This is not nihilism. Nihilism is the belief that nothing in the universe has inherent meaning or value. Note that ‘no inherent meaning or value’ is not the same as ‘no possible meaning or value’.
The term nihilism is used here in the way Brett Stevens explains it in his book, Nihilism: A Philosophy Based in Nothing and Eternity. There is no doubt that the book will be criticised as much as Brett Steven’s work in the past has been criticised; namely, by decrying a certain lack of academic formality on the one hand and a complete refusal to conform to the ‘common sense’ notions of the average well-to-do citizen of the modern world.
The aforementioned lack of academic formality refers to a lack of philosophic backbone; perhaps even a lack of total consistency. For instance, the book at once makes a call towards an ideal of ‘beauty’, while at the same time naming ‘pragmatism’ as the key. So, which one is it? It seems that there is a contradiction at the most basic of levels here. If the premises are contradictory, what is this supposed to lead to?
To answer the first of these doubts it should be pointed out that philosophical inquiry, although useful in exploring ideas and systems made up of them, exists wholly within the mind and are not reality. However, according to Brett Stevens, reality must be perceived or understood as having an underlying logic. But like the ancients and their esoteric holistic fusion of science, philosophy and religion, and unlike most post-Descartes and Aristotelian philosophy, it recognises that reality is inefable.
This recognition may explain why so many different coherent explanations have cropped up in modern philosophy, without one or another possessing an objective superiority. This ineffability of reality leads to the esoteric method and the recognition of occult properties: those which we may never perceive directly; not even through scientific instruments, for physical science can only study effects. The apparent incoherence of esotericism, including the way Brett Stevens approaches nihilism, can only be resolved through direct experience in what is termed as a ‘coincidence of opposites’.
“Like Zen Buddhism, it is a form of mental clearing and sharpening of focus more than a set of beliefs in and of itself; this is why nihilism is a belief in nothing, being both a belief in nothing (no inherent belie outside of reality) and a belief in nothingness (applying nothingness to useless thoughts, in an eternal cycle that like our own thinking, balances a consumptive emptiness against a progressive growth and proliferation of idea). It is a freedom, in a way that ‘freedom’ cannot be applied in a modern society, from the views that others (specifically, the Crowd) apply out of fear, and a desire to use this freedom to create a new and more honest human who can view life as it is and still produce from it heroic ideals.”
—Brett Stevens, Nihilism: A Philosophy Based in Nothingness and Eternity, p. 124
§ Unchained Learning
I chose to start by aligning the prerequisite basic concept from that of nihilism as explained by Brett Stevens, not because it is his creation but because he explains it so clearly and concisely. More than a few individuals have been able to find this voluntary emptying through their lives only to then recreate meaning from within. From the ashes one may crawl out of a barren gorge, aided by synchronistic elements or individuals finally come to a portal.
By destroying all illusion of human-given value one comes to a direct and plain experiencing of reality. Thereby the plain, consistent workings of an immanent reality become apparent, or the emanations and manifestations thereof. This is the Godhead of the semi-esoteric Western Christian, which in the Tree of Life consists of the Supernal Triangle containing the higher Trinity (the “Father”, for all intents and purposes) that defines the abstract ‘mechanics’, relations and polarities of reality at every level.
Be that as it may, such conceptualisations may serve a further conscious study, but an attentive and self-directed mind will perceive and attain these notions unaided by theoretical systems, mystical or otherwise. The individual may thus be lead, in his search for value, to consciously selected methods and systems by the way they address reality itself rather than by external imposition. This attainment of power is exciting and decisive in the future of the individual.
Most college-educated people nowadays think they have that liberty, but never having engaged in the actual mental and spiritual self-immolation that this requires, only fool themselves. Until you have not burned your faith (not only of the religious type, but also the secular, such as humanism) to the ground so that nothing is left of it, you will never know how much of it is just illusion. The assessment of if it actually corresponds to reality can only become apparent as one rediscovers its value rationally, logically and honestly.
Once a complete liberation from abstractions is achieved, one can start to try and perceive the world as it is, or more precisely, as we are equiped to. The fact of the matter is that although the mathematics and the science of it all allows us to gain a quantitative knowledge of very specific aspects of reality, they can tell us very little of the whole. But we, as total beings, exist not for isolated influences, but as a result of and one more element in the organic mesh that is the universe.
“A form lay on the ground
So full of pain that the flowers around her
A dark soul lay on the ground
So cold that all water turned into ice
A shadow then fell over the forest
As the form’s soul wilted
For the soul was a shadow
A shadow of the forces of evil.”
—’The Death of Jesus’, by V. Vikernes
With an anchor and reference point secured in the immanence of reality itself, one may take theories and systems for what they really are: attempts at understanding reality with different degrees of validity and varying relationships to the reality they describe. In this day, for one, we have forgotten to doubt science, and all becomes positivism; even worse, given the illusion that data is infallible, interpretations of data by authorities are taken as plausible so long as they do not go against the humanist grain. Thus everything is interpreted in favor of certain secular beliefs while anything unsavoury is brushed under the carpet or discarded off hand.
The free and inquisitive mind, however, will not only reject such baseless bias, but will also venture forth and try to immerse itself in particular ways of thinking that allow it to develop further. This can only occur in a constructive manner if the individual is possessed of a certain judgement that arises from an intuitive connection between self-knowing and a strong grasp on logic. Furthermore, as with anything else that requires initiative, without developing will, nothing can be achieved. One must first have the ability to assess one’s being not only for strengths and weaknesses, but also for inherent tendencies that allow for a prudent and natural path selection; also, in order that this process does not degenerate into self-indulgence, one must be able to evaluate and sense the probability a certain path has of bringing to fruition personal goals.
It is no wonder that those who reach this point turn either to stoicism or esotericism of one kind or another. These are selected paths that one usually chooses depending on temperament and goal. The two usually intermix at one point or another, and the stoic man usually harbors an idealist mystic, while the esoteric-minded hides a frugal and pragmatic realist. But it must be remembered that to call or consider oneself a stoic or esotericist is no proof that one actually follows and embodies what those paths can give. Words and names help us direct and organise, but actions and being in actuality (rather than in intention or self-deception) are the only things that are real.
What one can learn from such a state, is that one can try and learn from any source, book, author, culture, political system, et cetera; without rejecting it based on belief and rather learning to give each a clean slate in the manner of a virtual machine environment within an already working operating system. The self-righteous humanist, whether religious, agnostic or atheist, believes himself to be in this position, and so the fallacy of the superiority of human beings and the sanctity of every life is upheld as a dogma beyond contestation because the sheep believes that the bases for its delusion have been proven beyond doubt. Such is the nature of every belief, whether religious, pseudo-scientific or historical. The scientific mind understands otherwise.
The strong and honest mind will also veer towards ultimate consequences and holistic evaluations. What does it matter if we recycle everything today if this does not stop the destruction of natural habitats? What does it matter if each human life is saved if we are on a death march towards self-annihilation by overpopulation? What does it matter if religions make people feel happy and distracted if they act like materialist in a consumerist culture and are no different from their atheist counterparts when the total result of their actions are measured? What does it matter if you are not fooled by religion but you simply exchange a set of beliefs in the supernatural for a different set of dogmas? What does it matter if you had good intentions and worked on yourself if you allowed the decadence around you to grow and take a hold? The answer is: nothing.
It only matters to those who want to care and only those who take action will get a chance (not the assurance) of making a difference. What matters in real terms are ultimate consequences; the bringing of what is willed to actual manifestation. We either achieve this goal or we do not. Life and reality advance through states of what is, and not what could be. Potential is a possibility, but it needs energy and will to become manifest.
“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. ”
What do people actually know about freedom? Are they sure that what they want is freedom? True and complete freedom without boundaries implies complete chaos. Only in chaos is every decision possible. Actual chaos is the non-existence of any organisation, thus the nullification of any meaning, communication or being itself. In short, total freedom is total oblivion, which in turn implies infinite uniformity through complete unpredictability at each state. Those who want to strike a balance between that and what must be paid have to decide where and how they wish that bit of freedom they can have to be placed.
Modern society loves to go on and on about what they like to call ‘freedom’. What they are actually referring to is to having freedom to build an illusory world around them and in their heads through tighter and tighter constraints enforced by an increasingly totalitarian system. It is a kind of freedom to live in a world of beliefs where action is neutralised and all that matters is appearance —the correct appearance at that. This appearance is often called ‘intention’. Results seem to matter very little in this world of appearances, and while people work hard at pretending to be doing something worthwhile, no one else is supposed to be able to complain. Pointing out the problem is looked down upon and an admonishment usually comes in the form of a request for the person who complains to go do something about the supposed problem so long as he or she does not bother or affect anyone else.
The highest freedom available to human beings is that of mind. In fact, this is possibly the only freedom possible to him, for the constant laws hold his physicality in a constriction through time. Thus, while horizontal movement is fixed, it is in vertical exploration that we may find that parallelism that Brett Stevens talks about. In accessing these higher layers and evaluating through them, the single existence at the grossest level can be directed for the benefit of that higher plane. Thus, freedom to think means nothing without freedom to act —no matter what these actions are, for in restraining the possible actions, you restrain the effective freedom of thought.
The walls that separate mental control within the illusory bubble of safe spaces, from actual freedom of thought outside in the world of harsh consequences, are more readily broken down by exploring heresies from within to the point of embracing them as an experiment. By experiment we do not mean that they are not taken seriously or taken to heart, but that we always recognise that form and essence are not the same and that we may use forms as tools to achieve transformation and gain new insights. In a religious society, atheism is one of the strongest forms of heresy. For a secular society, something else that strikes at the very heart of its ideological bases will constitute this heresy; for instance, extreme Jihadism and National Socialism.
Thus, functional freedom is not a rejection of our nature or origin; it does not consist in ignoring or dulling our emotions and sensations. It is in the clear separation of raw, a-moral reality and human constructs that we may have the first key that allows us to traverse the seas of possibilities unbounded. This is not to be lost, but to be in control. Read the heresies of your time and place. Embrace the mentality of whom you are told is The Enemy, to then realise who your enemy actually is. Likewise, reject or demolish the foundational myths and other stories that form the pillars of the “truth” as presented to you by others. We do not all need to conclude the same thing, for part of this freedom lies in recognising that each person has a unique path and a singular potential. Those who will not do this are deciding to accept their chains in illusion; those who simply cannot were born to serve and obey.
“Man is born violent but is kept in check by the people around him. If he nevertheless manages to throw off his fetters, he can count on applause, for everyone recognizes himself in him. Deeply ingrained, nay, buried dreams come true. The unlimited radiates its magic even upon crime, which, not coincidentally, is the main source of entertainment in Eumeswil. I, as an anarch, not uninterested but disinterested, can understand that. Freedom has a wide range and more facets than a diamond.”
― Ernst Jünger,