Nihilism and Groundlessness: Towards a Gaian Praxecology?

I’ve just gotten around to reading Michael/ArchiveFire‘s post last September regarding a “post-nihilistic praxis.” 

It’s got me reflecting on what the “creaturely” might mean/be after the death of God (the Creator), or what the “facticity of matter” might mean/be after its traditional opposite, the activity of spirit, has been reduced by natural science or deconstructed by post-modern philosophy. What is the “creaturely,” the “material”? Can they have a definite meaning without consideration of the (real) nature of their opposites? Do they have a ground internal to themselves? Or are they groundless? I’d say not only spirit, but matter, too lacks an internal ground. They are both grounded outside themselves, by each other.

Might we say that the need for a post-nihilistic praxis has arisen for (post)modernity precisely due to its encounter with groundlessness (i.e., the “unprethinkable,” the non-reason-able), both the groundlessness of spirit (=freedom) and the groundlessness of matter (=gravity)? The Modern project is driven by the feeling of vertigo associated with the Abgrund, which is to say the entire enterprise of Enlightenment society to manufacture a more hygienic “second nature” to replace the first has been driven by a sort of nihilism, a desire not only to kill an all good God but to kill an entirely feral Gaia, to replace him with our own intelligence (=techno-science) and to replace her with an entirely domesticated techno-oikos. A post-nihilistic praxis, or at least a rhetorical gesture towards one, seems to me to have been well expressed by Latour during his Gifford lectures. I tried my hand at such a praxis in this essay on what I’ve called Gaian praxecology

 

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4 Comments Add yours

    1. is SyntheticZero the same Michael as Archive Fire?

      1. Adam Robbert says:

        Yup. That’s his new home.

  1. soulpoweredbird says:

    Haven’t seen some of those names in a while…

    Could also be that when you finally stop looking for and asserting a ground and instead allow yourself to fall that you find that you were actually in an empty space all along and your intentionality has simply made you aware of your relative motion.

    This is a very thoughtful paper…

    Personally I think of groundlessness as a much more mystical type of problem and dont see it as one that we can really talk through except by way of allusions and illusions.

    One could also argue that an equally valid praxis would involve an ongoing and direct engagement with this terrifying vertigo…

    That an existential response is really the only truly valid one… But that privileges the irrational in a way that lends it reasonable legitimacy… Perhaps…

    There is something plainly fishy about consciously making myth out of scientific discourse… Its not even that its wrong… It just strikes me as a very strange idea…

    It does still privilege the western technocentric forces that are held beneath the surface here by way of Harraway’s mediating voice…

    For anyone who has really struggled with life or death conundrums and/or who has personal forces and projects that animate a life that is not particularly well supported by the pettiness of people at large… Like certain transgendered philisophico-mystical-erotic types… Well lets just say that I don’t really care so much about appeals to larger meaning structures anymore.

    As someone who has been struggling with realities that the world at large and teachers in general (including one quoted directly in this writing) have sought to convince me is at best neurotic and at worst pathological and who has never really found much in the way of external support and validation for the profoundly challenging and also enlightening realities of my personal journey… And who has also had to consistently engage with others tendency to read their fears insecurities and other baggage onto me through their personally ordained narratives of choice… I for one find myself wondering sometimes… Why should I care?

    And if we want to say well we will all die…

    So?

    Is that not a serious question in and of itself for us to be rolling right past it?

    The idea that “the world” “the logos” “the meaningful” are in fact grounds that we can all affirm is to me a real stretch… And that doesn’t have to result from anything as severe as an outright rejection of life and can instead be a left hand homage to the erotic secrets of death in the sense of an appeal to the idea that we probably dont know nearly as much as we think that we do…

    Above all else I find our sudden elevation to the role of decider in all things cosmic to be quite amusing…

    We struggle so much with basic honesty as individuals and as a species. We rarely if ever readily admit… Well we just don’t know…

    I think that its bad news to think that anyone can ever come to really truly value something that is not fundamentally them and talking about ecology and systems and auotopoeisis doesn’t necessarily bring us to an understanding that we live in a seamless web…. We don’t walk around making decisions based on its objectification insofar as some reference to “a web of life” for instance…

    These are embodied practices… They are not the products of didactic reasoning…

    To me the real question is why do we cower in the face of death and seek to preserve our certainty in its liberating face?

    We typically lack the courage of our convictions when it comes to consciousness and so we see the world as a place in need of our help… Ironically its only in realizing that there is no help that we begin to help ourselves…

    I am speaking here to the level of the unconscious here but to me so much of the surface that we project. The one that wants to protect the future at all costs is the one that hides from the present and that hides from death… That hides from the potentially tragic abyss of profound evolution.

    Batailles reminds us that at base the fundamental principle of life is waste… Its all a free giving that is wasting itself in the giving… At least in terms of our tendency to objectify… Its like a celebration in which the value of an object is relevant to the fact that we are giving it wasting it… At a celebration the champagne is shared the one who buys it certainly doesn’t drink all of it…

    The waste at the heart of death is somewhat central to celebration and Batailles brings this before us and cautions us not to run off to the light… That we can in fact save the pieces in the process… At least for some time… provided that we realize that the value is in the celebration and not in the objects themselves…

    We don’t live this way… We live in fear of death… In fear of the future… In fear of ourselves of our sexuality of whatever… Transformation of consciousness is fundamentally a transformation of this way of being…

    And so ontologically we can even argue that this crisis will only deepen in intensity for all who fail to grok its deeper and more unsettling implications.

    Perhaps…

    This is just one woman’s opinion.

    Best

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