12 responses to “Can We Get Beyond Ressentiment and Nihilism? zero books’ advertising campaign

  1. The ONLY way out is through.
    “Nihilism stands like an extreme that cannot be gotten beyond, and yet it is the only true path of going beyond; it is the principle of a new beginning.” – Maurice Blanchot

    • we are certainly in the midst of it, not sure there is an other side to get to for this generation and things look even more grim for the next, so how to bear such stark realities without being reduced to bare life?

      • The only ‘other side’ is the letting go of wanting another side. Extinction is fine if it comes as long as we put forth our best efforts to creatively explore existence in search of way to change current trajectories. Curling up in some critically self-assured pessimist fetal position is weak at best, and cowardly maladaptive at worst. The only way forward in coping-with the forces that might undo us (including those within) is to push back and to mutate – to develop praxis that demonstrably mutually enhances existenz (lives/entities/assemblages/ecologies). There will never be a magic bullet solution, only constant adapting, coping, and more or less creative explorations of possibilities.

        Among the myriad of “solutions” I prefer transition towns, new communitarian practices, localization of food distribution, and what I call ‘clustering’: neo-tribal organizing for functional withdrawal of existing systems, minus the xenophobia. These new intentional ‘tribes’ incorporate post-intentional nihilist wisdom (‘letting go’) while fashioning alternative syndicalist lifestyle goals (‘starting over’).

        For instance, mMy ‘tribe’ has a doctor, a military specialist, a permaculturalist, two carpenters, a mechanic, an anthropologist, a teacher, a cook, and ready-at-hand laborers – all pooling resources, capacities, and enacting positive affective exchanges. Pooling, clustering, and intra-structural capacity building for coping, resilience and resistance. This seems to be the best way to create healthy nodes for the kinds of Patchworks we want. And the core of it are real niche-carving activities, self-actualization supports, and localization practices, but aligned with planetary intelligences and sophisticated macroscopics.

        • doesn’t seem to take into account the overwhelming effects (and affects) of environs/ecologies/etc, water, air, policing powers, economic extractors etc. What about the day to day living of life in the world as it is, what to do to cope with our actual very limited capacities (what can one do on any given day?), the demands of the grind (like paying the bills, supporting friends and family, etc) and the monstrosities of the daily news, or doesn’t any of that register?

      • What doesn’t seem to account? My reply? Did you even read it Dirk? It all registers. Everything I wrote directly indexes ways to activate basic survival and extended coping needs.

        When I refer to praxis (ongoing over years) I am not just addressing cognitive coping, or political engagement, or any other traditional narrowing of coping-strategies, but a ‘coping-with’ in general along biological, cognitive, emotional, social, and technological lines, variously stacked into particular assemblages of adaptation (or adaptation) .

        Here I specifically refer to associating, pooling, and living with an intentional tribe that includes peoples skilled in medicine, permaculture practices, military-style defense and survival, construction of shelters, etc., an attempt to “account for the overwhelming effects (and affects) of environs/ecologies/etc, water, air, policing powers, economic extractors etc.” Each cluster or tribe will have different internal capacities to deal with everyday coping-with, and so must develop strategies and practices related to those capacities.

        The thing I want to emphasize is that we cannot cope with these overwhelming forces alone, as individuals or even as families. The forces and systems we are currently entangled with are too massive and interpenetrating. So trying to cope and adapt as individuals is suicide – and exactly what capitalist systems are designed to do: divide and conquer. There are no solutions or effective coping strategies that can be developed for individuals. We need clusters, collectives, and trans-cluster movements to deal with mangle of forces involved. We need to share and pool skills and resources to build sophisticated niches of resistance and affordance that are outside (exit) the business of The Grind. Perpetuating the grind in any way means embracing the death-machines, giving up our dignities, and accepting zombification. There are no solutions within or in compliance with the capitalist matrix.

        So don’t ask me to suggest tactics for dealing with a system designed only to control, dissolve, and extract value from us. I have none, nor will i go looking for them. The only coping worth mentioning is to resist and find ways to exit these thantanologic circuits. Otherwise we continue to be the walking dead.

        My cluster is working towards creating sustainable living and habitation practices, complete with self-defense capacities, on 50 acres of land in a forested patch 18 kms from our capital city – mixing a combination of high-tech and primitivist strategies for communal living.

        Clusters can also develop pocket niches within the city by taking over and redesigning or building housing complexes by retrofitting, creating urban gardens, embracing solar technologies and gathering capacities, skills and provisions.

        The mainstream world is collapsing and diverging (accelerating) in various uneven ways, but it is in no way salvageable for those of us who seeks heath and resilience in continuity with the project of homo sapiens.

        That’s the thing about post-nihilist praxis, there first needs to be a ‘letting go’ of the faith in this civilization – its themes, motivations, aims, illusions, rewards, comforts, etc. – then a revaluation, and then an active working towards an multiplicity of patched, open-source niche-constructions and novel individualizations. The specific ecologistical deployment of any given cluster-enclave or patchwork niche depends of what is on-hand (resources and affordances) and the capacities developed or acquired within.

        The shit thing about all this is the elites know this already quite clearly, and so are prepared in advance for the coming clashes of necessity and neo-feudalisms.


        “My ontology is a symmetric one of a multiplicity of reciprocally coupled emergent agents, human and nonhuman. Clearly, my shift to the performative idiom and my references to the liveliness of the nonhuman world fit well with approaches that come under headings like the new vitalism or new materialism (eg Bennett 2010, DeLanda 2002). What is added to them here is an analysis of how lively human beings are coupled into this lively world—the dance of agency. This moves my analysis into the space of Karen Barad’s (2007) relationalism. One difference here might be that my analysis foregrounds the temporal evolution of relational entities… In my earlier work I
        referred to the dance of agency as a dialectic of resistance and accommodation (Pickering 1993,

        Click to access tokyo-rev-060815.pdf

      • sure I read it but wasn’t clear at all as to how the professions/resources of the people listed added up to coping with the kinds and scales of collapses and predation that we are facing, at this point in our exchanges in the past I have asked for details/examples that we might use as a case study but since I don’t get them I’ve stopped asking.
        Pickering doesn’t have any answers for these problems if you listen to the last bit I posted of his this comes up directly and he half joking asks the audience if anyone can lend a hand/answer, certainly Barad and all have even less to offer in terms of something beyond more academic work, haven’t read DeLanda’s new book maybe he offers actual examples of off the page experiments?

  2. Dirk,

    So you are unclear how a physician might be useful in the context of the collapse of modern social amenities? Or a military specialist for self-defense? Or a permaculturalist for food security? Etc.? That is actually quite shocking. I suggest you read some ethnography on refugee crises, or even just watch The Waking Dead to get some sense of what is needed in actual group survival situations.

    The systems (and scales) you may want help fixing/coping-with are already beyond reform. Again, the ONLY options available are:

    1) voluntary/involuntary exit from the supply-chains and production systems that animate the inhumane machinations of capitalist projects; 2) resistance fighting;
    3) conformity and alliance with a some trajectory (technology) of elite transcendence from scarcity and ecological vulnerability.

    So any actual projects that engage one or more of those three orientations would be notable enough to explore as case studies. I would like it if you would lead us in providing examples instead of asking others.

    This website is meant as a forum to mix the work of academics with para-academic concerns, political debate, and practical investigations. We have been light on the practical side of this for sure, so let’s post more of that. I ask that in your vast travels through the mediascape that you find instances of people exiting, resisting, creating, or conforming which highlight different coping-strategies.

    Also, don’t sleep on the importance of discourse mutation (theory) as means of changing attitudes and attention habits Dirk. We can show people ways forward but without the appropriate cognitive orientations and identity formations they won’t understand, nor perceive value in engaging them. I think that’s why you post poetry and music and such? Priming primates for a willingness to engage solutions?

    People like Barad “and all” are academics. They are, like artists and poets, generating onto-stories for us so we can begin to expand our imaginations and sense-abilities, and reorient our references in order to scan environments for better solutions. Without imaginative flexibility and novel spaces of reasoning we will continue to come up with reductive and misguided solutions within our taskscapes. That’s the function of their work and we shouldn’t require them to do much more.

    I look forward to an example of an actual practical project.

  3. I can see how an MD or a welder or the like might offer some immediate short term help to someone say trapped in an accident in a storm in Puerto Rico if they have the supplies they need (http://www.pharmacist.com/article/baxter-says-saline-shipments-disrupted-hurricane-wracked-puerto-rico) but not how they can offer a better quality of life or even temporary shelter from the extractive/geo/etc forces at play. Academic theoreticians can offer us different aesthetic takes (as can poets and all) but not solutions, not physical escapes, or overcomings.
    I keep saying there aren’t cases of viable alternatives to be offered (that the anthropocene is the crash-space) and you keep exhorting people to do something (here and on twitter) but then don’t offer any specifics of what they might actually do, so how does it make any sense that I’m to be in the position of offering what I say doesn’t exist while you are somehow absolved of offering to others what you insist they produce while offering nothing yourself?
    I’m at a loss…

    • If a group creates a more (on a spectrum of dependence) sustainable and resilient cluster/community then they can better negotiate those “forces” you refer to. Our only imperative is to survive and adapt. The strategy and tactics I suggest are in direct response to living through and after collapse. Resistance and exit.

      People are resisting and creating (or holding on to) alt-lifestyles all the time. I’ll try to gather some examples. I think the way forward to to just to look at some examples you think lack and then show how they lack or how they can be made sense via a speculative ecology??

      And I don’t think its a matter of absolution. I think its a matter of looking for actual solutions, rather than just asking for them – especially if you don’t think they exist. Why ask for something that is impossible?

      I only ask that people start thinking about possible solutions in light of the problems, and to thematize those problems in new ways. The actual work of creating solutions is a joint project.

    • Part of the aesthetic approach of forums like this one is that is also learning how to better scan for and index the problems. Without understanding the problems our solutions are just so much flailing in the dark.

  4. Can you elaborate on your living arrangement, Michael? How did you find one another — were you already friends who decided to live together communally, or was it the idea of the commune that came first and that drew people together to make it happen? 50 acres in the forest — does the tribe own this land collectively, or as individuals, or is it public space? What sorts of dwellings do you live in? Do the doctor, military specialist, etc. teach their knowledge and skills to the others?

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