Difference and Repetition: Before Grandpa Died or Ayden was Born
It’s not as if I hadn’t traveled this road before, mind you. In my post-false-conversion days, I drank deeply from the writings of existentialist philosophers as I tried to make sense of life. During my first two years in college, chain smoking and sexual promiscuity helped me ignore the nihilism gnawing at the back of my mind every minute I was alone.
Nothing matters, not even my realization that nothing matters. Eventually, I will die and the universe will, perhaps, keep doing what it has always done – moving, generating things, and wiping things out of existence.
As an atheist, I shouldn’t have been bothered by this in any way. Yet I found myself oscillating between manic bouts of hedonism and weeks at a time of depressed navel-gazing. I had managed to get as far away as possible from the God of “the Christians.” So far, in fact, that I had no basis for rejoicing in my freedom to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.
If God is dead, then who cares? If good and evil are the restrictions placed upon ‘free spirits’ by the herd class of peasants and morons (according to Nietzsche), then nothing has any inherent value.
I didn’t want to care about anything, especially the failure of my rebellion against Yahweh to deliver the goods of a life of moral and intellectual and hedonistic freedom, but I did. I cared deeply.
So I pushed for an answer. I looked for a logical way out of the chains that bound me, but all I found was a growing number of authors who claimed to have accepted the absurdity even of the absurdity espoused by the existentialists. I found the postmodernists. Thinkers who celebrated the absurdity of absurdity, and who had no qualms about contradicting themselves. I immersed myself in their products – philosophy and novels, poetry and found-art, music and painting. I guzzled Vodka and read Derrida through bloodshot eyes, on the downtown D, on my way to the bar, listening to the wheels of that lifeless machine, rambling nonsense through NY’s hollowed tunnels.
Around this time, I found myself at the bar nursing whiskey, critiquing Derrida’s method on a cardboard coaster, annoyed at the NYU philosophy major who was more interested in Yuengling and kamikaze shots than she was in Leibniz’s Monadology. Annoyed that she, for all intents and purposes, was doing what I couldn’t – ignoring the fact that one cannot escape meaning, structure, purpose, law, order, and, of course, the consequences of transgressing the law, order, structure, purpose, and meaning of every minute of one’s earthly existence.