OLDHAM: [...] the ways that I do things are not in tune with how I can do them commercially. My dream 10 years ago would've been to continue to write and record songs in record/album form for years to come, but now records aren't what they were then—and so it doesn't actually feel very good to make a record of songs.
RACHEL: Is it because it feels like making records doesn't have the same kind of cultural value to people than it did before, so you're kind of working on this ephemeral thing that no one wants?
OLDHAM: Absolutely. It feels kind of disrespectful to the songs. It's good when someone says, "Would you write a song for this purpose," or "would you record a song for this purpose," or "would you help me realize this song," again, for this purpose.
There is little redemption for pessimism, and no consolation prize. Ultimately, pessimism is weary of everything and of itself.
In raising problems without solutions, in posing questions without answers, in retreating to the hermetic, cavernous abode of complaint, pessimism is guilty of that most inexcusable of Occidental crimes - the crime of not pretending its for real. Pessimism fails to live up to the most basic tenet of philosophy - the 'as if'. Think as if it will be helpful, act as if it will make a difference, speak as if there is something to say, live as if you are not, in fact, being lived by some murmuring non-entity both shadowy and muddied.
Pessimism tries very hard to present itself in the low, sustained tones of a Requiem Mass, or the tectonic rumbling of Tibetan chant. But it frequently lets loose dissonant notes at once plaintive and pathetic. Often, its voice cracks, its weighty words abruptly reduced to mere shards of guttural sound.
For pessimism the world is brimming with negative possibility, the collision of a bad mood with an impassive world. in fact, pessimism is the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world, a confusion that also prevents it from fully entering the hallowed halls of philosophy. If pessimism is so often dismissed, this is because it is often impossible to separate a 'bad mood' from a philosophical proposition (and do not all philosophies stem from a bad mood?).
The very term 'pessimism' suggests a school of thought, a movement, even a community. But pessimism always has a membership of one - maybe two. Ideally, of course, it would have a membership of none, with only a scribbled, illegible note left behind by someone long forgotten.
Pessimism always falls short of being philosophical. My back aches, my knees hurt, I couldn't sleep last night, I'm stressed out, and I think I'm finally coming down with something. Pessimism abjures all pretenses towards system - towards the purity of analysis and the dignity of critique.
... a pessimism about cosmos, about the necessity and possibility of order. the contours of cosmic pessimism are a drastic scaling-up or scaling down of the human point of view, the unhuman orientation of deep space and deep time, and all of this shadowed by an impasse, a primordial insignificance, the impossibility of every adequately accounting for one's relationship to thought - all that remains of pessimism is the desiderata of affects - agonistic, impassive, defiant, reclusive, filled with sorrow and flailing at that architectonic chess match called philosophy, a flailing that pessimism tries to raise to the level of an art form (though what usually results is slapstick).
Doom is marked by temporality - all things precariously drawn to their end - whereas gloom is the austerity of stillness, all hings sad, static, and suspended., hovering over cold lichen stones and damp fir trees. If doom is the terror of temporality and death, then gloom is the horror of a hovering stasis that is life.
We do not live, we are lived. what would a philosophy have to be to begin from this, rather than to arrive at it?
for the pessimist, the smallest detail can be an indication of a metaphysical futility so vast and funereal that it eclipses pessimism itself ...
... the forgotten followers of Schopenhauer, some of them, like Philipp Mainlaender, having committed suicide immediately after completing their books ...
Impersonal sadness. To become overgrown, like a ruin.
One always admits to being a pessimist.
Pessimism's propositions have all the gravitas of a bad joke.
It is striking how many of the works of pessimism are incomplete - Pascal's Pensees, Leopardi's Zibaldone, Lichtenverg's Sudenbuecher, Joubert's Carnets, the stray fragments of Csath, Kafka, Klima, Pessoa... These are not just works that the author was unable to complete, cut short by illness, depression, or distraction. These are works designed for incompletion - their very existence renders them dubious. I like to think this is why such works were so precious to their authors - but also so insignificant, a drawer of paper scraps, in no particular order, abandoned at one's death, like one's own corpse.
…present-day literary production has attained a nadir and a level of tastelessness not seen in centuries. I hope you also realize this. Nothing but kitschy and mindless pap is printed; over so many years it gets quite depressing. The writers are artless morons, and the critics are sentimental gossips. I myself cling to life in an atmosphere of envy and hatred by means of uninterrupted work. This life, the life of work, is for me the greatest pleasure imaginable.
Everything is possible, and yet nothing is. All is permitted, and yet again, nothing. No matter which way we go, it is no better than any other. It is all the same whether you achieve something or not, have faith or not, just as it is all the same whether you cry or remain silent. There is an explanation for everything, and yet there is none. Everything is both real and unreal, normal and absurd, splendid and insipid. There is nothing worth more than anything else, nor any idea better than any other.
No more painters, no more writers, no more musicians, no more sculptors, no more religions, no more republicans, no more socialists, no more royalists, no more imperialists, no more anarchists, no more socialists, no more Bolsheviks, no more politicians, no more proletarians, no more democrats, no more bourgeois, no more aristocrats, no more armies, no more police, no more fatherlands, enough of all these imbecilities, no more anything, no more anything, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.
We hope something new will come from this, being exactly what we no longer want, determinedly less putrid, less selfish, less materialistic, less obtuse, less immensely grotesque.
God is dead. A world disintegrated. [...] An epoch disintegrates. A thousand-year-old culture disintegrates. There are no columns and no supports, no foundations any more - they have all been blown up. [...] Above is below, below is above. The transvaluation of values came to pass. Christianity was struck down. The principles of logic, of centrality, unity, and reason were unmasked as postulates of a power-craving theology. The meaning of the world disappeared. The purpose of the world - its reference to a supreme being who keeps the world together - disappeared.
Until now we thought nihilism was tied to nothingness. How ill-considered that was: nihilism is tied to being. Nihilism is the impossibility of being done with it and of finding a way out even in that end that is nothingness. It says the impotence of nothingness, the false brilliance of its victories; it tells us that when we think nothingness we are still thinking being. [...] Nihilism tells us its final and rather grim truth: it tells of the impossibility of nihilism.
To write is to affirm at the very least the superiority of this order over that order. But superiority according to what code of values? Any answer will necessarily contradict complete nihilism. For the complete nihilist, suicide, not the creation of significant forms, is the only consistent gesture.
W: Well… I don’t know. I’ve had comedians tell me that all comedians wish they were musicians… which I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but a comedian did tell me that… and I know that on some level, among say The Marx Brothers or Abbot And Costello or The Little Rascals or the stand-up comedy of Steve Martin or Richard Prior, when you’re experiencing that, the impression is they’re living on the correct plane of existence. Living moment to moment, and very quick with their brains, quick with their voices, or in the case of Harpo Marx, quick with their actions. And also using that speed of thought to turn dark situations into light situations. So they’re the ultra-wizards of society, because they can conquer the most complex and devastating of issues and turn them into something that’s nothing but laughter, really just release the power of those things.