A moment in time Or a depressing attempt at self assessment

I think existence is pointless. I think mortality and an understanding of scale renders human endeavour meaningless. I think humanity is a bunch of delusional animals obsessed with distracting themselves from the fact that we’re living lives that dont matter in a universe that doesnt care. I’m a lazy, nihilistic coward. On a good day. Unsurprisingly this is not a cocktail which helps generate a lot of motivation. I have started a million different things, but eight hours later when I wake up they never happen. I have not and cannot catch up to tomorrow’s Michael. Who isn’t obsessed and terrified by his own morality and the grim meaningless of it all. Even the false immortality offered by atrocity is tempting at times only I’m a) lazy and b) why should I inflict my misery on others? Anyway even that would pass in time, “Nothing beside remains”. Then on other days I don’t think and I’m not those things.

I know I have to have a career. Not just because society dictates it but becasue economic reality dictates it. I need money to live (what a vile statement). If I have to have a career then I want it to be something meaningful – in this case by meaningful I mean something wherin I produce (but despite my blue collar origins I’m talking works of the mind, gotta preserve my soft hands). I spend far too much time consuming, I want to produce something. Even though I’m largely entirely convinced that such production is pointless. Lecturing (aka what I’m doing at the moment) is fine. Actually it’s probably the best job I’ve had so far. But it feels ultimately too passive. I create nothing. Teaching people brings me no particular joy or satisfaction. I was simultaneously pursuing a PhD, because if you want to get ahead in academia you need one. But do I want to get ahead in academia? I no longer really think so. So that and a number of other (much more pressing to be honest) factors lead to me meeting with my supervisor today to quit my PhD. But because my supervisor is a genuinely nice person I’ve instead taken a break. Taking three to four months out to see if I really want to quit. I have rarely felt as much of a cunt as I did during that meeting.

So now I’m looking for a job, in the games industry, preferably as a games designer i.e. a job that is more or less impossible to step into without working your way up. I do not fancy starting from the bottom at the ripe old age of 33. But I dont have a lot of choice here. And lack of choice I find to be, constraining, shall we say. My childish response is generally to ignore it and do something else. But in the words of my good friend JC I must now put aside childish things.

So here’s the plan – work on my indie game idea until the new year. At that point I will have to decide whether to continue my PhD or take up an opportunity offered by an old acquaintance for an entry level position. In the meantime I shall apply for game jobs with great gusto.

But here’s the thing I will likely need to move, not just from the grey vale of tears that is Dundalk but from this splendid isle itslef. Which is scary, which brings me back to being a coward. I have, often, but not always let my fear of, hmm, what? Failure? the mundane unknown? unduly influence my decisions. I would like that to end. But secretly fear it wont.

The worst thing about being a part-time nihilist is that when you pull yourself out of the dark fugue of pointlessness and depression you often find that you’ve made a bit of a balls of your life. Which we (though I’m hoping in a hundred years I can update that we to you) only get one off. So why bother doing anything? Why not simply indulge yourself in whatever makes you happy? Because when you die it’s not going to matter a fuck anyway. That question often haunts me. Existential angst is a pile of unpleasant bollocks.

3 thoughts to “A moment in time Or a depressing attempt at self assessment”

  1. I agree with a lot of your points. But not all of them nor the conclusion you come to but that may be simply down to my own point of view so I shall leave you with this. Instead of what would JC do ask, What would SB do? Apart from coast and land on her clown feet.

  2. Thank you for a very honest and thought provoking post. As I enjoy wrestling with similar existential quandaries, I take any opportunity to wade in. (I’m not attempting any level of therapy here should it seem like it – I am simply replying to the post with my own philosophical take on these words)

    Funnily enough, this morning a colleague asked “What is the meaning of life?’ and of course someone shouted from the back of the office with the now ubiquitous answer “42”, and then I offered my take on it (by way of Alan Watts)

    Life has no meaning. Meaning implies referring to something by something other than it. Red light means stop. etc. Words mean something – in that they refer to something else. Life how ever is the totality of everything – so it cannot refer to anything outside of itself. The question, thus, is (pardon me) meaningless. This isn’t just semantic acrobatics either.

    My colleague replied “So, the point of life, is life itself” Which kind of sounds like some Deepak Chopra-esque nonsense, but can be elaborated on.

    Now, you actually used the phrase “existence is pointless” but I think it’s fair enough to inter change them. There is no point to existence but to exist – there is no answer or signifier to guide you. Just existing is the point.

    But that itself might seem ‘pointless’. But what of existing? I think you have answered your own problem. You repeatedly refer to enjoying creating things. You do make the caveat that “you must have a career” and I agree that if one must have a career than you should try and make it one in which you do what you like doing, but I think (based on my reading of this and your other blogs) that you actually enjoy the process of creating stuff. That enjoyment is the point of existence, to be happy whilst existing. To do something which feels satisfying. It doesn’t just have to be tacked on as a precondition for a career – it in itself is a worthy act.

    (On a side note – I understand totally the frustration of lecturing and feeling like you do not create anything. I really enjoy teaching but have often felt that, so am attempting to balance it with also creating on the side)

    None of this is probably any help at all with the very real feelings of fear etc. expressed – but upon reading it I felt compelled to comment that right in the centre of the nihilism I find the retort – indeed to be even aware of both feelings of nihilism and to be aware of what you enjoy are massively important. A lot of people never work that out. To know that you feel you are doing something you don’t enjoy is half the battle.

    The final lines are the most telling:

    “So why bother doing anything? Why not simply indulge yourself in whatever makes you happy? Because when you die it’s not going to matter a fuck anyway.”

    I would argue you should indulge in whatever makes you happy – which you have clearly discovered is not just consumption but in creation. If indulging in consumption made you happy you wouldn’t have written this post.

    If I take off my Buddhist hat for a second, with its baggage of karma etc., on some level I completely agree that “because when you die it’s not going to matter a fuck anyway” – that is the point. It won’t matter when you die. But it matters now.

  3. Thanks for the comments. I suppose one thing I failed to expand on is that while this is certainly one of my world views its not my only world view. But I was feeling pretty down this morning so that bit got largely discarded.

    I think, like a lot of things relating to “life” there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s something you wrestle with, not something you reach definitive closure on (I need to believe this so I dont spend my days insanely jealous of people who “have it all figured out”).

    I suppose at some point I should outline my more positive world view, which tends to conflict with what I’ve outlined above – which I suppose is really where the angst comes froms – well that and the unbearable lightness of being.

    The semantics approach is interesting and something I largely agree with, we seem to spend a lot of time trying to gain an objective viewpoint while trapped inside the subjective reality of what we’re trying to define.

    The idea of life or/and existence being an end unto itself, that the only justification is the thing itself is one I find pretty interesting. But also at times crushingly depressing and at times quite uplifting. I suppose it ties into my (now fairly eclectic) spiritual beliefs – I think one of the major appeals of organised religion is as a metaphysical roadmap, even if you’re doing it wrong at least you know you are. Striking out into the sea of being on your own raft can be/is a pretty bewildering experience.

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