The world is so bland. Everything is boring. It’s not that I don’t have anything to do—in fact, the boredom becomes even more intense when I’m doing something. It’s a deep, existential boredom.1 Metaphysical.

It’s akin to believing that nothing exists, and even if it did, it wouldn’t matter anyway. Except it’s not just a cold opinion for me, but a sharply burning feeling. Indeed, I consider philosophical nihilism, whether in the metaphysical sense or the ethical sense, to be blatantly absurd. And yet, for a disillusioned materialist, it’s impossible to escape this feeling—or perhaps I should describe it more precisely as the lack of a feeling. The lack of any real substance behind the illusions. I used to think that nature was real and that it was where real meaning came from.2 Now I know that nature is merely an illusion, but I have nothing to substitute in its place, and so I find myself doubting the very existence of such a thing as meaning. It’s hard to even write anything because it just feels pointless—but sometimes I find that writing about this feeling (in my diary for example), helps ease the pressure somewhat. Describing something can make it go away.

When I say “meaning”, I mean it both in the big sense—what is the purpose of existence—but also in the small sense—what is the relationship between signs and what is signified, or in other words, what is the relationship between apparently physical objects and the experience of these objects. Platonism provides a kind of answer to the latter question. Its answer is that these two questions are actually the same, namely that they are questions about the relationship between images and what they are images of (so-called “ideas”). I don’t think I’ve figured it out, and I doubt I ever will. But I spend a lot of time thinking about these things (more than most people, I suspect).

These bouts of nihilism come frequently. I don’t think there is actually any merit to nihilism as a position. But I feel it. I’m trying to think my way out of it, by writing about it and studying it philosophically and psychologically. But I know that it’s impossible to think my way out of a feeling. I keep falling into the sense that everything is unreal, that nothing really matters, that I don’t exist. It’s like I can’t quite see reality; there is something standing between me and the things themselves. I see only their surfaces. I know the things are there, but I can’t quite seem to feel them. Not most of the time anyway.

See also

  1. Pessoa describes the feeling of tedium well in The Book of Disquiet. 
  2. I.e. materialism; see also Matter