11 April 2007

Metal is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

There seems to be no ultimate basis for any truth-claims whatsoever. A pervasive sense of existential ennui abounds. What to do? It seems like the only answer is Metal. Without reason, truth, and the like, beliefs hold no truck, leaving us with only emotion and aesthetics. And nothing fills me with a sense of nobility, honor, greatness than true Metal.

The Guardian asks, "Why should I care?":
* Because your pocket money will be withheld next week until you show some respect, young man/woman!

Margaret Toale, Co Meath, Ireland

* Because you matter.

Howard, Whitefield, England

* Why not?

Dave, Sutton

* I can't be bothered to tell you.

J Quinn, Godalming UK

* Before asking why you *should* care, perhaps it would be worth thinking about the fact that you *do* care. Human beings are emotional and moral beings - we simply aren't capable of observing other people's behaviour without reacting emotionally and morally (though not always rightly!) to it. Because we are good at thinking, we can learn to override our initial emotional reactions and behave as detached, scientific observers in certain circumstances. But this requires an effort, even if we don't recognise it as such.We care about other people because we can't help it. When we cease to care altogether, we cease to function as humans. The important question, then, is how we live with caring about other people, given how painful and demanding that is.

Eleanor Toye, Cambridge, UK

* With regards to your question - why should we?

SR, Cambridge

* And if we do not care - then what are we doing? I suppose we are living in a state of existential ennui, rather like that defeatist Sartre. Why bother its all hopeless anyway. The attitude denies the existence of God, which is rather like denying the existence of water - it is a magnificent denial, of course, but it is an utterly stupid one as well.

Eugene Silver, Los Angeles, USA

* If you don't, who will?

Rhiannon, Tredegar Wales

* In response to Mr Silver, summing up Sartre or the existential point of view as 'Why bother its all hopeless anyway' (you obviously don't bother with punctuation, I see) is as idiotic as summing up Christianity, Judaism and the many other religions as 'Why bother, God will look after us anyway'. I wouldn't distort your beliefs to support a trivial argument, regardless of how wrong I think you are, so please don't do it to mine.

Andrew Griffiths, Witham, Essex

* Talk about rhetorical...

Aidan Randle-Conde, Crewe, UK

* Because you voted Conserative

David Armitage, Portadown

* Eugene wotsit of wherever- how do you reach the conclusion that denying the existence of God is like denying the existence of water? I regularly see evidence- subjective evidence, admittedly- of water's existence, largely in the form of water. I have however never seen any evidence as to the existence of mermaids, for example. So with a certain degree of logic, I support water's claim to existence, while denying it to mermaids, judgemental though you might think me. I'm afraid God comes in the mermaid category, along with dragons, leprechauns and William Hague (surely no-one seriously believes- oh sorry, pointless political joke).

Tom Chivers, Oxford UK

* Because one day you might need someone to care about you and your situation.

Izzie Latham, Reading UK

* No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. John Donne

Anon, London

* Because everyone else is doing it, so why can't I? You never know, this "caring" lark might catch on...

Simon, Birmingham England

* My own reason is that while it is far easier not to care, the rare times when caring and helping pay off you get far more back in return, and it is something you can never get any other way. Anytime you do something good, you should do it without expectation of reward -the world doesn't work like that- but for me at least, it is better than living with the fact that i could have helped and didn't.

d, London England

* If God doesn't exist, then it doesn't matter if you care or not, but if god does exist then you had better start caring.

Bob, Sotton UK

* I don't know but the dilemma is well illustrated in Joseph Heller's Catch 22. The lead character, Yossarian, is bemoaning the fact that he has to fight in the war. Yossarian "Why should I care?" Chaplain "What if everyone thought that way?" Yossarian "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way wouldn't I?"

DD, Cardiff, Wales

* Because you are Canadian, and it is your cultural heritage. It is not, however, your responsibility to actually DO anything, except perhaps to prevent OTHERS from doing something. This is also your cultural heritage.

Lorraine Murphy, Vancouver

* Because you have a brain. Millions of years of evolution have given you this information processing device designed singularly to increase your ability to reproduce. It forces you to care about where food and safety are, where warmth and comfort are, and where the opposite sex are. Existential ennui is a consequence of having all your base desires sated, yet your immature dreams of being a rock-star / astronaut thwarted. You should care because there's a lot of needless suffering in the world, and if you are rich enough to waste time on the internet then you are capable of changing things for the better.

Stuart Bray, Nottingham England

* An evolutionist would argue that you should only care if doing so leads to a greater probability that your genes will be replicated. Maybe in the survival of human beings in developed countries, in the immediate future is so assured, that even from a purely selfish point of view it is advisable to start thinking long-term. I for one fancy giving children's, children a chance. Surely this can only be achieved by caring.

Ilya Maclean, Edinburgh UK

* Why care? Not so hard to figure out why you should, a utilitarian approach works well on simple mass judgements like this. You care simply because it produces goodness for those whose lives are touched by your deeds, and this necessarily comes back to you. simple really.

Duncan James, Zurich Switzerland

* Because people who don't care are what is wrong with the world!

Jenna, Wales

* Actually, it doesn't matter a wit if you actually care or not - so long as you behave as if you do.

Robert Wright, Bristol UK

* Caring must come near top of the list of how we do things which help define us at our most empathetic, giving, tender, reflective and nurturing , something most often seen within the same species of the animal world, and something increasingly sacrificed by man at the altar of consumerism.

Alan, Zagreb, Croatia

* Because it's 500 free texts and 3000 minutes of free calls per month plus a new handset and a big mac with extra fries.

Steve, London

* No reason. You either care or you do not care. Nothing can tell you what you should do. If God asked himself "Why should I create the universe?" how could he answer it without referring to a greater power? It's the downside of free will. The ball's in our court.

Matt, Worcester UK

Nihilism is strange in that you may find that you (intellectually) really don't care about anything, but (emotionally) find yourself caring about a great deal. How to deal with this divorce between thought and feeling!?

Meanwhile, why not treat boredom and ennui as an aesthetic condition open to analysis—what better way to ward off boredom?!

Elizabeth Goodstein digs deep into the doldrums as she analyzes "the rhetoric of boredom."
...the word ["boredom"] suddenly appeared in the mid-19th century Oxford English Dictionary, sans source of derivation. Elsewhere in Europe, words used to describe discontent began to grow more similar. For example, Goodstein says, the strictly existential ennui of Baudelaire’s France began to carry the more quotidian connotations of the German langeweile—and vice versa.

“What you see is a new way of talking about subjective experience taking form,” Goodstein says. “And boredom is at the heart of that.”

"Ennui" appears in the seventeenth century, but boredom is only coined in the nineteenth. Does this indicate a banalization of ennui? Are we bored with boredom?
“Boredom has to do with a kind of distance from the world that you live in,” Goodstein says. “Alienation, estrangement—these are such a basic part of what it means to live in the modern world.” This isolation, she believes, stems from “a loss of traditional modes of thinking and feeling and doing things.” That’s why, she adds, boredom is “so important in the 19th century,” an era marked by social and technological change.

Kierkegaard, as far as I remember, only approached the aesthetics of boredom in his Diapsalmata but the subject is ripe for the plucking.

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