Today’s blog post is a little more serious and complex than my usual existential tour de stories and self-help stuff, and it largely has to do with a complex problem that I have been in deep thought about, given experiences in life and a lot of observation in human behavior. It’s a problem I call the “deification” problem – something I don’t think anyone on this planet has actually coined, so I’m putting my frog flag down right now and claiming that as my own.
So what is the deification problem? Well let us first define the term of deification. It is essentially the worship of someone or something as a God. It’s taking a concept or whatever and turning it into some kind of overtly zealous fervor that provides you with light, guidance, meaning, all that package dealt jizz jazz.
It’s usually seen in the form of things like religion. Religious sects usually hold a God or many Gods as their ultimate leader, deifying them in some form and then following through with their proto-DND rulesets passed down from those Gods. Now naturally, a very, very large number of people, particularly in this day and age, call bullshit on these rules, as they can logically deduce that it’s all made up fluffy wuff that some guy in a robe in a desert probably wrote while high from licking toads.
We amphibious types are the true rulers of this galaxy.
Anyway, I’m not here to shit on religion, I’m here to make a point. What happens to humans when religion is taken away from them? Well, they start to look at philosophies and other ideologies. Perhaps it’s the obsessive belief in material goods, the reverence for oneness and asceticism, an intense, unyielding addiction to all things “science” (even if it isn’t, actually, science) – the point is, people latch onto things. Why?
Because without it, they don’t know where they are, what they are or who they are. They latch onto the notion of these beliefs because they provide a proverbial direction in their lives that gives them some kind of purpose. It’s all essentially designed around the concept of providing people with meaning, and avoiding the good ol’ void of “nihil” (and for those who don’t know…it’s nihilism).
But what is the problem with this? It doesn’t necessarily seem like one, because having a point to your life is quite lovely. Well, the issue is the fact that it becomes the proverbial “God” of that person’s life. Take away religion and you have a void – replace it with science and you have a God, just “real” or whatever.
But again, this is a problem, and it’s because all of these ideologies act as a rule book for an individual beings life, and when you deify your ideology, you begin to act within the context of that ideology, not necessarily within your own choices.
I’ve seen this kind of deification in everything. Politically there’s no question it exists – you’ve got hacks on the right, hacks on the left, and all of them act within a specific ruleset that is given to them by whichever dickhead with a big brain decides to convince them. Like unthinking monkeys, many people flock to these big brains because “it sounds right”, but really the underlying premise is “I don’t have a reason for being and I need one”.
One of the most fascinating parts about humans (me included) is the fact that we are conceptual, conscious and aware about who and what we are. We can look at our lives and think about why we do things. We can question, we can act freely. We are agents of chaos within our brief existence that can make choices based on long or short term goals. This comes with a little problem though – the problem of “what the fuck is the point and why am I here?!”.
That isn’t a light problem – it’s pretty much the biggest problem we have, and it is the very reason why political ideologies exist. Why religions came into being. Why philosophy is a thing. Hell, it is down to micro levels, where making another person your reason for being and putting all your eggs in that basket is essentially deifying that individual, treating them as your God, and when they inevitably leave, you’re left in a vacuum of terrifying despair and crippling depression –
I’m not at all projecting why do you ask?
Why do you think unrequited love and suicide tend to come hand in hand? Romeo and Juliet anyone? The deification of love conquering all is another reach for meaning. It’s another reach for having a reason to be alive. It can be said to be the same for people obsessed with physique, or people obsessed with owning fancy shit. All of it involves deification and looking for a way to grasp at something in order to feel like there is a purpose.
But none of it really solves the problem. I honestly believe no philosophy has fully solved it, either – particularly because people often make the fundamental error of even deifying those. You can see that in the religious fervor that comes with things like Buddhism – Siddharta Guatama died telling everyone that “life is just life, find your own path, learn to be, everything is impermanent” and a bunch of other truths. People then took that and made a gigantic religion out of it, deifying a dude who didn’t even believe in Gods. Again, apotheosis is something that humans seem to really stretch towards.
Likewise I’ve seen it with atheist systems too, like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism – a philosophy that I quite love and agree with for the most part, but again, many (not all) people tend to grab it and funnel their lives through it, making it their new “religion”, so to speak. They like what Rand liked because it’s “rational” or whatever. Do you really like it, or do you just like it because you were told, via argumentation, that you should? And shout out to my homies who are legit and real, yo. You know who you are. Fuckers.
Through this agreement and reverence of our ideologies, we start to lose connection with ourselves in a fundamental way. We lose understanding as to what makes us actually tick, replacing it with what a philosophy or a religion tells us should make us tick.
I’m also quite aggressively against what religions tell people – that whatever happens to you in this life will be judged and forgiven in the next, because our holy bro dude on the other side will sort you right out. Try to tell that to people who constantly sanction abusive families, cults and other horrid shit heads around them. They’re seriously meant to suffer and not escape based on a promise that cannot even be proven? If I’m quite blunt, go fuck yourselves. That’s no way for a human to live and prosper. It’s like a salesmen promising you returns on your investment..after you die. Life is NOT about suffering. I am fully understanding of the fact that one may believe in religion, and sure, you do you, but in no way do I think it’s a good idea to give people the idea that their life sucks because some dick head we can’t even prove is real “has a plan”. That’s horrendous.
So, ranting aside and given all this, what IS the solution to it? I have an idea, and it has to do with a shot of NIH-21, an “idea” vaccine, if you will. That said, you have to be in a context where you’re ready for it..
The Nihilism Shot
Nihilism is what happens when you reject all the ideas handed to you. It’s the void, the darkness, and the one that you do not want to fall into. It’s why all our deification happens – it’s a band-aid for the darkness. But band-aids need to be replaced.
But you need nihilism, not for dwelling, but for temporary understanding. You need the vaccination which contains a weakened form of nihilism – and that weakened form gives you the antibodies necessary to tell full fledged cosmic nihilism and all shitty ideas to kindly, fuck the hell off.
Here’s the harsh truth of your existence: you came into this world without permission or meaning. There is NO meaning behind anything, ultimately (keyword here). Existence, life, things, ideas – they ultimately, in the end, do not matter. Things come and go, and your brief existence will also come and go. If you think the world revolves around you, news flash, it bloody doesn’t..it revolves around the sun, and you’re not that hot, sunshine. You’re a tiny speck in a vast, theoretically expanding universe that has no agenda, no meaning, nothing. It just is. You just are. And none of it has any kind of meaning metaphysically, at all. Welcome to being alive. And you’re going to die. We all are. Have fun.
Congratulations, you’ve met Mr “Nihil”, and he introduces you to the void. The abyss. Eternal darkness. “De nihilo nihil” he says, and then roundhouse kicks the door and leaves.
Once you’re done crying and absorbing that depressing sponge, continue reading.
That pit that I described is not wrong. It’s true. But it doesn’t matter.
That’s the epiphany you will eventually get to once you cross through that chasm of darkness. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t matter ultimately.
And that is where liberation happens. From there you can make a choice: you can choose to sit in despair at the fact that ideologies, philosophies, religions etc are desperately reaching for some kind of deity or “purpose” to save them and none of it matters. You can do nothing, or continue with whatever idea you choose, or..
..you can look at that and say “right well..that’s them, what about me?”
What do you want? Drop other people’s ideas. Drop the ideologies, the religions, the social pressures or whatever.
Seriously ask yourself, what do you want? What matters to you? What do you want to do with your time? Because that’s all you’ve really got. The liberation is in the truth that nothing matters unless it matters to you.
You’re alive, and you have needs, wants, desires, hopes, dreams. Values. And the standard of value they’re all based on is life, your life, and time. Does it ultimately have meaning when we’re all dust in the cosmic wind? No, but who the fuck cares? You’re alive and have a pulse, right?
Your life, and time, is all you have. Now what do you want to do with that? How do you want to be as a person? Ignore the people telling you that you can’t swear, or you can’t dress a certain way, or you can’t be like x or whatever – those people are working off a philosophical compass that isn’t yours. Conversely, get off their backs too – they’re in the same position, just potentially ignorant to it.
From here, you might learn how to climb out of that pit of nihilism, and without the deities of science, religion, philosophy etc to carry you. You learn to build a mean set of back muscles that can carry your life, sans whatever the hell it is others are saying. You learn to carry what is important to you, and drop whatever is holding you back. You finally start to find raw value in things you do – because that raw value is yours.
Life no longer becomes a search for some kind of deity, some group, some outward answer – it becomes a development of what it means to be you, and what your legacy will be. Being an individual – a free person.
And that is the solution to the deification problem. Shedding all you’ve been taught, all the ideas and the solutions, and looking into the mirror to ask what matters to you. Because that IS all that matters. Have you ever asked yourself what you want without the rule set that people hand you, or what cultural norms have dictated are proper and improper? Be honest.
Through struggling to answer that question, you might finally find what you’re looking for: your reason for being. What makes you tick, what matters; and without the rule books that countless religions and ideologies constantly throw at you.
They ultimately don’t matter. Other people’s opinions or judgements don’t matter. Nothing does, except you and what you care about. So why are you wasting your time being afraid to do what it is you care about? Be the person you want to be and enjoy it while it lasts. We might all become dust in the end, but it’s irrelevant in this moment, where you’ve got a pulse, a mind and a passion to chase. Raw value.
Live your damn life, and to hell with the people who don’t like how you live it. But remember – you have to make that journey yourself. We all have to find our own path out of the pit, if you choose to take the vaccine.
Mr nihil and his shitty “de nihilo nihil” phrase may have knocked you around a bit, but now you’ve got the antibodies to tell it to piss off. Go live.
All the best.
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21 thoughts on “The Deification Problem”
This is extremely helpful, exactly what I needed desperately to hear. Thank you! This is my favorite writing piece of yours.
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Most welcome. It is also my own personal favourite, and one I may expand upon in the future.
Share it, follow my blog, all that good jazz.
I wish you all the best,
Great post! I skipped past the nihil and never really fell into a cult of ideology. Objectivism for me was a time of development being a pure little 15 year old boy. It was my little bastion of heroism and really helped develop stronger ties to my life and my love of things and learning. I came to a point where I shedded ideology maybe 2 years later. Then I met my sweet little goddess which I have seeped everything into. My sense of self got stronger but I am worried about the despair of that loss. Though what I really have enjoyed too is the simple living and the warm cups of coffee and taking time to cook for myself. When I felt like things were crushed it helped repair the slow decay and I felt so attached to this world like the simple coffee cups could now be my god. It was sweet and a passion hardened by both my angel and Objectivism. Which both hold the highest respect for man as an ideal and everything in existence. It is all so beautiful and I have really became what I wanted to be. My soul is something self-made and I just want to learn and enjoy the simple joys of my coffee. In ways these things have been my gods and I wish to learn of another. I can learn to really love all of existence. Even in the cases of deviation in irrationally of people’s minds. Each with a unique view of interacting with existence. The only thing that I truly think is evil is the corruption of things and they just lose their glimmer and decay. Even in conflict things can be beautiful and it took my sweet little paranoid girlfriend to really demonstrate to me how beautiful things can be. The only despair is the corruption of this very love and passion for my life, existence, and the same very reverence we hold it’s all so beautiful.