In technological society, there has been no idea more poisonous to the general uplift of Man than the notion that the fundamental materiality of existence is invariably devoid of meaning, when, indeed, precisely the opposite is the case.
A popular view: Naive nihilism is the only possible outcome of a materialist, matterological or otherwise ‘naturalistic’ ontology.
The term naive nihilism is here utilized to distinguish the position: there is no meaning, from a eventuality we shall refer to as cartographic displacement. Cartographic displacement is here deployed as a encapsulation of that side-effect of modern post-enlightenment development: the fluid phase-out of previous mental maps; the state of having insufficient epistemological tools, and thus ontological tools, by which to chart out the course of the one’s life in such a manner concurrent with those essential qualities of the organism that, as a matter of course, for sufficient functioning, must be sated, repressed or exercised.
The proposition (naive nihilism) literally asserted, is self-refuting, for it requires, at the first, the affirmation of meaning to substantiate itself. Meaning subtends the whole of its structure; indeed for the declaration to even be rendered sensible to its generator, it must be inscribed with meaning. To declare that the affirmation of materialism is naive nihilism, is to, at the same time, assert the meaningfulness of the supposedly negative assignation, thus engendering a conceptual paradox.
For meaninglessness to be true, meaninglessness must truly mean something.
This can be substantiated without falling into any kind of lengthy, barbed discussion of the ultimate derivation of meaning itself; it is axiomatic. Either there is meaning (invariant intelligibility given a particular matterological formation), or there is not — in the understanding of this conceptual schema one already demonstrates meanings’ existence and conversely, the nonexistence of non-meaning, for whatever would the shape of non-meaning be? How would it assume a character when its generation requires conception and its expression, linguistic inscription? This we shall call for the sake of brevity, the fallacy of the void which is: the assertion of a true lack of thingness, or, the assertion of the true presence of nothing. The problem with such an assertion is obvious: In the mere identification of that which is not, one has already lost it, that is to say, one has already posited that which is (that which is not). As such, there can be no that which is not, without a corresponding that which is.
Thus, if nihilism is a description of one who is unable to generate meaning, nihilism, in this naive formation, is impossible, for it is to say that one is generating a nothing, yet, one cannot generate a nothing, only nothing as a conceptual placeholder for a space between some number of things. One cannot grasp a geist. One cannot obtain that which is not. There can no more be nothing in terms of value (for a valuer) than nothing in terms of material composition, as value is itself a function of material configurations. Just as darkness is not a absence of material spatiality, but the appearance of a void due the absence of light, so too are values (conditional functions) present within the organism, regardless of whether or not they are immediately apperceptible thereto. Void is a lack of clarity, not a real presence beyond conception, or that is to say, it is real only in the perceptual-conceptual matrix of the observational subject-object.
There is, in short, no nothing. Or rather, every perceptible, conceptual thing is something.
To think of nothing is not to not think. Every act of being is, and is not, not. Thus: Every negation is a positive displacement of another thing-which-is. That is to say, true negation is, in the actualization, true displacement. Thus, it is the displacement of meaning (for some other) which is (or should be) the true referent of the critics of ontological nihilism (which requires no criticism, because it is impossible).
This being said, the circumstance under which one’s milieu’s meanings are insufficiently navigated, excavated, articulated and directed, is a situation well-capable of arising (and indeed, has, is and shall continue to arise); however, the problem, in such a arrangement, is not a void of meaning, but rather, a insufficient ability to mediate meaning, to soften its coarse and perpetually undulating folds.
Mechanical correctives are here appropriate. That which passes as the differentiation between the mechanical and the organic, and as a consequence, the well-navigated milieu of meaning and the ill-navigated milieu of meaning, is a matter only of degrees of configuration (of both specific type, placement, interconnection and complexity) — of architectural specificity. All are expressions of particular configurations of matter, amenable to the ‘laws’ of the universe, such as they are understood, all are, at every moment, undergoing change in the movement towards new forms (even if that which subtends the forms does not, in the change, displace the form itself), whether by intensification or dissipation, which is merely intensification in a different direction than the viewer-mediated one.
This essay is a excerpt from a upcoming book project on fiction and philosophy.