Just Say NO To Nihilism

In An Age Where Anti-Matter Matters More And More

When you spend a life haunting the dark corridors of mental illness, chemical dependency, and art – well – suicide is always near, rather like those bright red fire extinguisher cases with the label that reads, “In case of emergency break glass.”

Losing a long parade of loved ones to this merciless toll taker eliminates the awe, the terror; glamour and luster retreat. (Notably, many people choose to purchase their suicide on the installment plan.)

If you need mania to be creative, then maybe creativity isn’t for you.” Taz Mopula

My generation fell in love with a mythology that linked madness (frequently drug-induced), self-destruction, and the complete abandonment of all our society held dear. Our special gift back to the society so busy attempting to spoil us was contempt. Our battle cry – sex, drugs, rock & roll – simply translates to – hedonism.

(Need I say we had no alternatives to offer? We romanced nihilism like it was going out of style, which, thankfully, it did.)

Mediocre art misrepresents reality; great art obliterates it.” Taz Mopula

This atmosphere proved to be an ideal breeding ground for artistes who perfected the empty pose, and empty prose that went along with it. Kerouac and Burroughs were early adapters, Hunter Thompson threw himself into the fray, and today Tom Waits is a living homage.

Even now these icons of hip negativity and gleeful self-destruction are taken seriously, revered by people who should know better.

Art matters most when it reminds people they might.” Taz Mopula

I am very fortunate to have outlived my cynicism, sarcasm, and nihilism. Today I find negativity lazy, cowardly, and worst of all – dull. Any imbecile can say no – it’s a trick we all learn at the age of two.

To be fair, I also have no time for those who turn away from the world’s darkness, paint on a photograph smile, and stupidly say yes.

But time is running out, and things certainly aren’t getting better. I seek the people who have looked Satan right in the eye and say yes anyway. They are my heroes.

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Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved immediately to Edinburgh, and three years later moved to Amsterdam. At 6 he settled in Philadelphia and for 16 years was confused by Quaker education; Germanton Friends School and Haverford College. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville nudged him even closer to unemployability.

Convinced at an early age that fate had chosen writing as his calling, Alistair followed a characteristically slow and circuitous path. He has found work as deck hand on a Norwegian tramp freighter touring South America, Bureau of Land Management Emergency Fire Fighter in Alaska, guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp, truck driver crisscrossing Colorado’s continental divide, and inner city cabbie.

Alistair has been arranging words on paper for a living since 1983.