"It is the writer's duty to tell the terrible truth, and it is a reader's civic duty to learn this truth. To turn away, to close one's eyes and walk past is to insult the memory of those who have perished."
Don't be saddened by it, or make it some sort of deep philosophical tragedy. It's as much fact as evolution, or as much fact as 10 - 1 = 9. Accept it and learn to love it for what it is.
You're correct that I focused on the topic I was writing about and not auxiliary issues.
If I could add to this list:
- everything by Alexander Solzhenitsyn that was translated to English.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Demons by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Ward No 6 by Anton Chekhov
"A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch" is profound, concise, and memorable.
Schopenhauer: live out your irrationality in a rational way
Nietsche / Peterson: live out your irrationality with rational reasoning as a tool (under the the shield of old school values "family", "nation" ...).
I always wondered how one could misinterpret natural laws, that whatever you do you cannot not obey, as human commandments, that you can obey or not.
Considering that Darwin findings would command us to ignore the weak (or that any knowledge could command anything, for that matter), is like considering that sending rockets into space would be an offense to the law of gravity, and that it would command us to spend our lives crawling on the ground like snakes.
(In the case of Nietzsche, maybe that's the "Will" subconsciously manipulating the puppet of consciousness, as a defense mechanism against the purposeless void reached by thinking through the irrationality of life).
Love his books. He sees right through it all and doesn't give a fuck. At all.
Full agreement on his not giving a fuck though. He’s the kinda guy that would fart at a party and then laugh at the people offended by it.
An alcoholic plays life on extra hard mode. No wonder the conclusion is cynical!
But did you ever see the documentary movie where he pushes his girlfriend off the couch with his feet?
My takeaway from it was that people are generally nonviolent, with a few (taxonomised) exceptions.
(My meta-takeaway from it is that poor intellectuals in the US have it much harder than rich intellectuals, but can still pay their dues and eventually make their own way.)
Here's a quote from the book: "We had an inmate in custody who had cut open a baby with a tin can lid and raped the wound. If someone can do that, do you think he will hesitate at all before gouging your eye out or biting off a finger?"
More generally, I think there's a difference between "meditation on brutality" and "misery porn", and that the latter sometimes gets dressed up as the former.
Edit: I wanted to demonstrate the stupidity of this question: "How is Meditations on Violence supposed to convey the brutality of life as well as the other titles?"
The quote is not representative of the general tenor of the book, but it is representative of why that question is dumb.
Conrad McCarthy I feel has staked his claim in what I’d reductively call dark westerns. The Road, for example, is a simple story about a man and his child, but in hell only demons. I’ll have to add the listed one to my growing collection, it reminds me of it.
Communicating the meaning of life through the brutality of it has the distinct advantage about being able to explore the death, pain, suffering, and, the descent into an evil in intricate detail. It is a proof by contraction in some respects that certain personal philosophies derived from existentialism need, but also much more than that.
And for fiction it wouldn't hurt to add Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jose Saramago, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez as well.
Specifically, it is solely by way of the relentless, brutal culling of populations that any complex or adaptive traits have been sieved — with torturous inefficiency — from the chaos of natural existence.
In the non-fiction category, I would nominate _Rising Up and Rising Down_ by William T. Vollmann. There is a single, abridged volume. It's a grand, sweeping, beautiful and fascinating work.
“I mourn for the people I know who are dying, which is all of them, but some much quicker than others.”
Looking at older people and animals around me, and instantly thinking “well, they probably don’t have much time left” is quite depressing.
There was a Sam Harris podcast episode where he and his guest argued about whether is it better to suffer through life, or not existing at all.
> In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Benatar about his philosophy of “anti-natalism.” They discuss the asymmetry between the good and bad things in life, the ethics of existential risk, the moral landscape, the limits and paradoxes of introspection, the “experience machine” thought experiment, population ethics, and other topics.
Non-fiction: “Evicted” by Matthew Desmond, “Chernobyl Prayer” by Svetlana Alexievich
I’ll just say the brutality of humans didn’t end with the war.
Could you recommend a couple for me to start with, please? Thank you.
Also, there's plenty of Christian existentialism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_existentialism