A short exploration in Nihilism

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This is a short essay I wrote in the spring of 2008 (my sophomore year), for my church history class. I explored Nihilistic concepts in main stream music. Be warned, some of it is a stretch and it's very informal. I actually had fun writing this.

Submitted: June 28, 2009

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Submitted: June 28, 2009



Nihilism is a phisiological position which argues that existance is without meaning, purpose, or value. Nihilists generally assert some or all of the following: Objective morality does not exist; therefore no action is logically preferable to any other. In the absence of morality, existence has no higher meaning or goal. There is no reasonable proof or argument for the existence of a higher ruler or creator. Even if there exists a higher ruler or creator, mankind has no moral obligation to worship them. The term nihilism is sometimes used synonymously to denote a general mood of despair at the pointlessness of existence.
In this paper, I will be taking a look at a few songs that, in my opinion, reflect nihilistic views. But aside from this, it seems to me that the world has taken in some of these views and applied them to modern society; strip clubs every few miles, bars open late for the city drunks, and even high school dances where the activities on the floor can hardly constitute as dancing. Humanity seems to be slowly lowering the decency bar. Honestly, I wonder how much lower we can go before this game of moral limbo has us all bent over backward with broken spines. But, this paper should not be full of my pointless drabble about all the world's faults, so on with the lyrics.
"Candles raise my desire; why I'm so far away. No more meaning to my life; no more reason to stay. Freezing feeling, breathe in--breathe in. I'm coming back again. I'm not the one who's so far away when I feel the snake bite enter my veins. Never did I wanna be here again and I don't remember why I came. Hazing clouds rain on my head; empty thoughts fill my ears. Find my shade by the moon light; why my thoughts aren't so clear. Demons dreaming, breathe in--breathe in I'm coming back again. I'm not the one who's so far away..." -Voodoo, by: Godsmack.
This song is actually about heroin, but for all intents and purposes I will point out the things I find to be reflecting nihilistic views and or opinions. The "snake bite" is clearly a reference to the syringe, and the stating of "I'm not the one who's so far away" and "empty thoughts fill my ears" suggest to me that this person thinks they have some kind of secret knowledge in which everyone else should indulge. Also, they seem to think that the things people tell them are pointless, seeing as how they've apparently found a better way to live. And the line "no more meaning to my life; no more reason to stay" clearly reflects the nihilistic opinion that life really isn't all that important.
Alright, this next song is by a more popular band. I actually like them but I decided that the lyrics of one of their songs fit the guidelines for this paper quite well. The song is called Martini Kiss, and it is by Senses Fail.
"There's poison in the drinking glass. Don't stop just sip it down. And in a swirling masquerade of sound. My body hits the ground. I'm beautiful when I'm asleep; martini kisses land. On my blistered bloody scarlet lips; the bottles in my hand. I'll speak in riddles so you can understand. I'll draw in pencil so you can trace with pen. So in love with me like sand to wet feet; I'll write both our names into the wet concrete. We're glistening like silver spoons beneath the summer night. Oh can you smell the subtle hint of frost as the flowers start to cry. The autumn winds are bringing graves to all the emerald trees. They're so beautiful in their dismay. The colors slowly bleed. The pawns will fade away. The kings at his checkmate. And I sit here with a sick grin, choking as I laugh until I die. Burn out, not fade away."
Well now, wasn't that depressing as all get out? A little odd with quite a bit of angst , but I like it. Obviously this song was not written with the intent of being nihilistic, but I am bending it to fit my purposes. The opening line about there being "poison in the drinking glass" coupled with the speakers obvious love of lack of consciousness stuck out to me. In my opinion and in putting it into nihilistic terms, the "poison" is life itself, and the reason this person seems to love being unconscious so much is because that is the closest they can get to death, which is the ultimate in nihilism. There is no heaven, there is no hell, only the ultimate unconsciousness. "We're glistening like silver spoons beneath the summer night"; this line, for some reason, makes me think of pale corpses laying on a forest floor. And the last line, "burn out, not fade away", stands out to me as the single most nihilistic thing in the entire song. "Fade away," seems as though there is somewhere else to go, like in old cartoons or movies with bad graphics, where an angel comes into view with a soft beam of light, and when it leaves the light slowly dims until it is gone completely, because the angel has gone back to heaven. However, "burn out" suggests that something just vanishes. It hasn't gone anywhere, just simply ceases to exist.
Well, I hope that was bearable. My point of view is very odd and most of the time I don't understand why I think half the things I do.In my opinion, nihilistic concepts are becoming more and more noticeable in modern day society, however unintentional it may be. Voodoo by Godsmack and Martini Kiss by Senses Fail are just a few examples of what I think could be construed as songs with a nihilistic undertone; basically saying life sucks, live it while you can. Voodoo seems to say this flat out, while in Martini Kiss it is romanticized and one must dig for the meaning underneath all the red roses and velvet tassels. Or maybe I just read too much into things.


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