Nihilism is at the door. What should we do?
Whatever you do, don’t open it, don’t let him inside.
I’ve heard of this one before, and you probably have too: he’s a trouble-maker, a rabble-rouser, a delinquent, who will rob you blind before he even knows what treasures you have. I’d rather not bother with him right now, and have dinner uninterrupted as we planned; I hear that one out there spoils everything, turns everything to rottenness even before it blooms! So please! Please keep the door shut!
(Peeking through the viewer fixed to the door) Is that all? We’re afraid of a little putrefaction? He looks rather lonely out there and in need of some good company. Besides my feeling sorry for Nihilism, that no one cares to let Nihilism in and listen to Nihilism’s whispering proclamations, I feel that he cannot be all that bad, that he must bring along something in his train besides all the nastiness you mentioned, he must have some gifts or treasures of his own to share with us, something he, and only he, could bring to the table, to our nightly festivities (reaching for the doorknob as though to turn it), something we could chew on and thank him for bringing–
–No, no, thrice no! Don’t you dare murder our delight with the sight and company of the one outside! I will run! I promise you I will run faster than night runs at the opening of the day, a hundred, nay, ten-thousand times faster! You will blink and it will be all bright all of a sudden, you will think that there was never such a thing as night and night’s darkness and death! Such is what I leave behind when I scurry away from Nihilism and his face, painful to look at: horizons of hope, spanning even brighter horizons of hope.
Come now, your hope can’t be all that weak! You promised me something more to chew on than more of the same, our age-old coping mechanisms dressed up with a bit of salt and pepper. I want something deeper, and (peeking again out of the viewer, hand still on the knob) I sense he has it out there in his basket, the basket he lets loll at his side.
Inside that basket is disaster, wrapped up untidy in disaster! Do not open it, I beg you, and do not think of opening that door. If you do, we are finished. Not you and I, we could go on talking in this way endlessly, Nihilism’s company or not, but finished as in what we speak of, everything that will come to occupy our time and doings, will come to naught. Do not let yourself get caught up in his charms out there; I know the way he disguises himself with the nouveau and the postmodern, how he makes us feel left behind the march of history if we leave him behind.
Well, aren’t we? If he’s come there must be some reason why he’s come, after all. It can’t just be happenstance that he’s arrived now. No, there must be some logic to it all, some internal design of the ages that necessitated his coming at this time and no other.
Oh, he has come before! And he brought, like I said, disaster wrapped up in painful riddles wrapped up in more disaster…. It was a long time after that since we saw him again; we had to tread the arduous course, from the beginning, again, of embracing him, having to embrace him, to getting him stored away in another room somewhere, to getting him out of the house and in the cold, to exiling him far away from our domicile, from every human village, so that we may live in peace…. I am not about to start this course again! He should stay where he belongs, this vagabond: in the wilderness, on the road, on the trackless expanses where no one knows his name and, if they do, they wouldn’t recognize him in any case, dressed with time as he would be. We recognize him because here, in the town, in the village, in the city, we have a thing called history. History tells us about his comings and goings. He was scheduled just a little bit after our meal, when the food could start to digest. Instead he has come early. Just like him: never on time, always on his own time, with his own, internal logic like you said, always so predictably unpunctual. Come to think of it, Nihilism’s incessant rudeness alone brings me to say, yet again for a fourth time, No, a fifth time No, a sixth time NO, do not you dare let him inside, do not you dare even crack open the door! He is sneaky, this one, and will find a route through any crack if it’s unwatched! In all honesty, sometimes he comes right before your eyes, so that there is nothing you can do about it–and through the tiniest openings! If it were up to me–which it is, to a point–I would slam shut and board shut and caulk up the door before I would greet him, before I would even acknowledge him! I say Leave him be! Leave him be, for the sake of all good or meaningful things leave him be! For they are the same, the good and the meaningful, and you will surely lose both if you are stupid and foolhardy enough to think we have anything like accommodations for that vagrant here!
(Shutting the door, furtively, as she must have furtively cracked it open while the conversation with her bigoted friend carried on) Oops! You were right…only a crack, and the slightest at that, I opened the door, to let in some fresh air, some different air–it was getting rather stifling in here–and, lo, there he is already at the table, removing his cloak, undoing the shroud of his basket, thoroughly making himself at home. (Considering him, then his friend, whose face was awash with fright) He’s not that bad, look. He’s brought some things for us to eat, though they are hard, hard to chew as they will surely be hard to swallow–
–What have you done!–
–One of them is a large crystal, hard too, like a crystal ball. Look at him, he’s like a magician or a fortune teller, calling us over to the table with him, asking to gaze into his treasures, wanting to feed us with the strict lines of our future. I’m sure you would find something there to your liking, he has other treasures too, though they are all of them hard, something you could not bare to chew. If only you weren’t so still and corpselike, if only you were not such a rotten host!
(Still still and rigid and pale, as though she’d seen the ghost) ….
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