A Moment in Kitsch Nihilism

Pop nihilism is a real, active cultural force. We can see it so clearly in Eugene Thacker’s rise to prominence around In The Dust of this Planet. We can see it in the GIF walls of Rust Cohle’s brutal Ligotti-inflected philosophy in True Detective, and it is even more start when we realize that we, as a collective, can never be as “cool” as that character.

Earlier this week I wrote a post about contemporary nihilism and The Matrix, or at least I wrote around those things, and someone on twitter showed me this video for “Come Back” by the band Seeming.



The track is sits somewhere between ambiance, noise, and field recordings, and I really enjoyed listening to it. At the same time, I couldn’t stop smiling. The video itself is filled with words like the above, and it tells the story of a human species that has separated itself from nature. The text mourns that separation, claiming that we should shuffle back into some primordial state built on love rather than the accident of the human social. Predictably, the middle of the video has footage of animals doing animal things.


I’m not drawing attention this just to slander the video, but rather to say that it drew a stark line in me. I’ve always been partial to the Ligotti/Paul Ennis/nihilist line of thinking about the world and the human relationship to it. That is to say that I think humans are profoundly destructive and the things we manage to do to one another in the same of our continued existence, our progress, and our drive for the new are all horrifying and seem to be driving us, as a species, to extinction. The causes for this extinction, of course, are created by a relative handful of the human population compared to the number of humans who live on the planet.

But this video puts me on the edge of pop nihilism and into a realm of kitsch nihilism. Is the video tongue-in-cheek and making fun of the Rust Cohle way of thinking? Or is it saccharine sincerity that advocates drawing humans back into some kind of pure love state of nature?

Maybe I just balk at the fantasy of nihilism as cultural drawdown (following from a kind of nuclear drawdown) rather than a dream of nonexistence.

Pop nihilism => kitsch nihilism = Zerzan-esque primitivism?


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1 Response to A Moment in Kitsch Nihilism

  1. Hmm, I see what you mean about the video in isolation. I watched it as a fan of the band and in the context of the album it’s from, Madness & Extinction. You can guess the themes, I suspect, and stream it at http://seeming.bandcamp.com/album/madness-extinction. That little bit of hope at the end, suggesting “a pure love state of nature”, doesn’t really cohere with the rest of the album, tbh, which for the most part sincerely says that human extinction is a desirable state.

    Regardless, I’m really glad you enjoyed the song! Seeming and their precursor, ThouShaltNot (2/3 of which went on to start Seeming) are two of my absolute favorites, but most people seem to bounce off of them.

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