Genealogy of Cynicism

American Cynicism, acrylic on canvas 24 x 36
“American Cynicism”, acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 36″


This blog will illustrate a nonlinear trajectory of the “cynic” from antiquity to the present that relies on the historiographer Mark Phillips‘ conception of “reframing,” a master metaphor for historical change that demonstrated cultural transmission as a technique of using and making. Continue reading Genealogy of Cynicism

Tracing Cynical Reason in 20th Century America

In this blog I trace cynical reason of 20th century American history as a phenomenon in two aspects: in the sphere of economics and in the sphere of cultural arts. Instead of complaining about the so-called poverty of contemporary politics or whining about the decline of contemporary morality, I insist on cynical reason as a dominant sentiment of the post-Fordist capitalist existence. In this respect, cynical reason extends further than the emotional or psychological response to the contemporary existence, and closer to a sociological analysis. Continue reading Tracing Cynical Reason in 20th Century America

The Great Philosophical Divide in Science Fiction

TomorrowLand Concept art

Life without utopia is suffocating, for the multitude at least: threatened otherwise with petrifaction, the world must have a new madness. — Cioran, History and Utopia

There’s a fault line running in science fiction that predates it: the Great Optimism -Pessimism divide. The most obvious trope of each is the role of utopia/dystopia in the science fiction work, but that is slightly more complicated than it appears.

Continue reading The Great Philosophical Divide in Science Fiction

Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?


However, this proverb is far more profound than its attempt at cleverness. All three are actually interrelated and two of them are the dominant aspects of our modern times. The cynic is the average person, having become enlightened, but since none of her traditional beliefs or values are reliable, she sinks in a reflexive false consciousness. The fanatic is the reactionary who, in rejecting the secular wisdom of the Enlightenment, inadvertently recreates a secular version of his traditional beliefs or practices in fundamentalism. As for the troll? She merely avoids the pitfalls of either dead end by transcending the modern times in her utilization of cheeky humor and avoids the sin of seriousness in mocking either caricature. Continue reading Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?

The Concept of Decline in the West

I’m interested in history as a narrative by philosophers of history, such as Hegel and Spengler. In this post I’ll go over the observations of two twentieth century thinkers: Oswald Spengler and Emil Cioran. Continue reading The Concept of Decline in the West

Scifi film in dialogue with 2001: A Space Odyssey


A few weeks ago, I came across an article on Grantland that pushed forth the thesis that all science fiction films after 1968 are in dialogue with 2001: A Space Odyssey, and shared it with my colleague in intellectual crime, Paul. Continue reading Scifi film in dialogue with 2001: A Space Odyssey

The Hipster and Cynical Reason


Smoke clove cigarettes? Wear ironic trucker hats? Skinny jeans? Horn-rimmed glasses with bug-eyed lenses? Graduated with a liberal arts major? Carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag? Soi disant exceptionally cultured, with at least one pop vice? Have at least one Republican friend, and describe him/her as your “one Republican friend?” Unwashed hair, but position said head on pillow at night to maximize cowlick? Yes, you’re a hipster. Continue reading The Hipster and Cynical Reason

Alan Moore and fan fiction

Some years ago, Alan Moore, the acclaimed author of Watchmen and Miracleman, claimed that all comics after the 1960s were fan fiction, largely for several reasons related to the massive replacement of the original writers with a younger generation.

I will argue why he is right… and why he’s wrong. Continue reading Alan Moore and fan fiction

Antinatalism & Gnosticism in Cioran


The Great Architect, by William Blake

This blog focuses on the relationship between Gnosticism and antinatalism, and whether the philosopher E.M. Cioran endorses either one in his works. Thanks to ControversialPhilosophy from the Anti-Natalist and Anti-Antinatalist Debate blog, I was motivated to present a case that looked beyond cherry-picking quotes and guilt of association rhetoric, towards the historical and theological context of the writings. Continue reading Antinatalism & Gnosticism in Cioran

Heterodox Dictionary

AMBITION: the overpowering desire to be slandered by enemies while alive & made ludicrous by friends once dead.
CONFORMIST: one who lives by imitation & by horror of originality.
CONSERVATIVE: one who is fascinated with current perversities, as opposed to the liberal, who wants to replace them with new ones.
COMMON SENSE: why everyone can be wrong at the same time.
CONVICTION: an obvious sign somebody has failed to examine his beliefs thoroughly.
CYNIC: a person who knows too much but doesn’t believe in much.
DEMAGOGUERY: a fault in the thinker, an art in the priest, an accomplishment in the politician & second-nature in the journalist.
DESPAIR: indecision between the corruption of Epicureanism & the noble poise of Stoicism.
DIPLOMAT: someone always on the verge of saying either the banal or the blunder.
ECOLOGY: the opium of today’s liberal elites.
EDUCATION: the indoctrination of the inscrutable into the incurious by the impotent.
ENEMY: someone whose judgment of us is more honest than our own.
ENNUI: crucifixion for the rest of us.
EXPERT: someone whose prudence in avoiding petty errors gives her a blank check to perpetuate monumental fallacies by the dozens.
FACEBOOK: helping emo bitch inflate drama since 2004.
FLATTERY: the weapon designed to enslave, demoralize and corrupt others.
FOOL: someone independent of anxiety, forlornness, meaninglessness, and other existentialist moods
GOD: a man made invention that prevents mass suicides.
HIGHBROW: educated beyond one’s intellectual level.
HONESTY: the cynicism of prostitutes.
HUMANISM: the reason why we would nail Prometheus, the first humanist, to a rock today.
IDEA: a simulation that eventually degenerates into a petty belief.
IDEALIST: someone who hasn’t stepped in the ring vs reality & gotten punched in the nose.
INTELLECTUAL: a guy who found something more interesting than women.
JEALOUSY: the respect many women have for one another.
LAUGHTER: scrupulous hostility.
LIE: a crude stand-in for truth, but the only available alternative.
MAN: an inexhaustible source of humor for the gods.
METAPHYSICS: the elaboration of shitty reasons for what we already believe in our bones.
MINI SKIRT: the logical conclusion to 6000 years of feminine wisdom.
PARADOX: whenever underdeveloped insight collides with current stupidity.
PEACE: the sleep of ambition.
PESSIMIST: a person exclusively devoted to untimely truths.
PHILOSOPHY: the conversion of cognitive vice into epistemic virtue.
RELIGION: the antidote to the ironic death of metanarratives.
SALVATION: the subtlest & most camouflaged of all torments.
SARCASM: mockery masquerading as an endorsement.
SELF: the greatest dogma, for nothing insulates as well as self-esteem.
TRAITOR (greatest): a Judas with the soul of Buddha.
TRUTH: either a premature insight or a symptom of decay.
TWITTER: the privilege of the narcissistic class.
WISDOM:  a clever form of inauthenticity.
WISDOM (2): a dead end that pretends to be a discipline.