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Category Archives: Nihilism

This terrifying theory proves how Trump’s reign could live on to 2028 – indy100

Posted: December 25, 2019 at 11:49 pm

With the 2020 election fast approaching, people's optimism that Trump's endless scandals and lies will keep him out of office for a second term is fast waning.

The result of the British election earlier this month, which saw a populist prime minister with a penchant for bending parliamentary norm to breaking point win an election by a landslide, has done nothing to assuage concerns that something similar could happen in the US.

The one saving grace was always the idea that Trump would at the very least be ousted in 2024 and the political pendulum would finally swing back to the left, as the US constitution prevents any one president from serving more than two terms.

But now people are beginning to panic that his reign will live on - via his daughter Ivanka.

Political commentator Ruth Ben-Ghiattweeted last night to reiterate her position that this is a very real possibility "as dispiriting as that may be".

And dispiriting it was for many, who responded with terrifying nihilism and almost apocalyptic resignation to the outrageousness of this possibility.

People feared for the future of the planet, given Trump's horrifying record on environmental issues.

Others pondered the short-sightedness of the Republican party if this actually happens.

People also pointed out it might not even end there...

...and wondered whether public opinion on political dynasties may have changed since 2016, when "outsider" was preferable to "most experienced person for the job whose husband just happened to get there first".

Perhaps most relatable were those who just refused to believe it.

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Joker Production Designer Mark Friedberg On His Initial Reluctance To Work On Warner Bros. Pic & Embracing The Strange Beauty Of A Crumbling World…

Posted: at 11:49 pm

The production designer behind Joker, Mark Friedberg knows New York City like the back of his hand.

Growing up there at around the same time as Joker director Todd Phillips, and presenting distinct portraits of New York in such films as Wonderstruck and If Beale Street Could Talk, Friedberg most recently transformed the city into a gritty Gotham City of the 1980s, for a standalone origin story of an iconic DC villain.

To Friedberg, transforming New York repeatedly for different films has been a manageable task, due to his relationship with the city, but also the essential nature of the place. New York is in my blood; Im made of it, and Ive spent an extraordinary amount of my life driving around it, knowing every corner, the production designer says. But New York is also a city you could make any version of a world out ofupscale, downscale, ethnic, architectural, suburban.

For Joker, Friedberg was looking not only at the NYC of his youth, but also at the cinema coming out of the city at that time. This included the early films of Martin Scorsese, as well as dramas like Network, The French Connection and Midnight Cowboy, movies that are strangely beautiful, even though theyre stripped down, unadorned, and depicting a crumbling world, the designer explains.

Theres something about the decay or dysfunction that is poetic. Rather than shooting pristine architecture, which just reflects back at you, theres something about a world where the buildings are falling down, and people are writing all over them, thats human, and I think that was one of the things we were successful in, that theres a nihilism to the world of Joker, but theres also a humanity to it, Friedberg adds. Its really a story of opposing extremescomedy, tragedy, life and death, decay or beauty, rich or poor, imagined and real. So, I think we were curious about exploring those themes. Ultimately, its a story about Arthur, so the version of the world we made for him was both something that reflected him and maybe, in a weird way, came out of him.

Transforming a corner of the Bronx that was urine-covered and garbage-coveredincluding the instantly iconic set of steps Joker dances downinto a place now regularly visited by buses full of tourists, Friedberg has mixed feelings.

The people who live there were happy to have us come, as a distraction to some of the hardships. Like, they have to walk up those steps every day. Now, theres bus tours going to these steps, theyre sanitized, and I got a note from [screenwriter] Scott Silver saying, Mark, you broke the Bronx. Im a little anxious about all that, Friedberg laughs. You know, the South Bronx used to be the butt of jokes. In the 70s, it was the punch line for decaying urban life, although when it was built, it was a very special place. Those stairs are a few blocks from Yankee Stadium; that block is an architectural masterpiece thats just fallen apart.

Below, the production designer further describes his take on the rough and tumble city, his initial reluctance to be a part of Joker, and what it was that ultimately sold him on the project.

DEADLINE: What excited you about the prospect of designing Joker?

MARK FRIEDBERG: I wasnt excited about it. I didnt want to do it, because without paying much attentionwithout knowing much more than who was directing itI just figured it was the next in line of whatever the next DC franchise would be.

Thats just not my world, or the kind of film that I like to seeand nothing against those films. Im not in any way looking down on them; in fact, they are the reason we still have a film industry. Its just not my taste. I had done a Spider-Man, and on that particular movie, there were so many rules of engagement, because it was part of something that had already been established, and it was really a financial cornerstone for the studio. It just didnt feel like cinema, in the way that Im used to it.

But ultimately, I was persuaded to read the script. I was friends with Emma Tillinger [Koskoff, producer], I was friends with Randy Poster, the music supervisor, and the minute I read the first five pages, I was hooked. Id proved myself wrong on every front. It was a film, it was a really strong script, and I was surprised. I kind of couldnt figure out how that could happen.

I think it took someone like Todd Phillips to make it, not just because of his talent, but because of his clout, at a place where hes been one of the most successful directors, and it was clear in our meeting that he was going for it. He wasnt hedging; he wasnt trying to make a popular film. He was trying to make a good film, and in fact, willing to risk it not being popular, to make it true to an idea.

That hooked me, and the irony is, for being a rather big studio film, it was, in a way, more independent than some of my favorite independent films that Ive gotten to work on. Zero interference from the studio, zero concern for anything beyond adherence to the credo that we established. So, I was in.

And it was hard. Its tough material; its not the worlds most uplifting story. Obviously, we got criticized early on. I feel like maybe whoever that was misunderstood our intentions, but it was like throwing a live grenade around the room. Its intense stuff, and I think thats partly why its been successful. Its not so often that cinema on this level, with these kinds of stakes, does take these kinds of risks, and does challenge the audience in this wayand the audience has proved that they not only are up to the challenge, but that they are interested or identify with these themes.

And, you know, its not a didactic story. Were not saying what the outcome is; were not even saying what happened, really. You could interpret this story a lot of different ways. But its a tough story about a tough world, and by the way, open the window, look outside. Its a tough world out there.

DEADLINE: What was the location scouting process like? What informed your choices, as far as environments that would define this films version of Gotham?

FRIEDBERG: We looked a long time, to map out our Gotham. Obviously, where Arthur lived was a key element in all of that, the location we returned to the most. It says a lot about him, because its where he gets to be. But we looked long and hard. We looked at public housing, city projects, many of the tougher neighborhoods, of which there are less and less, as the city gentrifies, and everybodys pushed somewhere else. Where all those people are going is somewhat of a curiosity, but it aint happened in the South Bronx just yet.

Ultimately, we chose that area partly because it was very New York, but not something you think about, when you think about New York. I think that was the Gotham we were trying to make. Clearly, Gothams always related to New York, but we were trying to make some version of a mythologized city. We were also interested in the fact that even though thats where he lived, Arthur is kind of homeless. He doesnt have a room there; hes sleeping on the couch. He may be in and out of institutions.

In a weird way, his home is the streets. He spends a lot of time out there, whether its working on the street, riding subways around, or buses. Also, his journey home is just arduous. Everything bears down on Arthur. The citys falling down, people are punching him. Theres always trains over his head, garbage he has to navigate, and the stairs added the obvious stage for Joker to become Joker. Ultimately, theres many of those sets of stairs in the Bronx. We chose the Shakespeare Avenue stairs because it was right next to the place that we chose to be the exterior of his residence.

The movie was shot all over the city. We shot in Chinatown, in Harlem, in Midtown, in Brooklyn, and in Newark, New Jersey. As much as you want to talk about how this is New York, its New York area, East Coast urban. But Gotham Square, in the beginning, and the big riot at the end, that was all shot on Market Street in Newark.

Todd is a very hands-on as a director, and was adamant that the process of prep started way early. I had a lot of prep, when I was the only guy on the movie with a couple of scouts, and we drove and drove. We looked at New York for months and months before prep even started.

I used to have a class that I taught called My Best Design Tool Is My Carand it is, in a lot of ways. Because as much as we can sit at a drawing board and invent a world, that assumes that I know everything that I want to make. But the process of scouting is a process of discovery, and its not just discovering places. Its discovering the world of the story. That time in the car is really when things congealed.

DEADLINE: How did you approach designing the set of The Murray Franklin Show?

FRIEDBERG: Well, it wasnt just the set that we built. The stage we shot in was brand new, and we wanted it to be not just the thing that you saw on TV, but the thing that you saw when you were in the audience, or when you were backstage. So, we built an old stage inside the new stage, and dressing rooms and corridors. There was actually a lot more that we made than what was ultimately in the cut; you could have walked from Arthurs dressing room all the way out to the stage. There was a dressing room for Murray himself, where actually De Niro hung out when he was off camera, and then there was the design of that set, which was as important as any in the movie.

That went through some fits and starts. It started as a more regional talk show, more like a Joe Franklin Show, and it evolved into more of a national, classic talk show look. The curtains were the only other burst of color beside the clown-ness of him, [evoking] a kind of vibrance for him, when hes in that Joker state. But also, for me, the set offered a chance to have a backdrop of Gotham City, which was a big part of that set, the mural that you see through the window. And boy, did we labor over that. It was really science that got us there, as well as arta lot of variations in the design, a lot of models, a lot of testing of colors.

DEADLINE: On Joker, you also shot on real subway cars from the 70s and 80s. Hauled out of the New York City Transit Museum, these were placed on New York transit lines, and operated by MTA personnel.

FRIEDBERG: Heres to the MTA for being extraordinarily cooperative with us. They gave us a lot more help than they had to, and broke some of their own regulations to let us get shots we wanted, although they do have a lot of regulationsone of which is No graffiti, another of which is No traveling between cars. So, those were tricky things that we had to figure out how to do.

The ride at the end was shot practically, but the scene with the Wall Street guys was shot on stage. That car was not from the museum, but it was from a collectora guy I knew, a car I used once before that we completely changed. We had to make it look more like the one or two old cars we could get from the MTA that we used in other moments, just to make the connection. The car on stage, we were able to graffiti, and then we put these giant video walls on either side of it, so what you see out the window was live plates that we shot.

It was a big, complicated set. One of the things I think we did well, though, was to knit the stage world and the real world, where its hard to tell what we did where. I really wanted the film to feel docu stylelike we were out on the streets, alwaysand its hard to tell that that scene was all shot on a stage.

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Joker Production Designer Mark Friedberg On His Initial Reluctance To Work On Warner Bros. Pic & Embracing The Strange Beauty Of A Crumbling World...

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In the S.C.-set Opera "Adams Run," the Climate is the Only Crisis – Charleston City Paper

Posted: at 11:49 pm

"Adams Run" is a video opera composed by Ruby Fulton and produced by Rhymes with Opera. Baynard Woods, a former Charleston City Paper columnist, wrote the libretto, which is set in the Colleton County town of Adams Run. The story, set in the near future where the climate crisis is the only topic, centers around Billy Noble, an environmentally minded televangelist with a reality show about building an ecological ark for his flock, and Julie Shore, an existentialist weather woman who mocks our inability to act in the face of planetary change with gallows humor. They have the two most popular shows on TV and when Shore goes to Adams Run to cover Noble's ark, they fall in love. The following scenes open the film (which is available on Amazon Prime) by cross-cutting scenes from both of the shows.


It's July 29th, 2020 and I'm Julie Shore, the Existentialist Weather Woman

It is snowing in Los Angeles

At twentynine degrees

Connecticut is burning,

one hundred-eighteen.


And it is the wrath of the Lord

that brings these end times upon

us. We have not shepherded his

Earth and his Oceans and his seas


Today marks the eighth straight

year of severe drought in the Mid

and South West


And the Dust is blowing


So long it's been good to know you/

so long it's been good to know you/

so long it's been good to know you/

this dusty old dust is driving me

home/ and I've got to be drifting



And it is the wrath of a righteous

God Just as it was in the days of



In the City of Baltimore today, the

mayor and City Council finally agreed

on the forceful and permanent

evacuation of the historic Fells

Point neighborhood


And that is why we are here today And

henceforth on the Rev. Billy Noble

Gospel Hour


Baltimore is now the fifth city to

take such drastic action against

rising tides


at the Ark, our environmental retreat

and laboratory

In the town of Adams Run, SC

The story the people down the road

On Edisto island used to say

Is that Edisto was Eden and Adams Run

was where Adam stopped

the first night after the expulsion from the Garden


Eight other cities, including New

York City, are contemplating similar


It is an especially fraught issue

in New York, where 232 people died

last week when a subway line flooded:

Still no word whether they

drowned or were electrocuted.


And so we, sinners expelled from our cities-

You heard about the flooded subway

in New York last week, no doubt,

We have come back to this spot, the

first dark night after the

realization of our sin to rebegin

again; to build an ark for the righteous

to claim our birthright

not only as the children of Adam

But also of Noah, for the Lord hath

so ordered to live in harmony with

the Earth and on this ark create a

new covenant with the Lord and the


Meanwhile, in South Carolina where

two super tornados coming from

different directions collided into

the state capital in what one

spectator described as two

Godzillas having rough sex

Citizens, led by the famous Rev.

Billy Noble are claiming the end

times and declaring the weather

acts of God


And surely some of you, even those

amongst us here as soon as you turn

off our show flip through the DVR

to the Existentialist Weather Woman

The top show on the TV. And I

understand, I too have watched the

fetching young woman as she makes

light of the only topic that now

matters Infecting our country with

European nihilism and gallows'



Even if God is not dead it is now

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Nihilism –

Posted: December 23, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Nihilism Abandoning Values and KnowledgeNihilism derives its name from the Latin root nihil, meaning nothing, that which does not exist. This same root is found in the verb annihilate -- to bring to nothing, to destroy completely. Nihilism is the belief which:

Nihilism A Meaningless WorldShakespeares Macbeth eloquently summarizes existential nihilism's perspective, disdaining life:

Nihilism Beyond NothingnessNihilism--choosing to believe in Nothingness--involves a high price. An individual may choose to feel rather than think, exert their will to power than pray, give thanks, or obey God. After an impressive career of literary and philosophical creativity, Friedrich Nietzsche lost all control of his mental faculties. Upon seeing a horse mistreated, he began sobbing uncontrollably and collapsed into a catatonic state. Nietzsche died August 25, 1900, diagnosed as utterly insane. While saying Yes to life but No to God, the Prophet of Nihilism missed both.

Beyond the nothingness of nihilism, there is One who is greater than unbelief; One who touched humanity (1 John 5:20) and assures us that our lives are not meaningless (Acts 17:24-28).

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Nihilism | Supernatural Wiki | Fandom

Posted: at 4:50 pm


Nihilism is the 10th episode of Season 14. It aired on January 17, 2019.

Michael has re-taken control of Dean as his army of monsters continues to move in on our heroes. Sam devises a plan to try and reach Dean and stop Michael before anyone else has to die.

Michael taunting Sam Dean and Castiel while in Dean's mind.

Michael continues to fight the trio and gains the upper-hand over them before mocking them on trying to get him to evacuate Dean's body since it might cause physical repercussions on Dean. Hearing this, Dean decides to not eject the Archangel but keep him locked away. With help from Sam and Castiel, Dean pushes Michael into a walk-in bar cooler full of kegs and locks him inside using a screwdriver. Michael immediately starts bashing on the door wanting out. Dean declares the door will hold because he has control over his subconscious and will have it act as the cage to hold Michael.

The group leave Dean's mind, as they are cleaning up the mess left by the monsters. Sam and Maggie are relieved that Michael's monsters scattered after being rendered in disarray without his direction. Sam thanks Maggie for protecting them, as she states it was Jack since he destroyed the monsters as she and Sam note on the latter's powers returning. Castiel is admonishing Jack on his acts since they have burned away part of his soul from the Enochian magic but Jack defends himself because there was danger. Cass accepts this and warns Jack to be careful and he promises.

Michael angrily tries to escape Dean's mind.

In his room, Dean is talking to himself in a mirror where he tells himself that he is still in control of his body while Michael is in his subconscious continuously bashing on the locked door and screams to be released. Dean senses this and continues to worry over his control before Billie appears and notes on the screaming in Dean's mind keeping him occupied. Dean thanks her for the assist she provided as she shrugs it off to the matter at hand. She reminds him of her warnings of dimension traveling and the danger it brings. Dean justifies it since Michael is now trapped but Billie is not so sure, she tells Dean of his shelf of possible deaths and they have all changed to the same thing. She reveals that each detail of how Michael will escape to take control of Dean and destroy the world. Billie shows the shocked Dean that only one details an alternate way as she hands him a thin book. Reading the contents, a stunned Dean questions this and Billie tells him it's his choice to make before she disappears.

Sam and Michael

Michael to Dean about Castiel

Dean and Billie


Supernatural 14x10 Promo "Nihilism" (HD) Season 14 Episode 10 Promo

Supernatural 14x10 Extended Promo "Nihilism" (HD) Season 14 Episode 10 Extended Promo

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Nihilism: Examples and Definition | Philosophy Terms

Posted: at 4:50 pm

I. Definition

What do you believe in? What gives your life meaning? How do you know whats true? If you can answer these questions without saying nothing, youre not a nihilist. Nihilism, most simply, means believing in nothing. The word is derived from Latin, nihil, which means nothing.

Nihilism can mean believing that nothing is real, believing that its impossible to know anything, believing that all values are based on nothing, especially moral values, or believing that life is inherently and utterly meaningless. We will discuss these different kinds of nihilism through its history and in section five.

Most philosophers have feared nihilism, believing that it leads to hopelessness, immorality, weakness, and destruction. Nihilism has probably been the most universally demonized philosophy in the Western world. In the East, its quite different, because, Buddhism is considered nihilistic by many philosophers, but is thought to lead to compassion and peace. We will discuss this too in the following sections.

Although many philosophers have considered nihilism almost synonymous with amorality and the idea that life has no meaning, this point of view may be outdated. Nihilism gained its fame during the years when people in the Western world were just beginning to cope with the idea that there may be no God, or that all value systems are relative to culture, and they couldnt imagine living a moral or meaningful life without God and traditional culture to fall back on. However, more recent generations have seen more optimistic versions of nihilism (see section seven).

Nihilism was named by the philosopher Friedrich Jacobi in the early 19th century; Jacobi believed that Immanuel Kants transcendental idealism implied what we will call metaphysical nihilismthe idea that nothing is real. Although this was not to be the most famous and supposedly dangerous form of nihilism, it was a criticism of Kants philosophy. Jacobi was not a nihilist. However, this motivation for nihilismthe analysis of reality as a subjective construction of minds, is a central reason for most forms nihilismthe recognition that in one way or another all meaning in the universe is created by the minds of those that perceive it.

The roots of nihilism in the Western world go back to the Greeks (like everything in philosophy!) The ancient Greek Skeptics believed that one should doubt, question, and examine all beliefs. Whether there would be any truths left afterwards remained an open question. The skeptical attitude became a crucial element of science and reason, but did not bear the fruit of nihilism in the West until after rationalism and materialism became major philosophies in the 18th and 19th centuries. Together, rationalism and materialism implied to many people that the universe was a soul-less machine, therefore devoid of real meaning.

The first famous nihilist was a fictional character in Russian author Turgenevs novel Fathers and Sons. And this reflected a reality; nihilism was growing rapidly in Russia at this time and in the late 19th century, it became political nihilism, a movement against both the church and the Russian governmenta rejection of all traditional authority. Rationalism, materialism, atheism, anarchism, nihilism, and the possibility of violent revolution all seemed closely related at that timewhich is also why nihilism is still associated with violence and destruction in many minds.

At the same time, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the most famous theorist of nihilism, argued that the world at that time was bound to become increasingly nihilistic for many years, and therefore full of despair, immorality, and pointless destruction. But, he also claimed that it was probably necessary for humanity to go through such a period in order to wipe away the irrationality of age-old traditional beliefs and eventually create a better basis for ethics and life-meaning. Of course, Nietzsches superman, the perfection of humanity, would be a nihilist, not bound by inherited ideas, creating his or her own meaning, according to their will.

Nietzsche recognized that developments in philosophy were going to encourage all of us towards nihilismrationalism, materialism, skepticism, science, and the recognition of cultural relativity. Many philosophers saw this problem and many agree that Nietzsches predictions were correct, that we have been living through the horrors that he foresaw resulting from nihilism. It would be easy to argue that much of the immorality and pointless violence we see in the world today is partially rooted in nihilism; but, we must then also note that a lot of violence is also caused by the opposite of nihilismfaith in traditional beliefs.

If 19th century philosophers saw nihilism as an approaching demon, 20th century philosophers saw it as a fact of life and searched for ways to cope with it. Existentialism, the central philosophy of the 20th century, was certainly nihilistic. And depressingly so for many; existential nihilism focuses on the ultimate meaninglessness of existence. Existentialism taught that there is no objective meaning; but, existentialists also emphasized our freedom to create meaning. And this is where nihilism began to move in a better direction. The existentialists, although often depressed, promoted the idea that we can (in fact must) give life our own meaning.

In the second half of the 20th century, new philosophies developed carrying nihilism in another directionwhich many philosophers find at least as distressing as any previous versions! Those are the philosophies / art movements of deconstruction and post-modernism. Deconstruction was a method of analysis which showed in many ways how meanings are constructed, supposedly with no ultimate foundationno solid reality behind them. And post-modernism consisted mainly of artists playing with the consequences of deconstruction and trying to create new human meaning out of this nihilistic world-view.

Every version of nihilism (see section five) has been feared by people who felt that without a foundation in objective truth or faith, it is impossible to have morality, life-meaning, or knowledge. However, there are many philosophies, such as secular humanism, Buddhism, and post-modernism which claim that it is possible to develop new and better forms of morality, knowledge, and life-meaning, without reliance on faith, which may be seen as deceptive and limiting. Buddhists base their morality on the recognition that all living things suffer and depend on each other. Post-modernists use new artistic techniques that recognize the artificially constructed nature of meaning, such as when characters in movies speak directly to the audience. So, it seems that nihilism can also lead to new and valuable forms of morality and meaning-making.

I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilisms] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength Friedrich Nietzsche

As remarked above, Nietzsche is known for sounding the alarm about nihilism in Western philosophy. More interesting is that he saw nihilism as an opportunity for humanity to master itself, and a test of our strength. It can be inferred from his other writings that Nietzsche though human beings could and should create positive meaning, if they could free themselves from the limitations of irrational traditions.

But todays society is characterized by achievement orientation, and consequently it adores people who are successful and happy and, in particular, it adores the young. It virtually ignores the value of all those who are otherwise, and in so doing blurs the decisive difference between being valuable in the sense of dignity and being valuable in the sense of usefulness. If one is not cognizant of this difference and holds that an individuals value stems only from his present usefulness, then, believe me, one owes it only to personal inconsistency not to plead for euthanasia along the lines of Hitlers program, that is to say, mercy killing of all those who have lost their social usefulness, be it because of old age, incurable illness, mental deterioration, or whatever handicap they may suffer. Confounding the dignity of man with mere usefulness arises from conceptual confusion that in turn may be traced back to the contemporary nihilism transmitted on many an academic campus and many an analytical couch. Viktor E. Frankl, Mans Search for Meaning

In this quote, Victor Frankl claims that our society values people only for their usefulness, and blames this attitude on a kind of nihilism, which he associates with academics, and psychotherapy. He is talking about the reduction of human meaning, by reason, to materialism and functionalismthat the only things that matter are materials and what things (or people) do, practically. He argues that if you really believe in this world-view you should support the idea of killing off all useless members of society, as Hitler wished to do. Frankls fear that nihilism could support Nazi-like policies was a common fear among philosophers in the mid-twentieth century.

Here, we define each type of nihilism, most of which are also discussed in sections I and II.

The philosophy that we cannot know anything for sure. Also known as radical skepticism. This might be considered the gateway philosophy for nihilism. It seems to be a consequence of rationalism.

The belief that nothing is real, or that nothing really exists. Historically, based on idealismthe philosophy that everything is made of either ideas, or consciousness. Buddhism could be considered a kind of metaphysical nihilism.

The rejection of faith in traditional authorities including the government and the churchalso specifically a movement of this sort in late 19th century Russia.

The philosophy that existence ultimately has no meaning, including no God, no afterlife, and no transcendental domain of any kind. Often thought of as a philosophy of despair.

The belief that there is no solid basis for morality or any ethos, and therefore, that anything is permitted. Many people have felt this is a necessary consequence of atheism, but most atheists disagree.

Methods of literary analysis and art based on the idea that all meanings are constructed by minds and culture, and have no real basis.

Buddhism teaches a form of idealismthat consciousness is the fundamental reality, and that all conceivable objects and thoughts are temporary, illusory, and ultimately emptylike thoughts. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form is a major Buddhist quote. However, in Buddhism, this realization is supposed to lead to compassion and peace.

Historically, nihilism has been closely associated with atheismthe belief that there is no God. Because traditionally, people were raised to think of God and religion as the ultimate source of meanings and morality. However, although atheism, or at least agnosticism, would seem to be a necessary part of nihilism, they are not the same. An atheist may still believe in meaning, morality, or even spirituality. For example, nature-worshipper can be atheists but still believe in nature. And some atheists, such as Buddhists, believe in the goodness of human nature and the value of compassion.

Popular film has been full of nihilistsTyler Durden of Fight Club, Agent Smith of the Matrix, Heath Ledgers Joker in The Dark Knight all express nihilistic world-views. Fight Club seems to examine the causes and consequences of contemporary existential nihilism, but not necessarily to promote it; although the urge to burn it all down has a cathartic appeal to many viewers, in the end, the protagonist tries to save lives, perhaps showing that he is not a total nihilist.

And now, for something completely different:

Eric Idles Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Pythons film The Life of Brian:

The setting for this musical number makes the main lyrics of this song bitterly absurd; in this context, they express the meaningless absurdity of life. You will notice though, that as the song goes on, the lyrics more and more directly express a philosophy of existentialist nihilism. The Life of Brian was banned in Britain for years, due to its implicit atheism.

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SparkNotes: Crime and Punishment Quotes: Nihilism

Posted: at 4:50 pm

I dont believe in a future life, said Raskolnikov.

Svidrigailov tells Raskolnikov that he has been seeing his dead wifes ghost, and reflects that ghosts represent shreds and fragments of other worlds. Raskolnikov replies that he doesnt believe in an afterlife, Svidrigailovs other worlds. Raskolnikovs belief that no life exists outside of the body and his rejection of the idea of a soul represent a nihilistic viewpoint. Nihilism favors a strict materialism, a belief that reality exists only within the bounds of the material world.

Raskolnikov overhears a conversation between a student and an officer in which the student makes case for justifying the theft and homicide of Alyona, the pawnbroker. The student argues that the immorality of murdering an old woman near death who actively harms people seems far outweighed by the benefit in the countless lives her money would improve. His argument applies an ethic of utilitarianism to determine right conduct by usefulness. Making moral decisions outside of a religious value system links utilitarianism with nihilism and both with socialism.

This type of short and rude response comes from Raskolnikov often. He treats people, even family members, as an annoyance. After he commits murder and conceals the crime, Raskolnikovs mental state rapidly deteriorates, a condition that distresses both his sister and mother. The two women try to help and comfort him, but he orders them out. Raskolnikov says he loves his family, and he does, but he also isolates himself emotionally, out of feeling superior. Raskolnikovs unsentimental behavior and lack of concern for others feelings make him a good example of a nihilist.

This comment, which Svidrigailov makes to Raskolnikov, sums up the nature of their conversations throughout the book. Raskolnikov asks Svidrigailov blunt, direct, and personal questions, yet when Svidrigailov does the same, Raskolnikov sidesteps. Similarly, Raskolnikov calls out Svidrigailov on his lack of manners, yet Raskolnikov will not accept the truth when Svidrigailov says the same of him. Raskolnikov lives hypocritically: As a nihilist, he cares nothing for others feelings or social conventions, but as a conflicted human, he demands propriety from others.

Raskolnikov has been serving his prison sentence, where Sonia comes dutifully to visit him. Before, Raskolnikov felt repulsed by the idea of holding hands with Sonia, but finally, he allows her to hold his hand. Here, the narrator explains how Sonia takes Raskolnikovs action as a sign of his true love. Holding her hand symbolizes that Raskolnikov finally breaks free of his nihilistic, self-imposed psychological isolation from others, and that he discovers love. Readers might infer what the effect of this simple action means about the ultimate futility of nihilism.

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SparkNotes: Crime and Punishment Quotes: Nihilism

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Nihilism is a philosophical position which argues that the world, and especially human existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Nihilists generally assert some or all of the following: there is no reasonable proof of the existence of a higher ruler or creator, a "true morality" is unknown, and secular ethics are impossible; therefore, life has no truth, and no action is known to be preferable to any other.[1]

Nihilism is often more a charge leveled against a particular idea, movement, or group, than it is an actual philosophical position to which someone overtly subscribes. Movements such as Dadaism as well as Futurism[2] and deconstructionism,[3] among others, have been described by commentators as "nihilist" at various times in various contexts. Often this means or is meant to imply that the beliefs of the accuser are more substantial or truthful, whereas the beliefs of the accused are nihilistic, and thereby comparatively amount to nothing.

Nihilism is also a characteristic that has been ascribed to time periods: for example, Baudrillard and others have called postmodernity a nihilistic epoch,[4] and some Christian theologians and figures of authority have asserted that modernity[3] and postmodernity[5] represent the rejection of God, and therefore are nihilistic.

Prominent philosophers who have written on the subject of nihilism include Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. Nietzsche described Christianity as a nihilistic religion because it evaded the challenge of finding meaning in earthly life, creating instead a spiritual projection where mortality and suffering were removed instead of transcended. He believed nihilism resulted from the "death of God", and insisted that it was something to be overcome, by returning meaning to a monistic reality. (He sought instead a "pragmatic idealism," in contrast to the prominent influence of Schopenhauer's "cosmic idealism.") Heidegger argued that the term "nihilism has a very specific meaning. What remains unquestioned and forgotten in metaphysics is being; and hence, it is nihilistic,"[6] and that nihilism rested on the reduction of Being to "mere value."[How to reference and link to summary or text]

The term comes from the Latin nihil, meaning "nothing". The Oxford English Dictionary gives 1817 as its earliest use in English, and Alain Rey's Dictionnaire historique de la langue franaise (revised edition 1995) gives 1787 as the first use of the word in French, nothing that nihiliste was used in 1761, though in a religious sense of 'heretic' that is now obsolete. Rey also argues that the Russian equivalent nighilizm () that appeared in 1829 was an impulse to the penetration of the term into modern language.

The Latin indefinite pronoun nihili ('nothing') is a reduced form of nihilum, a term that derives from ne-hilom, an emphatic form of the negation ne by means of hilum, meaning 'the slightest amount' and of uncertain origin. [citation needed]

Though the term nihilism was first popularized by Ivan Turgenev (see below), it was first introduced into philosophical discourse by Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (17431819), who used the term to characterize rationalism, and in particular Immanuel Kant's "critical" philosophy in order to carry out a reductio ad absurdum according to which all rationalism (philosophy as criticism) reduces to nihilism, and thus it should be avoided and replaced with a return to some type of faith and revelation. (See also fideism.)

Friedrich Nietzsche's later work displays a preoccupation with nihilism. Book One of the posthumous collection The Will to Power (a highly selective arrangement of jottings from various notebooks and from an incomplete project begun by Nietzsche himself, then posthumously edited and released by his sister, Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche) is entitled "European Nihilism" which he calls "the problem of the nineteenth century." [citation needed] Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. He hints that nihilism can become a false belief, when it leads individuals to discard any hope of meaning in the world and thus to invent some compensatory alternate measure of significance.

Though some deride it as nihilistic, postmodernism can be contrasted with the above formulation of nihilism in that the most common type of nihilism tends toward defeatism or fatalism, while postmodern philosophers tend to find strength and reason for celebration in the varied and unique human relationships it explores.

In a very different vein than just given, contemporary analytic philosophers have been engaged in a very active discussion over the past few years about what is called mereological nihilism. This is the position that objects with parts do not exist, and only basic building blocks without parts exist (e.g., electrons, quarks), and thus the world we see and experience full of objects with parts is a product of human misperception. Jeffrey Grupp of Purdue University [7], argues for a doctrine of mereological nihilism, maintaining that there are no objects whatsoever which have parts. Grupp argues that nihilism is the standard position of many ancient atomists, such as Democritus of ancient Greece, Dharmakirti of ancient India, that it is the position held by Kant in his transcendental idealism, and that it is the position actually found in quantum observational physics.[8]The other contemporary mereological nihilists are not atomists (instead they advocate a slightly diferent theory, called simples), such as the mereological nihilists Trenton Merricks of the University of Virginia, and Peter van Inwagen of Notre Dame.

In the world of ethics, nihilist or nihilistic is often used as a derogatory term referring to a complete rejection of all systems of authority, morality, and social custom, or one who purportedly makes such a rejection. Either through the rejection of previously accepted bases of belief or through extreme relativism or skepticism, the nihilist is construed as one who believes that none of these claims to power are valid. Nihilism not only dismisses received moral values, but rejects 'morality' outright, viewing it as baseless.

Postmodern thought is colored by the perception of a degeneration of systems of epistemology and ethics into extreme relativism, especially evident in the writings of Jean-Franois Lyotard and Jacques Derrida. These philosophers tend to deny the very grounds on which Western cultures have based their 'truths': absolute knowledge and meaning, the accumulation of positive knowledge, historical progress, and the ideals of humanism and the Enlightenment. Though it is often described as a fundamentally nihilist philosophy, before entering a brief discussion on postmodern thought it is important to note that nihilism itself is open to postmodern criticism: nihilism is a claim to a universal truth, exactly what postmodernism rejects.

Lyotard argues that, rather than relying on an objective truth or method to prove their claims, philosophers legitimize their truths by reference to a story about the world which is inseparable from the age and system the stories belong to. Lyotard calls them meta-narratives. He then goes on to define the postmodern condition as one characterized by a rejection both of these meta-narratives and of the process of legitimization by meta-narratives.

"In lieu of meta-narratives we have created new language-games in order to legitimize our claims which rely on changing relationships and mutable truths, none of which is privileged over the other to speak to ultimate truth." It is this unstable concept of truth and meaning that leads one close to nihilism, though in the same move that plunges toward meaninglessness, Lyotard suspends his philosophy just above its surface.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche defined the term as any philosophy that, rejecting the real world around us and physical existence along with it, results in an apathy toward life and a poisoning of the human soul and opposed it vehemently. He describes it as "the will to nothingness" or, more specifically:

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, section 585, Walter Kaufmann

In this sense it is the philosophical equivalent to the Russian political movement mentioned above: the irrational leap beyond skepticism the desire to destroy meaning, knowledge, and value. To him, it was irrational because the human soul thrives on value. Nihilism, then, was in a sense like suicide and mass murder all at once. He saw this philosophy as present in Christianity (which he describes as slave morality), Buddhism, morality, asceticism and any excessively skeptical philosophy.

Nietzsche is referred to as a nihilist in part because he famously announced "God is dead!" What he meant by this oft-repeated statement has been the subject of much heated debate, because Nietzsche simply declared this position in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra without actually arguing for it. Some argue that Nietzsche meant not that God has died in a literal sense, or even necessarily that God doesn't exist, but that we don't believe in God anymore, that even those of us who profess faith in God don't really believe. God is dead, then, in the sense that his existence is now irrelevant to the bulk of humanity. "And we," he says in The Gay Science, "have killed him."

Alternately, some have interpreted Nietzsche's comment to be a statement of faith that the world has no rational order. Nietzsche also believed that, even though Christian morality is nihilistic, without God humanity is left with no epistemological or moral base from which we can derive absolute beliefs. Thus, even though nihilism has been a threat in the past, through Christianity, Platonism, and various political movements that aim toward a distant utopian future, and any other philosophy that devalues human life and the world around us (and any philosophy that devalues the world around us by privileging some other or future world necessarily devalues human life), Nietzsche tells us it is also a threat for humanity's future. This warning can also be taken as a polemic against 19th and 20th century scientism.

Nietzsche advocated a remedy for nihilism's destructive effects and a hope for humanity's future in the form of the bermensch, a position especially apparent in his works Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Antichrist. The bermensch is an exercise of action and life: one must give value to their existence by behaving as if one's very existence were a work of art. Nietzsche believed that the bermensch "exercise" would be a necessity for human survival in the post-religious era.

Another part of Nietzsche's remedy for nihilism is a revaluation of morals he hoped that we are able to discard the old morality of equality and servitude and adopt a new code, turning Judeo-Christian morality on its head. Excess, carelessness, callousness, and sin, then, are not the damning acts of a person with no regard for his salvation, nor that which plummets a society toward decadence and decline, but the signifier of a soul already withering and the sign that a society is in decline. The only true sin to Nietzsche is that which is against a human nature aimed at the expression and venting of one's power over oneself. Virtue, likewise, is not to act according to what has been commanded, but to contribute to all that betters a human soul.

Nietzsche attempts to reintroduce what he calls a master morality, which values personal excellence over forced compassion and creative acts of will over the herd instinct, a moral outlook he attributes to the ancient Greeks. The Christian moral ideals developed in opposition to this master morality, he says, as the reversal of the value system of the elite social class due to the oppressed class' resentment of their Roman masters. Nietzsche, however, did not believe that humans should adopt master morality as the be-all-end-all code of behavior - he believed that the revaluation of morals would correct the inconsistencies in both master and slave morality - but simply that master morality was preferable to slave morality, although this is debatable. Walter Kaufmann, for one, disagrees that Nietzsche actually preferred master morality to slave morality. He certainly gives slave morality a much harder time, but this is partly because he believes that slave morality is modern society's more imminent danger. The Antichrist had been meant as the first book in a four-book series, "Toward a Re-Evaluation of All Morals", which might have made his views more explicit, but Nietzsche did not survive to write the later three books.

Nihilism is often described as a belief in the nonexistence of truth. In its more extreme forms, such a belief is difficult to justify, because it contains a variation on the liar paradox: if it is true that truth does not exist, the statement "truth does not exist" is itself a truth, therefore showing itself to be inconsistent. A formally identical criticism has been leveled against relativism and the verifiability theory of meaning of logical positivism.

A more sophisticated interpretation of the claim might be that while truth may exist, it is inaccessible in practice, but this leaves open the problem of how the nihilist has accessed it. It may be a reasonable reply that the nihilist has not accessed truth directly, but has come to the conclusion, based on past experience, that truth is ultimately unattainable within the confines of human circumstance. Thus, since nihilists believe they have learned that truth cannot be attained in this life, they look upon the activities of those rigorously seeking truth as futile. However, this interpretation is open to the same criticism as above, since, barring mystical revelation, the only way the "truth" of nihilism can have been learned is from within the confines of human experience. An attempt at reconciliation may be made in the following way:

There have been various movements in art, such as surrealism and cubism, which have been criticized for touching on nihilism, and others like Dada which have embraced it openly. More generally, modern art has been criticized as nihilistic due to its often non-representative nature, as happened with the Nazi party's Degenerate art exhibit.

Nihilistic themes can be found in literature and music as well. This is especially true of contemporary music and literature, where the uncertainty following what some perceive as the demise of modernism is explored in detail.

The term Dada was first used during World War I, an event that precipitated the movement, which lasted from approximately 1916 to 1923. The Dada Movement began in the old town of Zrich, Switzerland known as the "Niederdorf" or "Niederdrfli," which is now sporadically inhabited by dadaist squatters. The Dadaists claimed that Dada was not an art movement, but an anti-art movement, sometimes using found objects in a manner similar to found poetry and labeling them art, thus undermining ideas of what art is and what it can be. The "anti-art" drive is thought of to have stemmed from a post-war emptiness that lacked passion or meaning in life. Sometimes Dadaists paid attention to aesthetic guidelines only so they could be avoided, attempting to render their works devoid of meaning and aesthetic value. This tendency toward devaluation of art has led many to claim that Dada was essentially a nihilist movement; a destruction without creation. War and destruction had washed away peoples' mindset of creation and aesthetic.

Because they attempted to undermine the way art was viewed in the 20th century, the dadaists chose to name their movement after a baby phrase to show the way their anti-art was shaking everything up. Several myths regarding the invention of the name "Dada" exist, including that it was a form of mockery against Tzara, who is widely viewed as the father of the movement (in Russian "da, da" is "yes, yes", a name that still offers no indication of the art that bears it).Tristan Tzara (see Samuel Rosenstock), Jewish poet (born in Romania; moved to France) who was one of the co-founders of the Dada movement (1896-1963).

Although the word nihilism is of recent historical vintage, the attitude it represents is not, as is seen in a famous passage near the end of Shakespeare's Macbeth though Macbeth is not speaking of universal collapse or expansion but the brute and more immediate fact of human death:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare , Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5

In nineteenth-century culture, nihilism was given wide currency by the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev in his novel Fathers and Sons (1862) to describe the views of an emerging radical Russian intelligentsia. These consisted primarily of upper-class students who had grown disillusioned with the slow pace of reformism. The primary spokesman for this new philosophy was D. I. Pisarev (1840-1868) who articulated a program of Revolutionary Utilitarianism and advocated violence as a tool for social change. Pisarev was cast as Bazarov in Fathers and Sons much to his own delight; he proudly embraced his new status as a fictionalized hero and villain. [citation needed]

After its popularization in the character of Bazarov, the word quickly became a catch-all term of derision for younger, more radical generations, and continues in this vein to modern times. [citation needed] It is often used to indicate a group or philosophy the speaker intends to characterize as having no moral sensibility, no belief in truth, beauty, love, or whatever else the speaker and his presumed audience values, and no regard for the current social conventions.

In Germinal (1885), by mile Zola, the nihilist character Souvarine dramatizes the danger of nihilism when, in a climactic scene, he sabotages a coal mine and causes a catastrophic accident, then slips away. Souvarine's lack of belief, frequently expressed, is a foil to the optimistic socialism that fuels the coal miners' revolt. [citation needed]

In Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the protagonist Rodion Raskolnikov embraces a nihilist sort of utilitarianism. Dostoevsky ultimately points out the emptiness of nihilism with the epilogue of the novel. [citation needed] In fact, many of Dostoevsky's novels dealt with nihilism. Another major example of nihilism is found in The Possessed (or The Devils), in which Kirilov sees no solution to nihilism but suicide and ultimately kills himself. The main protagonist, Stavrogin, finally sees Kirilov's dilemma and follows suit at the end of the book with his own elaborate suicide. [citation needed]

The works of Albert Camus can be read as a sustained engagement with nihilism. [citation needed] Camus was highly influenced by the works and thoughts of Dostoevsky, even writing his own play based on Dostoevsky's novel, "The Devils". [citation needed]Yukio Mishima is another example of engagement with nihilism. [citation needed]Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote several novels of a strongly nihilist bent, most notably Journey to the End of the Night. [citation needed]

The works of Samuel Beckett, especially the play Waiting for Godot, exhibit elements of nihilism. This play has subsequently been made into a cinematic film which visually deals with the more pessimistic and cynical aspects of nihilism. [citation needed]

In contemporary literature, themes of nihilism can also be found in many of Kurt Vonnegut's books. [citation needed] Robert Stone, additionally, is a contemporary American novelist who has often thematized nihilism in his work. In A Flag for Sunrise (1981), for example, the anthropologist Holliwell is a protagonist struggling against his own nihilistic tendencies. [citation needed] Another American author who is commonly believed to deal with themes of nihilism is Chuck Palahniuk. In his 1996 novel Fight Club, for example, the ultimate goal of the book's 'project mayhem' is the destruction of modern civilization in order to rebuild humanity. [citation needed] Palahniuk, however, claims that he does not deliberately focus on the subject. [citation needed] Nathan Tyree's Novel, Mr. Overby is Falling, is another current example of nihilism in literature. In that book the main character longs for the destruction of all society, so that the world can be cleansed of evil. [citation needed] Nihilism is also a common theme in the worldview and writings of horror author Thomas Ligotti, as well as Bret Easton Ellis[9][10].

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The rise of TikTok, Snapchat, means the biggest hashtag of 2020 might not be a hashtag at all – News@Northeastern

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In 2018, #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and #NoBanNoWall coalesced into social movements that defined the year. In 2019, the #ClimateStrike led by youth activist Greta Thunberg made headlines. In 2020, Twitter hashtags might not cut it, says Moya Bailey, an assistant professor at Northeastern who studies the way digital media is used to promote social causes.

Moya Bailey is an assistant professor of culture, societies, and global studies; and womens, gender, and sexuality studies in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Bailey says that with a climate crisis bearing down on us, and with protests rooted in wealth inequality cropping up around the world, Theres more of a cultural shift that I think young people understand needs to happen, and thats not something thats easily conveyed in a hashtag or on a social platform.

Twitter, a platform that has amplified social movements for the last decade, may prove to be fading from prominence in the next.

Its a question of demographics, Bailey says. The population of people on Twitter is aging, and other social media sites that have different demographic makeup are rising up to take its place.

The average age among Twitter users in the United States is 40 years old, according to a study from the Pew Research Center this year. Meanwhile, social media sites such as TikTok and Snapchat attract a population that is largely under 30 years old, according to Pew and MediaKix, a company that tracks media trends.

Because they have such different demographic makeups, different trends emerge among these various platforms, Bailey says.

On TikTok in particulara social media platform on which users post short-form mobile videosYou do get cat memes and distraction, but theres also a bit of nihilism, Bailey says.

Baileys noticed a nihilistic bent among younger generations in general, she says.

I think they, more than anyone, get a sense that the writings on the wall, Bailey says. For folks like Greta Thunberg [a 16-year-old who is leading global protests over climate change] and her cohort, theres a sense that theyre making a lot of noise, but people arent changing their behavior.

Bailey says that to focus too closely on trending hashtags is to miss, in some sense, the ways that [young people] are organizing, and their savvy in terms of understanding the limits of politics as usual.

Among her own students, Bailey says shes seen a renewed interest in building communities in person, offline. Shes also seen young people make different choices than their older cohorts about how to spend moneyliving with roommates rather than buying a house in order to have more money to spend on causes in which they believe, for example.

There are ways that young people are agitating for change that remain invisible online, she says.

For media inquiries, please contact Shannon Nargi at or 617-373-5718.

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The 8 Most Important Memes of 2019 – WIRED

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Nowadays, memes go through the internet like excrement through the titular character of the The Untitled Goose Game. As were rocketing through this information superhighway like fish in a tube (remember when the people of Twitter longed to be salmon?), clasping onto bits of digital detritus just long enough to see if they spark joy before discarding them, trying to remember even last weeks best meme can feel hilariously futile. (You know, like a woman yelling at a cat.) Once you start scrolling back through the year in memes, though, its a bit like trying kombucha for the first timeby turns, disorienting and potentially gross, then rather pleasing.

The year 2019 has been a difficult and uneven one. Online, political memes flew back and forth like spitballs, and even some of the most innocent ones (like that fish tube) took on a sense of ecstatic nihilism. People also had fun this year, finding joy in the mundanely bizarrelike watching hundreds of gummy bears appear to be singing along with Adele. Here are some of the years most important memes, great and gross alike.

30 to 50 Feral Hogs

In early August, the nation was grieving two back-to-back mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, and country musician Jason Isbell tweeted in support of banning assault weapons. In response, Arkansas dad Willie McNabb authored a now-famous tweet: Legit question for rural Americans, he wrote. How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?" The phrase 30 to 50 feral hogs swiftly became a meme, a kind of latter-day thoughts and prayers, a way to express frustration with Americas gun-control laws in the face of preventable violence. As I wrote at the time, The banality of mass shootings and politicians' callous response is brain-breaking, and so is the diversity of experience in America. It's hard to find consensus when one person's absurdist image is another person's backyard.

Baby Yoda

If the internet had a favorite child in 2019, it was the Child: the breakout star of The Mandalorian, the tiniest, greenest, most lovably bat-eared Force user in the Star Wars universe, Baby Yoda. Without a word (and with some very cute sips of soup), Baby Yoda conquered the internet with memes. People Photoshopped the little cherub into every situation you can imagine, went mad captioning screenshots, professed undying love, and thenas things hit Peak Weirdpeople started admitting that they wanted to breastfeed it. Baby Yoda is still a young meme and the The Mandalorian isnt over, so this internet culture moments future is hard to see. One thing remains clear: Love Baby Yoda, you must.

Epstein Didnt Kill Himself

Disgraced financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein took his own life in prison last August while awaiting trial for trafficking minors. Because Epstein was connected with powerful figures, and because the guards outside his door were asleep and the cell contained no cameras, his death sparked conspiracy theories repeated by journalists and politicians alike. The theories (which suppose anyone from President Donald Trump and the Clintons to the deep state might have wanted the guy dead) are united by a single sentence that has become a meme: "Epstein didnt kill himself." Its appeared in news clips, on sweatshirts, and most recently, defacing a piece of art valued at $120,000 that happens to be a banana duct-taped to a wall. Its like a billboard for disillusionment and mistrust, I wrote this November. And its everywhere.

Storm Area 51

When Matty Roberts created a Facebook event this June proposing that the American people storm Area 51, notorious fount of alien-related conspiracy theories, because they cant stop us all, he was joking. Then 2 million people said they were going, and 1.5 million more were interested. The flurry generated media attention, stern warnings from the US military, and so many alien memes you hoped somebody would beam you up to get away from it all. When the scheduled date for the event arrived this September, only 134 people showed up and none made it inside, though about 1,500 more attended Storm Area 51 meme-themed music festivals that day. No aliens were discovered, but it was a lesson in the powerand at times, strange pretendnessof internet culture.

OK Boomer

If youre over 40 and have displeased a teen this year, you may have even heard this meme aloud. After years of stuffy, out-of-touch articles about how millennials (and now Gen Z) are killing off industries from diamonds and real estate to napkins with their frivolous ways and politics-infused complaints, younger generations came up with this blunt dismissal of their own. Its intergenerational tension boiled down to a single phrase: OK boomer. Its been used to protest racism and climate change denialism almost as often as its been a snippy response to an uncle. Each time, though, it hits the mark.

Hot Girl Summer

Everyonemen and women, young and old, from the Kardashians to Tom Hankshad a hot girl summer this year thanks to Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion. The MCs catchphrase became a go-to Instagram caption, YouTube video title, tweet, headline, IRL quip, and marketing slogan. It was a chance for everyone to embrace their own sexy in a season often filled with potential body shaming, and for Megan Thee Stallion, it was a business opportunity. Embracing a trend among meme creators (and meme creators of color in particular), she quickly trademarked the phrase, avoiding the all-too-common fate her predecessors have faced: a corporation something you created and monetizing the crap out of it by selling merchandise without offering you a cent. Her fans were thrilled.

Sorry to This Man

The setup sounds like internet culture Mad Libs: Hustlers star Keke Palmer was taking a lie detector test as part of a Vanity Fair interview when she was asked if her character True Jackson from True Jackson, VP was a better vice president than Dick Cheney, and then was shown a photo of Cheney. Palmer genuinely had no idea who the former vice president was. I don't know who this man is, she said. I mean, he could be walking down the street, I wouldn't know a thing. Sorry to this man. The phrase became a meme, used as a stock reply to anything confusing or worthy of dismissal, a wholly unapologetic sort of apology often with a feminist bent. Its easy to see why it went viral: Sometimes, I wrote this September, ignorance is diss.

The Game of Thrones Cup

Of all the many memes that accompanied the final season of Game of Thrones, none was quite so emblematic of the experience of watching the show as the very anachronistic white coffee cup viewers spotted on a table beside Daenerys Targaryen. It was a crowning embarrassment for HBO in an already poorly received season, and a bitter disappointment for fans who felt that a story they had been invested in for a decade was being given a slapdash finish. It was also Photoshopped into oblivion and sparked a great many jokes: Was it a flat wight, or perhaps a Lord of the Light roast? At the time, the only winner I saw was Starbucks, who many assumed were the purveyors of the cup: They've gotten an estimated $2.3 billion in free advertising, and the cup isn't even theirs. As for the rest of us, our watch is over.

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