Onfray, Hedonism and Anti-nihilism

Who is the superior modern human, for all of us to emulate, as is our mammalian need? Jobs? Bieber? Schumer? Fos-W? Leyner? Coates? DiCaprio? The Lama dude? no one, of course, is the correct answer – as much as our social instincts tend towards supplicatory gazes upon our putative leaders, our enlightenment tends to reveal the pain, stupidity, inability to breach the fourth wall, and lousy life skills of our celeb thinkers and doers.  We may wish to be them, and have unabounding fascination with what it must be like to be them, but we are not them, they do not lead our lives, they are capable of astonishing mulishness even if we would love, love to just one day attain their cult guru status.

Michel Onfray is an actual public intellectual, unaligned with the establishment, who actually makes a living writing philosophy, and giving free public lectures – but of coruse he lives, he must live, he can only live, in France. In the United States, a postal carrier would have more Q level recognition than Monsieur Onfray, but he is quite the modern day Renaissance deity – over there. His Atheist Manifesto was superb, in a monkish kind of way, and no he has penned The Hedonist Manifesto. Don’t worry, there as yet no intense, burgeoning signing negotiations in play for The Social Nihilist Manifesto, but there are other -436 as of yesterday – “manifestos” currently in turnaround at the big publishers. Why not get the six figures mentioned for our FSN manifesto up to 7 figures and cash in on the trendlet? Because if it is social nihilism, then it by definition is bored, chagrined, ashamed to be unable to produce a manifesto, on anything. Too bad.

Is Onfray’s “hedonism” a better bet for your entertainment dollar? Yeas, hedonism is a big part of social nihilism, a sweet, wonderful bundling of desires, but no, it cannot rule the roost. Onfray overcame a Dickensian childhood to churn out, relentlessly, high culture tracts, and he avers that

The second one is that a happy human being is better than an unhappy human being, and everything must be done to increase the universal dose of pleasure and reduce the dose of pain as much as possible.

Great – we’ll get right on that.  Our world is built on so much extraction of fuel and material, centuries-long boundless wastings of ecological bounty, that for us to aspire to some pre-Industrial blithe swooning universal happiness is preposterous. How many diet soda cans have been manufactured, imbibed, and thrown away? Who is to say we can cancel the inheritance of heedless destruction and epic global damage we inherited, and then continued, almost exclusively in the west? The planet assigns no direct numbers to anyone, affixing tons of CO2 to any of our names, as richly as we deserve it. Nor is a life of monkish reading of,  and extrapolating from,   the classics a fun, pleasant (hedonistic)  way for the masses to operate. Instead of Plato, there was F-Troop. Instead of Shakespeare, there was Little League. instead of Cicero, the was The Knack. Which was the better path?


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