If I am given a video clip where a subject is looking at busy pedestrians through a window of a cafe and I am supposed to express nihilistic and/or existentialist thoughts running through the subject's mind. How can I express them without explicitly saying that 'Life is meaningless' or 'Whats the point of it all'?

  • Hello. Is this your homework?
    – lukuss
    Apr 30 '18 at 10:52
  • Lol...nooo....actually I am writing a novel where I have encountered this situation...i researched the philosophical topics but its different in visual and written medium....so i thought may be i should take help from actual philosophers...
    – user30437
    Apr 30 '18 at 11:08
  • 1
    Maybe you should try ask your question here: writing.stackexchange.com - I think you'll find more help.
    – lukuss
    Apr 30 '18 at 11:30
  • You could say to yourself 'What a waste of time them hurrying when all the activity is pointless'. Or 'What fools they are for thinking they're important enough to have to hurry'. Or 'What fools to care enough about life to want to rush around doing stuff'. One minor note - in philosophy Nihilism is the idea that nothing exists. which is an ontological position and not the same as existentialism. I will admit to not being able to understand what existentialism is but manic depression seems a similar condition.
    – user20253
    Apr 30 '18 at 11:48
  • @PeterJ Lol - that nothing exists? Nihilism is the idea nothing has meaning. Existentialism identifies the fundamental part of being human as a personal confrontation with what it means to be an existing thing
    – CriglCragl
    May 1 '18 at 0:38

If I were you, I'd try to imagine the sequence of (natural) thoughts that would get a person to an existentialist/nihilist frame of mind. It seems unlikely most people, upon viewing the bustle of a street from a cafe window, would just spontaneously arrive at the notion, say, god is dead.

Instead you'd likely start with a question about a specific individual -- "Where is the lady in the green coat going? Why is she in such a hurry? Does anyone *really know where they are going? Why does anyone hurry? Does it matter if we hurry or not?" etc etc et al, til you feel empowered or like crying.


I think the subject will in fact express his own ponders of reality. In order to avoid saying 'Life is meaningless' or 'Whats the point of it all' you need to understand that life in it self has no meaning. The meaning is given by the individual experiencing it. So my question would be "What's his/her meaning of existence?". The path we think we walk it's not actually a path in its self in which one walks from point A to B. The question to "What's the meaning if it all" wants to impose that we must do something to reach a realization of Why. "Life is meaningless" again imposes that it had a meaning in the beginning and now after some consideration that meaning had faded away. Meaning means that we must find a statement or action to life. The only perception of reality is what you have moment by moment. The rest are memories and assumptions. So to conclude the subject should say and think nothing.

  • Zackly. Once you accept everything as meaningless, why would you stay hung up on what things mean?
    – CriglCragl
    May 1 '18 at 0:40

What do the behaviours and symbols suggest, if you don't jump to conventional interpretations, reinforced by emotional responses? Who is even really awake in the scene outside, aware of their surroundings in the moment, instead of being absorbed in yesterday or tomorrow? What happens if we stop being automata, driven by the replication of our genes towards expressing post hoc rationalisation of ideas really just designed to express group allegiance, and instead react to this very moment completely engaged in it like we are creating a piece of modern art, or answering a koan? "But at my back in a cold blast I hear The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear."

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