Levi Bryant’s ‘Axioms for a dark ontology’

by Arran James

There is nothing to disagree with in Levi Bryant’s short nihilistic manifesto. In fact, all I can add is that Levi has summed up the nihilism that opens us up to the necessity of developing a post-nihilist praxis. This is the important work ahead. The post-nihilist impulse is born out of agreement and recognition with the points that Levi lists, but instead of considering them a form of darkness it considers them causes for celebration and for the movement out of constant mourning towards the joy of finiude. This world is all we have; but that is a super abundance more than we readily recognise. Read the mini-manifesto here.

On the first axiom (Life is an accident and has no divine significance), I am convinced that this is still to be thought through. In order to think this we ought to return to Paul Virilio, this time not as dromologist but as the thinker of the accident. If life is an accident, indeed, if creation itself is an accident, then within all temporalities is the one temporality, the overarching cosmological rhythm of that accident working itself out: creation is catastrophe, the moment everything begins and ends are immanent, and so there is no need to mourn or weep. All we have is this world: a world that is in free play, that has absolutely no reason to be this way or that beyond the reason we give it. This is the emancipatory quality of nihilism that opens us up to euphoric visions.