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[personal profile] imomus
Seven months ago, while holidaying in Athens, I made an argument about The nihilism of heat. Citing solid empirical data from reputable sources like Camus' The Outsider, Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Greene's The Power and the Glory, I stated that there was little doubt that a clear, demonstrable link existed between heat and nihilism. In the light of chilling new evidence, I want to revise that statement.



To recap my argument: A sense of rationality and fairness prevails where it's cold. Human life is worth more, and humane values flourish. "In cooler, more northern countries a fundamental sense of fairness informs the idea that sidewalks are for pedestrians," I wrote. As a result of this, traffic accidents are less common and less dangerous where it's cold, I claimed.

I want to change my mind. It's not that I was wrong about the nihilism of heat, or the cultural connection between hot places and a certain moral insouciance. It's that I didn't give the whole picture. There's a nihilism of cold too.

Let's start with the traffic stats. Sure, in general there are fewer accidents in more northerly countries. But when it gets cold and icy, when road and pavement alike are white, accidents happen. The BBC reports that "heavy snow and high winds have caused traffic chaos across Germany with at least three deaths reported nationwide. Conditions closed some motorways and caused long traffic jams on many others. Public transport in some areas has been shut down and police have advised people not to travel if possible." In these conditions, even getting into your car is dangerous. Let's not even talk about the slithery time I had on my bike yesterday as I traversed treacherous ice and snow to see the new exhibitions at NGBK and Kunstraum Kreuzberg. I'm lucky to be alive.

In sweaty Athens I may have painted too rosy a picture of the thrillingly chilly life of winter, evoking freedom organised with Scandinavian efficiency and cheerful fishermen reeling the umpteenth plump fish up through their ice holes. But how could anything other than nihilism and despair greet the news that snow and temperatures of minus forty have killed over a million livestock in Mongolia this winter, and threaten to grip the Mongolian people in a downward spiral of hunger and poverty?

It's not that I was wrong about nihilism and heat, it's that this winter has shown me there's a nihilism of cold too. I could cite all sorts of Russian literature to "prove" this with literary "data" and establish a correlation between extremes of temperature and states of the soul. But, to be quite frank, I can't be arsed. My fingers are too cold to turn the pages. The ink in my pen is a black solid, and my computer keyboard is sputtering out. It's minus ten here today, and I'm stocking up on orphans to feed the brazier.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 12:17 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Nicholas Bartholomew Currie

I love you. And not, not in a friendly way, although I think we're great friends. And not in a misplaced affection, puppy-dog way, although I'm sure that's what you'll call it. I love you. Very, very simple, very truly. You are the-the epitome of everything I have ever looked for in another human being. And I know that you think of me as just a friend, and crossing that line is-is-is the furthest thing from an option you would ever consider. But I had to say it. I just, I can't take this anymore. I can't stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can't-I can't look into your eyes without feeling that-that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels. I can't talk to you without wanting to express my love for everything you are. And I know this will probably queer our friendship - no pun intended - but I had to say it, 'cause I've never felt this way before, and I-I don't care. I like who I am because of it. And if bringing this to light means we can't hang out anymore, then that hurts me. But God, I just, I couldn't allow another day to go by without just getting it out there, regardless of the outcome, which by the look on your face is to be the inevitable shoot-down. And, you know, I'll accept that. But I know, I know that some part of you is hesitating for a moment, and if there's a moment of hesitation, then that means you feel something too. And all I ask, please, is that you just - you just not dismiss that, and try to dwell in it for just ten seconds. Nick, there isn't another soul on this fucking planet who has ever made me half the person I am when I'm with you, and I would risk this friendship for the chance to take it to the next plateau. Because it is there between you and me. You can't deny that. Even if, you know, even if we never talk again after tonight, please know that I am forever changed because of who you are and what you've meant to me, which - while I do appreciate it - I'd never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 12:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Oh Christ I totally understand. I mean, I love me too!

Image

Who's like me? Nobody! What'll you do when I'm gone? What'll I do when I'm gone?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
[Error: unknown template video]

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
the most interesting thing about that video is the glitch that makes it look like the car is driving on a giant mirror or something for the first couple of seconds, then the road snaps into place, awesome!

-jamal

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You made me look up a quote (and find two of them) by Hannah Arendt:
"Gefühlskälte ist kein Kennzeichen von Vernunft. Objektivität und Gleichmut angesichts unerträglichen Leidens können in der Tat mit Recht Furcht erregen, nämlich dann, wenn sie nicht Ausdruck der Selbstkontrolle sind, sondern die offenbare Manifestation der Unrührbarkeit." – "Coldness is not a sign of reason. Objectivity and equability in the face of unbearable suffering can indeed arouse fear, namely when it is not an expression of self-control, but the apparent manifestation of immutability."

And: "Das deutlichste Zeichen der Entmenschlichung ist gerade das Ausbleiben aller Reaktionen." – "The clearest sign of dehumanisation is precisely the absence of any reactions."

Both from "Macht und Gewalt". My translation might be bad, maybe someone else can help.

Last minute requests from the peanut gallery

Date: 2010-01-31 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
1. Did you ever do a proper post on when/where/why/how you settled on the name/alterego "Momus"?

2. Do a top ten-like accounting of the books that have influenced you most -- preferably from various disciplines/fields. Likewise, in the case of music albums, too.

Btw, have you ever taken any psychedelic substances?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 01:16 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
hello
mr currie
would you please tell me the name of a documentary that featured you talking about how you lost your eye? supposedly the documentary was about parasites???

thank-you

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
sweetie, your neck and wrists are exposed, and your top layer doesn't button or zip up in any significant way so allowing cold air in. If you must suffer for your very own fashion, fine, but don't blame the weather!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenny-junkie.livejournal.com
Dear Momus, in behalf of the Group of Concerned Citizens for the Health of the Blogosphere, I present to you our humble protest against the demise of Click Opera:

Image (http://www.flickr.com/photos/20268780@N00/4318053037/)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Ha! I appreciate the gesture. Maybe you should have said "It's not over until the fat lady TWEETS!"

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm just glad we got the eye-patch simulation on the right side, cause that was the main issue at the time.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Unlike my usericon above! Damn you, flipping PhotoBooth!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenny-junkie.livejournal.com
No, Momus, this isn't the time for puns! It's time for "OMG I have fans with cavaquinhos!"

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
STDs you picked up south of the USA border is really TMI.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Yes, the good cavaquinho to pin point us regionally in the middle of the ever more ubiquous Ikea furniture.
...Though, Luffys Mugiwara may throw some people off.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 10:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vertigoranger.livejournal.com
Is that Maddox?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 02:30 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You made me look up a quote (and find two of them) by Hannah Arendt:
"Gefühlskälte ist kein Kennzeichen von Vernunft. Objektivität und Gleichmut angesichts unerträglichen Leidens können in der Tat mit Recht Furcht erregen, nämlich dann, wenn sie nicht Ausdruck der Selbstkontrolle sind, sondern die offenbare Manifestation der Unrührbarkeit." – "Coldness is not a sign of reason. Objectivity and equability in the face of unbearable suffering can indeed arouse fear, namely when it is not an expression of self-control, but the apparent manifestation of immutability."

And: "Das deutlichste Zeichen der Entmenschlichung ist gerade das Ausbleiben aller Reaktionen." – "The clearest sign of dehumanisation is precisely the absence of any reactions."

Both are from "Macht und Gewalt". My translation might be bad, maybe someone else can help.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
hannah arendt is a very important author who wrote about fascist fuckheads.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 02:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] writewrongs.livejournal.com
Riding a bike in Kreuzberg during the winter is like shooting a cat down a bowling alley. I would say the cold here is oppressive, an unfriendly reminder that good things won't come for a very long time.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slinka.livejournal.com
Have never commented before but I've been reading for years. I will miss your posts.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-31 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] farblust.livejournal.com

I think this film should interest you... It's called My boyfriend is a gaijin

You can also say cold weather breeds Russian mafia, can't you? Seems that the rationality from the North only stays within Holland, Germany and Scandinavia... The northern Canada, Greenland and Siberia seem not to share those qualities

cold

Date: 2010-01-31 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ianc2674.livejournal.com
We you keep talking about how minus 10 or 15 is cold I keep thinking, "oh a nice warm snap". Cold is very relative, I live in Saskatchewan, birthplace of Canada's #1 Social Democratic party, where they started universal healthcare, and regionally I think we're much more responsive to aboriginal issues. Its very cold here, its -22C now. I think when your environment is a matter of life and death, morality is not as abstract a thing. And the problem with the traffic accidents, perhaps, is that drivers have not been trained to adapt to changing climatic conditions. As a public service to the climatically challenged decade to come : My advice when riding a bike over a patch of slippery ice is go straight! Do not turn your wheel. No matter what! Generally make wide arcs and keep perpendicular.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] count-vronsky.livejournal.com
Master and Man (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/986/986.txt)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slime-slime-sly.livejournal.com


Oh, come on, -10 after the unforgiving chill of japan in winter is nothing!you know that, dont be so lazy, the subject is promising. I remember an issue of vice magazine dedicated to russia where the bottom line was something like "life in russia is worth less than elsewhere, its a widely spread knowledge and this is why theres so much crazy stuff happening here all the time, what with the mafia and the bloodthirsty skinheads beating people to death and the soldiers who pull deadly pranks on newbies"

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slime-slime-sly.livejournal.com

Oh, come on, -10 after the unforgiving chill of japan in winter is nothing!you know that, dont be so lazy, the subject is promising. I remember an issue of vice magazine dedicated to russia where the bottom line was something like "life in russia is worth less than elsewhere, its a widely spread knowledge and this is why theres so much crazy stuff happening here all the time, what with the mafia and the bloodthirsty skinheads beating people to death and the soldiers who pull deadly pranks on newbies"

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] milky-eyes.livejournal.com
of course there's a nihilism of cold. It's so obvious. In the northern regions... they just kill themselves... it's just like that.

there's all sorts of nihilisms actually...

whenever I wake up and look in the mirror ... I get a big hello from the one that seems to be following me around lately...


oh by the way... do you know this website?


http://genki-genki.com/modules/tinyd36/index.php?id=75#getn007


kind of fun

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 02:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lord-whimsy.livejournal.com
Oh, quit yer bellyachin' lessin I do something about that other eye of yers. Ar!

Image

Lurv,
A fellow pirate

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lord-whimsy.livejournal.com
(nice bike, btw)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-02-01 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fishwithissues.livejournal.com
I can't believe we're in our last days! Group hug!
From: (Anonymous)
Hello,

I can't help thinking that the lack of central heating in some Japanese homes and coldness in general is a contributing factor to the sexlessness here.

I can't help wondering why Tokyo (Japan?) is so sexy but seemingly sexless. Along with South Korea, Japan gets the top sexlessness awards (may have learned that here), as well as high ratings of internet and thus sex addiction. Sexology happening. Do any Japanese readers in particular have any insights?

-no personal space / sharing with families, even for adults
-no time -work till 10 5-6 days a week
-no energy
-walking/biking in the cold isn't hot
-porn everywhere
-futons (which not everyone uses) are not as supportive as mattresses
-working out, which for me increases blood flow, self-confidence and general well-being, seems a luxury
-stress from trying to be number two in the world in a country with half the population as the US stuffed into a quarter of California, with all the social and familial obligations that come with it.

A side note: it is funny that puberty seems to mean a lot on nature's terms but nothing in legality's terms.
From: (Anonymous)
also flourescent lighting