Infinite Resignation: A Selected Bibliography

August 8th, 2018

Eugene Thacker is the author of Cosmic Pessimism, and of the Horror of Philosophy Trilogy (In the Dust of This Planet, Starry Speculative Corpse, and Tentacles Longer Than Night), among many other titles.  In his newest book, Infinite Resignation, Thacker explores the pessimism of a range of literary and philosophical authors, and he shares a short list with us here:

The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa
"One of the most profoundly unfinished books I know of. It is a book that seems designed so as to ensure its failure to become a book. None of this is any surprise, given some of the themes that inhabit the Book of Disquiet: tedium, futility, refusal, sorrow, estrangement, weariness, doubt. There is no narrative per se, only a series of fragments, some of which intersect with each other, others which stand alone or apart from the others, all held together by a tenuous and nimble poetics that is neither quite literature nor quite philosophy."

No Longer Human, by Osamu Dazai
"Published in 1948, Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human is a unique kind of novel – an anti-novel, really. Presented as a series of 'notebooks' written by its protagonist, Ōba Yōzō, the novel provides a taxonomy of failure, as we witness the strange, pervasive sense of estrangement that Yōzō senses at home, at school, at work, among friends and lovers and strangers, even in moments of solitude."

The Temptation to Exist, by E.M. Cioran
"In The Temptation to Exist Cioran comes nearer to the classical essay as pioneered by Montaigne. Insofar as the book has a theme, it is that 'to exist' is to be tempted to exist – to exist in time, to exist with plans, to exist in a human-centric world of our own making, propelled towards an unforeseen future and pining for a lost past. If Cioran is a 'pessimist,' it is because he refuses to place his faith in human beings, let alone God or science."

Religion and Nothingness, by Keiji Nishitani
"Like Nietzsche, Keiji Nishitani was convinced that the way to move beyond pessimism was to move through it, and for the Kyoto School thinker this was the case more than ever, as modern science and technology were rapidly revealing an impersonal and indifferent order of things uncannily reminiscent of Schopenhauer and his acolytes."

The Complete Essays, by Michel de Montaigne
"When Montaigne’s Essays are discussed, they are usually discussed within the context of skepticism, not pessimism. Montaigne was, perhaps, too intrigued by life. Nevertheless, the two overlap in several ways. Skeptical doubt fuels the pessimist’s refusal of existence, just as pessimistic incredulity fuels the skeptic’s mantra 'I refrain.' But if the pessimist tends towards disenchantment and despondency, the skeptic retains a certain cheerfulness, the cheerfulness of refraining, of opting-out, of not playing the game to begin with."



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