Grim/dark = realistic? Where did this idea come from? - Page 5


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Thread: Grim/dark = realistic? Where did this idea come from?

  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord View Post
    Cognitive dissonance, I guess. Kind of like being a moral relativist and campaigning for justice (I see that a lot). Smart nihilists are probably aware of the dissonance but don't mind, because, well, they're nihilists. It strikes me especially in music. Dissection preaches self-annihilation and despair; meanwhile, the music itself is beautiful, coherent, and meaningful--and, um, it exists, which is in itself a defiance of nihilism.
    Cognitive dissonance is one thing, but writing requires effort. I wonder what the motivation to sit down and write entire stories, let alone novels, is if you are truly nihilistic?

    I am aware, of course, that most people who call themselves writers don't write anything.

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Cognitive dissonance is one thing, but writing requires effort. I wonder what the motivation to sit down and write entire stories, let alone novels, is if you are truly nihilistic?

    I am aware, of course, that most people who call themselves writers don't write anything.
    This morning building heat and humidity have made the atmosphere oppressive and I woke up with a cloudy headache that seems likely to persist. Ever since joining WF I have denied being a writer even though I have written a few things along the way, but I am certainly doubtful that doing so serves any purpose. For today I am going to be nihilistic simply because my brain doesn't want to function. My angel has a similar feeling, so we have even postponed Sunday until tomorrow and agreed to this being Noday. She may put in an appearance on WF sometime today but I doubt that I will again.

    I was ... no, there's nothing else. I'm even having trouble deciding whether to hit the "Submit" button now. What's the point ... in doing so or not? My coffee's getting cold as well.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  3. #43
    Oh shit...they've started discussing...PHILOSOPHY!

    Someone hit the big red button, Helm, take us down, DIVE DIVE DIVE! Prepare to run silent, run deep, rig for depth charges!
    Navigator, set a course for GTFO, maximum warp, and engage!






    Scotty, I need warp power before they start talking about Nietzsche, or we're all dead!

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Rotten View Post
    Scotty, I need warp power before they start talking about Nietzsche, or we're all dead!
    Actually Nietzsche, whose name I still can't spell, believed in eternal return, so it doesn't matter if we are. It's only temporary. Yes, I'm back.

    I'd say that we need to fire up the infinite improbability drive to put us back on the right track. After my nihilistic day yesterday this morning when I woke I engaged my brain to test it with the following result.

    There was a large woman in Perth
    Who all of a sudden gave birth
    To two pigs and a dog,
    Three ducks and a frog,
    Which made her exclaim "What on earth?"

    Well, that proves that we're back in normal talk-space now I think. No flying whales or pots of petunias in sight. Bring on your grim dark realities then, you writers. I'm ready to face them.

    Actually my angel and I have never watched any of Game of Thrones yet. It's all fantasy, isn't it? Somewhere in a remote corner of WF there was once a picture of her sitting on an iron throne made out of swords that we found in a garden in Wales while on holiday there. Was that something to do with it? Her comment at the time was that it wasn't comfortable, but that was as grim and dark as our reality gets. In reality ladies need cushions.
    Last edited by JustRob; June 24th, 2019 at 08:27 AM.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  5. #45
    Oooh, are we talking about Nihilism and Nietzsche, The Hardest Man (to spell) In Philosophy? Then allow me to put on my 'Correcting Popular Misconceptions' hat for a moment... (Ralph, I can only pray you've made it out of the Sector by now...)

    Nietzsche, alas, seems to suffer under a terrible curse of having his philosophy routinely misused and misunderstood, starting with how his concept of a 'moral overman' who is capable of casting off the chains of conventional morality and establishing his own, internal sense of right and wrong, was perverted into the Nazi's propaganda-image of the 'Aryan ‹bermench'. Nihilism, likewise, is all-too-frequently misapplied, especially in fiction. Your average fictional nihilist is probably trying to destroy the world in order to end everybody's suffering, or something along those lines... but actual Nihilism, as conceptualized by Nietzsche, is actually a fairly optimistic philosophy. It essentially posits that there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, and no 'meaning' to anything. You weren't born with any particular purpose, nobody's sitting around somewhere up in the sky judging everything you do, and there's neither punishment nor reward to be had after death. This, however, simply means that you are FREE. You may choose your own purpose, and can find value in the things you enjoy. Love, family, friendship, the simple pleasures of food and drink... these are things worth living for. Nihilism simply calls on you to find the things that make your life worth living, rather than denying them because some established religion or conventional morality tells you to - to stop wasting your very limited life pursuing some random set of commandments and virtues that somebody else arbitrarily declared to be the 'right way' to live.

    Right, that should do it - I'll just take my hat off again. None of this is exactly relevant to the original question posed by this thread, after all, beyond 'Nihilism' frequently being misused in relation to the whole 'grimdark' concept.

    As for that - the question of why dark, gritty, ugly stories are often claimed to also be 'realistic', well... I blame the internet. No, seriously. Well, more broadly, Information Technology in general. See, what's happened over the last couple of centuries is that the world, by and large, have gotten better by virtually every possible metric. Less war, less poverty, less starvation, more openness, more freedoms, more luxuries, more rights, fewer dictators, fewer accidents, better health, lower infant mortality, and so on and so forth. The runaway climate-change is really the only point where things are going in the wrong direction. However, even as these changes have taken place, our ability to KNOW about any of these events have grown at a breakneck speed. We know, now, of EVERY disaster, EVERY psychopath, EVERY dictator... all the evils of the world are not merely at our fingertips, they're actively intruding on our daily life. They dominate the headlines of physical newspapers and digital blogs alike. If something bad happens on the other side of the planet, you will hear of it literally within hours. And it's hard to ignore - our brains, geared for survival as they are, have a natural tendency to focus on bad news. After all, if something good happened to a neighboring tribe, well, that's nice for them and all, but why should I care? If something bad happened to them, though... I need to know, so as to ascertain whether this thing may be a threat to my tribe as well, and if so, how to best defend against it.

    This, thus, creates the natural, instinctive perception that the world is full of darkness and evil. That it's all rotten to the core, with genuine goodness being a rare exception, the brief glimmer of a diamond in a septic-tank. This probably explains why the rate of depression has exploded throughout the western world in the past few decades... and, more relevantly to the discussion at hand, why many have come to perceive stories filled with darkness and cruelty, set in a world that is cold, random, and brutal, to be 'realistic'.

    Well, I suppose it's not entirely wrong, in a sense. A plot filled with clear-cut black-and-white, where everything always works out in the heroes' advantage and all events move with the strength of some inexorable destiny are obviously unrealistic. But if the story outright denies any heroism, quashes all goodness, and conspires to prevent anything resembling a 'happy ending' for anyone... then it's just hitting the opposite extreme. This world, the REAL world, doesn't have any true heroes, nor true villains. There are no knights in shining armor, nor cackling villains carrying membership-cards of the League of Evil Bastards. But by the same token, while there is no great destiny or divine intervention propelling the heroes to a certain victory, there is also no cunning devil moving to block them. Some people actively try to make the world better. Some make it worse, if not on purpose then as a careless side-effect of pursuing their personal ambitions. Either may succeed or fail, depending on the choices they make, the resources at their disposal, their dedication and perseverance - and, ultimately, the roll of the dice, random chance.

    ...well, that's what I think, anyway.

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by BlackDragon View Post
    Nietzsche, alas, seems to suffer under a terrible curse of having his philosophy routinely misused and misunderstood, starting with how his concept of a 'moral overman' who is capable of casting off the chains of conventional morality and establishing his own, internal sense of right and wrong, was perverted into the Nazi's propaganda-image of the 'Aryan ‹bermench'. Nihilism, likewise, is all-too-frequently misapplied, especially in fiction. Your average fictional nihilist is probably trying to destroy the world in order to end everybody's suffering, or something along those lines... but actual Nihilism, as conceptualized by Nietzsche, is actually a fairly optimistic philosophy. It essentially posits that there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, and no 'meaning' to anything. You weren't born with any particular purpose, nobody's sitting around somewhere up in the sky judging everything you do, and there's neither punishment nor reward to be had after death. This, however, simply means that you are FREE. You may choose your own purpose, and can find value in the things you enjoy. Love, family, friendship, the simple pleasures of food and drink... these are things worth living for. Nihilism simply calls on you to find the things that make your life worth living, rather than denying them because some established religion or conventional morality tells you to - to stop wasting your very limited life pursuing some random set of commandments and virtues that somebody else arbitrarily declared to be the 'right way' to live.
    Yes, this was Nietchze's philosophy. I'm not going to argue about the technical definition of Nihilism; all I know is, the form of nihilism you describe has its logical extreme in the comic-book let's-destroy-the-world nihilism. Let me explain. The nihilist is "free" from the constraints of traditional morality, from God, heaven, hell, etc. "Free"? Free to do what, exactly? The Nietchzean philosophy as I understand it puts action in and of itself above all, but if no action can be better or worse than another, doesn't this annihilate the idea of choice altogether, which in turn annihilates the freedom of choice? The nihilist can choose to save a cat or kill a cat. But if, in a cosmic sense, saving the cat is no better than killing it, what would be the point of choosing anything at all? You list love, family, friendship, food and drink as the worthwhile things, but if there is no meaning, than already you have eliminated the concept of worth. You can't say, as a nihilist, that love is better than hate, or friendship better than war, or food better than starvation. You can only say that you, personally, happen to enjoy love, friendship, and food, which is not really sufficient, is it?

    Essentially, your argument is contradictory, because you're saying that the will/pleasure of the individual is inherently worthwhile, while simultaneously arguing that nothing is inherently worthwhile. Nihilism in your sense is self-constructed meaning. But self-constructed meaning falls apart because a) it's contradictory, and b) the things that give you immediate happiness tend to stop giving you happiness if you're trying to extract your entire sense of existential meaning from them. And when it falls apart it leaves the nihilist with nothing, not even destroying the world. . .because you can't even say that the end of suffering is better than its continuation. Read Ray Bradbury's "No Particular Night or Morning;" it's a great depiction of a character who loses all sense of meaning.

    (sorry Ralph)

    Okay, moving on to the actual writing segment. . .I think you could be right. We have a warped perspective when we take everyone else's problems on ourselves. I'd disagree though, about there being no knights in shining armor or cackling villains. These are spiritual concepts, I think, and sometimes they are embodied in real people.
    Last edited by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord; June 30th, 2019 at 05:32 AM.
    "So long is the way to the unknown, long is the way we have come. . ." ~ Turisas, Five Hundred and One

    "[An artist is] an idiot babbling through town. . .crying, 'Dreams, dreams for sale! Two for a kopek, two for a song; if you won't buy them, just take them for free!'" ~ Michael O' Brien,
    Sophia House

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.



  7. #47
    perverted into the Nazi's propaganda-image of the 'Aryan ‹bermench'
    It wasn't perverted at all. Hitler simply expands moral primacy from individual desire to collective desire. Clearly you've never read Mein Kampf. How much Hitler was consciously influenced by Nietzsche, I have no idea, but their ideologies certainly contain many critical similarities. All three of the important modern philosophies (fascism, communism, capitalism) essentially place moral primacy on the individual, the collective, or something in between. Most of the big moral arguments of our time boil down to disagreement on to what degree morality is collectively or individualistically determined, which is ironic because both positions share the same fundamental flaw: that they outsource morality to human desire.
    Your average fictional nihilist is probably trying to destroy the world in order to end everybody's suffering, or something along those lines
    Anti-cosmic Satanism, by far my favorite form of Satanism. Finally, I've been waiting for an excuse to post this song.
    Dead by Dawn!

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Can you give me an example of a book (not a movie or TV adaption of a book - screenwriting is writing too but the director, not the writer, has creative authority over the tone of the film) that is you think is wholly nihilistic?
    Apologies if this has been answered already (I haven't time to read the whole thread) but surely "Nineteen Eighty-Four" would qualify? Is there ANY space for hope, real hope, anywhere in that book? Other than a warning not to let this happen? Unlike "Fahrenheit 451", which I might class in broadly the same terms (dystopian fantasy/repressive govt/conformism etc) which does offer hope at the end with the starlings.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  9. #49
    The grimness around us speaks louder than the lightness. We bow down before technology and allow it to cram our minds with useless information. Our newsfeeds confirm this by masquerading as fact. This has nothing to do with "fake news" (I had promised myself never to use that phrase. I'm sorry, self) and everything to do with sensationalism, because that's what sells. That's what we, a society of pearl-clutchers, want. Another mass shooting. Another celebrity found sticking his fingers into children. Tsk tsk, we say. I'm glad I'm not part of that. But we are. By consuming and reacting to news stories about the horrors around us, we become complicit in our own small way. We consume these stories while banner ads peripherally seep into our brains. We react by expressing our outrage on social media. That's why bad people shoot up malls and even badder people rule. We funnel our anger into an echo chamber. Look at all the social change that occurred in the 1960's. All of that was done without social media. We've become impotent. Indifferent to the horrors around us. We turn it all into a dopamine rush. All that's left is to say is, well, that's life.

    But it isn't. One hundred years ago we'd ask our neighbor how things are going. They'd tell us Well, the Johnson's just had the loveliest twins, the Miller's farm is yielding a bumper crop this year, and oh, the Smith's barn burnt down. But we're all pitching in to help. Ask your neighbor today how things are going and you'll hear nothing but bad news. Complaints. Outrage. All peppered with well-meaning but impotent empathy because, really, who has the time to build a barn these days?

    Art reflects life, and when we live within a world where the bad outshines the good, it's going to find its way into our books and films and paintings. Add to this the common misconception that art influences life, and people are going to say that the darkness in our art/entertainment is what's real. Either way, you can't win.

    As far as books and films go, people prefer the darkness to the lightness because it makes their own lives seem better in comparison. I myself am a fan of what I call "feel bad" movies and books. I love horror movies. I consume stories of cruelty and hopelessness and despair because once finished, I can close the book or turn off the TV and say Well, my life isn't so bad after all! Or, Whew. Maybe that lump on my neck isn't an ancient evil medicine man about to be reborn to wreak havoc upon the modern world (my unyielding admiration to anyone who can name that story).

    Finally, as a closet lowbrow semi-cinephile, I can't finish this post without weighing in on "The Shining", being a huge fan of the book and having just re-watched the film. To me, it's both a terrible film and a great one. A beautiful visual tone poem that succeeds brilliantly in creating an unrelenting sense of dread from the first frame until the moment when Jack Nicholson first swings that axe. From there on, it falls apart because Kubrick's skeletal screenplay is unable to connect the violent catharsis to the dread, and the accompanying visuals, in my opinion, only serve to expose his contempt for both the horror genre and the book. A ballroom of motionless cobwebbed skeletons? Please. That stopped being scary in 1964 and he knew it. I see it as positively surreal, in an ether-drenched kind of way, as well as, like most of his other films, a primer on How To Photograph a Movie. Those lamp posts that glide in front of the camera as he tracks Wendy and Danny playing in the snow are scarier than anything Jack does. Kubrick purposefully translates King's concept of the haunted hotel into a visual tome on the terrors of architecture.

    If you're a fan of "The Shining", you should definitely check out the paranoid documentary "Room 237".

    As for nihilism, well, that just sounds exhausting.

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by ArrowInTheBowOfTheLord View Post
    Sure, most people like lighthearted superhero movies, but they are treated as "escapism," while Game of Thrones, The Shining, etc. are treated as a serious portrayals of the "real world."
    I remember R.R. Martin commented that "Game of Thrones" is brutal on purpose as it is meant to be anti-war and show how brutal and senseless war is. Which is true in a sense. As nothing in the books or the show is as brutal as for example bombs being dropped on civilians, schools and hospitals, which still happens regularly in the modern world to the apathetic ignorance of most people. So I think grim/dark = realistic here is fit for purpose as it reflects the horrors of war that humanity appears to still have endless appetite for.
    I threw a glance at humankind and saw them treacherous and feeble.
    Severe judges, cruel, unkind and fools who are always close to evil.
    Before their frightful, anxious mob, indifferent hate forever rages.
    Not learnt the lessons from the ages!
    What use are wise and tempered words?
    "Sometime, in my sweet blindness" - Pushkin

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