Writers’ deaths are the new nihilism

It seems the steady cadence of writers’ bodies dropping into their coffins is the most recent lash strike with which layers of the modern world structures—the steady sense of self and reliability of at least a few things our culture used to believe in—are falling to a postmodern erosion, a whittling away in which there is no new path or understanding revealed.

Writers are leaving us, and there is no clear sense of what will be next, what will happen to our art, words, and lives. This is reality; this is postmodern nihilism. And this is what Cornel West calls the “lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and (most important) lovelessness.”

Goodbye, Vonnegut. Goodbye Updike. And, postmodern reality help us, goodbye David Foster Wallace.

At the risk of sounding modernist, what comes next? I know Updike’s death today isn’t eschatological (I didn’t even like his books), but still…

(For tonight, I foresee a healthy dose of Counting Crows and Ben Folds. Morose, surreal, and evocative beauty soothes in just such a situation.)

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