Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Nihilism and Willeford

From: Steve Gerlach (
Date: 09 Sep 2009

  • Next message: davezeltserman: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Nihilism and Willeford"

    I agree with Sean.

    De Sade is painted as the villain more often than not. We forget he was a political prisoner, a radical and his writings he used to serve his cause.

    Pasolini's "Salo" is a dire and relentless film... banned in many countries but worth the watch if you can stomach it.



    Follow me on Twitter @stezza666

    ________________________________ From: Sean Shapiro <> To: Sent: Wednesday, 9 September, 2009 7:21:07 PM Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Nihilism and Willeford

       De Sade is an interesting case. His philosophy and his writings are radical. But when it came to ‘real’ life, barring a great number of abuses, he did end up espousing what some might consider ‘worthy’ causes—democracy, an end to the death penalty, opposition to the Terror etc. Which goes to show, I suppose, that nihilism is a little like Sydney Morgenbesser’s definition of pragmatism: "It's all very well in theory but it doesn't work in practice." Or, I suppose, that the author is not to be, and should not be, confused with his fiction.
      Salo is a vile book. But like any monomania it can get boring to someone who doesn’t share it. I actually found the litany of horrors becoming increasingly boring and affectless the further I got into the book.
      I would recommend, if you haven’t already seen it, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘Salo 120 Days of Sodom’ which transposes De Sade’s story to fascist Italy. A visceral, ugly movie. But also a deep analysis of the philosophy and implications of nihilism and its offshoots.
      It also has an emotional core that De Sade’s Salo lacks—and is perhaps bleaker for it.
    (Good luck with the new book.)
      Sean Shapiro

    ____________ _________ _________ __ From: davezeltserman <Dave.Zeltserman@> To: rara-avis-l@ yahoogroups. com Sent: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 9:33:57 PM Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Nihilism and Willeford

       Sean, for the latest book I've been writing I did a lot of reading about Marquis De Sade and his compatriots, and my interpretation of all this was that Sade and his fellow libertines had a philosophy that they were living in a godless world where nature dictates what the rules should be; namely the more powerful should be able to do whatever they want to those weaker, that there's no incest, rape and murder in nature. A pretty bleak, nihilistic view if you ask me. Anyway, that type of philosophy explains not only the libertine experience, but much of Sade's writing, and also why in the 18th century why you had gangs roaming London street's at night doing things like cutting off people's noses for sport. I remember seeing Kevin complaining about extreme violence in some of today's fiction, such as crucifications, etc. This certainly isn't new. Pick up Marquis De Sade's "120 Days of Sodom". Most vile thing I ever read--the most violent I've seen in contemporary fiction is like reading Dr. Seuss compared to it.

    Just as we might have trouble agreeing to what noir and nihilism is, I don't quite get the difference between noir and neo-noir as it applies to fiction. Are we separating the two based solely on when they were written?


    --- In rara-avis-l@ yahoogroups. com, Sean Shapiro <ssshapir@.. .> wrote:
    > You think 'noir' is hard to define? Gather some philosophers and ask them what 'nihilism' means. Ask them to name a 'nihilist'. See what you get.
    > Is the writer of Ecclesiastes a nihilist?
    > Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. (NIV translation. )
    > Hubert Selby used the KJV version of the quote for 'Last Exit to Brooklyn'.
    > Sean Shapiro

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