In The conspiracy against the human race , Thomas Ligotti deepens this disturbing prospect: “In Metzinger’s scheme, a human being is not a person but a mechanical model of the self that simulates a person […] the naive realism becomes therefore a prophylactic, necessary to protect oneself from the concomitant terror of the destruction of intuitions concerning ourselves and our status in the world, “finally coming to affirm that:” There are aspects of the scientific vision of the world that could be harmful to our mental health “.
Sinking, as Leopardi does, the sensitive knowledge – and the reason itself – in a limbo of illusions, the way of scientific optimism is annihilated, catapulting the real world into a timeless darkness, meaningless and without purpose . One of the most frequent themes in Zibaldone is precisely that of the damage done to human life by truth and scientific objectivity; a problem that (as we shall see), Leopardi deals in a very similar way to one of his best known admirers, HP Lovecraft, who, in his Call of Cthulhu, wrote that: “The sciences, which so far have continued each for his they have not caused too much damage: but the recomposition of the whole picture will open us, one day, visions so terrifying of the reality and the place we occupy in it, that either we will go crazy for revelation or flee from the mortal light, peace and security of a new Middle Ages “.
The senselessness of the cosmos stripped of human significances, hopes and goals soon becomes claustrophobic. In one of the most intense and touching moments of Zibaldone Leopardi brings back the memory of what could be a dream, or a panic attack: “I was afraid to find myself in the middle of nowhere, a nothing myself. I felt like I was suffocating considering and feeling that everything is nothing, solid nothing […] It seems absurd, and yet it is exactly true that all the real being a nothing, there is nothing real or other substance in the world that illusions. “
At the close of his Nihil Unbound , the philosopher Ray Brassier (a student of Land at the time of the CCRU ) affirms that, having accepted the illusory conscience and the inevitable extinction over time of all individuals and all species, including human “The subject of philosophy [or the philosopher] must also recognize that he is already dead, and that philosophy is neither a means of affirmation nor a source of justification, but rather the organon of extinction.” It would be to say that the content of truth of a scientific or philosophical theory is in no way related to the appreciation and pleasure that a subject could derive from it, tending rather to increase the discomfort of the human position in the cosmos and make existence disgusting.
By dissipating the realm of illusions, knowledge destroys every possibility of joy, intense as a natural tendency to pleasure and sensation; a state of total ignorance of cruelty and senselessness of life.
This fever of reason, propagated as an epidemic by the rapid spread of scientific thought, pervades the work of Leopardi, sometimes leaking in the form of bizarre euphoria, sometimes in the form of a somber apocalyptic hood. The negative aspect, however, is preponderant in leopardian speculation, resulting in macabre predictions on the self-destruction of our species as a consequence of the technical and scientific advancement (a present topic, from the first moments, even in the thought of Nick Land): «The society it now contains more than ever before, seeds of destruction and qualities incompatible with its preservation and existence, and of this it is mainly due to the knowledge of truth and philosophy “; and again: “Philosophy which frees from human life a thousand natural errors that society had created […] is harmful and destructive of society, because those errors can be, and indeed are, necessary for the subsistence and preservation of society. ».
If the child and the ignorant spend their lives to act and perceive, that is to build a common world, lulled by illusions, the adult and the learned spend their time calculating and reasoning, in a condition similar to death. it even anticipates and accelerates the arrival of death. By dissipating the realm of illusions, knowledge destroys every possibility of joy, intense as a natural tendency to pleasure and sensation; a state of total ignorance of cruelty and senselessness of life. In Leopardi’s reflection, nature plays precisely this dual role of lady of illusions and of terrible mother, leading us to the central point of the question.
In addition to revealing the insignificance and precariousness of human existence, the study of nature reveals different perturbing aspects, able to put a strain on any argument on the goodness and perfection of our universe. In the collection of articles When the Horses Had the Fingers , the biologist Stephen Jay Gould describes the revulsion with which the nineteenth century theologians welcomed the results of studies on the icneumonids (hymenoptera similar to wasps): these animals spend their larval stage feeding on the meat lives of a host, usually a caterpillar in which the female spawned immediately after paralyzing it with a toxin. The larva of the ichneumonid first devours the fat deposits and the digestive organs, leaving intact the heart and the central nervous system of the victim, which therefore remains alive, agonizing, until the last moment. As Gould writes, the question that arises spontaneously before such a horror is: “If God is benevolent […] because we are surrounded by pain, suffering and an apparently meaningless cruelty?”.
It is well known that the immorality of Nature is one of the main themes of Leopardi’s reflection; to those who accuse him of misanthropy Giacomo replies, in fact: «My philosophy makes nature of all things a reality, and by completely absolving men, it addresses hatred […] to a higher principle, the true origin of the ills de ‘living’. Exactly ten years before Operette (and the famous Dialogue of Nature and an Icelandic ) Leopardi noted, answering Gould’s question ahead of time : “The whole nature, and the eternal order of things, is in no way directed to the happiness of beings. sensitive or animal. On the contrary, it is contrary to it “.
The conscience or, better, the excess of consciousness given to human beings by the natural sciences, manifests the natural horror, tormenting us, moreover, with the threat of a possible illusory of all the knowledge painfully collected so far – making us doubt even of our own reality. This is perhaps the first symptom of a madness pandemic that will envelop or that is already enveloping the planet.Giacomo writes: «Once religion and radically illusions are removed, every man, or rather every child at the first faculty of reasoning […] would infallibly kill himself with his own hand […] But illusion still lasts despite reason and knowledge. It is to be hoped that they will also last in progress “.
In Zibaldone , there are two perspectives that seem to suggest a possible escape from the abyss of madness. The first solution, derived from a purely rational calculation, would consist of individual suicide and the progressive and voluntary extinction of the human species: “It is absolute best for the living being not to be that being […] that being to the most beneficent man. not suffering that suffering, and not being able to live without suffering, is mathematically true and certain that the absolute is not beneficial and suits man more than being. And that being harms precisely to man “; a hypothesis recently revived by Ligotti and by the vegan philosopher and activist David Benatar , under the name of antinatalism .
The second solution is represented by the foundation of a new discipline: “Our regeneration depends on one, so to speak, ultrafilosofia, that knowing the whole and the intimate of things, bring us closer to nature. And this should be the fruit of the extraordinary lights of this century ». This second speculative solution is designed as opposed to traditional philosophical knowledge, in which vanity and worldliness are persecuted and opposed. Rather than in a radically pessimistic direction – an orientation that would only reduce and trivialize Leopardi’s reflection – a potential Leopardi renaissance would orbit around this reconciliation of nature and reason. The task of an ultrafilosofia would be to consider any scientific, theological and philosophical elaboration as an arbitrary determination, it would be an invention (a theoretical perspective surprisingly close to the work of Nietzsche and Deleuze and Guattari , as well as to the non-philosophy by François Laruelle ); the evaluation of the value of each of these inventions, be they concepts, works of art or axioms, would be based on its positivity, that is on the ability to promote and empower human life.
Finally we see how the ambiguity inherent in the Leopardi reflection is painfully acute, suspended between the nightmare of resignation and an art of deception.This is the task that belongs to us as posterity: to overcome in turn the dual obstacle represented by pessimism and optimism, creating new solutions, building new roads, as Giacomo himself tried to do by imagining an ultrafilosofia of the future. Confronting Leopardi’s work, and in particular with Zibaldone , means engaging a dangerous body to body with the most ancient and profound terrors of the human being, with the aberrations of future techno-sciences and the violent mediocrity of the state of things present. At midday of a new flowering of rationalism, represented in particular by the enthusiastic works of Ray Brassier, Quentin Meillassoux , Reza Negarestani , Peter Wolfendale and the collective Laboria Cuboniks , it was necessary to turn the gaze to darkness, plumbed to the end by the gaze of this philosopher poet, suffering and at the same time bravely smiling.