Telekom Electronic Beats

Audioccult Vol. 108: Nihilism is the Norm

“You’re always seeing crashes — every time you drive there’s a crash — there’s a big twisted wreckage of a crash, and nobody seems to care, they’re like ‘Oh, I guess I’ll be late for work.’” [Laughter.] – Norm MacDonald

The music world has, of late, seen a painful rash of artists begging forgiveness for insensitive, childish bullshit. This is boring. Instead of issuing apologies for controversial statements, musicians and artists should issue further, much more extreme statements. I’d like to throw my hat in the ring with one myself: Norm MacDonald should have his own talk show.

WHOA, now—look at you! All huffin’ and tuggin’ on your Ed Hardy collar and impatiently adjusting into your aubergine slacks and other stuff that implies you’re a fancy fop who devalues good solid comedy and also wears clothes instead of barrels with straps on them, the way folks used to when this mortal realm was less corrupt. Settle back and let me tell you why Norm needs to be delivered on to our screens at a regularly scheduled time and for free.

Because, you see, any old fool can host a talk show; some for years. What makes Norm special is his absolute nihilism.

“I come from a long line of death.” – Norm MacDonald

There’s a need to find meaning in life that is singularly human, and negating that (with or without malice) is widely considered a turn-off. What is it, then, that allows this negation to thrive so richly in our culture? What inspires us to create images, words and sounds worshipping destruction?  In pop culture, unlike the rest of culture, we’re not in the habit of deifying our nihilists. And why should we be? Aside from the fact that most claiming the name are closer to mopey teenagers than existentialists, even the most clever pop nihilist would be a cultural dead-end. Despite that, and despite our overall confidence as a human race, we love to terrify ourselves on a daily basis with the thought of our own annihilation: The Russians are coming. The Americans are coming. The terrorists can touch us at any time. We aren’t allowed to come. There are weapons, and leaders, and they are not Ours. We fetishize the incomprehensible End because we fear it. Approached with a pair of tweezers and a microscope, this attempt to “solve” the unsolvable is strange indeed. More, it’s even somewhat gruesome—mankind’s attempt to place itself outside the natural order of things. Surrounding itself with images of death is rather like a large-scale jack ’o’ lantern display, totems to scare off the real bogeyman. In every beautifully-rendered explosion or reverb-drenched industrial shriek is emblazoned the words, “The unknown terrifies me.”

That’s where Norm comes in. He has a knack for encapsulating the human condition—one of complete and hopeless misery, where the average Joe can only find release from low-grade drudge by either savaging his fellow beings or by sitting alone in the dark with wads of cloth stuffed in every hole to keep in what should stay in and keep out the same. His casual rambling may not appeal to the stuffed jackdaws of society, but to my unshod ears it’s aural manna.

“They want to murder you in a well.” – Norm MacDonald

In a dream, I ride a crest of light upon the detritus of man, represented primarily as an HD inverted sneaker logo. As my surroundings disappear, I am able to reach out and touch the Truth that negates negation. As I do I realize that, in knowing everything, there is no reason to know anything. Life without questions and entropy is pointless. Perhaps this is why we’re so fascinated by our own ruin, by the idea that values and life itself either don’t exist or shouldn’t. Propped up by our existential night lights, we’re all secretly trying not to bore ourselves to death. Let Norm help.

Give Norm the show.


“We’re all in free fall towards an abyss of death and trying to reach out and try and connect with someone to ignore that just seems pathetic, somehow, and trying to do anything is pointless because any fraction of infinity is functionally zero.” – Norm MacDonald


Published June 06, 2014. Words by Daniel Jones.