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[Week 2 Discussion]: Toward the Creative Nothing by Renzo Novatore

Submitted by RosaReborn in readingclub

Enemies of the Ego beware! I hope everyone enjoyed Toward the Creative Nothing by Renzo Novatore. Feel free to discuss, argue, shitpost, and maybe even consider new perspectives in the comments below or at the Riot server here. Link to a pdf of the text is available on the anarchistlibrary


There were a lot of firey lines in this passage. A personal favorite includes "The Antichrist is the symbol of a new dawn." As well as passages meant to provoke and engage socialists "Because fascism is the stunted and deformed creature born of the impotent love of socialism for the bourgeoisie"

Agree? Disagree? Just want to post spicy pepper meme emojis?? Feel free (free as in an empowered anarchist way, not the schmoozy bourgeois democracy way)

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RosaReborn wrote

Personally, I enjoyed this text very much. The poetic elements at times were beautiful, jarring, funny, and always entertaining. I found it was a bit repetitive towards the end but that's no big issue.

Really, I have not read too many egoist texts so it was an interesting introduction that had me questioning a lot of aspects of the libertarian leftist philosophy I hold. Am I totally willing to abandon democracy? I want to maximize individual liberty but I still hold on to some notion that there should be some communal enforced rules. Quotes like "The rest is vulnerable! And all that is vulnerable will be violated!" I know is a poetic waxing on material possessions vs. spiritual possessions, but I still fear people who feel overly righteous and feel they have free reign to do whatever they want, even if it hurts others needlessly.

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kore wrote

I still fear people who feel overly righteous and feel they have free reign to do whatever they want, even if it hurts others needlessly.

An idea I have been developing recently is that I think this is the greatest misunderstanding about egoism and nihilism. See my top-level comment for a bit more.

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RosaReborn wrote

Great, thank you. I want to delve deeper into and learn more. I'm just a bit ignorant so my reactions to the text reflect that. I'll check out the comment

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kore wrote

Seeing a lot of parallels with Nietzsche here, specifically in discussion of free spirits and the following quote:

We are not the admirers of the “ideal man” of “social rights, but the proclaimers of the “actual individual”, enemy of social abstractions.

Nietzsche's Übermensch seems very similar to this: often misconstrued as an "ideal man", it's much more like the "actual individual" Novatore has here.

I also think it is very important not to take this part lightly:

All that is called “material property”, “private property”, “exterior property” needs to become what the sun, the light, the sky, the sea, the stars are for individuals.

And this will happen!

It will happen because we — the iconoclasts — will violate it!

Only ethical and spiritual wealth is invulnerable.

This is the true property of individuals. The rest no!

This is an amazing statement of what I see as the most often misunderstood part of individualism. Novatore is all about collectivizing material wealth.

And y'know, the whole thing is pretty inspiring. I'll have to read it again, there's so much to think about in statements like

We have killed “altruism” because we are generous egoists.

This line is also incredible:

The one is born who has learned the Dionysian art of joy and laughter through tears and sorrow.

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sand wrote (edited )

"And we will love [Life] laughing!

Since the only serious people are those who know how to be actively engaged laughing.

And our hatred laughs...

Red laughter. Forward!"

this was a nice read. not a standout favorite or anything, but fun. i'm a fan of the above quote, as well as a few that have already been posted here.

dude seems a little pompous ("aristocratic outsiders against all society" and all that), but it's kind of endearing lol

been wanting to read this one for a while, thinking it'd be a lot more interesting than it was! probably set myself up for a little bit of a disappointment there.

overall it just seems to have gotten me hyped to read more (newer) stuff in this vein

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RosaReborn wrote (edited )

dude seems a little pompous

Yeah but it's kinda the perfect personality to bash fascists with. Reading his biography section on his illegalist practices and anti-fascist movements, he seems like the kind of person who went HARD in those situations

Also I'm glad you are interested in reading more, so am I!

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Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

One thing I found interesting was his general attack of socialism. Here we can assume (?) he includes anarchist forms of socialism, since like in Martucci's intro it says he was part of an anarcho-communist group for a time, and had problems with them.

"Fascism is the other face of socialism.
Both of them are bodies without minds."

And it seems that he thinks that socialists and fascists alike have a politics of negation rather than affirmation of life in the Nietzschean sense.

Edit: Having read the "my opinions" section it does seem more likely that he is not including anarchist forms of socialism, but still not clear.

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selver wrote (edited )

From The Revolt of the Unique:

With the realization of the unpleasant authoritarian communism of the socialists, the rulers would be a slimy handful of demagogues, vulgar, cunning insects; plebeian slaves in their turn of a dogma.

In realizing libertarian communism, the great majority would be the ruling Goddess. But libertarian communism (which is the dream of those who hate conflict and battle—which is youth and life—and for which they are nonetheless a quick, strange paradoxical contradiction, to make war in the name of equality and peace) would have to take extreme measures against those who want to come out, advance, rise up to a more ample affirmation of individual life.

Libertarian communism would then be forced to repress in order to preserve itself. But its materialistic preservation would be the categorical negation of the very spirit that informs and exalts it!

And here we are finally at anarchy—I admit that one can speak of this as a social realization of human life together. “Anarchy” would thus be nothing more nor less than the triumph of the higher “type.”

Radically vanished—because even the lowliest of all human beings would have had to go beyond it—the as-stupid-as-it-is-vulgar right to private property and everything that is “material good.” The spiritual dominator remains—the one who is noble by nature. He will stand above the others and dominate them.

(No one, I believe, would have the false pretension of levelling ethical, aesthetic, artistic, intellectual, and spiritual values, like physical and sexual values). Because the noble one, even in Anarchy—or rather, in anarchy more than in any other form of human life together—will enjoy pleasure that others would not be able to enjoy, even if he, for love of them, wanted to renounce them. Anarchy is therefore the natural Autocracy of the noble.

A simple test that thousands of other complicated ones are equal to him there. Yesterday a young woman offered herself—marvelous gift—to the charming and noble dominator Pietro Gori.

Today in the whirlpools of misery if a stunted “papa’s” boy who nature has condemned bought her! He has enjoyed with money the fruit that in Anarchy he would never have been able to enjoy. And I’m no longer able to argue that in anarchy a cobbler is the same as a genius or that a hunchback is equal to an Adonis.

We can give both the same bread, but not the same pleasures.

And if it is true that friendship and love give joy and pleasure, I would just like to ask any anarchist if he can give his old semi-idiotic doorman what, in fact, he gives to Errico Malatesta in love and friendship.

I would just like to ask a few of our free and intelligent woman comrades if she can give to any nasty, conceited, vain, ambitious “comrade” what she willingly concedes to a kind, cultivated, loving, good comrade...

I repeat: Anarchy—for me—means: Autocracy of beauty, of genius, of art, and of all those who possess the willful and selective qualities suitable for dominating and that mother nature—justly or unjustly—grants and lavishes so generously on a few, while she denies them to most, as if the latter were her bastard children!

And if the overhuman that you—oh comrade Molaschi—have thrown with implacable fury into the stormy waves of the sea, were that elect—superior—type to which I just now alluded, it’s enough that he rise up again out of the waters more beautiful and stronger than before, since this race is an immortal race.

Everyone can be levelled before society (we are all equal before god!...) but the selective-individual values remain. They remain and dominate!

And for these and a thousand other reasons, in my relations with the present society, I declare myself “united” with Stirner’s Unique, and in my posthumous relations with the future society of distant becoming, I feel drawn toward the Antichrist and Zarathustra transformed and purified in the sun of my thought.

Of course, I am neither Max Stirner, nor Friedrich Nietzsche. Rather, halfway, between me and them there might be a fearful depth powerfully dug out by the mystic Tolstoy, or the high and dreadful peaks illuminated by the voluptuously tormented spirit of Ibsen, as there could also be the conflagration of the pure and perverse Wildean mind!

So I think he was including anarcho-communists.

From what I've read, among all the similar writers from around that time, there was a whole lot of tension between their anti-society tendencies, and their dreams of an anarcho-communist future. Novatore, Armand, Martucci, etc. all seemed to go back and forth on it quite a bit, whether a society that was truly individualistic was really possible. The way I read Novatore is I think he felt that anarchists were heading in the right direction, but that the utopia of other anarchists was just the beginning. It would mean an end to the same old bullshit hierarchies & conflict, socialists & capitalists squabbling over bread, but all sorts of conflict, fluidity, and diversity would remain. Ultimately, he seems to be against stagnant social orders, or thinks they are a pipe dream. And some anarcho-communists do tend to preach that pipe dream.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

That was a good section!

I have gotten confused a few times when he's referred to nobleness and aristocracy in ways that seemed non-pejorative.

For example, using the section you posted from Revolt, I can't tell if he's saying good or bad things about Pietro Gori. Based on how he speaks about Malatesta, it seems to be good things, but talking about "dominator" Gori confuses me.

Gori, for anybody who doesn't know and is reading this, composed a lot of definitive folk anarchist songs in Italy.

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selver wrote (edited )

Oh, I think he definitely uses "noble" and "aristocracy" in a positive sense in many cases. He had quite the elitist streak in him. The use of "dominator" doesn't make too much sense to me, maybe a translation issue, but I assume he's speaking positively of Gori. Ie. anarchism allows folks like Gori thrive, while the useless rich kid doesn't have his artificial power anymore.

He might be using "dominator" to oppose the ancom idea of an egalitarian society.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Overall, I was surprisingly bored by this reading - might be because I've had a very long day or because I didn't give it due time. It seemed just like a combination of Stirner and Nietzsche done weaker than either would have done it, trying to be poetic like Nietzsche in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Having been written over a century ago it's still quite remarkable, but I don't feel like we're missing out today if we focus on contemporary nihilist and egoist stuff.

I'd rather make my way through baedan, or Wolfi.

That said, Novatore was pretty badass and I aspire to badassery :)

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RosaReborn wrote

I agree, I enjoyed the poetry of the text and certain elements had me questioning myself which is great to have happen. I would like more modern texts however this text did hold up rather well regardless

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I'd be interested to hear people's interpretation of his opinion of solidarity:

"Solidarity
The macabre altar used by capable comedians of all sort to display their priestly talent for reciting masses. The beneficiaries pay nothing less than 100% humiliation."

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sand wrote (edited )

kinda down with it. poetic and spitting way of saying "i want friends, not community."

the 100% humiliation seems just to be the relinquishing of one's will (i.e. one's creative emptiness/nothingness... although "will" might be slightly different for many egoists and posty types. still getting a handle on that) to the needs of yet another sacred conception ("macabre altar", "priestly", "masses"). i feel the sneer when i read "beneficiaries" lol

i'm not a very experienced person, but i've seen plenty of messed up shit go down in the name of Solidarity. the post-left inclination toward experienced friendship over conceptualized bonds seems -- to my inexperienced mind -- very useful and wise.

i find it kinda strange that RN would name these people "comedians," though! i'd think he'd save that as a compliment. maybe the sneer is even grander there

i hope others post their insight on this! it's an interesting quote. i mostly am just rambling so that i can get used to contributing to these discussions

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I actually didn't generally like the style of the piece - I'm not sure how much that is the fault of the translation.

The section "My Opinions" was quite nice though - shortish sharpish bits of information that would serve me well as the basis for questions if I had any.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I will be able to participate properly here tomorrow - big work day ahead. Looking forward to seeing what people have to say!