The Anti-Self-Help Project: Existential Suffering in Neonihilism
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The Anti-Self-Help Project is foremost a critique of neoliberalism, but more specifically, a reassessment of the neoliberal self-help industry. Relying on a Nietzschean/Foucauldian genealogical reassessment, the focus is on the neoliberal self-help industry and its subjectifying power in shaping identity, particularly through the commodification of existential constructs such as freedom, authenticity, angst, and alienation as sites of meaning-making. These existential constructs are also reassessed with a focus on intersectionality to decolonize, reinterpret, and propose multifarious ways to create meaning, co-construct subjectivity, and consider the conditions for the possibility of liberation from oppression for systemically marginalized groups. Meaninglessness is also reconceptualized here as a coping-mechanism in response to the pressures of neoliberalism, theorized as the combination of suffering and humour (or tragicomedy) that I have called neonihilism, which I historically situate in a lineage of nihilism in Western consciousness. Solidarity and collective action are then integrated as a descriptive model for re-envisioning the possibilities for existential constructs to become intersectional sites of meaning-making and understanding subjectivity, which deliberately contests the individualized and universalizing approach of the neoliberal self-help industry and further creates the possibility for overcoming neonihilism.