"Everything Everywhere All at Once" Perfects Optimistic Nihilism

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" Perfects Optimistic Nihilism.  

This sentence in an article of the same name in Wired by Eric Ravenscraft intrigued me.  It describes the film "Everything Everywhere All at Once." 

Everything Everywhere focuses on Evelyn, a woman trying to file her taxes to keep the laundromat she owns with her husband, eternal optimist Waymond, running. Her daughter, Joy, wants to bring her girlfriend to Evelyn's elderly father's birthday party. Meanwhile, Waymond struggles to find the space to tell Evelyn he wants a divorce. And then the multiverse opens to Evelyn.

Everything Everywhere All At Once won seven Academy Awards: Best PictureBest DirectorBest Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.  

Joanna Zhang also wrote about the movie's "messages of optimistic nihilism" in an article "‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ ‘Turning Red’ Among Golden Globes Nominees."


Tevya Turok Shapiro liked the film and wrote, "The abundance of humour combined with the epiphany of the multiverse – that nothing matters because everything always exists – culminates in the most joyous, life-affirming kung fu finale you have ever seen, and a unique ideological standpoint one might call nihilistic optimism. There are infinite alternative universes where things could have turned out differently, but you live in this one. There’s no point getting stuck on what could have been, no reason not to appreciate the good things in your life; everything’s bullshit anyway, so why not just be kind?"


What is optimistic nihilism?

Nihilism is a philosophy that rejects generally accepted or fundamental aspects of human existence, such as objective truthknowledgemoralityvalues, or meaning.

Marcelo Meneses puts it nicely, he says, nihilism as a "philosophy tends to be depressing, so for those who believe it, there is a more positive alternative. It’s called Optimistic Nihilism, or Existential Nihilism. Since there is no imposed purpose, we get to choose our own. There are no principles to live by, only the ones we decide on. Every mistake we’ve ever made and every moment of sadness and sorrow will one day disappear. An optimistic nihilist must recognize the meaningless of the universe and move on so that they can create their own subjective meaning."


Ivaylo Durmonski in an essay entitled, "Optimistic Nihilism Explained: Turn Meaninglessness Into Determination" writes, "Optimistic nihilism is the realization that the lack of meaning in the world and the universe as a whole can be liberating. Precisely because there is no inherited meaning in life, there is no cosmic plan forcing you to act a certain way, we are the ones who can create our path. In fact, we are responsible for creating our purpose. An optimistic nihilist basically reaches the following conclusion: “Since there is no grand scheme here, I can, myself, decide what I should do with my life. Optimistic nihilism is the ability of a person to create his own meaning after fully accepting that the universe is a large place of meaninglessness."

"Optimistic nihilism is an oxymoron," This phrase struck me as making good sense in an essay by Ewan Morrison entitled "The Optimistic Nihilists."  Ewan writes, "The trend known as optimistic nihilism is a twenty-first-century spin on the doctrine that existence and values are meaningless."

So Why is "Everything Everywhere All at Once" Perfect Optimistic Nihilism?

Eric Ravenscraft writes, "Evelyn's foray into her multiverse gives her perspective, a chance to reconcile her boring job, whiny husband, and troublesome daughter with versions of her life in which she's a hibachi chef, movie star, and—in a twist—a literal rock. Equal parts soul-searching and sci-fi, Kwan and Scheinert's movie takes all of this to its emotional and logical extremes. But instead of arriving at some nihilistic conclusion, it poses a more optimistic question: If there are no rules, no consequences, then why not go wild?"

Joe Hoeffner wrote, " It is the antidote for These Uncertain Times, a blast of joyful creativity that counters the bleakness of the current moment with its own kind of nihilistic optimism... It’s easy enough to agree that people ought to be less cynical, or that optimism is a healthy way of looking at things. But when it feels like society is circling the drain towards oblivion? When half the country refuses to recognize the other half as human beings? When optimism feels delusional at best and dangerous at worst? What then?"

Other articles and Videos on Optimistic Nihilism

"Optimistic Nihilism" by Neeramitra Reddy





Worth Doing: Our 5-Minute Survey on "What makes you Optimistic?"



Keep up to date with the latest from Centre for Optimism

We appreciate any contribution you can make to help us spread optimism with the world
Give Today

Connect With Us

We love to connect with everyone who is ready to open up and share their optimisim.