"Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something..."


"Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something..."

"Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something..."

"... had some kind of nobility, hating this thing here, and that thing there, and that other thing over there, and making sure that everybody around me knew it, not just knew, but felt it too, contemptuous of beauty, contemptuous of joy, contemptuous of happiness in others, well, this whole attitude just felt, I don’t know, in the end, sort of dumb."

Writes Nick Cave, responding to a fan who asked "When did you become a Hallmark card hippie? Joy, love, peace. Puke! Where’s the rage, anger, hatred? Reading these lately is like listening to an old preacher drone on and on at Sunday mass" — at The Red Hand Files. 

After his younger son Arthur, aged 15, fell off a cliff and died, Cave thought about "the precarious and vulnerable position of the world" and felt he ought to try to help the world, "instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it."

In 2022, his older son Jethro died, aged 31.


31 Comments on Althouse: "Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something..."

  • Ice Nine
    on January 31, 2023 | 11:10 Ice Ninesaid :
    "So, prolonged hatred and rage are pernicious for the individual, and not sustainable if he is interested in being healthy.

    This is not exactly a revolutionary thought that Nick Cave came up with, you know."
  • lonejustice
    on January 31, 2023 | 11:22 lonejusticesaid :
    "Thanks for posting this, Professor. The Red Hand Files is great. I really like Nick Cave's music. And now I really like his writing too."
  • Carol
    on January 31, 2023 | 11:23 Carolsaid :
    "Every day I read some lefty on Twitter or reddit saying how he can't possibly be happy given the State of Society, capitalism, trump etc.

    And someone responds you gotta be kidding you let the outside world bother you that much?

    Followed by much vilification for being braindead heartless etc.

    But really, they gotta be kidding, right?

    Maybe if WWIII breaks out...."
  • Lem the misspeller
    on January 31, 2023 | 11:36 Lem the misspellersaid :
    "How calamitous."
  • Tom T.
    on January 31, 2023 | 11:52 Tom T.said :
    "I give him a lot of credit for changing, and in the direction he did. Many people would simply abandon themselves to anger and bitterness after that kind of loss.

    He got off to a rough start on fatherhood. His first two kids were born ten days apart, to different women. He said he basically ignored one of them (the one who just died) for several years, but eventually they built a relationship. The younger son had taken LSD before his accident; the older one was schizophrenic and had attacked his mother. That's a lot for a parent to have to carry around."
  • William
    on January 31, 2023 | 12:16 Williamsaid :
    "I like some of Nick Cave's songs, particularly when the world slouches toward February. Then there's Doris Day for when I'm in a more upbeat mood."
  • Narr
    on January 31, 2023 | 12:44 Narrsaid :
    "I once ran across an ad for the Stop Smiling Bookstore--it was in some northern city with a lot of colleges and universities IIRC. Socialist, by their own definition.

    There's a Stop Smiling Magazine but I'm not sure of the connection, if any.

    Speaking of bookstores and universities, I once had an African academic doing research in my department who was there in our reading room when an undergrad came in looking for either or both Malcolm X's and Frantz Fanon's books to check out. Our books didn't circulate, and the stack copies were checked out or missing and the kid was desperate, even willing to buy copies if they could be found in town.

    The researcher overheard our discussion and suggested that the student check at the socialist bookstore. In Memphis, in the year 1999 or so.

    Dear man.

  • wildswan
    on January 31, 2023 | 12:51 wildswansaid :
    "Over the last year a lot of people did the Dante in 100 Days online course. And a lot did the Bible in One Year. And there's other courses going on. The Federalist on Powerline. "The American Left: From Liberalism to Despotism" which is a Hillsdale free online course. All this is excluded from the public political discourse but still it lives. Meanwhile, the left is finding that media pogroms against right-wing causes and figures are becoming downers but still its addiction to power is growing."
  • Carol
    on January 31, 2023 | 12:52 Carolsaid :
    "They really are so proud of their hatred. Glad he got over it tho.

    Faith, Hope and Charity FTW."
  • Lem the misspeller
    on January 31, 2023 | 13:15 Lem the misspellersaid :
    "...hating this thing here, and that thing there, and that other thing over there,

    Say, here I am
    On the road again
    There I am
    Up on the stage
    Here I go
    Playin' star again
    There I go
    Turn the page

    Bob Seager - Turn the page."
  • Assistant Village Idiot
    on January 31, 2023 | 13:15 Assistant Village Idiotsaid :
    "That droning old preacher at Mass does have a few thousand years of tradition in dealing with tragedy and joy behind him. It doesn't make what he says correct, but it does mean that it shouldn't be dismissed out-of-hand."
  • Sebastian
    on January 31, 2023 | 14:02 Sebastiansaid :
    ""sort of dumb"

    Kudos to Cave for gaining a little wisdom. Losing two kids very prematurely is the hardest thing.

    Yes, from a philosophical point of view, most hatred is dumb. But from a political point of view, it is useful. The lust for power, especially prog power, relies on the cultivation of hatred. It's dumb simply to declare it dumb."
  • robother
    on January 31, 2023 | 14:09 robothersaid :
    "Nick Cave's soundtrack for "The Assassination of Jesse James..." was a masterpiece of understatement. Sad to say that it took the death of two sons, but realizing the preciousness of human life is always and everywhere to be celebrated. "
  • Jay Vogt
    on January 31, 2023 | 14:10 Jay Vogtsaid :
    "He's an unusual man, with a rough journey behind him. Not sure if he's that great of a songwriter - or a writer at all.

    He does however have an exception ability to perform very well with some outstandingly talented women: Marianne Faithfull, Debbie Harry and Neko Case. You don't just get lucky for that to happen, you need to know exactly what you're doing.

    . . . . . smart guy."
  • Virgil Hilts
    on January 31, 2023 | 14:35 Virgil Hiltssaid :
    "Love Nick Cave. He has at least one son left - Earl Cave. if you watched End of the F-ing World, Season 1, he shows up as Frodo. Really cute kid. "
  • Amexpat
    on January 31, 2023 | 14:35 Amexpatsaid :
    "Wise personal decision. Not sure about business wise. His negativity and cynicism is his trademark. Not sure how many record he'll sell singing cheery, upbeat songs."
  • typingtalker
    on January 31, 2023 | 14:51 typingtalkersaid :
    "Nick Cave: " ... the precarious and vulnerable position of the world ... "

    "The world" is neither precarious nor vulnerable. It is, in fact, quite stable and invulnerable. It has been around in its current form throughout history, and the prehistory before that.

    I learned this in elementary school and every subsequent school that I was fortunate to attend. It is confirmed in the exhibits of The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Natural History Museum in London, the Beijing Museum of Natural History and others.

    Nick Cave needs to get outside, take a walk and, as they say, smell the roses."
  • Penguins loose
    on January 31, 2023 | 15:42 Penguins loosesaid :
    "For people who do not realize it ( or want to realize it ), for the largest percentage of people ever, this is the best time in history for them to exist. We have problems; we always have had problems; we always will have problems. Some of those problems are or will be serious.

    But, if the world must conform to your liking for you to be happy, you never will be. So, you have a choice: get with the program, man; or let your cognitive dissonance create an environment of hate, misery, resentment and self-pity.

    Of course, if you pick the latter, you have a ready-made excuse for your unhappiness, all the “bad” luck visited upon you and your failure to realize all the goodies that you birth-right should have bestowed upon your victimized self. None of your misery is your fault.

    I feel for those who believe that all their problems are the fault of others. And, since they do not have a problem, you can’t help them. No one fixes a problem they do not have.

    Pray for them?"
  • Saint Croix
    on January 31, 2023 | 15:42 Saint Croixsaid :
  • Prairie Wrench
    on January 31, 2023 | 16:26 Prairie Wrenchsaid :
    "Can we look forward now to a Nick Cave Christmas album?"
  • Mikey NTH
    on January 31, 2023 | 16:59 Mikey NTHsaid :
    "So carping and complaining and griping and blaming doesn't lead to personal peace, or satisfying interpersonal relations? Getting rid of that gets rid of the part of the internet not dedicated to cat videos or recorded bedroom athletics."
  • Maynard
    on January 31, 2023 | 17:15 Maynardsaid :
    "Cave thought about "the precarious and vulnerable position of the world" and felt he ought to try to help the world, "instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it."

    He sounds like a good guy and from above comments a good artist.

    However, my first two reactions were:

    1. How do you sit in judgement of the world? That strikes me as highly narcissistic.

    2. The world has always been precarious and dangerous. It is less so now. It is not the Hobbesian life that was nasty, brutish and short.

    I do not mean to criticize the guy, but to challenge simple minded assumptions about the modern world."
  • Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker
    on January 31, 2023 | 17:21 Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hookersaid :
    "Carol -
    I wonder if these nit-wits understand Trump isn't president anymore?

    We had peace and prosperity during Trump. Period.

    Now - UNDER Crook Biden - we have inflation, tax rape, open borders, crime and war.

  • n.n
    on January 31, 2023 | 17:21 n.nsaid :
    "A series of tragic circumstances. What's done is done and cannot be undone.

    But, despite it all, he reached a state of rational, moral enlightenment."
  • Inga
    on January 31, 2023 | 17:25 Ingasaid :
    "Losing a child, or two children, even worse, pounds home the realization that life is fleeting and that humans are fragile after all the proclamations of strength. A human skull is only so thick, a human lung can’t breathe water, blood vessels can bleed copious amounts of blood very quickly, brains can be rattled to mush. Why waste what left of one’s own life to hate, when the emotions of love, joy, peace are so much more profound. People can be hateful, yes, but wasting emotions on hating just doesn’t seem to be productive, because life IS short. Having said that, we are only human and will slip into the knee jerk response of shooting hate back at those who hate us. Love, peace and joy don’t always or even often come easily, sometimes it needs to be searched for, strived toward. Oh well, just my two cents worth."
  • iowan2
    on January 31, 2023 | 17:50 iowan2said :
    ""the precarious and vulnerable position of the world" vulnerable position of me in the world.

    and felt he ought to try to help the world, Or simply, Be of service to others.

    Feel like crap and don't know why? Try being of service to others. No you don't have to sell off all you have to start a homeless shelter. Do simple things throughout the day. You are really not helping others. You are getting out of yourself. Right sizing your ego. While making another persons day go a little smoother. "
  • Sydney
    on January 31, 2023 | 17:56 Sydneysaid :
    "Being the child of someone who hates the world is not an easy thing, because you are a part of that world. Maybe the death of his sons made him realize the harm that projecting hate causes. "
  • Valentine Smith
    on January 31, 2023 | 20:28 Valentine Smithsaid :
    "Personal Grief far outweighs some abstract general principles. Profound grief after time can morph from an emotionally muddy stasis to crystal clarity. It’s an exhausting journey, I believe, and not many succeed. I salute Cave for stripping away the universalist chaff and getting to the spiritual center. "
  • Iman
    on January 31, 2023 | 22:10 Imansaid :
    "Well said, Iowan 2. Being helpful to others when able, treating others with kindness. That’s the ticket. A little kindness goes a long way, and it can be invigorating. I’m going to try to be more mindful of this myself, Lord knows I could use it."
  • Mid-Life Lawyer
    on February 01, 2023 | 04:28 Mid-Life Lawyersaid :
    "Remarkable. I have now subscribed to his blog and I will go deeper into his music. Some music aficionado friends of mine have been deep into his music for years but I only glanced his way. So much music, so little time."
  • Known Unknown
    on February 01, 2023 | 15:49 Known Unknownsaid :
    "Not cheery or upbeat, but just plain beautiful?"

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