Book Review: Nick Riggle’s This Beauty | The Magazine

Now-thinker, professor, and creator Nick Riggle was after a experienced inline skater who competed at the X-Games and played with hearth.

What the hell are we undertaking below, and what does it signify to direct a fulfilling everyday living?

Probably it is because of to living by way of Covid-19 and its aftermath that I’m appreciably horrified at humanity’s social, political, environmental, and economic difficulties. Whatever the motive, I obtain myself asking the major existential queries far more than ever.

These are not inquiries I’m by yourself in wondering—the existence of college philosophy departments confirms this. Just pop into any late-evening, booze-and-weed-soaked bonfire and eavesdrop on the chatter.

But these are concerns that, at the very least in the United States, have been largely cast aside during the 20th century in official philosophy—until lately, College of San Diego aesthetics professor and creator Nick Riggle tells me. We’re speaking about his guide, This Beauty: A Philosophy of Currently being Alive (printed December 2022), which gives a operating manual for imagining by means of “The Concern.”

To wit: How are we, as sentient beings, supposed to value a daily life we did not pick to reside? We’re below, absolutely sure as we can pinch our skins, but why need to we “want it, adore it, care for it, make it mine?” Riggle asks.

Befitting an academic, Riggle tackles this quandary as a lecturer could, by speaking specifically to visitors in his textual content, going for walks them via each chapter conversationally and lyrically. The chapters look as separately themed essays on everyday living in typical, time, the human body, household, the concept of a solitary working day, and, of class, beauty. This sprawling format is intentional.

Nick Riggle

“I don’t feel, philosophically, that ‘The Question’ has a immediate reply,” he claims. “We really do not have sufficient facts to have one. We don’t know ample… [W]ho we are, what we’re doing in this article, what the universe is. It’s all just one good secret.”

To assist untangle this mystery, Riggle provides serious-life examples of how to believe about these concepts through relatable anecdotes about parenthood and his center-class upbringing. He also interrogates the futility and vagueness of typical inspirational phrases like “live like there’s no tomorrow,” “seize the day,” and “you only reside the moment.”

He argues they all imply that lifetime is cherished and hence encourage either recklessness or in excess of-mindful preservation. Equally of these are overkill for the nuances of day-to-day daily life and recognizing the natural beauty and, therefore, the worth therein.

Natural beauty as a topic, and the research for it, is what anchors Riggle’s whole philosophy (and e book). To him, it’s pretty substantially in the eye of the beholder, some thing subjective and extremely individual, with indicating past just pleasure and visual gratification. There is also an inherently communal aspect. The individual and general public elements have interaction in a feedback loop that results in aesthetic value.

Riggle, who life in El Cerrito, is a very good prospect to check out the worth of life: He’s lived a lot of currently. He dropped out of superior university to go after a specialist inline skating job that took him to the X-Games and other worldwide competitions and uncovered him hanging out with Eminem, Dave Matthews Band, and Randy Savage by age 20.

Dissatisfied with dwelling everyday living rooted more in the corporeal, surrounded by material pleasures in a body-punishing willpower, he moved on to other pursuits. He bought his bachelor’s degree at Berkeley soon after starting at group school, earned his PhD in philosophy at New York University, grew to become a professor, married, and, additional recently, turned a father. There was also a stint as the head of a hip-hop-slash-folks songs group in-amongst.

Nick Riggle

So why question The Dilemma now?

The guide touches on other disciplines, but it is truthful to say that it is broadly an existentialist do the job. Academically talking, this worldview fell out of favor soon after the writings of Søren Kirkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, John Paul Sartre, and other folks preoccupied with teasing out the meaning of human existence at first became common.

For several, existentialism is much too nebulous and wearisome to consider. In San Diego, the place championing great vibes often trumps all the things else, it is simple to see how it hardly ever elevates further than that aforementioned bonfire conversation. For Riggle, fatherhood furnished a excellent prospect to dig in.

Zooming out additional commonly, soon after a long time of the decline of structured religion and the increase of buffet-type spiritualism connected to astrology, crystals, yoga, and other hodgepodge techniques and philosophies, individuals are probably more primed than they have been in a while to contemplate what he’s offering.

Frankly, this line of thinking—and to know it’s yet again getting to be en vogue—is refreshing, especially in a town with crushing financial and social inequality. Even Overseas Policy argued in favor of it in a 2019 post, declaring, “French philosophy came to define the postwar era. As U.S. politics get ever much more absurd, it is time for a comeback.”

We may perhaps have a more challenging time addressing the substance comforts of each individual human on earth, but at least we can check out to present a roadmap for mentally driving the waves. Or, as Riggle puts it, “engaging in aesthetic everyday living [is] a way of keeping in contact with the price of staying alive.”