Something I'd like to do some more thinking about is the relationship between nihilism and cultural innovation. There's certainly something intuitive about the way a culture that sees no future for itself might feel free to engage in free cultural play; with no future to plan for, there is no need to be responsible and risk averse.
One obvious example is the art and music of Weimar Germany; in a visit to New York last weekend I caught an exhibition at the Neue Gallery of Otto Dix's work from that period. It's awesome, disturbing stuff. The suite of 50 etchings called "Der Krieg" is a relentless indictment of war - torn and mutilated bodies, rotting flesh, piles of corpses at the front, with debauchery and violent sexuality behind the front lines. It's not a fun exhibition, but absolutely worth seeing.
A more recent example is the New York City of the late sixties to the late seventies. There's a new movie, Rubble Kings, that explores the way the gangs had almost completely taken over the city by the mid-seventies. But at some point, somehow, things started to change, and the violent gangland impulses were sublimated into the creative energies of hip hop. Here's the trailer - it looks fantastic:
especially the 50