The garden of earthly delights

the_garden_of_earthly_delights

Gregor awoke to a cool wind blowing over him. Dew had settled on his skin and he felt a chill from within, mostly related to the tumult in his mind. How had he arrived here? And why could he remember nothing but being here and a few moments from the day before?

He tugged himself under the large fronds of a nearby tropical plant. Animals noises occurred far away, sounding like small creatures. Hunger drove him away from his shelter and he found himself removing large yellow fruits from a nearby tree. They satisfied his hunger, both sweet and starchy, but giving him energy as if he had eaten a meat-based meal. Puzzled, he wandered on.

In one clearing he found a plant on which every other branch was dead and devoid of leaves or twigs. He pulled on one and it came away in his hand. Remembering a long-ago lesson he plugged it into a thick swathe of dry bark and began turning it. As if it were coated like easy strike matches, it burst into flame rapidly. He added more dry wood — it seemed oddly convenient in its scattering nearby — and he soon had a blazing fire.

While the coals smouldered, he wandered among the trees and discovered that this strange place possessed a number of caves, each about the right size for a person or two to hide out or hole up for the night. Some even had natural flues. Cupping coals in a wet leaf, he transferred his fire to one, dumping dry grass and sticks onto the embers to create a roaring blaze. Hungry, he tried another sort of fruit. The same result: sweet like juice, but filling like a meal of meat and potatoes.

He must have drifted off at that point, and slipped into dream. He woke to the sensation of a hand on his shoulder, but could see no one around. Perplexed, he tried to rise, but felt himself forced down. Then strange bright lines appeared across his perspective, and the verdant Eden melted away. He found himself in a chair, holding a pair of headphones with strange spoon-like appendages for his temples.

Two guys in uniform stood on either side of him. “Another one, lost in the loop,” said one. “Come on, fella, we’ve got to get you out of here.”

“Who am I?” he said, bewildered.

The other shrugged. “Sim-amnesia,” he said. “Keep it under your hat, but we get a few cases every month. It’s the interface. It can heat up and scramble you a little bit. Dave will pull your record and figure out who you are.”

And so it was Gregor found himself holding his identity card, reading his file on a computer screen. He was an Actuarial Lifestyle Estimator, it said. He read his home address which seemed oddly numeric, with no street name, and his work location. Then they clapped him on the shoulder and put him in the elevator.

When the bell clanged downstairs he stepped out into the world. There he paused. The street thronged with cars under an unbroken block of skyscraper-buildings forty stories high, each filled with units of equal size for business or dwelling. Every block had a number, and since the buildings filled a block, that designated the units within it. Addresses took the form of three groups of numbers: neighborhood and region, building and unit. He almost fainted when he saw that his unit was numbered in the ten thousands.

Gregor found a public terminal and logged on with skills he could not remember acquiring. There he accessed the People’s Dictionary and saw that the entire planet was covered in blocks like these, all filled with people. Last names had been abolished and people used their work description instead. Education had taken over any other form of qualification, and Gregor realized he had been training since before he could walk for this role. Crime was near non-existent and deviation from the norm impossible, except in the simulators like the one from which he had come. There people could be anyone they wanted to be, forever unique and amazing in their own way.

Once this planet had been wracked by warfare, he read. That had been conquered by equality and managerial science. Now people were assessed only by how far they went in education, which had been adjusted to reward number of hours spent on it instead of natural skills, and everyone earned almost the same amount of money. Each person got a cube at work and a cube to live in, complete with its own air filter, climate control and algal garden to produce food. No one wanted for anything. Peace and prosperity reigned. The average work-week was sixty hours.

A line formed behind him, so Gregor logged off. The day had ended and the sun was setting. He looked up to see the slanted rays of daysend cutting down the avenue, lighting infinite blocks of uncountable buildings, each filled with people acting out their function and thinking of nothing else. A scent came to him, that of a fire in a jungle. Bereft of anything but this moment, he turned and began the long walk to his new home.

Death by a thousand cuts

grumpy_turtle

Humans respond instinctively to threats. They unconsciously limit themselves to threats they can recognize, like Godzilla. Tiny threats or worse, an accumulation of small disasters, remain invisible and get no attention.

Our society threatens a death by a thousand cuts and we will not recognize it. Each day, people following insane ideas make small changes. They add more rules, take away some of the fun. Then they allow real threats to proliferate.

For example, we are surrounded by toxicity. Car exhaust, fires, literally millions of different products which may give off toxic fumes. Do we ever assess the toxicity of all of this stuff at once? Of course not, as then we would notice that we are mutating ourselves into irrelevance because we exist in a literal toxic soup from uncountable sources.

Similarly, social order chips away with every law, rule and court decision. The government, media and pundits consider each one in isolation. “Well, it’s just a small change…” they say, and yet when we look over recent history we see thousands of these small changes adding up to an alienating society. Boring jobs, long commutes, too many useless options in the aisles, people who are literally insane trying to keep up with it all and still stay “relevant.”

Even looking further, our sense of joy in life has been diminished. What is “good” has changed from doing right and achieving good results to upholding ideological rules no matter how badly things turn out. Martyrdom through solipsism is the new heroism. Kids want to grow up to be like their favorite entertainers, athletes and public figures, but all of these are whores.

The worst part of this process is that it does not directly bring about bad results in all cases, but always makes life less enjoyable and more pointless, which causes the smart to drop out and the idiots to take over. The great success of our society in fact creates its doom.

Antiwork conservatives

antiwork_conservatives

A century ago, humans reveled in a simple proposition: machines would improve efficiency and reduce the amount of time humans would have to spend working. Instead, work has expanded to fill our resources and we work more than ever in less comfortable conditions. What could have caused this complete reversal of expectations, as happens with so many human plans.

The answer appears in the events of 1789. An over-populated lower end to French society, aided by degenerates made into wealthy “intellectuals” by the mercantile wealth of their parents, overthrew their government and murdered hundreds of thousands of people. Ever since that time, governments and individuals have cowered in fear of the terror of the mob.

The mob operates on a simple principle: equality. Mobs united based on the idea that one can be included for simply repeating a slogan, and this requires that all be equally included or doubt fractures the mob. Equality motivates people by making them feel comfortable: do one thing, and be forever accepted and supported.

When humans have inequality, some work less and think more. Their actual work is in keeping their brains optimized to make decisions and then taking time to study and understand the subject matter. A good leader of this sort can save a society millions of man-hours, but they appear unequal to the crowd, who does not recognize what they do as “work.”

As a result, we have done away with any work that is not sold by the pound. Any intellectual work is now enwrapped in layers of regulations, trends, tropes and conventions. It is expected of people that they show their dedication to the People’s Revolution idea of work itself. They do this by working just as much as everyone else if not more. That way they can say, “See? I am a good person. I work as much or more than you. You owe me fair treatment because I am one of you.”

The revolution of the workers created a society of workers. No one can escape. If the job is not enough, more details and paperwork can be added. More products can be thrown into the stream. Government can write more regulations or the courts can generate more requirements. Anything to keep us all working and away from another People’s Revolution, which destroys societies and makes life worse for us all.

Conservatives shy away from anti-work. The essence of “cuck” is to accept nonsense as truth, but it extends from that to a kind of shameful tolerance of insane conditions on a daily basis. From this, conservatives invented what makes them hated, which is a pro-work “just keep your head down and work hard” mentality that makes slaves of us all and also keeps conservatives from addressing the fundamental structural problems with our society. And yet, nothing in conservatism says that we should idealize work for work’s sake. Instead, we should favor whatever makes the best society, and all of us being in offices all the time does not do that.

Antiwork writing generally falls under the leftist wing because leftists want any excuse for socialism — reward before performance — that they can create. Conservatives can incorporate antiwork not as an excuse for socialism, but as a means to withdraw from the state. Spend less time doing nonsense, and more time on the meaningful, such as family, culture, spirituality and self-development. This reduces the importance of the State and the prole-run society it endorses, turning our attention to the more serious issues that invoke conservatism by their very nature.

The veterinarian

the_veterinarian

Plump and topped with frizzy red hair, the woman at the counter opines: “It’s just these vets… they barely see my Fluffy for maybe ten minutes, slap down a prescription and send us out to get a follow-up appointment. It’s just money to them.”

The grizzled ex-Marine speaks up from a corner. “The gov-mint has made itself a monopoly. Only its schools give the degrees, only people with the degrees can be vets, so they want lots of money to pay back that investment. Makes ’em greedy.”

A young girl on the edge of womanhood throws in her voice: “You’ve forgotten that large corporations own all of these vet clinics. They set the prices and give the vets efficiency targets. They’re just doing their job.”

In the meantime, thirty-five people have come in with their animals. A middle-aged slender woman with dyed blonde hair speaks: “My husband makes me so mad. He’s out there at his job, or traveling, having excitement and money to spend, while I’m stuck at home taking care of the kids. This dog was their idea, and I don’t even want it, so I’m going to drop it here. I don’t care what he charges me. Let them see how expensive it is and how little I care. I need some time for myself.”

The millennial couple steps up and recites their piece. “We are simply trying to have charming lives. We want our friends to look up to us and see us as morally right, good people who are also a lot of fun. Even more, they need to see us as unique, but we think that starts with seeing us as morally good, because almost everything — but we would never day say everyone — is bad. Our little Fifi ate an extension cord while we were both at work, which is usually a ten hour gap between when we leave and when we come back after work, dinner or shopping, gym or drinking, and commuting. Now we feel guilty. We don’t care what he charges us. If we don’t fix this, we will look terrible to our friends.”

A man with puddled bags under his eyes speaks up from the rear. “I work all week, usually sixty hours. I do this so my family will never have to live near the ghetto. Instead we live in a nice middle class neighborhood. The problem is that I don’t know any of my neighbors. Someone’s dog attacked my cat. I just want the problem solved without taking up my time, because — no one understands this — I have literally 48 hours in the weekend and am so tired I will spend half of them sleeping, and with my remaining time that is not job or other stuff I have to do, I’d like to have a life. My family could care less about my needs. I just want him to take the cat, tell me when to pick it up, and I’ll sign the check, then dump the animal off with the brats and wife.”

Outside, a philosopher looks in through the window. He walks in darkness but is aware of this fact and finds the light appealing at first. Then he sees in an instant the pattern here: the vets are selected by the customers, who do not care what they pay and want convenience and pleasantry over all else, so they gouge them. The customers go back to work and raise their own prices in response. He wonders if any of them have thought for even a single second about how this all will end.

The hipster generation

the_hipster_generation

Apparently some millennials feel that they are “The Hipster Generation,” and there is some evidence to support this. In particular, many millennials seem to be hipsters, and millennial culture values the type of hipster lifestyle that “bohemian bourgeois” aging Baby Boomers pioneered in the 1980s: a justification of lifestyle by unique, ethical and self-expressive behavior, products and values.

Part of this originates in the fact that millennials were educated by the people that Baby Boomers put into the schools, colleges and career placement offices; they know only the reality that was considered “new and exciting” (by morons) in 1968. Millennials were born thirty years behind because they got such old, moldy and discredited theories preached to them as truth since they were in the womb. They are the spawn of hippies, and since hippies have lost their revolutionary status and become boutique identity scenesters since the hippies took over, it is only natural that the millennials end up as hipsters.

For ease of understanding what hipsters are, we should turn to the AdBusters article that initiated the postmodern understanding of what makes a hipster:

Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.

But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of “counter-culture” have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster.”

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

As the title says, hipsters are the dead end of Western civilization. When there are no longer values and goals, we have only the ability to make ourselves look cool and unique. This requires pandering to populism by vigorously affirming the validity and importance of every precious snowflake, which is why hipsters are so PC (at least in public). It also requires the endless chasing of fads and trends so that this person appears to be “in the know.” It also requires dressing up in motley, being random in behavior and preferences, just for the sake of being different than others. In every way, the hipster is comprised of exterior traits designed to communicate with others and compensate for a lack of inner traits; with the hipster, “the medium is the message.”

Such non-people exist only because all inner traits have been abolished. Success in this time depends on conformity to a certification process in propaganda-based education, making the right polite noises about the right topics in conversation, and having enough oddball but admirable activities to have an interesting biography to paste below your CV on job applications. In such a backward approach to life, the inner traits of a human being become justifications for outer appearance, which is more important because social reality and not physical reality predominates. Under social reality, what people think of you is more important than who you are; it is essential to be seen doing the right things, but the quality of those things is secondary to having the right quantities, much in like political correctness there must be certain issues raised in all speech. This environment creates people like hipsters who are 100% external signaling to others, and as a result, have nothing of themselves left inside.

When life peaks early

american_gothic

Liberalism is a pathology. Few will say this, but it is true. While liberals accuse conservatives of having bad motivations, like hating the poor and minorities, liberals never question their own motivations. This is in part because liberals know that they are driven not by thoughts, but by compulsion. They have a compulsive need to ignore the elephant in the room, which is the collapse of Western civilization, and to distract instead with talk about dividing up the loot equally before the end.

This pathology does not even qualify as re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It resembles passengers on a cruise ship hearing the horrible rending of metal caused by a collision, then breaking into the bar and passing out a bottle everyone so that the party can continue. Why stop? The end is certain, they say, as it always has been thanks to our mortality. We fear death so much we will not avoid its early arrival, or something useful like either patch the hole or launch lifeboats.

Liberals exhibit this pathology unconsciously, like an autonomic response. This is why their hive-mind works as well as it does, because when liberal leaders say the right words the crowd cannot help itself but fall into rage, or pity, and it becomes all they speak of. Like obsessive-compulsives, it rules every minute of their lives until they are able to discharge their worry. That is the root of it: fear, concern, doubt and worry. The liberal has a fragile and narrow conception of life which allows them to continue living in denial of the real problem (collapse). If it is altered, they exist in a state of panic until they can restore the illusion.

When liberals confront a threat to their fragile worldview, they try at first to ignore it. Being oblivious and not noticing are their primary weapons, because they can then argue from themselves: “I don’t see” and “it didn’t bother me” are famous liberal opening lines. If they are not bothered, by reflexive implication, the only people who are must be those who are weaker, dumber or more sensitive. Denial seems like aggressive toughness until you realize it is simply a refusal to engage with the problem, like shell-shock, panic or addiction. If ignoring it does not work, they deflect by saying that another issue is more important. When that fails, they attack the legitimacy of the threat and bury it in theory. After that, they go to their last line of defense, which is to force it to be ignored by making it taboo, much as they have done with ongoing problems like race, crime, drugs, and corruption in the West.

It begs the question: if liberalism is a pathology, what is the pathology of liberals that drew them to it? One explanation that occurs to me is that liberals simply peaked early in life, probably mid-high school. By “peaked” I mean that their understanding of the world and their ability to work with it was at its highest point during that time. For most people of unexceptional ability, their peak is also their standard operating level for the rest of their lives, or at least until senility or television claim them. Much as simpler and dumber people mature faster, they also peak sooner, but do not rise to the heights of the more complicated who require longer extended gestation but then are able to to understand more, do more, and see the world more clearly. This is why the relationship between conservatives and liberals always resembles that of an aged uncle to a young and reckless child: the liberal wants things to be new, and the uncle wants them to be correct. If the uncle and child are the same age, it becomes clear that the child peaked earlier in life and the uncle may not have reached his peak, but will do so from a position of knowledge instead of mere reaction to the world, as most children exist at that level.

If we ranked realism ability from one to ten, we might find that the third world hits a three very early in life and never changes. Almost entirely oblivious to everything around them, they specialize in short term schemes, rapid breeding and other thoughtless acts. Slightly above them are your American liberals, who clearly peak in their sophomore year of high school at about a five and extend that “a little knowledge is a lot dangerous” attitude as they go off into life. To them, there is always a parent who could write a check from infinite funds but won’t because that parent is just a blue meanie, or is obsessed with stuff for which high school kids have no use, like tradition, civilization, religion, philosophy and social order. At the far end are conservatives, who spend most of their childhood, teens, twenties and thirties baffled by the world around them, but start to make sense of it in their 40s when they hit levels seven through ten. Theirs is a complex worldview, and it takes time to knit the many threads together, where the liberal worldview is composed of only a few pieces that snap into place and restrict any further growth.

Those who peak early will always be the most popular because they have ready easy answers from a young age. At the same time, they become increasingly obsolete as they encounter real-life challenges of greater complexity, but rather than admit that they have been living a convenient lie, they conveniently retreat further into their ideology, which has become a justification for the ethic of convenience that plagues their minds and the altruistic pretense they use to pre-detonate any criticism coming their way. A society run by early peakers has nowhere to go but down because it cannot advance its understanding, where a society run by late-peakers is vulnerable because it has few simple and satisfying explanations, almost no pleasant illusions and yet, offers the best long-term hope not just of survival but of having advanced knowledge in all fields.

The unforgivable sin of Brett Stevens

caninus_appreciating_existential_harmony

A glib literary farce once based itself upon a quotation from Jonathan Swift:

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.

From all that I have seen, this quote is not quite accurate; a true genius would find himself opposed not by dunces, but by ideas. He would find that all of the prevailing ideas of humanity — generally calculated to deny and distract from reality so that the purveyors of these ideas gain autonomy to follow selfish ends — were united against him, and that the vectors of these ideas were normal, otherwise sane, people. The tragedy of humanity is not so much that idiots rule, but that good people go along with them, because the idiots have hit on ideas that are aesthetically hard to oppose.

It is a well-known fact in democracy that to ease a law or command through society, you must tie it to a group that is pitiable or suffering. If your idea helps The PoorTM or minorities, women, sexual-nonconformists and other marginalized outliers, no one can oppose your idea without appearing to want bad things to happen to those otherwise helpless groups. As a result, no one will oppose it in public. They will go along with the peer pressure and join the bandwagon, even if it means going to their doom, because they do not want to be seen by their fellow citizens as having the bad character assumed to be linked with disregarding the needs of those lesser groups.

These ideas gain momentum over time because everyone is afraid to speak up, and those who do speak up become ostracized because no one wants to be associated with that dangerous viewpoint. Society then becomes a closed-circuit self-confirming feedback loop, offering itself ideas it knows it agrees with and then making a show of agreeing with them. Individuals, engorged on the pretense of being as good as their ideas appear, neglect to be actually good and instead just follow the trend. Dissent is quashed because it is unpopular, since realist ideas threaten pleasant illusions. At that point, all of society — not just the dunces — is aligned against an idea, not just a genius, because that idea by reflection makes what “everyone” is doing appear to be nonsense.

I cannot claim genius, nor enough fame to have all of the dunce-ideas united against me. But I can claim to have refuted all of these ideas and offered instead a simple hope: that by heeding reality, and applying ourselves so that outcomes of transcendental beauty emerge, we can not only solve our problems but go on to a new age of greatness. This notion — you might call it a surrogate for hope, since it relies not on external forces but on us humans getting our act together even in the smallest of ways — enrages most people because it invalidates what they have claimed as their solutions. It reveals their ideas as little more than subterfuge, a dodge to avoid facing the problem as it is. It does so by suggesting that instead we should be engaging in the simple process of fixing our problems, and that makes the ideas of most look like posturing and posing. That in turn makes them angry at any who speak such ideas.

If I have an unforgivable sin, it is believing in humanity and in our ability to change ourselves and beat our demons. It would be much more convenient if I adopted the all is lost outlook that, at the end of the day, suggests that there is no point doing anything except what was convenient for us as individuals to do and that we were already doing. “Keep on keeping on” is popular advice; “we must change ourselves to make a better future” never will be. All of our best thinkers and writers, whose example I attempt to emulate in my own way, have taken the path of showing us the straightforward truth, while the rest of humanity does its best to conceal, obscure and obfuscate that path. It is a sin to follow it, socially at least, but in the eyes of a realist, it is a sin to do anything else. To have a belief in our future is a sin in the eyes of most people, as is the pig-headed insistence that we can solve our problems through common sense and hard work. That would interrupt what most people are doing with their lives, and they hate those of us who encourage it.

Emptiness

emptiness_of_modern_existence

I never realized that I was a religious person because my religion has never involved worlds beyond this one. Instead, like that of the ancient druids, it involves an order to this world in which ideas are the basis of reality. This order may extend beyond visible reality, but the rules do not change: physical reality is inherently logical, as is thought, and any other layers to reality play by those rules.

This ejects me from most religions. Or I should say: from most religious interpretations. As a nihilist, I recognize that writing something down — even writing it well — does not make it truthful or able to be communicated. It describes what one person knows, and other people in the way of humans immemorial will interpret it according to what they know, which includes looking for what they recognize which in turn includes both cognitive limits and preferences for what they already believe is true. With this in mind, even the most profound religion can be easily massacred by an idiot, neurotic or dishonest person and converted into its exact opposite, and this is the most common case in religion. All religions are interpretations of the same reality; all people are using interpretations of those religions; some of these interpretations make more sense than others. There is no single entity “Christianity” any more than there is a single recipe for spaghetti; people have different stuff in their fridges, different needs and different tastes. This is not to say, as Enlightenment liberals do, that every interpretation is different; like most things, they cluster around a few major points with variations. Even so, most religious interpretations find my approach unusual.

I came to this religious view from spending time alone in the forest with no hope for myself or humanity. Owing to unusual conditions of my upbringing, I was exposed to death, human denial and social posturing early on and was able to see through the “accepted” explanations for them, the consequence of a precocious development of verbal skill. In the forest, I found an order that while brutal never failed: it always kept moving forward and, in my experience, it moves forward to beauty. Higher levels of organization, greater unity of form/function, intensified gestalt, and elegance and efficiency in application all made nature to me seem far more graceful than the blocky, rigid and seemingly retaliatory human solutions. Unlike human logic, the logic of nature was not composed of a public layer and a private layer, only the latter of which approached honesty.

It was self-evident that nature addressed its purpose with finer granularity and a balance between all “details” that could not be achieved by humans, who approach all questions from a perspective of human interaction alone. As part of this, it became clear to me that nature contained a life-force that constantly worked toward greater efficiency, balance and beauty. The earth that supports both hummingbirds and eagles, mice and elephants, weeds and redwood trees clearly emerged from a more developed mind than what humans would do; we would design a concrete block of a building with booze at one end, porn at the other, and luxury goods in the middle, surrounded by dumpsters and tenements. Further, nature gave purpose to all through striving and self-betterment, such that a mouse might have real pride in overcoming its timidity and becoming an expert forager. This struck me as a wise and brilliant order that could only have come from some force geared toward ultimate good.

In contrast, humans seemed geared toward reducing the field of vision to what was immediately before them. They denied time, fearing death, and denied consequences of actions beyond the immediate in order to be less restricted. They used euphemisms recklessly to disguise unpleasant truths and then made social rules to prevent those truths from coming up. Everywhere was a sense of control or limiting what was recognized in reality to cause people to ignore it. No hawk would do this, nor any rabbit. But humans, ensconced in easy paper-pushing jobs and getting their food pre-cut from stores, had no need to face reality at all. Like children behaving badly when the teacher leaves the room, they “ran with it” and went into full denial, aware that a comeuppance was due at some point, but not right now. Parents became selfish and left insoluble problems for their children, all while treating those children as part of their own resume and denying the existence of those kids as individuals. It struck me as a sick, sick time.

At that point, I began to sense what evil was. It took many years to hone the philosophy. My first inkling came when I realized that many sources referred to sin as error, and to my mind, the root of error was failure to notice aspects of reality. As time went on, however, I saw that the root of this error was a compulsion not to notice; denial. With it came compensatory behaviors. Many people, such as liberals or religious fanatics, based their lives around denial and scapegoating. The denial allowed them to scapegoat, and that deflection removed their focus from personal improvement and doing right on their own to forcing the external world to compensate for their lack of self-improvement and hiding that fact with acts of public altruism which served their own goal of removing social rules, morality, standards and the noticing of reality upon which they are based. For them, the personal was the political, which meant that they used politics as a means to make themselves seem important and to distract from their actual agenda, which was always selfish, short-sighted, greedy, manipulative and generally cruel in effect (although not in appearance!). I also noticed how these people were chronically unhappy in ways that reflected their neuroses: liberals always talked about the suffering of others to disguise their own boredom and purposelessness, health food fanatics were always unhealthy, and religious zealots seemed to make every conversation about a coded reference to death.

For many decades, I have considered every theory I have encountered to explain this. Liberals argue that people are made miserable by their surroundings, but I find this not so. Dirt-poor people who knew no better made do and in fact seemed to have a lot of time, drink and smoke a lot and do exciting drugs, and not regret their lot in life. Did they want more money? Sure, but so does everyone else. They found ways for their lives to function and were usually highly social. The miserable people were white women in the suburbs and geeky men in dingy city apartments, railing at the world for not being what they wanted, instead of being willing to work with what it is. Some argue that the root of our problem is language, or grammar, or some fundamental defect in logic, but I found more often that it was a willful misreading of the rules of argument. Others said it was a lack of democracy, or of religion, but those did not seem to help and often led people astray. Over the years, I began to see the root as (1) what most would call “evil” and (2) its root in a type of error which we might call emptiness, or a lack of internal purpose and introspection, which required a solipsistic/narcissistic personality to support itself. For these people, everything they do is compensation (cognitive dissonance) for their own misery, apologism for actual problems and replacement in their consciousness of those with non-problems, and projection of their own desires onto others. They existed in a world of themselves, and saw any intrusion by reality as offensive, violating, victimizing and worth resenting. Most if not all human misery comes from this psychology.

Emptiness strikes when people disconnect from reality. When someone exists in a constant feedback loop with their world, noticing it and doing their part to increase order/good/beauty, they do not have this emptiness; instead, they have purpose, a place, and parts of an identity. For that to happen, they need a strong culture and strong leadership to reduce the billions of possibilities to a narrow but not artificially narrow range. However, most people rage against that under the impression that — much as they believe they will win the lottery — they need these billions of choices to feel a sense of personal power. That power however does not relate to changes in reality, but only in their own minds, and so like drug addiction or masturbation it is never satisfying because it never goes anywhere and pleasure must constantly increase to outpace its dulling through experience, much as any repetitive experience loses its intensity in our minds. Emptiness could be called “evil” but that is perhaps too mythological for this naturalistic Nietzschean, especially when evil is so commonly used to create scapegoats elsewhere. Instead, it makes sense to describe what it is: perpetual misery caused by a refusal to address reality and thus, a world created of the self which becomes a void as the self bores itself. Experience dulls over time, as said above, and so the self constantly chasing a way to stimulate itself becomes listless, entropic.

Over the years, evil has visited us in many ways, but rarely the ones the media and government identify. Hitler and Stalin thought they had a better form for society, and almost certainly they are just as much not all wrong as not all right. The real evil is mundane, occurs in tiny doses, and ingratiates itself to us. Evil does not show up as a giant demon with huge breasts and a giant penis while breathing fire, but as a seductive force that shows us an “easier way” or encourages us to take pity on ourselves, and reward us with something instead. It argues that we can have power without the ability that merits it, that we deserve more importance and less responsibility, and other illusions of the solipsistic mind. In short, it is solipsism, and its devious trick is that by making a world of ourselves, it forces that world into decay creating constant emptiness which we try to fill by destroying and consuming things around us. Instead of making us full, that only widens the hole, creating an army of mental zombies who ruin everything they touch and still remain in misery. If any condition is more like Hell, I have not witnessed it.

Inspired by (short) Twitter conversations with Alice Teller.

Automatic obedience

automatic_obedience

The mystery of civilizational death remains with us: at some point near or at their peak, great civilizations simply drop off the radar of history. Either no one is around to communicate what happened, or no one cares to, but either way history becomes like a badly spliced film reel, going from a scene of prosperity in one moment to empty, third-world failure in the next.

One theory holds that these societies get ahold of some kind of erroneous notion and treat it as truth, with each layer of society emulating the one above or below it until all are acting on the same untrue assumptions, resulting in a massive crash with reality at some point. This crash may occur in the environment, economy, society, military, genetics or all of the above, but its cause does not lie in them. Rather, its cause emerges from the denial of reality itself.

We might refer to this compulsive embrace of the illusory as automatic obedience. This passage from Naked Lunch illustrates the power of the figurative example of automatic obedience:

I reach Freeland, which is clean and dull, by God. Benway is directing the R.C., Reconditioning Center. I drop around, and “What happened to so and so?” sets in like: “Sidi Idriss ‘The Nark’ Smithers crooned to the Senders for a longevity serum. No fool like an old queen.” “Lester Stroganoff Smuunn — ‘El Hassein’ — turned himself into a Latah trying to perfect A.O.P., Automatic Obedience Processing. A martyr to the industry…”

(Latah is a condition occurring in South East Asia. Otherwise sane, Latahs compulsively imitate every motion once their attention is attracted by snapping the fingers or calling sharply. A form of compulsive involuntary hypnosis. They sometimes injure themselves trying to imitate the motions of several people at once.)

“Stop me if you’ve heard this atomic secret….”

Our civilization in the West now represents a group of Latahs. The self-proclaimed elites, selected for telling the people what they wish were true but in fact is lies, act out a pantomime of a healthy republic and the others, in wanting that to be true, emulate those elites. Then the next layer of society imitates that in turn, all the way down. The paradox is that the elites got there by imitating the lowest levels of society and then, with its leadership corrupted, society defaulted to that lowest common denominator as others followed. And nowhere in this process did anyone reference reality or pay attention to its relevance.

Two mentalities

welcome_to_deep_space

Two outlooks on the world reveal the soul of humanity.

In both cases, the person has discovered that there is more to the world than they expected. Someone around them was smarter than they thought, a new continent appeared, a new dimension uncovered, or a new theory grew which turned out not to be a rehash of old theories or a transient trend based on drawing overbroad conclusions from small disparities. Possibilities — whether new or not — opened up, but the end result was that the world they thought they knew has more parts or space.

The first case finds herself delighted. There is more! Something else to combine, or isolate, or even incorporate as a variation on the known. In any case, there is more to explore, to experience and to enjoy. Unless it is outright evil, in which case she sees it as a new worthy enemy.

The second case finds herself disturbed. She thought she knew the world; now, there is more. More that is not under her hand, understood by her and conversant in her tongue. It is a challenge to her personal autonomy, which she confuses with control, and an insurgency against her having knowledge of everything out there and its importance. She is outraged that something exists which threatens her understanding of the world.

Humanity is far more complex than these two cases; that statement is boilerplate and of little value. And yet, it reveals one of our human tendencies. Either we see ourselves as small within the world, or the world as small within ourselves, for the benefit of our control. I know which of these two outlooks I would prefer as a starting point.