On Introversion & Society: The Lost Arts of Undoing & Doing Nothing

doingnothingWhat are you going to do about it?

What should we do about it?

What can they do about?

These are the questions that we hear in relation to problems that we encounter in our civilization. The central tenet of our belief system is that ‘doing’ is the only meaningful activity.  We assume all problems just need a fresh coat of action in order to stop being problems. Yet this critically misses the obvious truth that under all those layers of action past the fundamental problems still remain. No matter how many times you try to freshen up an error, it still remains a failure at its core.

Even more insidious is what is meant by ‘doing’ most of the time. In our state-based social/economic/political systems, ‘doing’ often means employing the force of the state or of majorities. ‘Doing’ often means creating new systems to impose your will on others, or reforming old systems to do the same. More often than not, ‘doing’ is an act of aggression, or a contributing factor to other paradigms of aggression.

The old lady who eventually died of horse swallowing after a series of escalations following a fly ingestion incident was stuck in a feedback loop of ‘doing’. A rational person would have stopped swallowing things after the fly (not doing) and attempted to cough or vomit up the fly (undoing) if it posed a real threat, which it did not. It was only the act of repeated doings that escalated the situation to fatal levels, which is usually the case in these kind of matters.

Undoing may be argued to be a form of doing, which is right in some sense, but false in others. When I speak of undoing I mean tearing down, not to make room for building anew, but just to be rid of a thing that was not working. Too often our undoing is just part of the process of doing something else in its place. So I would suggest that what differentiates true undoing from doing is that it is followed by not-doing.

Doing nothing. Leaving things be. Minding your own business. These are things humans are not very good at. When we talk about ‘doing’ we do so with the urgency of belief that we must have a plan of action at all times. Yet we compulsively ‘do’. We need never worry about that. We should concentrate instead in where we fail, which is undoing and not-doing. These are the skills we should be developing as individuals and as a species.

I think the reason we have this problem is that extroverts have, by their very nature, become the default keepers of social systems and mainstream ideologies. Introverts who want to be left alone and leave others alone in the process are usually hiding out in a safe place while the extroverts are out ‘doing’ things. But as anyone whose tendencies lay nearer the introversion end of the scale knows, that ‘doing’ can make coexisting with extroverts extremely painful.  Their insistence on compulsive interaction, and social systems which require and promote it, forces the rest of us into institutions and cultural paradigms that do not meet our needs.

Yet intelligence seems to be on the side of the introverts. And the internet has given a forum in which that intelligence can be heard, shared and adapted into solutions. If the pen was mightier than the sword, then the keyboard is hundreds of times more powerful. And it is here where we need to launch an attack against the primacy of ‘doing’ and the tyranny of extroverts. And to do so we must dismantle the false narrative of compulsive, busy-bodies who insist that we must keep swallowing larger critters following the unfortunate thing with the fly.

It is time we recapture the lost arts of Undoing and Doing Nothing. This old jalopy of a planet already has enough ‘doing’ on it to keep it going for a long time to come. Before we can do anything that doesn’t just add to the problems created by doing, we must undo much without worrying about what will take its place. Doing will happen as a course of human nature.  Undoing and Not-Doing are far greater challenges for individuals and our species. Lets put our time and energy there and see if maybe we haven’t just been trying too hard and suffering from our overachievement.

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The Importance of Distinguishing Between Chaos, Order and Disorder

The Golden Rule Is A Terrible Way To Treat People

The Importance of Distinguishing Between Chaos, Order and Disorder

chaos

My interest in the philosophical implications of chaos and order were piqued in 1998 when I first read The Principia Discordia, a humorous book produced by an absurdist religion based on an arcane bit of Greek mythology. Discordianism is the faux worship of Eris, goddess of chaos, and while it is thought by many to be a merely satirical piece of surrealist art, its metaphors resonate on a level of great truth. Yet it would be difficult to understand these truths if one were to hold onto the mainstream misconception of chaos and were unable to distinguish it from disorder.

Let me explain the difference in the most basic terms possible.

Chaos is a large grocery store with every ingredient ever imagined from which an endless amount of possible food combinations could be used to create unique meals.

Order is the shopping list, the recipe and the process of prepping and cooking. And sometimes you get a tasty meal.

Disorder is when you get something else. Disorder is when the meal is inedible or poisonous or burns the kitchen down in the process.

Disorder is what happens when the conversion of chaos to order goes awry. Which becomes more likely each and every time you apply order, and becomes a certainty when you apply it destructively (more on destructive vs. creative order below). Disorder, distinct from chaos, is usually what people actually mean when they use the term chaos. However, the failure to be able to distinguish means that people react to disorder by attempting to bandage the wounds it creates with a misapplication of order.

Chaos is possibility. Disorder is entropy.

Let us examine the Principia Discordia’s retelling of that arcane Greek myth:

THE MYTH OF THE APPLE OF DISCORD
It seems that Zeus was preparing a wedding banquet for Peleus and Thetis and did not want to invite Eris because of Her reputation as a trouble maker.

This made Eris angry, and so She fashioned an apple of pure gold and inscribed upon it KALLISTI (“To The Prettiest One”) and on the day of the fete She rolled it into the banquet hall and then left to be alone and joyously partake of a hot dog.

Now, three of the invited goddesses, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, each immediately claimed it to belong to herself because of the inscription. And they started fighting, and they started throwing punch all over the place and everything.

Finally Zeus calmed things down and declared that an arbitrator must be selected, which was a reasonable suggestion, and all agreed. He sent them to a shepherd of Troy, whose name was Paris because his mother had had a lot of gaul and had married a Frenchman; but each of the sneaky goddesses tried to outwit the others by going early and offering a bribe to Paris.

Athena offered him Heroic War Victories, Hera offered him Great Wealth, and Aphrodite offered him the Most Beautiful Woman on Earth. Being a healthy young Trojan lad, Paris promptly accepted Aphrodite’s bribe and she got the apple and he got screwed.

As she had promised, she maneuvered earthly happenings so that Paris could have Helen (the Helen) then living with her husband Menelaus, King of Sparta. Anyway, everyone knows that the Trojan War followed when Sparta demanded their Queen back and that the Trojan War is said to be The First War among men.

The point here is that by being selective about the guest list, an act of order on Zeus’ part, the conditions were set for the disorder that was the first major imperialist war in our written history. An ever-increasing trend that has done little to enrich our existence.

Perhaps you are familiar with the adage that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could lead to a hurricane halfway across the world. This is known in chaos theory as the Butterfly Effect. It essentially describes the interconnectedness between all things and how even the slightest action could snowball or lead into much greater ones.

Yet we are a universe in motion and have little choice but to remain active. This is why Discordianism suggests that we do not create a dichotomy between chaos and order, but between the creative and the destructive. It is thought that creative chaos is more favorable than destructive order. Yet if we wished to apply this knowledge to our actions, the subjective area where creative/destructive are defined is still problematic.

However, this problem is simple to solve so long as we define the two aspects relative to the theory, and not necessarily with linguistic preciseness. Creativity is that which seeks to enrich the individual (and perhaps others) without intruding upon or limiting the choices of others. Destruction is that which seeks to enrich the individual (and perhaps others) by intruding upon or limiting the choices of others. Creativity requires and nurtures self-discipline. Destruction seeks control. The cost of that control often comes in the form of disorder. Or at least that is how it would be experienced by everybody outside of the destructive force.

It is therefore authority over others which is the destructive force of the universe. Authority is often recognized falsely as a valid attempt at order. But true order, that which is not just a conduit for disorder, comes only from voluntary cooperation and mutual consent. The opposite of mutual and voluntary is aggressive, which takes the forms of force, coercion or compulsion. Our existence as individuals is a strong indicator that whatever our meaning and purpose in this existence are derived from must have something to do with that individuality. When authority organizes force to impede on individuality it doesn’t just violate the meaning and purpose of the individual and existence, it leads us down the destructive path to disorder.

Yet because we have misunderstood all of this, because we have created a false dichotomy between order and chaos and have failed to distinguish between the latter and disorder, we have become blind to our own predicament. As the disorder spawned by our faulty outlook increases, so does entropy. There must be some limit to how much entropy reality can contain. So besides being a philosophical nuisance, the misleading ideologies surrounding these terms and concepts, may actually pose a threat to our existence. We have seen this on a smaller scale. The empires of the past have fallen, such as Rome, collapsing under their own weight. Yet a danger much greater than nation states could befall us. The advancement of our knowledge and technology and other tools of order continues to increase exponentially. The resulting disorder which may follow in the collapse of all of this order may pose a threat to existence itself.

While it is not a certainty in any empirical sense, authority could theoretically collapse our entire universe. Not just in the physical sense, but in the sense that we are conscious beings whose ability to bend our nature to accommodate authority could at some point result in a critical mass. That critical mass might be a psychic implosion of our sentient consciousness, or it might just drive us mad enough to destroy ourselves through desperate attempts to correct our trajectory with yet more destructive acts of order.

Authority is not just the enemy of an individual. It is the enemy of ALL individuals. While it may currently only have the power to damage us one at a time, or in isolated groups, it could very well snowball into a disorderly frenzy of entropy which causes the heat death collapse of our universe, metaphorically or literally. There is a threshold where they become indistinguishable.

Before we can begin to correct the problem we must understand it. And to understand it we must first understand its most basic terms. Familiarize yourself with the distinguishing characteristics of the three terms as I have presented them. Think in them and speak in them and act accordingly to them. See if it doesn’t change your entire worldview. And share them. This one seed of knowledge may be the most important lesson for humanity, a species at the cusp of its own maturity. Peering into the uncertainty of that future is perhaps frightening. Which is why we tend to avoid it at any cost. But we may not always have that luxury.

The favoring of order over chaos, of authority over anarchy, is that final attachment to our immaturity. It is like the fear we face when we first leave our parents home. Yet there comes a time to leave behind certainty and security and head out into the vast possibilities of our own individuality. And even though we may fumble and make great mistakes, we will also be learning and adapting and evolving as individuals. Authority may have been a useful tool for fashioning creative order from chaos, but at some point it becomes a detriment. This is where humanity stands. We can step out from under the safety blanket of authoritarian ideologies and accept the consequences of the learning process, or we can rot in our parents basement while we bleed the household dry with our refusal to seek independence.

Embrace chaos, for in it lies all possibilities, great and tragic. Yet with an attachment to destructive order alone, there is no doubt what the outcome will be for our universe as well as our species and everything else within it. Do not let fear or ignorance keep you dependent on authority and its intrinsic tendency towards disorder.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

–  Bene Gesserit ‘Litany Against Fear’ from Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’

Hail Eris! All Hail Discordja!

Objects, Animals and People Seen In Mars Photos & One Wacky Theory

Mars

The number of earth-like objects being found in photos from the Curiosity Rover continues to rise. Most recently a bear, a dog, a mouse and a bearded man were all supposedly spotted in photographs beamed back to Earth from Mars. While it is entirely possible that these anomalies are simple probable false images or that the interpretation is pareidolia in action, some believe these objects may actually literally exist there. Which is going to sound incredibly reasonable compared to the theory I am about to lay down.

For most of my life I would look into the night sky and marvel at the grandeur of it. The sheer immensity was humbling and afforded enough possibilities to keep my imagination well-stirred. Recently, however, I look out there and wonder if it even exists and is not just an illusion. Is the entire sky and the billions of points of light within it really there, or is it all just a projection of consciousness?

What of down here? Does the ground we walk on, or even we ourselves actually exist in literal form? Is matter dependent on consciousness or does it precede it? I have begun to doubt the literal existence of matter. Rather I see it as a product of consciousness which is reinforced by the beliefs we have about it. When enough people believe something it reaches a critical mass and becomes ‘real’, so long as it is consistent with the entire structure of beliefs it exists within. The process is cumulative with reality becoming more complex, interconnected and expansive over time. The greater number of validated beliefs cause reality to evolve and grow over time. And the more complex and connected they become in belief, so too does reality accommodate these beliefs by manifesting them.

So what of the sky? Was Earth once surrounded by primordial blackness? Did some single phenomena cause the first star to appear, only to be followed by others as that star caused us to consider greater possibilities for the hovering blankness above? Before the invention of telescopes, were there fewer stars in existence? Did creating a tool which would allow us to see more of the sky create an interdependent belief which allowed our consciousness to form more of them? And once we created those pinpricks of light, wasn’t it inevitable that we would try to observe them more closely so we could create more complex beliefs about them, and thus widen the scope of our reality?

So lets say, for arguments sake, that everything that exists is just a manifestation of consciousness. And that the night sky itself is nothing more than a projection of our own beliefs about the night sky. If this were so, and we created tools to go and investigate the manifestations of our belief, what would we see?

What have we seen on Mars so far? Mostly we have seen the things we expected or hoped to see. Very few real surprises have appeared. Rocks, dust and evidence of water. But what if our ‘exploration’ of Mars is really just a creation? What if we are adding complexity to a manifestation by investigating it with tools we believe show us something more real than ‘mere’ conscious projections? And what if by using our consciousness to sculpt this manifestation out of our beliefs, we are mixing in other signals from our consciousness? And what if those symbols are appearing to us in photos as bears, mice, dogs, men and the other number of things we have seen in these photos?

What if existence is not a thing? What if taking reality literally is foolish, yet necessary as a tool for creating it? What if there are no really real things, but only ideological forms of them manifested in the intersection of individual consciousnesses we call reality? And what if Mars is only in our head, along with symbols, like animals and humans and other Earthly objects? What if we are terraforming the red planet with our beliefs and while it is taking place random symbols from our consciousness are filling in the blanks until we create a more complex picture? What if the entire night sky is just a blank canvas which we paint on with our beliefs?

Does that sound crazy?

Okay, maybe it is…but what if it is also true? What then of alien species? If an alien species were created from our consciousness and beliefs, what would that mean for humanity? Consider a few things here. First, we would have to imagine a species more intelligent than ourselves, as any ‘aliens’ capable of reaching us first would have to be more intelligent, according to the narrative of our beliefs. In artificial intelligence theory, the point at which a computer can create a computer beyond our ability to understand the new technology is called a singularity. There are any number of theories about what would happens to humans after a singularity, after our own intelligence is surpasses by one superior to us. Many of these theories do not bode well for what might become of us, while others just leave us so transformed we would be unrecognizable to our current selves.

So what if we were to manifest a species more intelligent than ourselves, who could then manifest a species more intelligent than itself, and so on? Would this be a way of rapidly increasing the complexity, interconnectedness and size of our own consciousness; or a way toward extinction through obsolescence?

Or what if we are the product of an earlier manifestations consciousness? What if the only thing evolving is consciousness and we take its manifestations so literally that we believe the manifestations are evolving themselves?

So the next time you look at the stars, try not taking them literally. Or anything else for that matter. Even if they do exist as actual matter that preceded human consciousness, you are missing out on a lot of interesting ways to view your tiny little insignificant corner of existence by only experiencing stars, and reality in general, in this way. And that you are experiencing something at all is pretty much all that any of us know for sure.

The Metaphysical Implications of ‘Natural Rights’

god natural rightsAn unfortunate tendency of otherwise reasonable people is to evoke ‘Natural Rights’ in their arguments against the ever-encroaching advancement of the states authority. While I find no fault with the argument that the state is an invading alien force against the individual, when the basis of that ideology is that nature has inalienably bestowed some set of specific rights upon us, it begins to feel vaguely like the ‘social contract’ and other precepts of statists and authoritarians.

From Wikipedia:

Natural and legal rights are two types of rights. Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system. (i.e., rights that can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws) Natural rights are those not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable (i.e., rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws).

The concept of natural law is closely related to the concept of natural rights. During the Age of Enlightenment, the concept of natural laws was used to challenge the divine right of kings, and became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, positive law, and government — and thus legal rights — in the form of classical republicanism. Conversely, the concept of natural rights is used by others to challenge the legitimacy of all such establishments.

Natural rights are considered ‘negative rights’, which are those which protect you against actions by others, whereas ‘positive rights’ are those which supposedly guarantee you specific actions which may be performed by you or on your behalf.

Natural Law is the basis of Natural Rights, and is said to be the basic principles bestowed upon humanity by God, nature or reason, depending on whatever wacky belief system you subscribe to.

Since a personal supernatural entity refuses to confirm or enforce natural law, let alone its own existence, ‘bestowed by God’ is not a rational argument.

Since nature is the sum of all existence and the interactions of its parts, and since we see the violation of natural rights occur regularly within nature, ‘bestowed by nature’ is not a rational argument.

Since ‘reason’ is the ability to provide coherence and consistency between phenomena, perception and conclusion, reason implies not a singular objective set of principles, but rather a way of arriving at them, ‘bestowed by reason’ is not a rational argument.

Any concept of rights that are granted are logically flawed. Natural rights depend on agency and volition by an external force. Which leads us back to the statist idea that rights only exist when backed by force. Giving that force a metaphysical cause does not change the idea that force is the enemy of the individual. Whether it is subservience to the protection racket of the state, or to that of God, nature or reason, rights that exist as the extension of forces more powerful than the individual violate the same Non-Aggression Principle that ‘Natural Rights’ advocates often adhere to.

The entire concept of rights is flawed. A ‘right’ is an attempt to turn a belief into an absolute objective constant. While those beliefs may be rational and beneficial, the attempt to codify them into the answer in the back of the book of existence is illogical. Positive human interactions are not formed by rights. They occur only with mutual voluntary consent of all involved parties, the details of which will change from one interaction to the next.

It is constants that interfere with humans right to interact in mutually acceptable ways. Rather than arguing for constants, liberty minded people should be arguing against them. Natural rights are, contextually, nothing but another immovable framework. While their content may appear beneficial, adopting the rigid context to apply them is using the same ideological tools of the state. There is no way to evolve beyond that institution so long as we are using the same sort of thinking it employs.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law; love under will.”
-Aleister Crowley

For a more detailed and humorous argument against Natural Law and Natural Rights check out this book, free to read online, by the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century- Robert Anton Wilson.

Natural Law, or Don’t Put A Rubber On Your Willy

Using a Monty Python skit as a metaphor, RAW utilizes an entire short book to destroy the ideological nonsense of Ayn Rand. Before there were online FlameWars, this is how shit got real.

The Golden Rule Is A Terrible Way To Treat People

goldenrule

The Golden Rule (TGR), which states that one should treat others as they themselves wish to be treated by others, is pretty much the standard moral foundation of all cultures; especially in the western world. However, the entire premise in helplessly flawed, which can be demonstrated logically, emotionally, spiritually or by any other metric. A simple explanation will suffice for a beginning.

No two people are exactly identical. Not only do we vary by shape, size, genetic make-up and other physical factors, our entire subjective world is completely unique to each one of us. Our inner world- our thoughts, our desires, our fears, our passions, our joys, pains and everything else about us is completely one-of-a-kind. Given this basic understanding of the nature of individuals, it would be absurd to assume that other people wish to be treated how we do.  Let us explore some obvious examples.

The most glaringly obvious demonstration is the existence of masochism.  A masochist is an individual who likes to experience domination, insult or injury at the hands of others. The opposite is the sadist, who likes to experience the same things, only at the expense of others. It would be quite simple to dismiss masochism as a valid argument if all masochists were extreme examples whose proclivities were simply mental aberrations or psychological deviants. Yet there is a whole range of masochism and the large majority of of those displaying this characteristic are otherwise normal, healthy people who just happen to like pain, humiliation and surrender in safe doses. While that is perfectly valid, if these people assumed we all desired such treatment and attempted to provide it, many of us would not be very happy about it.

A still somewhat obvious example of the problem of TGR that has a lot more real world application is the personality division between introverts and extroverts. Again, the scale here is entirely grey with all possible points between represented by some individual in the world. Introverts, not necessarily opponents of human interaction, prefer some control over the timing, duration, subject and method of interaction and often require processing periods without which they are stricken by anxiety. Extroverts, on the other hand, prefer most kinds of interaction over none at all; with loneliness as the chief cause of their anxiety. We can see how an extrovert might attempt to avoid their own negative states by initiating interactions, however if their target is an introvert, that attempt to alleviate might become a cause of stress for the other person. While both personalities and sets of expectations are valid, they do not necessarily mix well, which can create a zero sum game. Even two introverts or extroverts might ‘rub each other the wrong’ way if timing, method and other factors have differing levels of desirability to the two participants.

The Golden Rule is inflexible in navigating the desires and needs of others by starting with the faulty premise that they are the same as our own. Besides the two above examples there exist as many differences between individuals as there exist individuals. Even though a large part of the human experience bears some categorical similarity between us, the details differ absolutely. Even when we wish to do right by others via attempts to cause them to reach universally pleasurable states through our actions, we may have no idea how to get them there. The map to pleasure, pain and everything in between differs absolutely for all people. When we send others on a journey that they find insufferable where we found it delightful, the destination is unlikely to be the same or to bear the same effect.

Yet there is a rule almost as simple and beautiful as TGR that we can use to guide our interactions with others-

DO UNTO OTHERS AS THEY WOULD LIKE DONE UNTO THEM. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT IS, ASK. IF YOU DO NOT CARE TO ASK OR HONOR THEIR WISHES, LEAVE THEM ALONE ENTIRELY.

Almost every social, political and economic institution in the modern world denies the basic right of those who just want to be left alone; or at least have some control over when, where and what kind of interactions they have. Because the modern world is predicated on force, only the needs of very few individuals are ever met, and never even then completely, no matter the expense to others they compile in their attempts. Centralization of power and control made up of systematic hierarchies are attempts by the few to have all of their needs met by the many. That is why collectivism is never about the greater good, but about the good of those who are able to define and enforce their own ideas about the greater good, whether directly or through subterfuge. A civilization predicated on authority is one that ignores the most immediate and enduring truths about our existence as individuals.

We are not the same. No package meant to contain and serve us all could ever please any. By allowing these forces of authority to command the central tenets of existence for all individuals, we only insure the misery of all. We have attempted to create a balance between good/bad (right/wrong, happy/sad), etc.) by removing the opportunities to ever reach the heights of these possible states. In doing so we have robbed ourselves of our very meaning, sentencing the individual to a life of servitude to an idea that no single individual holds.

The Golden Rule is a great example of our faulty moral ideologies. By following its faults we can begin to see the world we live in a more honest way. The world we live in is largely constructed from fear, which we then try to alleviate through absolutes like TGR. Yet when we see how incompatible absolutes are with the variance between individuals, and since we undoubtedly exist experientially as individuals, we should not allow ourselves to be guided by or force others to obey absolutes. Unless they want to, which you should verify via their own answers first, and not just what you would want.

Some Far Better Reasons To Boycott Star Wars

starwars

A recent social media campaign calling for a boycott of the latest edition to the Star Wars film series claims the movie promotes hatred of and violence against white people. While these incendiary charges are full of interpretations that are at best hyperbolistic, there are far better reasons to boycott the entire franchise.

Franchise would be the proper term here, as the Star Wars series has always been much more than some movies, but part of a large scale marketing campaign to sell an endless trove of collectible junk. While it was not the first cinematic offering to extend itself into a cross marketing campaign of goods based on its characters and themes, it was perhaps the first to be so successful at doing so. Even as a child I observed that liking the movies was not enough. You had to prove how much you liked it by having more Star Wars swag than the other kids in your neighborhood or school, and getting it first. These products became status symbols for an entire generation of young men who learned through this marketing campaign that your worthiness to others and yourself could be measured by what you owned. Star Wars became an accelerated course in rampant mindless consumerism aimed at children.

More symbolic buffoonery was also hidden within the Star Wars phenomena. Star Wars came to represent intelligence. Because society had observed that geeks and nerds flocked to science fiction, aligning yourself with that genre was a way of identifying as a geek or a nerd, which obviously made you smart. And since it had rolled up a hundred years of that genre into a slick package easily digestible by the general public, it was the proverbial honey you take with a bitter pill. Which is exactly what good science fiction, with its complex speculative themes and explorations into humanity, ethics and morality, is. Yet rather than swallow that pill, the public just sucked the honey off and patted themselves on the back for being one of those intelligent nerds/geeks who ‘got it’.

With its faux science fiction veneer, it also became a champion for ideologies about technology and science. By equating these status symbols with intelligence wrapped in science, it made a powerful cultural statement about scientistic ideologies and beliefs. Nevermind that it never actually promotes any actual science or the rational underpinnings of the empirical method. Merely aligning oneself with anything appearing even remotely sciencey soon became a cool thing to do, which has led us away from an understanding of what science is and does and why, and into the vast dogmatic worldview of scientism. Just as Star Wars helped to sell science fiction to mainstream audiences using an inferior replica of the actual thing, it also contributed to the cultural tendency to acquiesce to the knowledge of all things even labeled science, regardless of whether it is or not.

The symbolic suggestions contained in Star Wars don’t stop there. An ideology of dark/light, good/evil, etc. promoted the dangerous tendency of humans to think in false dichotomies. The binary logic which traps the thinking of so many people is evident all throughout Star Wars. To oversimplify any subject into a question with only two possible answers has been the folly of almost every wacky belief system humans have ever devised. From the Heaven or Hell of Abrahamic religion to racism to two party politics, the THIS or THAT and nothing else way of thinking has been one of our species greatest obstacles. Yet that entire fallacious dichotomizing is a central tenet of the Star Wars universe and the films help to validate these toxic ways of thinking by making them appear grandiose and heroic; and by implanting them in the head of the films target audiences- children.

In so many ways, even if the George Lucas or anyone else ever intended them to be, these films serve as little more propaganda for some of the least enlightened parts of the contemporary world. And even worse, they are designed for consumption by children, who then reinforce these ideas through rampant materialism at a lovely profit to those who shove this trash out there.

However, none of these reasons or all of them combined is as valid as this single reason for boycotting Star Wars films. They fucking suck. The entire series, from the very beginning, cannibalizes older science fiction themes and devices in a way that dumbs them down and strips them of meaning. It is full of terrible one-liners, childish gimmicks and coated in a sparkly cover of special effects that appeal to the sort of boyish minds that like to see things burn and explode. The characters are all shallow and two dimensional. The plot devices are paper thin and see through. And the entire package comes together not so much as an homage to truly great science fiction, but rather as an affront to the possibilities that genre has always offered in the way of making you think. Star Wars doesn’t ask you to think. It asks you to buy and be a loyal repeat customer.

The people who make Star Wars think you are dumb and want to capitalize on that. The only thing more sad than that is how many times film-goers and collectors prove them right. Prove them wrong, #boycottstarwars

Game Metaphor: Predeterminism, Free Will and Non-Player Characters

A2l8Nc1445045663This is the first in what will be several articles regarding the Game Metaphor, so let me start by explaining that. It is really simple, actually. Just imagine the world, the universe and all of reality is the most complex game in existence. Not literally, but metaphorically. Not that this existence is an actual game, but by studying reality in the language of games, we can understand it in useful ways. Since video games are the most complex form of games, it is that model I have found it most useful to draw metaphors from, even though I am not at all a video game enthusiast.

Further explanation of the Game Model will be provided as we discuss reality through this lens. Where we will begin is via an explanation of the people who exist within this reality. I have long noticed that a great number of people tend to display a lower amount of sentience. They possess less metacognitive facilities (thinking about thinking) and display less awareness of their selves and their environment. However, this distinction is not so much about intelligence as it is about the ability to perceive and process.

For this reason I think that any scale of a persons sentience would be far less like an IQ test and much more like an obstacle course. Highly sentient people move with grace and purpose stealthily through every day life, whereas many people are prodding, poking, fumbling beasts who seem to be navigating the world with toddlers body and mind. I can spot a low sentience being whenever an individual or groups crowds needlessly together, especially in busy passageways or near choke-points like doors or intersections. The highly sentient person cracks a door and slips through, while the low sentient folks open it all the way and then amble through. The lowest sentience types may even just stand in the doorway holding the door, despite the fact that there is a reason that the door exists, which is to separate things inside from those outside, like bugs or temperature. While I used to think that these people were merely stupid or selfish, I now see that they are quite unable to understand the bigger picture and thus the context in which their behavior is not in line with meaning and purpose of things around them. You may think I am just venting about a pet peeve here, but how we react to our environment really is an indicator of our awareness.

If you have ever played a game, you have undoubtedly encountered non-player characters (NPC’s). NPC’s are those figures in a game who do not represent a game player. They make up the shop keepers, the townspeople and the other game characters who are more like props than they are like actual people. They are mere functionaries, serving a specific limited purpose in the game, from selling magic swords to simply filling the empty space.  If you have ever watched these characters react to the game environment you have likely noticed that they either have very narrow behavioral patterns and that these are often graceless, blocky and clumsy. Exactly how low sentience humans behave. So this was my first clue that reality may have its own NPC’s, those who I earlier labeled low sentience individuals.

For a long time I have been concerned with predeterminism and free will, specifically, which of these is the correct way to view human behavior. I had argued very heavily against predeterminism, predicated on the fact that I could logically deduce that predeterminism necessitated a serious self-contradiction. However, this was also centered around the idea that humans were logical beings, which was an obviously flawed precept. It was when I began to use the Game Model that I realized it was not an either/or proposition. I began to see us as programmed with a basic set of scripts. Evolutionary traits and instincts are part of every humans composition. Yet in some the ability to break free of this limited programming and act as conscious agents with full volition will occasionally manifest. However, since it does not in most folks, predeterminism really does steer many peoples behavior most of the time. Thus, reality has its own share of NPC’s, that is, individuals with limited scripts and an inability to expand them on their own. Often it seems the only drive for these game entities is to fancy up their Avatars, which is the reason for a civilization increasingly engaged in so much materialism and compulsive consumerism.

And then there are those who, through some combination of accident and self-design, become more aware of the bigger picture. Their own awareness and that of their environment expands until their behavior becomes a measured action in response to their environment and not just a prescribed reaction. Unlike NPC’s who play the board one move at a time, a Player is the person who who looks many moves in advance.

However, there are not just Players and NPC’s, but also Programmers. Where Players are those who evolved beyond their initial conditions as a NPC (the true meaning of Original Sin or the Fall From Grace), Programmers are those who have evolved past merely playing the game into shaping and creating it.

Reality is nothing more than our collection of beliefs about reality. Reality does not exist, but is in a constant shape of flux, being recreated in every moment of our existence. So if you want to change reality, you have to change what we believe about reality. This is not easy, since you cannot change any single aspect of reality on its own. I could not, for example, change the color of the sky simply by getting a majority to believe it was a different color. The color of the sky is an interconnected belief, dependent on many other beliefs about reality. To change the color of the sky you would need the belief that does that to be consistent with other beliefs, which is to say, you would have to change a greater number of beliefs to do so. This is why we cannot magically recreate reality with our will, as some New Age adherents often propose. We cannot do so because every aspect of reality is dependent on many other aspects and requires a great consensus in order to manifest.

And this is the very reason why the world needs NPC’s. They are those whom, by imprinting new beliefs upon them, become the sort of canvas on which reality is painted. They are, in effect, the battery that powers reality through their belief. So while my ranting may seem an effort to justify the superiority of some individuals over the majority, that is not my intention or belief. What I am attempting to illustrate is that our Universe is not an object. Existence is not a thing. It is the numerous manifestations of the consciousness within it, of which we are all agents. And as agents, we have different roles to play. And as such, it is necessary that we not exhibit the same levels of sentience as one another. It is the contrast between levels of awareness which allows the game to evolve, rather than being stuck in the same game screen forever.

This is why certainty is bad. Certainty is a glitch in the programming which prevents evolution. Modern people seek what IS true rather than what CAN or SHOULD or MIGHT be true. However, what IS true once belonged to those other categories. Be defining reality as a permanent structure, we are making it so. By empowering people a sense of false intellectual equality, we are preventing programmers from instigating further evolution by imprinting new realities on NPC’s who think they know it all, or at least that all can be known as eternal objective absolutes.

There is no awakening. There is no spiritual endgame in the works. Quite the opposite is true. Reality is becoming more unstable. It is weighed down by dogmas of objectivity and permanence. It is stuck in its current permutation because a handful of programmers are using the beliefs of the masses not for evolving or improving the game, but to bending it towards their own narrow agendas. Their purpose is not expand the parameters of play, but to narrow them in order that they might exercise power and control.

And this brings us to the final truth, since NPC’s cannot be seen as fully responsible for or able to understand their own actions, they cannot be blamed for what they do. However, the Players and especially Programmers can and should be held accountable for the evils they manifest. That evil takes the form of authority, and so long as the only Programmers that NPC’s recognize are those in authority, the game is going to stagnate. Until at some point it freezes up and we have to power down, blow out the cartridge and restart from the beginning, as has been the case with so many past civilizations. I believe that an awareness of the functions of reality and the individuals within it can disrupt this. Recognition of the game model may be the secret weapon that allows our reality to beat the boss and level up. The goal is not to transform every NPC into a Player or Programmer, not some great awakening, but rather just refocus the content of their beliefs from ideas implanted by authoritarians to those ideas created by the seemingly insane programmers who are seeing a possible future that is at the same time unimaginable and beautiful.

“Reality is what you can get away with.” -Robert Anton Wilson

Petrov’s Eternity or Infinity Machine: A Parable of Reproduction

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There is barn behind a solitary house deep in the country. In this barn, converted into a workshop, a man named Petrov has spent almost thirty years dedicated to his life’s work. That toiling involved the invention of a curious apparatus he calls the Eternity or Infinity Machine, named after it’s two possible functions.

The Eternity function allows the contraption to replicate itself so that when its parts wear down another machine made in it’s image can perpetuate it’s existence.

The Infinity function allows the contraption to complete any possible task, such as computing, ditch digging, writing epic poetry or anything else that might have been possible for it’s creator to achieve.

However, since the device has a limited ability to process resources while completing it’s functions, it can only fully commit to one of it’s two possible states, or it will not operate efficiently at either. So the decision must be made whether to switch the machine on in either it’s Eternity or Infinity function.

Petrov was very proud of his machine. For this reason, he was partially inclined to ensure that it endured long past his own lifetime and in eternal perpetuity. Yet he was also concerned that a machine whose only function was to continue it’s own existence was inherently without any meaning or purpose.

Infinity, on the other hand, meant that the machine may complete any possible number of enduring works during its existence that would last millenia. Certainly creating lasting achievements was another kind of immortality. And the benefits it yielded would (theoretically) apply to the whole of humanity. Yet an emotional and instinctual drive to see to the perpetual existence of his own creation, which was predicated on his own history and lineage, was strong.

So vexed was he by this decision, that he eventually found himself unable to make that final choice. And so as not to have wasted his whole life’s work, he has asked that you make the decision for him.

Which function should Petrov assign his invention, Eternity or Infinity? And more importantly, why?

NOTE: As a parable, there is no right answer to the questions it poses. It is not meant to trick you and cannot be solved like a riddle. Assume the parameters given are absolute. For instance, the initial function chosen for the machine cannot later be changed. This exercise is meant to engage the reader in and introspective analysis of existence and the meaning and purpose of life; as well as call into question the practice of biological reproduction as a compulsive behavior. The use of absolutes, while inapplicable in reality, serves here to foster greater self-awareness rather than objective truth.

Marijuana As Medicine: When Thinking Objectively Fails

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I once had to attend a drunk driving course that took place over the weekend at a community college. The instructor filled our naughty little minds with all sorts of information, in hopes that it might transform us from criminals into upright citizens or scholars. Knowing that an abstinence only education would likely do more harm than good, the sobriety sensai told us about the medical studies which showed that small amounts of alcohol daily had numerous health benefits. She explained that it was not known exactly why this was, whether there was a biological cause or if there was some other less tangible reason. Her opinion was that it was the latter, as she stated, ‘A few drinks make you happy, and happiness has many benefits, health and otherwise.’ This, she claimed, was also the opinion of many ‘experts’. While I was impressed with her logic and pleased with her honesty, I wondered why we didn’t apply the same logic to other drugs.

When we discuss medical marijuana, it is almost always approached from the angle of bio-chemistry. The empirical method, it is believed, will reveal whether or not we can justify or validate the benefits of this plant. It is reasoned that if science can show a beneficial interaction between marijuana’s chemistry and our own, then that will ‘prove’ that the plant is medicinal. In essence, we have sought to demonstrate the efficacy of marijuana use by insisting that the only meaningful medicine is that which directly and literally affects the symptoms or illness.

Now lets ask ourselves why health issues are ‘bad’ in the first place. I can come up with two of them.

1. They can kill you.

2. They can lower the quality of life.

Some researchers now believe that marijuana can literally save your life. Its efficacy in fighting seizures and cancer may one day lead to marijuana-based drugs that cure some of the most serious and debilitating ailments humans suffer. However, I am more interested in exploring the plants relationship to that second answer.

Why is pain bad? Why is nausea bad? Are they intrinsically bad, or do they just create conditions in which negative reactions arise? We tend to think of things like pain as objective phenomena. Yet we are not objective creatures. Our relation to pain is that it is a subjective phenomena. Pain cripples us and prevents us from doing those things which bring quality to our life. It is not just the pain itself which affects us, but the cascade of effects we experience due to it. When we are in pain the main problem becomes that our lives are not very enjoyable.

For many people, being high on marijuana is incredibly enjoyable. Pot intoxication is quite often a very pleasant experience that enhances our quality of life. And when you are enjoying life, pain has less power over you. Pain can be lived with, so long as it does not prevent us from happiness. There are many people suffering ailments that come with a lifetime of pain. Back injuries can be a life sentence to discomfort and hurt. Where there is no cure for pain, we must stop focusing on it and instead consider those experiencing it. Should we not take seriously their quality of life since it has no objective factors we can study? Is their happiness not important, if only because it cannot be deductively examined through empirical methods?

Every medical condition lowers the quality of life. Every physical ailment and psychological trauma does the most damage by robbing us of the ability to enjoy living. So why do we only measure the objective links between pot and pain, and not the subjective ones?Our culture has become unhealthily obsessed with objectivity. It is one of the pitfalls of the rampant scientism which has become the religion of our industrial culture. Objectivity has become the myth of our times. We are subjective beings. We cannot experience an objective reality or truth, because even if it existed, it would have to make its way through our own subjective perceptions and interpretations. The entire reason that the need to create empirical methods such as science came about was to overcome our hopeless subjectivity by using disciplines which sought to explore questions about nature in objective terms. Yet falsification, a primary tenet of empirical science, illustrates that when that objectivity we use to question nature shows up in the answers, we are no longer doing science. Final answers are not the domain of empiricism. Objectivity is the path, not the destination.Now consider how this has effected our ideas about medicine. Think further into how it has colored our ideas about ‘recreational’ drugs. We have come to see the concepts of ‘medicine’ and ‘recreation’ as being unrelated. This, I believe, is an enormous error in thinking on our behalf. It is time to decompartmentalize our lives. We have needlessly separated feeling good and having a good time. The barriers we have erected in our lives have become obstacles to our own happiness and well being. It is time to think of our lives as an organic whole, in which our subjective experiences are just as (or perhaps more) meaningful than those mythological objective truths we have come to use like a weapon against our own happiness.

“When once they stalked deer, or crouched shivering in the mud for the flight of ducks to alight, or risked their lives in the crags after goats, or closed in with shouts upon a wild boar at bay- that was not work, though often the breath came hard and the limbs were heavy. When the women bore and nursed children, or wandered in the woods for berries and mushrooms, or tended fire at the entrance of the rock shelter- That was not work either.
So also, when they sang and danced and made love, that was not play. By the singing and the dancing the spirits of forest and water might be placated- a serious matter, though still one might enjoy the song and the dance. And as for the making of love, by that- and by the favor of the gods- the tribe was maintained.
So in the first years work and play mingled always, and there were not even words for one against the other.
But centuries flowed by and then more of them, and many things changed. Man invented civilization and was inordinately proud of it. But in no way did civilization change life than to sharpen the line between work and play, and at last that division had came to be more important than the old one between sleeping and waking. Sleep came to be thought a kind of relaxation, and “sleeping on the job” a heinous sin. The turning out of the light and the ringing of the alarm were not so much the symbols of man’s dual life as were the punching of the time clock and the blowing of the whistle. Men marched on picket lines and threw bricks and exploded dynamite to shift an hour from one classification to the other, and other men fought equally hard to prevent them. And always work became more laborious and odious, and play grew more artificial and febrile.”

Excerpt of ‘Earth Abides’ by George R. Stewart (1949)

Thoughts On Internet Friendship and Death

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In 1998 I first began using the internet regularly. I immediately recognized it as an outlet for communicating in ways that I found more difficult to achieve in real life conversations. And as a result, I began to put more and more stock in the friendships I have made there over the years.

The usual rhetoric, even on the internet, suggests that internet friendships and activity are not as meaningful as real life activities. And yet the internet exists in the ‘real world’ and should not be seen as separate from it. How human beings communicate, interact and play has evolved through both social and technological advances all throughout time. We can even observe it doing so in our lifetimes, as technological advance has accelerated rapidly and exponentially in recent decades. So to view internet friendship as less real or meaningful as those friendships we nurture in physical presence is false.

The reasons that I have come to love the internet are many. Yet I will describe only those that describe its use for social functions.

The first is that the internet allows us to find friends with similar interests and values more easily than in physical presence. Outside of the internet, your chances are astronomically low of meeting people in your geographic locality who share a large number of your personality traits, opinions and joys. The smaller or more remote your location, the more difficult it becomes to seek out the like-minded. Yet since we should not limit ourselves to those who think, feel and act like us, the internet also provides a much larger range of viewpoints than location alone. Where we may avoid people we don’t like and miss their viewpoints in ‘real life’, we may be more likely to absorb thoughts, experiences and ideas that we would otherwise not take in.

The second, and I suspect more personally important reason, is that I simply prefer text to talk. Talking is easy to mess up. But in a format where we can edit and refine our thoughts, we are able to break free of social limitations, necessities and difficulties to have more poignant, distinct and revealing conversations. There is no awkward silence in text, at least not in the same way it exists in speaking conversations. There are also less expectations for when a reply will come. All of this affords one the ability to reread, absorb more deeply and formulate the most appropriate and elegant response. Not that we always do this…not that I always do this, but we are always afforded that opportunity. And besides that, it is also difficult to endure stammering or endless side-lining in others speech difficulties or quirks. Sometimes the sort of brunt immediacy of speaking/hearing create conditions in which good communication becomes far more difficult.

So having spent years online making and fostering friendships, I often find myself more active in and attached to many of those relationships than in most of my traditional friendships. And like in traditional friendship, the people I have formed bonds with online provide support, challenges and pleasure. We fight and make up. We laugh together and share sorrow. And we help one another grow as individuals.

One internet friend, a person I never met in real life, yet have known for years, recently died. Diane Miller is one the rarest of friendships I ever had. It is rarely that we see others as truly equal to ourselves. While we may admire and envy our friends, we often think of ourselves as the smarter, or more talented or kind one; usually depending on the qualities we value most in ourselves. With Diane I felt she was equal to me in all the measurements I weigh most heavily in myself (and thus in others). And I am an unusually confident and cocky bastard, so this is very rare for me.

When I first learned of her death I was filled with a great sadness. As she would have expected of me and done herself, I explored that feeling. And having done I found that my sadness was not fer, but for me. Diane had no fear of, or exaggerated desire to avoid death at any cost. Neither did she regret her life or feel she still had things to make up for. She contracted an unknown illness months before and passed away quietly one morning during breakfast. She did not fight for her life by becoming dependent on the medical systems and social structures and other necessities they operated alongside. She was also had her own unique views on spirituality and our deeper nature which kept her from being to attached to the world or afraid of leaving it. So when I realized I should not be sad merely because her life ended, I figured out why I was actually upset.

No longer could I ever call on her intelligence, wisdom and wit to inspire me or set me straight. No longer could I seek her opinion, her counsel or her support. This is why I was distraught at her death, and will continue to mourn for this selfish loss for awhile.

So I find it hard to believe that my friendship with Diane was less real or meaningful than ‘real life’ friendships. The sort of loyalty, dependency and love inherent in those friendships was exactly what I knew I would miss most when I lost my ‘internet friend’.
(From the wall posts I read after her passing, many people felt much as I did about her, and she seemed to be a great friend, mentor and inspiration to many.)

There is nothing less real about the internet or the relationships it fosters than anything else in existence. The internet is wonderful tool for learning, sharing and connecting. It, like everything else, is a tool by which we are learning to be whatever it is that we are. We should not disparage it or any other new paradigms. Least not since they occur ever more quickly all the time. As Diane would have said:

“There must be some reason over seven billion people chose to be here right now.”

In an earlier article I spoke about ‘Love In The Age Of Social Networking‘ which discusses some of the same concepts as the article you just read.

Questioning Tragedies & Everything Else: Too Much ‘How’ & Not Enough ‘Why’

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Answer the following question: Why does a car drive?

Now ask other people around you. Did your answer and theirs attempt to explain the mechanics of internal combustion engines? If so, you were not paying close enough attention to that question. Yet you would not be alone. As a culture we have begun to obfuscate the meanings of why and how by using them interchangeably. Many people will answer the ‘why’ question with a ‘how’ answer. This simple bit of semantic confusion has become more widespread, leading us away from a more complete understanding of the world we live in.

Just in case you do not understand the difference, let me explain.

How does a car drive? That question asks us to understand the car as an object or mechanism. It requires that we explain the functions which allow the object (car) to complete an action (drive). To answer this question we can give an explanation of internal combustion engines, transmissions, wheels and any other number of practical insights into the physical attribute which allow a car to drive.

Why does a car drive? That question asks us to understand the car as conscious entity exercising its own will and volition. Without going into panpsychic philosophies, we will just assume the car contains no consciousness, volition or will. Therefore we cannot answer this question because it is a nonsensical question with no possible answer.

Yet we do not like unanswerable questions in our culture. And we most often deal with them by either avoiding those questions or reframing them so that there is an answer. This is often the case with ‘why’. Since ‘why’ is not subject to methods that use attempted objectivity, we either diminish the importance of the answer if not the question itself. And where we do not do that we often just replace the ‘why’ with ‘how’ so we can come to a gratifying answer.

It is rather a shame that we have allowed ‘why’s stock to plunge. While we cannot answer it with the empirical methods that our culture gives preference and precedence to, it can still provide us with answers even more meaningful and useful than ‘how’. Answering ‘how’ gives us simple practical solutions, but when it comes to the motivations and intentions of conscious beings will their own will and volition, there are no easy answers. When answering ‘why’ reveals a problem, the solutions it presents can seem insurmountable.

For instance, ‘Why did that man in Oregon commit a mass shooting at a community college?’ is not only hard to answer with any reassuring accuracy, it is also capable of providing an answer that we cannot easily work with. Yesterday I spoke about a possible explanation for why the shooting, and others like it, occur.  However the reasoning I gave was that violence escalates as a result of a power imbalance between individuals and their society and its institutions. Given that my theory was correct, solving that problem may seem impossible to many, since it requires a total rethinking of political, economic and social structures and calls into question the existence of the state.

Meanwhile our president and media pundits immediately used the tragedy to prepare us for more laws and assaults on our liberties, the very problem that I believe creates these kind of mass killers. This was done quite slickly by reinterpreting the school shooting as an issue of ‘how’ and not ‘why’ it happened. Since it involved guns, it is falsely reasoned that if we remove guns (how) then there will be less or no more of these tragedies.

Yet guns were not the reason that this happened. They did not provide the motivation or intent to kill. They did not exercise their own volition or will. The killing happened for subjective reasons that only the shooter fully knows, yet may not be completely aware of himself. Even if we removed every gun from the planet, if the reason he committed these atrocious acts still existed then there is still a likelihood that the individual would have committed awful violence in some other way, since guns do not have a monopoly on killing.

Yet since we can address the how more easily then the why, it is supposed that this is the most logical way to proceed. However, it is far less logical, even if it is more practical. In much the same way that it is often easier to treat the symptoms of a disease than the disease itself, we use our existing structures to treat social symptoms without daring to look at the disease. And that is because the disease may be the very same existing structures we ask to solve the problem. And unfortunately, too many of us still lack the imagination to understand how human societies could function without structures modeled and reliant on the force and violence they are created to alleviate.

As we continue to answer shove every social problem through a how-shaped hole, we continue to produce only the sort of quick gratifying solutions that eventually become problems themselves. Using ‘how’ as the hammer that see’s every problem as a nail has kept us from asking and attempting to answer ‘why’ these things occur. And so our problems only get held off. The future of humanity is quickly becoming a closet stuffed full of the junk we didn’t have time to find a proper place for. Someday it will buckle and its hinges and latch will no longer contain the big problems we only had time to give little answers to.  So it is becoming ever more important that we end our intentional ignorance of all the ‘why’ questions we have avoided by throwing a quick ‘how’ over it.

The why/how problem is an issue we have created through many social influences, from statism to scientism. Many people are now unable to distinguish the difference between those questions as that difference becomes more and more important. It is a sort of secular nihilism that we use as a smokescreen to deny the questions that have no easy answers. Why portends that our questions are not small problems to be easily be fixed, but large ones with cosmic significance. When we dig into why we are often unable to rest easily on our assumptions and dogmas. And often we never find completely satisfactory answers, but in attempting to search for them anyhow, we often ask ourselves new questions that help us to expand our overall thinking.

And this may be the reason that we ignore ‘why’ and replace it with ‘how’. Thinking is like doing the research that cures a disease, when most people would rather just take a pill that helps them forget it exists.

A Possible Explanation for the Rise of School Shootings & Other Mass Murder

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As news is pouring out over a tragic act of violence that just occurred in the form of a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Oregon, pundits all over the political spectrum are gearing up to use this tragedy to illustrate how their ‘opponents’ and their policies are responsible for the phenomenon.

While the liberals on the left will surely blame the existence and availability of the weapons used, conservatives on the right will surely suggest that it is the product of the breakdown of social values and morality resulting from the absence of religious fervor.

In this way the two false public relations fronts for the single political oligarchy can attempt to misdirect any plausibly genuine anger at the misery created by the sum of their policies into streamlined talking points, electoral tools predicated on the tragedy that their system must surely have helped to create to begin with.

While there is always a wildcard element in humanity, the rogue individual who feels the need to commit the most heinous atrocities for reasons most of us could never comprehend, the independent mass murderers and serial killers are not the historical norm. These seemingly random acts of violence continue to increase in America, even as other crime related homicides decrease. While we can look back and find evidence of violence in the pre-industrial era, it is rare to see individuals acting outside of the jurisdiction of authority committing murder against large numbers of people, with no real substantial or practical motivation to do so.

Is it possible that psychosis is on the rise? Could the psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies towards wholesale misery, destruction and death be increasing in response to some new environmental stimulus in the modern world?

Many criminologists will trace the modern phenomena of mass-killing by independent agents as having begun in the late nineteenth century. In Britain, Jack the Ripper is considered an early model for the modern psychotic killer, while America has H.H. Holmes. In the time since, the phenomenon has continued to increase. Both serial and mass killing have evolved from the deviant oddities of history into a modern reality which continues to rise with no end in sight.

Is it any coincidence that this trend began during the strongest push of growth of the industrial era and continues to rise as the paradigms that hold the industrial world together become even more omnipresent and omnipotent than ever before? Well, first of all, what paradigms have held the modern world together during our species’ ascent into an industrial civilization?

While I could list the aspects involved, the paradigms really come down to the increased power afforded political systems by modern technology, which allow for the creation of ever more powerful monopolies on all aspects of existence. The tools of oligarchies, such as imperialism, corporatism and welfare/warfarism, have become distinctly more powerful and durable as a result of the benefits of industrialism. And with these come an unending stream ‘thou shall nots’, codified as laws, which protect the property, lives and agendas of the most successful industrialists. In order to to insure themselves against the masses, the police state has arisen. And not just literally as an increase in the numbers of and power of police, but as all aspects of life become subject to strict regulation and control.

All of that regulation and control is upheld by force, or the threat thereof. Our entire society is largely glued together, not by the sort of cultural values, ethics and morals that historically held societies together, but by this threat of force. Whether it be extortion, imprisonment or death, force is the ultimate arbiter of all human interactions in our current system. Violence is power and power is survival and success in a culture of monopoly.

While this highly complex social structure predicated on force is often measured in large demographic and sociological terms, we forget that it also has an effect on every individual. The psychological issues that increase in the monopoly and totality of centralized power are rarely ever spoken of, and surely never mentioned in the academic circles funded by the power structure itself. Yet as every aspect of choice and possibility for the individual are narrowed by the needs of that system, there must surely be some effect.

Anyone who has been around small children recognizes that their need to exercise power by controlling elements of their environment differs among different children. Some children have a strong need to feel in control and get things their way while others are content to acquiesce to the more powerful children or adults around them. Whether this is cause by nature or nurture matters very little. Genetics and imprint conditioning likely both play a large role in the differing need for power evident in different people. This is likely to always be the case.

It is also most likely that those who are imbued with this need for power and control are most often those who either rise to the top of the systems predicated on them, or become social deviants who exercise these innate drives in more subtle ways than the psychopaths in charge of the monopolies. Yet as power increases in any regard, powerlessness elsewhere must also continue to increase. So what we would expect to see in a system that grows more powerful is for the threshold of powerlessness to grow. In other words, as there is more power, more people are likely to feel disempowered than before the increase. And as more people respond to the psychological and cognitive dissonance of being powerless, their reactions increase in both strength and numbers.

As the strength afforded to the system and the elite who navigate and profit most greatly from it increases, the backfiring response to it will also increase. The psychological well being of any group of people held under the control and power of small group will suffer as their own controls and powers are increasingly diminished. What we see in the modern world as a rise in horrific violence committed by deranged individuals is likely a result of a loss of personal choice, responsibility and independence.

Those who would use tragedies like the one in Oregon in to push for more laws or systematic protections are either unknowingly or deliberately making the problems worse. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. As a result of our caustic and inadvisable attempts to harness the monopolies of power to try to reach a tragedy free world, we have actually increased the conditions necessary by which those who would commit tragedies are created. Through psychological, economic and cultural feedback created by this push-pull between individuals and the institutions they are forced to obey, the only way to go is up. By trying to control problems created by control, we only create more problems.

Sometimes you swallow a fly. When you try to swallow a spider to catch the fly you begin a chain reaction that has only one inevitable logic: self-destruction. As attempts to use the monopolies of control, power and force for our own means increase, when they are clearly tools for denying us our own power as individuals, the only things that increase are the control, power and force of those institutions and the tragic deviant behaviors of the others stuck in this cage with us, but with less ability to endure it.

The rise of the the modern psycho-killer is not a problem to be solved by authority, it is a problem created by it. Until enough of us realize that, we just keep swallowing solutions that are more dangerous than the problems created through prior ingestion. Trying to use the system to fix problems created by the system is like trying to stop an avalanche by firing ever larger snowballs into it. And those individuals who senselessly kill masses of people are that extra snow now returning to us in the avalanche.


I would like to mention that there undoubtedly other contributing factors to this phenomenon, however it is likely that even these factors could be shown to have a relationship to the increasing gap between individuals and institutions of authority.