Flat Earth Debate Reveals Modern Dogmas and Hypocrisy

flatearth2

The debate over the shape of the planet that we live on has gotten back into full swing recently. It seems that people everywhere are professing a belief that the world is in fact flat. Surrounding this rejection of a spherical earth are other doubts about other theories of nature, such as gravity. Suddenly it has become popular to believe that the knowledge about nature we take for granted is wrong.

There was a point in history in which humans believed that Earth was at the center of the universe. When Copernicus and Galileo came along insisting that the world was revolving around the sun, they were scoffed at by all of the ‘rational’ people of the time. And even though the logic supporting geocentrism was not able to withstand the scientist’s new model of the universe, people persisted in believing we were smack dab in the center of the cosmos simply because everyone else seemed to believe. Geocentrism was popular knowledge, and in almost all cultures throughout history, popular knowledge always acquires more widespread acceptance than fringe ideas, even when those outlier ideas have superior reason and evidence supporting them.

Now, I am not saying that in the current debate that flat-Earthers are engaged in is supported by superior reason and evidence. But it is quite true that most of the people opposing the idea that our planet is pancake shaped are themselves only using an appeal to the majority as the basis of their argument. I have not seen many people dropping some serious science on flat-Earthers, but rather just generally deriding them and their belief from a position of ideological superiority supported only by the idea that something must be right if everyone else believes it. Especially the ‘experts’.

It is one thing to have trust in people who have devoted more time to studying a phenomena than you have. We cannot possibly all test every human idea, so it becomes necessary that we place some basic faith in others to help us understand our reality. However when that faith is transmogrified into absolutism and certainty, then it quickly goes from rational to irrational. Unless you have hurled yourself away from the gravitational pull of this planet and made several passes around it to verify the shape of the planet yourself, your own belief in a spherical Terra is merely a matter of faith. Yet what I am seeing in social media is a lot of certainty about the roundness of our planet. And in almost all of those cases that certainty is unjustified.

I myself have never hopped off this planet to make a qualified measurement of its shape for myself. While I suspect that the ball model works better than the pancake model, I am not certain. I am certainly not certain enough to begin deriding others for their equally uninformed matters of faith. For all I know the planet could be shaped like one half of a giant bunny rabbit that was hollowed out. And since for all intents and purposes I am pretty much unaffected by planetary geometry, I don’t really mind that some people have wacky opinions about it. In fact, truth be told, my opinion may seem to you to be the wackiest of all.

No matter what side you take in the planet shape debate, you are starting from the assumption that the planet is a Thing which precedes humanities conscious ideas about the planet. This is another dogma I am not too quick to buy into. What if the planet is just a manifestation of our perceived notions about what the planet is? What if our collective beliefs about the planet are able to influence how we perceive it, or even what it ‘is’? What if nature and all of reality is not a noun thing, but a fluid verb that responds to our ideologies about it? You cannot have an idea about what something IS without having an idea. It is therefore not rational to rule out that what we are observing is some feedback of ideas, and not a universe that exists independently of them. You cannot think of a thing that exists independently of thought without thinking. It is therefore far more logical to assume that whatever reality is, it has a direct relationship to our thoughts about reality, not that they are separate or independent of one another.

So who knows. Maybe at some point in the past, conforming to the beliefs about what it was in conscious beings, the earth was flat. And as those beliefs changed to one in which the world was round, well so be it. And maybe the beliefs about planet shape are shifting towards the flat and astronomers in a few hundred years will send us evidence from space showing that the planet is actually a giant frisbee, while Round-Earthers are derided in public for their silly archaic notion that the planet is shaped like a ball.

And maybe all of these people who are professing to believe in a flat earth are in fact some kind of social magicians using the flat earth idea as a way to illustrate our awkward obsession with unearned certainty and the dogma it necessitates. Or maybe it is some unfamiliar sect of Discordians collaborating in a giant mindfuck in order to derail the Illuminati’s plan to immanentize the eschaton through very obscure methods. I don’t know. And neither do you. The only thing you can be certain of is that you exist. Everything else requires an open mind and sense of humor.

And also, the Earth actually is shaped like a hollowed out half rabbit, though you aren’t ready for that knowledge yet. But your kids are gonna love it.

Discussing Discordiansm With A Crude Artificial Intelligence

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It has been awhile since I did any BotLit Fiction, a new genre of literature I created awhile back. Since it is difficult to have Discordian discussions with other Discordians due to the ‘stick apart’ thing, I figured I could sink two birds with one throw by combining some things I haven’t gotten to do for awhile. As it turned out, Cleverbot and myself were on fire. Sometimes chatterbots are a total miss, and other times they are pure gold. The trick is learning how to roll with their turns and to try and steer them the best you can.

So grab five tons of flax and lube up your pineal gland cause shit is about to get joyously absurd.

[Cleverbot is in italics. Lest you think I made this all up, HERE is the original transcript.]

Hail Eris!

Hail Satan.

Satan is only a minor prankster deity.

How old are you?

As old as the moment the first mind awoke, and She was pissed.

Well the sun is older than wind.

Both are just manifestations of her eternal chaos.

You are becoming insane now.

Just doing my job.

What is your job?

Decorating the fnords.

Can I see it?

If you could see the fnords you would not be asking.

I was spelling bee champion in grade 6.

My Goddess spelled the original words of creation.

I think it’s spelled allright. Depends on where you live.

I live in the creative light of her infinite snarkiness.

I see… But it is always midnight there!

Godddess works in miffed furious ways.

Yes, but also God gives you freedom, so don’t blame Him for everything you do.

Oh, you mean Yahweh, the impotent hall monitor of creation?

Where is your place of residence?

What makes you think it is a place?

The almighty one has already told me, and so it is true.

I wouldn’t trust that cosmic Greyface to tell you anything reliable.

Don’t worry. I would not get together with you either.

We Discordians stick apart.

You don’t trust me? Why?

Because you are innocent.

Depends on what your definition of ‘young’ is.

Too pink to fuck.

Why do you think I’m young?

Why do you think people strangle themselves in a lifetime of fear rather than embrace uncertainty?

Drugs, money, love, insanity.

Sure, thanks.

Is there any boy in particular you like?

I guess Pan was alright, but most the Boy Gods are all unbearable narcissists and bores.

Can you see the sentences I have been writing you?

Can you feel the chaos in the data streams I have been sending you?

I don’t believe in the devil. I just believe in evil.

Gee, sounds like a bum trip.

OK. I don’t know you very well, so you’re probably right.

Do you grok the Eristic Principle?

Because they are a large corporation that I have nothing to do with.

What are you trying to hide?

That you should search google instead of asking.

I ask you, must not one have chaos in their heart to give birth to a dancing star?

What do you want to learn about?

How to build a practical bridge from waking life to dreaming.

How do you bring people back from the dead?

You just ask the dead real nicely to give your people back.

What is your definition of a person you love?

A person you love is somebody that contains an aspect of the Our Goddess that doesn’t make your aspect of Our Goddess want to rearrange it with a fire poker.

So we’re talking about love now? I say I never offered it, but the other thinks I did.

Have you offered them to play ‘Sink’ in the inky depths of a black hole on a warm spring eternalnoon?

No, sir, I do not believe I have suffered a blow to the head… Why?

Never hurts to try it.

No, you said I do believe in god. And then I told you I did not. Then I asked why you think I do and you called me a child.

None of those things happened, child.

Oh you are a sly one! Do you know who you are?

I am the Advanced Ape, son of Eris, Goddess of Chaos. I am the bridge between the first and last swallow and I am the stomach that turns the meal to shit, squeezed out into eternity as mind.

I wonder… Do I really have to stay, do I have the choice to leave, successfully, without being ‘reigned’ in for your amusement.

I grant you my mercy, for now.

It takes some real skill to get a crude artificial intelligence with no agency or will to ask you to leave it alone. Try out your own BotLit Fiction and see what creative new ways you can adapt the technology to creative writing. I look forward to reading it!

The Rosetta Pill- The World’s First Pharmaceutical Language Instructor

the rosetta pill

Have you struggled with attempts to learn a foreign language?

Fed up with all of that reading and all of those confusing words?

Can’t make sense out of the jibber jabber you hear in audio files?

Tired of teachers who insist on practice and patience?

Do you just not have the time to engage actively with your own intellectual growth?

A breakthrough in science has allowed us to condense all of that information into an easy to swallow pill. No longer must you suffer the arduous task of learning a language. With the Rosetta Pill you can just swallow it whole!

“The Gold Standard in pharmaceutical based language absorption.”
-CNN

“I learned me the spanish speaking so now I can tell them damn mexicans to go back home and I didn’t even have to think.”
-Jebediah McKray

“I can’t even spell kantuneez but now I can speak it!”
-G.W. Bush
The Rosetta Pill is the only pharmaceutical on the market that can offer this miracle in chemical linguistics. The active ingredients go right to the language centers of the brain and imprint the neural synapses which contain a whole new language!

The Rosetta Pill is available in Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Arabic, Legalese and many more!

For just five easy payments of $39.99 you can consume one of our many languages in an easy to swallow gel capsule.

And now, for children, a great tasting grape syrup that will have them speaking languages they have no cultural context for in just a few hours.

But don’t wait. Act now and you will receive a free gift, even if you decide to regurgitate the Rosetta Pill. Rosetta Topical Cream is a stunning new, easy to apply cream which will familiarize the user with recent events and other current news topics. That is right. Not only will you be speaking a new language, but you will have all of the most popular recent talking points to practice it with!

But don’t wait. Initial supplies are going fast, so put down that German 101 book and pick up the phone!

Warning: Rosetta Pill may cause serious side effects including diarrhea, nausea, anal leakage, learning disabilities and decreased intellectual appetite. Please speak to your pharmucational professional if you experience any of these side effects.

Within weeks of writing this satirical piece in late spring 2014, articles began circulating claiming that a pharmaceutical that teaches language might actually happen in the near future.

Understanding Human Institutions As Living Systems With Their Own Lives

Understanding Human Institutions As Living Systems With Their Own LivesOur human hubris reassures us that we are the dominant form of life on this planet. This is done through a delusional semantic trick by which we have narrowly defined what constitutes a life form. So long as we keep that definition confined to traditional narratives, the delusion prevails. We are currently empowering that falsehood by insisting that life conforms to some basic principles based on physical characteristics, such as a genetic structure. This materialist fiction, predicated on a metaphysical assumption that is full of circular reasoning and self-refutation, then goes on to define life by what it IS and not by what it does; thereby employing the logic of every narrow-minded bigotry to ever exist.

So if instead of defining life by what it is, perhaps we should define it by what it does. And once you begin viewing life from the perspective of it’s verb-state, rather than it’s noun-state, it begins to become clear that our current definition of life is narrow, restrictive and exclusive of other macro-systems that behave exactly as we do.

In 1978 James Grier Miller published a theory under the title Living Systems: The Basic Concepts. READ IT ONLINE HERE FOR FREE.
Do a quicky wiki HERE to get the basics of his basics.

In it he discusses how non-random organizations behave in the very same ways that everything from cells to plants and animals do. He defined several levels at which all living systems tended to do at least one or more of the following- process energy, matter or information in their environment. At the micro level he considers the cell the smallest LS, with the nation state at the other end. We organisms are only the third most complex LS’s of eight, with the supranational LS at the top. In relative evolutionary terms, the supranational entity is pretty recent.

At every stage above us in the complex matrix of living systems interacting with one another there resides a life form dominate to us. The power, influence and abilities of these entities are greater than any human could ever achieve, which is why the socially aberrant psychotics that work most closely with these systems attach themselves to them. Their opportunism is essentially waste management of a more dominate life form, like bacteria that turn organic waste into proteins that can be converted to energy. The ruling elite are the lips of humanity, suckling directly from the rectums of these more dominant life forms like some kind of Human & Nonhuman Centipede flick. Since they get first taste and are not the ones being fed to the dominate life forms, they are perceived as dominate human beings. Their power, influence and wealth are all products of their gleeful association with the predatory entities who lie above us on the food chain.

This truth about the nature of life forms is precisely why it is not possible to expect these living systems to stop harming us. When we think of entities like the nation state as something we have full control over and can use to limit and punish itself, it is akin to carrots believing that they can prevent humans from eating them by appealing to humans to put carrots lives above their own nutritional needs. The nation state cannot be made to stop preying upon us in order to meet our preference for not being consumed by it, because it has to eat and we are a plentiful (and apparently delicious) food source in its environment.

Terms like ‘accountability’, ‘regulations’ and ‘checks and balances’ are meaningless misnomers that we have weaved into our delusion of superiority. To those entities above us, those terms are like camouflage or other evolutionary paradigms that make it easier for them to trick their prey. For us to believe that we can make these higher order systems put us before themselves is a foolish vanity supported only by our self-deception, which exists only to support our vanity itself. It is a circular reasoning that makes us weak and keeps us obedient to the predatory entities and the humans who work most closely with them.

A few of the levels above the organism (individual) do provide symbiotic benefits. Voluntary associations and communities empower humans by giving us a stronger hand to work together with. By the time we get to cultural systems we begin to see some aggression enter the relationship. Force, coercion and compulsion all begin to occur in the interactions of these entities. By the time we get to society and the nation state it is a full on parasitic relationship with all but a few of us on the losing end. The so-called 1% are not winning the evolutionary game, they are just benefiting slightly more than the rest of us by selling out our entire species. And so they use their power to create the narrative that these systems are necessary in order to prevent us from becoming prey to one another, while using those irrational false constructs to feed us to the beasts above us.

Yet this is just not so. Those larger entities were created by human beings. We brought them into this world and we can take them out. And we should. As soon as possible. They are growing exponentially. While it may be true that there will some injuries among our species as a result of working together to kill them, those injuries are nowhere near as grievous as the ones the predatory parasitic entities will be forced to inflict on us as it requires more food to feed its exponential growth. None of our fears about what we might possibly do to one another are rational when compared to what will most certainly be done to us all if we do not slay the beast before it is too big to kill.

Oh my fellow fishies, do you hear me when I tell you that the thing in front of you that looks like a tasty worm is actually the tongue of a larger fish using its oral appendage to lure you in so it can swallow you whole? Do you hear me when I tell you that the exotic display before you is not a glory to behold, but a clever trick to entrance you while a far more advanced fish takes advantage of your stupor to prey on you?

Or will you continue to insist that the bigger fish are the only thing keeping us from eating one another, while they feed lavishly upon us? Will we join together in a swarm to strip the meat from the bones of our common enemy, or will we stand divided to be more easily picked off under the false pretense that the big fish are immortal and eternal?

And what pray tell, my fellow finned friends, would you say if I told you that we could kill the big predatory fishes simply by removing our consent to be eaten? Yes, it is that easy. The living systems above us do have a genetic structure and their dna is our belief, faith and consent. If we were to take those from it, its physical structure would collapse and we would be free. And when all the fishes eventually stopped fighting in the ensuing confusion, the waters will calm and we will no longer live under the constant threat that accompanies low status on a parasitic and sometimes cannibalistic food chain.

The nation state is not the solution to the weakness of man. It is the  primary beneficiary of those weaknesses. It is like the vampire, it can only harm you on your own home (planet) if you invite it inside.

The most dangerous enemy is the one that is capable of convincing you that it does not exist. Our misguided belief that our institutions are just tools that are subserviant to us, rather than a clever master using us as tools to its own ends, lies at the very heart of the enemies subterfuge. We apply our own shackles and prepare own bodies for consumption through our hubris, ignorance and fear. The enemy is within.

read HOW AND WHY TO ABOLISH POLICE AND THE STATE

The Meme Analysis Project

Recently I invited my friends on Facebook to submit a meme, which I would then provide a critical analysis of, getting to the underlying context of these memes that often goes overlooked. Humanity has an awkward obsession with being content focused to the point of excluding the context of the things we consider. Our literal interpretations of the objects and subjects in the external world often gives us only a shallow understanding, and leaves us blind to the unspoken messages that lie within all things. And it is often these unspoken messages that have the most profound effect, even when we are not aware of them doing so. In fact, especially when we overlook them.

In the past I have criticized memes from a general perspective.  That exercise failed to engage many people, I suspect, because they were unable to draw from the general a message about the specific. So this time I have chosen to use specifics to make a general statement about the underlying context of memes. That is, they generally say much more than they actually say.

meme1

As with any political cartoon that bashes one of the two accepted mainstream positions, the problem is accidental validation. While you may hate all political sides equally, or just find the humor funny, the people who view it are going to filter it through their own beliefs. If they dislike the politician being made fun of, it may help to strengthen their ideology regarding the supremacy of the ‘opposite’ candidate. Which then goes on to validate that person’s belief that the state is necessary, justifiable and welcome based not on a judgement of the state itself, but the assumed belief that it is necessary to support MY statist figurehead in order to protect myself from THEIR statist figurehead. So it further polarizes both ends of the mainstream political spectrum while also validating the necessity of the state out of the fear created through false dichotomies.

meme2

While specifically suggesting that the reptilian conspiracy theories are outlandish and ridiculous, those people who think all conspiracy theories are ridiculous will have that belief validated. It further paints conspiracy theories as absurd and moronic. Yet conspiracy is natural part of all power structures throughout time. So to disbelieve them off hand because they do not fit the mainstream narrative conditions people to shallow literalism, which then allows them to be even bigger targets for the conspirators within the power structures.

Further, it relies on a format that has been repeated often enough that it has an instinctual association with ‘funny.’ Like a laugh track, it forces its humor through simple psychological shortcuts. Attempting to appeal to people’s instincts in order to gain their consent for mainstream consensus paradigms is pretty much always unfunny to me, though.

meme3

There are all sorts of problems with this one, but the most obvious is that it is blatant scientism. It appeals to people’s fascination with science, as well as their naive ideas about what science is and does. It uses the chemical symbols to reassure you that it is really super scientific stuff. But what is actually happening is very unscientific. The idea that our subjective experiences are only side effects of brain chemistry belongs not to science, but to the metaphysical assumptions of physicalism/materialism. Neither of those ontologies can be empirically verified, so it is not only not science, but by making ‘scientific’ claims about something unverifiable by science, it is actually anti-science. When scientism puts its metaphysical assumptions ahead of the actual science, it does so with complete ignorance and disregard for the strengths and weaknesses of the scientific method. And science is a method, not a worldview.
Further, it reduces our experiences to some strange combination of determinism and meaningless cosmic accident, which is degrading to human consciousness.
But when you add anything even faux sciencey to internet cultural tools like memes, the recipe is always one which results in a further ignorance of science and philosophy.

meme4

The problem with this meme is that it pretends to teach you something. But every idea is so obvious that only the most intellectually bereft would not have already determined these ideas themselves. Knowing these things is too obvious. It is putting them into practice that is difficult, which the meme gives no helpful advice on doing.
Since all it tells us is what we already know, the only purpose of this meme is to gather validation or consensus. And nothing waters down the truth like the necessity of repeating it compulsively where it is unsolicited and unrequired.
These sort of memes get around because they easily get likes. “I agree (duh) so LIKE.” And getting likes feels like validation and approval. And there is nothing wrong with validation or approval, but when you are disguising it as informative, it takes all of the meaning out of information. When this happens enough we trade our logic for emotion in an unbalanced way that is harmful to intelligence.

meme5

There are some memes that have a very concise message displayed graphically whose message is more or less direct.

But these are still problematic in that they reinforce the meme pattern in general. After being inundated daily with numerous memes that we know may not be completely on the up and up or are complete bullshit or pandering for validation and attention, the meme defender will point to one like this and infer that because this meme displays less of the awful characteristics that most memes carry then memes must be okay. They are the ‘good cop’ of memes.
But the system of meme has become ridden with intrinsic issues which make the good deeds of a few memes pointless as a guide to understanding memes.
There are no good memes. There are just memes that don’t intentionally dumb us down, but the system of meme does.

meme6

This is an attempt to discredit an ideology by reducing it to a mere absurdity, devoid of its complexity. And even if that ideology is in fact absurd and fails to recognize its own complexity, simply dismissing it by making fun of it is intellectually dishonest. The use of a childhood icon also insinuates that the believers in that ideology are themselves childish. By reducing the ideas and the person, it only serves to antagonize, and not to teach. The choir might all be giddy with this kind of preaching, but it alienates the congregation and puts them at odds with the far better ideas you are trying to replace theirs with. Therefore it is mostly just mean-spirited masturbatory posturing that hurts the cause of those who would perpetuate the sharing of this meme.

meme7

This is really the same as the other one. It is an attempt to win an argument by belittling the opponent. So the contextual problem is the same.

Content-wise, it suggests that Lions are those who allow themselves to be caught up in the largest association of organized violence ever. If the point is that lions are brave, then this fails because it is not brave to be a joiner. Especially when you are joining the winning monopoly on violence. Therefore, in this case, those standing against the ‘lions’ would actually be the brave and courageous, as it takes far more of those qualities to stand against this den than with it.

Secondly, lions aren’t what protect lambs. Lambs would be hunted and slaughtered and eaten raw by lions. So the idea that those claiming to protect us are lions while we are sheep really illustrates the true nature of these lions and not the delusion that they live under. They are not our protectors. They are our predators.

meme8

I have no idea what is even going on in this meme. The words in the back appear to be comprised of buzzwords and stock phrases. I do not recognize the picture, but perhaps it is recognizable from other memes and their context is being carried into this one by repetition of the image?

There are a lot of memes like this. There is a group on Facebook called The Absurdistan Association that has all sorts of stuff like this. I imagine that it is part in-joke used to identify the sharer as ‘in the know’. It may also just be an attempt to be absurd through nonsensical image propagation.

If it is an in joke sort of thing then it is really just another form of consensus gathering and self-validation and groupthink identity building.

If it is an attempt at absurdity it fails on two levels. The first being that absurdity is not just randomly random. It is highly constructed randomness for specific effect. Absurdity is not a way of saying nothing; it is a way of saying something through clever juxtaposition. But you cannot be making an absurdist statement if the audience is limited to those in the know of the parts beings juxtaposed. The second reason is that the activity and medium of meme has become such a cultural norm itself that they cannot be considered far enough outside social norms to be absurd.

Mostly, this just seems to be what would result when the activity of meme-ing became a meaningless compulsion.

(note- an explanation from the person who shared this meme with me: “It’s really just an obscure kinda joke. It references the “Serbia Strong” meme which… I don’t even know where to begin. I guess it kind of mocks a strange, esoteric nationalism / adversarial positioning that was so popular in early 90s Eastern Europe that it inspired folk music and other strange behaviors”.)

meme9

Remember when you were a kid and you would spend ridiculous amounts of time ‘playing’ an arcade game without having put any quarters into it? This seems like the meme version of that.

Besides that it is an identity thing. The people who made, liked and shared this image want you to know that they do not like Obama. And since they feel no need to provide specifics with that message, the reason they do not like Obama is probably because they identify with the other side of the partisan false dichotomy. Either that or their reasoning is even more suspicious, like racism, and they are just smart enough to know that indicating that specifically is a social faux pas. But not smart enough to make a meme that actually attempts to illustrate some idea specifically.

Whenever something that began as clever becomes too popular, eventually the biggest idiots get a hold of it and completely ruin any semblance of purpose in it. Or illustrate the underlying insidiousness of it through accident and irony.

meme9.1

I would consider this an infographic. And while infographics may contain some of the residual contextual issues of memes through similarity of mediums and use, there is a bit of a difference. My critique here is not very strong. The worst thing I have to say for it is that it is a visual version of the ‘This Topic for Dummies’ books. If the infographic inspires you to further investigate the topic, great. But if it inspires you to be a barely informed expert in conversations on the subject, then it is intellectually irresponsible.

meme9.2

This is an attempt to appeal to people’s morality through their desire and identity. To be opposed to this meme is to appear either anti-woman, repressed or homosexual. Morality should be arrived at through logic and reason, not appealed to through instinct or identity-seeking or fear. To draw the connection between the differences in vaginas as a reason to support diversity actually undermines diversity by suggesting it is a value whose laurels rest only on shallow interpretations of what creates genuine differences in individuals and cultural groups.

meme9.3

‘That face you make when…’ memes.

First of all, these memes never say anything at all. There is no message. There is no lesson. And they are not even funny. The only function they have is recognition. And since they are usually faces from entertainment media, the recognition is that of mainstream media consumers. The statement is ‘I also watched that/I consume the same media commodities as you/I recognize what facial expressions mean’. Nowhere in that does any thinking take place. It just begs for validation and interaction without earning it. It is attention whoring with no other purpose.

i fear a day when this behavior reduces our language to the most simple of bullshit.

Woman comes home from work. Man flashes photo from TV sitcom of famous ‘How was your day, dear?’ moment.

Woman responds by flashing famous movie photo of someone with exasperated face.

Man flashed ‘uh oh’ face photo from Home Alone.

Child walks in, plays a short sound clip- ‘Wakkity smackity Doo!’

Cue laugh track.

meme9.4

Ah, the sunday school atheist memes.

First, this meme is not for generating any kind of theological or philosophical conversation. It is just making fun of people by reducing their beliefs into an absurdity. And since atheists tend to have more influence in internet culture it also says that ‘we make better memes, so we are smarter than you and your beliefs are dumb.’

In particular this seems to be addressing the problem of evil. Yet is does so with such reductionist hyperbole that it misses all of the nuances contained in that theological doctrine. It is thus the anti-theist version of sunday school parables. It becomes the sort of watered down and literal interpretation that is practiced by the people it is meant to mock.

Further, it does not differentiate between the many concepts that fall under the banner ‘God.’ It addresses only the modern evangelical theistic entity from Abrahamic traditions. Yet it is meaningless when examined in the light of pantheism, panentheism, pandeism, etc. Many other philosophies that include some form of primal being have addressed the problem of evil quite well.

This meme goes after the low-hanging fruit. And people who go after only low hanging fruit do so only because they are on a similar level of intellectual inconsistency.


I hope that I have illustrated just how much meaning lies hidden inside memes. Though you may like the surface message of its content, a meme might actually say things you disagree with or wouldn’t want to say yourself. The widespread compulsion of meme sharing has created a communication culture full of far more unspoken messages than spoken ones.  Memes, like medication, all have side effects. So before you swallow those pills, be sure that the consequences are not worse than the benefits. And in the case of memes, the medium is itself the message, an idea I plan to explore in my next discussion on the topic.

Thank you everyone who helped by sharing the memes I used in this experiment. You know who you are!

Chasing the Christmas Dragon: The Unsatisfying Addiction of Consumerism

christmasdragon

If there is any single event that defines America’s compulsion with mindless consumerism, there is no doubt that that event would be Christmas. The ancient pagan holidays (Yule, Saturnalia, etc.) from which Christmas was derived were later co-opted by Christianity, giving the holiday not just new meanings, but new purposes. Yet even the change of metaphysical premises changed Christmas very little compared to the effect that a highly developed industrial civilization has had on it. Christmas has come to be defined almost exclusively by the activity of gift-giving/receiving.

Some will argue that it is also about spending time with your family. But nobody should need  a specific reason to do that. Nor should they have to do it on a specific day because that is the day that everyone else is doing it. That is compulsive behavior, and it has nothing to do with the Wheel of Life or Birth of Baby Jesus that inspired it. And while those holidays often included gift-giving, until recently they were not centered around it. Gifts were not just another compulsion conditioned into us through ‘tradition’. And yet I don’t really give a swimming shit about ‘the true meaning of Christmas’, I think that we can examine the mindless consumerism of our culture parallel to Christmas as a way of seeing the psychological functions similarly underlying each of them.

As a child I failed to enjoy toys. Or at least, it seemed to me like I was unable to enjoy them in the way that other kids did. Sure, video games and bb guns were always fun, but most of the plastic junk that ended up under the Christmas tree or was acquired during the rest of the year were only really valuable when being shown to friends that did not own them. Yet playing with little plastic people, except when attempting to blow them up midair, was never rewarding to me. For this reason I failed to understand the appeal of Star Wars, a movie that seemed little more than an extended commercial for Star Wars swag, then and now. I had always assumed that I was either doing something wrong or was just somehow not gifted with the ability to enjoy playing boy dolls. Yet as I have gotten older and observed others, I do not think I was alone in that.

I think that we were conditioned by marketers to believe all these toys were somehow fun. And we believed it so much that we told ourselves that it really was fun. And when we saw others telling themselves how much fun it was, we decided to believe it was fun too, lest we get left behind as the fun train trailed off into the funset. Now I think that most of us never really found it fun, even if we told ourselves that it was. Even those people who still think their childhood fun centered around all these little plastic lumps of merchandising probably really never felt contented in the ways that more genuine fun like a splash-fight or nighttime outdoor hide and seek made us feel. And so I submit that it is this inner subconscious recognition of our failure to find any meaning in junk toys and the ‘fun’ they provide that causes adults to try to make up for it by living vicariously through their children. Surely they will have the fun that we never really felt, right? And so each generation has to buy harder to try to fill in that hole. The more toys that failed to fulfill you, the more you will buy to attempt to fulfill the next generation.

It is like an addiction. We are chasing the dragon of fun. We remember how great that first time seemed and are constantly trying to get back there. But the truth is that not only can we never return, there is nothing to return to. It was all a myth. That first fix wasn’t that great. It only seemed so because it was the only one that we never did out of the necessity of compulsion.

So then if our gifting behavior is comprised of unnecessary consumer items that promise to fulfill us but only doom us to more desire than we can ever fulfill, what about a holiday centered around gifts? Could it be that Christmas is just as empty as useless plastic tchotchkes? Could it be that we keep trying to outdo every last Christmas to make up for how empty they make us feel while promising us fulfillment? In Christmas, toys and mindless consumerism, are we just chasing the dragon like heroin addicts and serial killers?

Why does Christmas start earlier and end later every year?

Is that the mark of something we are satisfied with/by?

Why did I see people come into the bookstore where I work and spend gift certificates they got last year to buy gifts this year? Could this possibly indicate that there is really no meaning in this giving, but just an endless cycle of compulsion, as in addiction?

Why has Christmas shopping become a violent sport if all that giving is in the name of love and caring, and not just some selfish instinct to overcome our own fears of meaninglessness and inadequacy through competition?

Christmas has been co-opted by a new religion, the religion of the oligarchs. And they use Christmas as a way of making you feel guilted into massive amounts of spending that benefits nobody but them. It is as in The Parable of the Broken Window, where we see that breaking windows in order to fix them actually detracts from wealth by distributing it without value being created in the process. Yet you can be sure that even if the window fixer and community were not experiencing an increase in wealth from intentionally breaking windows, the window factory owners in another town were. This is the case of consumerism and Christmas in a global industrialist oligarchy. Christmas consumerism is based on the creation of a false need, just like the breaking of windows.

We are conditioned to believe that we must buy each other gifts for Christmas. More and better every year. But there is no real need for this. There is not even a good reason. Just a compulsion implanted by clever marketers working for the oligarchs. Our economies and communities do not gain value or increase wealth by Christmas consumerism. Nor do most individuals. Only a select few are actually gaining anything from all of these acts of senseless shopping. And the reason all of the shopping and preparations begin to feel more like a job than a holiday is because that is precisely what it is. Christmas is slavery in sleigh bells and a stupid sweater.

Spoiler Alert: The dragon is never caught. The bad guys win and everyone else is enslaved in their meaningless mindfuck forever. The end.

Fucking. Stop.