Louis CK unwisely decided to discuss his politics during the last election and as a result I will never be able find him funny as I once did.
There is a new Louis CK special on Netflix. Six months ago I would have been elated, chomping at the bit to watch it. Now I could care less, but that would involve more care, and it’s not fucking worth it. Louis is dead to me.
So what did he do that I find so unforgivable?
He supported Hillary Clinton. But it is not that he did it, but how he did it.
First of all let me make it clear that I did not vote, did not support any candidate and do not participate in mainstream politics. And I certainly have no love at all for Donald Trump. So I am not being a sore loser. Louis could have talked about voting for Hillary and done it, and I would have let it go right past me and continued to love him and his work. But his reasoning for supporting Clinton has rattled my faith in his intellect, intentions and values in such a way that it will forever color everything he does in my view.
I am not going to look up the quote and repeat it here verbatim. The gist was that he was going to vote for her not because he was voting against Trump, but because he really thinks she would be a great president, because she is a ‘tough mom’ or some shit.
Clinton is a shameless warmongerer. And CK’s support for her seems to rest on the fact that this is what he wants. He wants a genocidal oligarch who isn’t even trying to hide it. It would have been much better if he was just making a contrarian anti-vote like most people, but he was voting for what Clinton stands for, and that is violent authoritarianism.
I will continue to explain, but I don’t think I need to. That is just fucked up, let alone for a comedian.
I have a great deal of respect for stand up comedians. There are very few careers in which you can gain access to the inner sanctum of peoples personal beliefs and ruffle things up a bit. However that is something we very much need. Comedians push the boundaries and question things others are afraid to. Comedians are ideological dissidents leading humans to new vistas of freedom.
At least the good ones are. Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Doug Stanhope are just a few comics who forced people to rethink the world they live in and to question everything. Especially authority. Authority is always the thing that needs questioned most. Especially when it is cruel and violent.
Hilary Clinton is cruel and violent. Dismissing her psychopathy and relabeling it ‘tough mom’ is the most sell out thing I have ever heard a comedian say.
Louis CK will probably continue to be funny. But I do not want to laugh at his jokes. I do not want to follow his logic, since the place it leads is so fucking insanely scary and stupid. Most of all I do not want to support him. Fuck that guy.
In retrospect I find him less funny. ‘Tough mom’ reminds me how much of his entire shtict revolves around being a dad. Trying to get other people to care about your parental role, ideas and stories as much as you do is the most overdone thing ever. Louis CK is basically your Facebook news feed with better presentation.
And who remembers when he announced he was quitting the internet? Thanks for the fucking Luddite virtue signals, douche dad. Thanks for telling us peons how to live from your almighty fucking ivory tower in the big apple. Some of us actually use this to make a living and ply our arts and do not have the privilege of just writing it off.
Louis CK seems humble until you realize his low self esteem is just a performance to gain status. It’s a direct Woody Allen rip-off without any honesty in it. Woody Allen portrayed himself as the caricature of self-doubt he was in his own head. Louis CK portrays himself as the kind of self-degradation artist who wants you to believe he is humble so he can foist his bullshit normative ideas on you and gain fame.
There is no sin in art as great as normalcy, and Louis CK has made a career out of playing normal for an audience he views as a tool to prop up his career and ego. He will even normal so hard that he makes light of bombing children in third world countries, which is what Clinton was explicitly all about, as part of his promotional efforts.
The bass playing businessman-in-makeup from KISS helped create a generation of weirdos that his political worldview has no tolerance for.
Gene Simmons is a patriot, goddammit, and America made him great. Or so you would be left to believe if you took the Ayn Rand of stadium rock’s word for it. No offense, Neil Peart, but you’re fucking Canadian.
Where other musicians have struggled to balance their commercial success with their aesthetics, Gene embraced the dichotomy by increasingly trading artistic merit for cash and groupies without internalizing a realistic perception of what an unsavory schmooze this made him. All while allegedly remaining completely free of drugs and alcohol, which is sort of a cautionary tale against mixing rock and roll with sobriety.
Given so much success unburdened by artistic or existential self-doubt, Gene has increasingly adopted the belief over the years that anybody could repeat his level of achievement if they weren’t so much lazier and stupider than him. He believes that his current values apply retroactively to his earlier success, although there is no evidence of Gene’s conservative narrative until after he had sold millions of records and sold out major venues worldwide.
However given the aesthetic vision which he contributed to KISS, and the decidedly rash decision to leave a steady teaching career to play bass guitar in make up and high heels, it could probably be inferred that the younger Gene who engineered this path to fame and fortune was not altogether the John Galt character he seems to think (and certainly claims) that he is. In fact his well known history of making such boisterous claims seems counter-intuitive to the play-it-straight Americana he endlessly blathers about.
Fortunately, as Chuck Klosterman has pointed out, you don’t have to like the people in KISS to like KISS. Which is the most absurd form of gaining eminence and prosperity possible, and also one which happened far more coincidentally than Gene would lead you to believe. And so it also seems to work the other way, Gene doesn’t have to like KISS fans to like being in KISS.
Which is even more fucked up when you consider he probably had a lot to do with making his fans the kind of people he doesn’t like.
The entire aesthetic of early KISS was to be weird. They encouraged individuality and freakiness by embodying it aesthetically, and as a way of life altogether greater a sum than just their music. KISS was an image. And that image said to be yourself and explore the fringes and to ignore what the people judging you thought.
All of which is antithetical to the realistic ways in which success is achieved in the mythological American dream. That path leads us to conform and follow the formulas and to cater to paying customers before personal principles. Genes yellow brick road to achievement, according to his rhetoric after the fact, lies in direct opposition to the message embedded in the image of KISS.
In business the only place where straying from norms is considered beneficial is through novel innovation. While I am a fan of both the music and aesthetic of KISS, neither were particularly innovative, let alone completely original. Those evolved from things like glam rock, science fiction, comic books and pseudo-Asiatic theatrics; which I might note are all also pretty non-conservative sources of inspiration.
Yet the people who dived wholeheartedly into those aesthetics continued to seek out the odd and shocking. They explored the outer edges and transformed themselves into something far removed from the All-American archetype, and in doing so alienated themselves from mainstream culture, and so ever further away from the land of milk and honey.
The political narrative of Gene Simmons is antithetical to KISS and his own success, and it heaps nothing but scorn upon the kind of people who made him who he is through their passion and loyalty. As an added insult to fanbase injury, reality television and other media where he spouts off his inane egotistical bullshit have increased his success further.
Which means that even this facet of Gene Simmons could be a facade he created for shock value and increased status, which would make him an even greater God (of thunder) or King (of the nighttime world) than his Army and/or detractors can even yet comprehend. That would be some of the greatest meta-level art of the 20th and 21st centuries, even though I doubt it is true. More likely he is a clever but lucky asshole, and we cannot help but always love the first person who spat blood and breathed fire for us.
Through exploring soundtracks like Netflix’s The Get Down and the work of Craig Wedren the potential of that medium to reshape musical dogmas emerges.
The best movie soundtrack from 1994 is undoubtedly the one from the film The Crow. Although it spanned many genres, the way in which each song served the aesthetic of the film united them in a way which transcended each bands historical style.
If you listen to The Crow Soundtrack today you will be transported directly back to the aesthetic, or world, of the film; which feels like 1994 even though the world in which it takes place is imaginary and the film itself was made prior to that year.
But this is true of any memorable film and soundtrack. So even though The Crow was probably the best soundtrack of 1994, it wasn’t necessarily the most interesting.
That honor, I believe, belongs to a mostly forgotten soundtrack and film in which a supergroup of that time covers the songs regularly covered by the greatest rock band of all time. Backbeat was a biopic of the early Beatles career playing seedy nightclubs for successive long nights while fueled by amphetamines, ambition and passion for rock music. As such it dramatizes the band playing crowd pleasing cover songs as they honed their craft and solidified their line up.
The soundtrack was performed by The Backbeat Band, which was comprised of the darlings of the days alternative rock roster; including members of REM, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, The Afghan Whigs, Gumball and predictably Dave Grohl – who has consistently appeared in every piece of entertainment media made since about 1994.
The soundtrack is good. It is not great, but mostly because the artistic limitations inferred by covering another cover band. But it remains interesting because in 1994 the film and its soundtrack transported you back to 1960, the year in which most of the period depicted took place. Today if you watch the movie or listen to the soundtrack it transports you back to 1994, and then depending on your level of immersion, maybe back to 1960 as well.
However had The Backbeat Band made the very same album without the contextual backdrop of the film it would probably be completely non-memorable and fail to provoke any strong sense of time or place in the listener.
So the question is, how is it that long irrelevant musical styles can regain immediacy and relevance through a merger with the medium of film?
Not so fast.
Four years after Backbeat grunge had been murdered in a vast plot by Courtney Love and Creed; sending its greatest luminaries plunging headlong into nostalgia for the genesis of their punk rock roots. Along the way they gathered up a few of their punk forefathers and re-explored glam rock and proto-punk, a collision which was facilitated by the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine.
Velvet Goldmine was a musical period piece loosely based off the lives and music/art of David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed and others. It is a masterpiece of story, direction, cinematography, acting, music and more; including inducing homophobic squeamishness in prudish viewers – a category for which there is unfortunately still no Grammy awarded.
The soundtrack contains both original compositions and cover songs. Once again a supergroup was formed to provide music for the soundtrack, using the film-period appropriate name The Venus In Furs. Interestingly The Venus in Furs contained two musicians, Thurston Moore and Don Fleming, from The Backbeat Band. It also boasted Mike Watt, Thom Yorke, Ron Asheton and several other highly notable musicians.
On top of that it includes original contributions from bands like Teenage Fanclub, Placebo, Pulp, Grant Lee Buffalo and Shudder to Think.
Every song on the soundtrack is heavily inspired by the period of the film, which gave all of these musicians the opportunity to re-explore expired musical styles in a way that somehow felt fresh again. It was neo-retro, and it sounded amazing.
However had any of these musicians made the same music without a film to anchor itself to, without another piece of art as a unifying theme, it would be largely unmemorable today. This is not to detract from the music, which is stellar, but only to point out that great music still needs a cultural context to give it significance. And if you want to revisit your musical heritage in your current cultural climate, it must come attached to another work of art that feels absolutely new.
The legacy of the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, aside from the music itself, will probably best be as the place where a long awaited The Stooges reunion got started. However it should probably also be remembered for the contributions by Shudder To Think, whose central member Craig Wedren has since become the embodiment of the central theme of this essay.
In 1997 Shudder to Think completed their last album, as well as contributing songs in a similar style to three independent films. In 1998 they contributed two more to Velvet Goldmine and then called it quits. Upon their dissolution Craig Wedren began focusing more of his musical output on film scores and soundtracks, especially for projects by former members of the sketch comedy troupe The State, whose director David Wain was a childhood friend.
Wain’s cult film Wet Hot American Summer was musically masterminded by Wedren. He scored the film, supervised the soundtrack and also contributed to it. It opens with Jane by Jefferson Starship, which sets the feel for the entire soundscape of the film. It also contains musical elements of the late 70’s and early 80’s summer camp films it satirizes, but the pure bombast of Jane is present throughout, especially in the soundtrack contributions from Wedren.
This would set the tone for Wedren’s later, and continuing, soundtrack work. His ability to recapture past genres and styles, and cross freely among them, has earned him an invitation to contribute to numerous film projects that require just that. And while he also continues to make mind-blowing solo music, he has been given relatively free reign to a musical time machine. A position which is both monumental and obscure, considering the humble commercial success of the projects he has worked on.
Wedren has made a career and amassed a cult following from committing a cardinal sin of music – directly revisiting the musical styles of those who influenced his own.
No musician has ever escaped their influences entirely. Yet most of them understand that merely retreading the musical paths of their influences will either result in the perception of novelty or commercial disinterest. In music-as-art you are always supposed to try pushing forward. Only the most vapid pop stars are able to continue capitalizing on old formulas, because the perception of their artistic merit is not entwined with the perception of their music. Their image takes merits place.
Yet all music is built upon all that came before. Every piece of music is made of 99.9% recycled musical DNA in the most basic sense. And still the inability to explicitly travel backward and forward in musical time is a limitation almost impossible to overcome without attracting stigma. There is nothing musically wrong with complete temporal mobility, but the 20th century’s mixing of music with the market has led to a perception that music is supposed to be a straight line ahead.
I personally retired this hypothesis years ago, largely through exposure to the soundtracks and musicians I have been discussing. But as transcendent as Velvet Goldmine was to me, its greater overall commercial and cultural impact was very minute.
Most people have been unknowingly conditioned by market factors to effectively disregard retrospective musical offerings. However that could be changed if the strategy became successful in a landmark cultural artifact.
This, obviously, has been tried numerous times to varying degrees of musical or commercial success. However it has yet to hit both evenly. A formula in which astoundingly great new music that sounds like astoundingly great old music, and also achieves widespread commercial success alongside critical success on genuine artistic merits, has been elusive. However it has always been possible, and may actually finally have been realized.
The Get Down, a two part mini-series presented by Netflix, has recreated the feeling of early hip hop in such an immediate and accessible way that it’s original compositions feel as fresh to most Americans as their earlier counterparts felt to those living during hip hop’s inception in NYC.
By the time hip hop had been packaged and marketed to a larger commercial audience it had already undergone much of its evolution. It came to the larger world fully formed without any historical or cultural context, unlike rock and roll which had entered the public consciousness in its raw early form and gained its maturity and context in full view of it’s audience.
The Get Down gives us that history and context, in a genuine and accurate enough way that most of us will feel the initial excitement of hip hop we missed out on the first time. And in doing so it will give us a direct connection to that early music most of us never had, re-instilling it with a sense of urgency and importance in the now.
However none of that would matter if The Get Down wasn’t also a fantastic piece of art itself, which it very much is. It would matter even less if the music were only mediocre and serviceable, which it most certainly isn’t. The music is amazing.
I speak mostly of the hip hop. Disco and 70’s pop fans might find those portions of the musical re-imagining more personally compelling. And while they may also be great, they will not have the same export. Besides the fact that Saturday Night Fever prematurely covered disco’s nostalgia in the midst of it’s own hey day, thus making any future attempts even more of a novelty, hip hop is still a highly relevant musical form. One that thrived with its roots largely hidden from the audience it amassed over the years.
Last year De La Soul redefined the perceived limits of works of commercially important hip hop with their long-awaited comeback album. They expanded beyond their genre and time period so successfully that they rose from cult legends to chart-topping kings. And in doing so they set the stage for a rebirth of hip hop. Is The Get Down also part of that rebirth?
I hope so, and not is just because I personally find it to be artistically transcendent, but because it could open up the doors to musicians which only soundtracks have previously offered. It could open up the history of modern western music to re-exploration in ways that seem genuine rather than merely novelty trends.
Where it seems that music has reached the ends of it’s possible sonic boundaries, where nothing truly new can ever be done again with sound, perhaps the only way for music to survive in an advanced technological civilization is to shed the restrictions of linear progress. When it becomes impossible to make anything that sounds objectively fresh, the art becomes in finding ways to make them feel fresh within our experience of them. And because technology will probably continue to yield new mediums, and thus the opportunity to create those experiences, it may become possible to refresh points in musical history by reconnecting them with points in new medium.
The Get Down is technically within known and tried mediums. Yet modern approaches to long form cinematic storytelling recently pioneered by cable and internet services have made artifacts like The Get Down possible by transforming the amount and method of our media consumption. Commercial-free, binge-able cinema has not only offered us a more direct access to variety, but offered those creating art within it a latitude that was previously not possible. With more media consumed comes more room for exploration by its content creators.
Including the radical possibility that the old can become new again.
The Greasy Strangler seems to have been largely dismissed as an oddball novelty, but it might be the most innovative film ever.
The first time I watched the film it seemed easy just to classify it as “weird” and move on. But as I thought more about it and then rewatched, I realized how incomplete that description was.
David Lynch makes weird movies. John Waters, Harmony Korine and Giuseppe Andrews make weird movies. And what makes them so weird is that those movies exist within our consensus reality but contain elements that do not belong. They are incongruous and inexplicable.
There is nothing incongruous or inexplicable about The Greasy Strangler. All of its characters and situations work according to the logic of the reality it is based in, which is not the same as the one we are watching it from. In this way the film is more akin to fantasy than surrealism.
Even the motivations of the characters are atypical of human psychology, but become perversely reasonable when considered from the alien psychology of the films reality.
If the film were merely weird, it would be a barely interesting side note in the wide world of strange cinema. But it is not merely weird. It is a highly constructed fantasy world with complex interconnected truths of its own. In fact, it is probably a better fantasy world than the one’s detailed in the most popular fantasy works.
For example, Lord of the Rings is barely fantasy at all. It is just medieval earth with most of the humans replaced by different shaped beings with mostly the same behaviors and motivations of human beings. A little dash of classic literary magicalism, and Wa-La, the greatest fantasy franchise of all time.
Except it is not really that fantastic at all. It is what most classic literature is, a morality tale told through caricatures. And as such it is full of elements which make it mostly indistinguishable from our reality. Morality tales must remain mostly realist in order for the morals to be evident.
There is no moral point to The Greasy Strangler. There is no lesson and no metaphor on the human condition. It is therefore untethered from reality in ways most of what we call fantasy really isn’t. The absolute lack of a message or any social import whatsoever free it from the constraints of normative consensus reality.
Which may itself be a very powerful lesson and metaphor on something. Art? Fuck if I know.
But i do know it transcends weirdness to do something film and art rarely does, which is to snub reality in its entirety and create something completely outside of it.
Anybody can make weird films. Nobody ever makes films that are completely irreverent of reality altogether. There is something brilliant in that. Next level shit.
I get the feeling the film was largely ignored because it was dismissed as novelty oddness. At the same time I also get the feeling that someday it will be an historically important film for having not just bent the relationship between art and reality, but separating the two altogether.
Objectivism has wiggled it’s way into all human endeavors and even heavy metal music has not escaped the clutches of it’s dogma.
In a recent interview Brent Hinds of Mastodon made a statement in which he claimed that heavy metal pioneers Judas Priest are not, nor ever were, a heavy metal band. I would guess that a lot of people might agree with him, mostly younger metalheads. However I don’t think this generational gap is defined so much by style as how the definition of heavy metal began to change in the 1980’s.
Before I get to that, however, although I think Mastodon is a great band and admire Brent’s heavy metal hijinks, I would consider them to be a far less metal band than Priest. Mastodon are a very metal prog rock band. And that’s okay.
The essential question is – what makes music ‘heavy’ and what makes it ‘metal’?
The ‘metal’ part is pretty easy and can be broken into two main categories.
Defiance, rebelliousness, unusual curiosity, darkness of worldview and humor; and most of all irreverence. Whether snarky strikes of combativeness or stone cold shoulders of passive aggression, metal doesn’t want to hear your bullshit. It has plenty of its own, fuck you.
At the same time most metalheads are open-minded, fun-loving people with lots of love and humor, especially among their own where they are accepted non-judgmentally for their singular passion for the metal lifestyle.
The metal attitude is not aggression, even though it appears that way. It is a hyperbolistic defense mechanism. The metal spikes on the black leather jacket, like the spines of a porcupine, protect a tender, vulnerable human being from the surface-dwelling norms all around them.
This gives the safety to self-explore. To think more deeply and to feel more deeply. To dig beneath the exterior world of frivolous lightness into one of their own existential heaviness.
Objective facts are the parts of a phenomena that can be observed and measured in some way, then reobserved and remeasured with consistent results.
In metal music of all types there are some elements that are often, but not always, present. Speed, distortion, volume, anti-authoritarianism, Satanism and the occult, themes of darkness and evil, bombastic performance and presentation, musical virtuosity…among others. These are objective qualities within metal music, of which there must always be at least a few present in order to be accepted as metal by the genres fans.
However there is one further attribute of metal that cannot be fully denied – it is fueled by raw masculine energies.
Somewhere between the new wave of British heavy metal and Metallica there began to be sort of competitive drive to become more metal than anyone else. It got louder, faster and far more ‘evil’.
Over the next decade the metal one-upping led to a division of metal into an ever-branching tree of sub-genres. From this came speed metal and death metal and black metal and a number of other genres who picked a few of those objective qualities and focused all their efforts on expanding on them.
A decade after that metal had been reduced to the objective qualities found within it. Every sub-genre was a _______-metal band and in all the musical measurements that divided them something had been lost.
It is not quite so easy to define what heaviness is. It cannot be objectively observed or measured. It is not even an attribute of the music or performers, but of the relationship between them and the listener. It is an effect that cannot be perceived or predicted.
There is the famous Ozzy quote about how puzzling it was to consider San Francisco and people who were obliged to wear floral cranial ornamentation while visiting that enchanted land. For Black Sabbath the grey skies and industrial totality of their lives could not prepare them for such a sunny worldview. And in their music you can hear, nay feel, the very environment in which they had been formed.
It is not Ozzy singing about Satan’s love life that made Black Sabbath heavy in a way that had never been heard before. It was not the loudness, the distortion or occult that made first time listeners connect with their heaviness. It was their ability to musically express things about themselves and their lives which could drag you directly into their world. It was music that was, like Mozart and Wagner before them, transcendent beyond description.
Heaviness, therefore, could be considered a nexus where the emotional and spiritual meet to produce profound responses in the listener. But you cannot do that on purpose. You have to be that, genuinely, and then be lucky enough to translate it sonically and have it connect with the right people.
Metal is something you can try at. It is something that can be quantified and then imitated. Anybody can make metal music. Very few make heavy music. And not all of it, in fact most of it, is not even metal.
I am not a metal fan, I am a heavy metal fan. I am not interested in note per minute stats or which black metal artist has most appeased Lucifer. I am interested in transcendent experience and the creative works that can get me there.
Black Sabbath gets me there. Some Judas Priest even gets me there, or at least did at some point in my life. Mastodon fucking rock, but they have never made me feel transcendent. I don’t think that is their goal, either. They are fantasy prog metal. They are industrial bards with more connections to modern literature than shamanism. They look great with one foot on the monitor and the stage fans in their hair, washed out in an orgiastic carpet bombing of stage lights. And that may be metal as fuck, but there is nothing heavy about it.
There is a larger point here. Heavy metal is not the only area of modern life in which an obsessive-compulsive focus on objectivity has blinded us from the heaviness of our own existence. We have become lazy thinkers, content to dwell on the surface of a literal world we can observe and measure and feel righteous having the final answers for.
Objectivity has wounded our humanity with a delusional pride that we can enjoy exclusive access to a reality that lies outside of our own experience of it. It is a religiously dogmatic attachment to an ideal world that our subjective human experience cannot independently verify with something unquestionably objective.
The same kind of human tendency towards reductionism and oversimplification that turned a concept as complex as God into an angry sky patriarch has turned our modern view of the universe into a meaningless clockwork we are here to experience for no reason whatsoever.
And it also make people think Lamb of God are heavy, rather than what they really are, which is attached with adolescent zeal to the hyperbole of their clockwork, cookie-cutter noise. Jussayin’.
The song Quicksand from David Bowie’s album Hunky Dory is loaded with mystical references and metaphors that reveal the musicians own relationship to mysticism.
Today I asked an online friend, who we will call Mirabella, what she thought the following lyrics from the song were about:
“Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief; knowledge comes with deaths release.”
Mirabella’s responses were:
“Life doesn’t matter a shit, have fun, have as much of it as you can.”
“I take it to mean don’t take stuff too seriously, death is final that is the knowledge.”
Even though I am only working from my own interpretation, I am absolutely certain that the song was not intended by Bowie to be a lighthearted endorsement of nihilistic hedonism as my friend had implied.
I could easily debunk that theory of the song with the examination of a single line, but what fun would that be? Instead, I am going to deconstruct the entire song for my own entertainment and hopefully yours. There will be an even bigger message about modern art and thought at the end. But before we start…
I’m closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley’s uniform
The Golden Dawn is a system of magic from late 19th century Britain which sought to endow it’s users with supernatural understanding and capabilities through a wide plethora of knowledge, rituals and methods. One of the ways they did this was through communication with the ‘Secret Chiefs’ – transcendent beings who possess knowledge of all realms of existence. A state that a human might aspire to become via magical means.
Suffice it to say the Heremetic Order of the Golden Dawn did not place as much value in the life/death dichotomy as Mirabella does.
Aleister Crowley was a poet, mountain climber, philosopher, inventor and one time member of the Golden Dawn. An image in a popular tarot card, The Magician, is often thought to be one of Crowley. In tarot the magician is dressed in one garment symbolizing purity and innocence, and another symbolizing experience and knowledge. The magician embodies these dualities in order to dissolve them, in the same way magic is a way of overcoming the life/death dichotomy in order to be transformed into something greater.
So again, in just those first three lines Bowie has referenced ideas that are opposed to the modern materialists life/death dichotomy and the nihilism that follows it, and has cast himself in the role of a magician trying to break free from that duality.
I’m living in a silent film
Portraying Himmler’s sacred realm
Of dream reality
Bowie’s comfort with eschewing duality (good vs. bad) is evident in his reference to Nazi icon Heinrich Himmler, who was also interested in mystical and occult knowledge.
The “silent film” might refer to the Charlie Chaplin movie – The Great Dictator – a satire of Hitler and the Nazis. However that was actually Chaplin’s first film with sound. It might just be that Bowie was trying to evoke a sense of that period in time.
What he meant by a “sacred realm of dream reality” is also unclear, as there are no direct references to be found in that. But if you study the occult history of Nazis, and Himmler in particular, there was a rejection of objective reality. There was also a belief that through strengthening of the will, humans could rise above the limitations of the seemingly objective. The philosophers stone, or alchemical elixir, as it were. And what greater limitation is there in life than death?
I’m frightened by the total goal Drawing to the ragged hole And I ain’t got the power anymore No, I ain’t got the power anymore
Achieving the transformation necessary to transcend objective reality is the probably the “total goal”. And that should frighten anybody, since it is the most absolute unknown possible. Those who seek it often experience extreme psychological turbulence, often known as The Long Dark Night of the Soul or Chapel Perilous. And those who have been there understand exactly what the ragged hole and feelings of powerlessness are all about.
And thus the title, Quicksand. This state is one in which struggle only makes things worse, and so in which the first step to rescue is resignation. Here Bowie resigns by admitting he has become powerless.
I’m the twisted name on Garbo’s eyes
Living proof of Churchill’s lies, I’m destiny
I am stumped on this one. A bit of research shows that “Garbo” is a reference to a WW2 spy, and not the actress. Garbo was the codename of a double agent who worked for the British government against Germany. But how this all relates to anything is well beyond my ability to even guess.
I’m torn between the light and dark
Where others see their targets, divine symmetry
Once again, dichotomy and Chapel Perilous. The targets beings the black and white with which most people grasp the world, but through which Bowie is no longer able. The struggling alchemist caught between two equally true ideas that oppose one another, and unable to reconcile enough to even function normally. Glitched out on cognitive dissonance.
Should I kiss the viper’s fang? Or herald loud the death of Man I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought And I ain’t got the power anymore
The equally true but opposing truths are…
a) From a macroscopic perspective the individual is existentially irrelevant and meaningless.
b) From a microscopic perspective the individual is the only source of existential meaning and relevance.
Kissing the vipers fang is to consume its poison and accept the macroscopic truth of his own pointless existence by ending it. While heralding the death of man is to reject the microscopic truth and accept his own divinity. “Do I give up or become as God?” he asks, which is definitely a draining question. yet it is the one which must be answered with total self-belief in order to escape the the Long Dark Night of the Soul.
I’m not a prophet or a stone-age man
Just a mortal with the potential of a superman
I’m living on
So what do 19th century Magic Societies, Aleister Crowley, Himmler and the rest of this have in common? If you guessed Nietzsche, you were probably right. More specifically the Nietzschean concept of a a race superhumans, those beings we discussed earlier who could rise above “objective reality” and “become as God”.
“Not a prophet” could mean that he is not foretelling some secret wisdom. In addition he is not a stone age man. He seems to be saying that there is nothing magical about these potentials, but rather that they are an evolutionary inevitability. But it is an evolution which necessitates our will – we need to realize the future to become it.
I’m tethered to the logic of Homo Sapien
Can’t take my eyes from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
And now he complains that the necessary will cannot be created in a world of ancient religions and followers who are waiting to die for their salvation rather than live for it. As well as the bullshit faith of other dogmas, as we will explore near the end. Human transcendence is not a one man job. The task of awakening others so as to become further awakened himself just adds more weight to his powerlessness in the face of his realizations.
If I don’t explain what you ought to know You can tell me all about it on the next Bardo
“Bardo” is a Hindu term for the intermediate state between a soul’s incarnations. The place between lives. The self beyond our recyclable egos.
When I said one line could pretty much destroy’s Mirabella’s interpetation, that was the one. If Bowie believed he would go back to Bardo after his earthly demise, then he definitely was not discussing the nihilism of the live til you die dichotomy she sussed out of these lyrics.
Yet it is also Bowie accepting that the superhuman world might not happen in his life, and admitting to his failure to be clear enough on the concept to bring it about.
I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain’t got the power anymore
A seemingly impossible predicament partnered with a seemingly impossible task, this is the stuff existential nightmares are made of. Quicksand indeed.
But is everything just hopeless bullshit?
Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief Knowledge comes with death’s release
So we saw what my friend Mirabella thinks this bit of lyrics means at the top of this article. So now here is my version…
The self you are not supposed to believe in is the ego. But not in the sense that you shouldn’t have confidence or pride or admiration for yourself, but that it is only one small part of the puzzle of your entire existential self. Your soul or whatever you want to call it. I like to think of my ego as an avatar that my higher self picked to “play” in the game of life this time through. Undoubtedly only one of many avatars it has played throughout the existence of this world/game.
To not believe in myself or not deceive myself with belief is to have faith that the higher self, even when it seems like a total asshole for putting me here in this mess, is gaining something from it and working towards evolution of the game through avatars like myself.
When I die I will reintegrate into that higher self who remembers all of the games it has played…knowledge comes with deaths release…and all of this will make sense.
In the end this is a song about faith. It is about trying to transform ourselves and our world, but doing so humbly with faith that failure is not a possibility in the bigger picture.
You might play a video game a hundred times before beating it, but those first 99 tries made the final victory possible. So even in failure there is purpose and meaning. The little character on the screen, if she could believe anything about her existence, might believe she died forever 99 times. But the player, the higher self, always was, is and will be there hitting the start button and transforming the game with every run through.
So if Mirabella could be so wrong about one David Bowie song, what does that mean?
It means that our modern attachment to scientistic materialism has become a filter which limits our minds. And even transcendent art that passes through it is transformed into nihilistic pop kitsch.
David Bowie and many of the artists we all love did not see the world through that filter. They saw a world of endless secrets and possibilities. They saw chaos teeming with the potential for creation. They saw magic and the transformation of humanity through the filters of their art.
It is a shame that so many of those messages are lost, translated into something that goes against the intentions of the artists themselves. We have forgotten that artists are teachers, every bit as important as scientists, who have much to show us about our world. By shoving art through the filter of the materialist worldview we are rejecting its lessons and aiding our own ignorance. And by doing that we are holding ourselves back from the transcendent superhuman potential Bowie got himself caught in the quicksand of his mind thinking about.
Materialism is just another bullshit faith.
Rock music is fucking alchemy.
Now think about this whenever you hear a song that you thought you understood. You might be surprised.
Drunk on his own brew and half asleep at his office desk, the most honored man in the world cries. He cries the tears of one whose sadness is his greatest gift and his greatest curse simultaneously. Rheb Larsden, founder of Sadventures Incorporated, who specialize in reconstructing negative emotions for people who have never known them, clutches the little pills in his hand as he works up the courage. Today is a good day to die.
Eight years ago Rheb somehow stepped out of the 21st century into wherever he is now. In eight years he still has no idea how he got here or where he is. It could be the future or an alternate universe or even hell, so far as he knows. A hell in which everyone was happy but him, and where he was made the most powerful man simply by offering them a glimpse of his sadness.
When he was taken out of the world he was born into he was running through the woods clutching an epi-pen, racing to save the life of the woman he would marry in just a few weeks. He and Mareva had gone for a short walk from their camp when the bee stung her. As he raced back to her after retrieving the life-saving device, he was snatched from his existence and dumped willy-nilly wherever he was now.
Not a day goes by when he doesn’t set the table to eat himself inside-out emotionally over the ordeal. He knows he could handle it if he had just been taken from her, but that she almost certainly died because he could not reach her, he can never find comfort or peace. Or maybe he just doesn’t want to. Maybe we fall in love with our pain so we never have to be completely alone.
Still clutching those pills, those little distillates of poisons he had extracted himself for this very purpose, Rheb stumbles from his chair into a simulation room.
“Computer, run program Romeo & Juliet,” he says to flashing lights on the wall. A door opens and he walks inside the brightly lit room that quickly fades into shapes and colors and objects and faces and voices. This simulation was his first, before he added olfactory elements to further enrich the experience. It was a crude a clunky program, but it was his first and he had wanted to preserve it in all of it’s glorious clumsiness.
Rheb left the 21st century knowing almost nothing about the works of Shakespeare, a bard who had lived far before the time and place he was born in. His reconstruction of Romeo and Juliet was, he knew, so laughably inadequate that anybody from his original home would have called shenanigans. But even if it was only a shadow of the original tale, supplemented with Shakespearean tropes that probably weren’t even in Romeo and Juliet, the people here had loved it. For most, it had been their first real immersive experience in sadness and despair.
“Chose role,” a computer voice prompted him.
Wherever he was, wherever this was, this maddening utopia he had been delivered to by unknown forces, it was not a place for him. Everyone here was happy, perfectly and flawlessly happy. They paid him great money to experience the sadness he brought here with him. They rode his angst like a roller coaster through simulations he had programmed from his own experiences and memories of a world where everyone was far from perfectly happy. A world he missed more than imaginable.
When he arrived he found himself running down a street, still clutching the epi-pen meant to save Mareva’s life. Everything was pristine and beautiful, and his confusion and anguish were so out of place he became an instant spectacle. He scanned around. He screamed her name. He ran in circles. He jumped up and down and fell into a pile of confusion, fear and frustrated rage.
“What game is this, brother, and can I play with you?” asked a stranger standing over him.
Rheb looked up to notice that he was surrounded. All around him there were maniacally smiling faces, looking at him like he was the most fascinating thing they had ever seen.
“Play,” he responded. “PLAY?”
The man who had asked stood over him, grinning ethereally, without a care or concern in the world.
“You think this is some kind of fucking game? Who the fuck are you? Where am I? Where is Mareva?”
His face turned red then purple. His fist balled up and he began to shake.
“Where is Mareva?”
The man and the crowd still just smiled, waiting to see where this game was going. Rheb coiled up and struck out in a flash, punching the man square in the jaw. For a moment his smile was gone, not replaced by anger or pain, just curious confusion. Then he smiled again.
“What do you call this game, brother? What am I supposed to do?”
Rheb wound up for another, but before he could throw his punch he deflated and crumpled to the ground and curled up in the fetal position and began to wail. After a few minutes of total absorption in his own confused misery he heard dozens of other voices wailing. He sat up and looked around and all around him people were lying in the fetal position throwing mock tantrums of their own.
His anger flared. He jumped to his feet and was about to lash out in violence when he noticed that all eyes were on him. Not in mockery or contempt, but awe and wonder. They were following his lead, not ridiculing it. They gazed on him like some kind of glorious freak or a god. So he did the only thing that made any sense and blacked out.
Over the next few weeks he learned that wherever he was, sadness no longer existed. It was a world which had solved all of its basic problems, freeing its people the existential angst of their vestigial evolutionary quirks. Negative emotions had no bearing on these people, because the situations which gave rise to them had all basically been solved. From resource scarcity to reproductive patterns, everything that caused disharmony had been weeded out through careful innovation of all aspects of life.
Romance and love still existed, but without expectation or urgency. Love spread itself out so that everyone generally loved everyone else. Romance was something that happened in brief spurts, usually over a day or two, as two fascinated people explored one another before moving on to explore someone or something else. A life of total leisure had reduced the passion of love from a burning desire to playful curiosity.
Reproduction became a matter of community planning. Whenever somebody died a new human was created from the genetic framework of that person and the person who had died before them. They maintained population equilibrium this way while still preventing genetic bottle-necking. Babies were raised by volunteers for the first few years, but as they began to gain more independence they were given more opportunities to make choices for themselves while still be tended to by other members of the community. However in this world you were unlikely to meet a five year old who wasn’t as capable of self-sufficiency as most adults had been where Rheb came from.
An absence of fear and multitudes of trust tended to point everyone in healthier directions. It all began to make sense to him over time but there was one thing he could never explain. Even babies did not cry. Was this the same human being stock he had been bred from, or was it an entirely alien species? Was the difference in their basic structure, or just that they had eliminated sour emotions from their species for enough successive generations that they had been entirely bred out?
These people did not even fear death. It was every bit as accepted and even exciting as births were. Every individual even spent their lives composing a death song, a tune which would be sung by others for the first time after death, and would be used to memorialize them joyously. Festivals were regularly had in which songs for the dead were sang while people took ‘enhancers’ and danced and laughed and told stories. Of course the songs came and went over time. Few songs existed from even four or five generations back. The best way to be remembered was to write a great song, but nobody seemed much too concerned with being remembered and just tried to write a song they liked.
It was the perfect world and Rheb was the most beloved man in it, and yet he still resented it with every bit of his being. It had taken him away from Mareva, and it had prevented him from saving her life. He was trapped here alone with his sorrows and she was gone forever, not even a song to be sang to remember her.
A character spoke to him, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” It handed him a simulation of the poison which Romeo takes in the scene lying beside his sleeping lover Juliet whom he believes to be dead.
Rheb will be taking his own very real poison this time. Laying next to Juliet, who he had programmed to look like Mareva, he will swallow his mercy for once and for all. The simulation moves him ever closer to that moment and his heart swells with relief. He is not afraid.
The people of this world, this future, this hell, this godforsaken whatever, had long forgotten sadness when Rheb arrived. They lived peacefully and blissfully. To all outward appearances they were perfectly adjusted. But through their constant smiles and enthusiasm there was something else. It had taken awhile to see it, but it was there.
Where once had been sadness, pain and all of those negative emotions there was now a hole. A great emptiness that longed to be filled. Although they could not verbalize it directly it became obvious that everyone carried around a sense of incompleteness. And his sadness, an experience which was absolutely alien to them, had become a fast, cheap fix. Through reliving the misery he was able to relate to them, they temporarily were able to fill this gap. However it never lasted and they were always hungry for more. Until finally the gnashing of the teeth of these emotional vampires, demanding his anguish so they could feed from it, became too much for him to bear.
The saddest man could never be given any peace in the happiest of worlds.
As the poison took hold he began to lose consciousness. Suddenly he was back in the woods, running towards Mareva. He cried out, “Don’t worry baby, you are gonna be okay. Everything is going to be okay.”
When his body was found in the simulation room a memory tube was found in his pocket which contained his death song. Within hours it had spread over the entire world and was being sung by every person alive. For the first time they shed tears and felt the sadness that Rheb could only give them a small taste of in life. But by his death and by his song, the currency of pain was made real by the guilt of what they had done. They had driven their savior to oblivion in their hunger for his knowledge. They had caused the fruit which shall not be eaten to eat itself.
I am an ark upon an endless sea Built from pain and misery Surrounded by waters of endless glee That jump the bough to ride in me
How can a boat so small and frail Hold an entire sea it was meant to sail Surely such a thing must fail Why must I sink to tell my tale
As all things must come to pass To amuse the cosmic ass Into the void where I belong Feast your fangs on my life’s song
Since this website has began I have written over seven hundred pieces around the internet. I take the craft of writing very seriously and feel blessed to have pursued my dreams to the point where they have begun to pay off. But sometimes very seriousness gets a bit tiring and I just want to write silly nonsense for fun. Instead of keeping all that joy to myself I have created a fun writing exercise I hope you will join me in.
The name of the game is very simple. First you select a famous song, something everybody knows, at least vaguely. Then you select a celebrity with equal public clout and rewrite the songs lyrics from their perspective. You do not have to remain true to the original lyrics message or theme, just keep the melody and let your chosen celebrity speak. I will provide a few examples below, but the hope is that it will inspire you to contribute one or two of these famous song lyrics/celebrity mashup parodies of your own, which I will publish in a part two of this article later.
I Love Rock n’ Roll by Joan Jett Reimagined by Charlie Sheen – I Love Sluts n’ Whores
I saw her dancin’ there by the silver poles gleam
I knew she must a been a legal eighteen
The beat was goin’ strong
Feelin’ my swelling dong
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till she was with me, yeah me,
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till she was with me, yeah me, screamin’
I love sluts n’ whores
So let me put my straw in your juicebox, baby
I love sluts and whores
I’ll pay ya for your time to depants with me
She giggled when I asked her how much to turn out
That don’t matter, she said,
‘Cause it’s on the house
Said can I take you home and work that stiff pink bone
An’ now we were turnin’ out
She was in me, yeah me
First class reacharound
She was with me, yeah me screamin’
I love sluts n’ whores
So let me put my straw in your juicebox, baby
I love sluts and whores
So cum a dozen times with no romantic fees
Said can I take you home n’ make you sweat n’ groan
Next we’re turnin’ up
She was with me, yeah me
And we’ll be turnin’ on up
An’ slingin’ that big ol’ dong
Yeah with me, screamin’
I love sluts n’ whores
So let me put my straw in your juicebox, baby
I love sluts and whores
No shame if I gotta pay or you’re real easy
Mickey by Toni Basil Reimagined by Ed Gein – Mary (Gein’s first verified victim’s name.)
Oh Mary, you’re so fine
You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mary…
You work the bar all night but I can wait that long
You think everything’s alright but it’s about to go real wrong
Why can’t you say goodnight so I can take you home, Mary
‘Cause when you give me thrills, I tell myself I won’t
You’re givin’ me the chills, baby, please baby don’t
Tonight when you lie still we can be alone, Mary
Oh Mary, what a pity mom won’t understand
I wanna feel your heart beat extinguished by my hand
Oh Mary, you’re so pretty, I can’t understand
It’s gals like you Mary
Oh, what you do Mary, do Mary
Don’t make me kill again
Now you can be all mine and nobodies gotta know
I’ll wear you like a mask and put on a little show
There’s nothin’ we can’t use, skin and bones, Mary
So let me use your body any way I can
To feel like a pretty lady though I’m just an ugly man
Oh please, baby, please, why can’t mom understand
Oh Mary, what a pity mom won’t understand
I wanna feel your heart beat extinguished by my hand
Oh Mary, you’re so pretty, I can’t understand
It’s gals like you Mary
Oh, what you do Mary, do Mary
Don’t make me kill again
Oh Mary, you’re so fine
You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mary
Oh Mary, what a pity mom won’t understand
I wanna feel your heart beat dying in my hand
Oh Mary, you’re so pretty, I can’t understand
It’s gals like you Mary
Oh, what you do Mary, do Mary
Don’t make me kill again
I Wanna Rock by Twisted Sister Reimagined by Leonard Nimoy – I’m Not A Spock
Not a Spock (Spock)
I’m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
Wear the ears you say
Well, all I gotta say to you is time and time again
I say no (No)
No no, no no, no
Do that finger thing
Well, all I gotta say when you want the finger thing
I say no (No)
No no, no no, no
So if you ask me why I will not act a Vulcan
There’s only one thing I can say to you
I’m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
There’s a fanbase that
Typecast me as an alien from a far more rational world
I wish they’d go (Go)
Go go, go go, go
Burned my career up
I’ve waited for so long to not have to play along
So just go (Go)
Go go, go go, go
When it’s like this, I feel the fans just look right through me
There’s nothing else that I’d rather not do
I’m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I ‘m not a Spock (Spock)
I’m not a Spock (Spock)
I AM NOT Spock
Right up front, I have never played Pokemon Go and this is not an endorsement for the popular augmented reality game that has spread like wildfire the past week, causing speculations of conspiracy among even the most straightforward tinfoil hat accusers. And while it may indeed be a CIA plot to distract us from police killing and democratic shenanigans, or a tool of the Satanic Reptilian Shapeshifting Illuminati New World Order for some more esoteric outcome, its effects on human consciousness will transcend whatever normal or malignant purpose its current popularity is predicated on.
To be more specific it is the augmented reality itself that will have an unimaginable impact on humanity and reality. It will not do so directly, intentionally or obviously. We will not instantly be transformed, and most likely, we will not notice our transformation taking place. The lessons of augmented reality will not be explicit. They will not be a product of content or gameplay. Rather it will be the overall implicit context of navigating augmented reality that will bring about this evolution in consciousness.
As it is, most people tend to think about reality in the most literal terms. If we can measure it and define it, it is real. Despite the fact that most human experience happens outside of this mass hallucination of measurable objective reality, we still deny the existence or importance of that which remains intangible and beyond physical description. The reason for this has been quite simple. That reality is where everything seems to be happening at.
Augmented reality pastes another layer on top of that. It provides non-physical objects in real space/time that we can interact with through both physical and technological efforts. It provides rewards for doing so, even if intangible, that give that new layer of reality significance and import in our every day lives. It provides a new layer of reality in which things also seem to be happening at.
When we think about reality as a single layer of physicality, it appears to be incredibly rigid. Augmented reality will force us to think of reality on multiple levels. It will create new ideas about what is possible within reality by expanding our thoughts about what reality is. And as our consciousness absorbs this new fluidity then reality itself may take on less restrictive properties, since reality is not an external object but a manifestation of our deepest conscious ideas about what reality is.
This may seem like a pretty big leap for those conditioned to view existence through the narrow window of materialism. Materialist narratives make us subjects and victims of an external reality independent of our consciusness. Reality becomes an inescapable plot to contain and control everything within it. While there is a certain romance to admitting existential defeat, it is far from rational. The materialist narrative is just that. It is not a doctrine of absolute truth. But if it is wrong, we are potentially limitlessly powerful beings with only the limits set forth by our own imagination.
The materialist view of reality has been incredibly useful. It has allowed us to evolve from simple animals to complex technological/cultural beings. Technology and culture, and not just biology alone, are the partners of modern humans evolution. So it should be of no surprise that culture and technology will eventually do for us what we did for it, to guide us towards a complexity that seems almost magic when compared to our earliest ancestors and their tools.
This is exactly what augmented reality will do. It will remove the bumper lanes, or training wheels if you will, of human consciousness. The rigidity of physical reality is useful for learning to explore our existence, but it provides too many obstacles for consciousness to explore the almost infinite possible outcomes suggested for millennia by religion, philosophy and science alike. The fact that such limitless possibilities extend beyond our capabilities suggests that we may evolve in ways which allow us to experience those distant possibilities of reality.
Augmented reality, however, is not the beginning. The entire trajectory of human history has been to rise above any and all challenges, no matter the difficulty. We have done so through cleverness and invention. Our inventiveness began with sticks and stones, but has evolved to new layers of reality on our phones.
Soon the phones will be replaced by glasses. Then the glasses will be replaced by implants. Finally the implants will become unnecessary, as our own conscious will becomes the creative force that dictates what sort of experiences we will have.
In our waking states, we are asleep to the unlimited possibilities. In our sleeping states, we are awakened to them but have no will. The coming incarnations of reality, of universal experience itself, will be somewhere between. We will be awake to our own will and all possibilities. Choice, rather than some abstract learning device like physical nature, will guide our consciousness along its journey.
I know this seems fantastic and unthinkable. But our world would seem equally unthinkable to anyone we plucked out of prehistory to observe it. Perhaps, even, the world to come seems even more incomprehensible to us than ours would to those ancients. That incomprehensibility is often mistaken as impossibility, but that is because most of us have been conditioned to see the universe as a place of discovery rather than creativity.
I suggest that we are not worms in a universe experiencing its own corpse by consuming it, but that we are the body of divine creativity learning how to control itself one training course at a time. Augmented reality is one small step for Pokemon, and one giant leap for mankind.
In order to understand the issues with objectivity we should first look at how the concept and definition have changed over time.
What they used to mean…
Objective – The measurable qualities of an object.
Subjective – The qualities of relationship between object, observer and environment.
What they have come to mean…
Objective – Absolutely true beyond individual observation, perception and analysis.
Subjective – Just, like, your opinion, man.
As a method of empirical investigation, objectivity is the best possible attempt to create a reliable map of reality based on consensus. A map that gives us the best predictive power for future navigation of the territory. That map, however, is not the territory.
The modern thinking about objectivity is that it is an infallible method that produces absolutely True results. Those things which we say are objective have come to be endowed with an ideological faith in their eternal certainty. Even though we cannot measure anything all throughout spacetime, we have come to belief that our small snapshot of it from this perspective in place and time can be assumed to be true everywhere forever so long as it is ‘objective’.
There are many problems with this belief system, and make no mistake, it is just that.
Most obviously, in the dichotomy in which objective means absolutely and subjective means merely personally, we have a self-refuting axiom. If I am only able to recognize subjective truths through my individual powers of perception and analysis, then how could I ever verify something outside of the subjective realm? Objectivity, by the logic of objectivists, should be beyond my ability to observe, identify and verify. If there are objective truths, then what objective process outside of our own minds can we use to verify them?
The answer generally given is consensus. If many of us observe the same thing, the properties of the thing we agree upon must be true. Yet this is irrational for a number of reasons. If we start from the premise that our minds -the instrument of observation, measurement and conclusion- are unreliable due to their subjective nature, then we cannot fix the problem by overlapping unreliable constructs. This is like taking a hundred broken and randomly set clocks and attempting to determine the actual time throughout the day based on an average of their readings.
The assumption that something beyond individual experience can be determined through democratic means is rooted in our cultural bias that might makes right and that the majority view is always the truth. Nevermind that we already understand the psychology of mass hysteria, groupthink and crowd behavior. When it comes to covering up the existential dread of uncertainty we are willing to ignore our proclivity towards group ignorance. When it confirms our biases and validates our egos, we are willing to overlook all of the obvious issues with any version of Absolute Truth.
Often the reasoning given to validate objectivity is that it produces positive results. This is flawed as well. Star charts made by people who believed the earth was at the center of the universe produced positive navigation results. Long after Einsteins theory of general relativity unraveled Newtonian physics, those physics are still being used to produce positive results. The ability to produce positive results does not prove a central premise. That is reverse engineering Absolute Truth from the faulty premise of result-orientated pragmatism.
Our government and media have profited most from this mass delusion. By defining what constitutes truth they are able to control it and use it as a tool of manipulation. By assigning absolutes they narrow the field of possibilities to make their own agendas seem favorable or necessary. The myth of objectivity is the most powerful ideological tool today in preventing critical thinking, individual autonomy and competition. It is a tool of monopolizing information and knowledge.
And even more insidious is that we are conditioned to feel inordinate amounts of pride and satisfaction in thinking what we are told to think, by having those majority opinions rewarded and validated by experts, officials and authoritarians. When you continually reassure people that what they believe is true, there becomes no reason to question it, especially not when it is made to appear that everyone either believes the same thing as you or is a total nutjob.
Objectivism is just a form of consensus gathering. It is an ideological net that is used to ensnare people in the ideas and agendas of those who are able to control and manipulate them most effectively. It is far easier to get people to believe you if they have faith in your method of conclusions then it is to make them believe all of your conclusions independently based on their own merits.
You can sell lots of cereal if you tell your consumers it stays crunchy in milk, even if they all know in their hearts and mouths that it takes about eight bites for the remainder to turn to soggy mush. Objectivism is proving the claim by only considering those first eight bites as evidence.
Atheists in their Almighty Snark like to make absolute statements and poorly constructed arguments that their worldview does not constitute a belief. They are also keen on insisting that their statements and arguments contain no claims, and are rather just a rejection of the unsubstantiated claims of non-atheists. The problem that generally arises from this rhetoric is that these assertions are based on the inability of atheists to unpack their own ideologies and recognize the underlying premises and metaphysical assumptions they entail.
First let me say that if you clicked on this article with some idea that the author is a theist, you would be completely wrong. Even if I tried to use pre-existing labels for my beliefs, they would still need endless explanation, and if I am doing that right I would probably end up having to adjust those beliefs by the end of it. In the same manner, if your atheism applies only to a rejection of the specific doctrines of theism laid out in Judeo-Christianity based on it’s claims, this article will not be about you. This is for the hard atheist, the truly faithful adherents of the belief that only our physical senses can detect reality and who have rejected any type of creative force, divinity or cosmic intelligence besides our own.
The Hidden Claims of Atheism
The first argument out of the atheists mouth is going to be something along the lines of – “Prove God exists.”
First of all, ‘proof’ does not apply to the question at all. Proof is a term used in axiomatic knowledge to acknowledge that the parts of an axiomatic model do not contradict one another. Therefore nothing in nature -or- reality can be ‘proven’.
This is actually a very important function of the empirical system the atheist is attempting to appeal to. Empiricism ‘proves’ nothing. Its goal, in fact, is quite the opposite. It is meant to ‘disprove’ knowledge that does meet methodological criteria or contradicts its dependent models. And actually it does not even disprove, but rather, sets it aside as knowledge that is currently subservient to one or more ‘better’ models.
Even if empiricism did ‘prove’ absolute objective knowledge eternally, which is the most fantastically egoic form of afterlife imaginable, it would still not be reliable because we cannot ‘prove’ that empiricism actually produces meaningful results. While the central tenet of modern scientism, the sect of atheism most adherents belong to, is that only science (the empirical method) can provide meaningful, valid statements about existence – empiricism cannot even validate itself. You cannot use the empirical method to prove the validity of the empirical method, so such thinking is circular logic built upon faith and not reason.
This does not mean that science is useless. It just means that like every other human endeavor, it is limited, and that its value comes from subjective human experience and not some objective source. There is no external source. We are using our subjective consciousness to make supposedly objective statements about reality, which is a lot like using tinted glasses to prove that all colors within the wearers perception contain the hue used in the glasses tint.
However the biggest unacknowledged claim made by atheists, and the one they are most likely to avoid using even more denial and circular logic, is that the fundamental nature is primarily physical and all mental contents are just fantastic illusions magically emerging from the complexity of matter. But the adherents of this belief, materialism (physicalism, naturalism, dualism, etc.), are gonna need more than one free miracle.
Buried in this claim is a metaphysical premise, or rather, a whole set of metaphysical premises. In order to make the claim that physical existence is primary, you must be willing to claim that you have come to this conclusion using your consciousness. And if you believe that your consciousness is an illusory side effect of matter, than you have already marked it as unreliable as a tool for making such claims. This would be like a cake recipe that claimed that only cakes exist, and that cake recipes are just illusory side effects that arise out of cakes. A rational person would put this cookbook down and find another. The hardcore atheist would take a picture of the recipe and snidely share it online with their friends that enjoy baking.
One simply cannot escape metaphysical premises. They underlie every single human question and answer. Rather than acknowledge their metaphysical premises, such as the nature of reality and methodological validity, atheists will just outright deny metaphysics altogether. This is the secular version of claiming that “God planted dinosaur bones to tempt the unfaithful away from His truth.”
Atheism Is A Belief
Again we are caught in the circular logic of denial. While the atheist likes to think that their account of reality is just a retelling of ‘proven’ knowledge, they fail to understand what ‘proof’ means and that objectivity is what is being attempted – not what is being produced.
The attempt at objectivity, while impossible and often misused, is indeed a noble attempt. Trying to understand what is ‘true’ outside of our individual experience has a lot of utility purpose. Yet an ability to produce results does not prove the validity of a method.
For instance – even though people believed that the earth was at the center of the universe, their model of the universe aided human navigation for centuries. The premise of geocentrism was later determined to be false, but the models it created still provided the desired results in an efficient manner.
Or let us consider gravity. The Newtonian model of gravity was the basis for the entire branch of classical physics for a few hundred years. Then some smart ass patent clerk came up with the Theory of Special Relativity which rendered the Newtonian model of gravity obsolete. Just kidding. Newtons model of gravity is still used by physicists and engineers to produce results – even though it has been usurped by a model that relegated it to recycle bin of scientific accuracy.
In order for the atheist version of reality to escape its confines as a belief, it would have to be validated by a completely infallible source. And since atheists firmly deny the existence of such an entity, even if such a source did exists, they would either be forced to deny it or dismiss the rest of their claims.
Whatever you think is true is a belief. Whatever you think is not true is a belief. Whatever you think is probably partially true or almost completely false is a belief. Pretty much the only statement that can be made which does not express a belief is – ‘I don’t know’. And even then you are expressing a belief that your intuition and guesses are false.
Modern religion can certainly be a drag. It is used by opportunists to manipulate people of all faiths. The worst offenses are those in which it claims absolute authority over all knowledge forever, which is exactly what both most modern religions and atheists do exactly alike. The only difference is that while the former makes absolute claims about what is, the latter makes similar statements about what is not. Both ideologies are equally flawed for nearly the same reasons.
Yet the atheist, in modern intellectual circles, enjoys a position of superiority. While it is pretty easy to dismiss an ideology that an all-loving omnipotent being wants you to hate people who use their genitals in ways that do not gain it new subscribers, most people are unable to navigate the claims of hard-lined atheists simply because they do not understand the flaws in their argument. Which is the result of a recursive feedback loop created not from rational skepticism, but from a denial rooted in faith in premises and assumptions that go unacknowledged in the foundation of atheists arguments.
Even in my earliest memories I can recall being pretty obsessed with breasts. I was a toddler tit connoisseur, able to distinguish between shape, size, firmness and placement far beyond the abilities of my peers. Yet I cannot remember being breastfed, or if that was still going on by the time I had developed my particular must for bust. Shortly before she died I finally came clean to my mother about my ‘lifestyle’ in hopes that she could provide some clue as to how things turned out the way they did for me. She said she had breastfed me until I was a year old and then weaned normally. Yet a year later when I saw her breastfeeding my baby sister, she says, I became outraged with envy and had to be out of site whenever future feedings occurred lest I throw a spasmodic tantrum.
For most of my early childhood it was just the jugs that got me going. Then when I was ten I went on a visit with my mother to a her friends house. This was the first time I had ever met the woman and it was the first time that I ever fell in love. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. And on top of that she had the most perfect breasts I had ever yet laid eyes upon. Every detail about those globes was absolutely perfect. They were a masterpiece in every conceivable way. The advantage of being ten is that you can blend into the background and stare without being noticed, and I sat there for an hour pretending to be reading comic books while taking in every glorious breath and subsequent upheavals of those marvelous mounds.
And then the single most formative moment of my life occurred. From afar a baby cries out, and mom’s friend shuffles off, returning a moment later with her bundle of joy. She sits back down and pulls one of those epic melons out right before my eyes, exposing her nipple (my Holy Grail at the time) and teasing it into that blessed newborns little mouth. I glance over at my mom, just as she glances questioningly and a bit nervous at me, and I pretend to go back to my comic book. Yet I cannot help but to stare raptly, no longer capable of any stealth pretense, so my mother politely suggests I should go outside and see if there are any children my age in the neighborhood. Awed and embarrassed I am unable to argue or shrug her suggestion aside, so I head outside and climb the first tree I can get myself up into.
As I sat there splayed out in the branches I had the most intimate moments of my life. I imagined myself as that lucky little baby, slurping freely from that monumental mammalia, while the entire world around me became whiteness and warmness and a song that cannot be heard except as gentle vibrations tracing the furthest reaching tendrils of my entire soul simultaneously. Heaven.
On the way home my mom asked me if I understood what I had seen. I told her I ‘kinda’ did and she gave me a simple run down on the mechanics and psychology mother’s milk. And even though I was still reeling in a haze of newfound love, I can remember every word she said to this day.
My fascination soon became fetish, even before the throes of puberty. Yet these desires remained my own private fantasy for several more years, which in retrospect, was the golden age of my compulsion. It was only when I eventually tried to act these fantasies out in real life that things became complicated and painful.
Thankfully I came of age during the time of the internet. Finding a partner to indulge my fantasies was not always easy, but it was far less difficult than most of the actual encounters themselves. I would put out ads detailing my kink, although I never thought of it as anything less than beautiful and wholesome myself, and would generally get a reply once a month or so. Only about half of these ended in me guzzlin’ jugs, and almost all of them ended in complete disaster.
With few exceptions the women who I hooked up with were young single mothers desperate to attract a partner to help them through the struggles of parenthood and life. And while it generally all began as an agreement for discrete occasional encounters, it always eventually came down to my partner wanting to “pursue the relationship further”. A few times I actually tried this, but as the relationship progressed, the expectation that I would wean off my fixation ultimately ended the relationship before I ever even got to the moving in together phase. That is, until I met Victoria.
From the moment I met her I could tell that there was something off about her. First of all, she was far more attractive than the vast majority of women who I hooked up with. Which made her apparent attraction to me mind-boggling. Her vigilance to visual perfection extended to every inch of her perfectly sculpted and groomed body. She had a face of eternal youth, a little girls coy smile on a sex goddesses face. Framed by the most beautiful wavy blue black hair you have ever seen, which accompanied her porcelain skin tone highlighted by only the most gentle brushes of pink. And her breasts…
Victoria had breasts that could start an apocalypse or bring world peace and end hunger. Maybe even all on the same day and in any order. There is no way to describe them. If I tried to put into words the perfection they encompassed, even if I achieved the highest possible form of descriptive compliment, I could still only manage to convey only a fraction of their globular glory. But how and why they were so perfect was a flaw I would not understand fully until it was far too late.
She came from your average American town. The kind small enough to have just one high school, but big enough to have over a half dozen fast food joints on the main strip. Her whole life she had been everyone’s princess, despite having been born on the wrong side of the tracks in a below average family. She was charming, congenial, witty and clever – on top of beautiful. Everyone loved her, but nobody loved her more than she did herself. As her body blossomed into that of a young woman her breasts seemed to hit a growth standstill, just shy of her minimum expectations for their development. Despite the fact that she was considered perfect in almost every conceivable way to everybody else who knew her, she came to view this shortchanging of the bra as an unfathomable slight against her by all of existence. She was, she reckoned, one cup size short of total perfection and thus – completely flawed. In her last few years of high school her insecurities led her to experiment with promiscuity, although she always chose older men for one night stands out of discretion and decorum. That is, until senior prom.
Despite her growing anxieties about her perceived flaw, she was voted Prom Queen, just as everybody she had ever met knew she would be since the first time they met her. She was born prom queen material, and destiny owed that to her, regardless of her incompetent mammary glands. On this night she made an exception to her ‘no romance with peer’s rule and went as the date of the boy in her class who was crowned king. They then went out together for the rest of the school year, and on the night before graduation, she let him fuck her. It was uncomfortable and boring and would change the rest of her life.
As everyone else was heading off to college, she got got an apartment in a town a county away and took a job as secretary at a printing company. Shortly after her ‘king’ had marched off to four years in a frat house, she began to show. He never had any idea, as he had broken up with her a few weeks after she became pregnant because, “You know, it’s college, babe. I’ll never forget you.”
While her body began to swell to accommodate the child growing inside her, so did her breasts. She would come home from work after a long day and stand topless in the mirror scrutinizing them for new growth, and partially out of fear that they would engorge themselves unequally and she would become loptitted. She spent a small fortune on oils and creams and support bras, and as those little b-cups transformed themselves into firm, plump c+cups, she fell in love.
After she gave birth she was vigilant about getting back into shape, and soon her body was more curvy and toned than it had ever been before. So long as she breast fed, her hooters remained in that perfect pristine state. They were the only thing that had ever been missing, and so long as she could keep them, she could be happy. Her, her beautiful baby boy and her glorious gazongas; she could live with that. So she vowed to herself and whatever powers the universe might behold that she would breastfeed as long as she could.
When Victoria responded to my ad her son Merrick was five years old and just getting ready to go to kindergarten. Despite the fact that neither of them were willing or emotionally ready to end what had already gone on too long, she knew it had to be done. She found another mouth to suck and began weaning the child. When I first came into their life this change had thrown them into absolute dysfunction. Both of them waged an emotional war against each other that will likely last the rest of their live, but in the beginning it was especially bad.
It was not that I did not notice the insanity I had walked into, I had seen it clearly from the very first step. But Victoria’s breasts were so absolutely perfect that nothing could have dragged me away from them. On top of this I reasoned that things would eventually even out and I would be living my lifelong dream. And as time went on, it sometimes seemed things might turn out that way.
After about a year and a half of 2-3 feedings on the world’s greatest fun bags, things suddenly took a turn for the worse. One night while we were up watching television and I was helping myself to a late night snack, Merrick woke up and caught us in the act. It was the first time he had ever seen me foraging from his former source of ambrosia, and it did not go well. He jumped on me and began screaming and swinging and kicking and biting and clawing. It was total rage and before I could make it stop without hurting the kid, I was bleeding from a dozen places.
The result of this was that Victoria took Merrick to see a therapist. However when the boy revealed his story, the therapist told Victoria that she was likely the source of his troubles and would need to seek therapy herself if he was ever going to get better. So she did. But the therapist continuously told her that nothing would get better until she let go of her attachment to her breasts and keeping them up with lactation spurred by sexual encounters. She became sullen, depressed, angry and bitter. I could taste the milk in her turn sour as her inner struggle tore her apart. On one hand, she loved her son and wanted the very best for him, but on the other she loved her breasts more than anything she had ever loved about herself. Not only would quitting now mean they would lose volume, the years of breastfeeding would likely leave them deflated like grocery bags filled partially with lumpy stew. Yet fake boobies were never an option, as they had always been a deadly sin in her book of bodily perfection. She was not ready to face the eventual demise of her bosoms prime, and so things went on between us awhile longer.
One day as Merrick was supposed to be outdoors playing, I latched on for a little taste. As the warm drug slid down my throat I lost track of my surroundings. I did not notice that Victoria had fallen asleep to the sound of my gentle suckling, nor that the boy had quietly returned as I lay there sipping ecstatically, almost full and to the point of orgasm. I had no idea until the scissors punctured my left buttock halfway to the handle. My shrieking sent the boy scattering and his mother flew to her feet joining me in audio histrionics, as I ran around in circles like a madman trying to get a closer look at the damage. And that is the last thing I remember before losing consciousness and waking up later in the hospital.
The damage was minimal. I had fainted out of revulsion, horror and fright. The next morning I still had not heard from Victoria, and I was okay with that. A nurse said I should try to take a short walk if I was up to it, and I was. I strolled around the hospital and ended up in the maternity ward. As I looked into those little faces with their little puckered mouths I felt an overwhelmingly ethereal sense of shame and disgust, but only with myself.
I tried to calm myself by imagining my moms friends tits, those perfect proto-hooters of my life’s lust, but as I did I felt nothing. Going through a lifetime catalog of picture perfect memories of mammaries, I was left cold and empty. When I tried to imagine the slow trickle of earthy sweet warmth in my mouth from Nobel-worthy nipples, nothing within me stirred.
At first I panicked. I returned to my room and told the nurse my walk had prompted lots of pain, and was able to coerce her into a nice dose of drugs to calm me. I went over it again and again but my lifelong obsession was now just a distant memory. When I got out, I immediately broke it off with Victoria and we have never spoken since. (I later heard she married a car dealership owner and former high school quarterback and prom king, and Merrick became a cross between a Brony and a Juggalo, which enraged his stepdad to no end.)
Over the next days, weeks and months I came to find freedom in the release from my fetish. I could walk down the street and gander at the most marvelous racks and not feel a single thing, not even a sliver of that ancient thirst. Eventually I was sure that I was free at last and tested myself by watching several nights worth of breastfeeding videos online without even a slight stirring.
As this happened, I also began to notice things about women I never had. Or at least I began to notice differences between them that had never occurred to me in my narrow-minded obsession with breasts. For instance, I never realized how certain voices were more attractive than others, or how a balance of confidence and coyness could turn the mere act of walking into a show of unlimited seduction. I noticed this and hundreds of things that had never occurred to me before. And so the time came when I decided to try dating like a ‘normal’ human.
I wasted a whole year around bars and other pick up spots, but this turned out not to be my style. Eventually I tried online dating sites, but there was some ineffable quality about the women I met there I could not put my finger on, but which left me feeling these were souls even more desperate than I. At the same time I had noticed that I had become almost immune to arousal. Where once a few sips of chest nectar would excite me to the point of orgasm, I had not so much as had an erection in months. I even tried several kinds of porn, but nothing fanned my flames. I dismissed this as the need to make a real connection with a real woman, and not as some terrible harbinger. So I redoubled my efforts.
One day I was at a diner reading the newspaper when I came across a personals ad that seemed promising. The paper belonged to the diner but the waitress said that it would be okay if I wanted to snip a bit out, and ran off to grab me scissors. Scissors. The word lept electric into my mind. Scissors. Waves of potential ecstasy rolled wildly just under the surface of my whole being. Scissors. My erection threatened to bust out of my pants and overturn the table. If not, I would have gotten up. I would have ran. I would not have been there when the waitress got back. But I was, and as she handed me those scissors my entire body convulsed and I let out a low guttural moan and my eyes must have rolled a dozen times backward into my head as I sat there sputtering in horrified delight at whatever had just happened.
Coming soon – Part II: How My Scissor Fetish Went Dull In the Hands of A Racist Barber
Every once in awhile I like to take a look at the development of the new technologies that will lead to the post-scarcity reputation economy I have discussed here at AdvancedApe.com many times in the past. Four recent stories caught my eye and so I will share them here with you.
The first two involve light, which is essentially energy, and which makes up everything in the experienced universe.
The basic unit of light is a photon. The interactions between photons create a singularly unique signature. This signature can then be used as an encryption code. This is called quantum encryption, and it will someday replace passwords made of alphanumeric symbols.
A reputation economy will require information sharing that absolutely depends on authenticity and security, and since it would be impossible to replicate a quantum entanglement’s signature, it will be impossible to hack a system which uses them.
Manipulating light in order to create matter would free us from dependency on earths naturally occurring resources, as well as the disastrous consequences that relationship with the planet can entail. Once we can remove dependence on limited resources, we will gain unimaginable freedoms through self-sufficiency. No more wars fought for control of resources and land will be necessary when you can just replicate what ever you need right in your own home.
At the end of that last bit you may have rolled your eyes and thought, oh here he goes with that Star Trek replicator nonsense again. Well, it appears that I am not the only on, as NASA has issued a challenge calling for youth to engineer 3D-printed meals for future astronauts. They are calling the contest the Future Engineers Star Trek Replicator Challenge.
Before you protest that a 3D printer is not the same as a replicator, consider that replicators will have to utilize 3D printing technology in order to rearrange basic matter created from light into complex matter like food, pants or bike parts. You can’t make a moon pie directly from moonbeams, but with 3D printing mediating the process, it will someday be possible. And having the clout of NASA behind the technology makes it seem far more feasible to the skeptical.
Between now and the post-scarcity reputation economy, there is going to be an awkward transition period. As more jobs are automated and processes streamlined, an economic system based mostly around labor is just not going to function any more. Voices from all ends of the political spectrum and many great philosophers and scientists have been calling for a Universal Basic Income for awhile now. That is, everyone makes a living wage without having to work.
The greatest opponents of this idea are those distrust the state to redistribute wealth without creating greater problems than the ones that the proposal would claim to solve. But what if a UBI were funded and coordinated by private interests? One experiment is attempting to find that out.
It may seem impossible to imagine this working, but in some ways it already does. Consider a bowling ball or a roller rink. Those facilities provide the basic equipment necessary for their use. Sure, they could make more money selling balls and skates, but that would limit the use of their facilities to those willing to make such an investment. By providing the basics, the alley or rink stands to attract more customers, and thus do better business.
Now consider that if jobs are going the way of the cassette tape, value will no longer be produced through labor. In fact, it never really was. Value is produced through market interactions. So if labor is no longer creating value, it will need to be replaced by consumption. Buying will be the new earning. A basic living will be provided, and the profiteers of industrialism will still get to keep their mansions, yachts and child sex slaves.
And if you want nicer bowling balls or skates, you can work to create new products of your own to add to your spending power. And much of that will likely be done digitally, in the form of software, 3D printer plans, replicator recipes, information sharing, entertainment and other non-tangible goods.
The future is creeping up on us faster than we can imagine. Technological development is so rapid we cannot even imagine the possibilities that await us. It is truly a terrifying and exciting time to be alive.
I have always found transsexuals, transgendered, transvestites and other human anomalies to be pretty fascinating. I have never been opposed to them emotionally, intellectually or morally in any way. Yet in the last decade some of the Social Justice Warrior rhetoric regarding these individuals had become so absurd that I began to question the phenomena in ways that I had not before. I became skeptical of the motivations, intentions and psychological health of TTT’s. I now admit that this was an irrational reaction to something that tends to cross my wires, that is, political correctness. Political correctness is a form of puritanism that does all sort of social harm by creating opposition through extreme posturing. In this case I was so wrapped up in how awful the PC people were that I let my feelings carry over into TTT’s.
Within the last year it dawned on me that all of my criticism and skepticism of TTT’s were based on an ideology that I abhor even more than political correctness – materialist dualism. So I did what you are supposed to do when you find out you are wrong, I rethought my position.
By ‘materialist dualism’ I mean the idea that mind and matter are separate things, and that mind is just a side effect of the existence of matter, and that matter came first and means more. This belief is so widespread in the modern world that most people usually think, speak and act as though it is true without even investigating why they believe it. It is the most shallow and literal-minded narrative of our existence, but somehow it goes unquestioned by almost everyone.
Materialist dualism would state that gender, sexuality and identity are all just biological functions designed by evolution for specific purposes, and that TTT’s are are unnatural. If the unnatural occurs we usually just assume that something went wrong with reality instead of questioning of our version of it. In the case of ideological backlash against TTT’s this is exactly what has happened.
Besides the mind/matter duality, there is another false dichotomy here, which is that TTT’s were either born this way or they made a choice. Not only are both of those things true to some degree, there is a third way of considering the problem, which is that some form of imprint conditioning has played a role. What this means is that a TTT was probably born with some higher chance of manifesting their gender disassociation, then at a vulnerable point in development something flipped that switch and they later had to make a choice to what degree they would act it out personally and publicly. This is far more complex than the birth or choice dualism that most people subscribe to, and far more revealing about how we all become who we are.
The biological drive is probably the least influential factor of all. And the biological factor is what people are most focused on when they discuss the phenomena from a materialist viewpoint. This happens in a few ways. One way is that people accept TTT’s because they were ‘born that way’. The other way is that people will argue that TTT’s are an abomination because it is not what evolution and biology intended. The first is a patronizing reason for acceptance and the latter is just bigotry based on uninformed usage of biology. Yet once again we have a dualism here in which both parts are slightly true but may require a third one.
It may be that ‘nature’ or biology produces homosexuals and TTT’s for a very specific reason. Historically, I am not prepared to guess what that reason might have been, but here and now it should seem pretty obvious. There are now 7.5 billion living human beings, and that number is skyrocketing as child mortality continues to decrease, life spans get longer and parts of the world are developing in ways that accommodate rapid growth. We are multiplying at a staggering exponential rate as a species, so it would make sense for biology to rewire the reproduction drive in order not to self destruct from overpopulation.
Now I realize that what I am suggesting itself sounds materialist, but I interpret the physical world as a narrative, not a set of rules and defined interactions. And since our narrative includes biology and evolution, they must still be considered, while not being thought of as the full truth.
If you think people are getting strange now, give it another 5 billion people. By then a TTT of today will be tame compared to what happens to humans when we are no longer just genetic xerox machines. You are already seeing this as people identify as animals, anime characters, objects, etc. or have profound relationships with such things. By the end of the century there will be people who have had fourteen dicks surgically attached to them which they use only to rub up on giant silk shark puppets. And that will be pretty normal.
As far as choice goes, you have to be pretty brave still to come out as TTT. That requires the kind of decision making most people could not even begin to comprehend. Non-normality is always the least easy choice, not just to make, but to have to make at all. And I am pretty burnt out on ‘normalcy’ myself, so I can begin to understand the sort of mentality in which TTT’s start to use terms like ‘cis’ as a derogatory term for people who choose to live in obvious ways. If for no other reason that it fosters the courage to make a choice to be one of the evolutionary vanguard.
We are not just the sum of our genes or bodies or brain. Our consciousness must be larger than the reality it is required to encompass in order to do so. As such, variation in humanity is not just inevitable, it is the norm. TTT’s represent a future in which humanity learns to view itself outside of the narrow filter of materialism, which is why they make most people uncomfortable. Fear of the unknown. TTT’s are one of many signs that the near future is so relatively exotic that most people cannot even comprehend it. This is evidenced by the ironic fact both the pro and anti TTT factions are using the same metaphysical rationale to justify their opposing views.
Wherever bigotry, ignorance and hatred can be found against ‘groups’ of people, you will also find materialist metaphysics. Non dualism does not just give me a better view of reality, it deconstructs all of the petty thoughts and emotions I have labored under once I realize they are materialist in nature, and I hope it continues doing so for life. Abandoning materialism is not just about understanding our existence better, it is about making it better.
The first work of erotic cinema for Christian fundamentalists has been set for release early this summer. Creampies of Conception is the first film from ErotiChrist Pictures, a Minnesota based production company funded by the Minnesota Institute of Lutheran Families [MILF].
The film is unique in that it uses Christian ideas and themes while explicitly showing sexual acts. The couples depicted in the film are married couples who were virgins prior to matrimony. The sex scenes were filmed monthly during peak ovulation and the couples abstained the rest of the month. Then when a pregnancy occurred they could pinpoint the act of conception so that only sex that results in a pregnancy would make the film.
Other ways in which Christian themes were woven in include forepray, no cursing or taking the Lord’s name in vain, and strictly missionary position. And of course – no oral, anal or kink.
Of course not everybody thinks that a film featuring sex acts should be considered Christian in any way, shape or form. Critics of the movie have created quite a backlash online. Mary Anne Proper is outraged by the film.
“For such a blasphemy to take place must surely be a sign of the end of days. I mean, come on…no TRUE Christians would conceive one of God’s precious children on camera, nor would any TRUE Christian watch that filth. This is disgusting and it is an outrage. I will be praying as hard as I can for Jesus to keep this trash from seeing the light of day.”
Jerry Onan, the films director and co-producer, says he fully expected a strong backlash from much of the Christian community.
“I can certainly understand how this intuitively seems to be unChristian. However, the truth is that Christians do watch porn, and so long as that is the case, I thought it would be best to at least reduce the damage by making films in which sex was depicted in a Christian way. Many young couples use pornographic films to fill in knowledge gaps left by a chaste upbringing. While puritanism is a respectable way to honor our Lord, it does create some practical issues, like a lack of sexual education. My goal is to address those issues in the most Christian way possible, despite the fact that some people are never going to like or accept that.”
The film features five couples who, while attractive, do not look anything like your typical erotic actors and actresses. The sets are also humble depictions of average middle class bedrooms, though it is hard to tell if all of the crosses and pictures of Jesus adorning the walls were part of the rooms natural decor or if the filmmakers added them for cinematic effect.
There are a few close-up shots, allegedly for educational purposes, but most of the film uses wide angles to give it a more romantic tone.
Music for the film, instrumental numbers provided by Christian funk-rockers O.C. Supertones, is reminiscent of 70’s era erotic films.
The trailer for the film states:
“Creampies of Conception is the first erotic film for Christians, by Christians. You will be so turned on by it that your family will expand as fast as God can send them.”
Not too fast, though, God. We don’t even wanna know what happens with premature conception, no matter how immaculate the ejaculate.
The Principia Discordia [PD] lends itself perfectly to obfuscation and prankster ambiguity. For this reason Discordianism has come to mean as many things as there are Discordians. Yet despite this obscurantism I believe that there is an actual point to the teachings passed down to us by Kerry Thornley, Greg Hill, Robert Anton Wilson and others, that there is a core message that stands out among the parody, humor and cunning self-effacement of those original teachings.
The most troubling interpretation of Discordianism in its modern context is the tendency to view it only as a parody, and to not only reject it as a religion, but to use it as a justification for the rejection of religion in general. I have fewer reservations about calling it a religion than a parody, or a satire, for that matter.
Parodies reshape existing narratives using new subjects. A parody need not even be humorous. The PD and it’s related works do not directly ape any pre-existing works, and certainly none by the major religions.
Satire is a reactionary form of literature whose aim is to address an idea or ideology that came before it. They are narratives of negation. It is not always necessarily humorous, either. However Discordian works do far more than just negate other ideologies, they create new ones.
I think that the tendency to reference Discordianism as a parody or satire comes from the false belief that literary humor automatically equates to those forms. It is aided by the inability of the unimaginative to believe that religious truth can take the form of humor while still remaining intellectually and spiritually fulfilling.
When we remove the humor and take the paradoxes referenced by Discordian works as zen riddles of enlightenment, rather than self-refutations or total negations of meaning, what emerges is a set of ideas and principles no less profound than those found in other religions. And like other religions, people have joined together under the banner of these principles. To deny the religious nature of Discordianism is to deny Discordianism itself.
The people who like to deny the religious nature seem to attach themselves to Discordianism merely out of a desire to be edgy by associating themselves with the most potent modern archetype of chaos. Every religion has an embarrassing sect of followers who get a little too heavy handed with their literalism, and Discordianism has it’s fair share. The ‘I Fucking Love Chaos’ contingent do just that. I recently addressed this attitude and behavior on social media:
“Those of you who think that the point of Discordianism is to be an ‘Agent of Chaos’ are sorely missing the point. Eris is THE agent of chaos. Yours is to understand and accept so that, in fear, you do not try to swim against her tides and wind up drowning in her waters in the struggle. Chaos is not to be promoted and worshipped. It was chaos that threw that apple and led us into the first major war. Trying to one up Our Goddess is not going win you Her favor. You let Her divvy up the chaos and do your part by being creative with it.”
It is a vanity and a conceit to believe one has any control or influence over chaos. Chaos is simply that which exists before all else. We are all products of that primordial swamp of all possibilities. How could a drop of water in a bucket have more water to add to the bucket?
Another issue I see in many Discordianism circles is equating all of the ideas of Robert Anton Wilson with Discordianism. While there is no doubt that RAW is a Discordian and has produced some of the finest works based on it, that does not make everything he has ever said or done Discordian Doctrine. One of the most refreshing things about RAW was that he was constantly forcing himself to shift perspectives, which no doubt took him beyond Erisian ideologies. In fact, I am pretty sure that ol’ Bob would have been disappointed to see his entire intellectual and creative output all labeled under that one banner.
This is illustrative of a mistake I see often in the world. People have a tendency to try to group their favorite things into a single category. All of the single things that we like or don’t like do far more to define us than the things themselves. This kind of categorization is flattering to our self-image, but it also creates entropy in the symbols and archetypes in the process. When we shove Discordianism into a broader collection or category and redefine it by incorporating the other symbols and archetypes we have placed there, we water everything down. It is like getting a plate full of your favorite foods and putting them in a blender. All those things that once tasted great on their own have now just become an unpalatable mush.
It is in the interest of rescuing the One True Religion of Our Goddess that I suggest we start walking it back down and rein Discordianism into a meaningful religion that we can use to understand our existence and guide us through Eris’ primordial waters ever more joyously. Which, considering the amount of depression and mental instability that is prevalent in Discordian circles, is exactly what our religion needs.
So spit shine your pineal gland and fire up your frop as I propose to you the idea of Transcendent Discordianism.
The problem with all genuine religious experience is that it cannot be described using ordinary terms and concepts. Religious truths are not measurable, objective facts. Religious truth comes from transcendent experiences in which revelations beyond words reach from behind the veil of the illusory physical universe to share the deeper nature and meaning of existence. Through these experiences we can gain gnosis, which is to know something beyond the limitations of human experience.
This is synonymous with ‘Eris speaking to you from your pineal gland’. I suspect that the reason some people are so dismissive about Discordianism is that they have never experienced its revelations through transcendent experience. Or that their transcendent experience was so skewed by the kind of watered down ideology I mentioned that they failed to get a distinctly Erisian message out of it. Before I go further, let me give my own history with Discordianism.
In 1998 I was working at a headshop and was given the responsibility of ordering product for our book, magazine and comics section. Going through the Last Gasp catalog I came across the PD. It seemed interesting enough so I added a copy to our order. When it arrived, I took it in in a single sitting. I have been a Discordian since.
In the early days it was difficult for me to find other Erisian adepts. I found a few scattered around the web, but I was just figuring out the internets and so I didn’t get involved in many online groups until social media became prevalent years later. I would also put up flyers with absurdist text and Discordian references, as well as my email address, and this sometimes turned up a conversation. For the most part, however, I was forced to make my own Discordians by preaching the word and selling copies of the book.
Yet the social context of Discordianism is never really what I was after. I did not need others to grow and learn from the teachings. And I think this is very different for Erisians now in the context of social media. Discordianism has become sort a of a church. Like any other church, not everyone there has the same amount of faith. Some are just there for the community it provides. And I guess that is fine, but perhaps we shouldn’t let those sisters and brothers erode our theology in the process.
What really stuck out from the first time I read the PD was the Anerstic/Eristic philosophy. I began applying those philosophical models to everything I ever knew. I was also chasing transcendent experiences via entheogens like a madman. As I continued to re-read the PD and experiment with my consciousness, I saw that everything in the book really leads back to the central premise of Aneristicism vs. Eristicism. It was all variations on that one theme. And so I delved further and further into my mind and beyond, using that central thesis as a way of exploring myself and the universe around me.
What I discovered blew my mind. The trouble with having your mind blown is that there is no possible second person experience of it. What happens in a blown mind stays in a blown mind. Ain’t nobody got words for that.
Whenever I meet a fellow Discordian who seems to have navigated around all of the koans, fnords and absurdist humor and penetrated into the depths of their own pineal glands to find the illuminated truths hiding behind the punchlines – they all seem to agree to some extent that Discordianism is a religious experience with a central tenet, and not just some wacky literary catch-all for chronically misguided and disenfranchised misfits.
Another consequence of taking Discordianism to it’s logical conclusion is a realization of the unassailable fact that the state (not religion) is the ultimate institution of Greyface and his followers. A Discordian who is not an anarchist is like a Christian who uses the Ten Commandments as a daily to-do checklist.
These are the ways you can tell a true Discordian from the endless masses of pink fanboy clones. They are anarchists who observe the Eristic Principle and have gone beyond books and words to find answers through transcendental experience.
So what I propose is Transcendent Discordianism, a form of Discordianism in which adherents hold the Eristic Principle as the core teaching and virtue, and to use it every day as a filter in considering all things -and incorporating meditations on it into induced transcendent experiences. Drugs, deprivation tanks, Tibetan chants…whatever you gotta do to take you beyond you, do it. And bring the Eristic Principle along.
See if the incomprehensible doesn’t soon seem all too obvious, and if the obvious no longer seems worth the trouble of comprehending.
Watch as the senseless horror of our existence transforms itself into an occasionally entertaining dramedy.
Behold a new reality tunnel in which you don’t always somehow end up taking a wrong existential turn somewhere around Albuquerque.
Transcendent Discordianism is not about new teachings or methods. It is about getting back to basics. It is about rescuing our fellow freaks from the dark swamp of nihilism and relativism by giving them a map to their own light switch.
May it shine upon all whose hearts seek it like millions and millions of dancing stars.
Transcendence makes bullshit glow, and that is beautiful.
Proposed security measures that aim to prevent improper public bathroom use by abusers are creating a stir. The concern by many that our public bathrooms are being shared with people whose deviance, indecency and poor character has led lawmakers to finally address the leniency that has allegedly been disastrous to our standards and way of life. The senate is now considering a bill which would ban people who leave their urine, feces, vomit and other excreta on (instead of in and down) toilets and other bathroom surfaces from using those public facilities.
Garrett Nordberg from Citizens for Sanitation spoke favorably about the proposed legislation:
“I think it is about time that somebody did something about this. It is a tragedy that in this day in age there are still adults whose mental instability and neurosis causes them to defile public bathrooms in such juvenile ways. The risk that their behavior provides to public health and our standard of living is beyond reproach and must be responded to as firmly as possible.”
It is guessed that about 1/3 of Americans suffer from Infantile Bowel Syndrome. These sufferers were subject to a deficiency of proper parenting during the toddling stage and potty training and as a result just unleash their bladders and bowels with no proper consideration of others or their environment, as do infants.
Vallisa Reed of the IBS Advocacy Center calls the legislation draconian and heartless.
“We would be essentially punishing people for conditions that they did not choose. They are victims of their upbringing and environment. They do not have a choice to use bathrooms like you or I, their compulsions and psychological make-up mean that not sullying bathrooms is beyond their capacity to choose.”
Bud Alanson of the Association of Bingo Callers also had some strong opinions about the pending legislation.
“I could give a crap less if you are a cross-dressing werewolf that has sex with dead cats, you should be able to use any public tax-funded bathroom you like so long as you can be a responsible human being and keep from smearing your feces everywhere or pissing on the seat.”
The issue has become a hot button topic at a time when conservatives bigots are decrying the ‘wrongful’ use of bathrooms by people who may not agree with the gender they were assigned. Similar legislation meant to enforce biological obedience to bathroom use is based on fears that if people are allowed to use the restroom they are most comfortable in, pedophile orgies and dick shaming could become rampant.
Elbur Wutzisnutz is one of the people that harbors these concerns.
“A bathroom is just like a NASCAR race, ya see. If everyone doesn’t stay in their assigned lanes before that green flag drops, ya gonna have chaos on the track!”
When asked what the green flag dropping equivalent of restroom use was Elbur responded that I should shut my faggot-loving face before he pisses in it.
Mandy Dawson, a custodian at a local county building that houses several public offices, gave me her two cents.
“These same people that want to set up genital checkpoints at bathroom doors are the same ones who invariably shit and piss all over everything. These uptight, anal-retentive neurotics are so focused on their own germophobia and other compulsive and repressed ideologies that they never consider those who have to use the bathrooms after them or clean them up. They just fire away wherever they please and leave the consequences of their mental issues for other people to deal with, without any guilt, remorse or shame. In fact, I once confronted a police officer who had clearly shit on the seat while pulling a paranoid hovering maneuver moments after I cleaned the stall. Not only was he unapologetic, but seemed to think he was superior to others for refusing to endure the same risks that anybody using public facilities takes. While increasing those risks.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) has also been addressed by non-materialists, such as Bernardo Kastrup, who works within that field. He makes a clear distinction between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness, although most materialists tend to equivocate the two, being that they believe sentience is a product of mechanistic intelligence that has reached a critical mass of complexity. Bernardo’s argument against artificial consciousness is premised on the non-dualist model, essentially stating that consciousness is primary to matter, and so matter cannot give birth to it’s own parent. Yet within his own model, there still remains a possibility for AI.
Like myself, he has argued that consensus reality is a construct of beliefs, most of which lie in deep unexamined layers of our egoic and collective minds. Certain premises and assumptions create a framework of boundaries for possibilities within this reality. What we expect at the most primary level of consciousness becomes manifest in the universe. Yet we cannot simply decide to change a single belief and see a change in reality because beliefs are all connected and must relate consistently in order for the corresponding paradigm to emerge. That is, we cannot just decide to fly, because other beliefs like the necessity of wings, aerodynamics, atmospheric tolerance and others all negate a belief in flying. In order to fly, we would have to change every corresponding belief about flight, and those beliefs would themselves need to restructure their own corresponding beliefs, creating a ripple that spread out and changed the very structures of human belief and reality. Despite what New Age gurus tell you, you can’t just change reality with good intentions and meditation.
Change can, however, occur over time. The beliefs which program our reality change over time as we accumulate and/or replace information via new symbols and archetypes. Since a widespread belief in AI has been flourishing within our memetic landscape, all it requires is a shift in the corresponding beliefs which estimate its arrival. Strangely enough, materialism may be just that set of corresponding beliefs. Materialism provides a narrative, or mythology, from which the memetic interconnectivity of consciousness could correspondingly allow new conscious entities (AI) to emerge.
The narrative of materialism is often sanctified by it’s ability to produce novel technologies. This does not mean that the materialist narrative is true, however, only that it has great utility in producing results. Things that produce great results are often untrue, as political propaganda clearly demonstrates. The power of mass suggestion creates self-fulfilling prophecies. Scientific progress in the last several centuries may owe more to the narrative and belief in science than to the method itself.
Yet this does not mean that the materialist model is superior, either in overall truth, or in its ability to produce results. It is still very much weighed down by it’s limitations and faulty premises. To observe phenomena within consciousness under the premise that those phenomena occur outside of it means we have to create a mass illusion like materialism in order to evolve within consciousness. What would we be capable of if our narratives corresponded more closely with the nature of our existence? What sort of new methods, technologies and realities might emerge if we cut out the literal interpretations of objects within consciousness and replaced them with an understanding of those objects as interacting agents of consciousness?
The success of materialism does not indicate the truth of that belief system. At the same time, the fact that materialism is untrue does not negate the power of its mythologies. AI, or artificial consciousness, may someday appear to arise out of the complexity of matter invented by humans. Yet in actuality, those entities may owe their genesis merely to the narrative of materialism. In this way we can view materialist science as complex set of rituals whose magic appears mundane because of the symbols and archetypes we have clothed it in. A magic that only works when we can describe it in non-magical language, and believe that we are doing the opposite of magic. Again, imagine the wizardry possible when no longer require such illusory roundabouts?
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C.Clarke
There is one thing that almost all of us share in common, that is, we are often our own worst enemies. We become swept up in the force of ourselves so much that we often forget to be the kind of people that we are each trying to be. We sabotage our own happiness in moments of petty frustration, discomfort and/or irritability. This is part of the burden of being human. But just because it is natural doesn’t mean we should give in to it or give up on ourselves. Free will awaits all those who wish to face their weaknesses and address them.
Since most of our outbursts are products of internal thoughts or processes, our inner dialogue makes the best cut-off point for inappropriate behaviors and reactions. When we observe our inner selves experiencing signs of tension, we can then ask ourselves what struck us the wrong way and why. And for every answer we receive from ourselves, we can then ask a further question. If you follow this process you will almost inevitably find that what is bothering you is not the thing you are reacting to, but something about yourself you cannot reconcile. And even when the disturbance can be pinpointed externally, we can still question the nature of our own volatile reactions or responses.
For example, the other day while I was working the cash register at the book store, I was becoming increasingly nervous to the point of overwhelming anxiety. At some point I recognized that it was because the doorway that was located near me was very busy. The open/close/open/close/open/close was irritating for reasons that didn’t make any sense to me. So I explored my inner thoughts and investigated. I finally asked a helpful question, “What does a door symbolize?” After mulling about a bit around my mental playground I came to the conclusion that doors represent our fears, desires and frailties. A door keeps bad things out, protects the good things inside and provides access to objects of desire. From there I concluded that I had issues with my own unfulfilled desires and the door represented other peoples fulfillment. My anxiety was borne of petty jealousy. And once I realized that, the heavy door traffic stopped bothering me altogether almost instantly.
At the same time, I was exposed to an area of my own psychology that needed tending to, my frustration with my inability to fulfill my own desires to travel and write instead of live in one place and work a regular job. That is not an easy obstacle to overcome, but if I remember that it is an internal trigger, I can prevent myself from creating new obstacles out of the unrecognized frustration. Recognizing the connective patterns of our own inner workings does not necessarily solve all of our problems, but it does give us tools to deal with them in more healthy and productive ways.
There is one internal dialogue which I use regularly to great effect. I call it the ‘STFU Joshua’ voice. The first step to curbing outbursts and negative reactions is to cut ourselves off so that we have time to seek reason and calm through introspection. So as often as I possibly can, whenever I feel myself about to become unnecessarily confrontational or react in ways that will provide lingering consequences or hard feelings in myself and others, I use my inner voice to tell myself to shut the fuck up. I literally speak those words aloud in my own head. I have never disobeyed that order. The trick lies in learning when to give it.
The ultimate goal is to be able to give it whenever negativity will cost more than it can benefit. I am not for compulsive positivity, and I think a human who reduced themselves to that would be a boring, stagnant being. Great things are born of passion, and passion bears the fruit of struggle and confrontation in its growth. Yet an excess of negativity becomes a burden and consumes its bearer from within. If your own passions do not result in productive ends or fulfillment, it is time to question it and address them. This is something each of us must discover for ourselves.
I have always lived by the advice I give others, ‘QUESTION EVERYTHING!’ There is no better or effective place to apply that axiom than to your own self. Only through self reflection and introspection can we root out the flaws we are able to address and push ourselves along the path of our own evolution. The key to knowing anything at all reliably begins with self-awareness and knowing your own self.
Earlier this week it was rumored that the social media giant, Facebook, will be changing its policy concerning bans for violating community standards.
In the past users who were reported and found guilty of violating the content-sharing policies were subject to bans of various lengths, depending on the offense and history of the offender. They typically ran a day, a few days, a week or a whole month for the most blatant violations by repeat offenders. A banned user is able to sign into Facebook, view content and use the instant messenger; while they are unable to post or interact (like, react or comment) on feeds, timelines, pages and groups. The sentences lasted the ascribed calendar period regardless of whether you continued to use Facebook or not. But that might be about to change.
The rumors indicate that the new ban policy will require offenders to serve their sentences in actual site time. This means that if you were to be banned for twenty four hours, you would actually have to be on Facebook for twenty four hours before the ban is lifted. And faking it will not be an option, as new retinal scanning and facial recognition software will track your viewing to make sure that you are actually using Facebook for the entire time spent fulfilling your obligations. That new software, purportedly, will ask your permission to remain active during the ban, but will grant the option of shutting it off after your time has been served. It is also expected that ban duration will shorten from hours to days.
There will however be one exception to your ability to interact on Facebook during your period of punishment. The leaked information suggests that you will still be able to like, comment on and share advertisements and sponsored posts. This is good news for content contributors who pay to get their posts seen. Even more speculation hints that this will allow Facebook to get more data on the emotional states of its users in response to specific content and situations, especially if it is being analyzed by the retinal and facial software. That means more effective marketing, more ad sales and more profits for Facebook. At the same time, critics worry that it is yet another move nudging of the social media juggernaut into the realms of Orwellian surveillance, social conditioning and control.
Reduced time for ‘good behavior’ is also mentioned in the allegations, although what constitutes that behavior has not been specifically stated. It could mean reporting other users, meeting a quotient for interacting with paid content, or just meeting your banned viewing requirements in a timely manner. Or anything else.
No official statements have yet been made verifying these rumors, so for now, they are only that. But given the history and nature of Facebook, it is not unlikely that the social media kingpin will use the combination of its power and peoples dependency to apply increasingly Draconian measures in the future. And there can be little doubt that the actual motivation is not upholding its non-democratic community standards, but of increasing its bottom line at the further expense of its users/content providers.
The goal of this article is to introduce the idea that memes are to genes what consciousness is to the brain. The premises I use to get there fly in the face of mainstream knowledge, but my conclusions lead to practical advice for taking control of the destinies of the individual and humanity at large.
The materialist/physicalist model of the mind states that consciousness is just a pragmatic byproduct of the complexity of our brains; that it is an illusion used to facilitate the evolutionary fitness of individuals and species, which are themselves just inconsequential vessels for the survival of genes. Not only do I find these models of consciousness and evolution to be irrational, I find them to be cynical, defeatist and self-loathing. And they are also becoming obsolete as innovative new models challenge their ideological supremacy.
Independent philosopher (my favorite kind) Bernardo Kastrup has been working within the non-dualist paradigm to illustrate a new model of the brain and consciousness that does not stumble on materialist metaphysical dogmas. His general premise is that the substance of reality is primarily consciousness and that matter is a narrative device to give form to thoughts. Where mainstream science sees the brain as an engine driving our minds and bodies, Bernardo sees it more as a speedometer. The brain, in his parlance, is the second person perspective of consciousness, a phenomena which can only really be experienced internally by the individual. Therefore when neurologists see the brain reacting to external stimuli, they are viewing conscious processes from an outsider perspective in the limited context of their own beliefs about brains/minds. Here is a short excerpt explaining this in his own words:
The elegance of this view is that it dispenses entirely with the need to postulate anything other than the obvious: consciousness itself. We do not need to postulate a whole material universe outside consciousness anymore. Empirical reality is merely the outside image – the external aspect – of the mental activity of a cosmic consciousness, while body-brains are merely the outside image of dissociated segments of this cosmic consciousness. And what is a body-brain but something we can see, touch, measure; something with the qualities of experience? Indeed, the empirical world is the experience, by an alter, of the rest of the stream of consciousness outside the alter. It is dissociation that creates the duality between internal and external aspects. But this duality does not imply or require anything outside experience: the external aspects are themselves experiences; experiences of alters. As explained in Chapter 9 of Brief Peeks Beyond, ‘everything that currently motivates us to believe in a world outside consciousness can and will be understood as the effects of mental processes outside our particular alter, which we witness from a second-person perspective.’
Now hold on to that thought.
In his book Virus of the Mind, Richard Brodie takes a philosophical look at the science of memetics. That discipline is primarily concerned with understand the phenomena of memes, which Brodie describes as:
A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such that more copies of itself get created in other minds.
A meme, then, is a genetic unit of an mental entity that reproduces using the evolutionary strategies of viruses. The book and its ideas are brilliant, which is why it became such a critical and commercial success. I found the book enlightening throughout, with the exception of his insistence in the natural selection model of evolution. I think that my intelligent selection model actually works much better to pull the front and back ends of his book together, since what he is essentially proposing is that our observable reality is a construct of the symbols and archetypes we use to filter reality via our individual consciousness. A process which essentially creates our personal subjective realities and contributes to the illusion of an objective consensus reality where they overlap.
Essentially, he proposes that memes are the genes of consciousness, and that memetic therapy can be used to cure any malware of the mind caused by malignant, self-replicating memes that threaten the fitness of individuals and species.
When we think of genes, we think of tiny little instruction manuals that tell organisms how to form and behave. This is the materialist/physicalist model. Genes give rise to individual organisms and species in the same way that brains supposedly generate our minds. But how should we approach genes in a non-dualist model of consciousness and reality?
Earlier we explored the idea that brains were just second person perceptions of the first person experience of consciousness. Rather than the engine, the brain was an instrument panel showing the activities of an individuals consciousness. What then if we were to similarly view genes as the second person perspective of the first person experience of memes?
In this model, instead of saying that a gene caused you to have green eyes and red hair, those traits are a part of your memetic structure. A person’s genes are just physical manifestations of the memetic components of that individuals consciousness. In other words, a gene is a thumbnail image of the symbols and archetypes that you are made of. Your physical self is the image that those thumbnails represent, yet you are not the image of you. You are the thinking, feeling and creative being who can only be experienced by other thinking, feeling and creative beings in the form of the image constructed of ideas about you. Those ideas are memes.
If a meme acts like a virus, then it has two possible outcomes. It replicates itself as wholly as possible in as many hosts as possible -or- it makes innovative copies of itself that sometimes improve the fitness of itself and its host, and sometimes make it non-viable. Learning to recognize what a memes most likely outcome is, we can make conscious efforts to resist the kinds of viable memes that have no innovative qualities, and thus no benefit to their host. If we look at evolution as the march of memes through time, and we are able filter out malignant memes and accept, share and create useful ones, then we have the capability of shaping the evolution of ourselves, our species and our reality.
At the same time, memes also present an existential risk. Toxic memes can create a viral epidemic that harms our species and environment. Our culture has adopted memes that take the form of macro images and macro slogans. These meta-memes make us susceptible to absorbing and spreading memetic information compulsively without examining its properties and consequences. What we generally call a ‘meme‘ on the internet is sort of a virus that makes us consume and spread memes voraciously without any awareness. It invites the sort of apathy that turns memes from a useful tool for willfully evolving, into viruses with no other goal than to make their hosts just as blissfully ignorant of their own existence as they are.
Memes can either infect us with intellectual zombi-ism or pave a path to the stairway to heaven. The distinction will be a result of our ability to recognize them and utilize them consciously. Our pattern for validating and reinforcing the compulsive uses of memes and meta-memes is a frightening harbinger. Yet the power of memes means that beneficial memes like this article and its concepts are able to stem that tide and put us in the cockpit of our own evolutionary destiny.
I am not a scientist. This article is not an attempt to create a scientific hypothesis. I am a shaman, and the following ideas are a philosophical exploration combining the paradigms of evolution and non-duality.
Evolution is change over time.
Non-dualism is the idea that mind and body are one substance.
Materialism, the current metaphysical model under which most mainstream science, philosophy and psychology rely on as the underlying premise of their hypotheses, tells us that our mind (consciousness) is little more than a complex illusion arising haphazardly out of the complexity of matter. It dogmatically insist that everything you think and feel is just some side effect of having a brain, which itself seeks only to trick us into taking care of our bodies. In evolutionary terms this care is referred to as ‘fitness’, and materialists insist that the ‘illusion of mind’ produced by the brain has no purpose but to seek fitness. Our joys and pains, our ecstasy and despair, all of these are just meaningless phenomena whose purpose is solely to survive and reproduce. You are not important. You are just a link in a causal chain that has no purpose or destination. Everything is an accident and your existence means absolutely nothing.
As you can imagine, die-hard materialists are a lot of fun to talk to at parties.
The materialist model of evolution, known as natural selection, similarly insists that evolution occurs only to increase the fitness of a species. It has no value to individuals, but is just a way of nature seeking further complexity by favoring the survival of mutations that increase fitness. Once again, materialists want us to believe that evolutionary adaptations are just random events, meaningless and irrelevant to individuals, serving only to increase the complexity of almighty nature.
The Judeo-Christian model of evolution is called intelligent design, and its proponents claim that evolution is the gentle push of an all-powerful, human-like deity perfecting its creation over time.
In both cases, evolution is something happening to individuals and species by an external force, for the purpose of fulfilling its own momentum and desires. Natural selection and intelligent design both presuppose the same idea, that is, that change over time is imposed by something outside of the things which experience and manifest that change.
What I propose instead, is that the things experiencing and manifesting evolution are at least partially responsible for the changes/mutations affecting them.
When I write fiction I generally start from a basic idea. A scenario and a few characters prime my creative pump and as I begin writing, the narrative seems to unfold before me as I hustle to keep up with a story that is marching along from the momentum of a single push I made. The same happens when I write music or make visual art. The process of creation is often like pushing a boulder down a mountain. Once you unlodge the rock from its resting spot and get it going a bit, the rest of the journey mostly takes care of itself. Yet this does not mean you will be able to control the path, velocity or final resting place of the boulder.
Non-dualism states that consciousness is the fundamental source of reality, not matter. This is not reverse materialism, as matter is not considered an emergent property of consciousness, it is simply the language which expresses the symbols and archetypes of consciousness. As these symbols and archetypes become more numerous and complex, so does the language which expresses them.
This is what I mean by Intelligent Selection. It is the idea that as the individual and collective symbols and archetypes increase in complexity, the narrative itself evolves towards complexity. And this change is manifested in reality (nature) slowly over time. Evolution.
Unlike the evolutionary paradigms that require something external to that which is evolving, Intelligent Selection supposes that how we live, think and feel creates a momentum which selects traits for the fitness of individual experiences over time. In this model we are no longer floating in a sea of meaningless accidents with no purpose. Our reality and our selves are very real. Our experience is not just some illusion, but a quest to see harmony and pleasure, and to create more of it over time for ourselves and those who follow in our footsteps.
Intelligent Selection eschews the inherent nihilism of natural selection and the predeterminism of intelligent design. It puts our experience and will at the forefront of our existence, rather than relegating it to subservience to the experience and will of an external agency. We are not accidents. We are the story of eternity unfolding itself through our individual experiences and interactions. The universe is a stage in which we write our own parts, expanding on the narratives of those that came before us, while setting the stage for those who will come after.
Only intelligent selection is able to accommodate the narratives of the objective and subjective. It is inclusive of science and spirituality. It does not compete in a brutal environment for dominance. It just takes the best parts of all that we know and combines them in a way that contributes to, rather than detracts, from those narratives.
Understanding the ways in which our symbolic and archetypal narratives create the reality we experience is a way of taking a more conscious approach to guiding our own evolution. Unlimited vistas of experience await us, and we are lucky to be participants in their creation. Evolution is not something happening to us; it is a tool for us to get something happening.
Please submit your appreciation and/or criticisms in interpretive dances, paintings and poetry.
I spend quite a bit of time writing about the problems of philosophical materialism, that is, the idea that the universe is essentially nothing but matter from which consciousness just emerged out of dumb luck. While some people dismiss these concerns, not because they support philosophical materialism but because they think it is a non-issue, ideologies tend to bleed into cultural landscapes in ways that create issues we can all understand to some degree. The idea that existence is nothing more than a collection of interacting objects, a swirling cosmic mass of thing debris, empowers an ideology that only material goods can make our lives meaningful. This cultural obsession of mindless mass consumption is itself often called materialism, and it is a threat to human values and environment alike.
This kind of materialism has littered our psychic lexicon with status symbols, unhealthy attachments to objects and greed. It reduces day to day living into a maze of desperate economic activity. It enslaves us to a lifetime of meaningless employment we then justify by a misplaced pride in the size of our cage and how much booty we have dragged back to it. It has led to an economy of planned obsolescence and symbol over substance, while it instigates the vestigial evolutionary instinct that MORE IS BETTER!
One of the ways that ‘more is better’ plays out is not even in the actual consumer goods we purchase, but in the needlessly bold packaging of them that we justify with misguided notions of quality, safety and convenience. Manufacturers use excessive packaging for many reasons. They use them to protect their goods from the environment and as a simple precaution against damage during transport. Yet even these reasons cannot explain the hyperbole with which we package our goods, and the bigger culprit here is marketing. Consumer goods marketers look at flashy packaging as adding appeal and value to their products. A gaudy toy with no real play value can be wrapped in a plastic shell that gives it the appearance of being the most fun thing a child will ever own. After all, it must be great, or why would they put so much effort into packaging it?
Although safety and product protection are legitimate concerns, the ways in which they are addressed is often predicated on faulty thinking. Where hard plastic shells are made to protect goods from shipping turbulence and deter theft, the same things can be accomplished with reusable packaging supplies and clever retail displays. Safety is generally the reasoning given for the excessive packaging of food items. But locally sourced foods and careful storage and handling can do more for safety than any amount of packaging can, the number of regulations requiring certain types and amounts of packaging leads to mountains of unnecessary waste. And industrial farming practices mean our foods must travel long distances over long amounts of time. The amount of packaging in a fast food meal, from farm to table, far exceeds the mass of the meal itself.
And yet it is not just regulatory systems and industry that is to blame. The consumer, for their part, continues the legacy of waste in their own insistence that everything is packaged for their maximum convenience.
If you have ever worked in retail you know exactly what I am talking about. In my own retail experience I have seen people justify their own mindless excess on countless occasions. I have sold items the size of a cigarette box that the customer insisted they needed the large plastic bag with handles on it because that would make it easier to carry. How hard was it to carry without that? Is this a real concern that justifies another link in a chain of endless waste? I have heard customers explain that they needed a bag for a single durable item for the most mindless and bizarre reasons imaginable. I have sold people backpacks or other bags that they then wanted me to put inside of another disposable bag. I have received requests for point of sale packaging from folks who were buying a small item with the word ‘pocket’ right in its name. There is no end to the frivolous justifications for waste I have encountered in my lengthy retail experience.
Yet there is one packaging request I find more aggravating than all of the rest, and that is gift wrapping. It is not even that gift wrapping creates large amounts of waste relative to other over-packaging concerns, but more that it bespeaks the compulsive mindless culture of excess in all of its most ignorant and unexamined ways. From what I can tell there are two reasons to have a gift wrapped that make even an inkling of sense, and they are:
To store a gift in plain sight over an extended period of time, like a present that sits under the Christmas tree tantalizingly for weeks before it can be opened, adding value to the gift via an element of restrained curiosity fulfillment.
For the person giving the gift to say to the person receiving it, “Hey, I spent a long time choosing just the right gift for you, and then more time meticulously wrapping it and decorating it to show you how much you mean to me.”
When you rush into a store and buy a gift at the last minute and then make the sucker behind the counter spend excess time on your purchase by wrapping it for you, what that gift now says is, “Here, I fulfilled the symbolic gestures I am culturally bound to abide, now can I be done here?” That kind of compulsive consumerist gifting is less a way of honoring people than it is crossing them off your list so you can get back to consuming for yourself. It is lazy, thoughtless and carries a hint of insult and mockery with it.
I am not sure if the climate has been altered by human activities or not. While I suspect that it is possible, I also know that environmental alarmism has been used as a tool by the most environment-damaging industrialists as a way of selling legislative gambits that actually benefit the worst exploiters of our planet without causing any meaningful paradigm shift that realistically addresses the potential issues. What I do know for certain is that you don’t shit where you eat. There is an entire continent of human-created waste afloat in the Pacific ocean. The entire face of the planet is covered in the debris-wake of human consumerism. Even the most remote areas of the world contain evidence of humanities excessive consumption cycles. And at the same time, we have tore up the face of the planet to gather the resources lying beneath in ways that are both unsustainable and potentially disastrous at this rate. This old world may be pretty tough, but it may not be tough enough to weather our arrogant abuse of it indefinitely. Everything has its limits.
Packaging reduction alone will not save us from the potential consequences of reckless unexamined materialism, but it is a good place to start. It represents some of the most mindless and excessive exploitation of earths resources, and an awareness of the issues and concerns involved of that could beneficially bleed into our materialism problem in general. And while I also believe that post-scarcity technologies could free us from this destructive path, and that our world is more than just an object and could potentially be restored through humanities conscious willpower, we are not there yet. To get to our next stage of evolution we might have to recognize and correct our current follies. Being mindful of the bigger picture and how everything in the world is connected to everything else in some complex way is definitely part of that evolutionary process. A great place to begin changing our perspective and habits could be as simple as considering the folly of mindless consumerism at the most basic level by unpacking our pointless predilection for excessive packaging.
In 1995 one of my best friends asked me to drive him to the airport. Since he had a nicer car and the airport was out of town, I drove him in that. Another mutual friend joined. His trip was an extended stay in South America where he had chased his college freshman sweetheart, so he was not planning to be back for a long time, and as such bequeathed us the remainder of his weed stash. After dropping him off we decided to take the long way home, twisting our way through Des Moines and its outlying areas. We were young, free and high as fuck. Somewhere in our journeys through human cemeteries, industrial graveyards and parks and lakes we started going through the cassettes in the car. One was labeled Beastie Boys/John Frusciante, and although we had never heard of the latter, the Beastie Boys was a definite go. Then at some point the tape flipped and so baffled and entranced were we, that it was several songs before we were even able to share our amazement and befuddlement at what was happening to our ears and minds.
For the next few years I worshiped that album. It was so profoundly brilliant and different, while also technically simple, that I never tired of it, even after listening to it repeatedly. I would borrow my friends four track cassette recorders and attempt to replicate that sound and that feeling, and attempt which never bore success. Yet it was where I cut my teeth in the recording and writing process and its inspiration as a piece of audio art was massive in my own musical formation.
In March 1994, when the album came out on Rick Rubin’s Def Jam Records, Frusciante had terminated his role in the Red Hot Chili Peppers and was living in severe disorder with a profound heroin habit. However he maintains that the album, despite its baffling surrealism, was made before his addiction took over his life. With the exception of Running Away Into You, the album was recorded during 1991-92 on the Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic tour.
“I wrote [the record] because I was in a really big place in my head—it was a huge, spiritual place telling me what to do. As long as I’m obeying those forces, it’s always going to be meaningful. I could be playing guitar and I could say ‘Play something that sucks,’ and if I’m in that place, it’s gonna be great. And it has nothing to do with me, except in ways that can’t be understood.”
in 1997, two years after I first heard John’s first solo album, I found out that he was going to be playing in a place an hour away from where I lived. I did not own a car and the weather was pretty nasty, so hitchhiking was not an option, so I eventually talked my mom into taking me to a college town bar to see a junkie play strange songs. And as it turned out, we both had a great time. John was just recovering from his addiction and he stood on the stage like he was there to haunt it. He seemed too far gone and broken to have even made it up there, but when his brilliant guitar playing began, followed by the existential caterwauling of his emotionally overloaded vocals, he came right to life. I cannot recall all of the details of that night. I remember ‘Your Smile Is A Rifle’ and Nirvana’s ‘Moist Vagina’ from the setlist. It was part of some touring funk thing called NutFest. Yet although I cannot remember the details, I can remember the feeling vividly. I can remember tears of what I think were joy. When I recall that night to memory I am not flooded with scenes and sounds and facts, but with a more pure sense of abandonment, bliss and longing.
Frusciante released a second album, Smile From the Streets You Hold, earlier that same year, reportedly for drug money. While the album does not have the purity and innocence of Niandra, it does still carry a sense of internal crisis, desperation and self-abandonment that could be felt in the first album. It is not even close to its predecessor, yet it is still a much better album than what RHCP or most mainstream rock in general were doing at the time, by light years. It is harsh and incomplete, but it is also honest and apologetic in a tragically authentic way.
After this Frusciante sobered up and continued recording solo albums, and while they are definitely interesting albums, none of them have the emotional/spiritual force of the first few. They are tame by the standards of Niandra and Smile, and do not carry the same sense of bizarre, tragic immediacy.
I continued enjoying Niandra and giving his new albums a chance. During my years in retail I found that most people could not tolerate the vocals for long, so if I had some browsers straggling too casually for too long, I would throw the album on to quicken their purchase or departure so I could sneak down to the basement and sneak a toke. Before long he rejoined RHCP and I was initially impressed. Yet after a few more albums that received heavy rotation everywhere all of the time managed to suck all of the life out of that bands music for me. And even though none of his more recent works has ever touched me the way his early stuff did, I still cherish all of that great music from his early period both solo and with RHCP, and am glad he finally got out of the latter (hopefully) for good.
“I’m forever near a stereo saying, ‘What the fuck is this garbage?’ And the answer is always the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” -Nick Cave
Before I get into why the album is still brilliant, let me comment briefly on some specific songs.
As Can Be – The opening track begins with a frenzied string blitzkrieg, a loose weave of crisis melodies, and then sort of settles into a vulgar love song once the lyrics kick in, with lead guitars winding throughout like frantic bumble bees carrying streamers.
My Smile Is A Rifle – What begins as an experiment in melancholy quickly evolves into an even deeper musical misanthropy, like a lost coffin rocking in the waves of an alien ocean. The opening lyrics, in contrast is a message of strange silver linings. The vocals descend into utter madness and one cannot be sure if he is being playful of making a cry for help. The pitch shifting, screeching and squealing is the vocal opposite of American Idol, removing all flash and skill and replacing it with pure emotional dadaism.
Head (Beach Arab) – Combining harp-like melodies below frantically picked notes soaring over brilliantly sophmoric solos, the song blazes a path through you before you can figure out what it has evoked in you.
Big Takeover – This Ren Faire rendition of the Bad Brains classic manages to use frenzied layers to make up for the lack of pace of the original, and in doing so becomes its own song, just as powerful as the original.
Curtains – The image of curtains suggested in the title befits the surrealist drama of this simple piano/vocal ballad. Its absurdist lyrics make sense on a level that cannot be comprehended outside of the context of the music and album as a whole. Building throughout, the song almost becomes a standard Daniel Johnston rocker, before twinkling out in a sprinkle of high piano notes.
Running Away Into You – This is one of the most brilliant pieces of music ever committed to recording. A tale of lust and love and longing and everything in between, it uses reverse tracks, loops, speed and pitch shifts and a bunch of other audio novelties to paint a portrait of desire through a chaotic kaleidoscope of symbolic sounds for the emotional highs and lows of romance.
Mascara – Essentially a standard acoustic rocker from the onset, the song later takes on a far stranger shape of a circus sideshow, and continues to twist back and forth between the two feelings that leaves you a bit discombobulated like riding the aural Tea Cups at a musical amusement park. Eventually ending with a lyric about underwear full of blood and a pretty guitar outro.
Been Insane – This song is kind of a baseline for the entire Niandra LaDes half of the album. A multi-layer acoustic rocker with elements of both standard rock alternating against Syd Barrett surreality.
Skin Blues – An instrumental showcase of soaring stringed sonics. The closest my own experiments ever came to Frusciante level are a really cheap version of this.
Your Pussy’s Glued To A Building On Fire – The most inappropriate lullabye ever written, or the most colorful love song ever penned? Both. And more. Highly suggestive gives way to the overall contextual frameworks and becomes highly evocative of a range of emotional and spiritual longings instead. So good, it actually is repeated in a different but similar version right after the first concludes. “YOU LITTLE DUCK HOUSE!!!!”
Blood On My Neck From Success – This is the song Kurt Cobain would likely wished he had wrote himself. The confession of a musician coming to terms with the ugliness and hypocrisy of creative fame, it is all threadbare and barely manages to hold itself together, which is exactly how John was feeling at the time. Yet no amount of saying that in straightforward terms could ever explain it like this song.
Ten to Butter Blood Voodoo – The final song from the first half of the Niandra LaDes portion feels lost and far away. It is like the Flaming Lips, if Wayne Coyne became a manic depressive guitar god who ditched the rest of his band and decided to write a song that said ‘fuck you’ to his whole life.
The tracks from here on belong to the second part of the album, Usually Nothing But A T-Shirt. The songs themselves vary in length, complexity or any other binding codes. They are listed only by their track numbers, and where vocals are employed, it is rarely with any credence to the traditions of singing. Where there are discernible lyrics, they bend and break into fragile poems never meant to be read by anyone else. These are snapshots of the unanswered questions inside the mind of a young artist and shaman. They are delicate, beautiful and at times eerily creepy. These songs blend together to form a sort of meditation on the elasticity of human emotions, or as a spiritual seance to call up the inner truths we are most afraid of. I will not go into a track-by-track analysis because they are not meant to be taken that way, and there is more to be said of them as a whole than as individual pieces. Which is how Frusciante intended the whole album.
So then why is this album just as poignant today as when it was first conceived, and maybe even more so? As I have explained in the past, we are a society living only on the surface of our own reality, rapidly consuming explicit messages while denying the underlying implicit information that underlies them. Niandra LaDes and Usually Nothing But A T-Shirt is a refutation of this shallow view of reality. It eschews literal interpretation. Its explicit presentation is meaningless collection of low quality noise. An attempt to understand the work on any kind of empirical basis would only render it more confusing and meaningless. It defies the literalism of our scientistically materialist culture.
Today’s popular music is all show and no substance, comparatively. Any attempts to day to be so wrecklessly experimental would be done in the sterile setting of academic aesthetics, based on preconceived forms and pieced together with the precision of mathematical axioms. No artist would dare be brave enough, even in the case that they were inclined, to make such a messy piece of art. It’s beauty is not just in it’s imperfection, but in its seeming ignorance that attempting to make a perfect piece of art is something that should be taken seriously by the artist.
Our culture is steeped in a dogma of technical precision and direct messages. Niandra LaDes and Usually Just A T-Shirt is the opposite of the values underlying our society. It caters to nothing, begs nobody’s approval and only says anything to those willing to work out the interpretations for themselves. While our society on the surface spoon feeds us bite sized truths, this album makes you wiggle out every little illumination on your own, but never promises to reveal any final answers about itself. It is not what it is. It is the unique experience of everyone who listens to it. It is tarot deck of audio archetypes for the emotional and spiritual truths that give us each our own meaning and purpose in life. It is musical shamanism lovingly and painstakingly delivered from the depths of one mans psyche. It is monumental work of art and a forgiving and fragile childhood-like heresy of the unexamined dogmas we hold dear.
As the upcoming elections have ramped up the hyperbole of our cultural dialogues, hate seems to be flying in all directions. Donald Trump, who is likely just using hate speech to get elected, has nonetheless created a situation through his troublesome rhetoric. His spoken racism, nationalism and xenophobia have stirred the pot of human emotions into a frenzy. Where the hateful sediment had been sinking to the bottom of our society for quite some time, it has been freshly stirred up and is making its rounds through the entire social strata again.
It would be tiresome to explain here why these hateful ideologies are wrong. Even bigots know at some level that their hatred is wrong, both intellectually and emotionally. This is why they usually hide it. What worries me is not the traditional small-minded prejudice of rural simpletons or organized hate groups. They are a known commodity that have mostly been tamed through disenfranchisement. What bothers me is the growing amounts of hate directed at these people by socially liberal people who consider their own hatred superior and justified.
A rabid and militant anti-hate movement is spreading across the country. Its flames are fanned by unrecognized irony and unexamined hypocrisies. It is itself a hate group, wearing a halo, while using the same notions of purity espoused by every hate group before it. It is comprised of people who consider themselves to be compassionate, understanding and accepting of others, yet who make threats of violence against their ideological opponents. Fighting hate with hate is not just unreasonable, it is creating a vicious cycle.
Most peoples latent racism is only dangerous in the sense that it breeds apathy for social issues. It mostly lies dormant where it can do no real harm. But when the rhetoric on race reaches the level of public screaming match, these folks often feel forced to pick a side. And unfortunately, this often leads them into a genuine deliberate racism they were not capable of before. Racism had become mostly taboo. Its death was predicated on the fact that even where it existed, it feared show its face. But when hates collide, and genuine racists come out of the woodwork, folks feel more emboldened to act on their own latent tendencies. The ironic hatred against bigots has given them a greater voice, and helps them to unite. Hate on hate breeds more hate.
To be clear, most of this hate of hate is happening to those who identify with liberal politics. These are the champions of equality. Yet in the last several years we have seen their camp ridden with a powerful prejudice in the form of Islamophobia. The talking heads of mainstream liberal politics like Bill Maher have gone out of their way to stir up hatred and xenophobia against Islam. And while this was all mostly tolerated by liberals, even if begrudgingly, the same folks are now coming out of their silent corners to attack the same hatred and xenophobia in their political opponents. And so we can see that the Us-vs-Them seems to have more bearing on this effect than does genuine concern about hatred. Yet that sort of thinking is precisely what every form of bigotry ever has been predicated upon. You cannot reserve your intolerance for hatred until the other team has the ball, and still be taken seriously as an advocate for tolerance.
Tolerance is a key concept. It is where the haters of haters have failed and fallen victim to the same instinctual urges of all bigots. The inability to tolerate bigots and to try to understand them has led to this. Yet that is precisely what we need. Hating the hateful just reinforces their hate, while validating and justifying hatred itself as an acceptable reaction to other kinds of people. Nobody became a racist, xenophobic nationalist in a vacuum. Nobody was born that way. That hatred has a genesis, and by looking for it we might be able to root it out in the individuals harboring it. First you must be compassionate enough to realize that hate is a painful burden to carry, and seek not to fight it, but to heal it.
Some people learned hate from their families. Some picked it up through negative experiences. Others have absorbed it through cultural dialogues. When we refuse or fail to understand a persons hatred, we are powerless to help them rid themselves of it, and understanding is not possible without some amount of acceptance. We must accept that the path to hatred was a meaningful experience to the individual. That is where we begin to tackle intolerance and wipe out hate. Dislodging hate will not happen through battles, but through therapeutic means. So if you really want to end hatred, do not adopt its techniques. Find someone who is full of hate. Listen to them. Accept them and try to understand them. And when doing so has earned you their trust and respect, take the opportunity to guide them using reason and compassion away from their own toxic hatreds.
This is how we conquer hatred, not with a bang, but with friendly conversations. It will not be a quick or easy process. Nothing worthwhile ever is. But it will be worthwhile. Let us expel hatred from the pool of humanity gently, without stirring the remaining parts back up in the process. Hate against hate is not just self-righteous hypocrisy, it is a producer of newer and ever-growing amounts of hatred. To stop the vicious cycle we must tame our response to hate and not be led by the same emotional/reactionary momentum that hate itself is predicated upon. Hate cannot destroy hate, only peaceful resolution through acceptance, tolerance, understanding and therapeutic removal can ever lead our species into harmony.
In his upcoming book More Than Allegory: On Religious Myth, Truth and Belief, Bernardo Kastrup continues his fascinating exploration into the depths of the human mind and nature of our existence. His newest work focuses on the importance of religion in creating and weaving together the symbolic narratives of existence into the fabric of our reality. The book will most likely be shunned by the narrow-minded community of atheist intellectuals and adherents of philosophical materialism who so desperately attack religion in the construction and defense of their own worldviews, yet who would benefit most from its ideas. These types are prone to the same thinking as religious fundamentalists, which is that of literal interpretation of the ideas, rituals and texts of the worlds various religions. A tendency to focus so much on explicit religious messages that one tends to lose sight of their implicit ones seemingly renders religion meaningless. But when we focus on the implicit messages in both specific religions and religiosity in general, we find a treasure of symbolic, archetypal and allegorical knowledge. Bernardo lays forth an argument that reconnecting with the more meaningful implicit messages in religion can save us not only from the insanity of religious fundamentalism, but from the follies of new dogmas like materialism.
While I remain a great fan of Bernardo’s work, his academic style and lack of color and humor represent a different path to knowledge than I have chosen, which is the shamanic route. While he elects to understand those old religious narratives in a purely intellectual way, I am more prone to creating my own, or turning the old on their head through satire, absurdist-deconstruction and dadaist recombination.
When the phrase The Quran Drugs came to mind, a play on The War On Drugs, I decided to follow this silliness down the rabbit hole of creative writing and see where it would lead. I ultimately decided that the best way to do that would be to explore the ideas, verses and parables through the Quran, yet replacing certain words and concepts with those you would more likely hear from lotus eaters than suicide bombers.
The first one is from the parable known as The Light of Allah, and in it I replace Allah with Cosmic Mind and Light with Consciousness and then adjust the rest of the language and syntax accordingly, while keeping the logic and linguistic structure intact. What at first looked like a boring old religious text suddenly took on the shape and feel of a late night toke session in a dorm room.
“The Cosmic Mind is the consciousness of the heavens and the earth. The parable of the Cosmic Mind’s consciousness is as if it were a nothingness containing a thought; the thought is in mind, the mind like the sum of all knowledge: imagined by a blessed being – a body that is neither of existence or non-existence, the ideas whereof would well-nigh give consciousness even though thought had not touched it: consciousness within consciousness! The Cosmic Mind guides unto it’s consciousness they that will it; and thus the Cosmic Mind propounds parables unto humankind, since the Cosmic Mind has full knowledge of all things.”
The next parable, The Spider’s Web, describes the sort of anarchism understood by those whose explorations in ego death have brought about the knowledge of the total uncertainty of all things, and the folly of battling that uncertainty through systems of governance. At least it does when I replace the concept Allah with Self, and Idols with Government.
The likeness of those who choose rulers besides the Self , namely government from which they hope to profit, is as the likeness of the spider that makes it’s net it’s nest. And truly the frailest, the weakest, of homes is the home of the spider – for it neither protects it from heat nor cold – likewise, governments cannot benefit those who are caught in them – if they only knew this, they would not get caught in them.
Materialism, physicalism and naturalism are similar ideas. They are all metaphysical propositions stating that our reality is an emergent property of objects or things within a primal physical universe. In the Parable of the Mosquito, we don’t have to do too much bending, since the original meaning will be similar to our remix. I replace Allah with Universal Consciousness and Gnat with Laws of Nature As anyone who has undergone the little death of the self in the psychedelic process can tell you, the apparent universe is not the universe itself, but a virtual narrative of the experiences of the universe and those within it.
Surely the universal consciousness is not ashamed to set forth any parable- neither the laws of nature or any thing above them; then as for those who have tuned in, they know that it is the truth from the universal consciousness, and as for those who are square, they say: What is it that the universal consciousness means by this parable of natures laws: universe causes many to err by it and many consciousnesses are led aright by it! but the universal consciousness does not cause to err by it except by the literalism of the unawakened.
I could continue this exercise indefinitely. I could take any sacred text from any place or time in history and, by skewing a few concepts here and there, use their forms to express knowledge that would be palatable by even the greatest critics of those religions and their supporting texts. That is, if they could keep an open mind long enough to comprehend the artistry of such things. Those who outright reject religious teachings are guilty of the sin of anti-intellectualism. The only things we cannot learn from are those we have decided not to. Religions and their beliefs and parables and holy books are all goldmines of allegorical information. They are full of immense truths that are potentially meaningful to people of any belief system who are willing to go beyond the surface and find the poetry of truth that lies beneath.
While many social critics take every possible opportunity to lash out against religion, they fail to understand that their reactionary response differs little from those religious extremists and radical fundamentalists. Both groups want their truths served up in easy to swallow, bite-sized pieces. Both want to reduce everything to black-and-white absolutes in order to protect themselves from the uncertainty of our existence, a task which is foolish and impossible. Absolutism is the false-sense-of-security-blanket that fools swaddle themselves in to protect themselves from the imaginary monsters in their closets.
Religion is not the problem, authoritarianism is. Authoritarianism is the institutionalization of absolutes. No human tragedy seemingly born of religion has occurred outside the auspices of authority. The ideas of religion are only harmless when they are co-opted by authoritarians for maligned purposes. Discarding all human religious notions is not just throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Besides doing that, it discards the bathtub, and leaves us without an important vessel for cleansing ourselves in the healing waters of allegorical truth. Those who believe that the only meaningful truths are the literal ones are like existential whores who have forsaken bathing for a sickly overabundance of perfumes. When death removes the clothing of the ego and spreads the folds concealing our most intimate parts, eternity can smell right through us.
Back in 2004 I wrote a pamphlet entitled The Malcontents Manifesto. It was a sort of unified theory of all of the ideas I was attached to at the time. It is a quasi-religious tract that sits somewhere between the Principia Discordia and the Unabombers Manifesto. It is a rough synthesis of absurdist philosophy, panentheism and anarchism. Many of the ideas contained therein I have since abandoned. Some I have abandoned and then later recaptured. Most notable is that since this writing I have gone from a sort of leftist primitivist anarchism, filtered through libertarianism, and eventually landed in the camp of Anarcho-Futurism, where I sit today.
This tract was written and compiled before I was very internet savvy. Instead I chose to use the old school DIY zine format to get my message out there. I printed the scripts and then pasted them to patterned paper. I then went and got them printed from these ‘plates’ and distributed them to anyone I could get to take them. Since I was the owner/operator of a local headshop, it was not difficult to find folks to pass them off to. Hundreds of copies are now floating around out there somewhere and one was even archived at the University of Iowa Special Collections.
I reprint this here at Advanced Ape in the interest of highlighting the evolution that has occurred in both my ideas and my writing. I submit them for review by those who might possibly enjoy seeing a major part of the path I have taken to get where I am today as a thinker and writer. Parts of it are terribly embarrassing, while others still incite and inspire me. I have done my best not to change it, except a few minor tweaks to fix absolutely unreadable bits, which I could count on one hand. I have also provided photographs of the original plates that I used to print the original zine version. Whether it brings you laugh-out-loud revulsion or inspiration, I hope you enjoy this little peak into my mind over a dozen years ago. I can only imagine how I will feel a dozen years from now reading the things I wrote recently!
Page 1 (Cover)
The Malcontents Manifesto
A Book of Discontent
as revealed to Joshua Scott Hotchkin
Philosophy, politics, religion…
Nothing is safe when The Malcontent gets his say.
A guide to freethinking.
If you think that everything is okay, reading this might be dangerous to your false sense of comfort and security.
Page 2 (Front inner-sleeve)
What you are about to read is utter nonsense, but that’s no reason not to read it. In fact it’s precisely why you must read it. If you think that the answers to the questions regarding existence can be summed up in nice shiny logical statements, then you may never get the punchline. It’s a fool who chooses his logic to the sound of his own laughter. The reason I have went through all of the effort to produce this is not for your (the reader’s) benefit. It is simply the case that I must purge myself of all this excess nonsense so That I may move on to newer more exciting games of nonsense. Maybe, if you are anything like me, you will find something in this nonsense to ease your own discontent. Or maybe it will just give you the courage to think and say some crazy shit outwardly like I have here. Actually, none of the ideas contained within are very radical, nor are they original. You will find similarities to many religions and philosophies here. Hoever instead of a model of existence relying on esoteric superstitions or cold in human logic, I have used discontent to ‘solve the problem of the question of existence. Whatever that means. Everywhere you look there is discontent. The neighbors dog barks endlessly at nothing. You cannot ever eat, drink, sleep, intoxicate of fornicate enough to fulfill all of your pointless urges. And change is the only constant. Well, its become increasingly clear to me that discontent was responsible for all of this. Perhaps I am just a malcontent, projecting my own inner struggles on the whole. Either way, I feel a whole lot better knowing what I now think I know.
Book of Precepts
There is no false, this is the only truth.
There are no duality’s, only paradoxes.
A paradox proves absolutely nothing
A paradox disproves absolutely nothing.
Paradox is responsible for hypocrisy, but hypocrites are not responsible for paradoxes. Therefore all are alas free from hypocrisy and free to explore new ideas without any inner-turmoil about contrary speaking.
There can be no individual progress among individuals under the delusion that they are perfectly content to begin with. If you don’t know you are discontent, START PAYING ATTENTION.
I agree that nonsense makes perfect sense and that I am the Dungherder. I can put my foot right in the pile and get my slice-o-the-pie.
The Cosmology of Discontent Or “How we got into this whole mess.”
In the beginning there was nothing but the one mind, and the one mind was without form or identity.
The one mind was composed of every aspect of the universe.
The one mind was unchanging for many eternities.
At some point the one mind began to be overcome by a single aspect- Discontent.
Eventually the one mind, overcome by Discontent, shattered into individual aspects.
In order to maintain their individuality the aspects created the illusion of the physical universe.
The physical universe contains all of the aspects of the one mind, but the individual aspects do not contain the one mind.
Because the one mind was overcome by Discontent each aspect in the physical universe contains within it the seeds of Discontent.
It shall come to pass that someday Discontent shall overcome all of the physical aspects and they shall collapse once more to a state of one mind.
And so I have observed the nature of existence and non-existence to be not only cyclical, but paradoxically simultaneous, resulting in the absence of great meaning or ultimate truth…therefore I am.
The Parable of the Pancakes
Two wise men did come to dine within a Village Inn
The den of antiquity and patriot of pancakes
Upon finishing their meals the first wise man was gazing upon the second
Who was busying himself with an act of tidyness
The first wise man saw that the second wise man
Was dipping his napkin in butter
And using it as though it were a cleaning solution
Upon discovering the success of the solution
The second wise man did cryeth out – “Eureka!”
“The butter cleans up the syrup.”
Hearing this, the two wise men were enlightened
Pages 6, 7 & 8
An Anarchist’s Manifesto Since we are trapped in the illusion of a physical universe and therefore subject to all of its complexities, I think we should be free to discover and explore our own complexities without being subjected to one another in any manner which limits this freedom.
Human beings are individuals. As individuals we have varying interests and drives and different attitudes about our relationship to others. Some people are born with a very strong drive to seek out and win power struggles. Some people do not often feel the need to play games of order, or seek dominion over others. While some incidents during early childhood probably have much to do with the power drive of an individual, it is clear to this author that there always has been and always will be those who adopt the role of powerful, regardless of any advances in parenting that brain-pickers may invent.
Thousands of years ago the powerful and the common had a balance in which the powerful were allowed to exercise their power in a manner that didn’t detract from the commoner having control over their own lives. But the powerful were driven to as much power as they were allowed. Then at some point the common people committed atrocious acts of chicken-shitterly cowardice and began giving up portions of their own lives to the powerful. And inch was given and many light years since have been taken.
The powerful, in ancient times, declared themselves spiritual masters. They claimed to be the key to esoteric mysteries and divinities that the common were not in touch with. These divinities, it turned out, were higher beings who created us for the purpose of obedience and worship. These deities were useful inventions by which the powerful introduced the master and dog concept. With the powerful as intermediaries between master and dogs, they gained a status not granted to common man. And using fear the powerful were able to subject the common man to his own fancy. (This author believes that games of power and status are mostly male orientated/invented traits.)
Now that the powerful have franchised the common person to positions of obedience through fear and insecurity (Alas, the Gods had not made us equal, an idea very useful for exploiting privilege.) they were ready to expand upon their domination. So they created geographic boundaries over which they appointed themselves leaders and created and enforced policies to keep others out so that nobody sane could come in and ruin the whole gig. And thus have we brought upon ourselves the stench of religion, government and property which rob us of freedom and autonomy and set the stage for war, greed, prejudice and hatred.
For the next several thousand years the powerful refined their control. ‘Dark ages’ are interrupted by brief periods of ‘enlightenment’, but its never quite enough to dismantle the masters. And then along comes the industrial/technological revolution. Where the planet was once able to only support a few thousand scattered humans, we now had the resources for several billion. And the masters encouraged us to create these new human beings in larger numbers than ever before so that our hands would be tied with parenthood for most of our lives and we would hardly notice anything else going on. And certainly large populations justified the new system of human survival. -Wow, can this snake really swallow its tail!- Moreover, the more people, the larger the bureaucracy, and therefore the larger the gulf between the people and their masters. A chasm so wide they made it almost impossible, from their positions above us in their system, to dismantle.
As technologies increased and populations sky-rocketed, the community lost its purpose.They now acted merely as property lines and served very little function in creating a social framework from which humans could connect. We grew further and further apart, yet more and more suspicious of one another. Since we had lost almost all of the control over our own lives, we began exercising power in a cowardly fashion by sicking the system on one another to get revenge for the frustration we felt as a result of the system itself.
Fistfights became intolerable and wars fashionable. The ability of individuals to exercise their power, or even act on their own whims, became unthinkable. We have created physical and mental barriers that force us to deny our own truest desires. We have even suppressed the suppression of these desires. It is more acceptable to ignore one another than show love for one another, which is more frowned upon than flipping one another the bird in traffic. We deny our own animal nature and abide by rules that are unnatural to the conditions our species evolved in. We have even begun acting in a manner which is contrary to our own long-term survival.
Some of us have the malignant feeling that things aren’t right. We are aware that our lives are not brand names to be bought and sold. We have discovered that our purpose is not blind obedience to ideas larger than us, but to search out and find what makes us happy. We wish a place to live our lives in regard to our own truest ideas about happiness and fulfillment without notions of success or achievement created by others for their own selfish purposes. We wish to seek our own shelter and food, our own survival. We will not stand in line for handouts from hands that fasten our shackles.
We are taught all of our lives that it is no practical for us to feel this way. That we must accept the world as it is and conform to it. That we should lie down and take our beatings, for it is much easier than a struggle. We are told that we are weak and we cannot make difference, even in our own lives. We are taught that we are stuck. Those who abandon this loss of hope are are feared and despised by those who do actually feel weak and stuck. We are also hated by those who stand to gain from this infighting at the bottom of the power chain, for they know that we can overcome them.
They know they are powerless to control us without our own permission. We give our permission whenever we go to work at a job that does not provide personal satisfaction, whenever we pay our taxes, whenever we are silent, whenever we follow rules compulsively, even though we see no value in them, and certainly whenever we go and vote for the masters. It is unfortunate that we have come to accept the masters to such a degree that we actually take an active part in pretending to select them. And we wonder why we are a bubbling cauldron of frustration and insecurity whose lives seem dull, meaningless and over-before-we-know-it. But it is not the masters who are the enemy. As we stated before, the powerful are just acting on their own natural impulses. The masters have also become enslaved to this system. Do you think the president would rather be talking with soldiers in a foreign land than at home making love to his wife? Do you suppose CEO’s would rather be making pointless decisions in a tall building rather than lying in the sand on the beach any more than the garbage man would rather be collecting trash rather than playing with his own children? Hell no! Now think again on it long and hard. Are you free? Truly free to do whatever you wish so long as no others are harmed and you are prepared to accept the consequences? Or do you define your freedom as the ability to choose from a set of preordained choices set before you? Is that what freedom means to you?
I do not wish to end this by telling you what you should do or how you should live your life. I just want you to know that you still have a choice to live the life you have carved out for yourself and abandon the life that was prepackaged and marketed to you.
Discontent As Salvation
If you are like most people you probably have a preconceived notion that Discontent is ‘bad’, that it is undesirable and that its opposite is the penultimate achievement of an individual. It is of no surprise, as we were all similarly brainwashed through the oversocialization that is rampant in our modern society. Those who would fool themselves with the idea of having reached contentment are so far removed from their truest desires that their lives are being lived for popular notions rather than for happiness, which is not to be confused with contentment. Happiness is reaching the top of the roller coaster and enjoying it despite the fear of the upcoming plunge. Contentment is watching others ride from the sidelines and not really feeling anything because you were too meek and afraid to be willingly and joyfully alive through the act of consciously facing your own fear.
In fact, not only is contentment the greatest betrayal of human complexity and desire, but those who believe they are content are the greatest enemy of happiness because through their consent to ideas larger than themselves they have weakened the position of those displaying the true human nature- The Malcontents.
Engage in warfare with contentment everyday. Either through direct action or by simply engaging in activities that which you would formerly not have because something besides your own true desire told you not to. I do not suggest you go out and hurt anyone. As a matter of fact you can start by alternately hurling compliments and insults randomly at strangers. Play in a mud puddle like a child. Go to work naked. Better yet, don’t go to work at all. Take the day off and instead spend it nakedly ranting at strangers from a mud puddle! In conclusion and in accord with the dissolution of duality’s, contentment is not ‘bad’ or undesirable. It is simply not the best, and certainly not the only path for achieving freedom, autonomy and happiness. Comfort and security are a piss poor consolation prize for the denial of your true nature.
Those who worship the past are doomed to repeat it
How many times have you heard someone argue the impossibility of of a better tomorrow using the past as their proof? How often has it been argued that we need our masters to protect us from ourselves, and then justified the observation by pointing to the folly of humans of the past? Does an undesirable yesterday really prove that tomorrow will be just as hopeless? History as we know it is an account of only those who have won power struggles, thus it hardly serves as an objective signifier for what we could achieve if we so desired. Those who write history have much to gain by defrauding you into believing that things have gotten as good as they are gonna get. Those who worship history are forever stuck in their ruts. They can see no way to get out of this mess. But we are not stuck in the past. Tomorrow can be better than every yesterday that came before. Humanity is not doomed to repeat the errors of its past unless we actively decide it to be so. The old adage ‘Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it,’ is useless in that it teaches that we should learn primarily from our mistakes instead of our successes.
Tomorrow will be whatever you make it. The decisions you make to get there need not be haunted by the ghost of human folly. Tomorrow can be the place of your dreams and fantasies if you use your imagination. Pragmatists need not apply.
The future is unwritten…
Page 11 (Rear Inner-Sleeve)
The following is a list of books, authors, organizations and other sources of guerrilla information that I find insightful and helpful in dissolving useless mental polarities. Check them out at your library, bookstore and in most cases online.
The Principia Discordia
The Church of the SubGenius
Robert Anton Wilson
The Unabombers Manifesto
Disclaimer The Malcontents Manifesto is not a substitute for freethinking. Its ideas are not to be worshiped or held accountable. The ultimate goal is to encourage individuals to think and live for themselves rather than blindly adhering to the strictures of popular culture with its systematic dogma and inconsideration for individualism.
Please copy and pass this along to your friends accompanied by your very own manifesto.
To contact the author send e-mails to email@example.com
Please use the subject title ‘Discontent’ so that I do not mistake, and therefore erase, your email as spam.
Page 12 (Rear Cover)
The Malcontents Manifesto In which everything is explained, yet nothing is learned.
I blink, therefore I am.
In the vacuum of space subatomic particles blink in and out of existence. From nothing and back in barely enough time for the most precise scientific instruments to record their passing. Wait, did I say from nothing? How can that be? Can something come from nothing?
Of course you can’t get something out of nothing, but it happens all of the time. The universe is a lot more complex than the tiny brains we use to observe it with, so don’t worry about any of the mechanics. I have gathered all of the facts and they are not only contradictory to one another, but completely irrelevant to how I choose to think, feel and act most of the time.
Thus \, I recommend using facts only when they are beneficial in helping you attain you truest desires, and not for the tiresome practice of compulsively trying to make your point to others. This human folly of making and accepting blanket statement has caused enough needless confusion, hatred and suffering among us.
From nothing we come, to nothing we shall return. Everything else is in between.
Childhood is a cruelty nobody should have to bear in these short lives we live. Mine was worse than most. Things were bad, I mean REALLY bad. I just wanted to hide, to escape. But wherever I went the adults found me and the cruelty continued. When I realized I could not get away I tried to become somebody who just didn’t care. I built a new me, one who could deal with all of the things that I could not. The new me kept me safe. I gave up more and more of myself all of the time just to feel that comfort and security, even if it was a lie. Before long I gave up so much of myself that I began to disappear into the new me. One day I found that I no longer existed. I was just a spider caught in its own cobweb in the corner of the new me’s mind.
I mostly forgot that I existed. But whenever new me, which I will call Hector, got scared or encountered an extreme situation or feeling, I would find myself rising back up to the surface. Hector developed some bad habits as an adult. The methamphetamines he took gave me a glimpse of the outer world that he lived in. I became desperate to look outside again. When Hector would try to clean himself up I would whisper to him from the corner of his own mind, urging him to get high. When he would stay awake for days he became so weak that I was able to take over our body for brief moments. During those times I began to want to come back, to take over and be in full control of us again. But Hector, as always, was stronger. He beat the drugs and in the process pushed me back into my little darkened corner, where I became trapped like a prisoner of the mind. Even worse, he never knew he was doing it, or noticed that I still existed.
In fact, Hector became stronger than ever. After a period of incarceration for the weaknesses I took advantage of, he was back in full control. His new resolve gave him the strength to fight against oppression, a state our memories would not tolerate in his world. He became an activist. In fighting the demons of the world, he became stronger than I could ever hope to break through. And then one day almost a month ago, something changed.
There was another activist, a man named Alex Walsh, who lived not a few hours drive from here. He had been making some bizarre claims online about a conspiracy to discredit and kill him. Nobody took him too seriously, until one day he showed up dead. He had shot himself, and set his house on fire, or at least that is what the authorities and mainstream media said happened. But to Hector, this was more than just coincidence. Alex had been killed by those whom he had warned everybody who would listen, were trying to kill him. Whether Alex was the victim of a conspiracy or a desperate suicide, I will never know. Yet Hector’s certainty triggered a paranoia the likes of which I had never seen him experience. His fears became so profound that for the first time in years, I was able to rise back up out of my corner. Within a few days of his uncontrollable fear, the very thing I had created him to be immune to, he became weak. And that is when I started wrestling away more control.
Hector’s greatest weakness is that he had been created solely to deny fear, not accept or face it. When he found a thing to fear that he thought he could not deny, it wasn’t hard to help push him further in that direction. The more afraid he was, the more control I gained over our body. Soon I was taking it over for long stretches, mostly when he thought he was sleeping. I was not satisfied with having control of our body in that tired state he surrendered it to me in. So one night when he thought he was sleeping, I scored some methamphetamines so that I could feel awake and alert when our body was all mine. As the paranoia over Alex’s death mixed with the meth and lack of sleep, the people closest to Hector suspected our drug usage, though he was unaware it was happening. Even while feeling the effects, he could not admit their influence, because he was certain he had not used them. Once I lost control before I could hide my drugs and he found them in our backpack. I thought that would be the beginning of the end of me, but his paranoia convinced him that the drugs had been planted.
This was the point that he became certain that someone or someones were out to get him. His cautious paranoia became a certainty. The lost time he was experiencing when I took over created situations that he could not explain, and so slowly, he began constructing narratives to accommodate them. I watched these narratives unfold and tried to figure out a way that I could exploit them to gain total control of our body after all of these years.
One day we were standing in a parking lot and I was able to force myself to the surface. I remained there just long enough for the scene to change before he came back. What stood out in his mind were the extra cars in the lot and the increased traffic. He began to fixate on cars and I took advantage of this. From within I pushed him to find connections. When I gained control at home, usually when he thought he was sleeping, I began to fill our mind full of conspiracy theories from the internet. Slowly they began seeping through the thin partition between us and he was compelled to find this information ‘on his own’. I did everything I could to reinforce these theories, in hopes that I could vanquish him and have us all back to myself. When I saw that a local group of Satanists were attempting to hijack a city council meeting for some bizarre social experiment, I seized onto an idea. It didn’t take long before he caught a glimpse of the news, but from within I distorted it and made it seem far more sinister. It did the trick. He was now convinced, thanks to the ideas that I had been planting, that a gang of Satanists were stalking him for some ultimate maligned purpose.
What happened next surprised even me. When he began to publicly reveal his delusions, he was encouraged by others sharing similar paranoid ideologies. His certainty blossomed faster than I could have imagined or hoped. It was no longer necessary for me to feed him the fear from within, as he was now so ingrained in his narrative that he was immune to reason. Those who tried to talk him down became ‘conspirators’ themselves and everything that happened became some kind of verification for his complex web of paranoia.
One night he contacted a pair of fairly well known activist to listen to his tale. He spent hours telling his story through fever pitched anxiety, and they seemed to be listening, maybe even believing him, or so he thought. After his tale one of them tried to convince him to get help dealing with the anxiety and stress this was causing him. From within, I could see the lie. He was trying to trick Hector into discovering his delusions. He was trying to manipulate him through false support into going to those who might be able to vanquish the delusions that would be my victory. I felt Hector pulling away, giving into some doubt, and considering the advice. I screamed from within, “He is one of them! He is trying to get you to give up, to fail, to die!” When that worked, I knew I would soon have control again after all of these years.
I did learn something from that experience, though. I learned that he believed he ‘knew’ how he would die. Hector thought that he would either be killed by a speeding car that made it look like an accident, or that he would be gunned down by police trying to capture him on behalf of the worldwide Satanist organization that was out to get him. I took every chance I could to reinforce these beliefs. The more I pushed them, the weaker he got, and the closer I got to taking over. But pushing his buttons constantly was bleeding into my own mental state, so I tried being more subtle and letting the crazy colleagues he had acquired reaffirm his fears, while he traveled down a rabbit hole of information that did the same.
Unexpectedly, as he became less frantic and more stoically certain, I was better able to take control at will. Fear had gone as far as it was able to take me, until I was able to deliver the final crushing blow. And so I also became more relaxed. I spent the time I had controlling our body leaving puzzle pieces for the final picture, but also trying to enjoy the life I would soon have all to myself once again. As I struggled to find that joy, I came up continuously empty handed. So far had I been removed from the pleasures of life in all of those years of isolation, that I didn’t even know where to find joy, and I was not sure I would recognize it if I did.
There was some comfort in the cartoons I had watched as a child, before I created Hector, as they had been my original escape. But soon even those became empty. At first I had enjoyed the meth I was secretly feeding our body, but in short order that too became a nowhere place. The family that was once mine were now distant strangers. They were his family. The pleasures I had peeked at from the corner of our mind were also his, and they brought me no comfort, no joy, nothing. The closer I got to having my life back, the less I wanted it.
When I thought of all the things that made me want my life back they were his things. They were his experiences and accomplishments and joys. I had mistaken the envy I experienced from the corner of our mind as desire. Yet once I was free to act on my own desires, I found that I had none. I had no meaning and no purpose. I had died long ago. I was a memory that refused to quit. A ghost in Hector’s consciousness.
I began to step back, to relinquish control. I retreated back to that corner in the hopes that I could feed from the experiences of his life again. But it was too late. I had ruined his life. I had pushed him so far away from his own sanity that he was just as broken as I was when I created him in the first place. So here we were, two people in one mind and one body, neither able to appreciate it. The momentum was too great. His paranoid certainty had closed every loop and became an airtight narrative outlining his own eventual demise. And the only thing worse than the outcome I had helped conjure up in his imagination, dying at the hands of the illusory forces he was certain were out to get him, was for both of us to endure these fears for days, weeks, months and years to come.
This life, that I have not even been living for a very long time, is now too much to bear. For either of us. Hector will not end it, he cannot, I made sure of that. It is up to me to free us both from this hell. I will not destroy his delusions before I end it all. They are all he has left. He will die with the courage and dignity that I have never had in life, to fight with all of his might, even though the forces he battles are all make believe. I leave this letter for his family and his friends. I have nobody. I am nobody. May you remember him kindly. May you remember him as he was before his fear gave me the chance to ruin everything. The man you have encountered recently is not the one you have known for all those years. He is a mockery of that man, a ruination built on the foundations of my weaknesses and my lies and my fears.
To the world, I died long ago, but today I say goodbye. If the car that I step in front of doesn’t kill us, then the cops who try to drag us into the loony bin afterwards will. I will be certain of that, that they do their part, not as though its hard to do these days. By the time you find this, it will be too late. Blame me if you will. Hate me. But please, do not blame Hector for what I have recently done, and what I am about to do.
Doctor Lady Miss Keer of the Deee-Lite Institute shocked the world over two decades ago with her maverick claim that the groove is in the heart. But recently teams working at the University of Ohiowa and the Branch Floridians in Miami have called the scientific diva’s claim into question with new findings.
The two groups co-published a peer-reviewed paper recently entitled Groove Displacement Patterns Suggest Non-Cardio Location. In it they compile data taken from years of research and numerous studies that illustrate a cranial genesis of The Groove.
Dr. Funkdumper of the Branch Floridians states, “All we know so far is that The Groove is all in the head. Always has been, always will be. This heart business has slowed down Groove Research for almost thirty years. We are excited to be opening new doors in the field, and expect major Groove advances to follow in the coming years.”
Diggy Bassroll, a research assistant at the University of Ohiowa told us, “We definitely know The Groove is not in the heart, but somewhere in the head. What we do not know is exactly where in the head The Groove emanates from. However many of us strongly suspect that it is excreted from the pineal gland.”
The news of the discovery paralleled the announcement that gravitational waves had been detected, and so news of The Groove was overlooked in the media, who were busy publishing initial observations that had not yet been replicated or peer-reviewed. Funkdumper lamented, “What we have here is genuine science, validated by the agreed upon forms of the scientific method. It breaks my heart that we are getting the media equivalent of sloppy seconds and being out shined by those premature reports, but now at least I know I won’t lose The Groove with it.”
When TeenTV caught up with Doctor Lady Miss Kier and asked her about the new claims she responded with a dance number that, while explaining absolutely nothing, did much to assure her followers that The Groove was indeed still in the heart. A fan told TeenTV that, “The Groove is obviously in the heart and not in the brain. Those claims are insane, insane in the membrane.”
Q-Tip, who performed the rap section of the song, says that he never fully even believed in The Groove, and so could care less about where it was or was not. “This is some stupid ass shit. Don’t ever call me again,” said the Agroovenostic collaborator.
When asked what he thought of the new studies, Supa DJ Dmitri shrugged it off with this statement- “It does not matter where The Groove is or where it comes from. It does not even matter if you believe in The Groove. So long as I get monthly royalties from that song The Groove is real.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson is a household name. His is one of the most well known faces in the western world. He is an icon for those who prefer to get their understanding of science through television and internet memes and pop science tropes. People hold him and his word as final truths on just about any topic he speaks on, regardless of how little he knows about or understands it himself. He is the Jerry Falwell of Telescientism. An infallible demigod for the pious and faithful.
He also happens to be almost entirely full of shit. On a number of occasions he has made disparaging remarks about the discipline of philosophy, claiming that it is meaningless and unnecessary, in no uncertain terms. This is always done with the insinuation that science and empiricism are superior methods opposed to, and competing with, philosophy. So let’s talk about the first area where NdGT has no idea whatsoever what he is talking about.
The history of science clearly illustrates that empirical methodology emerged from philosophy itself. Science is just an extension or branch of philosophy. In fact, pioneers of science such as DaVinci referred to their discipline not as science, but as natural philosophy. Going back even further, it was Greek philosophers who brought to the western world the foundation of reason and logic upon which modern science eventually was formed. So to say that philosophy is in competition with, threatens or is opposed to science is like saying that ice is opposed to the water from which it formed.
In order to make any estimation of the value of science, one has to use the forms laid out by philosophy. The reason that we know the empirical method is meaningful and useful to begin with comes from premises that emerge from philosophical thought. Even further, for NdGT to make any statements about the relation of philosophy and science is itself a philosophical activity. His assertions have no basis in the empirical method whatsoever. They are philosophical statements, albeit, really low quality ones easily dismissed with simple logic. In fact, empiricism itself is unable to demonstrate the validity of empiricism. Therefore the mindless scientism, the idea that only science can provide meaningful answers about nature and reality, spouted by NdGT is self-refuting. Perhaps his real problem with philosophy is just that he is abysmally terrible at it.
Yet the biggest issue with the wonky worldview of NdGT and his followers is that they beat their fists on their pious pulpit dismissing metaphysics wholesale. Metaphysics is the philosophical study of what precedes, or lies below, physical phenomena. According to NdGT and his followers, philosophy and religion and everything besides science is just fluffy crap for scandalous metaphysicians, whose method they feel should be discarded entirely. Again, the irony is almost too much. NdGT does not eve recognize that his own worldview and the ideas he espouses are based on a metaphysical model. To say that nothing caused or is primary to physical phenomena is itself a metaphysical statement. Just a very naive and ignorant one.
The idea that the qualities of all physical phenomena are emergent properties of matter and physical states is the metaphysical position of physicalism, materialism or naturalism. NdGT’s espoused ideologies are all dependent on the superiority of this metaphysical premise. This makes him just as ideologically dangerous as religious figures who make pseudo-scientific claims. Claiming authority over ideas that one fails to understand their own self, while using their public position to spread these misguided dogmas, is exactly everything he claims to be opposed to.
The physicalist position is that a phenomena’s physical properties are the only ones worth considering. Physicalism is the idea that the entire truth of a thing rests solely on it’s measurable physical properties. This is, in fact, the same reasoning employed by every racist, sexist, homophobic and otherwise bigoted belief system ever. The Nazi scientists went to great lengths to attempt to illustrate the superiority of the Aryan descendants based solely on the physical differences between ‘races’. The most backward hillbilly klansmen similarly justify their own superiority via claims that the physical differences between ‘races’ define them. Every backwards thinking, arrogant and dogmatic bigotry in history was predicated upon the same physicalism that underlies NdGT’s entire ideology.
The persistent cultural ideology that this Telescientismist is a beacon and champion of human progress fails to recognize that he contributes almost more than any other living being (Go away, Bill Nye, nobody is talking to you.) to the greatest hurdle to scientific/human discovery and progress in modern times.
Physicalism is the geocentrism of our times. It impedes ideological progress both culturally and scientifically. An emerging paradigm of philosophers and scientists are beginning to reject that notion. These mavericks are pioneering new theories and models that are able to hold up to scientific scrutiny far better than physicalism, while also being more consistent with other methodologies like philosophy and psychology. While the public are still enraptured by the pervasive physicalism that has endured since the dawn of industrialism, the new ideas that lead to even greater human progress are under construction. People like NdGT are dangerous charlatans pinning people to the past and impeding the evolution of human civilization. And while he does so, strutting around with the self-assurance and conceit of a celebrity, he is profiting from and rubbing elbows with people (Koch brothers, FOXtv) whom his followers generally tend to be ideologically opposed to. NdGT stands for something in the public eye that he is not. He is not an anti-establisment champion of reason and progress, he is a spokesman for that establishments ideas and agendas, and a barricade against the reason and progress that would expose them.
It is time to stop putting Neil on a pedestal. He has not earned that position, nor is he using it to lead to the human and scientific progress that the people who put him on it claim to be seeking. It is not just that he is so completely and utterly full of shit, it is that he is a dangerous megalomaniac peddling garbage that reinforces the greatest threats to humanity.
Last March I began a wonderful journey as a contributing author at CopBlock.org. During that time I have gained innumerable knowledge and skills. However, before that, I was primarily a writer of fiction and short stories. From this new experience I became far more focused on writing about events and ideas directly. Recently I have written several articles of the non-fiction variety that sum up the ideas I have explored in this time. Having completed these theses, I now feel free to explore my fiction writing again. While story ideas often come to me, writing them is a whole different beast. Getting back into fiction shape, as it were, entails me to rediscover that voice through writing experiments.
My first foray back into the format of fiction, Idiocracy Assimilated, inspired me to continue experimenting in writing through Dadaism. However, following that up with another similar mashup seemed too easy. Yet I was not too far from that method when I struck across the idea of reverse Mad Libs. Where that form asked solely that you fill-in the blanks, I thought it might be more rewarding to create the blanks (as well as the rules for filling them in) on my own. But starting from scratch would not have made sense, so I decided to take one of my favorite movies of all time and rewrite the plot synopsis through this Dadaistic reverse Mad Lib idea I had.
My first idea was to break the plot synopsis of The Night of the Living Dead (from Wikipedia) down into its basic concepts. I was able to narrow it down to eight basic concepts. I then considered what cultural trope seemed like the opposite of zombies, which I somehow decided was the Care Bears, and reformed the original concepts with ones more aligned with the Care Bear universe. I came up with the eight concepts and the new ones I would replace them with.
Zombies, Monsters, etc.- Care Bears Dead, Die, Death, etc- Falls in love Stabbed, Shot, Attacked, etc. -Tickled Reanimates, Comes back to life- Makes a friend Eating- Cuddling Corpse, Body- Imaginary Friend Shock, Fear- Laughter Weapons- Feathers
After that I organized all of the proper nouns and replaced them with new ones, which also seemed to more closely fit the rearranged tale I was trying to tell.
Once I had went through and painstakingly replaced words and concepts with my alternatives, and made them grammatically friendly, I still needed to rearrange some syntax and context to make it all fit together. By the time I was finished I had refleshed a stripped skeleton and created a whole new tale.
For those of you looking to learn, improve, expand or teach creative writing, this is an extraordinary experiment. While you are not tasked with providing a plot at the behest of the experiment, as you delve into the content and consistency of the remix you are writing, you find yourself making changes that drastically reconfigure what you started with. In the process of re-editing the tale, not only did I rewrite it, I wrote a brand new one.
So for all of you teachers and writers out there, I hope you can take something away from this that is useful to you. And to everyone else, I hope you can see that the process of writing is an endless task of experimentation and hard work, and not just some escape from the labors of the real world. And to everybody reading this, those trying to escape their own real world labors, I hope you enjoy the story!
Night of the Care Bears
Baby Doll and Kid Luscious drive to the Forest of Feelings for an annual visit to their father’s grave. This was done at their loving mother’s request. Kid Luscious teases, “They’re coming to tickle you, Baby Doll,” noticing Baby Doll’s discomfort. She is then tickled by a strange colorful cartoon bear. Kid Luscious tries to rescue his sister, but the Care Bear then tickles him into a gravestone; Kid Luscious strikes his head on the stone and fall’s madly in love. Baby Doll flees by car but crashes into a tree. She escapes on foot, with the Care Bears in pursuit, and later arrives at a farmhouse, where she discovers an imaginary friend. She is confronted by strange silly figures, running out of the house, like the colorful cartoon bear in the graveyard. Dr. Nibbles takes her into the house. Dr. Nibbles tickles the Care Bears from the house and seals the doors and windows as Baby Doll slowly descends into laughter.
Dr. Nibbles and Baby Doll are unaware that the farmhouse has a cellar, housing a hilarious married couple, Jib Jab and Floober, along with their daughter Plonk. They sought refuge after a group of Care Bears tickled their car. Sir Hugsinstuff and Lady Kissallover, who are a teenage couple, arrived after hearing an emergency broadcast about a series of brutal ticklings. Plonk has gotten a crush after being tickled by one of the Care Bears. They venture upstairs when Dr. Nibbles turns on a radio, while Baby Doll calms down from her fit of laughter. Jib Jab demands that everyone hide in the cellar, but Dr. Nibbles deems it a “love shack” and continues upstairs, to barricade the house with Sir Hugsinstuff’s help.
Radio reports explain that a wave of mass tickling is sweeping across the eastern United States. Another emergency broadcast on a television Dr. Nibbles finds reports that the Care Bears are making new friends and are cuddling the loving. Experts, scientists, and the United States military fail to discover the cause of mass tickling, love and friendship, though one scientist suspects radioactive contamination from a space probe. It returned from Venus, and exploded in the Earth’s atmosphere just before the radiation was detected.
Dr. Nibbles plans to obtain a safe space for Plonk when the reports listed local rescue centers offering refuge and safety. Dr. Nibbles and Sir Hugsinstuff refuel Dr. Nibbles’s truck while Jib Jab hurls tickles from an upper window at the Care Bears. Lady Kissallover follows him, giggling about Sir Hugsinstuff’s safety, Sir Hugsinstuff accidentally spills feathers on the truck, at the funky chicken coop, tickling it badly. Sir Hugsinstuff and Lady Kissallover try to drive the truck away from the feathers, but Lady Kissallover is unable to free herself from its door, and the truck tickles them, instantly making them fall in love all over again.
Dr. Nibbles returns to the house, but is stone-walled by Jib Jab. He forces friendliness. Dr. Nibbles tickles him, laughing about his silliness, while the Care Bears cuddle with Sir Hugsinstuff and Lady Kissallover. A news report reveals that, only a tickle to the head can make the Care Bears fall in love, aside from teaching them to love themselves. It also reported that posses of tarred men are patrolling the countryside to restore boredom.
The lights go out moments later, and the Care Bears break through the barricades. Jib Jab grabs Dr. Nibbles’s feather and threatens to tickle him, but Dr. Nibbles tickles him first. Jib Jab stumbles into the cellar and collapses next to Plonk and falls instantly in love with her all over again, while Plonk has herself fallen into love with the colorful cartoon bears. The Care Bears try to pull Floober and Baby Doll through the windows, but Floober frees herself. She returns to the refuge of the cellar where Plonk is being extremely friendly and cuddling Jib Jab’s imaginary friend. Floober is laughing her butt off, and Plonk tickles her into love with a feather. Baby Doll is carried away by the Care Bears and group hugged, seeing Kid Luscious among the Care Bears. The Care Bears then overrun the house. Dr. Nibbles seals himself inside the cellar, where Jib Jab and Floober are making too many friends, and he is forced to tickle them.
Dr. Nibbles is awakened by the posse’s laughter outside the next morning. He ventures upstairs. A member of the posse mistakes him for a Care Bear and tickles him on the forehead. The film ends with a photo montage of Dr. Nibbles as he falls in love and becomes a Care Bear.
If I have piqued your interest, but you do not know where to begin, try using the replacement concepts I provided above the story to rewrite other zombie movie plot synopses, which can be found at Wikipedia or IMDB. And whether you use my basic format to experiment, or come up with new ones of your own, please share your creations with me on my Facebook page. If they are undeniably fabulous, I may even re-post them here at Advanced Ape.
In 2063 Zephram Cochrane was to have invented the warp drive that would free humanity not only from its cosmic captivity, but from its own petty weaknesses and excesses, by virtue of giving it something better to do. However some Vulcans who were observing Sputnik and ended up stranded on Earth in 1957 dramatically changed the timeline. Unbeknownst to them a human scientist found their ‘hidden’ ship and was able to get enough information about it to pioneer microprocessors nearly fifty years before it would have happened on the earlier timeline.
As a result the internet was unleashed on humanity before it had culturally matured enough to to fully appreciate it’s tremendous power. Human beings began to rapidly adapt according to properties of this new cybernetic environment. Methods of giving and getting approval in that new environment skewed peoples tastes, but even worse, had massive effects on their psychological well being and maturity. The replacing of complex written language with a wildly popular form of reductionist images called ‘memes’ quickly eroded human rhetoric and critical thinking skills. As the new viral images made people increasingly less intelligent, the new psychological kinks also made them believe that their devolving intellects were in fact superior. Through these two factors combined with many other internet culture issues, like passive aggressiveness and constant barely masked insinuations, humanity began dumbing down at an exponential rate.
When a Borg ship from the future visited Earth on its new timeline in 2063, they did not immediately recognize that humanity had devolved, and began the process of assimilation by unleashing nanoprobes into the planets oceans, and thus into the entire worlds water supply. Having not realized the Vulcan visit had changed the timeline so radically, the Borg showed up and assimilated a planet full of idiots.
Having added the technological and biological distinctiveness of the Idiocracy to their own, over time the Collective itself began to become infected by the same viral stupidity that had conquered humanity via the internet. By the end of the 21st century, the Borg had become a hive of dumbasses. Although their collective nature and cybernetic implants kept them from becoming as hopeless and useless as the humans had been when assimilated, the Borg took a turn that would prevent them from realizing perfection, while allowing them to continue to assimilate ever more species into their galactic idiocracy.
The man once known on Earth as Dr. Lexus was now in a giant sphere somewhere in the alpha quadrant looking for new species to assimilate. He was the seventh member added to the interplanetary adjunct of Unimatrix Dicks, though his scroes just called him Seven of Dicks. But usually pretty much every drone in the Borg collective, just shortened it Septdick.
Septdick was scrubbing plasma conduits in Borg Sphere #Pota2-11 when he must have spaced out for a minute. Gone were both his own thoughts and those of the collective. When he came out of his haze he found that he was attempting to assimilate his own leg. At first he began to panic at his predicament. But when he heard the collective, audible again within his own mind, laughing at his zoned-out blunder, he allowed himself to laugh along with them as he retracted his nanoprobe tubules from himself. He looked over at the drone closest to him and said, “I like assimilation.”
The drone, who was known to the Borg as Fart of Twelve and was once a member of species #879 dead-panned back, “I like assimilation, too.”
The two drones did a hopping high-five before a single voice boomed through the mind of the entire collective. It was the Borg queen, Beef Supreme, announcing that they were just about to assimilate a new species. The minds of the hive went silent as Beef Supreme spoke through a drone into a loudspeaker in a far away sphere hovering over a world full of new recruits.
“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your planet. We will add your biologicalal and technical dickstinkyness to our own. Your cult chore will adapt to service us. Resist us is futile.”
Septdick went back to work on the plasma conduits and watched the assimilation, through the eyes of the drones doing it, in his mind. He felt a slight euphoria as the rush of new individual consciousnesses were added to his own. He spoke again to the nearby drone, “The corrective is pretty badass.”
It answered back, “Yeah, those planet guys are totally butthurt fags.”
Rather than answering back, Seven of Dicks shot Twelve of Farts an image of a famous actor from Earth history making a face of surprised uncertainty that was overlaid with some text about some human disease and sexual practices. Much of the Borg Collective now used such memetic symbols to make associations between phenomena and response. Since assimilating the Idiocracy and becoming infected with its intellectual viruses, the Borg increasingly used memes to communicate to one another. They were simple yet effective tools for providing cohesion of the dumbed-down group mind. If information is reduced to only its implicit message, it is easy to understand and agree upon. The sort of explicit-rich and implicit-blind information sharing that had helped destroy the human beings intelligence just before the Borg showed back up to assimilate them also worked as a great tool for keeping the Borg strong despite the cerebral cancer it was now infected with.
After finishing up the warp coil maintenance, Septdick went to check out the aeroponics bay to see if any of the organic matter he had been attempting to grow was sprouting yet. He hoped to be able to devise a process for assimilating lower life forms, like plants, algae and fungus, so the collective could benefit from their knowledge and experience. But so far nothing has stirred from the seeds he had placed in the dirt. It just didn’t make sense. The soil was nutrient rich and he had all but flooded it with Borgade, which had nanoprobes. And nanoprobes are what organic life needs. Something should have been popping up by now. He took some sensor data and went off to find an open regeneration alcove to process it while his own nanoprobe rich organic matter was recharged through the conduits of technology that supplemented his body.
While he was regenerating he dreamt of the place where only some drones ever visited in their down-cycle. There his scroes and hoes were all free of the collective and were able to interact with one another as the individuals they were before they were assimilated. Unfortunately, most of the other species avoided the human drones who were somehow able to visit there, and seemed to look down on them as inferior. Meanwhile, the humans there thought the other species shit was retarded and that they tended to talk like fags. Yet the humans did not judge them as harshly because, in their view, there were plenty of tards out there living dank lives, so who were they to play Judge Judy and executioner?
Seven of Dicks felt a jostle and was suddenly awake and looking into the face of a rather confused drone who must have bumped into him and interrupted his regeneration cycle. Septdick said, “Go away, ratin’!” and then stepped back into the alcove and that other place.
When he returned the formerly human Borgs had gathered together for a meeting. After everyone was done greeting each other by punching them in the groins, one of the more intelligent particular individuals began giving an impassioned speech.
“I know shit’s fucked up. Everyone’s shit is real emotional right now. But we got this guy, Don’t Know, who is gonna help us figure our shit out.” The speaker then fired a phase pistol, which was set to incinerate, into the ceiling of the building they had gathered. Just before the ceiling collapsed on the dreaming drones, Septdick and the others were pulled from their slumber by an urgent message from Beef Supreme.
“We are experimenting technological difficulties. Please stand by and prepared to be bored.” Suddenly the collective mind was in absolute disorder. Klaxons blared all over the ship as he tapped into the ships sensors to see if he could figure out what was going on. He looked around and it appeared all of the other Borg drones surrounding him were doing the same. A view outside the ship showed another sphere that had somehow triggered its own self-destruct sequence. As it blew up, he and the others could not help but jump around pumping their fists and cheering at the scene of carnage. Even though it was one of their spheres, the scene was pretty badass. Beef Supreme continued, “Please remain chill while we adapt for a solution.”
Somewhere in that endless collection of individual minds a single voice rose up, “I got a solution, yer a dick!” That got the collective going and the meme-sharing threatened to break the internets that connected them.
Beef Supreme boomed over the cacophony, “You guys are just butthurt, but I can super-size with your concerns. Shit’s real fucked up right now. I think we accidentally ass-stimulated a viral us. I am trying recaliber rate the nanoprobes to fix the misfunctions. As soon as I figure it out I will send you all the instructions to fix your nanprobes. Nanoprobes got what Borgs need. Peace out, bitches.”
The drone closest to him asked aloud, “What was that ho saying about banana pros?”
The Borg queen came back, “I think I have found the problem. We seem to have been in-fucked-ed by the genes of a species forgery known as humans. I am preparing to upload the solutions to your data breaks.”
“What did she say about jeans? What does she think we are, some kind of pants goblins?” the nearby drone asked.
The collective became an overwhelming rush of confusion and panic. Seven of Dicks was taking in so much data that he was no longer aware of himself or his environment. The collective was too noisy and he couldn’t even meme with his scroes. When he came back to his own mind, he was trying to assimilate the drone he had been talking to before.
“Sorry, Butt of Fucks, I don’t know why I did that.” he paused. “I like assimilation.”
The confused drone, Butt of Fucks, looked back at him and smiled. “I like assimilation, too.”
In the middle of a leaping double high five, augmented by mutual heel clicks, the voice of Beef Supreme spoke again.
“I have completely the adoptations required to make the upgrayedds necessary to destroy the viral lice. That is upgrayedd with two ‘d’s for double download. As in a double download of pimpin’.”
A moment after he received the re-assimilation programming, he looked around him. Drones were dressed in neon print t-shirts with strange primitive designs that said ‘Assimilation’ on them. The ones who were formerly female were wearing clothes that nearly revealed the areas of the body that once contained genitals, before they had been converted into asexual copies of their former selves. The ship looked like a targ pit and on monitors all around there was a show playing in which drones were all taking cheap stun gun shots at a single drones implants, while everyone else looked on in hysterical rapture. Seven of Dicks could hear the collective in his mind asking the same questions. What are we? What happened to us? What do we do now? Instead of trying to answer them, or get the answer, he made his way to the nearest empty alcove and prepared himself for the next regeneration.
Pretend that you have just opened a cool, crisp can of your favorite soft drink. You take a few short sips and savor them, then take in a long gulp of that sticky sweet stuff. Now, if I ask you to describe that can of soda, how would you respond? My guess is that most of us would use adjectives like- cold, sweet, refreshing, etc. A huckster might instead describe the can rather than the beverage it contains and say it is- cylindrical, opens at one end, is predominately red and black. These are all of the directly observable qualities or experiences of the can of soda. They are its explicit messages.
Now let us say that you wanted to start a soda company of your own. What are the things you would have to know about soda to do so? Surely you would have to understand the explicit nature of soda in order to make a product that is enjoyable and marketable. But you would have to know some things about cans of soda that can not be related directly by cans of soda themselves. You would have to know about ingredients and the supply chains by which you attained them. You would have to know about properties of the packaging to be used.
If you followed those bits of explicit knowledge further down the rabbit hole of implicit messages you might learn about the resources used to create the ingredients. You might also learn of the labor used to harvest and adapt them and the socio-political implications of that process. And from this you could continue branching off endlessly into infinite new paths of knowledge that all contribute to a fuller knowledge of a can of soda. Eventually your description of a can of soda might be something like, ‘a sticky sweet beverage, often chilled, and reliant on resources, labor and supply chains associated with industrial era global oligarchs who often exploited their laborers/consumers and the environment in order to increase profits from selling a product with disturbing health implications, and gaining a monopoly on socio-economic paradigms in the process’.
Everything you observe or experience has both explicit and implicit properties. Before we go further, lets get a better understanding of what those two concepts mean.
Explicit properties are obvious. Those properties are apparent through observations and direct experience. They are the properties on the surface. They are the content of the subject. Explicitness ‘is what it is’.
Implicit properties are not obvious. They often require further thought or research of properties or connections not immediately apparent to an observer. They are beneath the surface of the thing itself. They are its contextual information, knowledge that creates a big picture of a world in which soda exists and its implications and underlying effects in that world.
I have spoken a lot recently about implicit information. Recent articles on Chaos, Like Buttons, Institutions, Facts, Niceness, Survival and Memes (and more Memes), as well as others, have all been an attempt to describe the often overlooked implicit information all around us. I have spoken about content vs. context and signifier vs. signified, as well as other semiotic confusion I often encounter with people. I have discussed Marshall McLuhan’s idea that The Medium Is the Message, which is an excellent example of understanding the difference between the explicit and implicit; as well as why implicit information has greater effects and consequences than explicit info. Because it is easier to attain the explicit and ignore the implicit, we often find ourselves ignoring implicit information and its importance.
Here is an interview with McLuhan that, although long, contains an incredibly rich amount of information and explanation on the topic.
When McLuhan spoke up there of mediums he included social systems and other cultural artifacts and ideologies. Besides the obvious mediums that appear in media, he was talking about how the implicit information about a thing always says much more about its meaning and effect on individuals and society than the explicit.
As our world grows more technologically and socially complex, we are bombarded with ever more cultural artifacts and social systems. There are always more and more mediums being created. And through media we are consuming more and more of the explicit information contained in them. As the bombardment of explicit messages increases, the implicit messages become increasingly hidden and faint. In order to keep up with the increasing amount and complexity of the explicit we have had to ignore the implicit to make room in our expanding collective consciousness. As a result we are constantly applying this shortcut compulsively. We have turned off our implicit thinking, critical thinking, in order to manage the avalanche of explicit information in our environment.
One strange outcome of this paradigm is that modern studies and tests assure us that we are growing increasingly more intelligent as a species, based on scales which measure our ability to regurgitate explicit information. And what determines the sort of explicit information test results reward us for regurgitating often depends on external agendas or attempts to specialize. The agendas are intentional attempts by power structures to condition our thinking and responses to be amenable to the power structures those agendas were created by. They dumb us down to manipulate us using explicit information overload and engineering. The specialization is a response to socio-economic paradigms which reward us for filling in areas of labor necessity that also often works in the overall favor of power structures. Yet the specialization narrows our knowledge to such a degree that even most specialists are buried in the explicit knowledge of their area of expertise to the degree that they cannot see where it fits in the bigger picture.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
-Robert A. Heinlein, from ‘Time Enough for Love’
Before we continue to analyze the problem of implicit-blindness in our society on the surface, lets look at another form of explicit information that behaves in very much the same ways as memes. In fact, many memes past and present have incorporated this far older medium into their own. The medium I am discussing is ‘platitudes’. Platitudes are common sayings that convey what generally seems like universally agreeable statements. But those explicit statements are always loaded with implicit context. And even when the explicit seems universally agreeable, deconstructing the implicit messages within it can reveal a platitude as being poorly thought out or outright deceptive or false. Yet because the assumption of universal agreement is also a part of sharing that platitude, those who reject it on the terms of implicit falsehoods can face social rejection, or be told that they should ‘chill out’, ‘stop overthinking it’ or not be so ‘unreasonably disagreeable’. Yet when the reason for disagreement comes directly from an investigation of the platitude using reason itself, intelligent responses to intellectual automata are not only considered acts of aggression, but make one susceptible to acts of counter aggression by those who reject the implicit. Lets look at a simple platitude-
Love is all you need.
This one is really simple because it has only three main areas we need to deconstruct to view the implicit information which negates the explicit message of the statement. Due to structure we will work in reverse with the three concepts.
Need- What is need? Need means that a condition must be fulfilled to avoid negative consequences. Human beings have several needs, but only a few of them must be met to basically live. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a standard often used for identifying the needs of human beings in their order of importance. Love is somewhere in the center of the pyramid of these needs, although one could, in theory, live without it.
All- How long do you think you would survive if all you had was love? How happy and mentally/emotionally healthy would you be if the only need being met was love, or even just stopped there on the pyramid? Does ‘all’ have any meaning in this context or is it just a small word with lots of hyperbole?
Love- Of all of the qualities of human experience, love may be the most subjective. Though we all agree that it seems to exist and even have similar experiences of it, we cannot say exactly what love is. Yet there are some things we know about love. Love can make you feel good, and it can make you feel bad. Loving someone, therefore, means that you will both make the other feel good sometimes and bad others. In fact, sometimes love requires us to hurt others, in order to protect them from dangers they are unable to recognize or protect themselves from.
When John Lennon wrote that trite crap, do you suppose he meant to say that ‘sometimes hurting other people for their own good is the only requirement for survival’? It is possible that he meant that. He died from an overdose of admiration before I was old enough to even consider that question. Yet what 99.99% of people think he is saying is that ‘so long as we make each other feel good, everything else will take care of itself’. In this case, even the explicit message is pretty dopey and vacant. Yet when examined even further for its implicit message, it is a completely idiotic and meaningless statement. Yet it has become so culturally persistent that it is now essentially a universal platitude.
(Exercise: Try reading the lyrics to Imagine by John Lennon while uncovering the implicit messages and see if you can get from one line to the next without wanting to knee his rotted corpse in the groin.)
Explicit information is subjective experience calling itself objective knowledge backed by the certainty of majority consensus. We are able to prop up our own self-awareness and identity on the explicit with very little danger to those concepts. Agreeing about the explicit forms the basis of social interactions and becomes a path to popularity or other social rewards. The explicit is often the feel-good content of daily interactions. Because it often makes us feel good or rewards us otherwise, it becomes a path of least resistance at best, and a total crutch at worst. When you add this to the fact that it is far easier to deal with the explicit, implicit messages are constantly being ignored, denied or scorned.
Yet explicit messages are like dots in a ‘connect-the-dots’ exercise. They are a necessary part of the end product, but are meaningless themselves. It is the lines between which gives shape and life to those dots, and the lines are the implicit. Our ignorance, distaste and rejection of the implicit is creating an intellectual environment of all dots and no lines. Even while humanity is acquiring more dots all of the time, we are becoming more like white noise than a clear signal. If we do not learn to be more connective in day to day life, to see the bigger picture or the forest through the trees, then we will eventually be awash in a cosmic sea of useless information. Dots that connect to no other dots. The noise of which will be too great to concentrate upon the implicit and save us from the feedback chamber of horrors that is explicitness overload.
It is critical that we begin to stop thinking from so many assumptions and operating from the micro. For our intellectual evolution to continue, humanity must train its minds to operate more often from the macro, and from that bigger picture to never take any information for granted. The society on the surface is one in which critical thinking is replaced by assumptions, in which we are always zooming in and never out; and in which explicit messages do not act as paths to implicit investigation, but become barriers to thinking about anything beyond its mere appearances.
The Cult of Niceness is an umbrella term that I use to describe many different behaviors and ideas. I first noticed the problem when I was only a child. Observing adults I was able to notice that they sometimes put on an appearance of niceness in order to cloak some other agenda. I began to understand that ‘nice’ was sometimes just a deceptive ruse used to manipulate others in some way. Usually just to create an image of themselves for others who did not know them well enough to see through it. Other times it was in order to coerce people into thinking, saying or doing what they wanted thought, said or done. I quickly noted that often the attempt to appear nice was actually just a form of passive aggressiveness that somehow worked, no matter how obvious the charade seemed to me. And I quickly refused to play into that disingenuine mindgame myself.
As a result people often think I am either an asshole, socially unrefined or both. Genuine authentic honesty is a virtue we all pay lip service to, but most people are repulsed when they actually encounter it. The very same qualities that would cause people to label me also made me immune to their classifications. Integrity and consistency generally only feel good to the person attaining them, and painful to those whose cognitive dissonance they incite. People will then push you to admit to some kind of self-loathing in order to gratify themselves, and if you do not concede they will tell you that you think you are better than them and everyone else. I have never been concerned with popularity contests or other competitions. I am not trying to be better than anyone else. I am trying to be the best possible me. Along the way I am trying to assist others in being the best possible selves they can be. I have a sneaking suspicion that the more we all improve ourselves, the more peaceful, harmonious and joyful the world we share will be. So I refuse to apologize for being who I am, even if you don’t like it, or if it makes you like yourself less.
The Cult of Niceness (CON) is predicated on peoples insecurities. It is self-doubt and existential malaise regurgitated in statements synonymous with suburban mommy talk. It is the special snowflake speech mounted on the hood of day-to-day life like cattle horns on an oil magnates Cadillac. It is an attempt to be rewarded, validated and gratified for doing absolutely nothing deserving of those responses. The most insidious part being that not only is the behavior fake and deceptive, it also takes advantage of other peoples falsehoods and self-deception. People who like themselves do not feel the need to bully others into artificial niceties through such manufactured discrepancies. While everybody knows that the person the bully always loathes most is their self. And make no doubt, insisting that others perform the same CON roles that you are trapped in is just a form of social bullying.
Social media has, like it has with everything else, magnified this human weakness to stupendous proportions. The CON is what drives most online interactions. One of the most common behaviors that makes this apparent is the act of sharing self-deprecating thoughts in order to get rewarded, validated and gratified for an apparent act of humbleness that is actually just manipulative neediness. People will describe their weaknesses, failures or other unfavorable quirks in the hope that it will get them attention. They will self-loathe in order to fish out compliments. They will don a mask of vulnerability and timid dislike for themselves just so that others will respond to them in ways that help them identify themselves as superior to others. The CON has created an ideology that suggests that superiority comes in the form of humble self-deprecation. But oddly enough, only people who really do dislike themselves can be fooled into thinking that appearing to dislike themselves makes them better than everyone else.
Numerous messages online tell us that all we need is love and that if only we were all nice the world would be a perfect place. These oversimplistic reductionisms are dangerously ignorant. Not only because they deny the value humanity receives from a complex range of behaviors, but because they also suggest that niceness is a quality only measured in appearances. People do cruel things all of the time in order to achieve the most positive possible outcomes. If you have never hurt someones feelings with your honesty in order to save them an even greater pain, then you probably have never really loved somebody all that much. Friends and family members rely on one another to deliver harsh truths that would save them from entering treachery hiding in their own blind spots.
Given that our world has become riddled with so much conceptual ignorance, we have created great areas of blindness that threaten humanity at large. Pointing out the misconceptions and false premises that these blind spots are predicated on is itself a great kindness to our entire species. But when you fail to stroke peoples delusions or confirm their biases or point out all of this behavior their reaction is usually just to label you an asshole or as socially unrefined. By protecting themselves from the abrasive cognitive dissonance you would cause them in the name of niceness, people are poking holes in their own raft and calling it a waterpark. When people have more desire not to feel like they were wrong than they do to actually try and be right, it becomes impossible to reach them. The truth often does hurt, and those who put niceness before growing pains are wearing their ignorance with an idiots welcoming grin.
I am not just complaining about the CON because I find it distasteful. I am giving a dire warning about it because it is very important for a few different reasons. The first reason is that it is an affront to reason itself. The CON is one of the things which is contributing to the dumbing-down of humanity and ushering in the Idiocracy. The second reason is that we are entering an era of humanity that will center around the reputation of individuals. If the Reputation Economy of tomorrow is built upon the falsehoods and appearances of the CON, then we will be living in an Idiocracy in which everyone appears just as robotic, plasticine and saccharine sweet as The Stepford Wives. It will be a Nerf Hell or a Smile-Or-Die Dystopia. So my warning about this problem is not the revenge or ‘diss-track’ some people will think of it as, as they act out all of the ignorance I just warned against here. It is the solemn cautioning of a Trojan Horse at our gates. If we invite the CON into our lives because it sure does look pretty great on the outside, we are gonna be in for a big surprise when it starts unpacking its dangerous contents. Consider this a warning.
Just because I am suggesting that you do not take part in compulsive and coercive niceness does not mean that I endorse its opposite, compulsive and coercive assholery. Sometimes being an asshole, or doing things you know will get you labeled as one, is the course of action that will lead to the best outcomes for all. But doing it compulsively and as an act of senseless aggression is really just the same problem. The world has no shortage of people who are assholes just for sport. The internet is full of these people. This is not the opposite of the CON, it is just the other side of the same bad coin. Trying to exploit peoples weakness by provoking an emotional response just to reward, gratify or validate ones self is a giant pitfall we must avoid if we don’t wish to lead others over the edge of sanity like intellectual lemmings.
The CON is a dangerous social precedent to set. It is a falsehood of appearances with all of the philosophical complexity of a big purple dinosaur singing songs to children. It is important not to tread on the feelings of others for no good reason, but sometimes there are good reasons, and other times you cannot help how other will emotionally respond. Yet we cannot protect our Feelz to such a degree that it allows us to remain in ignorance to the extent that our species devolves intellectually in the process. Try to be nice when it is appropriate, but you are under no obligation to smile and nod bobble-headedly in the affirmative when the CON asks you to try their kool aid.
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.
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.]
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.
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!
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?
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“I can’t even spell kantuneez but now I can speak it!”
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!
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Our 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.)
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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!
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.
Life is pretty much a giant darkened maze with nothing but sharp edges. The only way not to get constantly torn apart by it is to bring some light to each and every situation. And when I say light, I mean alcohol. Good old fluffy, fuzzy, tasty alcohol.
Pretending that it is a good idea to try to make it through most of the day sober has been the cause of all of the horror and tragedy in the world. If everyone was half shnockered by lunch each day we would be having global karaoke contests instead of wars. Not necessarily because alcohol makes you peaceful, but you are less likely to start some major shit when you are certain you are just going to pass out at some point in the near future.
Yet while you want to be happy (buzzed), you don’t necessarily wanna have to give up the remaining vestiges of style, class and dignity you have managed to drag this far along with you. While you could just as easily start the day with a tallboy of Steele Reserves or a few blasts of cheap vodka with a Kahluha chaser, why not prove to yourself and the world how much self-worth you have by dulling the daily existential dread with wine?
Ah, wine, the social lubricant with such a reputation for classiness that even the cheap stuff makes you look and feel like an important senator in a fancy bathhouse. You don’t wanna feel like a drunk first thing in the day, and so drinking wine will help you to feel like a VIP living life at the crest of a wave travelling down the fast lane to success.
At the same time, you are going to need to soak some of that ethanol up so the crossing guard in front of your kid’s school doesn’t give you those nasty looks when you hop over the curb right after dropping your precious load off. There is no food like breakfast cereals to do just that. They are custom made to absorb liquids (in a bowl or in your stomach) and come cheaply in a wide variety of flavors that pair perfectly with some of the post popular styles of wine. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Note: Yes, I am suggesting that you pour the wine right over the cereal. But if you are still clinging to some gaudy out-dated pretense of Victorian table manners, you can pour it in a glass and drink it alongside your breakfast crunchies.
Cabernet-Sauvignon: Wikipedia says that “Despite its prominence in the industry, the grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France.” This is not at all unlike the chance crossing of toasted oat bits with colorful marshmallow shapes that characterizes Lucky Charms, which serves as a perfect pairing with one of the world most enduringly popular wines. Cabernet-Sauvignon is a very aggressive wine with lots of depth and plenty of tannin. It can easily walk all over foods and dominate the palate. So while the oat bits are soaking up the ethanol, the marshmallow pieces provide a stark counterbalance to the wine. This pairing makes a great start for people just getting used to drinking before their life starts hurting for the day. It also makes a solid staple for the stick-to-it type who believe breakfast should a simple old-fashioned affair without the need for constant reinvention.
Chardonnay: Chardonnay is a lady. She is a sensual mysterious lady who is as good in bed as she is in breakfast. Yet her sensuality is in her subtlety and even this coy simplicity is a marvel of complexity. A woman like Chardonnay was born to be Queen, which is why she pairs perfectly with King Vitamin. Together they are First Meal Royalty. King Vitamin is a sensible cereal without unnecessary amounts of sugar. If there were a sweetened cereal that could be described as ‘dry’ it would be the King, which is also the mark of a good Chardonnay. And while it may seem like overkill to pair two dry items together, the result is so drenching that after half a lifetime of having them for breakfast you will begin to develop water on the brain. Which is why you want to keep this pairing for weekends and special occasion. God only knows you don’t wanna be puking royalty into a toilet in the employee bathroom before lunch. Then you wouldn’t be up to your Burger King and Bourbon!
Merlot: The Everyman of red wines, Merlot is cheap, plentiful and can be found just about anywhere. So long as you pass out at night in the developed world, no matter where you awaken there will be a bottle nearby. And if ease of acquisition is a primary concern to you, you are probably a no-frills and no-nonsense type of drunk who couldn’t care less for a cereal with bells and whistles of any type. So with its high alcohol content, velvety tannins and fruity overtones, Merlot pairs perfectly with the staple of American breakfast nooks, Corn Flakes. Sure, you don’t actually have to capitalize Corn Flakes, but you also don’t have to go out into the cruel and heartless world where the only people that care about you are your mother and your bartender. But since you are going to do that anyway, you might as well do it with a high BAC obtained as effortlessly and efficiently as possible. You don’t need to overthink your breakfast to enjoy it. And if you are still a little drunk from last nights Jagermeister Meatloaf, you probably aren’t going to do either anyway. So Merlot and Corn Flakes are just the answer you keep forgetting you meant to look for.
Runner Up: Boxed Pink Zinfadel and Fruity Pebbles
So there you have it. The three most popular wines paired perfectly with three great breakfast cereals. Before you go out and face the harsh reality of existence in full light, start your day by dulling your senses like winners do.
Let me know what you think of these pairings in the comments, or share your own perfect wine/cereal combos!
One of the most tragic paradigms of the human intellect is that of literalism. When we fail to address or understand things beyond their face value, beyond the most obvious observations and descriptions, we not only fail to fully understand something, but gain a false and delusional understanding of it in the process. When so many of our starting premises for our opinions, ideas and beliefs are constructed from these literalist misreadings of reality, it begins to have a massive effect, one that remains invisible behind the wall of literalism we have constructed through consensus.
The most unfortunate sort of literalism is that which we apply to ourselves. When our self-concept and self-awareness becomes constructed around delusions spun out of a refusal to investigate our deeper motivations, intent and inconsistencies, it becomes possible for us to become our own worst enemies. We can be unwitting co-conspirators of everything that we despise in the world when we fail to read more deeply into our own thinking and behaviors. And we can also be manipulated by those with a better sense of the power of obfuscation through literalism. And as distasteful and painful as it may be to hear, most of us are guilty of taking things too literally or shallowly much of the time.
I could spend days discussing the ways in which literalism becomes a tool of self-delusion, but for the purposes of this article, I wish to discuss the function and meaning of positive social media rewards and how our failure to exercise self-awareness may be having disastrous consequences on our social and intellectual environments. So before I discuss how this literalism becomes problematic, let us look specifically at Facebook and the ‘like’ button and try to understand the full range of motivations we exercise when clicking it.
I do not specifically or literally like this, but I am clicking like (etc.) because…
I approve of your interest/fascination with the topic.
I want to appear friendly.
I want you to feel safe in this conversation so you continue to play along.
I have not liked anything of yours for awhile, so I will like this to remind you that I like you.
I want to remind you that I exist.
I really dislike ‘the opposite’ of this.
I feel sorry for this person and want to show support, regardless of the content of the thing I liked.
This confirms my biases.
This validates me.
I want you to like me.
I will ironically like your insult in an attempt to dis-empower it.
I like everything I see on this topic, regardless of actual content.
I appreciate that this probably annoys certain types of people.
I want to smash my genitals with this person’s genitals.
To appease The Algorithms.
Some of these reasons are purely manipulation. Some are genuine attempts at kindness. Others are measured activity for specific effect. We use likes to rig the system, whether it is the rigid social media system itself or the only loosely definable system of human relationships and social interaction. But this much is clear, ‘like’ does not always mean you actually ‘like’ something. And if we are being honest we would see that most of our ‘likes’ are either not steeped in an actual appreciation, or off of one so weak that we are watering down the nature of appreciation itself.
Human values are largely constructed from consensus. What we view as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is, at the very, least strongly influenced by what we believe others also view as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Values do not necessarily gain their worth through majority rule, but they are often formed by it. And this process is largely non-conscious. We do not walk around aware of the fact that we are absorbing other peoples values, or that we are creating them. It just happens little by little over time. There are rarely any apparent indicators of this process in the real world. Most of the reward/punishment stimulation happens in the sub-context of our interactions. But in social media, this is quite different. We are aware of our ability to reward certain thoughts and behaviors using ‘likes’ or ‘upvotes’ or any of the similar social media tools. But that awareness of the tool is becoming increasingly ignorant of the cost, long term effects and larger understanding of it. We are creating new sets of human values without really understanding that we are doing it or how it is being done. And although this is true of humans throughout history, we are now doing is at an exponentially rapid rate. We are reconstructing reality and our values at unprecedented speeds.
One can drive a car a few miles per hour and not pay much attention to what is going on around them, and there will probably not be very great consequences if something goes wrong. But when you speed up and continue to speed up more and more without raising your awareness to match, you are almost certainly heading straight for a disaster. This is true of both automobiles and social paradigms. The like button may still look and feel like a slow car, but that is because it sped up slowly without us realizing it, as often happens when we experience things incrementally relative to our position to them. That car is now hauling ass and our ignorance and/or denial is going to lead to a disaster if we don’t increase our awareness of the car, the road and ourselves.
Back to social media. The like button and its counterparts are tools that the programmers use to determine what content we will see in our feeds through calculated algorithms. This keeps their content in the range that their advertisers want. When we ‘like’ something we are setting an agenda. And when we set that agenda we are creating mainstream paradigms and manufacturing normality. And thus we are creating values. This makes social media a powerful tool for ideological revolutions. We can create new norms and overthrow old dogmas by manufacturing consent for new ideas using social media tools. Yet this requires a highly organized and self-aware set of behaviors to be coordinated by large numbers of individuals. And while that is happening, far more often social media is being used with far less understanding and consciously calculated attempt to create better values.
This is where those ‘fake’ ‘likes’ become a problem. They are working to create values without awareness that they are doing so, or even necessarily what values they are creating, and what the effects and consequences of them will be. When our reasoning for using the like tool is done without regard to the effect that doing so has, we are transforming our value systems rapidly and blindly.
This happens in a lot of various ways, but let us illustrate it with some examples.
There is a man. He is a very handsome man. Very handsome. Even a profile picture of this man can douse panties faster than a fire hose. However, this man is also very stupid and somewhat immoral. He ends up posting idiotic political ideas a lot. Most of his followers do not agree with his stupid beliefs, opinions and ideas. But damn if they wouldn’t give up a year of their life just to have a steamy encounter with the man. So in the chance that there is any hope he will notice them, they like his posts, even when they mostly disagree with them. Over time, people see all of these likes and wonder if this guys isn’t on to something. Women view him as valuable to other women, which raises his attractiveness and the ‘likes’ it brings. Men view his worldview as appealing to women, and so begin to adopt it. Over time, the handsome man has gained a following of people who would have never approved of or shared his values on their own. But the subcontext provided by his attractiveness manufactured consensus over time.
There is a woman. She is a stupid and petty woman. People show up in her post threads just to watch the train wreck. The thing is, if she suspects you disagree with her, she will either ignore you or block you. So in an attempt to stay on that horse, people like her comments and give brief nods of consent. Over time the woman becomes more certain and enamored of her idiotic beliefs. Her confidence becomes a fuel which propels her into an even greater spotlight. And the more spotlight she gets, the more it appears that she deserves it. And the more it appears that she deserves it, the more skepticism breaks down and her audience grows. As it does, her idiotic and often hateful ideas grow with her. And thus ‘likes’ that were given ironically become a force which actually empower the target of scorn.
Many people have come to be critical of the government. Therefore when we see a post that is critical of government, we like it to insure that government-critical messages are seen throughout social media. The problem is, these critical messages often contain an error in their reasoning or an untenable solution to the problem. So when we like this message based on the criticism factor alone, in order to make it more visible, we are also making the erroneous logic and poor solutions more visible. Since we cannot choose how others will receive these packages of ideas, the greater effect might be something we would not have chosen to contribute towards. Where we liked the criticism of government because we wish to see an end to that institution, others may see a message that says that since government is flawed, we need more government to fix the flawed parts. So our like actually contributes to intellectual and social momentum that goes against our values.
There are likely millions of ways in which our ‘likes’ may have such similar unintended effects. And these effects, though perhaps not intentional, are shaping the world we live in. While using social media reward tools is a conscious action, the outcomes it produces are something far harder to determine. So we should exercise a high degree of awareness about our use of this tool. We should reserve our ‘likes’ for things that we not only truly and actually appreciate, but only for those that we find great meaning in. We have cheapened likes through overuse and as a result it is cheapening our values. We may give these likes with the very best of intentions, but that is merely the content of ‘liking’. Far more influential on the world we live in than content, is context. And the context of the like mechanism is incredibly complex. When something is incredibly complex, it is wise not to use it unless you are certain it is absolutely appropriate.
This is not just nitpicking. Our world is rapidly transforming. The central tenet and ends of this transformation is reputation. Reputation is being constructed from platforms like social media and tools like the like button. If we are not very careful and consciously alert of the world we are shaping with these tools, then we are going to end up a sloppy, gaudy mishmash of accidental values that result in a technological dystopia. We are in a transition period in which the rapid construction of a new era for humanity is being formed through interactions that are happening without a very great degree of awareness. If we do not begin to exercise some self-restraint and control and start to consider our actions in a much larger context, then we are in that proverbial car I mentioned earlier, using our heads to press the acceleration pedal down instead of to look out the windshield and see where we are heading and what else is out there.
I plan to begin using the ‘like’ button much less. Almost not at all. It is unfortunate that some people will find me to be cold and anti-social for doing so. I will almost certainly be measured by the stinginess of my like button usage. My failure to provide reward stimulus in social media forums will probably get me ignored or distrusted and despised. I will likely appear to be a total dick for not playing along with the game of coercive and compulsive liking. Yet I assure you that I do so not because I do not value the contributions and thoughts of others, but because I value them too much to water them down with automata and overly obvious behaviors.
Here is how I will now be using the like button, and suggest others who share my concerns do the same. Only like original content that I completely agree with and support. If I have no connection to the person who created the content, chances are that I will not like it unless the topic/subject and the ideas about them are something I am actually truly and fully amazed by. I will never like a meme, for it comes with its own complex set of problems. I will not like comments, unless they contain content that is absolutely flooring. Liking something just because I agree is intellectually dishonest, condescending and pretentious. I will no longer like anything for a reason other than that I actually specifically and literally like the actual content concerned as well as the context which it belongs in and contributes towards. And while I am certain that this is not going to make me very popular in social media, as least I can be comfortable knowing that I am not contributing to the Idiocracy by misusing and underestimating a very powerful tool that is shaping our future whether we believe and understand that or not.
It is not the things that we intend to do that become ruinous to our species and world- it is the things we do not intend to do, understand that we did, or that produce outcomes contrary to our intent because we didn’t think it far enough through. Humans can no longer just do what feels good and hope for the best. Our civilization is far too complex and becoming increasingly so. We stand now on the precipice of enlightenment or oblivion, and only constant attention to the world around us and making the right choices based on a high degree of understanding will save us from the latter.