I wrote the following satirical piece that appeared last week at CopBlock.org. Today we were contacted by a representative from Jagermeister requesting we remove the article and making threats of legal actions. Rather than removing the article, I will be posting it at the other websites I contribute to or maintain. I will be writing more about our interactions with the folks at Jagermeister in future CopBlock.org posts.
The German company famous for its blackout-inducing liqueur Jagermeister will be unveiling a new product just in time for New Year celebrations. Earlier today the company released the following statement concerning its upcoming product.
2015 has been the year when police brutality broke into the public consciousness after years of apathy, especially in our largest market, the United States, where over 1,100 people have already been killed by police this year. To help shed further light on the issue we will be releasing a new beverage on Christmas Eve referencing one of the most egregious police-killings of the year, that of Walter Scott by Officer Michael Slager. The new drink, Slagermeister, is a blend of 42 spices and the tears of children orphaned by law enforcers in 2015.
The companies flagship product translates into ‘master hunter’. Slagermeister, a clear white liquor that doesn’t mix well with darker beverages, translates into ‘master butcher’, as ‘Slager’ is the Dutch surname for butchers. Early testers have said that while the drink is delicious, it tends to leave a bad taste in your mouth for a very long time. Next week the company will begin releasing ads for the new beverage using the slogan:
Slagermeister, the only beverage that you can get wasted while running away from it.
Following the announcement liquor distributors were flooded with phone calls from eager retailers and bars hoping to feature the product as part of their New Years sales and celebrations. Already a number of bartenders have been busy concocting potential recipes featuring the new beverage. A few of them were found throughout Twitter and social media.
SlagerBomb– Half Slagermeister, Half Red Bull, poured in a chilled glass and thrown at the back of the head.
Feared for My Life– Straight Slagermeister, no chaser, because who needs to wait for backup?
Slagerita– A standard margarita with Slagermeister, but instead of salting the rim of the glass, you pour the salt in the wounds of the victims family.
Slager Sour– 1 part Slagermeister, 1 part sour mix over ice and fill glass with the spoiled hopes and dreams of Americas lower classes.
Neither the families of Slager or Scott have yet publicly commented on the product.
Former Ohio officer Ray Tensing is apparently negotiating with another spirits company of note on a beverage to be named Courvosi-Ray.
Ronda says to the bartender, “Shot of bourbon with a beer back, please.”
Charlie then orders, “Double shot of bourbon, no chaser. I prefer to go bareback.”
Not be outdone, Trump asks the bartender for a triple shot with a vodka chaser, explaining, “Any more than three shots and I usually end up on the floor casting vomit spells the rest of the night, but what the hell, right?”
The bartender pours the drinks and while handing Trump his vodka chaser wryly comments, “May the fourth bewitch you.”
Although my opening pun seems to explain the title of this article, it was not the inspiration for it. The title came from pulling a few keyword subjects out of Google’s biggest searches of 2015. It is an obviously blatant attempt to opportunize on the internet’s most popular themes. And while I will certainly take any traffic that comes this blogs way, I really am trying to make a larger point here. Much of what you see on the internet has its genesis in similar logic. Capitalizing on popularity without much regard to the quality or originality of content. That is what makes ad revenue and that is what gets the greatest response at websites and in social media.
Author Bret Easton Ellis, perhaps best known as author of the cult classic novel American Psycho, recently wrote a piece sharing some of the same concerns I have been having about internet culture. In ‘Living In the Cult of Likability‘ he discusses how technical aspects of social media lend themselves to an ever-narrowing channel of groupthink, compulsive approval and unearned validation. He further goes on to discuss what this means in a Reputation Economy. While I think he is mistaken in suggesting that we already have a RepEcon, he is absolutely right about what this behavior would mean to such a paradigm. A saccharine, plasticine dystopia. In the words of Quasi’s Sam Coomes…
“A cardboard world of painted skies, ’cause we all must agree to believe in the lies.”
Where Ellis misunderstands a reputation economy is that he sees the early evolutionary markers of the thing as the thing itself. A RepEcon is not really possible alongside scarcity and currency-based economics. It cannot be achieved until certain technological and sociopolitical advances come about. Yet despite the fact that we do not have a RepEcon, we do have a lot of the early indicators of one. As I have discussed in the past, online rating and review systems as well as the way that social networks are structured and how monetary rewards for online content operate are all glances into the future in their infancy. In them we can see how a RepEcon might operate, and based on that, Bret is absolutely correct to be concerned and a bit horrified.
Should a future in which reputation is the economic status of the individual ever happen, and that reputation is determined on the metrics, culture and validation symbols that are intrinsic to the burgeoning progenitors we have now, it will be a neon Idiocracy. The internet has become a bastion of pandering, marketing and manipulation. At the same time it has also increasingly become a source of identity, status and passive consensus. The combination of these things is that the most popular content is often the most calculated and manipulative garbage which then becomes culturally canonized by our most basic desire to gain acceptance. It is creating a feedback loop in which what we want and what we are given are increasingly narrowing in scope into the most basic things we can agree upon. We are told what to like, which then sends back a signal about what we like, which then is used to create more of what we were told to like to begin with. And every time these symbols travel around that feedback loop these lose more of their signal and become ever-degrading symbols devoid of any substance except that which can be exploited by opportunists as another way to manipulate us.
The sad part is that in social media, we do most of this to ourselves. The vapid patterns of behavior in Facebook and elsewhere are self-replicating patterns of self-validation and consensus gathering. From posturing the perfect life to expressing ourselves ever more simplistically through the appealing reductivism of memes, we are creating a lowest common denominator of the individual by which we are identified by ourselves and others, especially the predatory opportunists. These forms continue to reduce human experience and distill it into a picture of normality which we are then invited and inspired to achieve. The current forms of online reputation gathering and display work not to create value from the reputation of the individual, but from their acceptance of and aspiration to a false construct of normality.
And there are far more insidious ways that technology is catering to us against our best interest. One researcher believes it will be possible to derive our emotional states from how we are using our mouse. He plans to use this technology as a tool for web designers and marketers to cater to the responses of their users to certain types of content and formatting. Using the information, site administrators, content creators and advertisers can then produce online materials geared for the lowest common denominator. Big Data is watching our every move and figuring out how to best profit from it. It is spawning more and more technologies to measure our responses so they can be used to manipulate us into behaviors that profit those funding Big Data. It does so at the expense of the individual and at the complexity which drives human progress towards greater harmony by creating an illusion of harmony that is nothing more than an intellectual trap.
Where my original vision of the RepEcon was starry-eyed and wistful, I have come to see some of the catastrophic pitfalls should that reputation economy be based on the values perpetuated by the current forms of social media, internet culture and these technologies intrinsic technical structures. A healthy reputation economy requires healthy sets of human values that strive towards higher complexity, not more meaningless consensus constructed from the manipulative paradigms of the industrialist era. If our values do not improve and come to recognize the beauty and strength of outsiders, eccentrics and other staples of a healthy intellectual community, then the RepEcon will evolve humanity into a pitiful Idiocracy of desperate infantile behaviors seeking validation by denying their own individuality.
I have a few more upcoming articles about the RepEcon planned for the near future, just as soon as I get done spending the loads of cash that flow in from this blog. Don’t be afraid to click those share buttons just below. 😉
As a long time Discordian I was excited to see the internet spreading the message of Discordianism far wider than pamphlets and books were ever able to. I find the philosophy suggested by this ‘satirical’ religion to be in possession of some valuable truths with ideological premises that can be used to understand all facets of reality. I believed that were Discordianism to ever reach a greater audience, the encroaching Idiocracy might be avoided. So I have been devastated to find that the internet, particularly social media, has managed to dumb down Discordianism itself into a meaningless excuse for all sorts of mindless and often juvenile behavior.
While you can find evidence of this behavior at Reddit, Tumblr and other online meeting places for ‘Discordians’, nowhere is it more pronounced than on Facebook. The Discordian Society group on Facebook has almost 12,000 members and is the most prime example of Discordianism having been co-opted by AOL-era internet trolls. And while trolling itself is a valid form of Operation Mindfuck when done properly, the type being done by these people has no particular ideological agenda, but is just an outlet for cheap shock and attention seeking of the most juvenile sorts. These people have so little reverence for actual Discordianism that they even dumb it down further by calling it ‘Disco’.
Disco Trolls do not understand that the parables regarding, and satirical veneration of Eris are actually a complex recognition of the nature of existence. Instead they think that Eris is a symbol of literal chaos-worship whose rituals require acts of chaos. Besides missing the point here, the juvenile behavior is not even chaotic. It is just crude low brow shock humor that often includes sexism, racism and other bigotries and bad ideas as their premise. There is nothing chaotic about that. There is nothing even ‘edgy’ about it, which is the aim of Disco Trolls. Edgy would be to upset some mainstream ideologies and status quo paradigms, not to vacuously replicate them in your own image for shock value. In a world being dumbed down, intelligence is edgy. But intelligence is regarded by Disco Trolls as a cause for ridicule and abuse. Any attempt to act outside of the narrow confines of their groupthink activities is despised and when you point out their general intellectual blasphemy you are met with vicious attacks of the kind that Greyface himself would take pride in.
The most common activity taking place on Discordian social media is the making and disseminating of memes, which is also the most common activity throughout most of social media. There is nothing at all edgy about memes. Nothing could be more commonplace or normal than meme-ing. And quite possibly nothing could be more dangerous to critical thinking and human intelligence than the anti-intellectual context of that medium, which seems to replicate like a virus, invading places where there was once healthy intellectual tissue with image based reductionism and oversimplification. Yet if you point this out to Disco Trolls, their only comeback is to invoke the internet buzzword ‘butthurt‘, which is a spell people online use to ward of any attempts at actually understanding someone else’s ideological position. In the rare case a more extensive argument was made to defend memes, it was to call the behavior an art form, which is like calling commercial jingles music. It is also suggested that memes are similar to the images used in The Principia Discordia, but the contexts of time and medium make that comparison meaningless.
What all this adds up to is a large group of people who are convinced they are being rebellious by taking part in the most normal activities possible, while trying to spread their false discord by kindertrolling their own choir. And as if all of this attention seeking juvenile behavior were not obvious enough, Disco Trolls often appear to be emotionally damaged and self-esteem deficient individuals who use blatant hyperbolized sexuality to booster their frail egos. Sharing nudes with strangers online is not edgy sexuality, it is a desperate plea to get attention with the least amount of effort. There is nothing wrong with human sexuality, but people who wrap their identities in it are not healthy expressions of it, they are examples of emotional insecurities not so dissimilar to the sexually repressed. Lest you believe I am just being a prude, this behavior has nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with validation. There is nothing transcendent about people seeking validation by appealing to the instincts of others.
Why do I care so much about morons co-opting the the name Discordianism and using it as a label to justify stupid, sophomoric behavior? Because social media is where people are likely to first encounter Discordianism these days. And where those philosophies once were able to awaken people to some powerful metaphors through humor, those who encounter Disco Trolls may never see the deep truths contained therein, and will instead be redirected to participate in a symbolic replica of Discordianism with none of the substance. What was once a tool of enlightenment has been relegated by social network habits into another factor in our devolution. It has made an illness of a medicine.
So if you participate in the above described behaviors but actually have some intellectual honesty, dignity and respect for Discordianism, you might want to consider changing your habits. And if you read this before you have been indoctrinated by Disco Trolls into their pink world of false slack, don’t confuse those intolerable Normals for Discordians. And if you are one of those Disco Trolls who reads this and you get pissy and defensive about it, remember- “Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.”
“Let me hit you with some facts.” – Is this a metaphor about relating facts or about our growing misuse of them as tools of aggression?
Since the dawn of the ‘Age of Reason’ western culture has been heavily concerned with transcending the subjective nature of the individual by seeking out methods that aspire to some degree of objectivity. This was all set in order with the understanding that absolute objectivity was not possible. Even if an objective truth existed, we could not experience it without running it through our subjective perceptions and interpretations. Yet while objective methods are a noble achievement that has done immeasurable good for human progress, over time we have increasingly come to believe too literally in the validity of objective truths, often observed as an over-reliance and unshakable faith in facts.
“As a matter of fact.” -Although this term now carries a connotation of facts as sole mediators of logical validation, it was originally used to separate statements of facts from those of laws, facts being irrelevant in the eyes of the latter.
What exactly is a fact? A fact is a single piece of information that we are able to verify through observations, predictive models, repetition and consensus. A fact is a single factor we can use to draw logical conclusions from. But facts are not themselves conclusions, nor is any conclusion based upon a single fact worthy of rational consideration.The most useful and durable conclusions are often those consistent with the greatest number of facts. Yet even with millions of supporting facts a conclusion may be useless or irrational. Facts are always subject to our subjective perceptions and interpretations, so facts alone are not reliable enough to be the sole basis from which conclusions are drawn.
Example of Misuse of Facts:
Police and their supporters often attempt to use a limited set of facts to make very broad conclusions. One of the most commonly misinterpreted and misapplied facts is this- “Violent criminals are unpredictable and can commit violence against LEO’s at any time.”
The conclusion they draw from this is- “An officer is justified in using deadly force whenever the feel they are in danger.”
The first and most obvious reason this is a bad conclusion is that not everybody who makes cops ‘feared for my life’ is a violent criminal. Often they are sick, scared and confused individuals who are in need of patient and compassionate assistance. It also ignores a number of other facts, especially the facts of law, morals and decency. The singling in on a single fact to support a conclusion which codifies violence into an acceptable part of police routine fits with far fewer facts than it negates. And so the use of facts here is often too limited to support the conclusion that police are justified in so much wanton killing.
A better way to interpret the real fact of danger might be this- “Protecting and serving the community is a dangerous job, so those who are more concerned with their own safety than with that of every member of the community should not become police officers.”
A strong conclusion often owes far more to logic and consistency than to facts. Logic is a basic set of rules we can use to measure the validity of any statement. Thus logic can dictate what facts are relevant to our questions, statements and conclusions, and which are not. It can tell us the relationship between individual facts or sets of them, and suggest a pattern of analysis appropriate to our basic premise. Yet even after you have made conclusions from logical interpretation of facts, those conclusions are unreliable until they have been tested against entire networks of interdependent and complexly related conclusions. The more consistent they are with the bigger picture of human knowledge at large, the more useful and durable they become. Conclusions that negate more outside knowledge than they confirm are considered weak, regardless of how strong they may appear a single entity. Rational thinkers are therefore more concerned with overall ideological consistency than with individual facts.
This highlights another prominent problem in our modern intellectual climate, which is that most of us are far less concerned with being consistently rational than we are with being Right. Our competitive and dichotomous nature often eschews the evolution and improvement of our individual intellectual landscapes, so instead we seek out symbolic gestures of truths that can be weaponized to obliterate our ‘opponents’. This describes the average persons relationship with facts. They are mental bullets fired from the barrel of our egos.
“Time to face the facts.” -Does it say anything that we think of facts as potentially harmful, or as some kind of punishment?
The misguided obsession with facts as the only meaningful part of human knowledge is not only irrational, it is another factor contributing to our dumbing down. When we treat facts as commodities to be consumed and excreted for our self-gratification, we move ever further away from the holistic models of human knowledge that provide us a view at the bigger picture. Factnaticism becomes a method by which we zoom in to a single facet of knowledge out of ignorance or intolerance of wider views. They become mental crutches by which we validate our emotional states and confirm our biases while at the same time shutting ourselves off from new ideas, information and perspectives.
In and of themselves there is nothing wrong with facts. But an over-reliance on them based on a misunderstanding of their purpose and function for the sake of self-gratification, identity and external validation is a massive problem. Firstly because it is wholly irrational, in-compassionate and destructive to our critical thinking faculties. While at the same time it is also a problem because it undermines the value of facts; as well as their analysis and interpretations. When facts become weapons of mass instruction, the reasonable epistemological faith in their meaningfulness and usefulness will erode under the intellectual attrition created by this small mindedness.
And on a personal level, if you don’t use facts wisely you will be used by them, or used by those for whom facts are only convenient tidbits for controlling the contents of your mind.
Facticuffs- The use of facts to draw wide conclusions from limited intellectual vigor for the purpose of ‘winning’ a discussion.
Human beings possess a great number of virtuous characteristics. Much of what makes us unique individuals are the infinite possible combinations and degrees of these virtues (and flaws). Most of the time we are able to recognize the virtues of others and honor them. We generally have no problem appreciating virtues in others that we do not possess ourselves. Yet today there is one virtue that our culture makes a great show of proclaiming the most virtuous of all virtues, while at the same time largely failing to recognize and appreciate it. In fact, those who possess it often become the subject of scorn. That virtue is intelligence.
If I said that I was good at sports or could draw or play the piano well, nobody would accuse me of being an intolerable egomaniac or narcissist. However, if I were to make any claim to, or even insinuate intellectual prowess, I would be derided and despised by people at all levels of the intellectual spectrum. I am intelligent. I worked incredibly hard to get that way for little more reward than the despair entailed by being intelligent in an unappreciative and apathetic society. Just as athletes endure the physical pain of training and artists and musicians endure the emotional pain of bare expression even while practicing, I have put a lot of painful effort into rising above the average intellectual standards of this time and place in history. This is not to say that I am one of the most intelligent people in the world (definitely not) or that it makes me a better overall human being. It is simply a recognition of a virtue I have achieved through a great amount of conscious effort over many years. Yet it is a certainty that this very writing will create the kind of backlash against me that I specifically discuss as being a major problem for our species.
As a writer for CopBlock.org I am regularly subject to attacks against my intelligence. Ignorance can be found in no greater abundance than where it pools up around authoritarianism. These attacks happen in place of a rational rebuttal of the things which I wrote. This alone is often a potent clue as to the intellectual capacity of the commenter, but their intelligence comes into even greater question when you examine the vocabulary, conceptual over-simplicity and logical fallacies that their responses consist of. Even worse is that they judge my intellect (rather than my ideas) not on its own merits, but on the sole basis that I disagree with their opinions and worldview. The wider the intelligence gap between myself and the commenter, the more voraciously vicious and resistant to reason they become.
That some people have a lower capacity for intellectual pursuits is not itself problematic. What is troublesome is the inability for people to recognize intellects greater than their own, and for them to center their attack based on their ignorance of intelligence. I would not expect people to agree with another’s opinions or worldviews based solely on a judgement of their intelligence. Yet when people fail to consider new information and ideas due to an underlying prejudice against those who disagree with them, which they falsely equate with intellectual inferiority, they create a feedback loop of circular reasoning that reinforces and strengthens their ignorance. This is the most surefire way to obtain and maintain a state of stupidity. When you ignore or deny everyone who might be able to teach you something new or how to see things differently, you create yourself a trap in which your evolution and growth are stunted completely. And this is now occurring at an exponential and alarming rate.
This growing pattern has created a hostile and dangerous trend in our society. An increase in the sum of human intelligence does not require everybody to rise above average. History is full of individuals whose singular efforts were able to bring new knowledge and its resulting applications to all of humanity. All that was required of humanity was to recognize, respect and trust those geniuses and their ideas. The dependence on a tiny fraction of individuals to recognize and solve the worlds problems and questions has worked tremendously well in moving our species ever ahead. Yet as the trend of denying and even despising superior individual intelligence has rendered useless a resource that our species has always relied upon most for progress and clarity.
As intelligence itself becomes a less acknowledged and respected trait, it faces extinction. Devaluing it, or instead valuing a false symbolic replacement, means that it will decrease as a selection trait for breeding partners, which leads us down an evolutionary path to self destruction. When we fail to respect and honor intelligence we remove the motivation for individuals to seek it out and attain it through hard work. Finally, it diminishes any examples of intelligence which could inspire future individuals and become a basis for their own explorations. We are quite literally creating the perfect evolutionary conditions by which the virtue of human intelligence could become extinct.
It becomes necessary to ask how we got to this point. While public education, mainstream media and the other tools of the oligarchy are obvious targets, I suspect a far more insidious threat has recently become a massive part of our collective consciousness. The problem I am discussing is our increasing tendency to replace substance with symbols. Like the Scarecrow who can only recognize his own intelligence after the Wizard of Oz gives him a diploma, we have come to identify symbols for intelligence as being intelligence itself. The top down bureaucracy of modern society has created an ideology which reframes intelligence as a commodity. It has become the consumption and acquisition of these symbols that we equate with intelligence. Our lauding of intelligence as the ultimate virtue serves only to pay lip service a concept that has been rendered meaningless in the semiotic confusion surrounding it. We have redefined intelligence in accordance with our widespread vapid consumerism, or at least, have allowed it to be redefined thusly for us by those who profit from that ideology.
No where is this symbol over substance problem more apparent than on the internet, especially in social media and comments sections. The internet has acquired a wealth of symbolic baggage that replaces or attempts to dismiss critical thinking, rational argumentation and the cogent expression of complex ideas. It has become a veritable battleground of compulsive reductivism, where every aspect of human experience is distilled down into a MEME. And when we are not busy oversimplifying complex ideas in image forms, we use a limited vocabulary of buzzwords in place of a rational response. Rather than consider somebody’s thoughts and ideas, we dismiss them as being BUTTHURT and then walk away as though victorious. Since emotional states are subjective individual phenomena, they cannot be measured externally by those not directly experiencing them. So it is logically meaningless to make conjecture about another person’s emotional states for the purpose of attributing the products of their intellect to them.
The internet has created an entire language and method for dismissing those we disagree with for the very worst and most misguided reasons. And since the frequency of this behavior increases all of the time, we are spending ever increasing amounts of time and effort contributing to our own dumbing down. We become ever more proficient at practicing our ignorance with great efficiency, thereby alienating ourselves from and destroying the intelligence needed to save us from this self-perpetuating cycle. Unfortunately, these behaviors are now transcending the internet and becoming part of our in-person interactions and penetrating the entire fabric of our culture.
The fictional world of Mike Judge’s prophetic film ‘Idiocracy’ is increasingly becoming our reality. Ignorance and symbolic impostors of intellect are celebrated, reinforced and rewarded, while genuine intelligence becomes more and more alien and unrecognizable. Many people can no longer even recognize the authentic substance, let alone exercise healthy ways of reacting to it. If Einstein were alive today it is not unthinkable that his genius would be met with the assessment that his ‘shit’s fucked up and he talks like a fag.’ This momentum is creating a real-life Idiocracy that, if unchecked, could lead to the destruction of our entire species and planet. In the modern world, an Idiocracy could not exist long. We rely on intelligence for things as basic as maintaining nuclear power plants which would, without the attention of intelligent humans, create an existential risk of massive proportions. We could very literally self-destruct from our own de-evolution into willful ignorance and prideful stupidity.
Despite the fact that I just went into great detail explaining the grave danger of the rising ignorance of intelligence, I am certain to be subjected to the very behaviors I just warned against. People will still take the opportunity to prove my point by responding in the very ways I have rationally deconstructed for them. Like children at arcade without quarters, they will insist they are winning when they have failed to understand even the most basic facts about the game. Their pointless button-pushing and joystick movements will come in the form of responding with memes or the old ‘yer just butthurt’ and their victory statement will be the frustrated child’s cry of “Nuhn uhn, YER STOOPID!”
And yet I must seriously consider that to be the case. If I were really all that smart I might attempt to destroy the very fabric of the universe and spare us further shame and misery, instead of making feeble attempts to help our species rise above its own ignorance and the doom it entails. Maybe all those super villains had it right.
In the past few decades an insidious ideology has taken root in the American consciousness. Based on irrational fears and a neurotic inability to accept the most basic facts of our existence, this pervasive worldview has infected every corner our culture. It transcends class, race, gender, sexuality, religion or any other categorical division. It often comes paired with extreme prejudice, xenophobia, paranoia and excessive hubris. It has penetrated our communities, institutions and even made its way into our recreation. This ideology, which elevates the quantitative measures of our existence far above its quality, is something I like to call the Cult of Survivalism.
If you think that this problem is limited to’ preppers’ and right-wing extremists, you have not been paying very close attention to your surroundings. Each day you are bombarded from every direction with subtle-to-glaringly direct messages about safety and survival. The constant reminder of your immortality paired with false-yet-profitable reassurances invades everything. It drives mindless consumerism, while it feeds endless warfare and the police state. It works as a reverse bait, attracting us away from our critical thinking, morality and ethical principles. It drives corporate profits and the growth of the state by manipulating and taking advantage of our greatest weakness. And it reverse engineers the tale of our journey through history to rationalize a crippling attachment to our own darkest thoughts and the terror they create for ourselves and others.
The Cult of Survivalism tells us that ‘survival is everything’. Whatever you have to do to come out alive is the right thing to do. An underlying tenet of this worldview is that death is not okay. Even in a nation full of people who supposedly tend to believe in a higher power and afterlife, death is lamented as an intolerable side effect of living. Our inability to come to terms with the inevitable and the uncertainty it entails causes even the truest believer in heaven or reincarnation to recoil at the thought of their own mortality.
We have become so obsessed with living that we have consented to waive the benefits it confers so long as a false sense of security is safely blanketed over every aspect of daily life. So irrationally deep has our fear of death become that we have allowed living to be put in a partially animated state in order to drag ourselves grudgingly through time without regard to meaning or purpose. And in the name of survival, not only will we surrender our freedoms, liberties and psychological well being to those who most threaten them, we beg of them to spare us the certain uncertainty we cannot escape even with the greatest leap of logic. So sanctimonious have we become about self-preservation, that we no longer care to question what we are preserving or why.
You will die. There may or not be an afterlife. What happens between then and now cannot be measured meaningfully in time, but only in joy, love, hope, creativity and the subjective qualities that provide the meaning and purpose of our otherwise indefinable lives.
Our police are full of individuals who are trained in-house and by culture at large to ‘fear for their lives’. In doing so they kill indiscriminately. We forgive them even when it seems obviously unjustified because we sympathize with the fear, and not with the victim. Our military and its soldiers are praised for wanton killing, even if it involves more innocent casualties than targets killed, because they ‘die for us and protect our freedoms’. Again, we rationalize wholesale death, not because it directly resulted in lives saved or improved, but because the symbolic gestures alone signify an emotional truth that does not reconcile at all with the observable truth.
Even those who promote individual liberty and recognize the deceitful machinations of the ruling elite are prone to survival at any cost ideologies. We use physicalist definitions of reality to ward ourselves against all other truths.
Television and other media are ripe with apocalyptic themes, from zombies and aliens, to all manner of existential risks. The zeitgeist of our time is an existential fear that eschews rational reflection of our being. We are constantly reminded to fear our death, be reminded how immanent it is, and asked to sacrifice our individuality, morality and ethics to avoid it. If this is the case, we might as well be dead. Death provides an uncertainty which implies limitless possibilities. The Cult of Survivalism reduces us to a mere part with a singular trivial purpose. It robs us of a curiosity and understanding towards the nature and inevitability of our demise. The Cult of Survivalism is the ultimate form of denial.
Today the United States and the western world claim to be at war with ‘terrorists’. However the definition of terrorism used by police and the military, as well as the other alphabet soup of government bureaucracies, is far more applicable to them than anyone else they supposedly ‘protect’ us from.
It is little wonder then that we are gripped with a pervasive cultural Islamaphobia. Any culture that produces even a fraction of people willing to die for a better quality of life are easy to label ‘others’. Those whose values are more important than their survival provide a direct threat to the American ideology that values can easily be cast aside if it facilitates even a tiny chance of existential endurance. And from this difference between us comes the justification of wholesale death. The world is doomed by our cultural bias toward Cult of Survivalism ideology, especially when it generates so much backlash against us and feeds an ever-growing cycle of violence. As long as two opposing groups are willing and able to find subjects to participate in a war of attrition, peace can never be made.
Accept death. Do not welcome nor fear it. Do not invite or needlessly deny it. Accept death and your life has meaning and purpose. Deny it and you also deny any justification for your own existence. The Cult of Survivalism is already passing around the cups, but so long as not all of us have drank their Kool Aid, there is still some hope to escape the self-fulfilling prophecy of total annihilation that is the central belief of their worldview.
When you examine the social phenomena of scientism, the dogmatic belief that science is the only meaningful way to understand or convey ideas about our existence, it begins to become clear that the reason it has become so cultural invasive is the tenuous ideological relationship between science and technology. There can be little doubt that technology has improved our lives in untold ways, even while sometimes harming us and the environment in the process. The gratitude for technological advancements are then often given to the scientists who developed them, and in the process science itself becomes elevated to a God-like status of creation. Considering how a quasi-religious belief in the infallibility of the empirical method has grown from this paradigm, it might be fair to ask- Is science really solely responsible for technological advancement?
Lets explore this through the medium of technology itself.
Ralph wants to make his girlfriend a piece of jewelry for the holidays. His 3-D printer is capable of creating any design out of precious metals, so long as he can program its parameters properly. Even though Ralph is quite capable of programming any design, the analytical prowess that allows him to do so does not really help when it comes to aesthetic creativity. So using Google Image Search, he looks for a design that he can program into a 3D model. The resulting jewelry is beautiful and his girlfriend is duly grateful and impressed.
Now the question is, did Ralph create the jewelry? Sure, he programmed and operated the machine, which in turn manufactured the jewelry. Yet it is possible that the machine could be programmed to do a web search and transfer 2D art in to 3D jewelry without Ralph. But what the machine could not do is to create the original 2D artwork itself. And even if it could, it would only be predicated on algorithms obtained by studying the artwork of humans that came before the machine. At least for now, machines have no aesthetic prowess. While at the same time, machines are already beginning to illustrate the ability to reprogram themselves and adapt human artifacts into computational models. Ralph is the weakest link in the chain.
Now let us explore this another way.
Janess grows up reading science fiction novels, her favorite of which is a series featuring a machine that allows people to share sensory perceptions. So intrigued is she by this fictional technology that during the course of her education she takes a path that will lead her into a career which allows her to explore the possibility of creating such a device. And lo and behold, she eventually does create such a device, which radically changes the face of the world for the better in uncountable ways.
Should Janess receive all of the credit for the creation of this device? Would she have grown up to do such a thing had she never read those books as a child? Would any scientist have ever imagined the invention for themselves had not it been used in a purely speculative matter by the author first?
It is quite possible that, yes, they may have. Creativity and analytic thinking are not necessarily exclusive of one another. Yet when we look around us at the world of modern technological marvels, most of them do have a genesis in some purely abstract idea that preceded them in paintings, sculpture, literature, film, etc.
Science fiction, since its inception in the latter half of the 19th Century, has been the sketchbook for many of the technological artifacts we use today. Long before we began building rockets to travel into space, the idea was dreamed up by writers like Jules Verne, who then inspired early rocket developers like Jack Parsons. Before you were ever reading articles like this on a handheld electronic device, writers like Isaac Asimov were writing about them, while cinematic artists then adapted visual forms of them in science fiction outlets like Star Trek, which then influenced the scientists and designers who created them.
What I am trying to relate is not that science is unimportant. I am not even trying to rank importance here, but to illustrate the interdependence between the seemingly divergent methodologies of art and science. Yet scientism has done just that. It has given undue credit to a single methodology and ranked human methods and disciplines according to it’s own singular criteria. And such a cultural force could be potentially disastrous.
The emphasis on math and science in our culture, through educational institutions and media, comes at the expense of arts and humanities. Our dogmatic insistence in the superiority of the empirical method in creating more human and environmental wealth and harmony than other methods may have a destructive cost. What would happen in a world full of scientists? Who would create the symbols and ideas that inspired their developments? Who would explore their social influence and ethical consequences? Science without art is like a lab technician without a theoretician. Science without art is like an instrument without a melody. Science without art is like conductivity without electricity.
Our ideologically embarrassing pitfall into the clutches of scientism has become a potentially destructive strain on the relationship between the interdisciplinary feedback that allows different kinds of human intelligence to work together for the greater good. It becomes critical then not just to question scientism in culture and science itself, but to restore the prestige deserved by the arts and humanities so that they might thrive. Not just because they are a part of our humanity, but because their neglect will eventually have destructive consequences for science, technology and the health of our species and it’s environment.
What can I say about Butthurt that has not already been said? It was a word. And we used it. I used it. Everybody used it.
Some people said that Butthurt was just another slang term, like all the rest. But slang is a subcultures way of going against the status quo. When it has been co-opted by mainstream society it is no longer slang. It is no longer a meaningful challenge to the majority consensus.
So we must take responsibility for the death of Butthurt. Through our repetition we robbed it of its vitality, purpose and meaning. Rather than using only as a taunt for people who were so frustrated they could no longer respond reasonably to an argument, we began replacing reasonable arguments by dismissing our opponents with the claims that they were just ‘butthurt’. It is funny how the very thing Butthurt stood against, it eventually became.
Let us not remember Butthurt as it was just before it died. Let us not remember it as the substance that had become completely erased by the symbol for itself. Let us remember it in a time when it stood proud and tall, imposing utter wreckage on those who let their emotions and other automatic responses replace sound reasonable arguments; not as the emotional response it eventually became itself. Let us honor it by engaging in critical thinking and having discussions of merit that do not just immediately slide right into internet buzzwords and cliches.
And finally, let us not take it’s name in vain. Remembrance of Butthurt should be done in silence, reverence and piety to Intellect.
In Pornhubs name we pray, Ramen.
Butthurt was preceded in death by ‘Epic’ and Memes and is survived by ‘Like A Boss’, Game Requests ‘I Support the’ and Star Wars Syndrome.
The more time goes on, the more that I really come to hate internet memes. It would be enough to hate them for just how stupid they are on their own merits, but when we consider that they may also be dumbing us down, they go from to idiotic to problematic.
The first issue applies mostly to memes under the category of ‘humor’ or ‘funny’. The problem is that most of them are not funny. In fact, most of them do not even seem to be very authentic attempts at humor. In many cases some generic image and statement are slapped together and rely merely on contextual premises. This is especially true of images that get meme’d over and over again. Take, for instance, Conspiracy Keanu. The subtext that the meme is funny precedes the actual memes that are made from it. From this presumption all sorts of terribly stupid, innate or boring bits of texts can be pasted over it and it still has a supposed underlying funniness because the image is a symbol that is meant to suggest or imply humor.
This is much the same way that laugh tracks work. A mediocre or terrible sitcom relies on laugh tracks to make the unfunny seem funny. It provides a contextual funniness that exists only in symbol, but not in substance. It is an attempt to subvert your reasoning and taste in order to draw a desired response. It is manipulation. And so are memes. And while almost nobody intends to manipulate others with memes in the symbolic way I have discussed, it happens nonetheless. And it is happening on such a wide scale that its total effect on our culture and consciousness should not be so easily discounted.
Next worse are the memes that use shock or snark in their content. The shock memes are really the most juvenile form of internet humor there is. That is not to say that there is not some value in shocking media, but at the same time that memes are intended to be shocking, the nature of its medium makes it a highly conformist activity, which negates any meaningful shock value. When memes are the norm, there can be little shocking about them. So it largely becomes a masturbatory circle of jaded fools trying to outdo one another in order to seek attention. And its okay to desire attention, but to do it in such a cliched and pedestrian way is pretty disgusting.
Snark is similar. Yet the thing that is extra gross about meme snark is that there is an underlying assumption that meme snark equates to truth. Many people will use one of these memes in comments sections to dismiss entire complex ideas. Meanwhile the irritating self-satisfaction of the sharer is obvious, while at the same time unearned. The subtext beneath memes becomes a form of automatic thinking. The medium gives weight to something via unspoken contextual clues while being devoid of any meaningful content.
The usage of memes as responses to larger ideas or dialogues is infuriating. It is intellectually lazy. It replaces opportunities to have meaningful discussions with the automated behavior of simply pasting in a meme. And there are no logical responses to memes, so they rob logic and reason and intellect from the entire situation and replace it with visual cliche. Despite the potential of the social media to awaken minds and provide a forum for information exchange and valuable discussions that lead to growth and evolution, it has become a wasteland for seeking attention and validation for completing the merely symbolic function of meme distribution.
This problem, the problem of symbol over substance, permeates our culture both online and off. We reinforce our own ignorance and automatic thought and behavior by replacing things of merit or substance with things that have nothing more than a symbolic function. This kind of problematic thinking and acting permeates every subject and issue we face. Politicians and advertisers have long understood how to manipulate us using our automated responses to certain symbolic stimuli. The subliminal. The unspoken but implied. These tricks are used to disrupt our reason and free will. So why in the hell would we be using similar tricks to entertain one another? The result of meme activity will be to further degrade free thinking and reason. Not as part of some grand conspiracy, but as a side effect of an activity we saw only as harmless fun, rather than as a contribution to the reinforcement of our own worst mindless habits. It does not matter what is intended. The effect transcends your motivation.
So for Eris’ sake, stop with the memes already! If for no other reason than to return some value to them by removing all of the mediocrity and repetition. And if you ever reply to me in an online conversation with a meme, prepare to get this article in response!
A new study from the University of Ohiowa seems to indicate that children who were raised in a household with at least one parent working in the field of science are more likely to use passive aggressive methods when interacting with other children. The study tested eight hundred students, almost a third of which lived in scientific homes.
Hundreds of hours of interactions between the children were monitored, recorded and analyzed to see if any patterns would emerge. Kids raised in religious homes, which made up about half of the study were found to be less generous than the children of atheists. Although the study did not require the children to be labeled according to their religious background, it became quite clear when the atheist kids immediately marched around and proudly proclaimed their lack of belief in the divine.
At the same time the children of scientists, who fell mostly within the atheist camp, scored far higher than average in several categories, including: condescension, pretension, sarcasm, apathetic dismissiveness, self-righteousness and passive aggressiveness.
In one test the children were asked to draw pictures, later ranking one another’s artwork. Rather than just assign the artwork of their peers a rank or numeric value, the children were asked to write a short commentary on the pieces they reviewed. While the non-scientist children tended to comment specifically on what they did or did not like about the drawings, the scientist children often used roundabout ways to make smarmy comments about the artwork.
“Not bad for someone whose parents believe in mean sky men.”
“Obviously the work of someone who still believes in Santa, The Tooth Fairy and Jesus.”
“This artwork proves that baptists are unable to understand the color wheel.”
Howard Phillips, one of the lead researchers said that it became impossible to tell if the non-secular kids were less generous because of how superior and patronizing the scientist and atheist kids were, or if the latter two kinds of children acted that way in response to the lack of generosity in the religious children.
“The only thing that I was able to ascertain from this research is that children are pretty much total douchebags, and the only real differences seem to be what kind of douchebaggery they emulate from their douchebag parents beliefs and behaviors.” said Phillips.
As a result of these studies the parents of children everywhere have taken the opportunity to either gloat about the results or to use them to bolster their perceived feelings of societal victimhood. An analysis of social media responses to the research indicate that while the scientistic and nihilism inclined adults are almost certain to respond with ‘I knew it!’ or ‘I told you so!’, religious responses tended to gravitate towards vague statements about a mythical war that was being waged on religious peoples.
Head researcher Gunnar Wilson, who himself identifies as a Scientific Pandeist, says the study proves that the eventual heat death of the universe is just too damn far away.
“I would just kill myself, but I am afraid that if there is an eternal afterlife, then i’d just be stuck in it with all these idiots.”
The conclusion of the study recommends that to avoid becoming a total douchebag, or raising more of them, families should continue to evolve their belief systems, never settling on a final set of rigid ideologies that make them unbearable to pretty much everyone else.
“Beliefs are like underwear. They are a good way of securing your junk, but if you don’t change them regularly the only thing holding the holes in them together will be the awful stench.”
The University of Ohiowa, working on a research grant from the Pepsi Marketing Science Division, has made a startling discovery regarding the true nature of human appetites. After completing their studies they have concluded that all humans are actually vegan, whether they express or repress their true dietary nature or not.
The study was being conducted to help marketers measure the effect of certain visual stimuli in order to maximize advertising reach and potential. They tested visual response phenomena in a number of diverse categories with over two thousand participants. The participants were chosen from a variety of demographic sectors locally available, including different ages, races, socio-economic status and other factors. The tests included numerous exercises in which different physical responses to a wide variety of images were recorded.
One interesting outcome was a statistical anomaly indicating the universality of vegan dietary preferences. In salivation response tests, subjects responded favorably in almost all cases when shown pictures of flowers, vegetation and other plants. However, it was equally true that images of dead animals failed to provoke a significant salivatory response in nearly all participants.
“Despite the stated preferences and history of an omnivorous diet in individuals tested, the results of these studies undoubtedly prove that each and every human is evolutionary and psychologically more suited for a vegan diet and lifestyle,” says Saul Craigan, senior research leader at U of Ohiowa.
“Not quite what we expected, but we are pleased with the results,” said Pepsi Marketing Science Division spokesman Hal Bix. “We will use this knowledge to tailor our advertisements to our audiences most primal nature. Expect to see more bananas and succotash in our commercials in the next several months.”
The Ohiowa Beef Council was not so excited about the news, calling the research “blatant pseudoscience with erratic conclusions drawn from jumbled nonsensical data.”
Moonkiss Yewell, a second year undergrad and secretary of the U of Ohiowa chapter of Meat Is Terrorism, was ecstatic about the results. “This proves what I have already known for a very long time. Nobody wants to eat meat. It is a maligned behavior conditioned in the population by the capitalist patriarchy. Veganism is beautiful and so it is no surprise to me that as animals, we would embrace the beauty of other animals by not eating them.”
Meanwhile we have been unable to reach Jimmy Buffet to ascertain if he will change the iconic lyrics of his song to ‘Black Bean Burger In Paradise’.
Details of a study claiming that true female heterosexuality is scientifically disprovable hit the internet today, causing an explosion of ‘I knew it!‘s to blanket social media in a matter of hours. And while everyone was busy validating their own sexual fantasies, I was once again left feeling alone and alienated in a culture so quick to swallow whatever scientistic snake oil it was being sold by sketchy researchers doing dubious studies.
The first hint that the study results and their eager media approval were total cockamamie bullshit were the words ‘all’ and ‘never’. These kind of absolutes just do not exist when discussing individuals, who are all fundamentally unique. Since my readers from CopBlock.org will recognize that I have often claimed that all cops are bad, I will explain the difference. When we speak of all cops as being bad, we are referring to the institution of policing as whole. In a rigidly defined system, such as policing, it becomes possible to make a generalization about all of its parts. But sexuality is not a rigidly defined institution or system, so we can not generalize about the individuals identity within these parameters. Further it defines women as a single group, rather than as one classification among many in a wide spectrum of individuals.
“Groups are grammatical fictions; only individuals exist, and each individual is different.”-Robert Anton Wilson
Let us first examine the science and its assumptions.
First of all, the test group is insufficient to make statements that apply to all women. I very much doubt there were aboriginal women tested at all. In fact, I am sure many other categorical parameters used to define women were not present for the study. Yet the conclusion includes statements about even their sexuality. Next, the size of the study is a pretty small sample group. There are several known medical conditions that exist that would not be found in a sample group of that size. So even if the study was an accurate marker of those who participated, it cannot account for all women.
My next issue is that the conclusions are based on physical response, but deny the individual experience and identity of women, making it both misogyny and scientism in one fell swoop. Earlier studies looking at sexual fluidity found that women were more likely to have physical response to just about anything remotely related to sexuality than men, including animals copulating. However, if one were to conclude that women were all into beastiality, there would be some serious concerns about the people making those statements. A biological response to a phenomena does not always lead to causation. And certainly when it comes to something as personal as our sexual preferences, these automated physical responses mean far less than how one experiences desire. It is our desire for specific kinds of sexual behavior that defines our sexuality, and not a statistical analysis of machine-acquired information. Denying our desire as the key component for sexual preference identity is the scientism of physicalist philosophy. While denying women’s own individual accounts and experiences of their sexuality in favor of strict binary absolutes beyond their own conscious desires absolutely reeks of the projection of male fantasy onto all of womanhood, and thus has at least a flavor of misogyny mixed in.
A common ‘conspiracy theory’ found often on social media is the claim that a movie, television show, book, etc. from before a major event predicted the event in question happening. The most popular of these involve 9/11, and these supposed ‘predictions’ can allegedly be found in The Simpsons, Back to the Future and a number of other cultural icons. While it is completely irrational to believe that 9/11 happened in the manner claimed by government and mainstream media, it is also irrational to believe that the events were predicted beforehand. In fact, the insinuation is generally not that the events were ‘predicted’ but were hinted at by the monolithic agency that both makes and influences media as well as government. But why would ‘The Illuminati’ (or whatever you wanna call it) go through all of the trouble of planting clues years ahead of time about an event that they planned to maintain secrecy over?
If you ask me, that seems both unlikely and irrational. I have a better idea.
Let us imagine that reality is two dimensional surface extending outward from any phenomena through space and time (the two dimensions). Since reality is a product of consciousness, an argument which I have made several times in recent articles and will not repeat here, let us call this two dimensional surface consciousness. Now let us regard every phenomena or event as a point somewhere along that surface. The occurrence of events and phenomena will cause a ripple to spread out from this axis point of space/time. The more potent the event/phenomena, the greater the ripple. A kid dropping their ice cream cone in the sandbox would effect, concern or be known by very few people, so its ripple would quickly dissipate.
However, an event like 9/11 that is known by and affects a large number of conscious beings would create a much larger ripple. This ripple would carry the symbols the event conjures in consciousness outward in space and time. Therefore our consciousness would contain symbols or ideas about the event even before it happen, which would then be manifested in the works of conscious beings. In this way we might imagine that the symbols of those towers falling would be embedded in consciousness to the degree that they would appear before the events that ‘inspire’ them ever occur.
If this ripple effect were real, how else might we notice it in reality?
Our last look at ‘predictions’ were all hindsight. However it is true that predictive powers do seem to be indicated by things like ESP and in the strange world of quantum theory. Psi-research has presented many instances in which predictive powers are far above statistical probability, suggesting that at some level, humans can and do consciously and/or unconsciously ‘predict’ events before they happen. The subatomic world is full of non-local interactions between particles, something Einstein was not very keen on and called “spooky action from a distance.” Despite his misgivings, years of research do seem to indicate that particles react to the activity and measurements of particles over great distances. But just as Einstein imagined gravity causing ripples in the space/time matrix, so might events. Especially if those events have more ‘gravity’ on conscious beings. Could the effects of ESP and quantum activity both be related to the same ripples in time/space that cause 9/11 to occur in cultural symbols long before the actual event?
How about even more intangible and arcane phenomena? Premonition, somewhat distinct from prediction in that it is often less specific and can occur in altered states of consciousness like dreaming, could also possibly be another area in which we can see this ripple effect.
Deja Vu, the feeling that you have experienced something present in the past, might also be a product of this ripple effect. The particular feeling that you have experienced an event/phenomena already may be due to the fact that you actually have, yet you were unable to understand the information you received prior to your arrival at the epicenter of time/space consciousness from which it flows outward from.
Synchronicity is much the same. The seeming connection between unconnected events/phenomena may be a conscious experience produced when ripples overlap and influence one another. The intersection of these ripples, experienced as symbolic abstractions, may just be an effect of remembering in reverse on more than one level at a time.
Regardless of whether or not this theory of the ripple effect is true, the number of non-local phenomena we experience as conscious beings is undeniable. Each on their own is easily dismissed as anomaly. Yet when we consider the recurrence of several forms of non-locality in the experience of human beings, we might be wise to view the phenomena as related. And if they are related, what is the singular cause? If the cause is just that we are faulty agents of consciousness who mix things too casually or project too easily, then the combined argument for anomaly becomes weaker in theory than in observation. While if we consider that reality is a bit stranger than we tend to imagine, but still depends on some logical forms, the idea of the ripple effect, remembering in reverse, becomes a plausible answer to a great number of phenomena regularly experienced by conscious entities throughout space and time.
Whether or not we believe in this phenomena will largely depend on our ability to break free from linear thinking, direct causation or any other dogma that rules our belief system from outside of ourselves. Which is to say, disbelief is itself just another ripple effect of ideological artifacts outside of our current space/time location.
While mainstream materialist science (scientism) attempts to build a working unified theory of reality, its agenda of producing profitable and pragmatic results often interferes with a cogent connectivity and consistency of data leaves it blind and ignorant to conclusions that actually support the evidence.
These are the questions that we hear in relation to problems that we encounter in our civilization. The central tenet of our belief system is that ‘doing’ is the only meaningful activity. We assume all problems just need a fresh coat of action in order to stop being problems. Yet this critically misses the obvious truth that under all those layers of action past the fundamental problems still remain. No matter how many times you try to freshen up an error, it still remains a failure at its core.
Even more insidious is what is meant by ‘doing’ most of the time. In our state-based social/economic/political systems, ‘doing’ often means employing the force of the state or of majorities. ‘Doing’ often means creating new systems to impose your will on others, or reforming old systems to do the same. More often than not, ‘doing’ is an act of aggression, or a contributing factor to other paradigms of aggression.
The old lady who eventually died of horse swallowing after a series of escalations following a fly ingestion incident was stuck in a feedback loop of ‘doing’. A rational person would have stopped swallowing things after the fly (not doing) and attempted to cough or vomit up the fly (undoing) if it posed a real threat, which it did not. It was only the act of repeated doings that escalated the situation to fatal levels, which is usually the case in these kind of matters.
Undoing may be argued to be a form of doing, which is right in some sense, but false in others. When I speak of undoing I mean tearing down, not to make room for building anew, but just to be rid of a thing that was not working. Too often our undoing is just part of the process of doing something else in its place. So I would suggest that what differentiates true undoing from doing is that it is followed by not-doing.
Doing nothing. Leaving things be. Minding your own business. These are things humans are not very good at. When we talk about ‘doing’ we do so with the urgency of belief that we must have a plan of action at all times. Yet we compulsively ‘do’. We need never worry about that. We should concentrate instead in where we fail, which is undoing and not-doing. These are the skills we should be developing as individuals and as a species.
I think the reason we have this problem is that extroverts have, by their very nature, become the default keepers of social systems and mainstream ideologies. Introverts who want to be left alone and leave others alone in the process are usually hiding out in a safe place while the extroverts are out ‘doing’ things. But as anyone whose tendencies lay nearer the introversion end of the scale knows, that ‘doing’ can make coexisting with extroverts extremely painful. Their insistence on compulsive interaction, and social systems which require and promote it, forces the rest of us into institutions and cultural paradigms that do not meet our needs.
Yet intelligence seems to be on the side of the introverts. And the internet has given a forum in which that intelligence can be heard, shared and adapted into solutions. If the pen was mightier than the sword, then the keyboard is hundreds of times more powerful. And it is here where we need to launch an attack against the primacy of ‘doing’ and the tyranny of extroverts. And to do so we must dismantle the false narrative of compulsive, busy-bodies who insist that we must keep swallowing larger critters following the unfortunate thing with the fly.
It is time we recapture the lost arts of Undoing and Doing Nothing. This old jalopy of a planet already has enough ‘doing’ on it to keep it going for a long time to come. Before we can do anything that doesn’t just add to the problems created by doing, we must undo much without worrying about what will take its place. Doing will happen as a course of human nature. Undoing and Not-Doing are far greater challenges for individuals and our species. Lets put our time and energy there and see if maybe we haven’t just been trying too hard and suffering from our overachievement.
My interest in the philosophical implications of chaos and order were piqued in 1998 when I first read The Principia Discordia, a humorous book produced by an absurdist religion based on an arcane bit of Greek mythology. Discordianism is the faux worship of Eris, goddess of chaos, and while it is thought by many to be a merely satirical piece of surrealist art, its metaphors resonate on a level of great truth. Yet it would be difficult to understand these truths if one were to hold onto the mainstream misconception of chaos and were unable to distinguish it from disorder.
Let me explain the difference in the most basic terms possible.
Chaos is a large grocery store with every ingredient ever imagined from which an endless amount of possible food combinations could be used to create unique meals.
Order is the shopping list, the recipe and the process of prepping and cooking. And sometimes you get a tasty meal.
Disorder is when you get something else. Disorder is when the meal is inedible or poisonous or burns the kitchen down in the process.
Disorder is what happens when the conversion of chaos to order goes awry. Which becomes more likely each and every time you apply order, and becomes a certainty when you apply it destructively (more on destructive vs. creative order below). Disorder, distinct from chaos, is usually what people actually mean when they use the term chaos. However, the failure to be able to distinguish means that people react to disorder by attempting to bandage the wounds it creates with a misapplication of order.
Let us examine the Principia Discordia’s retelling of that arcane Greek myth:
THE MYTH OF THE APPLE OF DISCORD It seems that Zeus was preparing a wedding banquet for Peleus and Thetis and did not want to invite Eris because of Her reputation as a trouble maker.
This made Eris angry, and so She fashioned an apple of pure gold and inscribed upon it KALLISTI (“To The Prettiest One”) and on the day of the fete She rolled it into the banquet hall and then left to be alone and joyously partake of a hot dog.
Now, three of the invited goddesses, Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite, each immediately claimed it to belong to herself because of the inscription. And they started fighting, and they started throwing punch all over the place and everything.
Finally Zeus calmed things down and declared that an arbitrator must be selected, which was a reasonable suggestion, and all agreed. He sent them to a shepherd of Troy, whose name was Paris because his mother had had a lot of gaul and had married a Frenchman; but each of the sneaky goddesses tried to outwit the others by going early and offering a bribe to Paris.
Athena offered him Heroic War Victories, Hera offered him Great Wealth, and Aphrodite offered him the Most Beautiful Woman on Earth. Being a healthy young Trojan lad, Paris promptly accepted Aphrodite’s bribe and she got the apple and he got screwed.
As she had promised, she maneuvered earthly happenings so that Paris could have Helen (the Helen) then living with her husband Menelaus, King of Sparta. Anyway, everyone knows that the Trojan War followed when Sparta demanded their Queen back and that the Trojan War is said to be The First War among men.
The point here is that by being selective about the guest list, an act of order on Zeus’ part, the conditions were set for the disorder that was the first major imperialist war in our written history. An ever-increasing trend that has done little to enrich our existence.
Perhaps you are familiar with the adage that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could lead to a hurricane halfway across the world. This is known in chaos theory as the Butterfly Effect. It essentially describes the interconnectedness between all things and how even the slightest action could snowball or lead into much greater ones.
Yet we are a universe in motion and have little choice but to remain active. This is why Discordianism suggests that we do not create a dichotomy between chaos and order, but between the creative and the destructive. It is thought that creative chaos is more favorable than destructive order. Yet if we wished to apply this knowledge to our actions, the subjective area where creative/destructive are defined is still problematic.
However, this problem is simple to solve so long as we define the two aspects relative to the theory, and not necessarily with linguistic preciseness. Creativity is that which seeks to enrich the individual (and perhaps others) without intruding upon or limiting the choices of others. Destruction is that which seeks to enrich the individual (and perhaps others) by intruding upon or limiting the choices of others. Creativity requires and nurtures self-discipline. Destruction seeks control. The cost of that control often comes in the form of disorder. Or at least that is how it would be experienced by everybody outside of the destructive force.
It is therefore authority over others which is the destructive force of the universe. Authority is often recognized falsely as a valid attempt at order. But true order, that which is not just a conduit for disorder, comes only from voluntary cooperation and mutual consent. The opposite of mutual and voluntary is aggressive, which takes the forms of force, coercion or compulsion. Our existence as individuals is a strong indicator that whatever our meaning and purpose in this existence are derived from must have something to do with that individuality. When authority organizes force to impede on individuality it doesn’t just violate the meaning and purpose of the individual and existence, it leads us down the destructive path to disorder.
Yet because we have misunderstood all of this, because we have created a false dichotomy between order and chaos and have failed to distinguish between the latter and disorder, we have become blind to our own predicament. As the disorder spawned by our faulty outlook increases, so does entropy. There must be some limit to how much entropy reality can contain. So besides being a philosophical nuisance, the misleading ideologies surrounding these terms and concepts, may actually pose a threat to our existence. We have seen this on a smaller scale. The empires of the past have fallen, such as Rome, collapsing under their own weight. Yet a danger much greater than nation states could befall us. The advancement of our knowledge and technology and other tools of order continues to increase exponentially. The resulting disorder which may follow in the collapse of all of this order may pose a threat to existence itself.
While it is not a certainty in any empirical sense, authority could theoretically collapse our entire universe. Not just in the physical sense, but in the sense that we are conscious beings whose ability to bend our nature to accommodate authority could at some point result in a critical mass. That critical mass might be a psychic implosion of our sentient consciousness, or it might just drive us mad enough to destroy ourselves through desperate attempts to correct our trajectory with yet more destructive acts of order.
Authority is not just the enemy of an individual. It is the enemy of ALL individuals. While it may currently only have the power to damage us one at a time, or in isolated groups, it could very well snowball into a disorderly frenzy of entropy which causes the heat death collapse of our universe, metaphorically or literally. There is a threshold where they become indistinguishable.
Before we can begin to correct the problem we must understand it. And to understand it we must first understand its most basic terms. Familiarize yourself with the distinguishing characteristics of the three terms as I have presented them. Think in them and speak in them and act accordingly to them. See if it doesn’t change your entire worldview. And share them. This one seed of knowledge may be the most important lesson for humanity, a species at the cusp of its own maturity. Peering into the uncertainty of that future is perhaps frightening. Which is why we tend to avoid it at any cost. But we may not always have that luxury.
The favoring of order over chaos, of authority over anarchy, is that final attachment to our immaturity. It is like the fear we face when we first leave our parents home. Yet there comes a time to leave behind certainty and security and head out into the vast possibilities of our own individuality. And even though we may fumble and make great mistakes, we will also be learning and adapting and evolving as individuals. Authority may have been a useful tool for fashioning creative order from chaos, but at some point it becomes a detriment. This is where humanity stands. We can step out from under the safety blanket of authoritarian ideologies and accept the consequences of the learning process, or we can rot in our parents basement while we bleed the household dry with our refusal to seek independence.
Embrace chaos, for in it lies all possibilities, great and tragic. Yet with an attachment to destructive order alone, there is no doubt what the outcome will be for our universe as well as our species and everything else within it. Do not let fear or ignorance keep you dependent on authority and its intrinsic tendency towards disorder.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
The number of earth-like objects being found in photos from the Curiosity Rover continues to rise. Most recently a bear, a dog, a mouse and a bearded man were all supposedly spotted in photographs beamed back to Earth from Mars. While it is entirely possible that these anomalies are simple probable false images or that the interpretation is pareidolia in action, some believe these objects may actually literally exist there. Which is going to sound incredibly reasonable compared to the theory I am about to lay down.
For most of my life I would look into the night sky and marvel at the grandeur of it. The sheer immensity was humbling and afforded enough possibilities to keep my imagination well-stirred. Recently, however, I look out there and wonder if it even exists and is not just an illusion. Is the entire sky and the billions of points of light within it really there, or is it all just a projection of consciousness?
So what of the sky? Was Earth once surrounded by primordial blackness? Did some single phenomena cause the first star to appear, only to be followed by others as that star caused us to consider greater possibilities for the hovering blankness above? Before the invention of telescopes, were there fewer stars in existence? Did creating a tool which would allow us to see more of the sky create an interdependent belief which allowed our consciousness to form more of them? And once we created those pinpricks of light, wasn’t it inevitable that we would try to observe them more closely so we could create more complex beliefs about them, and thus widen the scope of our reality?
So lets say, for arguments sake, that everything that exists is just a manifestation of consciousness. And that the night sky itself is nothing more than a projection of our own beliefs about the night sky. If this were so, and we created tools to go and investigate the manifestations of our belief, what would we see?
What have we seen on Mars so far? Mostly we have seen the things we expected or hoped to see. Very few real surprises have appeared. Rocks, dust and evidence of water. But what if our ‘exploration’ of Mars is really just a creation? What if we are adding complexity to a manifestation by investigating it with tools we believe show us something more real than ‘mere’ conscious projections? And what if by using our consciousness to sculpt this manifestation out of our beliefs, we are mixing in other signals from our consciousness? And what if those symbols are appearing to us in photos as bears, mice, dogs, men and the other number of things we have seen in these photos?
What if existence is not a thing? What if taking reality literally is foolish, yet necessary as a tool for creating it? What if there are no really real things, but only ideological forms of them manifested in the intersection of individual consciousnesses we call reality? And what if Mars is only in our head, along with symbols, like animals and humans and other Earthly objects? What if we are terraforming the red planet with our beliefs and while it is taking place random symbols from our consciousness are filling in the blanks until we create a more complex picture? What if the entire night sky is just a blank canvas which we paint on with our beliefs?
Does that sound crazy?
Okay, maybe it is…but what if it is also true? What then of alien species? If an alien species were created from our consciousness and beliefs, what would that mean for humanity? Consider a few things here. First, we would have to imagine a species more intelligent than ourselves, as any ‘aliens’ capable of reaching us first would have to be more intelligent, according to the narrative of our beliefs. In artificial intelligence theory, the point at which a computer can create a computer beyond our ability to understand the new technology is called a singularity. There are any number of theories about what would happens to humans after a singularity, after our own intelligence is surpasses by one superior to us. Many of these theories do not bode well for what might become of us, while others just leave us so transformed we would be unrecognizable to our current selves.
So what if we were to manifest a species more intelligent than ourselves, who could then manifest a species more intelligent than itself, and so on? Would this be a way of rapidly increasing the complexity, interconnectedness and size of our own consciousness; or a way toward extinction through obsolescence?
Or what if we are the product of an earlier manifestations consciousness? What if the only thing evolving is consciousness and we take its manifestations so literally that we believe the manifestations are evolving themselves?
So the next time you look at the stars, try not taking them literally. Or anything else for that matter. Even if they do exist as actual matter that preceded human consciousness, you are missing out on a lot of interesting ways to view your tiny little insignificant corner of existence by only experiencing stars, and reality in general, in this way. And that you are experiencing something at all is pretty much all that any of us know for sure.
An unfortunate tendency of otherwise reasonable people is to evoke ‘Natural Rights’ in their arguments against the ever-encroaching advancement of the states authority. While I find no fault with the argument that the state is an invading alien force against the individual, when the basis of that ideology is that nature has inalienably bestowed some set of specific rights upon us, it begins to feel vaguely like the ‘social contract’ and other precepts of statists and authoritarians.
Natural and legal rights are two types of rights. Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system. (i.e., rights that can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws) Natural rights are those not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable (i.e., rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws).
The concept of natural law is closely related to the concept of natural rights. During the Age of Enlightenment, the concept of natural laws was used to challenge the divine right of kings, and became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, positive law, and government — and thus legal rights — in the form of classical republicanism. Conversely, the concept of natural rights is used by others to challenge the legitimacy of all such establishments.
Natural rights are considered ‘negative rights’, which are those which protect you against actions by others, whereas ‘positive rights’ are those which supposedly guarantee you specific actions which may be performed by you or on your behalf.
Natural Law is the basis of Natural Rights, and is said to be the basic principles bestowed upon humanity by God, nature or reason, depending on whatever wacky belief system you subscribe to.
Since a personal supernatural entity refuses to confirm or enforce natural law, let alone its own existence, ‘bestowed by God’ is not a rational argument.
Since nature is the sum of all existence and the interactions of its parts, and since we see the violation of natural rights occur regularly within nature, ‘bestowed by nature’ is not a rational argument.
Since ‘reason’ is the ability to provide coherence and consistency between phenomena, perception and conclusion, reason implies not a singular objective set of principles, but rather a way of arriving at them, ‘bestowed by reason’ is not a rational argument.
Any concept of rights that are granted are logically flawed. Natural rights depend on agency and volition by an external force. Which leads us back to the statist idea that rights only exist when backed by force. Giving that force a metaphysical cause does not change the idea that force is the enemy of the individual. Whether it is subservience to the protection racket of the state, or to that of God, nature or reason, rights that exist as the extension of forces more powerful than the individual violate the same Non-Aggression Principle that ‘Natural Rights’ advocates often adhere to.
The entire concept of rights is flawed. A ‘right’ is an attempt to turn a belief into an absolute objective constant. While those beliefs may be rational and beneficial, the attempt to codify them into the answer in the back of the book of existence is illogical. Positive human interactions are not formed by rights. They occur only with mutual voluntary consent of all involved parties, the details of which will change from one interaction to the next.
It is constants that interfere with humans right to interact in mutually acceptable ways. Rather than arguing for constants, liberty minded people should be arguing against them. Natural rights are, contextually, nothing but another immovable framework. While their content may appear beneficial, adopting the rigid context to apply them is using the same ideological tools of the state. There is no way to evolve beyond that institution so long as we are using the same sort of thinking it employs.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law; love under will.” -Aleister Crowley
For a more detailed and humorous argument against Natural Law and Natural Rights check out this book, free to read online, by the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century- Robert Anton Wilson.
The Golden Rule (TGR), which states that one should treat others as they themselves wish to be treated by others, is pretty much the standard moral foundation of all cultures; especially in the western world. However, the entire premise in helplessly flawed, which can be demonstrated logically, emotionally, spiritually or by any other metric. A simple explanation will suffice for a beginning.
No two people are exactly identical. Not only do we vary by shape, size, genetic make-up and other physical factors, our entire subjective world is completely unique to each one of us. Our inner world- our thoughts, our desires, our fears, our passions, our joys, pains and everything else about us is completely one-of-a-kind. Given this basic understanding of the nature of individuals, it would be absurd to assume that other people wish to be treated how we do. Let us explore some obvious examples.
The most glaringly obvious demonstration is the existence of masochism. A masochist is an individual who likes to experience domination, insult or injury at the hands of others. The opposite is the sadist, who likes to experience the same things, only at the expense of others. It would be quite simple to dismiss masochism as a valid argument if all masochists were extreme examples whose proclivities were simply mental aberrations or psychological deviants. Yet there is a whole range of masochism and the large majority of of those displaying this characteristic are otherwise normal, healthy people who just happen to like pain, humiliation and surrender in safe doses. While that is perfectly valid, if these people assumed we all desired such treatment and attempted to provide it, many of us would not be very happy about it.
A still somewhat obvious example of the problem of TGR that has a lot more real world application is the personality division between introverts and extroverts. Again, the scale here is entirely grey with all possible points between represented by some individual in the world. Introverts, not necessarily opponents of human interaction, prefer some control over the timing, duration, subject and method of interaction and often require processing periods without which they are stricken by anxiety. Extroverts, on the other hand, prefer most kinds of interaction over none at all; with loneliness as the chief cause of their anxiety. We can see how an extrovert might attempt to avoid their own negative states by initiating interactions, however if their target is an introvert, that attempt to alleviate might become a cause of stress for the other person. While both personalities and sets of expectations are valid, they do not necessarily mix well, which can create a zero sum game. Even two introverts or extroverts might ‘rub each other the wrong’ way if timing, method and other factors have differing levels of desirability to the two participants.
The Golden Rule is inflexible in navigating the desires and needs of others by starting with the faulty premise that they are the same as our own. Besides the two above examples there exist as many differences between individuals as there exist individuals. Even though a large part of the human experience bears some categorical similarity between us, the details differ absolutely. Even when we wish to do right by others via attempts to cause them to reach universally pleasurable states through our actions, we may have no idea how to get them there. The map to pleasure, pain and everything in between differs absolutely for all people. When we send others on a journey that they find insufferable where we found it delightful, the destination is unlikely to be the same or to bear the same effect.
Yet there is a rule almost as simple and beautiful as TGR that we can use to guide our interactions with others-
DO UNTO OTHERS AS THEY WOULD LIKE DONE UNTO THEM. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT IS, ASK. IF YOU DO NOT CARE TO ASK OR HONOR THEIR WISHES, LEAVE THEM ALONE ENTIRELY.
Almost every social, political and economic institution in the modern world denies the basic right of those who just want to be left alone; or at least have some control over when, where and what kind of interactions they have. Because the modern world is predicated on force, only the needs of very few individuals are ever met, and never even then completely, no matter the expense to others they compile in their attempts. Centralization of power and control made up of systematic hierarchies are attempts by the few to have all of their needs met by the many. That is why collectivism is never about the greater good, but about the good of those who are able to define and enforce their own ideas about the greater good, whether directly or through subterfuge. A civilization predicated on authority is one that ignores the most immediate and enduring truths about our existence as individuals.
We are not the same. No package meant to contain and serve us all could ever please any. By allowing these forces of authority to command the central tenets of existence for all individuals, we only insure the misery of all. We have attempted to create a balance between good/bad (right/wrong, happy/sad), etc.) by removing the opportunities to ever reach the heights of these possible states. In doing so we have robbed ourselves of our very meaning, sentencing the individual to a life of servitude to an idea that no single individual holds.
The Golden Rule is a great example of our faulty moral ideologies. By following its faults we can begin to see the world we live in a more honest way. The world we live in is largely constructed from fear, which we then try to alleviate through absolutes like TGR. Yet when we see how incompatible absolutes are with the variance between individuals, and since we undoubtedly exist experientially as individuals, we should not allow ourselves to be guided by or force others to obey absolutes. Unless they want to, which you should verify via their own answers first, and not just what you would want.
Franchise would be the proper term here, as the Star Wars series has always been much more than some movies, but part of a large scale marketing campaign to sell an endless trove of collectible junk. While it was not the first cinematic offering to extend itself into a cross marketing campaign of goods based on its characters and themes, it was perhaps the first to be so successful at doing so. Even as a child I observed that liking the movies was not enough. You had to prove how much you liked it by having more Star Wars swag than the other kids in your neighborhood or school, and getting it first. These products became status symbols for an entire generation of young men who learned through this marketing campaign that your worthiness to others and yourself could be measured by what you owned. Star Wars became an accelerated course in rampant mindless consumerism aimed at children.
More symbolic buffoonery was also hidden within the Star Wars phenomena. Star Wars came to represent intelligence. Because society had observed that geeks and nerds flocked to science fiction, aligning yourself with that genre was a way of identifying as a geek or a nerd, which obviously made you smart. And since it had rolled up a hundred years of that genre into a slick package easily digestible by the general public, it was the proverbial honey you take with a bitter pill. Which is exactly what good science fiction, with its complex speculative themes and explorations into humanity, ethics and morality, is. Yet rather than swallow that pill, the public just sucked the honey off and patted themselves on the back for being one of those intelligent nerds/geeks who ‘got it’.
With its faux science fiction veneer, it also became a champion for ideologies about technology and science. By equating these status symbols with intelligence wrapped in science, it made a powerful cultural statement about scientistic ideologies and beliefs. Nevermind that it never actually promotes any actual science or the rational underpinnings of the empirical method. Merely aligning oneself with anything appearing even remotely sciencey soon became a cool thing to do, which has led us away from an understanding of what science is and does and why, and into the vast dogmatic worldview of scientism. Just as Star Wars helped to sell science fiction to mainstream audiences using an inferior replica of the actual thing, it also contributed to the cultural tendency to acquiesce to the knowledge of all things even labeled science, regardless of whether it is or not.
The symbolic suggestions contained in Star Wars don’t stop there. An ideology of dark/light, good/evil, etc. promoted the dangerous tendency of humans to think in false dichotomies. The binary logic which traps the thinking of so many people is evident all throughout Star Wars. To oversimplify any subject into a question with only two possible answers has been the folly of almost every wacky belief system humans have ever devised. From the Heaven or Hell of Abrahamic religion to racism to two party politics, the THIS or THAT and nothing else way of thinking has been one of our species greatest obstacles. Yet that entire fallacious dichotomizing is a central tenet of the Star Wars universe and the films help to validate these toxic ways of thinking by making them appear grandiose and heroic; and by implanting them in the head of the films target audiences- children.
In so many ways, even if the George Lucas or anyone else ever intended them to be, these films serve as little more propaganda for some of the least enlightened parts of the contemporary world. And even worse, they are designed for consumption by children, who then reinforce these ideas through rampant materialism at a lovely profit to those who shove this trash out there.
However, none of these reasons or all of them combined is as valid as this single reason for boycotting Star Wars films. They fucking suck. The entire series, from the very beginning, cannibalizes older science fiction themes and devices in a way that dumbs them down and strips them of meaning. It is full of terrible one-liners, childish gimmicks and coated in a sparkly cover of special effects that appeal to the sort of boyish minds that like to see things burn and explode. The characters are all shallow and two dimensional. The plot devices are paper thin and see through. And the entire package comes together not so much as an homage to truly great science fiction, but rather as an affront to the possibilities that genre has always offered in the way of making you think. Star Wars doesn’t ask you to think. It asks you to buy and be a loyal repeat customer.
The people who make Star Wars think you are dumb and want to capitalize on that. The only thing more sad than that is how many times film-goers and collectors prove them right. Prove them wrong, #boycottstarwars
This is the first in what will be several articles regarding the Game Metaphor, so let me start by explaining that. It is really simple, actually. Just imagine the world, the universe and all of reality is the most complex game in existence. Not literally, but metaphorically. Not that this existence is an actual game, but by studying reality in the language of games, we can understand it in useful ways. Since video games are the most complex form of games, it is that model I have found it most useful to draw metaphors from, even though I am not at all a video game enthusiast.
Further explanation of the Game Model will be provided as we discuss reality through this lens. Where we will begin is via an explanation of the people who exist within this reality. I have long noticed that a great number of people tend to display a lower amount of sentience. They possess less metacognitive facilities (thinking about thinking) and display less awareness of their selves and their environment. However, this distinction is not so much about intelligence as it is about the ability to perceive and process.
For this reason I think that any scale of a persons sentience would be far less like an IQ test and much more like an obstacle course. Highly sentient people move with grace and purpose stealthily through every day life, whereas many people are prodding, poking, fumbling beasts who seem to be navigating the world with toddlers body and mind. I can spot a low sentience being whenever an individual or groups crowds needlessly together, especially in busy passageways or near choke-points like doors or intersections. The highly sentient person cracks a door and slips through, while the low sentient folks open it all the way and then amble through. The lowest sentience types may even just stand in the doorway holding the door, despite the fact that there is a reason that the door exists, which is to separate things inside from those outside, like bugs or temperature. While I used to think that these people were merely stupid or selfish, I now see that they are quite unable to understand the bigger picture and thus the context in which their behavior is not in line with meaning and purpose of things around them. You may think I am just venting about a pet peeve here, but how we react to our environment really is an indicator of our awareness.
If you have ever played a game, you have undoubtedly encountered non-player characters (NPC’s). NPC’s are those figures in a game who do not represent a game player. They make up the shop keepers, the townspeople and the other game characters who are more like props than they are like actual people. They are mere functionaries, serving a specific limited purpose in the game, from selling magic swords to simply filling the empty space. If you have ever watched these characters react to the game environment you have likely noticed that they either have very narrow behavioral patterns and that these are often graceless, blocky and clumsy. Exactly how low sentience humans behave. So this was my first clue that reality may have its own NPC’s, those who I earlier labeled low sentience individuals.
For a long time I have been concerned with predeterminism and free will, specifically, which of these is the correct way to view human behavior. I had argued very heavily against predeterminism, predicated on the fact that I could logically deduce that predeterminism necessitated a serious self-contradiction. However, this was also centered around the idea that humans were logical beings, which was an obviously flawed precept. It was when I began to use the Game Model that I realized it was not an either/or proposition. I began to see us as programmed with a basic set of scripts. Evolutionary traits and instincts are part of every humans composition. Yet in some the ability to break free of this limited programming and act as conscious agents with full volition will occasionally manifest. However, since it does not in most folks, predeterminism really does steer many peoples behavior most of the time. Thus, reality has its own share of NPC’s, that is, individuals with limited scripts and an inability to expand them on their own. Often it seems the only drive for these game entities is to fancy up their Avatars, which is the reason for a civilization increasingly engaged in so much materialism and compulsive consumerism.
And then there are those who, through some combination of accident and self-design, become more aware of the bigger picture. Their own awareness and that of their environment expands until their behavior becomes a measured action in response to their environment and not just a prescribed reaction. Unlike NPC’s who play the board one move at a time, a Player is the person who who looks many moves in advance.
However, there are not just Players and NPC’s, but also Programmers. Where Players are those who evolved beyond their initial conditions as a NPC (the true meaning of Original Sin or the Fall From Grace), Programmers are those who have evolved past merely playing the game into shaping and creating it.
Reality is nothing more than our collection of beliefs about reality. Reality does not exist, but is in a constant shape of flux, being recreated in every moment of our existence. So if you want to change reality, you have to change what we believe about reality. This is not easy, since you cannot change any single aspect of reality on its own. I could not, for example, change the color of the sky simply by getting a majority to believe it was a different color. The color of the sky is an interconnected belief, dependent on many other beliefs about reality. To change the color of the sky you would need the belief that does that to be consistent with other beliefs, which is to say, you would have to change a greater number of beliefs to do so. This is why we cannot magically recreate reality with our will, as some New Age adherents often propose. We cannot do so because every aspect of reality is dependent on many other aspects and requires a great consensus in order to manifest.
And this is the very reason why the world needs NPC’s. They are those whom, by imprinting new beliefs upon them, become the sort of canvas on which reality is painted. They are, in effect, the battery that powers reality through their belief. So while my ranting may seem an effort to justify the superiority of some individuals over the majority, that is not my intention or belief. What I am attempting to illustrate is that our Universe is not an object. Existence is not a thing. It is the numerous manifestations of the consciousness within it, of which we are all agents. And as agents, we have different roles to play. And as such, it is necessary that we not exhibit the same levels of sentience as one another. It is the contrast between levels of awareness which allows the game to evolve, rather than being stuck in the same game screen forever.
This is why certainty is bad. Certainty is a glitch in the programming which prevents evolution. Modern people seek what IS true rather than what CAN or SHOULD or MIGHT be true. However, what IS true once belonged to those other categories. Be defining reality as a permanent structure, we are making it so. By empowering people a sense of false intellectual equality, we are preventing programmers from instigating further evolution by imprinting new realities on NPC’s who think they know it all, or at least that all can be known as eternal objective absolutes.
There is no awakening. There is no spiritual endgame in the works. Quite the opposite is true. Reality is becoming more unstable. It is weighed down by dogmas of objectivity and permanence. It is stuck in its current permutation because a handful of programmers are using the beliefs of the masses not for evolving or improving the game, but to bending it towards their own narrow agendas. Their purpose is not expand the parameters of play, but to narrow them in order that they might exercise power and control.
And this brings us to the final truth, since NPC’s cannot be seen as fully responsible for or able to understand their own actions, they cannot be blamed for what they do. However, the Players and especially Programmers can and should be held accountable for the evils they manifest. That evil takes the form of authority, and so long as the only Programmers that NPC’s recognize are those in authority, the game is going to stagnate. Until at some point it freezes up and we have to power down, blow out the cartridge and restart from the beginning, as has been the case with so many past civilizations. I believe that an awareness of the functions of reality and the individuals within it can disrupt this. Recognition of the game model may be the secret weapon that allows our reality to beat the boss and level up. The goal is not to transform every NPC into a Player or Programmer, not some great awakening, but rather just refocus the content of their beliefs from ideas implanted by authoritarians to those ideas created by the seemingly insane programmers who are seeing a possible future that is at the same time unimaginable and beautiful.
“Reality is what you can get away with.” -Robert Anton Wilson
There is barn behind a solitary house deep in the country. In this barn, converted into a workshop, a man named Petrov has spent almost thirty years dedicated to his life’s work. That toiling involved the invention of a curious apparatus he calls the Eternity or Infinity Machine, named after it’s two possible functions.
The Eternity function allows the contraption to replicate itself so that when its parts wear down another machine made in it’s image can perpetuate it’s existence.
The Infinity function allows the contraption to complete any possible task, such as computing, ditch digging, writing epic poetry or anything else that might have been possible for it’s creator to achieve.
However, since the device has a limited ability to process resources while completing it’s functions, it can only fully commit to one of it’s two possible states, or it will not operate efficiently at either. So the decision must be made whether to switch the machine on in either it’s Eternity or Infinity function.
Petrov was very proud of his machine. For this reason, he was partially inclined to ensure that it endured long past his own lifetime and in eternal perpetuity. Yet he was also concerned that a machine whose only function was to continue it’s own existence was inherently without any meaning or purpose.
Infinity, on the other hand, meant that the machine may complete any possible number of enduring works during its existence that would last millenia. Certainly creating lasting achievements was another kind of immortality. And the benefits it yielded would (theoretically) apply to the whole of humanity. Yet an emotional and instinctual drive to see to the perpetual existence of his own creation, which was predicated on his own history and lineage, was strong.
So vexed was he by this decision, that he eventually found himself unable to make that final choice. And so as not to have wasted his whole life’s work, he has asked that you make the decision for him.
Which function should Petrov assign his invention, Eternity or Infinity? And more importantly, why?
NOTE: As a parable, there is no right answer to the questions it poses. It is not meant to trick you and cannot be solved like a riddle. Assume the parameters given are absolute. For instance, the initial function chosen for the machine cannot later be changed. This exercise is meant to engage the reader in and introspective analysis of existence and the meaning and purpose of life; as well as call into question the practice of biological reproduction as a compulsive behavior. The use of absolutes, while inapplicable in reality, serves here to foster greater self-awareness rather than objective truth.
I once had to attend a drunk driving course that took place over the weekend at a community college. The instructor filled our naughty little minds with all sorts of information, in hopes that it might transform us from criminals into upright citizens or scholars. Knowing that an abstinence only education would likely do more harm than good, the sobriety sensai told us about the medical studies which showed that small amounts of alcohol daily had numerous health benefits. She explained that it was not known exactly why this was, whether there was a biological cause or if there was some other less tangible reason. Her opinion was that it was the latter, as she stated, ‘A few drinks make you happy, and happiness has many benefits, health and otherwise.’ This, she claimed, was also the opinion of many ‘experts’. While I was impressed with her logic and pleased with her honesty, I wondered why we didn’t apply the same logic to other drugs.
When we discuss medical marijuana, it is almost always approached from the angle of bio-chemistry. The empirical method, it is believed, will reveal whether or not we can justify or validate the benefits of this plant. It is reasoned that if science can show a beneficial interaction between marijuana’s chemistry and our own, then that will ‘prove’ that the plant is medicinal. In essence, we have sought to demonstrate the efficacy of marijuana use by insisting that the only meaningful medicine is that which directly and literally affects the symptoms or illness.
Now lets ask ourselves why health issues are ‘bad’ in the first place. I can come up with two of them.
1. They can kill you.
2. They can lower the quality of life.
Some researchers now believe that marijuana can literally save your life. Its efficacy in fighting seizures and cancer may one day lead to marijuana-based drugs that cure some of the most serious and debilitating ailments humans suffer. However, I am more interested in exploring the plants relationship to that second answer.
Why is pain bad? Why is nausea bad? Are they intrinsically bad, or do they just create conditions in which negative reactions arise? We tend to think of things like pain as objective phenomena. Yet we are not objective creatures. Our relation to pain is that it is a subjective phenomena. Pain cripples us and prevents us from doing those things which bring quality to our life. It is not just the pain itself which affects us, but the cascade of effects we experience due to it. When we are in pain the main problem becomes that our lives are not very enjoyable.
For many people, being high on marijuana is incredibly enjoyable. Pot intoxication is quite often a very pleasant experience that enhances our quality of life. And when you are enjoying life, pain has less power over you. Pain can be lived with, so long as it does not prevent us from happiness. There are many people suffering ailments that come with a lifetime of pain. Back injuries can be a life sentence to discomfort and hurt. Where there is no cure for pain, we must stop focusing on it and instead consider those experiencing it. Should we not take seriously their quality of life since it has no objective factors we can study? Is their happiness not important, if only because it cannot be deductively examined through empirical methods?
Every medical condition lowers the quality of life. Every physical ailment and psychological trauma does the most damage by robbing us of the ability to enjoy living. So why do we only measure the objective links between pot and pain, and not the subjective ones?Our culture has become unhealthily obsessed with objectivity. It is one of the pitfalls of the rampant scientism which has become the religion of our industrial culture. Objectivity has become the myth of our times. We are subjective beings. We cannot experience an objective reality or truth, because even if it existed, it would have to make its way through our own subjective perceptions and interpretations. The entire reason that the need to create empirical methods such as science came about was to overcome our hopeless subjectivity by using disciplines which sought to explore questions about nature in objective terms. Yet falsification, a primary tenet of empirical science, illustrates that when that objectivity we use to question nature shows up in the answers, we are no longer doing science. Final answers are not the domain of empiricism. Objectivity is the path, not the destination.Now consider how this has effected our ideas about medicine. Think further into how it has colored our ideas about ‘recreational’ drugs. We have come to see the concepts of ‘medicine’ and ‘recreation’ as being unrelated. This, I believe, is an enormous error in thinking on our behalf. It is time to decompartmentalize our lives. We have needlessly separated feeling good and having a good time. The barriers we have erected in our lives have become obstacles to our own happiness and well being. It is time to think of our lives as an organic whole, in which our subjective experiences are just as (or perhaps more) meaningful than those mythological objective truths we have come to use like a weapon against our own happiness.
“When once they stalked deer, or crouched shivering in the mud for the flight of ducks to alight, or risked their lives in the crags after goats, or closed in with shouts upon a wild boar at bay- that was not work, though often the breath came hard and the limbs were heavy. When the women bore and nursed children, or wandered in the woods for berries and mushrooms, or tended fire at the entrance of the rock shelter- That was not work either.
So also, when they sang and danced and made love, that was not play. By the singing and the dancing the spirits of forest and water might be placated- a serious matter, though still one might enjoy the song and the dance. And as for the making of love, by that- and by the favor of the gods- the tribe was maintained.
So in the first years work and play mingled always, and there were not even words for one against the other.
But centuries flowed by and then more of them, and many things changed. Man invented civilization and was inordinately proud of it. But in no way did civilization change life than to sharpen the line between work and play, and at last that division had came to be more important than the old one between sleeping and waking. Sleep came to be thought a kind of relaxation, and “sleeping on the job” a heinous sin. The turning out of the light and the ringing of the alarm were not so much the symbols of man’s dual life as were the punching of the time clock and the blowing of the whistle. Men marched on picket lines and threw bricks and exploded dynamite to shift an hour from one classification to the other, and other men fought equally hard to prevent them. And always work became more laborious and odious, and play grew more artificial and febrile.”
Excerpt of ‘Earth Abides’ by George R. Stewart (1949)
In 1998 I first began using the internet regularly. I immediately recognized it as an outlet for communicating in ways that I found more difficult to achieve in real life conversations. And as a result, I began to put more and more stock in the friendships I have made there over the years.
The usual rhetoric, even on the internet, suggests that internet friendships and activity are not as meaningful as real life activities. And yet the internet exists in the ‘real world’ and should not be seen as separate from it. How human beings communicate, interact and play has evolved through both social and technological advances all throughout time. We can even observe it doing so in our lifetimes, as technological advance has accelerated rapidly and exponentially in recent decades. So to view internet friendship as less real or meaningful as those friendships we nurture in physical presence is false.
The reasons that I have come to love the internet are many. Yet I will describe only those that describe its use for social functions.
The first is that the internet allows us to find friends with similar interests and values more easily than in physical presence. Outside of the internet, your chances are astronomically low of meeting people in your geographic locality who share a large number of your personality traits, opinions and joys. The smaller or more remote your location, the more difficult it becomes to seek out the like-minded. Yet since we should not limit ourselves to those who think, feel and act like us, the internet also provides a much larger range of viewpoints than location alone. Where we may avoid people we don’t like and miss their viewpoints in ‘real life’, we may be more likely to absorb thoughts, experiences and ideas that we would otherwise not take in.
The second, and I suspect more personally important reason, is that I simply prefer text to talk. Talking is easy to mess up. But in a format where we can edit and refine our thoughts, we are able to break free of social limitations, necessities and difficulties to have more poignant, distinct and revealing conversations. There is no awkward silence in text, at least not in the same way it exists in speaking conversations. There are also less expectations for when a reply will come. All of this affords one the ability to reread, absorb more deeply and formulate the most appropriate and elegant response. Not that we always do this…not that I always do this, but we are always afforded that opportunity. And besides that, it is also difficult to endure stammering or endless side-lining in others speech difficulties or quirks. Sometimes the sort of brunt immediacy of speaking/hearing create conditions in which good communication becomes far more difficult.
So having spent years online making and fostering friendships, I often find myself more active in and attached to many of those relationships than in most of my traditional friendships. And like in traditional friendship, the people I have formed bonds with online provide support, challenges and pleasure. We fight and make up. We laugh together and share sorrow. And we help one another grow as individuals.
One internet friend, a person I never met in real life, yet have known for years, recently died. Diane Miller is one the rarest of friendships I ever had. It is rarely that we see others as truly equal to ourselves. While we may admire and envy our friends, we often think of ourselves as the smarter, or more talented or kind one; usually depending on the qualities we value most in ourselves. With Diane I felt she was equal to me in all the measurements I weigh most heavily in myself (and thus in others). And I am an unusually confident and cocky bastard, so this is very rare for me.
When I first learned of her death I was filled with a great sadness. As she would have expected of me and done herself, I explored that feeling. And having done I found that my sadness was not fer, but for me. Diane had no fear of, or exaggerated desire to avoid death at any cost. Neither did she regret her life or feel she still had things to make up for. She contracted an unknown illness months before and passed away quietly one morning during breakfast. She did not fight for her life by becoming dependent on the medical systems and social structures and other necessities they operated alongside. She was also had her own unique views on spirituality and our deeper nature which kept her from being to attached to the world or afraid of leaving it. So when I realized I should not be sad merely because her life ended, I figured out why I was actually upset.
No longer could I ever call on her intelligence, wisdom and wit to inspire me or set me straight. No longer could I seek her opinion, her counsel or her support. This is why I was distraught at her death, and will continue to mourn for this selfish loss for awhile.
So I find it hard to believe that my friendship with Diane was less real or meaningful than ‘real life’ friendships. The sort of loyalty, dependency and love inherent in those friendships was exactly what I knew I would miss most when I lost my ‘internet friend’.
(From the wall posts I read after her passing, many people felt much as I did about her, and she seemed to be a great friend, mentor and inspiration to many.)
There is nothing less real about the internet or the relationships it fosters than anything else in existence. The internet is wonderful tool for learning, sharing and connecting. It, like everything else, is a tool by which we are learning to be whatever it is that we are. We should not disparage it or any other new paradigms. Least not since they occur ever more quickly all the time. As Diane would have said:
“There must be some reason over seven billion people chose to be here right now.”
Answer the following question: Why does a car drive?
Now ask other people around you. Did your answer and theirs attempt to explain the mechanics of internal combustion engines? If so, you were not paying close enough attention to that question. Yet you would not be alone. As a culture we have begun to obfuscate the meanings of why and how by using them interchangeably. Many people will answer the ‘why’ question with a ‘how’ answer. This simple bit of semantic confusion has become more widespread, leading us away from a more complete understanding of the world we live in.
Just in case you do not understand the difference, let me explain.
How does a car drive? That question asks us to understand the car as an object or mechanism. It requires that we explain the functions which allow the object (car) to complete an action (drive). To answer this question we can give an explanation of internal combustion engines, transmissions, wheels and any other number of practical insights into the physical attribute which allow a car to drive.
Why does a car drive? That question asks us to understand the car as conscious entity exercising its own will and volition. Without going into panpsychic philosophies, we will just assume the car contains no consciousness, volition or will. Therefore we cannot answer this question because it is a nonsensical question with no possible answer.
Yet we do not like unanswerable questions in our culture. And we most often deal with them by either avoiding those questions or reframing them so that there is an answer. This is often the case with ‘why’. Since ‘why’ is not subject to methods that use attempted objectivity, we either diminish the importance of the answer if not the question itself. And where we do not do that we often just replace the ‘why’ with ‘how’ so we can come to a gratifying answer.
It is rather a shame that we have allowed ‘why’s stock to plunge. While we cannot answer it with the empirical methods that our culture gives preference and precedence to, it can still provide us with answers even more meaningful and useful than ‘how’. Answering ‘how’ gives us simple practical solutions, but when it comes to the motivations and intentions of conscious beings will their own will and volition, there are no easy answers. When answering ‘why’ reveals a problem, the solutions it presents can seem insurmountable.
For instance, ‘Why did that man in Oregon commit a mass shooting at a community college?’ is not only hard to answer with any reassuring accuracy, it is also capable of providing an answer that we cannot easily work with. Yesterday I spoke about a possible explanation for why the shooting, and others like it, occur. However the reasoning I gave was that violence escalates as a result of a power imbalance between individuals and their society and its institutions. Given that my theory was correct, solving that problem may seem impossible to many, since it requires a total rethinking of political, economic and social structures and calls into question the existence of the state.
Meanwhile our president and media pundits immediately used the tragedy to prepare us for more laws and assaults on our liberties, the very problem that I believe creates these kind of mass killers. This was done quite slickly by reinterpreting the school shooting as an issue of ‘how’ and not ‘why’ it happened. Since it involved guns, it is falsely reasoned that if we remove guns (how) then there will be less or no more of these tragedies.
Yet guns were not the reason that this happened. They did not provide the motivation or intent to kill. They did not exercise their own volition or will. The killing happened for subjective reasons that only the shooter fully knows, yet may not be completely aware of himself. Even if we removed every gun from the planet, if the reason he committed these atrocious acts still existed then there is still a likelihood that the individual would have committed awful violence in some other way, since guns do not have a monopoly on killing.
Yet since we can address the how more easily then the why, it is supposed that this is the most logical way to proceed. However, it is far less logical, even if it is more practical. In much the same way that it is often easier to treat the symptoms of a disease than the disease itself, we use our existing structures to treat social symptoms without daring to look at the disease. And that is because the disease may be the very same existing structures we ask to solve the problem. And unfortunately, too many of us still lack the imagination to understand how human societies could function without structures modeled and reliant on the force and violence they are created to alleviate.
As we continue to answer shove every social problem through a how-shaped hole, we continue to produce only the sort of quick gratifying solutions that eventually become problems themselves. Using ‘how’ as the hammer that see’s every problem as a nail has kept us from asking and attempting to answer ‘why’ these things occur. And so our problems only get held off. The future of humanity is quickly becoming a closet stuffed full of the junk we didn’t have time to find a proper place for. Someday it will buckle and its hinges and latch will no longer contain the big problems we only had time to give little answers to. So it is becoming ever more important that we end our intentional ignorance of all the ‘why’ questions we have avoided by throwing a quick ‘how’ over it.
The why/how problem is an issue we have created through many social influences, from statism to scientism. Many people are now unable to distinguish the difference between those questions as that difference becomes more and more important. It is a sort of secular nihilism that we use as a smokescreen to deny the questions that have no easy answers. Why portends that our questions are not small problems to be easily be fixed, but large ones with cosmic significance. When we dig into why we are often unable to rest easily on our assumptions and dogmas. And often we never find completely satisfactory answers, but in attempting to search for them anyhow, we often ask ourselves new questions that help us to expand our overall thinking.
And this may be the reason that we ignore ‘why’ and replace it with ‘how’. Thinking is like doing the research that cures a disease, when most people would rather just take a pill that helps them forget it exists.
As news is pouring out over a tragic act of violence that just occurred in the form of a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College near Roseburg, Oregon, pundits all over the political spectrum are gearing up to use this tragedy to illustrate how their ‘opponents’ and their policies are responsible for the phenomenon.
While the liberals on the left will surely blame the existence and availability of the weapons used, conservatives on the right will surely suggest that it is the product of the breakdown of social values and morality resulting from the absence of religious fervor.
In this way the two false public relations fronts for the single political oligarchy can attempt to misdirect any plausibly genuine anger at the misery created by the sum of their policies into streamlined talking points, electoral tools predicated on the tragedy that their system must surely have helped to create to begin with.
While there is always a wildcard element in humanity, the rogue individual who feels the need to commit the most heinous atrocities for reasons most of us could never comprehend, the independent mass murderers and serial killers are not the historical norm. These seemingly random acts of violencecontinue to increase in America, even as other crime related homicides decrease. While we can look back and find evidence of violence in the pre-industrial era, it is rare to see individuals acting outside of the jurisdiction of authority committing murder against large numbers of people, with no real substantial or practical motivation to do so.
Is it possible that psychosis is on the rise? Could the psychopathic and sociopathic tendencies towards wholesale misery, destruction and death be increasing in response to some new environmental stimulus in the modern world?
Many criminologists will trace the modern phenomena of mass-killing by independent agents as having begun in the late nineteenth century. In Britain, Jack the Ripper is considered an early model for the modern psychotic killer, while America has H.H. Holmes. In the time since, the phenomenon has continued to increase. Both serial and mass killing have evolved from the deviant oddities of history into a modern reality which continues to rise with no end in sight.
Is it any coincidence that this trend began during the strongest push of growth of the industrial era and continues to rise as the paradigms that hold the industrial world together become even more omnipresent and omnipotent than ever before? Well, first of all, what paradigms have held the modern world together during our species’ ascent into an industrial civilization?
While I could list the aspects involved, the paradigms really come down to the increased power afforded political systems by modern technology, which allow for the creation of ever more powerful monopolies on all aspects of existence. The tools of oligarchies, such as imperialism, corporatism and welfare/warfarism, have become distinctly more powerful and durable as a result of the benefits of industrialism. And with these come an unending stream ‘thou shall nots’, codified as laws, which protect the property, lives and agendas of the most successful industrialists. In order to to insure themselves against the masses, the police state has arisen. And not just literally as an increase in the numbers of and power of police, but as all aspects of life become subject to strict regulation and control.
All of that regulation and control is upheld by force, or the threat thereof. Our entire society is largely glued together, not by the sort of cultural values, ethics and morals that historically held societies together, but by this threat of force. Whether it be extortion, imprisonment or death, force is the ultimate arbiter of all human interactions in our current system. Violence is power and power is survival and success in a culture of monopoly.
While this highly complex social structure predicated on force is often measured in large demographic and sociological terms, we forget that it also has an effect on every individual. The psychological issues that increase in the monopoly and totality of centralized power are rarely ever spoken of, and surely never mentioned in the academic circles funded by the power structure itself. Yet as every aspect of choice and possibility for the individual are narrowed by the needs of that system, there must surely be some effect.
Anyone who has been around small children recognizes that their need to exercise power by controlling elements of their environment differs among different children. Some children have a strong need to feel in control and get things their way while others are content to acquiesce to the more powerful children or adults around them. Whether this is cause by nature or nurture matters very little. Genetics and imprint conditioning likely both play a large role in the differing need for power evident in different people. This is likely to always be the case.
It is also most likely that those who are imbued with this need for power and control are most often those who either rise to the top of the systems predicated on them, or become social deviants who exercise these innate drives in more subtle ways than the psychopaths in charge of the monopolies. Yet as power increases in any regard, powerlessness elsewhere must also continue to increase. So what we would expect to see in a system that grows more powerful is for the threshold of powerlessness to grow. In other words, as there is more power, more people are likely to feel disempowered than before the increase. And as more people respond to the psychological and cognitive dissonance of being powerless, their reactions increase in both strength and numbers.
As the strength afforded to the system and the elite who navigate and profit most greatly from it increases, the backfiring response to it will also increase. The psychological well being of any group of people held under the control and power of small group will suffer as their own controls and powers are increasingly diminished. What we see in the modern world as a rise in horrific violence committed by deranged individuals is likely a result of a loss of personal choice, responsibility and independence.
Those who would use tragedies like the one in Oregon in to push for more laws or systematic protections are either unknowingly or deliberately making the problems worse. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. As a result of our caustic and inadvisable attempts to harness the monopolies of power to try to reach a tragedy free world, we have actually increased the conditions necessary by which those who would commit tragedies are created. Through psychological, economic and cultural feedback created by this push-pull between individuals and the institutions they are forced to obey, the only way to go is up. By trying to control problems created by control, we only create more problems.
Sometimes you swallow a fly. When you try to swallow a spider to catch the fly you begin a chain reaction that has only one inevitable logic: self-destruction. As attempts to use the monopolies of control, power and force for our own means increase, when they are clearly tools for denying us our own power as individuals, the only things that increase are the control, power and force of those institutions and the tragic deviant behaviors of the others stuck in this cage with us, but with less ability to endure it.
The rise of the the modern psycho-killer is not a problem to be solved by authority, it is a problem created by it. Until enough of us realize that, we just keep swallowing solutions that are more dangerous than the problems created through prior ingestion. Trying to use the system to fix problems created by the system is like trying to stop an avalanche by firing ever larger snowballs into it. And those individuals who senselessly kill masses of people are that extra snow now returning to us in the avalanche.
I would like to mention that there undoubtedly other contributing factors to this phenomenon, however it is likely that even these factors could be shown to have a relationship to the increasing gap between individuals and institutions of authority.
“The Mercer Island School District and school teams have recently revisited expectations for student behavior to address student safety. This means while at play, especially during recess and unstructured time, students are expected to keep their hands to themselves. The rationale behind this is to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students.
School staffs are working with students in the classroom to ensure that there are many alternative games available at recess and during unsupervised play, so that our kids can still have fun, be with their friends, move their bodies and give their brains a break.”
Let me start backwards. That final sentence suggests that physical play is a chance to give ‘brains a break’. Studies actually suggest that children are at the fullest learning capacity while engaged in play and physical activity. Not only does this spokesperson misunderstand pedagogical science, but also seem to be unaware of the needs of children. A bad position to be in if you are speaking on behalf of their educators.
Back another step, how can unsupervised play be engineered in the classroom. The very idea that teachers are teaching children how and what to play in an unsupervised manner completely robs that statement of any meaning. Unsupervised play is unplanned. Logic does not seem to be part of their teachers curriculum.
Now on to ‘physical and emotional safety’. Nobody has ever died from paying tag, ever. Have feelings been hurt? Sure. But feelings are often hurt in the process of maturation, in which even the most meaningless slights perceived as offenses become tools of learning about the boundaries of our society and culture. Protecting people from experiencing their emotions is akin to protecting them from possible allergens by never allowing them an initial contact which might create the defense against. Sometimes our best learning experiences are pain and failure. We cannot dismiss their overall good for the lack of instant gratification they cause our egos.
“Keeping your hands to yourself.” sounds like a good idea until you realize it is actually a compulsive policy that will soon be used to prevent even accidental contact. The language of safety is becoming such that it is beyond any practical reasoning and into a realm of abstraction that has become anti-thetical to human behaviors and cultures.
And finally, working backwards, ‘student safety’. That is a convenient way to say ‘reducing risk’ or ‘ insuring ourselves against consequence’. This is not about student safety. It is about the fiscal greed of the school and their opportunistic use of buzzword laden diatribe to insure future funds by creating false problems with absurd solutions.
This is not about child safety. It is about school teacher unions and public institutions safeguarding themselves against their own ineptness.
This is the purpose of compulsive public education, to manufacture ideological consent. It is working. Should you wish to ignore that agenda and explore the problems and solutions, I suggest you read this great missive: The Underground History of American Education.
About eight months ago I wandered into a strange corner of the library where I came across an even odder essay by 18th Century German physician Friedrich Gabriel Sulzer entitled “An Approach to A Natural History of the Hamster.” In the piece he uses hamsters as a metaphor to illustrate the innate equal rights that should be afforded to all individual beings, namely humans. So entranced by the piece did I become that I decided to experiment with his allegory by becoming the proud patron of a pair of Syrian (golden) hamsters.
Because I did not wish to care for endless litters of hamsters and the pitter patter of the ensuing hundreds of new little feet, I decided to get two male hamsters, whom I named Teddy and Franklin. This, it turned out, was not at all a very good idea. The two furry little nuggets of cuteness hated the living bejesus out of one another. On the 11th day I awoke to find Teddy dead in a corner with enough forensic evidence to convict Franklin of his murder in any hamster, or even kangaroo, court.
I should not have been surprised. One of the likely etymological sources of the word hamster comes from the Persian word- hamaēstar- which translates as ‘oppressor’. I decided that for Franklin’s sake, and that of any potential hamster roomates, that he would have to serve alone in my observations of the hamster spirit and its relationship to the philosophical underpinnings of institutional equality.
This turned out to be tricky, as well. Without the ability to observe Franklin interacting with other hamsters it was going to be tough to glean any wisdom from a metaphorical comparison to human interactions. It then became my goal to see how the hamster would interact with a diverse group of human beings.
With Teddy gone, Franklin became a much more endearing pet. During several weeks gaining its trust and creating a bond, we became very agreeable companions. Once I had counter-conditioned his will to escape, via well timed and psychologically syncopated rewards and punishments for his behavior, he began to display a trust and confidence in me beyond even my ability to understand. It was as though he saw me as a source of his own internal power which he could enhance with total loyalty.
Many nights as I sat writing, reading or Netflixing, he would remain steadfastly perched upon my shoulder. So complete was his devotion, that at even the slightest twitch of a discomfort his position was causing me, he would shift into a more agreeable configuration with no cues but his own volition to please my sensibilities. We became as inseparable as any two interspecies comrades could be.
Yet when I began to introduce Franklin to my friends, things took a sour turn. First, let it be said, he never much cared for my female companion. No matter that she was of endless priority to me, he could never forgive her for the aesthetic preference she took to Teddy in those first days of their arrival. I chalked this off as circumstantial, never realizing that the impartiality was part of a greater pattern of concern. However, after viewing his interactions with other female visitors, I began to wonder about his gender-neutrality. Through a sustained observation of interactions with human females, I began to become increasingly concerned that Franklin exhibited a deep gender bias, which showed no relief or remorse.
To make matters worse, any sensory contact with non-white humans would evoke a strong negative reaction in Franklin. While he was able to barely tolerate Asians and Latinos, he showed no appreciation at all for the darker members of our human race. Crushed by the knowledge that my dear familiar was displaying so many bigotries, I decided to extend my approach.
I began to seek the most diverse humans in hopes that my pet hamster would accept even one of them. Homosexuals did not pass his muster. Transsexuals evoked little more than total disgust, while gender-sexual-fluidity seemed another unacceptable trait to him. In short, my hamster hated every different kind of human I introduced him to. With much sadness concerning such a loyal, furry and delightfully musky friend, I began to form the opinion that Franklin was a full-on bigot.
It was at this point in my despair that I wondered what his overall reaction to a demographic similar to my own would be. I introduced Franklin to a number of my straight-white-cismale friends. His reaction, which at first I found delightfully reaffirming, was to be completely appalled by them. Yet when I shared these results in the social media groups I had been sharing the outcomes of this experiment in, a new perspective was offered.
Because Franklin was part of a species who had been bred for scientific and consumer purposes by the largely straight-white-cismales who dominated our culture, it was explained to me that his disdain for such types was only a natural reaction to his historical narrative, and not a true sign of imbedded prejudice. Therefore, his feelings about others like myself were invalid, while his reactions to ‘others’ was surely a telling sign of his predelection for intolerance.
How strange this did appear to me. Could the oppressed form an unhealthy bond with their oppressor in a desperate attempt at survival? This could not be the answer. How could Franklin’s attachment to me be predicated on nothing but dependence? After all, he was my friend. Even though I had put him through so much for each of us to come to this conclusion.
And his hatred? I have since disregarded this as unreal. A product of the dichotomy of personality displayed towards myself and others. It is merely a survival strategy to side with what he perceives as his best chance at survival. Without that necessity, I have no doubt, his hatred for all beings would have been absolute, myself included. I have decided to poetically say as much in the epitaph I have carved in his headstone. Since I realized he was such an impediment to my own ideology of joyful equanimity, I decided to put him to sleep. Forever. Quietly. Just one boot. For equality.
I have always wondered what a new type of music would sound like. All modern music is an extension of the history of humanity back until our ancestors first made music. I can even imagine that the invention of music is what set our earliest ancestors apart from theirs. Just as a certain physical form is inherent in the hominid species, so might a very simple commonality lie in the musicality of our species and its earliest recognizable ancestors.
It is my theory that music was an organic extension of making tools in groups. When early tool makers worked together, chipping away at stone, a sort of rhythm probably evolved. Since music is pleasing, this would have provided a sort of bonus reward for the act of making tools, besides their practical use. This would have caused tool creation and use to expand, causing a watershed of technological evolution that gave hominids a huge survival advantage. From the basic caveman drum (rock on rock) circle, it is not hard to imagine that vocalizations began to accompany these rhythms, which themselves spiraled off into language.
If in the beginning of the hominid era success was predicated on the musicality of tool making spiraling into new human innovations and creative outlets, as I suspect it may have been, then we can perhaps suggest that there is always a strong correlation between technology and music. We will explore this important connection more later.
If we could guess what music would sound like tomorrow, we would make it today. That said, there are reasons to think that the rate of innovation will slow down going forward (I know that the chances of me being completely wrong on this are huge).
First, my impression of the history of western art (of which music is a part) is that innovation kicked into high gear somewhere in the early 20th century. Before this, progress had been fairly gradual, with people making tweaks to what came before until things faded into something new, but in the 20th century, it became an explicit purpose of art to push into new territory as fast as possible. Think of art music – what’s called the common practice period, where composers used diatonic harmonies and chord progressions, lasted from around 1600 to around 1900. Then in the early 20th century, we had composers like Strauss (Elektra) starting to break up harmony, with people like Debussy and Stravinsky pushing ahead. As early as the 1920’s Schönberg had finished the job with twelve-tone serialism, and after WWII people like Stockhausen and Xenakis made sure there was nothing left of recognizable harmony, melody or rhythm as we knew it in music. This is an incredibly swift development compared to what had gone before. In the 60’s John Cage finally forced us to include any sound whatsoever in the definition of music.
Jazz saw a parallel development with a culmination in free jazz in the early 60’s, and fusion jazz in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Rock music came along, and in a couple of decades people had pushed that to every conceivable extreme, with prog rock playing as complicated music as possible, doom metal playing as loud and slow as possible, punk rock playing as fast as possible, etc.
Then of course electronic music, which people also quickly used to explore all extremes, from hardcore gabba to almost inaudible minimalism.
My impression, and this might be because I’m getting old and don’t have my ear to the ground anymore, is that most new music during the last decade or two has been recombining previous styles rather than bringing something completely new. My interpretation of this is that the 20th century brought with it a frenzied exploration of the limits of all artforms, which means that what’s left is to find new recombinations within the terrory mapped out by these musicians and artists.
Second, Philip Glass made a good point in a recent interview – he said that really new music only comes along as a result of a new process. In his example, this was the electronic organ which brought with it new playing techniques, which in turn enabled his fast, repetitive music. I think there’s a lot of truth to this – think of the invention of the electric guitar, or the synthesizer, and what huge waves of innovation followed. However, we’ve had computer generated music for a couple of decades now, and this technology enables basically any conceivable sound. It’s hard to see a new innovation that would be as disruptive.
Again, I know that people have predicted the end of innovation countless times, and that I’m very likely making the same mistake, but I hope my arguments can at least spark some discussion.
At this point another Redditor ‘o0lemonlime0o’ shares some doubts about those statements:
That’s a bit of an oversimplification. Music of 1600 is vastly different from music of 1900. It bothers me when people lump all common practice period classical into one category.
That said, I would agree that over the course of history the rate of change of music as a whole has increased dramatically. During the medieval period, centuries went by with little musical development in the western world, and now you can hardly go a year without some new genre or trend being created.
Where we disagree is in your assertion that in the last decade or two, nothing completely new has been created. If you only look at rock music, then this maybe has a certain amount of truth to it (and that’s a big maybe), but tons of incredibly leaps and developments have been made in indie, electronic music and hip hop.
At this point standard_error makes a mathematically based argument about music that is worth thinking about:
Sure, music changed immensely during the common practice period, but it did so gradually and more or less within a single framework. In the early 20th century, the explicit purpose of many composers was to break from that framework in every way possible. It is this change in attitude and purpose that I think is a large part of the reason for why so many things were explored in music during the last century.
As for recent developments, you’re probably right. Still, I can’t help to think that most of what’s new nowadays are new combinations of old ideas. I’m going to use a mathematical analogy – I apologize in advance. Think about music as a multidimensional space, where each dimension is some aspect of music. For simplicity, let’s assume that music is two-dimensional, with consonances-dissonance along the vertical axis, and fast-slow along the horizontal axis. Now every piece of music can be represented as a point on a piece of paper. My claim is that for much of history, composers were pushing further and further out along these axes, into completely uncharted territory. Today, there are points all around the edges, meaning that it’s not really possible to go any further out. On the other hand, the paper is far from black, meaning that there are still many places where new points can be placed. But these new points will mostly lie within the space explored by previous musicians. To generalize, I’m thinking about a multidimensional vector space, the edges of which have now mostly been mapped out, so that new music will mostly lie in the interior, and thus be linear combinations of older pieces.
So, have we really explored the entire area of musical possibility and have only left to fill in the blank spots within those confines?
Avant Garde musicians would argue that there are still limits beyond those boundaries. However, these limits are merely limits of sound. Outlier sound creations are often inaccessible to most people because the intense focus on pushing the boundaries of sounds tends to cast aside the more subjective aspects of music and the emotionally evocative effects that even the most simple music can achieve.
When I wonder what new music might sound like, I am not just referring to the novelty of newness, but what an enduring form might sound like. From the earliest primitive rhythms to the folk music of societies to the royal artistry of classical music, and into all forms of modern music there lies a common set of elements: melody, harmony and hooks. It is these elements which give music its emotional content and ability to endure through repetition. Merely new music is meaningless if it doesn’t gain a large and lasting audience relative to human populations, cultures and societies.
For this reason I think that future music is not necessarily always so much about exploring boundaries, but filling in aural blank spots, as was suggested above by Redditor standard-error.
It is also why I doubt that things like binaural beats will replace music. Not because they do not facilitate emotional or mental state changes, but because they do it directly, and not through the subjective process of interpretation which occurs between artist and listener. While pure forms of sound might someday become a popular thing themselves, I do not think that they are necessarily musical, or at least able to serve the same purpose or create the same kind of meaning. The subjective nature of the observer is an important part of music. It is an area of human experience where the journey really is more important than the destination.
In that same Reddit thread above, the original submitter asks a question I myself have asked: is trying to imagine new music like trying to imagine a color outside of our visual range? If the sonic boundaries have already been located, and technology has already given us the ability to make any audible sound easily accessible to musicians, then have we reached a dead end? Do the limitations of our experience of sound themselves provide the answer to our question?
Imagine that you were slowly going deaf. You were able to hear music for much of your life but it slowly faded and your musical tastes tended to fulfill the increasing limitations of your hearing. Then a new technology restored your hearing, and because the limits of that technology differ from organic hearing, your musical tastes not only changed, but how music itself sounded completely changed.
This was the case for Sam Swiller whose music tastes not only changed to reflect the new heightened boundaries of his hearing while simultaneously becoming limited by the device he now uses to hear. While one set of limitations increased, his ability to hear in general, another decreased, the tonal range of his technologically-facilitated hearing.
Here we find an interesting possibility. If the new hearing technology could limit his audio range, could it eventually be used to increase the human audio range? Many devices have increased our visual range in numbers of ways. We can now see beyond color into thermal and chemical composition. Is it possible we can expand the possible range of sounds we can experience outside of the limits experienced by natural human hearing?
As I mentioned early on, technology is a huge part of human music. The advances we have experienced in musicality have often come along as the result in advances in instrumentation, organization and even the production process itself, all facilitated by new technologies.
So is it possible that we have perhaps reached a limit of musicality that is merely a function of the limits of the human hearing apparatus, and that if we were to improve this experience by creating technological instruments that actually expand the sonic limitations of our hearing, it might allow for new ranges and complexities of sound? Can we not imagine what a new music might sound like because we do not yet have the ability to hear it? Might the re-creation of the physical equipment which facilitates the human experience of sound be the next step in music?
Truly objective absolutes do not exist. Our methods of attempting to harness objectivity largely only exist for expanding our subjective experiences of existence. In the world of forms, our ability to experience anything new is intrinsically limited by the apparatus we use to gather and perceive those experiences. However, our ability to improve, or at least expand the abilities of those apparatuses, does not yet seem to have reached the same sort of critical limits music currently faces.
With music being such an important part of our species heritage and conscious experience, it is unlikely to ever lose its general importance to humanity. Nor will we remain content to simply recombine what is already possible. So it seems inevitable that as a way of increasing subjective experience and human pleasure, we will necessarily have to replace our ears.
So then what of our other sensory apparatus? Will it be necessary to someday expand our taste palettes by replacing taste buds with more sensitive instruments, once we have combined all the known flavors and can no longer generate new flavor experiences through recombination? Sight, smell and touch might also themselves be enhanced and expanded in the future by new technologies.
Our subjective experiences create meaning, pleasure and pain, joy and misery. They are the guides by which we hack out a path into the future. In a world where technology has facilitated such rapid advances in art, our ability to experience the new and novel will have to eventually be supplanted with technologies that expand our perceptive abilities.
So does the question “What would a new kind of music sound like?” lead us to the inevitability of transhuman technology? Can we physically evolve fast enough to meet the needs of our rapidly expanding consciousness, or will it become necessary to replace biological processes by technological ones in order to continue creating meaning and purpose in our lives? And given that we must do so, what will that do to the meaning and purpose we have already created through the biological processes we have evolved through since our very inception as distinct physical entities?
And if even our core values must change to facilitate our future evolution, what can we say about the permanence of anything? Are there objectively positive and negative human experiences, or are these themselves entirely impermanent conditions? Is anything always good/true/etc. or is human experience itself a creative process facilitating its own methods of evolution?
“They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” -Charlie Parker
Madison curled her toes as brave autonomous flames tested their freedom outside of the fire pit and sent their tendrils rollicking in her direction. She took in the potent smells of the hardwood and dried dung with olfactory aplomb, turning her head to follow a wisp of the smoky perfume. It was a learned aesthetic preference. In the world where her childhood had lived such smells were merely historical footnotes. Now that world was gone and the habits of the world before it had come full circle. A bat swooped down to snatch up a moth that had revealed itself in the fire’s trembling light, and drew her attention upwards. Although she had developed a pleasure in things like the scent of burning excrement, the sky was a book of revelations she could never quite get used to. Ever since the OMG, reality itself had changed, and no place was that more evident than when she gazed upon the two moons above her.
“Your brother should be here soon, Maddy. I am going to fill the kettle and grab an extra cup. Would you like anything while I am beneath?” asked Jayden, the woman’s husband of nearly sixty years.
“…ICE COLD,” he cajoled along with her. It was a very old joke between them. It had been even longer than they had been married since anyone had drank an ice cold Popsi. The memory of sugary things always excited an almost primal urge in them, but over the years they had learned to appreciate even that urge. Anything that mutually connected them to the old world was welcomed, as it was the only remaining evidence left that they had not gone absolutely insane.
“B-R-B,” he said, again summoning a past that had become even less than the threadbare memory that preserved it; and shuffled down into the tunnels whistling an extinct melody.
The OMG had blanketed the skies with ash for fourteen years after. During the first six months the skies were almost completely black and the world beneath them either died away or plummeted back down the ladder of human history. When the first noticeable light began making its way through the post-apocalyptic smog, the sun was entirely unvisible as an object. Its rays stretched out into the ash and clouds and the focus of its fiery beams dissipated over the facing hemisphere and beyond. Refraction, or something like that, the last surviving scientists had said. While the moon still was still noticeable as a celestial object, it no longer held all its singular glory as a glowing orb in the sky. Some other trick of light and matter had caused the moons beams to split as they passed through the suffocating atmosphere, which created the perceptual effect of dual moons. The old priests, the scientists, had tried to explain the effect. As years passed, those who had been frightened right out of their old belief systems, as well as the new generations, began to believe that there actually were two moons. In fact it was the birth of this new moon, they believed, that caused the OMG in the first place.
Despite the protest of surviving academics, experts and authorities; the belief in the two moon theory became widespread. And so fourteen years after the entire thing began, as the ashen curtains began to part, two beautiful moons sat defyingly obvious in the gloriously deep, open skies. Absolute faith in the methods, models and myths of the pre-OMG world were abandoned and the oldest human truths began to replace them. Beliefs are not based upon reality, as the world of their childhood had imagined, but precisely the opposite.
“Don’t even try to sneak up on me, Connor. You have the grace of a wooden bull and are likely just to hurt yourself again,” Maddie called out at a slight rumbling in the near-distant darkness.
“Hush it, sis. These are the creaks of an old man, not the squeaks of one who sneaks,” Connor rhymed in his equally charming and infuriating way. Slowly, achingly, he ambled up next to her and took a seat. “Where is Jayden?”
“Fetching refreshments. He will be back shortly,” she answered. “Lovely night. Thanks for coming over.”
The two of them sat in silence waiting for Jayden. The three of them together represented nearly half of the surviving humans from before OMG. So far as they knew, from the small portion of the world they had contact with, at least. That is why they had gathered on this night. To prepare their final report to the council of elders. It would be the last time they would meet and their final edicts would breathe one last breath into a world that they were too old to recognize or shape any further.
Little sparks were pushed by the smoke up to the tops of the trees only to disintegrate into the night sky. Like man, they had been born of a great fire that reached with all of its might for the heavens, only to come floating back down as ash. Someday that ash would mix with the earth to create fuel and a new fire. Such was the cycle of things, growing and collapsing, gasping for new heights in which to set new fires, and then falling yet again. Where the ego of man saw this unending cycle in the terms of successes and failures, the world recognized the process as rebirth and renewal. A chance to begin afresh and become something entirely new. Individual humans measured this as a failure or loss but the great mass of human consciousness renewed itself through these events like the rising and falling of waters in the fountain of eternity.
Jayden returned to the fire with a great rumbling of laughter, “If you two aren’t the most serene geezers the world has ever seen…” he trailed off back into a fit of coughing and laughter.
“Grab me a Popsi while you’re up.” Connor joked. The three of them were a trifecta of anachronism and they reveled in that mutual difference even more as their days grew shorter.
The three of them sat around sipping a tea made with herbs, roots and bark. It was no Popsi, but it was still a special treat in this world of diminished resources and practical rationing. They caught up on personal and family news and gossip and occasionally drifted off into bouts of silent fellowship. The spring sky was full of insects and the flying mammals who ate them. While most species of birds had not survived OMG, and those that had crept cautiously through the shadows of the food chain, bats had fared quite well in the new landscape. Their whirling dives and aeronautic playfulness were endlessly fascinating. As they wove dizzying paths around one another they flew through the dual beams of the twin moons, like some fantasy story from the old world, or a science fiction Halloween decoration.
“Yesterday Viv got back from Melvinville. She says the journey took them only two days. When we first came here it took a full four days of steady travel. As the years have gone by that number has halved. I don’t see any other explanation. The world is shrinking.” Maddy stated her opinion confidently and waited for an argument to counter her suspicion, but none came. The two old men made barely perceptible nods of agreement.
“What the council wants cannot be done. It is a fools errand. When even the world shrinks to fit the beliefs of those living in it, no edict from old farts like us is gonna mean anything to anyone,” Jayden lamented quizzically.
“You are right, you are both right. We are all too wrong to be right anymore. We are obsolete. Museum pieces. The younger people have humored us long enough.” chimed Connor.
“So we won’t go?” asked Maddy.
Her toes curled again at another escape of flames in her direction. She drank in its warmth and smells. Life was good. Even when it wasn’t. The acrid aroma of the fires fuel sent her spinning back into herself. The night was music. The bass sounds of frogs and the groaning of dying and growing trees mixed with the high pitch sounds of insects filled the nights natural auditorium. In the harmonic center a cacophony of other living instruments filled the aural spaces. The music was alive under the twin conductors of Earths two moons.
Carson sat alone at the great table that once seated many of the greatest survivors of OMG. The five remaining seats around him stood empty. The final meeting was a bust. He didn’t blame them. He wouldn’t of come either, if he didn’t live here. For some unknown reason he pulled his tired old body up onto the great wooden table and lay on his back. Looking up into the clear blue sky he relaxed for the first time in over sixty years. It felt good. Life was good. Even when it wasn’t.
In 2012 Adam Smith, 37, posted the video below of a confrontation he instigated with an employee at a Chic-Fil-A drive-thru. From his self-righteous mobile soapbox he berated the woman about the companies controversial stance on homosexuality, as if the befuddled woman had anything to do with it. Adam goes on to suggest that the employee is complicit by association, assuming that she decided to work at Chic-Fil-A in order to spread their philosophy, rather than because yuppie douchebags like him thrive on the upward redistribution of wealth created by the service industry, which forces a sector of the population to have to endure a lifetime of meaningless labor in which they are repeatedly forced to deal with entitled assholes like him. The video immediately went viral and ruined Adam’s career. See, there is hope for humanity!
Adam is now on food stamps and is widely held as unemployable. Mr. Smith destroyed his own reputation and the consequences were instant and will be long-lasting. In a reputation economy, such grossly narcissistic actions will not be coefficient with economic well being and survival.
Review sellers are those who work with online merchants to give their products positive ratings, even though they have not actually purchased the product, and if they had, would still be reviewing it with the bias of profit motive. This undermines the entire system of customer ratings and reviews and creates inaccurate information about products which undermines free market practices that help bring us better goods at better prices and which reflect our values, ethics and morals.
The reputation economy will be built around reviews and ratings. If Amazon is able to win these lawsuits, it will set a legal precedence which will safeguard review systems from corruption. Eventually these laws will become cultural habits that will prevent us from damaging our reputation by tinkering with the systems that measure it. Of course, that is not always going to work. It will also be necessary to employ technologies that secure rating and reviews from tampering. Like, you know, encryption…
A new company has emerged that wants to use the same kind of encryption systems used in manufacturing cyber-currency to create a reputation aggregate for encryption currency users. Shit just got seriously meta. The company, Bitrated, noted that there existed a basic lack of trust in Bitcoin and other crypto-currency users. The anonymity of these systems provides few means of dealing with those who decide to abuse it, or are using it in unethical ways. Recognizing this problem, Bitrated has created a user rating system which will allow a community of users to trade with greater confidence and some vestige of transparency.
I have argued for awhile that crypto currency itself is just a means to an end. A step of a trend or process which will make currency obsolete. As currency, it invites a lot of great minds who are interested in technology and profits. Yet what is learned about encryption will likely be used in myriads of other ways, in much the same way that NASA invents things astronauts will never use, or pornography drove the technology of the internet. The value of crypto currencies is not the currency part, but the encryption part. The reputation economy will rely on technologies that can provide accurate information about the reputation of an individual or enterprise. Encryption will help insure that fake reviews do not cloud our information, so that when some sociopathic suit trash starts crawling up your ass, your review of him will be sure to totally and reliably fuck him economically.
I pissed to the shadow of my shoulder
I shit to the bottom of my soul
I spat in the eye of beauties beholder
From a vomitous fit in a black hole
I oozed and squirted
With incontinence I flirted
As I bled and excreted
With the abandon of the heathen
In the garden of hedon
Alone with my assumptions
Of bodily functions
I leak therefore I am
Feminism is a movement which was created out of a need to respond to rampant institutionalized and socially entrenched inequality between the biological sexes. In a broader sense it came to champion equality amongst all peoples by removing institutionalized prejudices and opening cultural dialogues. And that shit is all WAY awesome.
But lately there is a new type of feminism lurking in college campuses and social media websites. This feminism is not about intellectual, cultural and societal advancement; so much as it is about creating an industry of career victims. The hallowed halls of academia and Tumblr are now rife with these sorts. Their misguided perversion of feminism is not about equality so much as a playground for insecure, self-loathing people to form forts of hyperbole to protect them from the anti-intellectual unreasoning of their obnoxious incessant whining.
Below are some recent examples of this hysteric posturing. Where real feminists have fought against the pests of oppression to create a garden of institutionalized and cultural equality, these career victims spend their days screaming at the few weeds that pop up here and there. Their cries are disingenuine incitements of perceived slights that require months of meetings and planning to invent. And while these trespasses against reason and rationality are likely pretty damaging to the social harmony real feminism strives for; they are sometimes just fugking hilarious.
Watch what you are doing with your hands! You could be inadvertently making ‘feminist’ communication gestures. Since words are likely to trigger the sensibilities of career victims and any noise is pretty much the same thing as words, the professionally oppressed have created their own sign language in order to try and avoid any triggering.
If you like the idea of politically autistic gesturing, DO NOT CLAP! That noise may be the most triggering one of them all.
But what about when you are surrounded by sexist cis-pig troglodytes with no respect for the marketably sensitive? Well, you are gonna need a safe space, that is what! If some Uncle Tom lady libertarian comes to haunt your hallowed halls of academia, you are going to need some serious Safe Space action. A place where free speech, critical thinking and challenging ideas are not acceptable; and have been replaced with a kindergarten classroom replete with snacks, nap spaces and toys. Oh, and a puppy video, which confuses me. Everyone knows that dogs are masculine pets who help uphold the patriarchal paradigm (MOTHERFUGKERS!) and help to keep pretty much everybody but straight white guys down.
Yet not every career victim is content to compose thinly veiled misandrist rants on Tumblr from the comfort of a safe zone. Some of these master martyrs have taken to the roadside to propagate their recursive female hatred for the types of not-woman-enough-women who do not think and act like them. I say it is about time that somebody was triggered by a billboard about homemaking and took action. As a hetero caucasian cismale I think we should all be forced into an unfulfilling life of wage slavery rather than trying to escape it by taking care of the people we love. How selfish and rude! Why try and topple a paradigm that injures all of humanity when you can make it let you conform to it?
A group of specialized saints in Britain has decided that the obviously machismo sport of football has to be sensitized so as not to upset a group of people who generally despise professional athletics.
Wow, all of this sensitivity has really drained me. Who knew hyperbolstic perversions of equality movements could be so tiring?
I am both a huge fan of the Star Trek Franchise (especially TNG) and a huge critic of the widespread interpretation of the show as some sort of perfect and attainable utopia. Widespread militarization, existential malaise and a number of other issues actually depict a sort of perverse, juvenile sketch of utopia. Yet there is no doubt that it has been highly influential in how we think about the future as well as an inspiration in the development of technologies.
The most common reason given for the perfection of the fictional Star Trek universe is that it has evolved past money. It is often suggested that money was the greatest cause of past evils and ridding our species of its use allowed us to make leaps and bounds forward. This is a rather unsophisticated simplification of human economies that does not apply to current humans who do not possess the technologies that make Star Trek possible. However, we are beginning to see some of the technologies in the show become real possibilities. Take the medical device, the Tricorder, which inches closer every year thanks to the sort of competition that people in the ST universe are too evolved for.
Yet the real reason that the ST universe can afford the luxury of abandoning currency lies mostly in the very specific technology of the replicator, which can provide humans with basic needs with matter created from unlimited energy. Well, it seems that we may be close to taking some of the first steps towards replicators as scientists claim they will soon be able to create matter from light. Now all we need is the free unlimited energy to power it and Voilà! Utopia.
As other technologies already available begin to make large scale production and centralized political and economic systems obsolete, we are already beginning to see the rise of new economic paradigms. It has suddenly become likely that the luxuries afforded to the ST universe will be available to us in the near future. As that luxury increases we will move away from Industrialism and most of its economic paradigms, as well as its social and political ones. Soon it may be possible toleave the slavery of wage employment and produce things of value to ourselves and others, not for mere survival, but for living.
The chronological displacement field (CDF) has undoubtedly been one of the most novel discoveries of the 21st Century. When the two physicists, Timea Kolchik and Robert Dupast stumbled across the ability to use wormholes to remotely view past events it changed our understanding of human history almost overnight. Religion and science were dealt some crushing blows, as investigations into their claims began to overturn much unexpected evidence against them. As we came to know the historical figures and our ancestors and how their lives differed from our accounts we began to see the absurdities of our own mythologies. The CDF was so informative that humanity was transformed in ways that prevented its impending doom. Through such deep introspection of the past, we were able to see ourselves more clearly and we responded by changing our deleterious course. And yet for all that humanity gained we are still human beings and it was not long before this new technology began to be perverted in a most undignified way.
Historical Reality Television has inarguably been the most monumental entertainment trend for the last few years. While scientists, theologians, historians and anthropologists had already made most well know historical accounts available for public viewing, there exists an almost infinite amount of potential entertainment content in humanities past. Especially in the recent past. In the century before our transformation, humanity had become increasingly volatile. And in retrospect the results were often hilarious.
Human economies have shifted largely into a loose system of commerce centered mostly around the sharing of information. Information is discovered, created and consumed in lieu of most physical and service labor from the past as a result of automation and energy to matter converters. Where before mankind had toiled with time and energy over resources and more energy, man now subsists from the eventual benefits of industrialism and bases his worth on his reputation by means of his ability to add to the information market. When CDF technology became available to every gal and guy, many of them used it as a data mining device, combing the lives of human beings past in order to glean from them moments which could be edited into an entertaining package. Suddenly, every human being who had ever lived might possibly become the subject of a historical reality television show.
The first popular video series depicting actual historical people in a humorous entertainment context was ‘Kick Boxing with Chet and Linda’. Chet and Linda were a married couple who lived in the mid nineteen nineties amidst a Midwestern US meth craze. In the introduction to the series we see a young Chet and Linda full of love and life and dreams. But as the opening sequence moves along we see a series of unfortunate luck and poor decisions transform Chet and Linda from young lovers to maniacal middle aged meth addicts with a propensity for colorful tirades and (sometimes extreme) violence against one another. In this way, from the most poignant moments of their existence, we have become voyeurs into the tragic comedy that Chet and Linda never meant to become in their sad lives. This is a scene from the fourth episode.
Chet- “Bitch, you better leave me that last line or I am gonna shove my foot up your rotten cunt and walk you around like a god damned snowshoe.” [Chet jumps across the room in a flying kick maneuver and yells] “KI-YAH!”
Linda- “Well shit, Chet, that shoe would be the hardest thing you tried to put in my pussy for five years.” [Linda let’s out a bloodcurdling scream and throws an ashtray at Chet. In his moment of confusion she bends over and snorts the last line of meth.] “What you gonna do, shoelace dick?”
Chet- [After rubbing his shoulder where the ashtray struck, he lunges over the table at Linda in another flying kick maneuver.] “That’s it whoremouth, time to teach you some respect!” [But before he can land the kick, Linda moves to the side and grabs a beer bottle from the table. As she raises it overhead he lets out one last threat.] “You better knock me the fuck out with that bottle or I am gonna fuck you in the ass with it, you trechr’us skank!” [The bottle lands squarely against the side of his head and despite all the meth already in his system, he is knocked the fuck out.]
Linda- (to no one) “Fuck, now I’m horny.”
This was the most popular video in the world last year. It has been viewed by over 4 billion people. It won numerous awards for the greatest video series in several categories ranging from historical reality to humor. Last fall Chet and Linda were the most popular Halloween costume design available on-line. Chet and Linda have become icons of our time. Their entire existence reduced to technological schadenfreuade. Yet in their own lives they were subjects of poverty, addiction, violence and other maladies that humanity has mostly treated. Yet still, having evolved beyond those horrors, we still take pleasure in the suffering they inflicted and endured.
Let us look at another popular video series in the genre of historical reality television. The series ‘Uh, Oh!’ follows some of the most horrific crimes of the last century. In the series we are shown a person stalking another person about to commit an atrocious act. During this footage a narrator tells us about the people involved and suggests some details about what is about to happen. And just as the perpetrator lunges at their victim the video cuts to scenes from the criminals past. The scenes are comic, like a blooper reel, depicting the attacker as an impossible oaf. And while this is happening the narrator gives a chilling account of what happened to the victim(s). Every episode ends with a little musical number with lyrics containing a number of tasteless puns depicting the events of the episode in any number of musical styles.
Probably the most undignified show is the niche-popular ‘Homelessexuals’ which depicts the romantic and sexual escapades of men and women who suffered through the most extreme forms of poverty before it was eradicated. Because those men and women often also suffered from mental illness, addictions, tendencies towards social deviancies or just plain bizarre social skills; the content of their sex lives was often even more revealing and awkward than healthy adjusted folks whose sex lives are riddled with all sorts of strangeness and faux paus. A memorable scene from the series shows two rather large and hairy men huddled in a tent just prior to coitus.
Man 1- “Alrighty, heads I go first, tails its my tail.” [Man flips coin into the air. It lands in his palm and he flips it over onto the top of his other hand. Both men look excited and nervous and intoxicated.]
Man 2- “Okay already, what is it?” [He pulls the other mans hand up, revealing the coin. It is heads.] “Oh Jesus Christ, I shoulda never taken that halfa pill ya gave me.”
Man 1- “Hey, I didn’t know it were a Viagra.”
There is no doubt that these shows are funny. Often even hilarious. I have watched them myself and was not immune to great bouts of laughter. What our species endured before our transformation was awful. Several forces aligned against the individual to create billions of unique manias. While I understand that it is the nature of humor to explore the incongruency between our values/expectations and phenomena outside of them, I worry more that what we have done is exploitative. The lives of those who suffered to carry us towards the more hopeful era we now live in were often comic in their tragedy, but to entertain ourselves at their expense WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION is such an obviously immoral trespass that it betrays how much work humanity still has to do. We have dissolved non-consensual surveillance in our time and worked as brothers and sisters to balance our privacy with the necessary visibility of the information age. We have failed to give our ancestors the same ethical consideration that we now consider the inherent right of every living being.
This is why I call on you to help me end the exploitation of CDF technologies to invade the privacy of those who came before us for undignified entertainment value. While this technology has been fundamental in our progress towards a harmonious and sustainable existence, it also invites some very ethical trespass against real human beings, even if they are long dead. We must start by boycotting any such works and by down-voting them so as to discourage their creators from that content. Together, we must intellectually explore and create an ethical framework by which this technology can be employed productively without being used as a weapon of moral destruction for our entertainment. I call on all who hear this to come together and use peaceful market forces to discourage the continued production and consumption of Historical Reality Television or any other dubious usage of the Chronological Displacement Field.
Maxr Toobin, People Against the Exploitation of Historical Peoples, May 2042
“Predeterminism is the idea that all events are determined in advance. Predeterminism is the philosophy that all events of history, past, present and future, have been already decided or are already known (by God, fate, or some other force), including human actions.”
The question of predeterminism is a very old one, prevalent throughout the history of philosophy, religion and science. In a general sense, the opposite of predeterminism is ‘free will’, which is the idea that individuals are capable of determining future events and making choices of their own agency and accord.
Through Catholicism the prevalent thinking in the western world was that man was given free will to exercise in all matters, whether or not they chose to exercise it. The Protestant movement through Calvin and other theologians marked the widespread rejection of free will and the advancement of predeterminist notions.
This thinking has been extended in the modern western world to even the secular worldviews in the forms of naturalism, physicalism, materialism and others. This is not the only example of Protestant beliefs creeping their way into secularism and science. For instance, the Big Bang is a repetition of the philosophy that the universe is mechanistic, linear, causal and has a finite beginning and end. For this reason, the Big Bang was rejected by scientists at the time of its inception for being too similar to Judeo-Christian theological notions. It was, in fact, a man of the clothe who originated the idea.
Scientistic materialism continues to rehash predeterministic notions even to this day. The fields of genetic biology and neurology are ripe with the idea that our every thought, perception, reaction and decision have been determined by forces independent of human consciousness itself. This thinking extends itself to the idea that human consciousness itself is nothing more than a circumstantial byproduct of material substances which were themselves the result of another coincidence, ad infinitum.
However, both the religious and scientific claims of predeterminism carry self refuting statements. For the religious, determinism endangers both the doctrines of faith and acts, for which all religions depend upon one or the other.
In science, determinism violates logical principles, the same logical principles that uphold the veracity of the scientific method. It is of little wonder that the adherents of determinism in either science or religion tend to be the most literal minded fanatics whose truths are often accompanied by hypocrisy. Predeterminsim is a toxic foundation for any ideology or worldview because of its inherent inconsistency, as we shall soon see.
The problem with predeterminism is that it is self-refuting. Whatever basis is used to make a claim of predeterminism would itself be rendered invalid by predeterminism. Predeterminism would become the cause of the claim itself. Let me be more specific.
In religion, faith and/or acts form the basis for salvation. Yet we must choose to act or have faith. This choice determines our eternal fate. However, if our lives are already written and known by a divine force prior to the creation of the universe, even our faith is predetermined and we are able to make no choices of our own agency or accord, even those of faith or deeds. This eliminates the entire purpose of religion, unless, we were to suppose that a God of infinite love and wisdom created the majority of people for no reason other than to experience eternal suffering or agony. I cannot take the suggestion of such an omnipotent sadistic force very seriously.
Scientifically, predeterminism is self-refuting in the following way. If our genetic and neurological patterns produce a consciousness determined by biology, than any claim to predeterminism would be said to originate from biology, and therefore it cannot be claimed that predeterminism has logical or empirical causation. If you say that our thoughts are caused by our physical bodies, then you cannot claim that the thought that predeterminism is correct is caused by anything except the same biology. Logic and empiricism are removed as factors by the necessities of predeterminism.
Simply put, if you believe that everything is predetermined, so is your belief. You can no longer claim that belief has a basis in rationale or faith. Predeterminism erodes faith and rationality equally alike. The fundamentalism of religion and materialism are products of the incongruency intrinsic to predeterminism. While both groups, the religious and the scientistic materialists, make radical claims that the other side is responsible for all that ails humanity; they may do much better to focus on their common problem, on that which they are both wrong. The problem of the world is not religion nor science, but the idea that our choices and agency are limited or do not exist, so that all the problems of the world become somebody else’s fault. We are crippled by the blindness and repetition allowed by a species who does not believe that individual responsibility or accountability are amongst the most meaningful values.
“So then I just told her that the charging station was for paying cyborgs only.”
“Did she leave?”
“Yeah, she huffed off in a flurry of whirs and buzzing.”
“Classic.” he said, hoping to derail the small talk as they finished cleaning up the dishes together. “Hey, baby, you feeling frisky at all this evening? We have been so busy lately that my intimacy indicator sent a reminder today.”
“Yeah, mine did, too. And come to think of it, a little boom boom would make this mama a happy hybrid.”
“Raoorwww!” came the thunderous response generated in his vocal modulator. “Daddy likey.”
He pounced at her and ran a carefully calibrated hand from where the golden nylon hair streamed from her control until all the way down her back. Her sensors caused her perfectly manufactured body to respond to every nanometer of his touch. His warm lifelike hands causing her fiber-optic nerves to twitch ever so slightly and her body rocked into his before a thought occurred to her.
“Not just yet, Davian. First mama has to finish a few more chores and daddy needs to do the same. Then we can play.”
He stepped back feigning hurt and betrayal. “Alright my little bundle of electrons. But don’t take too long. My circuits long to connect with yours, Evissa.” he joked, referencing a Digi-Opera they had seen on their first date all those years ago.
By the time that Evissa was finished with her duties, Davia was already lying in bed with a number of complicated attachments and accessories splayed around him.
“Cuddle up, buttercup.” came his invitation as he cleared an area for her to snuggle up next to him. “I wasn’t sure which parts you would want to use, so I just got everything out.”
On the bed were a number of attachments that could be connected to their cyborg bodies, offering a great number of combinations and pleasures. Aside from these lumps of metal, latex and circuitry were also a number of neurochemical enhancements. Not even counting positions, there were already thousands of possible combinations they could exercise their sexual bonding with. Unlike their human predecessors, sex was not something determined by the basic singular equipment humans were born with and suffered before they could make the transformation into a electro-mechanical body.
“Well, I suppose the first question is, which of us are going top and which bottom?” Evissa asked.
In response Davia leapt from the bed in a forward spinning maneuver, landing perfectly on his feet at the end of the bed and teased, “I’ll flip ya for it!”
She laughed and reached for her lucky ancient coin, passed down for dozens of generations back to a time when humans still used currency and their frail animal bodies to negotiate the world. “Winner gets bottom, you call it.”
She sent the shiny artifact tumbling in free space and faked a drop, correcting her movements in a micro-sliver of time before it landed perfectly on the back of her hand just as he called out ‘Ass’, which referred to the ancient king embedded on one side, another relic of the past.
“And ass it is, my drippingly sweet neurocandy. Pick a hole.”
He looked at the assortment of receiver attachments which would accommodate any number of penetration accessories also laid out before them. “Well, let’s see. The T78X sounds good, you know. I always have liked an insertion unit that had full body integration circuits, but it can be a bit much. Maybe something simpler? Oh, here, how about this. A dual fit triple entry sleeve made from the finest Venusian organics. How many holes you think I should go with?”
“Oh, I don’t have a preference, Davia. You just pick first and then we will pick the thrusting unit together.”
“I love it when you talk thrust, my plasma pumping love plum.”
Evissa giggled at his juvenile pet name. Underneath the durable and long lasting body was still a human brain and hers showed a hint of fatigue by triggering a yawn display in her flawless face mask.
“Well, I guess if I am being honest, which most of my circuits require, what I really wanna use is the good old 42.77t. Nothing fancy, just a self lubricating unit which triggers audio pleasure centers. If that is the case, we better pick out some music. And you should use the Earquake 2.0 attachment. Why don’t you take care of that while I go get this apparatus installed.”
“Good combo.” Evissa agreed.
He got up and walked towards the master bathroom, which was nothing like its antique predecessor, since cyborgs used all energy sources efficiently and did not need to excrete waste. And grooming was mostly done using nanobots, so really the room was just a place to put up mirrors as well as some basic accessories and polishing equipment and chemicals.
As Evissa referenced her list of current audio downloads and worked on a sexy play list she heard Davia call out from the next room.
“Fiddleswitch! Damn thing needs a software update. Hey, you don’t mind if I-”
“No, go ahead.” she cut him off. “I will just get myself all fitted and finish this play list.”
“Oh, did you pick some chemistry out yet?
“Not yet, but I will.”
Davia took the unit out to the high speed docking station so that the update would only take a minute. These damn old attachments always developed bugs and had to have constant software and driver updates in order not to infect its user with a virus. Sex-unit transmitted diseases were no laughing matter. As he searched for the proper new software to install he noticed an email from an old friend. Although he knew he could not take the time to respond, he opened the message to look at it. He liked doing it on these old desk units rather than in his internal ones. There was something rewarding about seeing the letters glow on a screen rather than just transmitted directly to his brain. It was not a great idea, because the letter was a bit long and somewhat distressing. He fought the urge to respond right away but had not noticed that fifteen minutes had passed since he left Evissa in the bedroom.
“Hey baby?” he used a long distance voice to reach her in the other room. “Just about ready, how about you? You mind if I-”
Again, she cut him off, accustomed to his habits and questions. “No, love, go ahead. Do whatever you need to. I will be ready whenever you are.”
His heart beamed with anticipation and love. He loved her more than any neurosynaptic meatwad trapped in a high tech form possibly could. So he wanted to be present while they made love to one another, and that meant firing back a quick response to lay the matters in the email to rest until morning.
He finished up within what seemed just a few minutes and tried to creep stealthily back into the bedroom, even though her finely tuned electronics could not be fooled. Old meatman habits died hard and many puzzling vestigial behaviors still occurred among the hybrid progeny of human and machine. She seemed to be playing along, as she did not call him out on his obvious deceit. Perhaps she wanted to do some role-playing, too, he hoped.
As he slipped into the bedroom he now understood the real reason for her silence. She was fast asleep. It had been almost an hour since she found him in the bedroom sorting through their collection of sexual accessories. She had not been able to stay awake after all the time taken up by preparations and his little email interruption.
“Dammit.” he sub-vocalized, not wanting the organic air movements to manifest in his vocal apparatus.
She was so gorgeous lying there on their bed, surrounded by varied mechanical replications and substitutions of ancient human sex organs. He pushed it all to the floor as quietly as possible and nuzzled up next to her, falling asleep in the sure and steady syncopated sounds and rhythms of her basic life support mechanisms.