Transcendent Discordianism

transcendent discordianism

The Principia Discordia [PD] lends itself perfectly to obfuscation and prankster ambiguity. For this reason Discordianism has come to mean as many things as there are Discordians. Yet despite this obscurantism I believe that there is an actual point to the teachings passed down to us by Kerry Thornley, Greg Hill, Robert Anton Wilson and others, that there is a core message that stands out among the parody, humor and cunning self-effacement of those original teachings.

Read: How Social Network Users Miss the Point of Discordianism

The most troubling interpretation of Discordianism in its modern context is the tendency to view it only as a parody, and to not only reject it as a religion, but to use it as a justification for the rejection of religion in general. I have fewer reservations about calling it a religion than a parody, or a satire, for that matter.

Parodies reshape existing narratives using new subjects. A parody need not even be humorous. The PD and it’s related works do not directly ape any pre-existing works, and certainly none by the major religions.

Satire is a reactionary form of literature whose aim is to address an idea or ideology that came before it. They are narratives of negation. It is not always necessarily humorous, either. However Discordian works do far more than just negate other ideologies, they create new ones.

I think that the tendency to reference Discordianism as a parody or satire comes from the false belief that literary humor automatically equates to those forms. It is aided by the inability of the unimaginative to believe that religious truth can take the form of humor while still remaining intellectually and spiritually fulfilling.

When we remove the humor and take the paradoxes referenced by Discordian works as zen riddles of enlightenment, rather than self-refutations or total negations of meaning, what emerges is a set of ideas and principles no less profound than those found in other religions. And like other religions, people have joined together under the banner of these principles. To deny the religious nature of Discordianism is to deny Discordianism itself.

The people who like to deny the religious nature seem to attach themselves to Discordianism merely out of a desire to be edgy by associating themselves with the most potent modern archetype of chaos. Every religion has an embarrassing sect of followers who get a little too heavy handed with their literalism, and Discordianism has it’s fair share. The ‘I Fucking Love Chaos’ contingent do just that. I recently addressed this attitude and behavior on social media:

“Those of you who think that the point of Discordianism is to be an ‘Agent of Chaos’ are sorely missing the point. Eris is THE agent of chaos. Yours is to understand and accept so that, in fear, you do not try to swim against her tides and wind up drowning in her waters in the struggle. Chaos is not to be promoted and worshipped. It was chaos that threw that apple and led us into the first major war. Trying to one up Our Goddess is not going win you Her favor. You let Her divvy up the chaos and do your part by being creative with it.”

It is a vanity and a conceit to believe one has any control or influence over chaos. Chaos is simply that which exists before all else. We are all products of that primordial swamp of all possibilities. How could a drop of water in a bucket have more water to add to the bucket?

Read: The Importance of Distinguishing Between Chaos, Order and Disorder

Another issue I see in many Discordianism circles is equating all of the ideas of Robert Anton Wilson with Discordianism. While there is no doubt that RAW is a Discordian and has produced some of the finest works based on it, that does not make everything he has ever said or done Discordian Doctrine. One of the most refreshing things about RAW was that he was constantly forcing himself to shift perspectives, which no doubt took him beyond Erisian ideologies. In fact, I am pretty sure that ol’ Bob would have been disappointed to see his entire intellectual and creative output all labeled under that one banner.

This is illustrative of a mistake I see often in the world. People have a tendency to try to group their favorite things into a single category. All of the single things that we like or don’t like do far more to define us than the things themselves. This kind of categorization is flattering to our self-image, but it also creates entropy in the symbols and archetypes in the process. When we shove Discordianism into a broader collection or category and redefine it by incorporating the other symbols and archetypes we have placed there, we water everything down. It is like getting a plate full of your favorite foods and putting them in a blender. All those things that once tasted great on their own have now just become an unpalatable mush.

It is in the interest of rescuing the One True Religion of Our Goddess that I suggest we start walking it back down and rein Discordianism into a meaningful religion that we can use to understand our existence and guide us through Eris’ primordial waters ever more joyously. Which, considering the amount of depression and mental instability that is prevalent in Discordian circles, is exactly what our religion needs.

So spit shine your pineal gland and fire up your frop as I propose to you the idea of Transcendent Discordianism.

The problem with all genuine religious experience is that it cannot be described using ordinary terms and concepts. Religious truths are not measurable, objective facts. Religious truth comes from transcendent experiences in which revelations beyond words reach from behind the veil of the illusory physical universe to share the deeper nature and meaning of existence. Through these experiences we can gain gnosis, which is to know something beyond the limitations of human experience.

This is synonymous with ‘Eris speaking to you from your pineal gland’. I suspect that the reason some people are so dismissive about Discordianism is that they have never experienced its revelations through transcendent experience. Or that their transcendent experience was so skewed by the kind of watered down ideology I mentioned that they failed to get a distinctly Erisian message out of it. Before I go further, let me give my own history with Discordianism.

In 1998 I was working at a headshop and was given the responsibility of ordering product for our book, magazine and comics section. Going through the Last Gasp catalog I came across the PD. It seemed interesting enough so I added a copy to our order. When it arrived, I took it in in a single sitting. I have been a Discordian since.

In the early days it was difficult for me to find other Erisian adepts. I found a few scattered around the web, but I was just figuring out the internets and so I didn’t get involved in many online groups until social media became prevalent years later. I would also put up flyers with absurdist text and Discordian references, as well as my email address, and this sometimes turned up a conversation. For the most part, however, I was forced to make my own Discordians by preaching the word and selling copies of the book.

Yet the social context of Discordianism is never really what I was after. I did not need others to grow and learn from the teachings. And I think this is very different for Erisians now in the context of social media. Discordianism has become sort a of a church. Like any other church, not everyone there has the same amount of faith. Some are just there for the community it provides. And I guess that is fine, but perhaps we shouldn’t let those sisters and brothers erode our theology in the process.

What really stuck out from the first time I read the PD was the Anerstic/Eristic philosophy. I began applying those philosophical models to everything I ever knew. I was also chasing transcendent experiences via entheogens like a madman. As I continued to re-read the PD and experiment with my consciousness, I saw that everything in the book really leads back to the central premise of Aneristicism vs. Eristicism. It was all variations on that one theme. And so I delved further and further into my mind and beyond, using that central thesis as a way of exploring myself and the universe around me.

What I discovered blew my mind. The trouble with having your mind blown is that there is no possible second person experience of it. What happens in a blown mind stays in a blown mind. Ain’t nobody got words for that.

Whenever I meet a fellow Discordian who seems to have navigated around all of the koans, fnords and absurdist humor and penetrated into the depths of their own pineal glands to find the illuminated truths hiding behind the punchlines – they all seem to agree to some extent that Discordianism is a religious experience with a central tenet, and not just some wacky literary catch-all for chronically misguided and disenfranchised misfits.

Another consequence of taking Discordianism to it’s logical conclusion is a realization of the unassailable fact that the state (not religion) is the ultimate institution of Greyface and his followers. A Discordian who is not an anarchist is like a Christian who uses the Ten Commandments as a daily to-do checklist.

These are the ways you can tell a true Discordian from the endless masses of pink fanboy clones. They are anarchists who observe the Eristic Principle and have gone beyond books and words to find answers through transcendental experience.

So what I propose is Transcendent Discordianism, a form of Discordianism in which adherents hold the Eristic Principle as the core teaching and virtue, and to use it every day as a filter in considering all things -and incorporating meditations on it into induced transcendent experiences. Drugs, deprivation tanks, Tibetan chants…whatever you gotta do to take you beyond you, do it. And bring the Eristic Principle along.

See if the incomprehensible doesn’t soon seem all too obvious, and if the obvious no longer seems worth the trouble of comprehending.

Watch as the senseless horror of our existence transforms itself into an occasionally entertaining dramedy.

Behold a new reality tunnel in which you don’t always somehow end up taking a wrong existential turn somewhere around Albuquerque.

Transcendent Discordianism is not about new teachings or methods. It is about getting back to basics. It is about rescuing our fellow freaks from the dark swamp of nihilism and relativism by giving them a map to their own light switch.

May it shine upon all whose hearts seek it like millions and millions of dancing stars.

Transcendence makes bullshit glow, and that is beautiful.

 

The Cult of Niceness

cult of niceness

The Cult of Niceness is an umbrella term that I use to describe many different behaviors and ideas. I first noticed the problem when I was only a child. Observing adults I was able to notice that they sometimes put on an appearance of niceness in order to cloak some other agenda. I began to understand that ‘nice’ was sometimes just a deceptive ruse used to manipulate others in some way. Usually just to create an image of themselves for others who did not know them well enough to see through it. Other times it was in order to coerce people into thinking, saying or doing what they wanted thought, said or done.  I quickly noted that often the attempt to appear nice was actually just a form of passive aggressiveness that somehow worked, no matter how obvious the charade seemed to me. And I quickly refused to play into that disingenuine mindgame myself.

As a result people often think I am either an asshole, socially unrefined or both. Genuine authentic honesty is a virtue we all pay lip service to, but most people are repulsed when they actually encounter it. The very same qualities that would cause people to label me also made me immune to their classifications. Integrity and consistency generally only feel good to the person attaining them, and painful to those whose cognitive dissonance they incite. People will then push you to admit to some kind of self-loathing in order to gratify themselves, and if you do not concede they will tell you that you think you are better than them and everyone else. I have never been concerned with popularity contests or other competitions. I am not trying to be better than anyone else. I am trying to be the best possible me. Along the way I am trying to assist others in being the best possible selves they can be. I have a sneaking suspicion that the more we all improve ourselves, the more peaceful, harmonious and joyful the world we share will be. So I refuse to apologize for being who I am, even if you don’t like it, or if it makes you like yourself less.

The Cult of Niceness (CON) is predicated on peoples insecurities. It is self-doubt and existential malaise regurgitated in statements synonymous with suburban mommy talk. It is the special snowflake speech mounted on the hood of day-to-day life like cattle horns on an oil magnates Cadillac.  It is an attempt to be rewarded, validated and gratified for doing absolutely nothing deserving of those responses. The most insidious part being that not only is the behavior fake and deceptive, it also takes advantage of other peoples falsehoods and self-deception. People who like themselves do not feel the need to bully others into artificial niceties through such manufactured discrepancies. While everybody knows that the person the bully always loathes most is their self. And make no doubt, insisting that others perform the same CON roles that you are trapped in is just a form of social bullying.

Social media has, like it has with everything else, magnified this human weakness to stupendous proportions. The CON is what drives most online interactions. One of the most common behaviors that makes this apparent is the act of sharing self-deprecating thoughts in order to get rewarded, validated and gratified for an apparent act of humbleness that is actually just manipulative neediness. People will describe their weaknesses, failures or other unfavorable quirks in the hope that it will get them attention. They will self-loathe in order to fish out compliments. They will don a mask of vulnerability and timid dislike for themselves just so that others will respond to them in ways that help them identify themselves as superior to others. The CON has created an ideology that suggests that superiority comes in the form of humble self-deprecation. But oddly enough, only people who really do dislike themselves can be fooled into thinking that appearing to dislike themselves makes them better than everyone else.

Numerous messages online tell us that all we need is love and that if only we were all nice the world would be a perfect place. These oversimplistic reductionisms are dangerously ignorant. Not only because they deny the value humanity receives from a complex range of behaviors, but because they also suggest that niceness is a quality only measured in appearances. People do cruel things all of the time in order to achieve the most positive possible outcomes. If you have never hurt someones feelings with your honesty in order to save them an even greater pain, then you probably have never really loved somebody all that much. Friends and family members rely on one another to deliver harsh truths that would save them from entering treachery hiding in their own blind spots.

Given that our world has become riddled with so much conceptual ignorance, we have created great areas of blindness that threaten humanity at large. Pointing out the misconceptions and false premises that these blind spots are predicated on is itself a great kindness to our entire species. But when you fail to stroke peoples delusions or confirm their biases or point out all of this behavior their reaction is usually just to label you an asshole or as socially unrefined. By protecting themselves from the abrasive cognitive dissonance you would cause them in the name of niceness, people are poking holes in their own raft and calling it a waterpark. When people have more desire not to feel like they were wrong than they do to actually try and be right, it becomes impossible to reach them. The truth often does hurt, and those who put niceness before growing pains are wearing their ignorance with an idiots welcoming grin.

I am not just complaining about the CON because I find it distasteful. I am giving a dire warning about it because it is very important for a few different reasons. The first reason is that it is an affront to reason itself. The CON is one of the things which is contributing to the dumbing-down of humanity and ushering in the Idiocracy. The second reason is that we are entering an era of humanity that will center around the reputation of individuals. If the Reputation Economy of tomorrow is built upon the falsehoods and appearances of the CON, then we will be living in an Idiocracy in which everyone appears just as robotic, plasticine and saccharine sweet as The Stepford Wives. It will be a Nerf Hell or a Smile-Or-Die Dystopia. So my warning about this problem is not the revenge or ‘diss-track’ some people will think of it as, as they act out all of the ignorance I just warned against here. It is the solemn cautioning of a Trojan Horse at our gates. If we invite the CON into our lives because it sure does look pretty great on the outside, we are gonna be in for a big surprise when it starts unpacking its dangerous contents. Consider this a warning.

Just because I am suggesting that you do not take part in compulsive and coercive niceness does not mean that I endorse its opposite, compulsive and coercive assholery. Sometimes being an asshole, or doing things you know will get you labeled as one, is the course of action that will lead to the best outcomes for all. But doing it compulsively and as an act of senseless aggression is really just the same problem. The world has no shortage of people who are assholes just for sport. The internet is full of these people. This is not the opposite of the CON, it is just the other side of the same bad coin. Trying to exploit peoples weakness by provoking an emotional response just to reward, gratify or validate ones self is a giant pitfall we must avoid if we don’t wish to lead others over the edge of sanity like intellectual lemmings.

The CON is a dangerous social precedent to set. It is a falsehood of appearances with all of the philosophical complexity of a big purple dinosaur singing songs to children. It is important not to tread on the feelings of others for no good reason, but sometimes there are good reasons, and other times you cannot help how other will emotionally respond. Yet we cannot protect our Feelz to such a degree that it allows us to remain in ignorance to the extent that our species devolves intellectually in the process. Try to be nice when it is appropriate, but you are under no obligation to smile and nod bobble-headedly in the affirmative when the CON asks you to try their kool aid.

What Does the ‘Like’ Button Really Do/Mean?

like button

One of the most tragic paradigms of the human intellect is that of literalism. When we fail to address or understand things beyond their face value, beyond the most obvious observations and descriptions, we not only fail to fully understand something, but gain a false and delusional understanding of it in the process. When so many of our starting premises for our opinions, ideas and beliefs are constructed from these literalist misreadings of reality, it begins to have a massive effect, one that remains invisible behind the wall of literalism we have constructed through consensus.

The most unfortunate sort of literalism is that which we apply to ourselves. When our self-concept and self-awareness becomes constructed around delusions spun out of a refusal to investigate our deeper motivations, intent and inconsistencies, it becomes possible for us to become our own worst enemies. We can be unwitting co-conspirators of everything that we despise in the world when we fail to read more deeply into our own thinking and behaviors. And we can also be manipulated by those with a better sense of the power of obfuscation through literalism. And as distasteful and painful as it may be to hear, most of us are guilty of taking things too literally or shallowly much of the time.

I could spend days discussing the ways in which literalism becomes a tool of self-delusion, but for the purposes of this article, I wish to discuss the function and meaning of positive social media rewards and how our failure to exercise self-awareness may be having disastrous consequences on our social and intellectual environments. So before I discuss how this literalism becomes problematic, let us look specifically at Facebook and the ‘like’ button and try to understand the full range of motivations we exercise when clicking it.

I do not specifically or literally like this, but I am clicking like (etc.) because…

  • I approve of your interest/fascination with the topic.
  • I want to appear friendly.
  • I want you to feel safe in this conversation so you continue to play along.
  • I have not liked anything of yours for awhile, so I will like this to remind you that I like you.
  • I want to remind you that I exist.
  • I really dislike ‘the opposite’ of this.
  • I feel sorry for this person and want to show support, regardless of the content of the thing I liked.
  • This confirms my biases.
  • This validates me.
  • I want you to like me.
  • I will ironically like your insult in an attempt to dis-empower it.
  • I like everything I see on this topic, regardless of actual content.
  • I appreciate that this probably annoys certain types of people.
  • I want to smash my genitals with this person’s genitals.
  • To appease The Algorithms.

Some of these reasons are purely manipulation. Some are genuine attempts at kindness. Others are measured activity for specific effect. We use likes to rig the system, whether it is the rigid social media system itself or the only loosely definable system of human relationships and social interaction. But this much is clear, ‘like’ does not always mean you actually ‘like’ something. And if we are being honest we would see that most of our ‘likes’ are either not steeped in an actual appreciation, or off of one so weak that we are watering down the nature of appreciation itself.

Human values are largely constructed from consensus. What we view as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is, at the very, least strongly influenced by what we believe others also view as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Values do not necessarily gain their worth through majority rule, but they are often formed by it. And this process is largely non-conscious. We do not walk around aware of the fact that we are absorbing other peoples values, or that we are creating them. It just happens little by little over time. There are rarely any apparent indicators of this process in the real world. Most of the reward/punishment stimulation happens in the sub-context of our interactions. But in social media, this is quite different. We are aware of our ability to reward certain thoughts and behaviors using ‘likes’ or ‘upvotes’ or any of the similar social media tools. But that awareness of the tool is becoming increasingly ignorant of the cost, long term effects and larger understanding of it. We are creating new sets of human values without really understanding that we are doing it or how it is being done. And although this is true of humans throughout history, we are now doing is at an exponentially rapid rate. We are reconstructing reality and our values at unprecedented speeds.

One can drive a car a few miles per hour and not pay much attention to what is going on around them, and there will probably not be very great consequences if something goes wrong. But when you speed up and continue to speed up more and more without raising your awareness to match, you are almost certainly heading straight for a disaster. This is true of both automobiles and social paradigms. The like button may still look and feel like a slow car, but that is because it sped up slowly without us realizing it, as often happens when we experience things incrementally relative to our position to them. That car is now hauling ass and our ignorance and/or denial is going to lead to a disaster if we don’t increase our awareness of the car, the road and ourselves.

Back to social media. The like button and its counterparts are tools that the programmers use to determine what content we will see in our feeds through calculated algorithms. This keeps their content in the range that their advertisers want. When we ‘like’ something we are setting an agenda. And when we set that agenda we are creating mainstream paradigms and manufacturing normality. And thus we are creating values. This makes social media a powerful tool for ideological revolutions. We can create new norms and overthrow old dogmas by manufacturing consent for new ideas using social media tools. Yet this requires a highly organized and self-aware set of behaviors to be coordinated by large numbers of individuals. And while that is happening, far more often social media is being used with far less understanding and consciously calculated attempt to create better values.

This is where those ‘fake’ ‘likes’ become a problem. They are working to create values without awareness that they are doing so, or even necessarily what values they are creating, and what the effects and consequences of them will be. When our reasoning for using the like tool is done without regard to the effect that doing so has, we are transforming our value systems rapidly and blindly.

This happens in a lot of various ways, but let us illustrate it with some examples.

There is a man. He is a very handsome man. Very handsome. Even a profile picture of this man can douse panties faster than a fire hose. However, this man is also very stupid and somewhat immoral. He ends up posting idiotic political ideas a lot. Most of his followers do not agree with his stupid beliefs, opinions and ideas. But damn if they wouldn’t give up a year of their life just to have a steamy encounter with the man. So in the chance that there is any hope he will notice them, they like his posts, even when they mostly disagree with them. Over time, people see all of these likes and wonder if this guys isn’t on to something. Women view him as valuable to other women, which raises his attractiveness and the ‘likes’ it brings. Men view his worldview as appealing to women, and so begin to adopt it. Over time, the handsome man has gained a following of people who would have never approved of or shared his values on their own. But the subcontext provided by his attractiveness manufactured consensus over time.

Another…

There is a woman. She is a stupid and petty woman. People show up in her post threads just to watch the train wreck. The thing is, if she suspects you disagree with her, she will either ignore you or block you. So in an attempt to stay on that horse, people like her comments and give brief nods of consent. Over time the woman becomes more certain and enamored of her idiotic beliefs. Her confidence becomes a fuel which propels her into an even greater spotlight. And the more spotlight she gets, the more it appears that she deserves it. And the more it appears that she deserves it, the more skepticism breaks down and her audience grows. As it does, her idiotic and often hateful ideas grow with her. And thus ‘likes’ that were given ironically become a force which actually empower the target of scorn.

Another…

Many people have come to be critical of the government. Therefore when we see a post that is critical of government, we like it to insure that government-critical messages are seen throughout social media. The problem is, these critical messages often contain an error in their reasoning or an untenable solution to the problem. So when we like this message based on the criticism factor alone, in order to make it more visible, we are also making the erroneous logic and poor solutions more visible. Since we cannot choose how others will receive these packages of ideas, the greater effect might be something we would not have chosen to contribute towards. Where we liked the criticism of government because we wish to see an end to that institution, others may see a message that says that since government is flawed, we need more government to fix the flawed parts. So our like actually contributes to intellectual and social momentum that goes against our values.

There are likely millions of ways in which our ‘likes’ may have such similar unintended effects. And these effects, though perhaps not intentional, are shaping the world we live in. While using social media reward tools is a conscious action, the outcomes it produces are something far harder to determine. So we should exercise a high degree of awareness about our use of this tool. We should reserve our ‘likes’ for things that we not only truly and actually appreciate, but only for those that we find great meaning in. We have cheapened likes through overuse and as a result it is cheapening our values. We may give these likes with the very best of intentions, but that is merely the content of ‘liking’. Far more influential on the world we live in than content, is context. And the context of the like mechanism is incredibly complex. When something is incredibly complex, it is wise not to use it unless you are certain it is absolutely appropriate.

This is not just nitpicking. Our world is rapidly transforming. The central tenet and ends of this transformation is reputation. Reputation is being constructed from platforms like social media and tools like the like button. If we are not very careful and consciously alert of the world we are shaping with these tools, then we are going to end up a sloppy, gaudy mishmash of accidental values that result in a technological dystopia. We are in a transition period in which the rapid construction of a new era for humanity is being formed through interactions that are happening without a very great degree of awareness. If we do not begin to exercise some self-restraint and control and start to consider our actions in a much larger context, then we are in that proverbial car I mentioned earlier, using our heads to press the acceleration pedal down instead of to look out the windshield and see where we are heading and what else is out there.

I plan to begin using the ‘like’ button much less. Almost not at all. It is unfortunate that some people will find me to be cold and anti-social for doing so. I will almost certainly be measured by the stinginess of my like button usage. My failure to provide reward stimulus in social media forums will probably get me ignored or distrusted and despised. I will likely appear to be a total dick for not playing along with the game of coercive and compulsive liking. Yet I assure you that I do so not because I do not value the contributions and thoughts of others, but because I value them too much to water them down with automata and overly obvious behaviors.

Here is how I will now be using the like button, and suggest others who share my concerns do the same. Only like original content that I completely agree with and support. If I have no connection to the person who created the content, chances are that I will not like it unless the topic/subject and the ideas about them are something I am actually truly and fully amazed by. I will never like a meme, for it comes with its own complex set of problems. I will not like comments, unless they contain content that is absolutely flooring. Liking something just because I agree is intellectually dishonest, condescending and pretentious. I will no longer like anything for a reason other than that I actually specifically and literally like the actual content concerned as well as the context which it belongs in and contributes towards. And while I am certain that this is not going to make me very popular in social media, as least I can be comfortable knowing that I am not contributing to the Idiocracy by misusing and underestimating a very powerful tool that is shaping our future whether we believe and understand that or not.

It is not the things that we intend to do that become ruinous to our species and world- it is the things we do not intend to do, understand that we did, or that produce outcomes contrary to our intent because we didn’t think it far enough through. Humans can no longer just do what feels good and hope for the best. Our civilization is far too complex and becoming increasingly so. We stand now on the precipice of enlightenment or oblivion, and only constant attention to the world around us and making the right choices based on a high degree of understanding will save us from the latter.

Welcome to the Idiocracy – The Growing Ignorance of Intelligence

idiocracy

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.