The Curse of Passion

In rehab, people argue all of the time. Especially in group meetings.

Although I thought that these arguments were a complete waste of time, I nevertheless engaged them. I mean, why not?

The last “debate” I got into, some kid was trying to define the meaning of success. He wanted to be a YouTube sensation. He was going to be a rapper/DJ, and expected to be a millionaire by 30.

Most people would have simply rolled their eyes or discarded this conversation as nothing but a misguided dream of youth. But I was having none of it. For him, it was all about the money and the “bitches”.

Someone needed to speak up.

“So you’re not in it for the music?” I asked. I probably should have called him out for calling women “bitches” as well, I feel kinda bad about that.

But this conversation has sort of stuck in my crawl.

Not because it was the dreams of some kid. If he becomes successful, good for him. But because it’s a total lack of commitment to craft. Where’s the story? Where’s the love? Where’s the conflict? WHERE’S THE PASSION?

And he’s not the only one. If you’ve spent any amount of time around pretentious white people, it isn’t long before you hear “I’m writing a book”. Like they want you to heap praise onto them for something they haven’t completed yet.

If you truly love something, you won’t give a fuck what people think. One shouldn’t go into the arts for the appreciation of others. Sadly, that’s why MOST people are attracted to it. Not gonna lie, there’s probably some part of my subconscious that’s attracted to that end. But if that’s the primary motivation, you and me are bound to be disappointed. Art, to a degree, is to be cathartic….a release of one’s own emotions, to create something that’s reflective of the artist.

It won’t matter if it’s appreciated, as long as the final product is something the artist truly wanted to construct. The objective isn’t to make something that others want to see, but to create something YOU want to see.

How true one is to their own passion is the genius of art. To FEEL it, one must be brave enough to face their own realities. Which is why most of the great artists are (were) absolutely insane.

TO BE great is to be insane. Which is why passion is not a gift to the possessor….but is a curse.

Again, think back to Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ. Christ never at any point felt blessed that he had to die for all of humanity. He was burdened by it. To take pleasure in it would have meant that it wasn’t a sacrifice at all. Christ had gifts and was given a duty of heavy burden….to have gifts, and be “blessed” with the burden of genius is no blessing.

The saying “dance like no one’s watching” is such a cliché. It’s thrown around haphazardly without any sort of thought. But do we have the courage to practice it? I believe that it was Diogenes that went around Ancient Greece arguing with himself. It didn’t matter if you acknowledge the shit he was saying, it was important to him. He had such conviction in his lifestyle and philosophy, that he infamously didn’t give a fuck that he was talking to Alexander the Great. Nowadays, we’d just consider this person clinically insane or blow them off as simply being a homeless person.

In those days, that person was a philosopher!

But Western society has become too formalized to permit the normalization of such behavior. While simultaneously wishing to break out of such social demands, we also steadfastly uphold them. We don’t do this through any legalized practice, but (if I’m understanding this correctly) through a Zizekian (or Lacanian) “Big Other”. Or through some invisible order that socialized peoples attempt to abide by. This, in my view, hasn’t KILLED artistic genius, but has shifted it around the struggle between duty and meaning to one’s self and their responsibility as a socialized creature. Therefore, partly explaining why a Diogenes-like thinking is difficult to come by these days.

So while artistic genius hasn’t be killed (or rather, it’s been shifted), it has been stymied by the predominance of this “Big Other”. Or rather, modern artists attempt to appeal to this Big Other (a non-existent entity), which in turn jeopardizes the integrity of their work. Artists begin to see their own worth in how others perceive them…which is an anxiety that’s perpetuated by the prevalence digital media outlets. We, as spectators, partake in this “Big Other” by rewarding and consuming cheap content. Therefore merit is not found in quality or genuine artistic genius, but through clicks, likes, and shares.

Art is not a democracy.

We can argue that these threats have been made against art since the beginning of time. Censorship might have been the greatest threat once, but in our own era it has become the “tyranny of the majority” for a lack of a better description. This new threat promotes not artistic genius, but the drive to be noticed rather than being true to one’s craft.

So once again, we find ourselves struggling to find authenticity. Which is why the world of Blade Runner is so relevant now.

Speaking of which, I find it funny that so many of the criticisms of Blade Runner: 2049 are similar to the ones from the 1982 film. If you went in expecting to see Ryan Gosling mow down an army of replicants, then you’re an idiot. People were also expecting that in 1982 and they missed out on one of the greatest films of all time. Blade Runner: 2049 isn’t an action film, it’s genuine sci-fi. And since it’s underperforming at the box office, you’d be doing the film, and yourself, a great disservice by avoiding it. It’s truly a cinematic experience, so go shell out a few dollars and three hours of your life and go see this movie!

 

The State of Perpetual Revolution

I’m cranky most of the time.

In spirit, I’m an 80 year old man stuck in a millennial’s body. So I don’t really have time in my life to pay attention to Demi Lovato. I’d rather gripe about grandkids and drive around with my turn signal on.

That being said, Lovato made it into the news recently for something that isn’t really newsworthy. She declined to talk about a specific area of her personal life…her sexuality. This prompted several articles like this to be written.

Now I’m a straight white male, I have a relatively easy time in America. I’ll admit. So the gentleman that wrote the article previously mentioned is calling out Lovato for her reluctance to declare her sexuality because, to him, it shows that she might be embarrassed in an era when the LGBT community needs to be loud and proud.

Makes sense.

The average white American male might read that article and think: “who cares?” or “that’s none of our business.” or “people’s sexual lives need to be kept quiet”…and so on. This view, of course, allows the heterosexual to take their sexuality for granted because they are never judged for such behavior. You see where this is going. BUT amongst the liberal heteros that might get peeved at such an article, by believing that Lovato’s personal life doesn’t belong to us, there’s still a wanting to make non-heterosexuality a normal occurrence in everyday life….thus taking away the necessity for such cheap articles.

Am I making sense?

Basically, I think that the author of the article (and his supporters) and those that might despise the article are arguing the same point from different angles. Both sides wish to normalize LGBT lifestyles to the point where it isn’t debated like heterosexuality….it’s simply a normal function of society.

Now I gave Star Trek a lot of shit in the last post. But one thing it did well was SHOW how the various HUMAN cultures interacted without controversy. In the 60s, there was a Russian navigating the ship, a Japanese guy piloting it, an African-American woman handling communications, a drunken Scottish guy running engineering….and no one batted an eye. It wasn’t even talked about. It was simply a part of everyday life. In fact, I don’t believe that the show ever addressed (or went in-depth) the prejudices that were going on while the show was airing. Within that universe, humans evolved passed the point where those things ever became an issue.

The universe of Star Trek was (is) what I like to call a “post-revolutionary” society, at least as far as Earth was concerned.

I believe that it was Slavoj Zizek that said (paraphrasing), “it’s not the revolution that’s the problem, it’s what happens after the revolution.” Honestly, I don’t know if he said that, and if he didn’t….then I just did.

But what that means is, supposing some “radical” political force achieves its objectives, it must quickly establish a degree of normalcy within its society. It can’t continue on in a state of perpetual revolution. Else it exposes itself to a series of “counter-revolutions” that might jeopardize its achievements.

Every political movement must concern itself with its “post-revolution”. By remaining in a state of violent upheaval, either through ACTUAL violence or radical expression, only begets similar reactions against the movement.  (Of course, what makes a movement “revolutionary” or “counter-revolutionary” is based upon the perspectives of the respective movement) How this is achieved is open to debate, but it’s assumed that it might require being gracious in victory RATHER than enacting vengeance against former enemies.

These so-called “revolutions” don’t necessarily mean “physical violence to overthrow the state”. They can be simple cultural revolutions. The information age opened up a wave of change across the globe. Suddenly, the internet was opening windows to perspectives that were previously living on the fringe. I don’t imagine that same-sex marriage was too popular in Ronald Reagan’s America. In fact, in 2004, I recall that several states voted to ban it altogether. Yet a decade later, it was legal across the nation. This can be an example of a “cultural revolution”.

Barack Obama seemed to have captured the zeitgeist of this particular revolution. And like all good revolutions, a counter one was soon to follow. This one was spearheaded by Donald Trump and the alt-right. (Although these two sides might argue which one is the “revolution” and “counter-revolution”)

Movements and revolutions are products of their age. Usually their successes come at such at rate, that it’s difficult or outright impossible for a generation to fully grasp their effects. Again, the information age, the age of the internet….science fiction from only a few decades earlier failed to predict its rising. No one saw it coming. But it changed everyday lives and American culture.

That was why Barack Obama came seemingly out of nowhere. The openness provided by the internet brought forth a new age of left-wing politics. Reagan-esque conservativism went out of style. It’s no wonder that Donald Trump came in the wake of its destruction. After the successes of Obama, both culturally and politically, many people were left wondering “what the fuck just happened?”. And then the Alt-Right became the digital-age’s counter revolution to Obama’s liberal popularity.

And on and on, this mad cycle goes.

This thing happened so quickly, that this generation didn’t have time to consider a “post-revolutionary” phase. We’re still caught up in the revolution ITSELF! And in the heat of the struggle, everything becomes about winning and vanquishing your enemies. This is why there’s no middle ground in the fight between the Obama Coalition and the Alt-Right. And because of this lack of middle ground, the revolution is allowed to continue, therefore permitting a perpetual cycle of movement/counter-movement. The clashing of these revolutionaries MIGHT endanger the very ideals that the two sides promote. And being birthed in the Information Age, these two sides MIGHT have more in common than what they realize.

Their ideals might be manifesting themselves in different ways…which is why it’s IMPORTANT to find middle ground, because failing to do so would endanger those ideals. But thinking about how a “post-revolutionary” world might look, is a step towards de-escalating tensions and ENACTING the principles that are behind the revolution itself.

And I already forgot how Demi Lovato fits into all of this.

I should mention that, being on the side of this so-called “Obama Coalition”, I am not saying CONCEDE to alt-right talking points. But on a larger note, it’s important to not fall into the idea of imperviousness to being wrong. When that happens, you’re already wrong. So avoid that.

That’s all I got.

Thought of the Day: The 12-Step Recovery for Skeptics

If you realize that your drinking and/or addiction problems begin and end with you, usually that’s a good start.

I’ve been frequently in and out of AA rooms for the last couple of weeks. It’s universally recognized that if you “work the steps”, then that will give you the best shot at long-term sobriety.

And I’m not going to lie: I’ve been lazy. And perhaps a bit skeptical.

When in rehab, I was pounding the table saying “if you take the Big Book too literally, then you would be missing the point.” (or some shit like that). In my observation, those that knew the Big Book inside and out were the ones frequently returning to rehab. They would twist the so-called “rules” to meet their needs so that they could return to using.

Perhaps that’s why so many people find the 12-step method disappointing: many interpret it as a legalistic system. As if the 12-steps THEMSELVES actually provide the power to keep you sober, and NOT the power that you give to them.

Many may not like this point. But if you’re an agnostic and skeptic like me, it’s important to understand: Alcoholics Anonymous holds no power of its own. The Big Book is not a holy text. Bill Wilson was not a prophet. AA is nothing more than a placebo effect. It takes a cultish form because of one reason: it’s effective. It’s nothing more than rituals to help you “fake it until you make it”….and that includes the 12-Steps.

If I may recall Slavoj Zizek, AA is the veil over the nothing behind it. When the veil is removed, all we see is emptiness. So it’s Veil itself that we are concerned with….it keeps us sober, even though we know that there is nothing underneath it all.

And this is the truth of everything. Our jobs, our relationships, our hobbies…they’re all meaningless until we provide them meaning. It’s the power of our own minds that we should come to appreciate. Of course, having an external system of rituals and beliefs are extraordinary helpful in providing meaning.

Hence, we get AA which goes through painstaking lengths TO NOT associate itself with any outside political or religious organizations because that will only distract from its main intention: TO KEEP US SOBER.

That’s it.

So what many might have thought was an attack on AA…this is actually a defense and clarification thereof. If you wish to make a counterpoint and say “actually AA means different things to different people”, then you are only making MY point.

AA is the canvas. The mind is the painter. By the way, the same goes for the Big Book.

The 12-steps therefore, in their very literal form, are bullshit tasks that won’t ACTUALLY make you sober. Only you have the power to make that happen. But that’s okay!

Take a look at your own life. How much meaningless bullshit do you go through each day? Even shit that you enjoy doing? Making your bed? Is that really necessary? Hanging up pictures of your family? Don’t you already know what they look like?

None of those things are necessary, but we do them because they provide some degree of order in our lives. The bed doesn’t necessarily HAVE to be made in a certain way. You don’t necessarily have to stop at that certain Starbucks each morning. But you do. And the 12-steps are the same principle, they provide a preset order to our sobriety.

That statement might piss some people off. That’s cool, be pissed off.

But the truth is that the order is arbitrary. Some steps are absolutely unnecessary. A sponsor, although extraordinary helpful, is also unnecessary if someone truly wants sobriety. Finding a “higher power” remains a contentious and questionable step (therefore also throwing into question the necessity of steps 3, 6 and 7). I’m not going to wait until step 9 to make amends, especially when amends need to be made sooner than that. So I should only wait until step 11 to start meditating? Does this “spiritual awakening” happen ONLY on step 12?

So if we look at the 12 Steps literally, none of it makes sense. But I’m going to do them anyway.

Why?

Because I need order. I WANT sobriety. I don’t care if I have to “fake it until I make it”. I know that it’s all nonsense designed to get us into AA rooms so that we can meet other addicts to help us through our struggle. That’s what makes it so fun. It’s no different than the rituals we performed in high school before the big game. THAT’S WHAT BOUND US TOGETHER.

And this is why, I believe, most use the word ‘cult’ as a pejorative to describe AA. But they’re missing the point. Does AA utilize cult-like tactics? Yes. But there’s a reason for that: they work. And like all things that work, they can be used for good and evil. Military training also deploys cult-like tactics to enhance unit cohesion. It’s all done in the name of re-organizing yourself, so that we can maintain long-term sobriety.

But the power still rests in your hands. Which why each meeting ends with chanting “keep coming back because it works IF YOU WORK IT.”

The End of Philosophy

I haven’t written anything in a week. And truthfully, there hasn’t been much to say.

I know that there are studies out there that discuss pornography’s ill-effect on the human mind (not that I have anything against pornography, by the way). But I wonder if there’s a study that discusses frequent reading/watching of cheap political punditry. Wouldn’t that have some damaging effect on reasoning and creativity? To me, that shit is just as toxic as pornography.

And I went on a bender, where I was listening to politically-charged podcasts ranging from Chapo Trap House to the Glenn Beck Program. And it ended up zapping away any sort of creative or critical thinking. In my opinion, cheap punditry is worse than pornography, and even DRUGS. It causes us to view the world in a narrow light, and instead of getting a better insight into the issues, we become LESS informed. So the next time a friend asks if you read or watch Breitbart, Huffington Post, Salon, Fox News, etc. JUST SAY NO.

It makes me sad really….that the way most of us become informed about events in the world is through cheap outlets. I know that it’s difficult to construct a thorough and unbiased piece about an event. After all, the media has to keep the people’s attention somehow. But you know what? I don’t give a shit. That’s just a lazy excuse. We should be more concerned with the TRUTH rather than reading any sort of agenda-conforming puff piece. Have higher standards for yourself!

But anyways, as I’ve discussed before, this shit literally makes me ill. Mentally and physically. So after that bender, I needed to clear my mind.

And honestly, as stupid as this sounds, at one point I though that I said everything that needed to be said about philosophy. Between My Life With Kant and this blog, I believed, shit you not, that I laid out my philosophical framework and that there was nothing more that I could deliver. So we might as well pack up our bags and close up shop because there is nothing left for philosophy to do….like I was Ludwig fucking Wittgenstein.

Clearly I ran into a wall. I believed that philosophy would reveal something to me….unlock a hidden side of myself and this universe…help me come to peace with the order of nature….SOMETHING….ANYTHING.

Instead it revealed the nothing that lies behind everything. Even myself. Behind the exterior, past my personality, all the way down into the darkest corners of my psyche….there lies nothing. All the things you see are facades, because the reality of nothing is far too terrifying to face.

Which brings us to a tragic question….is this the end of philosophy?

If not here, then where? When?

Now clearly this is just me being dramatic. Yet if we accept nothing, like it’s the gold at the end of the rainbow, what then are we chasing?

Perhaps this is a better description of what I’m going through: burn-out. I stated before that I’ve been attempting to write a post about Edmund Husserl for weeks now, but what’s the fucking point? There’s an academic sterility to many philosophers, particularly those in the 20th Century, I find. And this dryness nearly kills my interest.

Personally, I think philosophy should be struggled with. It’s best when it’s an art. Which is why it’s unfortunately true…the best artists and thinkers are CRAZY. And we just don’t have that sort of thing in modern times. There’s a few standouts, Slavoj Zizek being one, but has society progressed to the point where it’s too…..SAFE!

Now you might think that I’m a terrible person, but I include myself as one the people that I’m bitching about….so it’s okay….because I’m medicated for severe chronic depression. And many people that suffer this problem are medicated as well, particularly in our safe first-world society. We have access to therapy, doctors, support groups, and all kinds of shit that help us deal with these problems. And that’s great! Life has certainly gotten a lot better for those suffering mental ailments…..

…but it wasn’t always that way.

Nietzsche, Hemingway, and my personal favorite Charles Bukowski, all had demons that they wrestled with. If they have lived today, with all the advancements in medicine, would they have produced the same great works? Would they have traded in those demons for a shot at the ‘normal life’? I don’t know. But we have their works today, and it all came at a great price.

And our safe society too is coming at a price….at the cost of individual and artistic genius. Few, and even fewer in academia, are willing to rock the boat. No one wants to be labeled a ‘contrarian’. So we take to social media, because we want to conform to our friends, and become accepted into the mainstream…because it’s OTHER PEOPLE that determine our worth. So we don’t explore our own ideas, we just regurgitate what great thinkers before us said, never engaging with our own genius.

There are few independent thinkers left.

Philosophy has been a casualty in this new group-think. The social sciences are no longer discovering. The act of engaging philosophy has been relegated to arguing about how Kant, Plato, and others might argue about certain topics. Philosophy now only plays second-fiddle to other areas of study, no longer the behemoth it once was.

So we have seemingly ventured into a new era. An era where we must ask ourselves: “what more can philosophy present to us?”

Clearly I have a flair for the dramatics, as I really didn’t intend on discussing “the end of philosophy”. But as of recently, I have found it unsatisfying or incapable of engaging my imagination.

Perhaps I just don’t care about logic, or phenomenology, or epistemology, or “things-in-themselves” anymore. Yet I still ponder the…unponderable? Is that a word? Am I making sense?

Of course, if it were “ponderable” it wouldn’t be “unponderable”, but my intention is to stretch the limits of the mind. And I’m increasingly finding it difficult to explore that within typical philosophical literature.

I guess that would explain the “new theology” that I was writing about. In order to find this so-called “unponderable”, I have to reach into theology and religion. Not that I would call myself a “religious” person, I still consider myself a hardcore agnostic. BUT the only place I can find inspiration LATELY is through Gnosticism, Judaism, and early Christianity in general.

Why?

I haven’t figured that out yet.

But this nothing that I feel predicatbly leaves a void. I didn’t know where else to go with it. Perhaps this spiritual path will lead nowhere, but that’s where I’ll be going anyway.

‘Taxi Driver’, Travis Bickle, and the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” Conspiracy Theory

Some things are best forgotten. But like a turd that just won’t flush, fears about “satanic ritual abuse” being conducted by a secret, yet elite echelon of society just won’t go away.

Conspiracy theories litter the internet nowadays, that’s no surprise. But, for me, the most notable one is the SRA, or the “satanic ritual abuse” conspiracy that first swept across the nation in the early 80s. Notable examples were the publishing of the book Michelle Remembers and the McMartin preschool trial. This paranoia also popularized the study of Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as “multiple personality disorder”.

Thankfully, this paranoia went dormant in the public eye, but resurfaced again last year with “pizzagate”.

Okay, first off, many of these controversies probably involved actual child abuse. HOWEVER, because of the absurdity of many of the accusations (as manipulated by the parents and investigators of each case), that fact gets sort of overshadowed. So because of the paranoia generated from such ridiculous claims, the SRA conspiracy theories likely set back (or at least partially tainted) child advocacy and ruined many careers, AND made children themselves a pawn in adulthood fantasy.

THAT fact should be noted.

Now a lot has been made recently about the psychology behind conspiracy theories. But this one particularly is quite perverse.

One of the greatest movies of all time, Taxi Driver, provides a peek behind the curtain with this form of psychological phenomenon. Travis Bickle lives alone in his New York City apartment and only experiences the world outside through his occupation (being a taxi driver), which usually sends him into the worst parts of the city. Because of his limited contact with others, Bickle begins to view the world as “scum”, and slowly begins to see himself as a vigilante force for good. This, of course, has an infamously violent conclusion.

Bickle saw the world through the windshield of his taxi. When he made attempts to interact with others, it always had disastrous results. This only furthered his isolation and delusion.

Taxi Driver was released in 1976, long before the internet. But Bickle’s taxi could be a stand in for our use of the internet today. If the film could be remade for modern audiences, it should be properly titled Internet User. The only information that Bickle received about how the outer world functioned was by driving a taxi. Bickle only saw the disgusting and overcrowded streets. He only saw violence, pimps, hookers, and other “scum”, which slowly began to pollute his mind.

Modern conspiracy theories work in a similar fashion. Many that believe these things may not be as socially secluded as Bickle was, nevertheless they only receive information from particular sources, which in turn forms their perception of the world. Suddenly there’s a conspiracy around every corner. And some may take things to violent extremes as evident by the many shootings that happen at alarming consistency.

This is how normal conspiracy theories work. But the SRA paranoia seems to have a sexual twist. Believers of wide spread SRA are succombed by images of sex abuse of children, bestiality, and other atrocities. This would likely explain the potency of such paranoia. Even if there is little evidence to support such claims, such imagery is too difficult to shake from the mind.  This prompts the believer to cling onto ANY evidence, no matter how absurd. And such findings and absurdities become supported by networking groups. Thus reinforcing the validity of the conspiracy.

Now Bickle isn’t typically thought of as being sexually motivated to commit his rampage. But such subtleties can be interpreted in the film. There might be a sexual subtext between Travis Bickle and the character that Jodie Foster portrayed, Iris. In fact, we can argue that John Hinckley picked up on these subtleties which (might have) partially motivated him in his assassination attempt. Although Bickle was a socially isolated character, he never crossed the line into pedophilia by taking an advantage of Foster’s character. HOWEVER, if such tensions did exist, that would provide an even greater motivation for him to shoot up an entire apartment building.

Why is that?

Any sexual relationship between Bickle and Iris would have meant that Bickle would have fully descended into the “scum” he despised. Bickle saw himself as a “hero”, and could never permit himself to indulge in any deviant behavior. Nevertheless, because he couldn’t successfully form a successful and healthy sexual relationship with Cybill Shepherd’s character, that energy had to be channeled elsewhere. An easy target that could have corroborated Bickle’s delusion would have been the naive child prostitute, Iris. But knowing that he could never be “intimate” with her, that energy got redirected into violent behavior, where he would have been deemed a “hero” and, in this line of thinking, could have possibly made Iris sexually attracted to him.

Such perverse logic could be underlying the SRA paranoia. This “hero” complex, of feigning disgust at outrageously impossible abuses, might successfully disguise underlying sexual urges. The disgusting images that are conjured up in the mind when such abuses are alleged might be so sexually motivating, that the individual will believe anything about the case, no matter how crazy. This allows the believer to feel like a “hero” when acting disgusted and becoming obsessed by the abuses.

(As a side note, the author of Michelle Remembers, psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder, would later leave his wife and marry the subject of the book, Michelle Smith)

Now this might sound insane. But in the second chapter of Slavoj Zizek’s book Less Than Nothing, when discussing those that showed up to Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, Zizek asks:

is there not always a moment of lust…in witnessing a traumatic event like a crucifixion? And does not the claim that we come to watch out of compassion and respect make it even (hypocritically) worse?”

Zizek is referencing our moral attitude towards such events, and how we claim to be disgusted, when in fact we are lustfully attracted to them.

You may disagree with Zizek’s analysis, but there is a darker part of the human psyche that we’re ignoring here. Particularly those who seek out such atrocities. We like to claim that we are repulsed by such behavior, yet some keep seeking it, claiming to be outraged that such events persist. But could the reality be, that they are in fact attracted to it?

I posted two videos to this blog. The first is a Taxi Driver trailer. The video below is an actual SRA propaganda piece that provides an interesting insight into how this conspiracy thinks of itself. The Pentagon, the Royal Family, the DuPont family…they’re all engaged in this so-called “conspiracy”. So have fun with that one.

An Ode to the ‘Slacker’

As the late, great Prince once said: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life”. Why? Because life sucks. It unbelievably sucks. If you think it doesn’t suck, then you’re in denial. Unless you get woken up every morning by fellatio (or cunnilingus) and get to watch reruns of Frasier all day, then your life sucks.

How did it get to be this way?

We marvel at the achievements of humanity. We want to think that we have it so much better than our ancestors. Sure, dying at the age 17 by being strangled by a cobra isn’t much of a problem these days. But we’ve exchanged those problems out for even WORSE problems. Instead of getting to live a brief life full of near total freedom, we now have to live DECADES worth of self-imposed imprisonment. Instead of letting our genitals hang free, we have to go to work, raise shitty children for (at least!) 18 years, have mortgage payments, and watch others live their lives through television and internet.

Scientists and philosophers often ponder the ancients. They romanticize the early explorers and philosophers, who first looked up to skies with bewilderment and awe. And this sense of wonder permitted them to ask the first intellectual questions: what lies on the other side of the heavens? Who are the Gods, and how can we be more like them? What is the meaning of life? So we ponder the origins of such questions, and think: who were these ancient peoples whom we owe so much to?

But here’s what I think: the first person to ever ask such questions was a piece of shit. He (or she) fucked everything up. Why question such a good thing?

Of course, we only know in hindsight that they fucked up. But then again, many people will accuse me of glorifying the ancient (or pre-historic) peoples, who were undoubtedly savage assholes. But so what? There was no one to tell them that they were being dicks. They were just being. 

And again, many MORE people would probably question my reasoning, claiming that such questions might be “hardwired” into the nature of human beings. Therefore these questions were inevitably going to be asked! But you know what? Stop thinking for awhile, and let me do the talking.

And by the way, where the hell am I going with all of this?

If you’ve been reading this blog (and no one is, so you don’t have to lie to me), have you ever wondered: who is this asshole that I’m reading? Well to answer that question, that’s none of your business. BUT, an important fact to know at this point is that my professional career is DEAD. I mean DEAD DEAD. I made a series of costly career decisions that didn’t pay off (plus I drank a lot). It left me unemployed to the point where I had to start over completely. It was like the prior 15 years never happened (did I mention I was a drunk?). Or to put it another way…I have a graduate degree, yet I’m now doing labor that kids out of high school are doing.

I’ll give you a moment to wipe away your tear.

Anyways! I pushed myself through college, and even a brief stint in the military, because I thought that’s what people should be doing: taking steps to better themselves and their society…even though I hated every minute of it. But that didn’t matter. Everyone has to do things that they don’t like if they want to achieve greatness.

I hated the guy (or gal) who coasted through life. I mean, how was that even possible? Didn’t they have any pride? Isn’t there SOMETHING they want to achieve during their time on this earth?

Yet even while I was having those thoughts, I was deeply unhappy. I put all kinds of pressure on myself. And to what purpose? So that I could have some fucking diploma hanging on the wall? Who gives a shit?

But of course, this is a philosophy blog. And even if you can’t tell yet, this is a philosophical post.

I usually talk about epistemology and ontology or some bullshit like that. But those aren’t the real problems that most people face. Unless you’re a nerd like me, Kantian metaphysics probably never keep you up at night. The problems that most people face are things like angst, fear, sadness, happiness and being. It’s actual human experience that most people care about…or the realm of existentialism.

Most people don’t realize that everywhere, mankind remains shackled (I’m pretty sure that’s a quote from some philosopher). We perceive ourselves to be free, but we do not act accordingly. We’re shackled to our jobs, to our houses, even to our own sense of being. You are who you are, and you will always remain SHACKLED to that identity.

How can we be happy, knowing that we are imprisoned in every direction?

Like I said, I hated those that coasted through life. I hated the SLACKER. And we all do. We want to hate the person that sits by while everyone does all the work. We want to hate the loser that lives an apparently meaningless life.

But I want to reassess this attitude. Sure, you hate them because they don’t carry their own weight. They leave YOU with all of the chores. But perhaps we need to appreciate them a little more. Why? Because they make you look good. That is unless they take credit for your work. In that case, fuck them, they are pieces of shit and are worthy of our judgements. But sometimes they can make you look like a mother fucking genius because they make you feel better about yourself.

But I think more importantly…they know something we don’t. Or maybe that something is nothing at all. But either way, they possess a quality that we don’t appreciate (mostly because it pisses us off).

They’re happier.

You know that bullshit that you submit yourself to everyday? Yeah, they don’t give a fuck about that. You might make more money. You might even be extraordinarily successful. But so what? How much crap did you have to go through to get that house or promotion? Tell me, how deep does that sense of ‘pride’ really go? Have you ever wondered what kind of decisions you might have made IF you didn’t give a shit? All the shackles of modern man are meaningless to the Slacker.

How much time did I waste going to college? If I have to be honest with myself, I wish I hadn’t of done it. It ruined me. I stress out about everything. College made me an unhappy, cynical, and entitled human being. Just being honest.

In my new job, I work with such a slacker. He’s in his early 20s. While giving advice to a girl that just started with this company (on how to get away with doing nothing), the girl snapped back: “This job’s only temporary! I’m a full-time student! Don’t you know what that’s like?” . To which his reply was “PSH! No!”.

That guy is cool as fuck.

You may hate him. But guess what? He doesn’t know it, and even if he did…he wouldn’t care.

So you have two choices in life: You can go along and play the rules. Maybe you might find some success. Maybe you won’t. But your philosophy can remain “at least you gotta try”…. OR, you don’t have to live by the rules. You still have to casually observe them, but we all know they’re horseshit. So you don’t have to pursuit happiness….you just have to be happy.

PS: My intention was to dig a little deeper into existentialism and bring up the works of Jose Ortega y Gasset. Sadly that did not work out, but at least I TRIED to make this post somewhat philosophical.

PS. PS: I posted a video of Slavoj Zizek because he at least provide the illusion that he’s a slacker-type. I don’t know if that’s intentional, and I don’t even know if he’s ever talked about any slaker-ish tendencies (he says a lot of things). He just embodies what I believe we should all strive towards.

F**K Reality!

Every day, I ask myself: am I asking the right questions? And is THAT question the correct question?

And then I get pissed off at reality because I can’t break out of my own sense perception. Or (as the video above explains) we’re trapped within the phenomenological field which dictates to us what reality is.

I’d love to pretend that we can find these answers in the words of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Hilary Putnam (who was about to be the focus of this post). But these are just reinforced notions that the authorities of society want us to think are important. They’re great because all the intellectual authorities tell us they’re great. So even the great wordsmiths of history have no deeper insights into existence. You have the same rational capabilities that they have (or had). And this is partly why I’m pissed that the world still remains a mother fucking mystery to me. But a more alarming fact is that there have been those that have lived and died…who might’ve cracked the mysteries of the universe…and yet are buried and forgotten within the sands of time.

But anyways, my point is that inspiration can be found anywhere. We just have to be willing to let ourselves go places, perhaps strange places, in order to find truth (for a lack of a better word). Yesterday, I felt that no philosopher anywhere had the answers to the questions I was seeking. Perhaps I wasn’t asking the right questions. OR, perhaps I didn’t understand the terminology. Thankfully, I came across the term ‘naive realism’. Basically meaning that we perceive actual properties of objects, the world is physical, and we can know things about it (I guess). Its specifics aren’t important, but we do intuitively act in this manner.

Now, there are videos and articles that I could have used to further my personal philosophy. But fuck that.

The gentleman in the video above is angry, ANGRY, that we are confined to our phenomenological understanding. Not enough people are like that. Personally, I thought I struck gold when I found this video. But then I got angry at it because this guy accurately captured in ONE video what took me 8 months to explain in My Life With Kant. So don’t waste your time with My Life With Kant, just watch this video.

Now there are problems with this overall conception of understanding. If you listen to me or the guy in the video, you’d probably come to the conclusion that we don’t believe in reality outside of the mind. That objects have to be perceived in order to exist. I know that that sounds crazy. And the discipline of philosophy would almost uniformly reject this conclusion. But it’s also just plain WRONG. The continuity of reality and objects in it would suggest that there’s a tangible world that can be known.

But let’s not split hairs here. Throwing out words like ‘idealism’ only takes away from your own responsibility to come to an understanding. Which is why I’ve been a big critic of academia. And even academics themselves seem to mock their own highly specialized terminology. The logic seems to be: “If enough big words are used, then that will only confuse the audience and we would be able to deflect criticism of our own theories“. And I’m not going to lie. I like to play this game as well. But getting buried down in the meaning of words is only a creative way to escape responsibility. It buries the lead in regards to the true problems within philosophy, namely our own responsibility to meaning.

But this gentleman also points out a hardwired problem within human logic: that existence must have an underlying mechanistic cause. The story that he brings up is a familiar one: a mythological account of the existence of the universe. That the world is a dome-shaped structure that’s being upheld by an elephant, and beneath the elephant is a turtle, and beneath THAT turtle is another turtle. Then on and on this goes, all the way down. We just keep discovering one turtle after another. We think that we have escaped this ancient logic, that our scientific methods can discover empirical truths. But that’s only an illusion. Instead of turtles, we find one mechanistic cause underneath another mechanistic cause…never getting any closer to the ULTIMATE mechanistic cause. It’s turtles all the way down!

Now it’s popular for thinkers like me to invoke quantum mechanics at this point. It’s a cliche, really. The more I think about it, it seems strange to throw into question the validity of human perception and understanding, and then bring up something that was discovered by human perception and understanding to positively prove your point. I’m not immune to this. So I’m not sure how much water this argument holds, unless we want to believe Zizek’s joke that God didn’t plan on humans going past the atomic level. But these scientifically mechanical processes exist to justify our own “phenomenological understanding of the world”. Making their purposes virtually no different from the ancient myths of creation.

So the proper way out of this is to undo prior assumptions of the world. Both atheism and the religiously zealous are essentially explaining the same thing from two different ends. They’re explaining that there’s an underlying cause of all reality, and that the mind plays no cause in the creation of our perceptions. And so the whole objective of science and contemporary philosophy is to get around the mind. But under this argument, that’s a road to nowhere.

Now the host of this video is appealing towards the objective of personal development and enlightenment. But he’s using a philosophical argument to make his point. From a purely philosophical perspective, we can’t accept any of this. And we ESPECIALLY can’t accept this from a scientific view. Denying space, time, and matter is basically taboo within modern intellectual discourse. THAT’S the road to Berkeleyism. Or even worse yet…to solipsism. UNLESS we want to take the perspective that space, time, and matter are just manipulations of reality, and are not FACTS. (George Berkeley, anyone?)

I’ve seemed to have made this argument before…that common notions of physical reality are just projections onto a (quantum mechanical?) canvas. The concepts that we use to classify reality, and the objects within it, are both cultural and biological. Therefore, we owe a great deal of thanks to evolutionary psychology. BUT this leaves the question(s): what would reality be WITHOUT minds, and how far down do our conceptions go in regards to our perceptions OF the fabric of reality? And can these inquiries throw into question the validity of science itself? Therefore reality does not consist of FACTS, but of MANIPULATIONS.

For the record, I’m not entirely certain of these arguments, but I’m going to entertain them anyway.

Imagine the irrefutable atom. Did this conception of the atom exist prior to the human mind discovering them? Clearly the mechanical processes that contribute to the conception must exist (I’ll assume), but is the conception a universal necessity, or is it just a manipulation of the human mind?

And why stop there?

Can we ask the same questions for electrons, protons, quarks, and so on? And to what extent does this “phenomenological field” contribute to such conceptions?

Would these ‘things’ be things at all noumenalogically speaking? The intuitive answer is ‘yes’, and this is where we might be stuck in the world of popular and contemporary philosophy. Materialism might be coming up from the seams, and we’re struggling to keep up.

We take comfort in feeling that there’s a constant reality outside of us. So we do everything we can to confirm such notions. This post-materialist phase of science and philosophy might be in its earliest stages, and I know that that sounds pretty stupid now that I say that.

But what would the world be without a materialist foundation? What everyone seems to be avoiding is the possibility that it might be…nothing at all. No one wants to face this possibility because, clearly there’s something. And because there’s something, there must be more something beneath it all. Then on and on we go into our faulty human reasoning (“it’s turtles all the way down”). So without a materialist foundation, we arrive at a dead end.

But how could something also be nothing? Is this nothing noumenologically nothing?

I don’t know.

But correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t matter just energy? And what happens to energy when it stops? Does it go back to nothing? (I’m just spit balling here). So while we might not (at the moment) be able to connect consciousness with the manipulation of reality, nothing itself seems to be underlying the totality of existence. Scientists, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Of course, this still lends credibility to materialism because it shows that reality is just matter (or energy) in motion. Therefore, we really don’t escape materialism or physicalism.

So what was the question again?