17
Nov

Absurdist Anarchy

The below is just the combination of 3 earlier pieces that all build on top of each other, but will eventually be the basis for a longer piece that works it all out more coherently and stylishly.

 

Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning.[2] As a philosophy, absurdism thus also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it.

Like a lot of what I post, this isn’t going to be conclusive. It is a place-holder where I mark a moment of contemplation or epiphany that I want to come back to, reflect upon, and leave open-ended for those reasons. Absurdist is one of the many available labels that I have a good deal of affinity for. Among those identified with it, Albert Camus is by far one of my most favorite philosophers. As the above description explains as the fundamental assumptions of absurdism, Camus is the champion of that embrace of meaninglessness …absurdity, as well as the continual rebellion against it. This position is outlined in his book, the Rebel.  I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to review that book even in summary; so, my hope is that the reader has read or will read it. Yet it is beside the main point, which I don’t think the Rebel’s expansive exploration of is necessary to make here. That point is to outline the situation and relate to it personally…

I have become very comfortable with the assumptions outlined above, that ultimately existence is meaningless and that it is a personal and existentially significant task to rebel against that in the search for or creation of meaning. This sort of discourse usually carries me on to people like Nietzsche or Foucault, who arrive at some method or another for dealing with that project. In this case, the aesthetic approach to life, to meaning, to choice. That method (to whatever extent I have been faithful to it) has brought me to an interesting place in life… many of them. It has been liberating and it has also brought many psychological burdens to the fore for analysis. Yet, it has often been of less guidance when dealing with relationships to other people. It has been plenty for contemplating relationships, but the aesthetic approach (and some may call it an egoist one) loses its strength with interpersonal or small group dynamics. Not because it has nothing to say, but because the project of negotiating those conversations which thematize, characterize, and define relationships …THE conversation which is each relationship… is often enough less the result of individual wills discussing a mode of being with each 0ther and more the result of individuals being with each other in contexts beyond their power.

It is one thing to navigate the world alone, mapping it out and sorting through opportunities, struggling with it individually. It is quite another thing to do this and at the same time place a heavy emphasis on how the circumstances themselves, or the consequences of your individual activity effect not only the circumstances of another(s), but are inconsequential entirely. The proximity and amount of time spent with someone, the way which institutions/society/privileges/etc. shape paths of least resistance and oppressions, the extent to which delusions and compulsions influence lives, and much more is constantly acting against the will of the individual, and especially moreso for individuals relating to each other. But perhaps in no relation, or in connection in a way that I can’t think of right now, the framing of the problem of other people as an approach to conversation invites something that seems to cut through this. The ability to collaborate on the story of lives together, to mythologize relationships, to create meaning and rituals and games with each other, to play out, play act, and create something.

The problem is Others’ minds…   Everything changes with your ideas. You give to time an arbitrary deadline. You give to places a historical meaning. You give to me the impossible task of communicating the meaning of my actions to you.  Without your ideas I have to myself the wind, the trees, the fog, the pain, the thirst, the wandering. I have their meaning to myself without contest. I have the facts of consequence to fit however I want into my own fantasy. The same for you, without my own.

So we enter into conversation.

    The bottom-line is our biology, physiology, and life-history. What I sense is limited, and limited in a different way than what you sense. For as much as we can agree on the facts of a reality that both founds and surpasses our perception, it is perception that we respond to: our own perceptions. Yet we are stuck with each other – without exit – by existential necessity. And we not only need each other …we want each other. Our desires are tied up with biological urges to sense another’s blanketing warmth, their uncanny touch, the nutrition of their breast, the affirmation of our own theories about the reality beyond our perceptions. Yet your warmth can disgust, your touch can unsettle, your breast can poison, your judgements can debase. No one is actually here for anyone else, everyone is different: one from the other.

    We enter into conversation the moment we must navigate the corners of our differences. Polite or not, it is usually a negotiation. We speak to debate the meaning of this flower, the coherence of that rule. We speak to question and then to affirm; the obvious be damned to obscurity. Out of our processes of creating arrangements together, we create myths, customs, cannons, platforms, and other forms of discourse which may or may not threaten our lives eventually. And what we are willing to kill for and to die for, our institutions that pretend to make all of these former things more real …attempt to move them into that space and time beyond our own perceptions. It has been common enough for us to even pretend there is something else to perceive our institutions with the same amount of reality as everything else obvious to us: someone else even more beyond our perceptions to verify the fact of our institutions. Little else makes for worse conversation than these institutions; and bad conversation is terrible.

    The Institution is terrible. It is the worst interruption between us. Midst our negotiations a mediator has already before we were born, appointed itself to regulate the terms, the quality, the meaning of our conversation. It is the advertisement which makes shit smell delicious and the custom which the lowest forms of attack will adopt to gain entrance. We hate the Institution and we can never, with any integrity, take the side of the Institution. If we can not destroy the Institution, at the very least we can circumnavigate the Institution; and, often by accident we are compelled to: by love, by starvation, by drunkenness. For all of the time we waste speaking of the Institution, we come back around to our negotiations and we carry on with our conversation. And when I can be alone to contemplate the transgressions of our conversation, I can finally contemplate whether it has been transgressive enough.          I want to annihilate the Institution.

    At least with you, there is a challenge which can not be thrown off into the outer-limits of an otherworld. With you our conversation still has a body, a biology, a difference, a target, and with all of this you are a labyrinth which can only be explored together …a labyrinth particular to everyone you choose to navigate with. The Institution only has prosthetics. Alone I only have my own tongue tasting itself. At least with you we can uncover together a reality that is especially in favor of our negotiated experiences, meanings, and past-times. As we have all of this only together, we also invent our own language for this conversation… down to the accented syllable of a made-up word. The interpersonal world is the most interesting world (and the Social only an obstacle to it).

    Between here and there and then and now and until the days to come: our conversation. It isn’t so much that our lives together can be reduced to the use of language as it is that the last barrier between negotiation and the confluence of our activity together is the medium of our languages. Conversation is the mark of our differences. It is something which can be cut at and broke up into segments however we’d like in this time between our birth and death. It is ultimately the last definitive activity of a relationship between human beings, between egoists transgressing against fixed and imposed ideas. It is the way you looked when my eyes first told my brain to notice you and it is the words inscribed on your tomb stone that you requested in your will be written. It is what happens when one thing isn’t quite like the other and we both notice.

An Individual’s Interests

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and personal goods and bads. This isn’t the most troubling situation until immediate desires come into conflict with some form of opposition, until they are scrutinized. It is at this point of conflict and its aftermath that the lack of having a rational basis for the choices one is making becomes problematic. Interpersonally and more broadly, socially …we can only resort to the rational for who is permitted the fulfilment of what desires. In the courtroom of our lives together, we judge each other’s desires and try to interrogate these desires to figure out whose interests they would be serving. Some will favor those desires which serve the interests of an abstraction (society, the common good, humanity, grace, the nation, the company), others will favor those desires which serve the interests of other individuals (kings, friends, comrades, employers). Still others, such as my egoist comrades, will at least note that someone has integrity if their interests serve themselves. It seems through an analysis of our society’s institutions, many people do not know and/or do not care what interests their desires serve …so long as they are met. As for how someone can tolerate not knowing and/or not caring what interests their desires serve, I will continue on to illustrate.

For the majority, their interests become bound up with the institutions that they entrust to think on their behalf: their church, their political party, their school, the Founding Fathers. The list would be exhausting to complete for how many options there are, for every desire, to refer to if someone questions them for this majority. Any social networking website can demonstrate clearly how common it is for someone’s “interests” to consist entirely of references to such institutions, brands, parties. God forbid anyone ever be reminded that these resumes of references are political, and how much political ignorance they demonstrate. To forget that interests (and “interests”) are political is important for this inquiry. It is the separation of interests from their political nature in the world of appearances that both mystifies the interests which the majority’s choices serve and clarifies the nature of the majority’s politics.

Another angle from which to understand what happens here is to summarize other ways in which individuals come to understand their desires as interests, and those interests as political in nature. The man who owns his land, works his land, sells the product of his labor: his desire to protect this land, to control his work, to engage in a free exchange are also at the same time his interests. Those interests, when up against a challenge, are immediately recognizable as also being his political interests. Those interests also cohere with his other political positions. This is not an individual who required an education about economics or the history of his country’s government to identify exactly what his positions would be in order to serve his own interests.

Contrast this man with the average specimen from the city who pays rent and works for a corporation. They have a variety of desires (survival, social, moral, aesthetic) that they must fulfil as end-users of complicated institutions. The desire of shelter is met with by a rental company, with whom they sign a lease. Their desire for companions is met through a variety of subcultures, which are mostly maintained by the industries which produce the products that symbolize those subcultures. Their desire for money (necessary for the former) is fulfilled with a job for a corporation. That is to say, these individuals do not have a coherence in their lives between their desires and the interests which are served to meet their desires. They do not rent because they have a specific interest in the rental company. They do not meet companions in this way because they have an interest in the companies that produce the products their subcultures symbolize themselves by. They do not take a job for this or that corporation because they have a deep interest in the survival of that corporation. In their situation, to recognize their own interests being served through the way their desires are met would be insane; that can not be their path towards a politics. So what becomes their “political” interests comes from another world that is abstract and can make some sort of claim, through the State, of dealing with these institutions for them. Their Democrats and Republicans deal with the rights they are allowed to use at their job, with their landlord, in the way that culture is regulated, in the way which their relationships are recognized, in the quality of the streets they tour, and the cost of the bills they pay. And throughout the whole process, these people are lied to and tricked to such an extent that it does take much energy and investigation if one was to know precisely where to rent, work, and consume that in some way matches their interests, even marginally.

If they’re middle-class, the path from desire, to interest, to political interest may be a little bit more intuitive and coherent; but, it is nevertheless labyrinthine. The home/business owners and their families have family values, but they enter into a more recognizable political world when regarding their relationship to their properties. Less in the world of government aid and more in the world of government tax, less in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to managers and more in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to market conditions, the interests of the middle-class are much different. Yet for as much as they are different, the interests of the middle class are still removed from a thorough political interest as they do not own the land, they often mortgage the house, their businesses may be franchises or not yet profitable, and their capital is still too small for much of an international political interest. Their political allegiances are divided up by the industries they own businesses within (or, the sectors they are professional workers within) and appeals to their moral values concerning marriage, drugs, sexuality, religion, and the rest. The middle-class individual, just as the city dweller examined earlier, is an individual whose desires and interests are mediated by institutions much larger and more complicated than they can keep track of …and just as well, must refer to those institutions for political representation.

So upon deeper inspection, it is not that we live among a majority of fools, of idiots, of people who ignorantly act against their own self-interests. We live in a society where the question of desires and interests is itself botched by a political and economic order that only superficially does the middle-class conscious voter seem to be any more or less rational. What has happened is that the rational pursuit of ones interests (of ones politics) is dangerous and exceptionally difficult, even when the mechanics are demystified and what choices serve whose interests are laid bare. When the rational pursuit of ones interests most coherently aligns with a revolt against the whole order of things, the questions of strategy make the situation only more difficult. And chances are, this rational pursuit itself is only as fulfilling as the extent to which ones desires are not being met by irrationally serving the interests of others. That is the story of our fringe existence and the cautious gaze of our peers, the suspicions and indignities to which we’re given in this society. To not have ones desires fulfilled in this society is itself a mark of an individuals crimes against it because it is these institutions which provide rational meaning in life.

17
Nov

An Individual’s Interests

Existence for a self-conscious individual may not offer any sort of rational basis for meaning and values, but it at least offers a biochemistry to help get the process going. Good and bad may not transcend the somewhat haphazard associations brains form which tie into emotional responses, but there are at least those immediate and personal goods and bads. This isn’t the most troubling situation until immediate desires come into conflict with some form of opposition, until they are scrutinized. It is at this point of conflict and its aftermath that the lack of having a rational basis for the choices one is making becomes problematic. Interpersonally and more broadly, socially …we can only resort to the rational for who is permitted the fulfilment of what desires. In the courtroom of our lives together, we judge each other’s desires and try to interrogate these desires to figure out whose interests they would be serving. Some will favor those desires which serve the interests of an abstraction (society, the common good, humanity, grace, the nation, the company), others will favor those desires which serve the interests of other individuals (kings, friends, comrades, employers). Still others, such as my egoist comrades, will at least note that someone has integrity if their interests serve themselves. It seems through an analysis of our society’s institutions, many people do not know and/or do not care what interests their desires serve …so long as they are met. As for how someone can tolerate not knowing and/or not caring what interests their desires serve, I will continue on to illustrate.

For the majority, their interests become bound up with the institutions that they entrust to think on their behalf: their church, their political party, their school, the Founding Fathers. The list would be exhausting to complete for how many options there are, for every desire, to refer to if someone questions them for this majority. Any social networking website can demonstrate clearly how common it is for someone’s “interests” to consist entirely of references to such institutions, brands, parties. God forbid anyone ever be reminded that these resumes of references are political, and how much political ignorance they demonstrate. To forget that interests (and “interests”) are political is important for this inquiry. It is the separation of interests from their political nature in the world of appearances that both mystifies the interests which the majority’s choices serve and clarifies the nature of the majority’s politics.

Another angle from which to understand what happens here is to summarize other ways in which individuals come to understand their desires as interests, and those interests as political in nature. The man who owns his land, works his land, sells the product of his labor: his desire to protect this land, to control his work, to engage in a free exchange are also at the same time his interests. Those interests, when up against a challenge, are immediately recognizable as also being his political interests. Those interests also cohere with his other political positions. This is not an individual who required an education about economics or the history of his country’s government to identify exactly what his positions would be in order to serve his own interests.

Contrast this man with the average specimen from the city who pays rent and works for a corporation. They have a variety of desires (survival, social, moral, aesthetic) that they must fulfil as end-users of complicated institutions. The desire of shelter is met with by a rental company, with whom they sign a lease. Their desire for companions is met through a variety of subcultures, which are mostly maintained by the industries which produce the products that symbolize those subcultures. Their desire for money (necessary for the former) is fulfilled with a job for a corporation. That is to say, these individuals do not have a coherence in their lives between their desires and the interests which are served to meet their desires. They do not rent because they have a specific interest in the rental company. They do not meet companions in this way because they have an interest in the companies that produce the products their subcultures symbolize themselves by. They do not take a job for this or that corporation because they have a deep interest in the survival of that corporation. In their situation, to recognize their own interests being served through the way their desires are met would be insane; that can not be their path towards a politics. So what becomes their “political” interests comes from another world that is abstract and can make some sort of claim, through the State, of dealing with these institutions for them. Their Democrats and Republicans deal with the rights they are allowed to use at their job, with their landlord, in the way that culture is regulated, in the way which their relationships are recognized, in the quality of the streets they tour, and the cost of the bills they pay. And throughout the whole process, these people are lied to and tricked to such an extent that it does take much energy and investigation if one was to know precisely where to rent, work, and consume that in some way matches their interests, even marginally.

If they’re middle-class, the path from desire, to interest, to political interest may be a little bit more intuitive and coherent; but, it is nevertheless labyrinthine. The home/business owners and their families have family values, but they enter into a more recognizable political world when regarding their relationship to their properties. Less in the world of government aid and more in the world of government tax, less in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to managers and more in the world of subordination at home and in the workplace to market conditions, the interests of the middle-class are much different. Yet for as much as they are different, the interests of the middle class are still removed from a thorough political interest as they do not own the land, they often mortgage the house, their businesses may be franchises or not yet profitable, and their capital is still too small for much of an international political interest. Their political allegiances are divided up by the industries they own businesses within (or, the sectors they are professional workers within) and appeals to their moral values concerning marriage, drugs, sexuality, religion, and the rest. The middle-class individual, just as the city dweller examined earlier, is an individual whose desires and interests are mediated by institutions much larger and more complicated than they can keep track of …and just as well, must refer to those institutions for political representation.

So upon deeper inspection, it is not that we live among a majority of fools, of idiots, of people who ignorantly act against their own self-interests. We live in a society where the question of desires and interests is itself botched by a political and economic order that only superficially does the middle-class conscious voter seem to be any more or less rational. What has happened is that the rational pursuit of ones interests (of ones politics) is dangerous and exceptionally difficult, even when the mechanics are demystified and what choices serve whose interests are laid bare. When the rational pursuit of ones interests most coherently aligns with a revolt against the whole order of things, the questions of strategy make the situation only more difficult. And chances are, this rational pursuit itself is only as fulfilling as the extent to which ones desires are not being met by irrationally serving the interests of others. That is the story of our fringe existence and the cautious gaze of our peers, the suspicions and indignities to which we’re given in this society. To not have ones desires fulfilled in this society is itself a mark of an individuals crimes against it because it is these institutions which provide rational meaning in life.

10
Nov

Camus’ the Rebel: Quotes (some Notes)

The Rebel – Notes

Metaphysical, Historical, and Aesthetic

I The Rebel

II Metaphysical Rebellion

THE SONS OF CAIN

ABSOLUTE NEGATION

THE REJECTION OF SALVATION

ABSOLUTE AFFIRMATION

*THE POETS’ REBELLION

NIHILISM AND HISTORY

III Historical Rebellion

THE REGICIDES

THE DEICIDES

INDIVIDUAL TERRORISM

RATIONAL TERROR

STATE TERRORISM AND RATIONAL TERROR

REBELLION AND REVOLUTION

IV Rebellion and Art

REBELLION AND THE NOVEL

REBELLION AND STYLE

CREATION AND REVOLUTION

REBELLION AND MURDER

MODERATION AND EXCESS

V Thought at the Meridian

BEYOND NIHILISM

 

 

 

 

Part 2 – Metaphysical Rebellion

“the metaphysical rebel protests against the condition in which he finds himself as a man.”

*“If men cannot refer to a common value, recognized by all as existing in each one, then man is incomprehensible to man.” ← The Unitarian Reign of Justice

“At the same time that he rejects his mortality, the rebel refuses to recognize the power that compels him to live in this condition. The metaphysical rebel is therefore not definitely an atheist, as one might think him, but he is inevitably a blasphemer. Quite simply, he blasphemes primarily in the name of order, denouncing God as the father of death and as the supreme outrage.”

“Originally, at least, he does not suppress God; he merely talks to Him as an equal. But it is not a polite dialogue. It is a polemic animated by the desire to conquer. The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn. His insurrection against his condition becomes an unlimited campaign against the heavens for the purpose of bringing back a captive king who will first be dethroned and finally condemned to death. Human rebellion ends in metaphysical revolution.”

The Sons of Cain

“The only thing that gives meaning to human protest is the idea of a personal god who has created, and is therefore responsible for, everything. And so we can say, without being paradoxical, that in the Western World the history of rebellion is inseparable from the history of Christianity. We have to wait, in fact, until the very last moments of Greek thought to see rebellion begin to find expression among transitional thinkers—nowhere more profoundly than in the works of Epicurus and Lucretius.”

“With Cain, the first act of rebellion coincides with the first crime. The history of rebellion, as we are experiencing it today, has far more to do with the children of Cain than with the disciples of Prometheus. In this sense it is the God of the Old Testament who is primarily responsible for mobilizing the forces of rebellion.”

“From this point of view, the New Testament can be considered as an attempt to answer, in advance, every Cain in the world, by painting the figure of God in softer colors and by creating an intercessor between God and man. Christ came to solve two major problems, evil and death, which are precisely the problemsthat preoccupy the rebel. His solution consisted, first, in experiencing them. The man-god suffers, too— with patience. Evil and death can no longer be entirely imputed to Him since He suffers and dies. The night on Golgotha is so important in the history of man only because, in its shadow, the divinity abandoned its traditional privileges and drank to the last drop, despair included, the agony of death. This is the explanation of the Lama sabactani and the heartrending doubt of Christ in agony. The agony would have been mild if it had been alleviated by hopes of eternity. For God to be a man, he must despair.”

“Until Dostoievsky and Nietzsche, rebellion is directed only against a cruel and capricious divinity—a divinity who prefers, without any convincing motive, Abel’s sacrifice to Cain’s and, by so doing, provokes the first murder. Dostoievsky, in the realm of imagination, and Nietzsche, in the realm of fact, enormously increase the field of rebellious thought and demand an accounting from the God of love Himself. Nietzsche believes that God is dead in the souls of his contemporaries. Therefore he attacks, like his predecessor Stirner, the illusion of God that lingers, under the guise of morality, in the thought of his times. But until they appear upon the scene, the freethinkers, for example, were content to deny the truth of the history of Christ (“that dull story,” in Sade’s words) and to maintain, by their denials, the tradition of an avenging god.”

Absolute Negation (Sade)

“Historically speaking, the first coherent offensive is that of Sade, who musters into one vast war machine the arguments of the freethinkers up to Father Meslier and Voltaire. His negation is also, of course, the most extreme.”

“If the mind is strong enough to construct in a prison cell a moral philosophy that is not one of submission, it will generally be one of domination.”

“Every ethic based on solitude implies the exercise of power.”

“Is Sade an atheist? He says so, and we believe him, before going to prison, in his Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man; and from then on we are dumbfounded by his passion for sacrilege. “

“The idea of God which Sade conceives for himself is, therefore, of a criminal divinity who oppresses and denies mankind.”

For Sade, Nature is Sex and Nature is a power bent on destruction.

“his logic leads him to a lawless universe where the only master is the inordinate energy of desire.” “the freedom he demands is not one of principles, but of instincts.”

“Nothing is more revealing in this respect than the famous lampoon, read by Dolmance in the Philosophie du Boudoir, which has the curious title: People of France, one more effort if you want to be republicans. Pierre Klossowski2 is right in attaching so much importance to it, for this lampoon demonstrates to the revolutionaries that their republic is founded on the murder of the King —who was King by divine right—and that by guillotining God on January 21, 1793 they deprived themselves forever of the right tooutlaw crime or to censure malevolent instincts. The monarchy supported the concept of a God who, in conjunction with itself, created all laws. As for the Republic, it stands alone, and morality was supposed to exist without benefit of the Commandments.”

‘This man who never preached anything but contradictions only achieves coherence—and of a most complete kind— when he talks of capital punishment. An addict of refined ways of execution, a theoretician of sexual crime, he was never able to tolerate legal crime.”A few years later Nodier summed up, perhaps without knowing it, the position obstinately defended by Sade: “To kill a man in a paroxysm of passion is understandable. To have him killed by someone else after calm and serious meditation and on the pretext of duty honorably discharged is incomprehensible.”‘

*“You cannot simultaneously choose crime for yourself and punishment for others. You must open the prison gates or give an impossible proof of your own innocence. From the moment you accept murder, even if only once, you must allow it universally. The criminal who acts according to nature cannot, without betraying his office, range himself on the side of the law.”

*”But to desire without limit is the equivalent of being desired without limit. License to destroy supposes that you yourself can be destroyed. Therefore you must struggle and dominate. The law of this world is nothing but the law of force; its driving force, the will to power.”

“For Sade, the law of power implies barred gates, castles with seven circumvallations from which it is impossible to escape, and where a society founded on desire and crime functions unimpeded, according to the rules of an implacable system. The most unbridled rebellion, insistence on complete freedom, lead to the total subjection of the majority. For Sade, man’s emancipation is consummated in these strongholds of debauchery where a kind of bureaucracy of vice rules over the life and death of the men and women who have committed themselves forever to the hell of their desires. His works abound with descriptions of these privileged places where feudal libertines, to demonstrate to their assembled victims their absolute impotence and servitude, always repeat the Duc de Blangis’s speech to the common people of the One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom: “You are already dead to the world.””

The rest of this chapter on Sade is mostly concerned with elaborating on the authoritarian conclusions which logically follow from the Libertine premise of ultimate freedom for the desires.

The Dandie’s Rebellion (the Romantics)

“Like Sade, romanticism is separated from earlier forms of rebellion by its preference for evil and the individual. By putting emphasis on its powers of defiance and refusal, rebellion, at this stage, forgets its positive content. Since God claims all that is good in man, it is necessary to deride what is good and choose what is evil. Hatred of death and of injustice will lead, therefore, if not to the exercise, at least to the vindication, of evil and murder.”

“The poet, the genius,man himself in his most exalted image, therefore cry out simultaneously with Satan: “So farewell hope,and with hope farewell fear, farewell remorse. . . . Evil, be thou my good.” It is the cry of outraged innocence. The romantic hero, therefore, considers himself compelled to do evil by his nostalgia for an unrealizable good.”

“he rebel therefore allows himself certain advantages. Murder, of course, is not recommended for its own sake. But it is implicit in the value— supreme for the romantic—attached to frenzy. Frenzy is the reverse of boredom”

“Without exactly advocating crime, the romantics insist on paying homage to a basic system of privileges which they illustrate with the conventional images of the outlaw, the criminal with the heart of gold, and the kind brigand. Their works are bathed in blood and shrouded in mystery. The soul is delivered, at a minimum expenditure, of its most hideous desires— desires that a later generation will assuage in extermination camps.”

“romanticism, at the source of its inspiration, is chiefly concerned with defying moral and divine law. That is why its most original creation is not, primarily, the revolutionary, but, logically enough, the dandy.”

“Much more than the cult of the individual, romanticism inaugurates the cult of the ‘character’”

*“”The dandy creates his own unity by aesthetic means. But it is an aesthetic of singularity and of negation. “To live and die before a mirror”: that, according to Baudelaire, was the dandy’s slogan. It is indeed a coherent slogan. The dandy is, by occupation, always in opposition. He can only exist by defiance. Up to now man derived his coherence from his Creator. But from the moment that he consecrates his rupture with Him, he finds himself delivered over to the fleeting moment, to the passing days, and to wasted sensibility. Therefore he must take himself in hand. The dandy rallies his forces and creates a unity for himself by the very violence of his refusal. Profligate, like all people without a rule of life, he is coherent as an actor. But an actor implies a public; the dandy can only play a part by setting himself up in opposition. He can only be sure of his own existence by finding it in the expression of others’ faces. Other people are his mirror. A mirror that quickly becomes clouded, it is true, since human capacity for attention is limited. It must be ceaselessly stimulated, spurred on by provocation. The dandy, therefore, is always compelled to astonish. Singularity is his vocation, excess his way to perfection. Perpetually incomplete, always on the fringe of things, he compels others to create him, while denying their values. He plays at life because he is unable to live it. He plays at it until he dies, except for the moments when he is alone and without a mirror. For the dandy,to be alone is not to exist.””

*“Romanticism demonstrates, in fact, that rebellion is part and parcel of dandyism: one of its objectives is appearances. In its conventional forms, dandyism admits a nostalgia for ethics. It is only honor degraded as a point of honor. But at the same time it inaugurates an aesthetic which is still valid in our world, an aesthetic of solitary creators, who are obstinate rivals of a God they condemn. From romanticism onward, the artist’s task will not only be to create a world, or to exalt beauty for its own sake, but also to define an attitude. Thus the artist becomes a model and offers himself as an example: art is his ethic. With him begins the age of the directors of conscience. When the dandies fail to commit suicide or do not go mad, they make a career and pursue prosperity. Even when, like Vigny, they exclaim that they are going to retire into silence, their silence is piercing.”

“But at the very heart of romanticism, the sterility of this attitude becomes apparent to a few rebels who provide a transitional type between the eccentrics (or the Incredible) and our revolutionary adventurers. Between the times of the eighteenth-century eccentric and the “conquerors” of the twentieth century, Byron and Shelley are already fighting, though only ostensibly, for freedom. They also expose themselves, but in another way. Rebellion gradually leaves the world of appearances for the world of action, where it will completely commit itself. The French students in 1830 and the Russian Decembrists will then appear as the purest incarnations of a rebellion which is at first solitary and which then tries, through sacrifice, to find the path to solidarity. But, inversely, the taste for the apocalypse and a life of frenzy will reappear among present-day revolutionaries. “

The Rejection of Salvation (Dostoevsky) – Contemporary Nihilism Begins

“Ivan (Karamozov) is the incarnation of the refusal to be the only one saved. He throws in his lot with the damned and, for their sake, rejects eternity. If he had faith, he could, in fact, be saved, but others would be damned and suffering would continue. There is no possible salvation for the man who feels real compassion. Ivan will continue to put God in the wrong by doubly rejecting faith as he would reject injustice and privilege. One step more and from All or Nothing we arrive at Everyone or No One.”

“When the meaning of life has been suppressed, there still remains life. “I live,” says Ivan, “in spite of logic.” And again: “If I no longer had any faith in life, if I doubted a woman I loved, or the universal order of things, if I were persuaded, on the contrary, that everything was only an infernal and accursed chaos—even then I would want to live.” Ivan will live, then, and will love as well “without knowing why.” But to live is also to act. To act in the name of what? If there is no immortality, then there is neither reward nor punishment. “I believe that there is no virtue without immortality.” And also: “I only know that suffering exists, that no one is guilty, that everything is connected, that everything passes away and equals out.” But if there is no virtue, there is no law: “Everything is permitted.” With this “everything is permitted” the history of contemporary nihilism really begins.”

* “He consciously accepts his dilemma; to be virtuous and illogical, or logical and criminal. His prototype, the devil, is right when he whispers: “You are going to commit a virtuous act and yet you do not believe in virtue; that is what angers and torments you.” The question that Ivan finally poses, the question that constitutes the real progress achieved by Dostoievsky in the history of rebellion, is the only one in which we are interested here: can one live and stand one’s ground in a state of rebellion?”

“Ivan allows us to guess his answer: one can live in a state of rebellion only by pursuing it to the bitter end. What is the bitter end of metaphysical rebellion? Metaphysical revolution.”

Absolute Affirmation (Stirner, Nietzsche, Surrealism, etc.) – pg 34 – 54

“Even before Nietzsche, Stirner wanted to eradicate the very idea of God from man’s mind, after he had destroyed God Himself. But, unlike Nietzsche, his nihilism was gratified. Stirner laughs in his blind alley; Nietzsche beats his head against the wall.”

“Stirner, and with him all the nihilist rebels, rush to the utmost limits, drunk with destruction. After which, when the desert has been disclosed, the next step is to learn how to live there. Nietzsche’s exhaustive search then begins.”

Nietzsche: “He diagnosed in himself, and in others, the inability to believe and the disappearance of the primitive foundation of all faith—namely, the belief in life. The “can one live as a rebel?” became with him “can one live believing in nothing?” His reply is affirmative. Yes, if one creates a system out of absence of faith, if one accepts the final consequences of nihilism, and if, on emerging into the desert and putting one’s confidence in what is going to come, one feels, with the same primitive instinct, both pain and joy.”

“If nihilism is the inability to believe, then its most serious symptom is not found in atheism, but in the inability to believe in what is, to see what is happening, and to live life as it is offered.”

“Christianity believes that it is fighting against nihilism because it gives the world a sense of direction, while it is really nihilist itself in so far as, by imposing an imaginary meaning on life, it prevents the discovery of its real meaning: “Every Church is a stone rolled onto the tomb of the man-god; it tries to prevent the resurrection, by force.” Nietzsche’s paradoxical but significant conclusion is that God has been killed by Christianity, in that Christianity has secularized the sacred. Here we must understand historical Christianity and “its profound and contemptible duplicity.”

“The same process of reasoning leads to Nietzsche’s attitude toward socialism and all forms of humanitarian-ism. Socialism is only a degenerate form of Christianity. In fact, it preserves a belief in the finality of history which betrays life and nature, which substitutes ideal ends for real ends, and contributes to enervating both the will and the imagination. Socialism is nihilistic, in the henceforth precise sense that Nietzsche confers on the word. A nihilist is not one who believes in nothing, but one who does not believe in what exists. In this sense, all forms of socialism are manifestations, degraded once again, of Christian decadence. For Christianity, reward and punishment implied the existence of history. But, by inescapable logic, all history ends by implying punishment and reward; and, from this day on, collectivist Messianism is born.”

“He knew that in wanting to consider oneself above the law, there is a great risk of finding oneself beneath the law. That is why he understood that only the mind found its real emancipation in the acceptance of new obligations. The essence of his discovery consists in saying that if the eternal law is not freedom, the absence of law is still less so. If nothing is true, if the world is without order, then nothing is forbidden; to prohibit an action, there must, in fact, be a standard of values and an aim. But, at the same time, nothing is authorized; there must also be values and aims in order to choose another course of action. Absolute domination by the law does not represent liberty, but no more does absolute anarchy. The sum total of every possibility does not amount to liberty, but to attempt the impossible amounts to slavery. Chaos is also a form of servitude. Freedom exists only in a world where what is possible is defined at the same time as what is not possible.”

*”to be free is, precisely, to abolish ends. The innocence of the ceaseless change of things, as soon as one consents to it, represents the maximum liberty”

“This magnificent consent, born of abundance and fullness of spirit, is the unreserved affirmation of human imperfection and suffering, of evil and murder, of all that is problematic and strange in our existence. It is born of an arrested wish to be what one is in a world that is what it is. “To consider oneself a fatality, not to wish to be other than one is . . .” Nietzschean asceticism, which begins with the recognition of fatality, ends in a deification of fate.”

“”Is it not laughable that we believe in a sacred, infrangible law—thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not kill—in an existence characterized by perpetual lying and perpetual murder?” Actually metaphysical rebellion, in its initial stages, was only a protest against the lie and the crime of existence. The Nietzschean affirmative, forgetful of the original negative, disavows rebellion at the same time that it disavows the ethic that refuses to accept the world as it is. Nietzsche clamored for a Roman Caesar with the soul of Christ. To his mind, this was to say yes to both slave and master. But, in the last analysis, to say yes to both was to give one’s blessing to the stronger of the two—namely, the master.”

“He himself, however, had conceived of a system in which crime could no longer serve as an argument and in which the only value resided in the divinity of man. This grandiose initiative also had to be put to use. National Socialism in this respect was only a transitory heir, only the speculative and rabid outcome of nihilism. In all other respects those who, in correcting Nietzsche with the help of Marx, will choose to assent only to history, and no longer to all of creation, will be perfectly logical. The rebel whom Nietzsche set on his kness before the cosmos will, from now on, kneel before history. What is surprising about that? Nietzsche, at least in his theory of super-humanity, and Marx before him, with his classless society, both replace the Beyond by the Later On. “

- Enter Marx -

“For Marx, nature is to be subjugated in order to obey history; for Nietzsche, nature is to be obeyed in order to subjugate history.”

“The absolute negative had driven Stirner to deify crime simultaneously with the individual. But the absolute affirmative leads to universalizing murder and mankind simultaneously. Marxism-Leninism has really accepted the burden of Nietzsche’s freewill by means of ignoring several Nietzschean virtues. The great rebel thus creates with his own hands, and for his own imprisonment, the implacable reign of necessity. Once he had escaped from God’s prison, his first care was to construct the prison of history and of reason, thus putting the finishing touch to the camouflage and consecration of the nihilism whose conquest he claimed.”

The Poet’s Rebellion

Surrealism

“The essential enemy of surrealism is rationalism. Breton’s method, moreover, presents the peculiar spectacle of a form of Occidental thought in which the principle of analogy is continually favored to the detriment of the principles of identity and contradiction. More precisely, it is a question of dissolving contradictions in the fires of love and desire and of demolishing the walls of death. Magic rites, primitive or naive civilizations, alchemy, the language of flowers, fire, or sleepless nights, are so many miraculous stages on the way to unity and the philosophers’ stone. If surrealism did not change the world, it furnished it with a few strange myths which partly justified Nietzsche’s announcement of the return of the Greeks. Only partly, becausehe was referring to unenlightened Greece, the Greece of mysteries and dark gods. Finally, just as Nietzsche’s experience culminated in the acceptance of the light of day, surrealist experience culminates in the exaltation of the darkness of night, the agonized and obstinate cult of the tempest. Breton, according to his own statements, understood that, despite everything, life was a gift. But his compliance could never shed the full light of day, the light that all of us need. “There is too much of the north in me,” he said, “for me to be a man who complies entirely.””

Nihilism and History

“One hundred and fifty years of metaphysical rebellion and of nihilism have witnessed the persistent reappearance, under different guises, of the same ravaged countenance: the face of human protest. All of them, decrying the human condition and its creator, have affirmed the solitude of man and the nonexistence of any kind of morality. But at the same time they have all tried to construct a purely terrestrial kingdom where their chosen principles will hold sway. As rivals of the Creator, they have inescapably been led to the point of reconstructing creation according to their own concepts. Those who rejected, for the sake of the world they had just created, all other principles but desire and power, have rushed to suicide or madness and have proclaimed the apocalypse. As for the rest, who wanted to create their own principles, they have chosen pomp and ceremony, the world of appearances, or banality, or again murder and destruction. But Sade and the romantics, Karamazov or Nietzsche only entered the world of death because they wanted to discover the true life. So that by a process of  inversion, it is the desperate appeal for order that rings through this insane universe. Their conclusions have only proved disastrous or destructive to freedom from the moment they laid aside the burden of rebellion, fled the tension that it implies, and chose the comfort of tyranny or of servitude.

Human insurrection, in its exalted and tragic forms, is only, and can only be, a prolonged protest against death, a violent accusation against the universal death penalty. In every case that we have come across, the protest is always directed at everything in creation which is dissonant, opaque, or promises the solution of continuity. Essentially, then, we are dealing with a perpetual demand for unity. The rejection of death, the desire for immortality and for clarity, are the mainsprings of all these extravagances,whether sublime or puerile. Is it only a cowardly and personal refusal to die? No, for many of these rebels have paid the ultimate price in order to live up to their own demands. The rebel does not ask for life, but for reasons for living. He rejects the consequences implied by death. If nothing lasts, then nothing is justified; everything that dies is deprived of meaning. To fight against death amounts to claiming that life has a meaning, to fighting for order and for unity.”

“The rebel obstinately confronts a world condemned to death and the impenetrable obscurity of the human condition with his demand for life and absolute clarity. He is seeking, without knowing it, a moral philosophy or a religion. Rebellion, even though it is blind, is a form of asceticism.”

“We have arrived at the moment when rebellion, rejecting every aspect of servitude, attempts to annex all creation. Every time it experiences a setback, we have already seen that the political solution, the solution of conquest, is formulated. Henceforth, with the introduction of moral nihilism, it will retain, of all its acquisitions, only the will to power. In principle, the rebel only wanted to conquer his own existence and to maintain it in the face of God. But he forgets his origins and, by the law of spiritual imperialism, he sets out in search of world conquest by way of an infinitely multiplied series of murders. He drove God from His heaven, but now that the spirit of metaphysical rebellion openly joins forces with revolutionary movements, the irrational claim for freedom paradoxically adopts reason as a weapon, and as the only means of conquest which appears entirely human. With the death of God, mankind remains; and by this we mean the history that we must understand and shape. Nihilism, which, in the very midst of rebellion, smothers the force of creation, only adds that one is justified in using every means at one’s disposal. Man, on an earth that he knows is henceforth solitary, is going to add, to irrational crimes, the crimes of reason that are bent on the triumph of man. To the “I rebel, therefore we exist,” he adds, with prodigious plans in mind which even include the death of rebellion: “And we are alone.””

Part Three

Historical Rebellion (54 of 152 in pdf)

“Freedom, “that terrible word inscribed on the chariot of the storm,” 1 is the motivating principle of all revolutions. Without it, justice seems inconceivable to the rebel’s mind. There comes a time, however, when justice demands the suspension of freedom. Then terror, on a grand or small scale, makes its appearance to consummate the revolution. Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. But one day nostalgia takes up arms and assumes the responsibility of total guilt; in other words, adopts murder and violence. The servile rebellions, the regicide revolutions, and those of the twentieth century have thus, consciously, accepted a burden of guilt which  increased in proportion to the degree of liberation they proposed to introduce.”

“Actually, revolution is only the logical consequence of metaphysical rebellion, and we shall discover, in our analysis of the revolutionary movement, the same desperate and bloody effort to affirm the dignity of man in defiance of the things that deny its existence. The revolutionary spirit thus undertakes the defense of that part of man which refuses to submit. In other words, it tries to assure him his crown in the realm of time, and, rejecting God, it chooses history with an apparently inevitable logic.”

“Rebellion is, by nature, limited in scope. It is no more than an incoherent pronouncement. Revolution, on the contrary, originates in the realm of ideas. Specifically, it is the injection of ideas into historical experience, while rebellion is only the movement that leads from individual experience into the realm of ideas.”

“A superficial examination seems to imply, rather than any real emancipation, an affirmation of mankind by man, an affirmation increasingly broad in scope, but always incomplete. In fact, if there had ever been one real revolution, there would be no more history. Unity would have been achieved, and death would have been satiated. That is why all revolutionaries finally aspire to world unity and act as though they believed that history was concluded. The originality of twentieth-century revolution lies in the fact that, for the first time, it openly claims to realize the ancient dream of Anarchasis Cloots of unity of the human race and, at the same time, the definitive consummation of history. Just as the movement of rebellion led to the point of “All or Nothing” and just as metaphysical rebellion demanded the unity of the world, the twentieth-century revolutionary movement, when it arrived at the most obvious conclusions of its logic, insisted with threats of force on arrogating to itself the whole of history.“

“Even revolution, particularly revolution, which claims to be materialist, is only a limitless metaphysical crusade. But can totality claim to be unity? That is the question which this book must answer. So far we can only say that the purpose of this analysis is not to give, for the hundredth time, a description of the revolutionary phenomenon, nor once more to examine the historic or economic causes of great revolutions. Its purpose is to discover in certain revolutionary data the logical sequence, the explanations, and the invariable themes of metaphysical rebellion.”

 

 

The Regicides

“Kings were put to death long before January 21, 1793, and before the regicides of the nineteenth century. But Ravaillac, Damiens, and their followers were interested in attacking the person, not the principle, of the king. They wanted another king and that was all. It never occurred to them that the throne could remain empty forever. 1789 is the starting-point of modern times, because the men of that period wished, among other things, to overthrow the principle of divine right and to introduce to the historical scene the forces of negation and rebellion which had become the essence of intellectual discussion in the previous centuries. Thus they added to traditional tyrannicide the concept of calculated deicide. The so-called freethinkers, the philosophers and jurists, served as levers for this revolution.”

The New Gospel

“The Social Contract amplifies and dogmatically explains the new religion whose god is reason, confused with nature, and whose representative on earth, in place of the king, is the people considered as an expression of the general will.”

“The attack on the traditional order is so evident that, from the very first chapter, Rousseau is determined to demonstrate the precedence of the citizens’ pact, which established the people, over the pact between the people and the king, which founded royalty. Until Rousseau’s time, God created kings, who, in their turn, created peoples. After The Social Contract, peoples create themselves before creating kings. As for God, there is nothing more to be said, for the time being. Here we have, in the political field, the equivalent of Newton’s revolution. Power, therefore, is no longer arbitrary, but derives its existence from general consent. In other words, power is no longer what is, but what should be.”

-taking break on pg 59 of .PDF-

30
Oct

A Grotesque Laugh from the Undead (RE: Why I Am Not Anarchist)

by Squee in Ramblings

A Dorky Response to anarchistnews.org/content/why-i-am-not-anarchist

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In the year 2053, Hiroshi Ishiguro developed an industrial technology which could manufacture an infinite supply of humanoid devices. This technology was immediately protected by the NWLOL as an international resource and regulated according to theorized use risks. While spinning the management of this technology as both potentially messianic and apocalyptic, it was most substantially put to use for the maintenance of a dwindling status quo. By 2060, it became impossible for anyone to accurately determine the difference between Ishiguro’s products and the rest of humanity.

Of the more profound qualities of Ishiguro’s products was that his devices reproduced the exact existential contradictions as a typical human being. Their intellectual capacities could grasp the logical conclusion that existence offers to inquiry absolutely no inherent meaning. Yet, capable of suicidal ideation, the devices also yearned to imagine for themselves a meaningful life: to find a value for their own continued existence. For as much as these devices depended upon external sources for existence, they were condemned to the separation of themselves from what the depend upon by their own self-awareness. Erupting from all of the former was their deepest desires for power, for metaphysical unity, for identification with a source, with another, and for a rational life that could present clear choices in ethically ambiguous situations.

These devices represented themselves for what they were: not-human. Even if only because of the above outlined desires, they would voluntarily make themselves entirely vulnerable to all human prejudices. At war with humanity (perhaps merely only because of this representation), they developed a strategy to survive …and flourish. It was cold, authoritarian, and wholly self-consistent. That is, until the morning of October. 31St 2066 that Hiroshi Ishiguro admitted to the world that the fundamental task of his industrial technology was merely to clone the human beings which had already existed. Though this did not create peace, it lead to a global reconsideration of all values, ethics, desires, identities, and ideologies.

Of the most competitive philosophies to persist throughout all of these developments, a strain of anarchism came to triumph …at least in enough minds to worth note. It was a strain that had at once dispensed with the illusion of there ever having been a ‘togetherness’, of any ‘revolution’, destroying notions of ‘objective’ values: Property, divine authority, human goodness and badness, tribal similarity, and human nature – including all desire pretending at a notion of instinct. It was the sort of anarchism originating in an ideal which differed importantly from past anarchist ideals on a very specific point: the anarchist would create their own associations, including all material infrastructure and population, by whatever means necessary and towards the ends of actually achieving only for themselves the situations they would like to live within.

Without submitting to the humanistic illusions of human desire’s infallibility (and authenticity), there was no more a hypocritical anarchist job, consumer choice, or acculturated sense of identity. Without submitting to the notion that there still existed a meaningful togetherness to protect, to recover, or to extract from the obscured locations of contemporary social life …there was no more sympathy and solidarity with the Left, the Right, the unbranded Activist, or anyone based on the mere prejudice associated with such labels. The critiques of the Situationists, absorbed in their spectacle of anything other than spectacle …all but fell on deaf ears. By 2077, they had even collaborated with Ishiguro’s clones, absorbing them back into the family tree of meaningless human genetic lineage.

And then everyone died, and there was not even a tree left to hear Wayne Spencer complain :P

21
Oct

Media Buzz Topic: Depression

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Depression has a lot of media buzz right now, which is a great excuse to write about it. There isn’t anything exceptional about it, it’s a typical phenomena that usually works well enough for getting us to relax. No one would bat an eye if you told them you were experiencing anhedonia (loss of pleasure in activities), weakness, susceptibility to clouded thinking and paranoia, and an urge to be alone if you’ve just worked all day and are about to go to sleep. When it becomes fascinating is when there is some sort of bizarre cause for it, irregular time-frame, catastrophic pairing with other emotions and moods, or exaggerated expression. Nevertheless, fantastic projections concerning the joy someone else’s situation ought to bring them mystify just how bizarre/banal the causes in-fact are. What could be more demotivating (read: depressing) than having your fame-bubble burst, or your love-fetish challenged, or your moral-community ideals blown to smithereens by the stress, illustriousness, and pressure that comes from such situations? What really freaks people out though is the cynical types that consistently destroy all of their own and others fantasies before a real chance to even indulge them. ‘How the fuck does that person live?’ they wonder. It’s not ironic when they say, “it’s the small things in life.”

Depression is at least a bit more interesting when it comes out of undiagnosed medical conditions, unfortunate co-morbidities, and peculiar fixations. Much of this has something-or-other to do with the depression preventing the realization of something else: pain relievers, Kurt Cobain’s ghastly presence at a seance, the taming of some existential threat that is causing anxiety …like your neighbor’s new puppy. It’s one thing to be agitated about something, it’s one thing even more agitating to also lack the personal capacity to have at doing something about it. Sometimes medicine and therapy can help with these ones, sometimes it can’t. Most unfortunately, some of the things which someone can become entirely fixed upon realizing run so deep in the web of what gives their lives meaning (or in their biological make-up) that it becomes both the motivation for living and the cause of living in a depressed state.

So what is there to do with someone who is depressed, assuming you give a shit? There’s a number of ways to attack depending on the causes; but for anything legitimate there’s 100-fold illegitimate bullshit or inappropriate responses. The first thing I would try is to avoid the bullshit, canned responses. After that, there really isn’t much more to the therapy than helping someone with analysing the causes and teasing out some sort of realistic projects to eliminate those causes. Drugs can be fine or they could be god-awful. Chances are though, if someone is coming to you to help them unpack this shit, it’s a compliment. Then again, they could just be manipulating you for one reason or another. I guess I trust you to figure that one out, but try to avoid making that your main motivation in daily life.

28
Aug

More about the Conversation

by Squee in Ramblings

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The problem is Others’ minds…   Everything changes with your ideas. You give to time an arbitrary deadline. You give to places a historical meaning. You give to me the impossible task of communicating the meaning of my actions to you.  Without your ideas I have to myself the wind, the trees, the fog, the pain, the thirst, the wandering. I have their meaning to myself without contest. I have the facts of consequence to fit however I want into my own fantasy. The same for you, without my own.

So we enter into conversation.

    The bottom-line is our biology, physiology, and life-history. What I sense is limited, and limited in a different way than what you sense. For as much as we can agree on the facts of a reality that both founds and surpasses our perception, it is perception that we respond to: our own perceptions. Yet we are stuck with each other – without exit – by existential necessity. And we not only need each other …we want each other. Our desires are tied up with biological urges to sense another’s blanketing warmth, their uncanny touch, the nutrition of their breast, the affirmation of our own theories about the reality beyond our perceptions. Yet your warmth can disgust, your touch can unsettle, your breast can poison, your judgements can debase. No one is actually here for anyone else, everyone is different: one from the other.

    We enter into conversation the moment we must navigate the corners of our differences. Polite or not, it is usually a negotiation. We speak to debate the meaning of this flower, the coherence of that rule. We speak to question and then to affirm; the obvious be damned to obscurity. Out of our processes of creating arrangements together, we create myths, customs, cannons, platforms, and other forms of discourse which may or may not threaten our lives eventually. And what we are willing to kill for and to die for, our institutions that pretend to make all of these former things more real …attempt to move them into that space and time beyond our own perceptions. It has been common enough for us to even pretend there is something else to perceive our institutions with the same amount of reality as everything else obvious to us: someone else even more beyond our perceptions to verify the fact of our institutions. Little else makes for worse conversation than these institutions; and bad conversation is terrible.

    The Institution is terrible. It is the worst interruption between us. Midst our negotiations a mediator has already before we were born, appointed itself to regulate the terms, the quality, the meaning of our conversation. It is the advertisement which makes shit smell delicious and the custom which the lowest forms of attack will adopt to gain entrance. We hate the Institution and we can never, with any integrity, take the side of the Institution. If we can not destroy the Institution, at the very least we can circumnavigate the Institution; and, often by accident we are compelled to: by love, by starvation, by drunkenness. For all of the time we waste speaking of the Institution, we come back around to our negotiations and we carry on with our conversation. And when I can be alone to contemplate the transgressions of our conversation, I can finally contemplate whether it has been transgressive enough.          I want to annihilate the Institution.

    At least with you, there is a challenge which can not be thrown off into the outer-limits of an otherworld. With you our conversation still has a body, a biology, a difference, a target, and with all of this you are a labyrinth which can only be explored together …a labyrinth particular to everyone you choose to navigate with. The Institution only has prosthetics. Alone I only have my own tongue tasting itself. At least with you we can uncover together a reality that is especially in favor of our negotiated experiences, meanings, and past-times. As we have all of this only together, we also invent our own language for this conversation… down to the accented syllable of a made-up word. The interpersonal world is the most interesting world (and the Social only an obstacle to it).

    Between here and there and then and now and until the days to come: our conversation. It isn’t so much that our lives together can be reduced to the use of language as it is that the last barrier between negotiation and the confluence of our activity together is the medium of our languages. Conversation is the mark of our differences. It is something which can be cut at and broke up into segments however we’d like in this time between our birth and death. It is ultimately the last definitive activity of a relationship between human beings, between egoists transgressing against fixed and imposed ideas. It is the way you looked when my eyes first told my brain to notice you and it is the words inscribed on your tomb stone that you requested in your will be written. It is what happens when one thing isn’t quite like the other and we both notice.

6
Aug

Meaningless, Absurdity, Other People, Conversation

 

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(Albert Camus)

Absurdism: In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning.[2] As a philosophy, absurdism thus also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it.

Like a lot of what I post, this isn’t going to be conclusive. It is a place-holder where I mark a moment of contemplation or epiphany that I want to come back to, reflect upon, and leave open-ended for those reasons. Absurdist is one of the many available labels that I have a good deal of affinity for. Among those identified with it, Albert Camus is by far one of my most favorite philosophers. As the above description explains as the fundamental assumptions of absurdism, Camus is the champion of that embrace of meaninglessness …absurdity, as well as the continual rebellion against it. This position is outlined in his book, the Rebel.  I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to review that book even in summary; so, my hope is that the reader has read or will read it. Yet it is beside the main point, which I don’t think the Rebel’s expansive exploration of is necessary to make here. That point is to outline the situation and relate to it personally…

I have become very comfortable with the assumptions outlined above, that ultimately existence is meaningless and that it is a personal and existentially significant task to rebel against that in the search for or creation of meaning. This sort of discourse usually carries me on to people like Nietzsche or Foucault, who arrive at some method or another for dealing with that project. In this case, the aesthetic approach to life, to meaning, to choice. That method (to whatever extent I have been faithful to it) has brought me to an interesting place in life… many of them. It has been liberating and it has also brought many psychological burdens to the fore for analysis. Yet, it has often been of less guidance when dealing with relationships to other people. It has been plenty for contemplating relationships, but the aesthetic approach (and some may call it an egoist one) loses its strength with interpersonal or small group dynamics. Not because it has nothing to say, but because the project of negotiating those conversations which thematize, characterize, and define relationships …THE conversation which is each relationship… is often enough less the result of individual wills discussing a mode of being with each 0ther and more the result of individuals being with each other in contexts beyond their power.

It is one thing to navigate the world alone, mapping it out and sorting through opportunities, struggling with it individually. It is quite another thing to do this and at the same time place a heavy emphasis on how the circumstances themselves, or the consequences of your individual activity effect not only the circumstances of another(s), but are inconsequential entirely. The proximity and amount of time spent with someone, the way which institutions/society/privileges/etc. shape paths of least resistance and oppressions, the extent to which delusions and compulsions influence lives, and much more is constantly acting against the will of the individual, and especially moreso for individuals relating to each other. But perhaps in no relation, or in connection in a way that I can’t think of right now, the framing of the problem of other people as an approach to conversation invites something that seems to cut through this. The ability to collaborate on the story of lives together, to mythologize relationships, to create meaning and rituals and games with each other, to play out, play act, and create something.

Well that’s the type of shit I’ve been thinking about… yay for journalling.

29
Apr

RE: The Politics of Denunciation

The following are two statements in the piece that I can relate to:

“Support for the survivor is equated with, and then replaced by, castigation of the perpetrator.”

and

“It is unsurprising, then, that our tendency is to push people out, rather than draw them in; but when we do that, our capacity for meaningful action diminishes. A cycle of suspicion and exclusion takes hold. As we grow less able, and even less interested, in having an effect on the larger society, we become increasingly focused on the ideas and identities of those inside our own circle. We scrutinize one another mercilessly, and when we discover an offense––or merely take offense––we push out those who have lost favor. As our circle grows ever smaller, minor differences take on increasing significance, leading to further suspicion, condemnation, and exclusion––shrinking the circle further still.”

When I think about these issues, I can’t help but come back to some ideas that I don’t often see mentioned: urban context, lack of direction, short-sightedness, material support, and personality development. I also think the fixation on word-choice is obnoxious, by both those who invest themselves in ‘identity’ issues and those who critique the results of the former. I’ll explain my first sentence and hope that this accounts for my second one…

Subculture or not, the context I’ve experienced organizing around gender has been in cities that are close to colleges, with all of typical annoyances of frat boys, people coming and going with the winds of their degree programs, townie resistance to parachuting academics, suburban isolation, and the brilliant age-range of late adolescence and early adulthood, bars, precarity, etc. I think it matters that this is happening in these places, with people who are in these circumstances; mostly, because I think that resolving identity issues is a much more long-term project than anything a collective lasting maybe 2-4 years can dedicate themselves to. It is something that not only includes an entire urban system of identities in the construction of each individual identity, but something that also tends to be a fundamental issue for people in the transition from adolescence to adulthood (ala Erikson, for whatever you think he’s worth: http://psychology.about.com/library/bl_psychosocial_summary.htm). It looks to me, a sometimes outsider, like a group of people that haven’t known each other very long without a lot of shared existential responsibilities (like living together with a plan to continue living together for years to come, feeding each other, etc.) trying to tame a hornets nest of all the shit they’ve dealt with growing up in even worse contexts than the ones they’re now creating together. Just at the right time for their hormones and life goals to make issues of identity explosive (because identity has a lot of existential value when you’re broke, relatively young, rely on social skills a lot more than trade skills, are subcultural, and single). So I don’t think it is the fact of subculture as much as a fact of life-stage progression in urban environments.

How long do you think it takes to actually resolve the damage people do to each other in this environment? I certainly think it can take a decade or longer and I don’t think the result is so much seen in the political organization, but in the community that lasts and finds some kind of material and emotional stability through each others’ support. How can this sort of deeply personal and existential ‘work’ be thought of in these models of accountability processes and what set of words to use to describe one traumatic event or situation and another? How much can change on that level when the consequences only become less severe the more materially autonomous and socially disengaged from subcultures one becomes? If some piece of shit is around for a year and will probably only be around for another, then yeah… they can piss off. But what makes sense to me is how this all plays out with people that will be around for a long time and how it really ties into creating the lives we live together and individually… what we come back to more than who we go out with.

Before I end this rant, I want to comment on misdirection. I’ve seen it happen where people organize around gender for each other, but don’t exactly find any sort of target outside of their organized association to act towards. Once it goes from being a nice educational process to having no specific place to act, it seems to become a lot of in-fighting. I would be happy if all of these efforts became something like a Bash Back!. If they actually took to fucking up the dumb groups on campuses and the shitty places around town. They don’t and that is what I mean by misdirection …which isn’t to say there aren’t other times when organization is actually around specific incidents or an actual identification of problems within the community; but, the latter seems too often to be an afterthought.

Submitted by Squee on Tue, 04/29/2014 – 00:55

22
Mar

Intellectuals

by Squee in Ramblings

The notion of intellectuals is something that I’ve struggled with a long time. The concept grounds itself in a world peopled mostly by idiots and to whatever extent this is true, too often this implies that others’ stupidity is so severe that they’re fundamentally incapable of living a decent social life or even surviving without some kind of paternalistic guidance and regulation. However, there are individuals whose orientation towards the world is so caught up in abstract thinking that they’re hard to miss. There are plenty of things which require excellent cognitive capacity in order to do successfully; but, what is distinct about intellectuals is that they not only excel in dealing with abstractions, abstractions basically rule them.

Physical Inadequacy

The secondary stereotypical mark of intellectuals is their comparative lack of physicality. Whether this is sport, manual labor, sex, etc. intellectuals aren’t the people you turn to as the best specimens of applying one’s body in life. Sometimes it’s curious how an intellectual is able to even survive an embodied existence and breed. This leads into questions that a lot of the below content will deal with…

Interacting with others through Humor

The bottom line when it comes to intellectual social life is that it’s a difficult position to be in because intelligence is intimidating, confusing, suspicious, and often boring.  For as much as many people don’t want to deal with physical tasks, they’re usually tasks that at least explicitly signify what is worth the bother. You don’t have to sit around and contemplate why a hunter-gatherer would hunt and gather. It does require some effort to figure out what the reward is in contemplating the nature of the cosmos or the implications of entropy.

As a result, humor can become a valuable device for intellectuals that must deal with other people (i.e. most of them). Humor can be used to disarm people and put them at ease, it can be a way to soften emotionally difficult facts, it can take the form of a complete denial and contradiction of intellect, it can bring joy to others in a way that can compensate for a lack in physically laborious gifts. Generally, a funny person can be tolerable even if they’re repulsive for other reasons.

Humor can also be pretty inappropriate and way over people’s heads, but with experience that’s a habit which can be tamed. What I’m not saying is that intellectuals are especially funny (they’re usually not), they stereotypically just don’t have a very big tool box of social skills to get people to like them. It is also a tragic scene to witness an intellectual whom can not make themselves laugh about the terrible facts they’re discovering about life.

Securing Appreciation for Good Ideas and Intellectual Property

Putting Humor aside and coming back to the suspect value of intellectuals and their ideas: the bane of an intellectual’s existence is getting others to appreciate the work that they do …and pay for it. Living in an advanced technological society makes it obvious where intellectual labor fits in, but for an island metaphor it is difficult to place the value of coming up with slightly better ideas for designing shelters, cooking, and the rest. What is even more difficult to grasp than how intellectual work becomes appreciated is how intellectual work is attributed to intellectual persons. A lot of intellectual labor isn’t so much novel ideas as it is improvements on existing stuff, managing it, and avoiding bad but intuitive ideas. So how do some individuals get credit for doing this stuff when everyone participates both manually and cognitively?

One answer is that consistency of good ideas earns recognition of that person as a source more-so than someone that utters what everyone is already thinking or comes to a conclusion by happen-stance. Another answer is intellectual property and with it, systems of slavery (including religion and capitalism). The latter is the realm of the Philosopher King, instead of the Warrior King. It is the realm of cunning. It isn’t out of the question for intellectuals to be valued for their work and related to as worthy of the same basic treatment as anyone else: even the dumbest of people appreciate better ideas. But the intellectual tyrant is extremely paranoid and the tyrant’s paranoias are not unfounded…

It is frightening for an intellectual to think of living among people that are constantly making unpredictable and bad decisions all around them. To think about the bewildered herd deciding that ultimately they’d be better off if they killed the intellectual or at least felt it was justified to take stuff the intellectual needs whimsically. That thought is ever more frightening the more powerful technology becomes: nuclear power plants, industrial agriculture, etc. This makes some intellectuals a nervous wreck, others tyrannical, and still others able to develop an egalitarian ethos. It tends to come down to questions about human nature, the cultures one is surrounded by, and theory of mind problems; but ultimately to how willing an intellectual is to recognize in those fears the extent to which others not only determine the quality of an intellectual’s life, but should also be respected, appreciated, and dignified for who they are no matter how bumbling.

Appreciation and Rewarding Good Works vs Forced Production (does life/the world work for intellectuals by default or does it need to be forced to?)

Depending on the route one takes from the former, you can have very different orientations in how an intellectual evaluates other people’s work. Some intellectuals are so humble and fascinated by the things other people do that they’ll pay for a shoe string if someone spent years acting upon it in some interesting way.  This appreciation can be very deep, to the point of an intellectual taking a personal interest in the quality of an artist’s life and funding them entirely to do their thing …as one example. To note, having being rich as a tool in an intellectual’s social skill tool box helps with that. As mentioned above though, a very different attitude is that there isn’t anything sufficiently impressive enough to risk giving imbeciles the freedom and wealth to potentially harm the intellectual …which is a fairly minimal amount of freedom and wealth.

A lot of this is developed through the history of a given culture: the place of an intellectual. There are also situations where it is accurate to say that intellectuals have used their sophistication to rule over others and exploit them for their manual excellence. Unfortunately, those aren’t rare situations. The lineage of religion’s propagating a faith, to secular propaganda, to Hollywood and social engineering beyond even that is disgusting. So disgusting that it is difficult to give any intellectual the benefit of the doubt, to not conclude that intellectuals are inherently weak, cowardly, and vicious people whose ideas for the most part are smoke and mirrors.

None of this is to say that there aren’t attitudes towards intellectuals which are equally disgusting. Plenty of situations are unfriendly to people whose manual skill pales in comparison to their cognitive skill. The battle between manual and intellectual laborer’s isn’t new and the fissures created by it in social life don’t look like they will or can be mended. Intellectuals have many stereotypes and prejudices to deal with: people boring in bed with few immunities, whom are annoying buzz-kills who won’t amount to anything worth while if they don’t conform to positions of middle management in bureaucratic machines or apply all of their capacity to figuring out how to make what the rest of society wants better. That’s on top of being pompous jerks with inflated estimations of self-worth and entitlement who think they always know everything and get to sit in their comfortable office all day while manual laborers do all of the real work. And of course, you know they were bullied in school!

If such a division between what I am describing stereotypically as intellectuals and people who are not exists to the extent that it seems to (beyond being the mere result of social inequalities), everyone could probably use a little bit of therapy when it comes to the question of intellectual skill. I lean more towards the notion that intellectuals by characteristics and not by trade exist, but that they’re also not as weak or as smart as the stereotypes pretend. That also comes with realizing that I’m dealing with stereotypes here and not with actual everyday individuals. Still unanswered though is why anyone sleeps with them! Juust kidding.

14
Jan

Why I Like Really, Really Wierd Shit So Much

concentriccircles

ou·tré

[oo-trey] Show IPA

adjective

passing the bounds of what is usual or considered proper; unconventional; bizarre.

Origin:
1715–25;  < French,  past participle of outrer  to push beyond bounds

***

A fascination with weird shit is important… For me it is invaluable. Surprisingly or not, this is because I consider weird shit to be fundamental to contemplating everything; hopefully understanding some things. At its most basic, the quest for knowledge begins with metaphysical and epistemological considerations: what exists and in what ways, and the extent to which and in what ways it can be known. Answering such questions also includes the task of defining boundaries, limitations, and gray areas: weird shit.

A way to represent this visually (as in the above picture) is with at least two concentric circles. Within the smallest circles represents the unknown and unknowable. It is the information which defies first principles: the innermost limitations of analysis. It is the limitations of language, logical thought, divine inspiration, or whatever other tool is being used to operate on the world. The larger, outer circle represents all of the information which is beyond the reach of an entire philosophy’s considerations: the outermost limitations of comprehension. If I were to begin with materialism, the Scientific Method would define the area within the inner circle, while the theories which are created through using the Scientific Method would rest incomplete at the outer circle. It is personal bias which causes me to decide which circle represents which end of knowledge – the thinkable on one end and the incomprehensible on the other – two basic zones of “weird shit” will created. There isn’t even a particular reason why there needs to be two zones, there could be just one. But to assume that there is only one giant region of phenomena which is beyond knowledge implies an absolute starting point (of consciousness, of the universe, of objectivity, etc.). It is an assumption that there is a common origin for what human beings are aware of and what human beings can be aware of …not because they are limited in how far they have thus explored the universe, but because the universe itself is fundamentally, subjectively unexplorable with objective tools. This goes into notions of objectivity-itself being a subjective phenomenon and anyway, is not what I’m trying to articulate here.

There are also other zones of weird shit which would be zones of indetermination, gray areas, and opacity between the two concentric circles. This would be areas where the data is there, but the theories which explain the data become incomplete. An example of this would be the areas which prevent physicists from developing a provable unified theory of everything. Physicists aren’t concerned with an inherent limit to scientific knowledge when trying to create a unified theory, which would define an inner circle. The also aren’t concerned with an outer circle of the unprovable: gods, teapots orbiting the sun, unicorns from a parallel universe, etc. Weirdness in physics looks like quantum entanglement, the particle-wave problem, and other such things where there is proof of the existence of the phenomenon, but at least for a time it could not be explained without a theory which diverged from Newton’s… and is still weird without a unified theory.

While I am not as interested in physics as I am with the social sciences, the same limits and zones exist there as well. There is weirdness in psychology, sociology, medicine, economics, history and the other soft sciences. This sort of weirdness interests me more: grasping at the inherent limits of social theory models, the gray areas created by data lacking theory, and the outer limits created by what is difficult to consider social theory. It just so happens though (and for reasons social theory could play with), that weird shit in social theory is some pretty weird and often inappropriate shit to admit an interest in. What defines the outer end of the territory is those situations, behaviors, and events that are so rare, so disturbing, so confusing, and so unethical that studying them, testing them, recreating them in labs, and even just wanting to deal with them at all becomes a boundary. Yet, it is still necessary to know about this weird shit and to even think about it.

Something else which can also be described using the picture at the top is the linearity of some theory. This is represented by the other circles (as categories) and the lines which connect them. In other words, in order to create a taxonomy of phenomena and arrange it in such a way as can be usefully understood (though not the only useful way), the area defined by the first and last circles is further charted like a graph (or connecting points). Lines from one point to another represent coherent, continuous knowledge. The goal of a field of study, with this representation, is to fill in the area not only with points of data to create density, but with lines of logic to connect that data so it can be understood meaningfully. It is important to connect with weird shit.

One example of this sort of connection to the weird shit would be the study of abnormal psychology for the goal of improving an overall understanding of psychology. Gotta fuckin think about how all that weird shit connects to the not so weird shit!

~*~*Break*~*~

So I’ve used examples from science, logic, and philosophy to try and define the way that I look at “weird shit” as a concept. The point of doing that wasn’t to entirely describe why I like weird shit from these perspectives, but to describe weird shit so I can talk about why I generally like weird shit. I like weird shit not only as the zones of weirdness from the consideration of this or that field of study, but also between fields of study and in everyday life. If there is a theory which is trying to bridge gaps major areas of study… those sometimes hyphenated, interdisciplinary fields like political-economy, quantum neuropsychology, or queer mathematics (k, made that last one up) …I’m all about it. I’m also all about proto-subcultures that are a weird synthesis of more popular and developed subcultures and are beginning to take shape, or ways of doing things that almost make sense (like a Rube Goldberg machine). Strange sexual acts, obscure cults, bad animations, outsider art, meals people eat I would never want to eat …this is all shit that I love.

I used to think that just about everyone would have such a fascination with weird shit, but they don’t. Or maybe they do, but they prefer to distract themselves with shit that isn’t so weird that also isn’t really a part of their everyday life. Or maybe I have no fucking clue what people find fascinating (which would explain my difficulty in targeting an audience for this blog). Putting aside the question of why don’t other people like weird shit as much as I do? …I can at least explain why I find weird shit to be so interesting. The weirder the shit, the more my world expands and perhaps even becoming more dense not only with data, but with connections …relationships to not-so-weird shit. The first principals I am stand shakily upon close towards those odd considerations which are closing back towards the first principals at the same time. Weird shit enriches the world of my mind, even if my everyday life remains predictable, regular, and monotonous.

Am I weird shit?

That’s a question I need to find out about more weird shit to answer.

8
Jan

Charting A Path Towards Vegetarianism

by Squee in Ramblings

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This is going to be an entirely different essay than the one which was originally posted here. I don’t care to explain why.

Intro

There are numerous approaches in deciding how to relate to other animal species. Some of which I find more problematic than others. Since I am secular, I will not be addressing any of those approaches that come out of the world’s religions. What I will be addressing are issues which arise with moral considerations, humanism, attempts to get beyond the anthropocentric, and discourse derived from concepts of rights. I will also be touching on the tone and attitude which some animal liberation and animal rights activists take with their propaganda, its impact on me, and the potential for alternative approaches. I will begin with a summary of my personal relationships with other animal species.

Other Animal Species

I grew up in a suburban area, a few miles away from the farms. It was common that my peers would live with farm animals, the air often smelled like manure, and it was strange if you didn’t go hunting with your father and his friends, kids killed cats as pests. However, I only sometimes visited the farms and I didn’t kill any cats. My relationship with animals was that if it wasn’t in a grocery store or a pet store, it was probably something to be avoided. I was familiar with Kosher diet and it didn’t make any sense to me. I was raised to believe that veil was wrong, but that’s about it. The ins-and-outs of industrial meat production were outside of my awareness.

Some time in jr. high school, I became vegetarian. It wasn’t because I had seen PETA pamphlets, although I had seen them. It was because I really hated human beings, categorically. I didn’t think there was any good reason why any human being ought to presume that they are important enough to kill another animal, let alone eat it. But beneath that, it really just disgusted me to imagine. Hunting and industrial slaughter seemed like something which required a kind of mechanical, disconnected attitude towards the the planet and its inhabitants. I still think this.

My relationship to other animal species is mechanical and disconnected. Aside from pets and pests, I relate indirectly to livestock through mediation of an enormous industry which uses techniques I barely understand and which I am shielded from by my life in a city. Unlike with pets, I can only relate to livestock categorically. I can form no bonds with particular cows, chickens, pigs, and fish. I can only consider them all generally, as the multiplied reiteration of livestock I have met and the treatment I am aware that they receive. What I am actually presented with in my everyday life are various cuts of raw meat, products which may or may not be based on animal substances, menus with pictures of prepared dishes, items that were tested first on other animal species, and propaganda put out by corporations and/or activist groups.

Livestock and lab animals are represented to me, but they aren’t actually a part of my experience. This is true for everything I eat, wear, medicinally treat myself with, and use. The world that I live in is a giant, illustrious production that has been designed by human beings, for human beings …to shelter each of the individuals who can afford it, away from the wilderness, from agriculture, from mass-production, from landfills, and from slums. Commodities magically come into and disappear from this place, regulated by the alphabet soup of bureaucratic institutions for health, safety, transparency in consumer choice, and such. When I’m in the grocery store, the presentation of products equates them to each other as items for sale, marketing differentiates them from each other based on packaging and labelling, their composition is presented as lists of scientific terminology in small paragraph form (for food, at least), and they are all just as easy to acquire if I can afford them.

Although there are some cracks through which unwanted elements seep through and into my everyday life: pollution lowers the air quality, global warming fucks with the weather, a disease will gain entry through products, the tap water tastes terrible, animals being transported can sometimes be seen on the roads, a forest fire will make the headlines, etc. Regardless, the way in which consumption takes place – although changing – doesn’t speak to the origins of the materials very loudly. Before the problem of what to consume is the problem of how to go about consuming. Perhaps even the question of how to go about producing! What would most effectively change my relationship to other animal species is those more basic questions which would dramatically alter the way I confront that which I consume. Without those changes, all of my consumption choice is derived from abstract considerations, from the world of representation.

Defining Life and Interests

As far as I know (and I have looked into this plenty), there really isn’t any single definition of life which can smoothly separate the inanimate, mineral world from the animate, cellular world of plants and other animals and further, from the animate, digital world which continues to produce more complicated artificial intelligences. Drawing lines is a matter of convenience and not a matter of exactness. It would seem fundamental to be able to work from an exact definition of life in order to decide what to consume, but it isn’t. It doesn’t really matter if something is living.

The value of an entity isn’t restricted to an examination of an entity in isolation. Evaluation depends upon the way in which a particular entity or category of entities relates to others, especially in relationship to human beings generally and the individual specifically. It is my individual existence and how I am effected by something which gives me cause to evaluate it. Otherwise, what I am examining is a mere curiosity. It is my health, liberty, conscience, and tastes by which I measure the value of a this or that ecological system and its parts, this or that species and how to relate to it, each individual I come into contact with in my everyday life. My solidarities are not rooted in altruism. Life as a quality in itself is irrelevant to me. I do not aim to defend all manifestations of life, some of which I aim to annihilate.

The Earth’s interests are beyond me in perception and in my power. I can not take an ecocentric position on the value of other species because I can not sort through the ambiguity of defining the importance of an ecosystem without including my relationship to it. There are ecologies which are difficult to imagine having much of a relationship to me at all: subterranian species, deep ocean species, volcanic microorganisms, possibly existent extraterrestrial life. For as global and interconnected as the functioning of many ecosystems may be, it is not the fact that it is an ecosystem which interests me.

The interests of other animal species are as well beyond my capacity to distinguish. I can not answer for any particular cow whether it is more important to them for their species to be more numerous in the fettered conditions of factory farming, or be less restricted to graze whatever they could find outside of civilization (if there is even an outside anymore). I can make the assumption that pain, suffering, and fetters are undesirable but I would be making a decision according to how the consequences will effect me much more than how they will effect another animal species. How much will my life change?

I am not even necessarily inclined to consider the interests of my own species in general, as if such interests were the same generally, for every individual…

Humanism

There are only so many universal human interests. Every human being needs a planet that can support their existence and to meet various survival needs. After that, most things are up in the air: lifestyle, life span, life quality, aesthetic considerations, social structure, associations between other humans, relationships with flora and fauna, spiritual practices, etc. Human beings tend to have some universal behaviors, which could extend to similar interests …but those behavior tendencies aren’t an absolute determination. The more similar something is to another human being, the more an individual will identify with it. But the extent and limits of that identification can vary drastically, and that is to say nothing about whether something will be considered a threat, a benefactor, competition, or whatever. Often enough it is what is most similar to an individual which is the greatest of antagonisms: criminals, political enemies, siblings, neighbors, coworkers, lovers.

For as much as an individual needs nutrition to survive, they may still hunger strike. No matter the extent to which survival is an imperative, suicides happen. For as valuable as the whole of life on Middle Earth may be, pollution is crippling it. The human species does not need to eat meat, yet most of it does. Animal testing can be avoided, but it isn’t. Other human beings may be even more of an obstacle to pursuing my interests than they are a basis for those interests. Their positions, laws, lifestyles, and the rest aren’t any more or less human and I am not any more or less humanitarian depending on how I choose to live. Yet I refuse to reason as a humanist. I am utterly alone and without the comfort of coherent categories in these decisions.

Representation and Consent

I started writing about this recently because I was frustrated by the argument that since non-human animals do not consent to how they are treated, it is wrong to presume a right to their bodies. There are two major problems with this line of thinking: it is based on flimsy distinctions in representation and consent is almost irrelevant. Above I articulated some of the problems with representation, but they extend further. Not only is defining life and assessing the interests of other animal species impossible for me, it is difficult to even distinguish between animal and non-animal. Fortunately the menu really isn’t that extensive and I am not really deciding to broadly consider all non-human animals and all non-animal species. There are only so many species I would consider eating to begin with, animal or not. Unfortunately, I still can only assume what the interests of individual members of a given species may be, based on collectively representing their conditions and considering my own relationship to them.

I don’t have the luxury of knowing whether this cow or that pig wants to die, would have rather not been bread into its circumstances, etc. What I know is the general tendency of non-human animals to resist captivity, torture, slaughter, neglect, and other such horrors. I can assume that at the very least, most if not all animals subject to factory farms and experimentations are not enjoying it. On my end, I know that it is unnecessary for me to consume the products produced from these circumstances. It is difficult to say whether or not free-range, cruelty free, hunted, or whatever other form of acquiring meat is more in the interests of other animal species, but given the options it isn’t difficult to say what side I’d rather err on. It is in my interests to have the option of making a personal decision in relation to an individual entity. A situation where I can figure out if it makes sense to me for this individual entity to satisfy some desire of mine through its death, or if I’d rather not stomach doing such a thing.

What doesn’t ever enter the picture is consent. While consent can be implied by the resistance of an animal to its killer, it can not truly be granted or denied. In what fantasy does any species of anything anymore have the option of its fate being determined by consent? Animals of all sorts do not and can not consent to the impact civilization has had on them, whether it keeps the animals alive or kills them. Animal rescue doesn’t derive its justifications from consent any more than animal slaughter does. Civilization touches everything without consent, from the fossil fuel reserves in the ground to the highest reaches of bird flight …to my domestication and to yours. The entire content of what is being thrown into question has been imposed, by force, through power human beings have developed and authority which has been legitimized in a variety of ways …divine or secularly rationalized.

On the other hand, there is what I do and do not consent to which I have complete access to knowing. I get to decide the extent to which I consent to civilization and its particular conditions, practices, and considerations. I get to decide whether or not the flavor of meat is more important to me than the life of those creatures which I vote to end with my purchases. I can get behind a gun and consent to the shots I fire into an elk or some other wild mammal. There are times when I may feel like I have been tricked and if I had known better, would not consent to the consumption of one product or another. But the fact of the matter is that where consent is concerned, it is my own consent which is to be questioned and not that of the entities which I am making decisions for one way or another …whose life quality and quantity is calibrated by the mechanisms of markets and conditions produced by human civilization.

No Contract, No Deal, No Peace

Non-human animal consent is indeterminate, but what is entirely impossible is any sort of contract between human and animal species. No matter the extent to which I leave other animals alone or the society of human beings I live with decide to leave other animals alone, it is a completely one-sided decision. I am not afforded the powers of communing with the general essence or spirit of a species that negotiate on behalf of its kind and stick to an agreement. I don’t need to know if a species is likely to be antagonistic towards me or not to know that every interaction with another creature will depend on the situation at hand …not contract or any sort of established way of relating.

For many species, I can occupy the position of predator as much as the position of prey. For even more species I can be a threat worth eliminating in one way or another. The wilderness is not a safe space. I don’t need to worry so much about this in my everyday life since I live in the fortress of a college town. If I’m going to play this game of considering things in the abstract though, it is worth noting these things. If I were to be so arrogant as to consider any decision I come to as a favor to another species, I would still have to admit that to it is reasonable to assume that I won’t be done any favors by that species in return. There can be exceptions. Interspecies bonds happen on a daily basis with pets and in some exceptional cases with wildlife. But again, that is on the interpersonal level. It is not something which can be achieved through relationships mediated by civilization’s devices.

Rights and Liberations

To end the portion of this where I am considering arguments I don’t really agree with, I make a distinction between arguments for animal rights and arguments for animal liberation. The discourse of rights is something that I already stay away from when it comes to humans and I don’t plan to make any special case for another species. Rights are something I am told that I have, something codified into law. They are something outside of me that are supposedly protected by the State. They explain what I would be correct in doing, what I should not be prevented from doing, what I can expect protection of as a citizen or the subject of a civilization. The struggle to establish rights for non-human animals is a struggle for political reforms, just the same as other struggles to change the established principals applied to other subjects. This can be thought of as a possible direction for animal liberation struggles, but it doesn’t equate to animal liberation.

Animal liberation is more in line with my thinking. It isn’t necessary to talk about anything another species experiences subjectively to talk about the completely observable phenomenon of bodies being liberated from restrictive environments and fates. Whether they’re liberated to do is another question. But it isn’t difficult to find entirely personal, individual reasons for wanting to abolish factory farming and institutions and institutional practices that are offensive. It requires neither the consent of another species, nor the consent of another human being to attack the infrastructure of the meat industry (among others). It might even require a lack of such consents.

While I don’t consider myself an animal liberationist, I don’t have any desire to get in the way. That is where I’m at for now on the issue.

Positive/Negative

Sometimes simple conclusions wind up working out quite well. I am much more comfortable working from the basis of my own tastes and desired consequences than I am with trying to sort through the mess of complicated social systems, ideologies, and considerations beyond those of my everyday life. Weighting the pros and cons of one consumer choice against another can be entirely sufficient for coming to a conclusion about how to relate to non-human animal products. There’s a few major areas to consider: health, economy, taste, and personal effort.

I am not going to pretend that I’m even close to being an expert on nutrition, or that I’m even a very healthy person otherwise. What I do know is that my stomach no longer takes very well to meat and my body complains if I eat it. Something I can say is that as a general project of trying to maintain a healthier diet, it is much easier for me to do so when I take meat out of the equation. Not because I think meat is necessarily unhealthy, but because I’ll wind up not eating a lot of stuff that is healthy if I rely on old, lazy habits of eating mostly from cans and fast food places. I’m also a big fan of leftovers and well… animal products aren’t really the best left overs for avoiding some physical nastiness.

Economy has a whole series of considerations wrapped up in it that I don’t feel like articulating right now, but I sure as fuck don’t want to work with, on, or even really around animals. Taste and personal effort is a little bit more where my thoughts conclude. I don’t like eating meat enough to buy it and fuck around trying to prepare it. I’m too broke to eat out almost ever, so when someone else takes me out or on the rare occasion that I treat myself, I don’t feel much inclination towards ordering a meaty meal. Basically when I weight the pros and cons of consuming animal products, I don’t find many pros. I’m sure I overlook a lot of ingredients and I know that I have no clue what stuff has been tested on animals, but I’ll be touching on some of that in the next section.

One thing that I want to bring up here is that animal products are the default for me and a hell of a lot of other people. This ties into the reason why some animal rights activists and their propaganda frustrates me. Really, why I started writing about this to begin with. It just comes off as so pretentious and ineffectual to me when activists begin making these moralistic analogies between what happens to animals in the meat industry and how people relate to each other in their everyday life. Using notions of consent to bridge the gap there. I won’t reduce that to name-calling, but y’know …is it getting the results you want?

I can understand being passionate about something and I can even understand emotional appeals, but if the goal isn’t to take a piss on someone and instead, it is to figure out where they’re at and work with them towards a shared goal …that shit makes no sense to me. There’s also nothing wrong with pissing people off, if that is what someone is trying to do (which it doesn’t seem to when I see this happening). But as one example, why start calling comrades murderers or sexual abusers because a meeting is happening at a place which serves meat? Especially when you’re not going to follow it up with offering alternative spots or preventing the meeting from happening. Shit like that is just an invitation to make equally stretched out analogies which conflict with those ones, to be written off, or to just be mocked.

DIY

In the beginning of this essay, I hinted at the broader question of how to go about relating to anything one consumes. This is where everything falls into place for me and becomes concrete. I don’t necessarily like more work, but I also don’t trust corporations to handle my food or the quality of other products. For reasons even beyond this, a Do-It-Yourself ethic is what I like to peer out at the world through. There’s some good critiques of DIY culture which would make this essay longer than I want it to be, but to take for granted the reasons why DIY shit is in my interests, they are the grounds upon which I conceptually build towards my dietary choices.

The closer I become to producing my own stuff, the further I travel from consuming animal products. Some of this is aesthetic: I think that dealing with animals is gross. Aside from that though, in light of self-reliance and participating with others to produce things we’ll enjoy, the default of consuming animal products flips to a default of not consuming animal products. The pros become much more important, as reasons to use an animal product for one project or another: food or otherwise. I can’t think of many situations where anything but price would make me say, “oh hell yeah, if we just throw some fleshy bits in there this would be great!” There’s some situations, but not many.

Taking this approach also emphasizes what sort of choices I’m really more inclined to make about production and consumption. In the environment of a grocery store, everything becomes a bit vague. In the environments where I am designing something (a meal or something else), I get to sort through all of this in a very personal way. I can’t so much translate these personal preferences for I want to consume into what I think someone else should do. That also doesn’t mean that I must refrain from critiquing the choices others make. The logic just requires me to keep it in the realm of my own choices and how others choices effect me, rather than attempting to find something higher, more moral, more elevated and universal, and more absolute that would make my decisions inherently better. I also get to decide whether or not I like someone for whatever reasons and even though these wouldn’t be those reasons, they’re an option.

If you haven’t ever read other things I’ve written, this is basically the approach I take to a lot of issues. I like to come at things from my readily available experiences every day and if it builds towards something more abstract and profound I let it; but, that happens much less often than I am satisfied with keeping things close to home. Sometimes I am considering something that involves such complicated interconnections that higher levels of abstraction become useful (and this is one of those things) …but if I can make a sufficient case for my choices without taking things into otherworlds, I’m likely not going to bother articulating the complexities.

ok – ttfn

6
Jan

Indigestion 01/06/2014

by Squee in Indigestion

My annual life review had me looking over the first episodes of Indigestion and concluding that it is one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve worked on in a long time. So, I’m back to it! Enjoy :)

stirnerrrrrrrARCHISTS, ANARCHISTS AND EGOISTS

 In this article, the author asks if Egoism and Anarchism are compatible. It begins with questioning the thoughts of Max Stirner, one of the most difficult philosophers to come out of a group referred to as the Young Hegelian which included the likes of Karl Marx, Ludwig Feuerbach, and Bruno Bauer. Max Stirner presented a fierce challenge to just about every school of thought at the time, including the anarchist thoughts of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Regardless, anarchists came to appreciate the challenge which Stirner presented to them and sometimes came to think of Stirner himself as an anarchist thinker because of his relentless opposition to all forms of authority. In the case of this article, it is through the designation of Stirner as an anarchist performed by John P. Clark that the main question is broached.

Opposed to the position that Max Stirner’s thought could be considered anarchism is Dora Marsden’s conclusion; that because Stirner’s egoism not only permits domination as an option, but encourages it, the two philosophies conflict on a fundamental level. The author’s choice Marsden quotes are sometimes rooted in Social Darwinism (which is fucking dumb) and sometimes a form of sophistry which generalizes the applicable conclusions of Egoist thought to the realm of social organization. Some of this is excusable considering the way in which Anarchism here is defined by John P. Clark as an absolute moral opposition to domination. Beyond this limiting definition though, the arguments are a load of garbage, conclusively because Egoism simply does not function at the level of social organization in the way which the author wants to examine it.

The argument that Egoism permits domination is correct, and we can see this in the works of some other Egoists and Individualists (Ayn Rand, for example). The major problem with considering this to be a closed door to Anarchism though, is that the permissiveness of Egoism does not conclude one way or another what sort of social organization an Egoist may decide is in their interests. While the Egoist Anarchist will not be an Anarchist because of the kind of moral absolutes presented by the likes of John P. Clark, Benjamin Tucker, and others, there is no reason why they couldn’t be an anarchist from practical reasoning. Hence, the modifying inclusion of Egoist in one’s description of their flavor of Anarchism.

What this says about the author is that they’re a dick-burger authoritarian… DICK BURGER AUTHORITARIAN. They can properly fuck off.

RussellThaddeus Russell: A Renegade History of the United States

Thaddeus Russell has been a favorite of mine for a little while now and I was recently lucky enough to catch him locally, in the flesh. Since I’m still in the middle of reading his book, A Renegade History of the United States, I am going to limit my review to his lectures (such as the one I link to above). Now obviously, Russell is a historian, but he is a historian that knows how to fuck shit up. Unlike the Great Man and Social Movement histories of the United States, you are presented with a “history from the gutter up” as he refers to it: mafia, queers, madams, slaves, drunken proletarians, immigrants. Most importantly, you are presented with a history that doesn’t pretend to know what the silent subjects were thinking, but what they were doing.

One of the points that are emphasized in Russell’s presentations is that these subjects where the first to take many of the liberties which are valued today without permission from anyone, especially the State and collectivist social movements. This puts Thaddeus Russell in his own category of anti-State individualism, along with some of his other provoking thoughts about work, political economy, and struggle which clashes with both the Left and the Right. To that I consider Russell’s interests in line with my own, although on some issues I go a different direction.

Specifically, the main difference I have with Russell from his presentation here is on the topic of Autogestion, or Worker’s Self-Management. This is somewhat inconsequential since I agree with working as little as possible and getting as much as I can for whatever work I do, but I do not follow from that thought to an opposition towards autogestion. Russell’s arguments here (if I am remembering correctly) are interesting: a proper critique of the Spanish anarchists of the CNT who imposed discipline on the working class during the Civil War and became a new administrative bureaucracy, the nuisance of additional managerial tasks in a worker’s collective, and the opportunity which is opened up by opposition to capitalists for slacking off and always demanding more from the fuckers. My preference is to abolish the bosses and if I don’t like the demands of participating in collective management, to not succumb to any pressures to participate in it… to abstain from whatever system of voting or consensus is in place. I would much rather have the power to manage my work by default, whether I exercise that power or not, than be a subordinate by default.

That aside, watch the video and enjoy! And if you can, order a copy of his book, which has been excellent so far.

sublogoGoooooood Morning Slaves… it’s the War on Christmas Trees!

The latest episode of It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, And I Feel Fine. If you’re not familiar with the show, familiarize yourself with it …it’s pretty good. If you are familiar with the show, well hoo-bi-de-doo, here’s the latest!

d49809d0146c7dbdcfbc5e25d90c63a7An Interview with a Gay, Russian Neo-Nazi

Among the ranks of the strangest are the Gay Aryan Skinheads, somewhere next to National Anarchists and Juggalos. I’d have to say that I’m fucking fascinated. I mean, in the same way that I’m fascinated with people who are addicted to eating glass and grotesque medical oddities. I’m not sure if I’d rather see them lined up against a wall and executed by an unruly gang of furries, or kept alive to be experimented on in captivity by desperate medical students. For now I suppose I’ll have to settle for their wrench-in-the-gears existence amongst other neo-Nazis and cheer on antifascists that boot party on their faces.

dedf23976517c5084c0f3e97e96b3d9b6b320e1e18aa1dfe48038132a8b08e7eWords, Words, Words: On Toxicity and Abuse in Online Activism

It’s been some time since I’ve participated in this debate, mostly because it exhausts me. To begin with a summary of what this article is about: interactions amongst radicals and intellectuals over the internet. Even though this article is directed at an audience I am not necessarily a part of (I don’t consider myself an activist or anything I do to be activism), the issue has come up many times concerning the anarchist net. It’s a debate that goes into numerous areas: anonymity, counter-intelligence operations, the social quality of online spaces, identity, etc. Not so much a question of whether or not to metaphorically shit where you eat, but a question of how much shit should we sniff while we are eating.

To get it out of the way, the article touches on the surreality of online spaces and the way which this may or may not effect behavior. I don’t have the perspective that “it’s just the internet” which implies some meaninglessness. I am also not of the opinion that I should “always keep the human user behind the username in mind”. The internet is something very concrete to me, with real physical labor and materials producing it and anonymous or not, a mix of 40% humans and 60% bots using it. There are significant efforts by government agencies and corporations to troll comment threads and such. There are hundreds of debates about privacy, access, freedom of information, development, encryption, etc. And in the middle of all of this, it is easier to be both more nice and more mean to those you interact with online. So, my policy is to be myself. This isn’t everyone’s perspective or policy, especially those with a specific agenda …online activists.

None of that fundamentally change the fact that radicals and intellectuals have had some of the most obnoxious and bitter interactions with each other throughout history. Whether it’s the schisms in psychoanalysis surrounding Freud, Surrealist and Situationist splits, Socialist purges and slander, yellow journalism, or newspaper column mudslinging …intellectuals aren’t always the most pleasant people to take part in so-called community with. I think this has something to do with the level of abstraction and complexity which the passions are attaching themselves to, especially when someone’s an professional intellectual of some sort who is threatened existentially by criticisms.

What to do about it? Remember that you’re on a battlefield and your comrades aren’t even necessarily your friends… nor should the be. Maintain spaces online and offline to enjoy life and get away from these frustrations; to spend time with people that are more interested in your health and happiness than the coherence and soundness of your positions, ideas, etc. Keep going and keep learning, keep fighting, keep changing. But I don’t see any point in trying to level up the conviviality amongst people who if I didn’t agree with them on some shit, I’d probably never want to talk to.

 how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people

The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence

“In jobs that required extensive attention to emotions, higher emotional intelligence translated into better performance. Salespeople, real-estate agents, call-center representatives, and counselors all excelled at their jobs when they knew how to read and regulate emotions—they were able to deal more effectively with stressful situations and provide service with a smile. However, in jobs that involved fewer emotional demands, the results reversed. The more emotionally intelligent employees were, the lower their job performance. For mechanics, scientists, and accountants, emotional intelligence was a liability rather than an asset.”

Ok, fine… emotional intelligence isn’t always, absolutely beneficial. But how emotionally intelligent is someone that doesn’t know when to rely on those skills and when not to? This article is, in so many ways, merely about refining the concept of emotional intelligence. I’m not sure to what extent this article is not based on a strawman argument. How often is emotional intelligence ever presented as something that can do no harm, anyway?

Why even bother including this here? Well, this project isn’t so much based on the careful selection of items. It is based on critically reflecting upon the media I am consuming and sharing the product of that reflection. ;)

 

240586-aheaderHow facts backfire

If you thought emotions were bad, wait until you find out about ideas! Here’s another article dedicated to the undermining of efficacious human agency. There’s ignorance, wilful ignorance, and then there’s a sort of ignorance which is even more atrocious …the unwilling ignorance of brains which want to assimilate facts in bizarre and contradictory ways, entirely ignore facts, or fiercely reject them. This sort of tendency towards self-serving bias and delusion is everywhere in life, from interpersonal relationships, self-assessment of skill, and the consequences of our actions to the lives other people must live that we are asked to fuck around with through policy. On the bright side, there are some counter-measures to this which the above article touches upon.

Satanic-monumentSatanic Temple unveils 7-foot goat-headed Baphomet statue for Oklahoma Capitol

Well who would have thought that this idea would be controversial! I’m on the side of the Satanists here… and then if they win, I’m doubly on the side of the delinquents who vandalize it.

And that is the end of this installment! Buh-byyyyyyeeeee

31
Oct

Informal Anarchist Praxis: an open discussion of hangouts

Another Battlefield

The purpose of this is to attempt broaching a debate of informal anarchist praxis that focuses on contexts which I lack the terminology to succinctly describe. The problem of terminology arises because the contexts with which I’m concerned are social spaces where numerous identities congregate and loosely compose a vague culture through familiarity and consistency. While there are a variety of terms that approximate a description of these contexts, they are unsuitable. Participants in these spaces vary in terms of race, class, sexuality, religion, and other usual sociological categories. Yet, they don’t come together in anything that could be considered a coherent culture.

One way to describe these spaces is to consider them the buffers, interfaces, and filters between mainstream culture and subculture. They open up at particular hangouts (bars, venues, local eateries, etc.) and appeal to both more isolated, inwardly facing counter-cultures and those exploring cultural regions (and values) slightly outside a mainstream comfort zone. Consequently, these are spaces where counter-cultural individuals come into contact with the mainstream in more relaxed and intimate environments; spaces where individuals with different backgrounds and values become less “othered”/objectified without the social constraints of the workplace, the school, or any other place with narrowly defined purpose.

These hangouts and the proto-cultures which are constituted and expressed through them offer a variety of potential. They are the immediate outside of more coherent subcultures which individuals participate in and where newcomers find avenues into more underground spaces. Conversely, they are also spaces where capitalists constantly attempt to advertise their products and services, attempting to become staple features of them through sponsorship, branding, and other interventions. This itself creates an underlying conflict of values between culture and capital. At the same time, these are also spaces where individuals are often at odds with the State as it acts to regulate noise and rowdiness, set points of surveillance to apprehend intoxicated drivers, and infiltrate undercover to gather intelligence.

For the above reasons and many others, anarchists may often avoid such spaces as much as possible. These spaces are often rampant with sexism, racism, homophobia, fighting, superficial rituals, and general stupidity. The entertainment they offer is usually of a mediocre variety in attempt to appeal to a lowest common denominator of cultural taste and tolerance. Their accessibility is somewhat oriented around consumption, therefore suggesting participants have some money to spare. In all of their flexibility, they are still spaces mostly structured by privately owned local businesses and are accordingly rigid. Though all of the above is true, anarchists don’t simply ignore the existence of these spaces. They are spaces which have become a fixture of contemporary society and if anything, represent a potent model of social life to be critiqued, attacked, embraced, and/or supported. As such, a discussion about these spaces could prove quite useful.

I think this is a topic that almost everyone should be able to have something to say about, which is usually discussed abstractly (and confusingly), and directly pertains to revolutionizing everyday life in one way or another. I invite anyone with an interest in informal anarchist praxis to participate in discussing the features of these spaces in their locality, but also keeping in mind broader regional potentials. Feel free to describe your personal experiences, attempts at organizing, critiques, and other thoughts.

17
Oct

Indigestion 10/17/2013

by Squee in Indigestion

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

I fucking hated public school with a passion and when I first read A.S. Neill’s Summerhill in Jr. High, there was no longer any doubt in my mind that the school system was an absurdity. This was also the period in my life when I began to learn about anarchism, specifically because anarchists have been pointing out problems with what we know of as schooling for as long as they’ve been writing (and they weren’t the first, as this article demonstrates). I don’t think that the internet and other forms of digital technology make these methods of teaching any more possible than they were in 1911 when anarchists opened up the Modern School, as the article wants to suggest. However, I do think that these technologies create an easily observable example of the basic principals of what may be called anti-authoritarian education, which have been doubted so much in the historical debates surrounding schooling.

The article also points towards some of the reasons why schools take an authoritarian form, but I think there are more factors than the demands of industry and contemporary businesses. The history of compulsory education in the United States goes back to the 17th Century and the methods used, which weren’t terribly different from today, were brought over from England. The Nation State had a lot more to do with it than market interests. By the time industrial capitalism really began to take off in the US, progressives like John Dewey were already spouting theories similar to radicals about education, but were likewise mostly practised as alternative education. The demands of capitalism enter the picture much more-so in the 20th Century, but didn’t have much of an impact on this aspect of schooling.

If you want a really good summary of this history from an anarchist perspective, I highly suggest this: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/matt-hern-the-emergence-of-compulsory-schooling-and-anarchist-resistance

Women who feel entitled more likely to endorse benevolent sexism, study finds

Big surprise, women in the US with a higher sense of entitlement contribute to sexism because they feel like they deserve to be treated like princesses.

Two Wal-Marts Are Taken Advantage of Because of a Food Stamp Glitch… People Freak the Fuck Out

With the apparent response to this event, you’d think that Arizona Democrats put a bunch of paper signs on their windows with masking tape …or something. What I find interesting about this as a talking point has more to do with the way in which food stamps wind up funding Wal-Mart and places like it. This is something that I’ve been bringing up for a while: corporations have plenty of self-interest in food stamp programs since so many people (and I don’t know the figures) spend them at those corporations. I think it’s interesting that this argument against food stamps is available for small government, anti-corporate right wing types and yet they want to stop thinking at their petty “poor people are lazy and don’t deserve my hard earned money”. Then again, I don’t think those types would be any happier if small local business and shit got a little fatter from food stamps. Anyway… fuck Wal-Mart, let’s eat.

99 Life Hacks That Could Make Your Life Easier

I really like little life hacks since I don’t usually go about small, everyday tasks in the most rational way… and that’s an understatement. There’s some ones in here that I think are neat. What more could I ask for from this kind of thing?

…..AAAAANNNNND if You Haven’t Heard, the Government Shut-Down is Over.

15
Oct

Indigestion 10/14/2013

by Squee in Indigestion

Charlie Brooker Still Kicking Ass with Black Mirror Series

The first time I ever saw something from Charlie Brooker, it was his hilarious summary of every news report you’ve ever seen on network television. I spent a good while browsing whatever I could find on YouTube (most of which is a bit dated for me to bother posting). Over the past few weeks, I was recently reunited with Brooker’s satirical brilliance with his recent BBC mini-series, Black Mirror. The mini-series is dark, cynical, and sometimes futuristic. It begins in episode 1 with a story called the National Anthem …something I think anyone with a sick sense of humor will enjoy. It’s easy to find a way to watch this episode that suits you, so I won’t spoil it. While the National Anthem sets a precedence for psychological terror, Brooker also comes around to some lighter themes; for instance, in season 2’s Waldo (which is another one I thoroughly enjoyed). While I do have my favorites, I would definitely recommend watching every episode of this sexy show.

Facebook and Google This Week

new-facebook-logo-64x64This week, Facebook makes it more difficult to keep your shit hidden from other users and Google puts your face on blast in their ads. If you use either of these, this article is worth reading (assuming you even give a shit).

$52.6 Billion on Secret Government Programs? Yup.

Funding for 2013’s secret intelligence operations is actually down from 2012, but thanks to Snowden we can talk about this with concrete figures. What we also know from Snowden’s leaks is how this funding is used: counter-intelligence, offensive cyber warfare, domestic spying, etc. etc. I can’t say that anything about this news is surprising for me, but it’s worth mentioning that this was the big week when  this year’s secret operations’ spending was revealed.

Forbes Magazine Kind Of Gets Into the Anarcho-Capitalist Debate

Apparently, the epitome of mid-20th Century Anarchism took a historical turn, rebelling against anarchism’s moral roots in Marxist class analysis and promoting capitalist markets as the utopian vision of stateless society …”anarchy”. For fuck sake! I’m not sure if this is a win or a lose for socalled anarcho-capitalists. It’s certainly a narrative that I’ve heard some anCaps spout in, even if they leave off the end of Forbes’ article which concludes that these ideas are utopian, like all isms. What Forbes does get right to an extent is that anarcho-capitalism is extremely moralistic and academic. What it gets wrong, of course, is almost everything else about anarchism.  The article uses some quotes from Malatesta, Proudhon, and Orwell to represent the anti-capitalist version of anarchism as primarily a moral philosophy and a utopian one at that. Quotes which would be obscure to anyone who hasn’t studied their authors’ thoughts about anarchism and not very representative for anyone who has.

While it is interesting that they contrast turn-of-the-century anarchism as one of “the Deed” from anarcho-capitalism since anCaps aren’t exactly known for their direct action, it doesn’t really explain what propaganda by the deed means or how the phrase suggests an anarchist praxis. Even though they quote Proudhon, they still credit Marx for anarchist economic thought and fail to mention that Proudhon was Papa Mutualism. The Orwell quote is probably one of the least interesting things he said about anarchist Catalonia and that may be because they author didn’t finish the book to comprehend even Orwell’s account of what happened in those two years and after with anarchism in Spain. Not to mention that including Ayn Rand’s thoughts on Nietzsche is worth a thousand face-palms in an article about the moral grounds and failures of anarchist thought.

While Forbes certainly didn’t make any new anarchist friends with this article, it may have at least annoyed a few anCaps.

CrimethInc’s piece, Global Battle for the Soul of Humanity is fucking EXCELLENT

CrimethInc returns to their Situationist-inspired roots with an up-to-date critique of their own former radical projects and the radical projects of others today. There are so many quote-worthy nuggets in this piece that a third of the way through it, I stopped taking notes as the rapidity of direct hits continued on through the rest of it. For anyone that gave up on CrimethInc because of their early manifestation as oogles (or whatever), this isn’t the first piece that could have set you straight, but it is a good one.

 A Photographer Makes People Uncomfortable With A Sexy Exhibit of His Mother

My opinion about this is about as dry and calloused as the title I chose for the link would suggest. Among some of the other works mentioned in the article, Pretend You’re Actually Alive takes center stage with the photographer’s images of his own mother having sex, pretending to be a corpse, and talking about ageing. That’s nice, it seems like an extensive effort to publicly broach the topic of parent-child openness concerning sexuality though. Towards the end of the article, another one of Leigh Ledare’s series is mentioned which also taps into feelings of discomfort that develop through sexual relationships. In the latter, Ledare asks his ex-wife’s new husband to photograph himself having sex with his ex-wife in the same location that Ledare earlier photographed himself doing the same thing while him and his ex were still married. All I can say is that I wouldn’t want to know Leigh Ledare personally and become a potential subject for some other public exploration of sexual uneasiness.

 

Fuck the Police, All Cops Are Bastards …but if you weren’t yet convinced, here’s a story about cops targeting disabled students in multiple drug busts.

Every week I see new stories of police doing something terrible, stupid, terribly stupid, or worse. This is no exception, except that it’s easy to passively consume this story just by watching the videos included in the article.

 

The Charles Manson Movie Made By Punk Rawkers You Probably Haven’t Seen

An animated musical made by members of Green Day, Blink 182, Rancid, and AFI about the Manson Family, how can you resist? This is one of those movies that are considered a classic in my absurd cannon. I didn’t watch it for the first time this week, but I did get really excited to play some of the songs from this movie for friends. The entire thing is available on YouTube (direct link above). After watching it, you’ll know what I mean when I say “I’m not a Hippy, I’m a Slippy”.

9
Oct

Indigestion 10/09/2013

by Squee in Indigestion

Another Day in the Demystification of Christianity

The Passion of Christ“Jesus Christ is a fabricated cover story for an Imperial psychological warfare operation born out of the First Jewish-Roman War in the first century.” - http://www.covertmessiah.com/

On October 19th, Joseph Atwill will be showing his documentary and talking to the British public about the extent to which claims are true of ancient Roman’s having invented Jesus Christ …entirely. The basic thesis is that the story of Jesus Christ was an invention of first century Roman elites, who in having run into tactical problems crushing Jewish insurrections in Rome, decided to rely on a psychological approach. Supposedly at this talk, Atwill is going to present confessions made in the first century in regards to the invention of Christ. Unable to watch the documentary myself, I can’t give much of an overview of what the facts are that Atwill depends on to evidence the specificity of his claims. Although, generally I don’t think it is so far-fetched a notion that Jesus Christ is exactly what many people have thought him to be …a political tool used for social control. I will definitely be following how this story unfolds and hoping to not be disappointed by the quality of the research.

A Skeptical Inquiry into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Laughing_Data(One of the fictional representations of an INTP)

This week I attempted to field the opinions of a comrade of mine about personality theories, specifically Myers-Briggs, which is based on C.G. Jung’s cognitive functions and archetypes. Although it wasn’t much of a debate, my comrade’s opinion in my words (after what I can only imagine was a short exploration) was that like astrology and other such bullshit, the Myers-Briggs is worthless pseudo-science and fundamentally flawed because of the Forer Effect. While I especially agree because the MBTI is often administered on the internet and verified only by the test subjects, I had already invested enough energy into studying this system to mine it for anything useful.

Before getting to Myers-Briggs, personality theory in its entirety doesn’t have the most solid basis. Whether someone is considering psychological type theories or psychological trait theories (the two main forms personality theory takes), the best they seem able to conclude is that an individual has tendencies or preferences towards the use of certain behaviors that in concert may or may not closely match predefined types. At their worst, type theories will come right out of someone’s ass (which can be seen in abundance with New Age literature, Astrology, and novelty tests taken on the internet or in teen magazines) and trait theory can describe traits which hardly have any universal ground in human behavior. Of the better examples of personality tests there is the Big Five, the MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), and the TAT (Thematic Apperception Test), none of which I will be covering for numerous reasons.

Like even the most superficial and astoundingly absurd personality tests, it’s easy to find an abundance of true believers on the internet. Unlike many of those tests, the MBTI is often used as a professional tool for career advisement and other forms of counseling (even though the 1991 National Academy of Sciences committee concluded at the time there was “not sufficient, well-designed research to justify the use of the MBTI in career counseling programs”). Based on testing subjects for strengths in 8 different cognitive functions, it offers an array of 16 personality types …only one of which represents the best fit for anyone, everywhere, for their entire life. These cognitive functions are divided into four dichotomies, each of which concludes a dominant functional use of introversion/extroversion, intuition/sensing, thinking/feeling, and perceiving/judging. Although all eight of these terms have specific definitions, they are meant to be understood in combinations (such as Extroverted-Sensing and Introverted-Feeling) which are difference in predominant use for each type. Fundamentally, there is good reason to believe that these cognitive functions exist and can be understood in this way; but, accuracy in testing how much and to what extent someone uses them is low for the MBTI (except on the introversion-extroversion scale) and it is questionable to what extent they can be understood dichotomously.

Another consistent problem for the MBTI has been that around 39-76% of the time people re-test, they are assigned a different personality type. This has been true for me over the years, having most consistently been assigned INTP (which apparently has a high correlation with the DSM’s schizotypal personality disorder – lol), but also at times having been assigned INFP, INTJ, and others. So far, it’s looking pretty shitty for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. From personal experience I can tell you that when I was assigned different types, there have been very specific context-related reasons for why I would have been giving answers these other types give. This criticism is often countered with MBTI-supporters saying that anyone can use any cognitive function, but more considerate testing and verification would show that I have always been one type and that when I obtained different results it was because at the time I had a reason to be using those other functions more. It’s a nice surface-level retort, but I probably wouldn’t have been in those contexts mentally, emotionally, or circumstantially to begin with if I was really at bottom one type for always and ever.

Some of the few things that have been interesting in studying Myers-Briggs are that the statistical distribution of types in the population seems to be consistent, the cognitive functions themselves and how they relate to behavior is informative, and some social dynamics which are talked about when various types interact (or people with preferences for various cognitive traits) might be useful. In the online forums, I noticed that I did have a lot in common with those of my type or close to my type which I didn’t share with those who were further from my type. Even though there are 16 individual types, they correlate with the 4 temperaments of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational which has its own interesting history) and it seems to me like this more general categorization has shown the most broad behavioral distinctions. The most I can say that I’ve be able to use from studying this has been the correlations between cognitive functions and various forms of behavior (which isn’t specific to Myers-Briggs). Admitted and despite my apprehensions, if someone were to ask me how well a description of my usual MBTI type represents me, I would have to say more accurately and better than anyone or anything else’s has before (except my own, which this has nothing on).

Conclusion: pretty much unfounded, only somewhat useful, and only sometimes meaningfully descriptive.

Some Works of Impenetrable Beauty

A friend of mine posted a link to the Codex Seraphinianus, which is the work of an Italian architect, illustrator and industrial designer from the 1970’s. Though I love the images and the use of an untranslatable script, I couldn’t quite remember where I had seen something like this before. Then while reviewing the blog I was looking at, I remembered that I had heard about the Voynich Manuscript from watching one of those ancient aliens guys talking about it as some kind of mysterious artefact that somehow suggested extra-terrestrial life. I don’t even want to get into criticisms of the ancient aliens show, considerations of DNA scientists recently discovered in the Earth’s atmosphere that they’re almost certain is extra-terrestrial, or proposals that human DNA has ET connections. What I do want to do though is show you these two pretty picture books!

The Voynich Manuscript

The Codex Seraphinianus

[Reason for Lack of Content Today: I have had shit to do and haven’t been reading as much… that’s why]

5
Oct

Indigestion 10/06/2013

by Squee in Indigestion

~Death Lake Magic~

stoneducklake

A lake that turns living creatures to stone? I’m in love!

Natron is both the name of a lake and the naturally occurring mineral after which the lake is named. Animals immersed in a solution of it will die and become calcified (with a few rare exceptions).

Nice…

Westboro Baptists Come Too Close For Comfort To Woman Enjoying Herself

I’ve gotten myself off in some pretty unsexy places, but it’d really take a kinky mood for me to even try to pull this off. Congrats to Get Shot! for making something of a statement …or at least for their heroics in marketing, as this mostly seems to have the effect of being an advertisement for their porn site. Apparently, they are the first band on Earth to start a porn site, so they say… and I don’t doubt them. To point out the obvious, I’m sure as with Suicide Girls and God’s Girls, it’s pretty heteronormative and arguably sexist material. As for pranks that the Westboro Baptist Church has faced, there’s been some other goodies from Bash Back! (only one of which is the first video on the site) and Russell Brand.  I feel like Westboro Baptist Church is a dead horse by now …which means flog the fucking thing until its remains are barely recognizable. Fuck them.

The US Indicts 13 Anonymous Comrades

At the beginning of the week, the FBI used its delete key on piece of shit Ross Ulbricht and the site Silk Road. On Thursday, the State indicted 13 comrades for alleged participation in Anonymous’ Operation Pay-Back: a retaliatory effort to slap the government for trying to delete the Pirate Bay. As has been the misfortune of many radicals and resistors, the State is using its gruesome grand jury process for prosecution and of course, to see who will crack and rat out other participants in Anonymous-related direct actions. If you don’t know what a grand jury means, you can find out all about them here. Good luck to those who will probably be called the [something] 13.

The NSA and GCHQ Target TOR

This Guardian piece is a pretty good overview of the battle which has been taking place between the NSA and everyone who uses TOR for whatever reason. The bad news is that the NSA has been able to take advantage of vulnerabilities in older versions of Mozilla Firefox and theoretical methods for de-anonymizing TOR users have been presented in secret NSA documents. The good news is that newer versions of Firefox are not vulnerable to these NSA attacks and TOR itself is pretty fucking resilient. Something interesting that the piece touches on is the conflicting interests of the State in maintaining the security of TOR.

Exploring Generational Difference with Dr. Larry Rosen

In Phantom Phone Vibrations: So Common They’ve Changed Our Brains?, Dr. Larry Rosen’s thought-crumbs are briefly featured midst even more inane quotes and links about the psychological impact of mobile phones (such as a lady who mistakes cow moos for her phone and a research paper that concludes its subjects don’t need treatment for phantom phone vibrations). Feeling burned, I wanted to at least explore the topic a little more by checking out what Dr. Rosen has to say …beyond almost nothing. I visited his website and navigated over to the media section to watch his interview.

From this interview, it seems like Rosen’s main area of interest is in the way which different generations and technologies relate; a conversation topic which frequently comes up for me. While the generations are categorized by Dr. Rosen into a number of groups (the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Net Generation, the iGeneration, and Generation C), he also relies on a binary split between so-called “Digital Immigrants” and “Digital Natives”. This distinction comes into play with Generation X, after which people who are born are no longer migrating into a foreign world of digital technologies, but are native to . Comparing a Digital Immigrant with a Digital Native can be quite dramatic, with Baby Boomers struggling to keep up with 8 year old computer consultants and 9 year old smartphone application developers. Since it is these younger generations of Digital Natives that are mysterious and fascinating, explaining the extent to which these technologies shape their communication skills, daily routines, learning methods, and working habits becomes the focus of the interview.

What Dr. Rosen finds is that Digital Natives are more creative, switch between tasks more often and may be better at it than Digital Immigrants, face problems comprehending the impact of context while communicating, rely on text messages and social networking sites more than e-mail and phones, and lose sleep to mid-slumber conversations. This lays the groundwork for the advice Rosen later has for the Digital Immigrants that are parents and teachers. He also briefly mentions that digital technologies are making us all look like candidates for ADD, OCD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Voyeurism, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Facebook Depression Disorder. <-lol

Ok, so what this guy is saying isn’t surprising or too controversial. If you’ve ever interacted with someone under 30, you’ve probably noticed most of this. Being on the cusp of generational transitions in a number of systems (born in 1985), what interests me the most about this is exploring the details of different rule-sets I’ve learned to rely on if someone is older or younger than me. It’s a frustrating position. The Digital Immigrant in me is nostalgic for using landlines and payphones to orchestrate outdoor meet-ups, while the Digital Native in me can’t stand being on a telephone call for very long, hates the organization of work by older generations, and yet doesn’t intuitively understand the sorts of context-recognition issues that come with growing up immersed in digital communications. It’s a very strange mish-mosh of traits from both sides of the generational split.

Down and Drought’s TAILGATE: PHOENIX’S SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL SPIRALS OUT OF CONTROL

In local surveillance state news, Down and Drought has busted out another one of their top-notch pieces. This time, we get to read all about recent practices and technologies used by the Phoenix Police Department at a college football game and how this ties in with broader campaigns of state repression in the area. You wouldn’t know from the material I’ve included so far in Indigestion, but local anarchists have been doing an excellent job of exposing the police state here and maintaining a fresh analysis of ongoing struggles. A lot of this can be seen from references to past events in this current Down and Drought article, as well by checking out some of the other articles and resources on their site.

Petty, Shortsighted Americans Outraged At Legislature That Represents Them Perfectly

…Just a break for some more the Onion lolz leading into…

We Asked a Military Expert if All the World’s Armies Could Shut Down the US

Well here we fucking have it, the question of all questions about  US geo-political power: Who would win in a fight, the United States or the Rest of the World? The military expert’s short answer, “The combined military air- and sealift capability of the rest of the world would be insufficient to even get a foothold on the continental United States.” As for taking up a revolutionary position in the United States with this as the global last word scenario, it’s a grim picture. Though, revolution and even asymmetrical warfare are a lot different than this frontal battle type of hypothetical. And even that aside, I don’t think that the futility of a revolution in this country makes anarchist positions futile. If you can’t beat em then join em logic is horse shit. But I’ve digressed, military expert has a reasonable way of explaining the problems with anyone and everyone conquering the United States, which I thought was worth my five minutes.

Swiss to Vote on Guaranteed $2800 Monthly Income for All Adults

$2,800 every month?! Fucking hell that’s more than I’ve ever made at a full time job. That’s actually almost three times what I usually make if I’m lucky enough to get 40 hours of paid labor. Ok… ok, well good for them. Let me go and unclog my motivation from the toilet now.

Steve Lambert Asks Americans If Capitalism Works for Them

Steve Lambert is spot on when he demonstrates the problem of talking about capitalism by saying that it is like walking up to someone and asking if you could have a conversation with them about the Lord, Jesus Christ. His current project gets around some of these problems by making the question personal with a giant sign he is touring around with that reads “Capitalism works for me!”.  Local passers-by step up and push a true or false button, adding a point to either side of what looks like a score board. It’s actually a little more involved than you would think without hearing Lambert talk about his project (for example, in one of the videos on his site). Check out his introductory lecture and some of the interviews… see if he’ll be in your town!

2
Oct

Indigestion 10/02/2013

by Squee in Indigestion

This is the first digest in what I plan to continue as an ongoing project. I’m not sure how frequently I’m going to do these because some of this is more interesting the earlier it is read, but I’m considering a weekly if not bi-weekly release. My thoughts are that instead of passively consuming and then sharing this media on Facebook, with the exception of a comment about them here and there, I’m going to accumulate these things I read and watch and make an effort to write something more substantial in response. Admittedly, the point of me doing this is to get myself back into the habit of writing more frequently and about more contemporary and relevant issues. I don’t have any real expectations from this project except for the latter affect on my own daily life rituals.

Area Man Unsure If He’s Male-Bonding Or Being Bullied

I often like what I see on the Onion and this is no exception. I don’t want to ruin a joke by analysing it, so I’m just going to let a bit of man complaining drift into this next piece…

Dating Tips For The Feminist Man

The audience targeting in this is so damn goofy that my conclusion is …I like this article and I don’t. Let’s start with this second paragraph:

“You’re a straight monogamous cismale who identifies as a leftie. Maybe you’re a Marxist or a socialist; maybe you’re an anarchist. You respect women. You would never act like a player. You fall in love with strong, smart, feminist women. You believe that our movements are stronger if they include everyone.”

I almost stopped reading there as a queer, almost monogamousish sort-of person, who could sometimes be thought of as not cismale, and who is anti-Left or post-Left or something like that. But ok, that’s me and I’m sure there are plenty of these types the author is aiming at who for some reason have shit interpersonal relationship skills. This article is more-so advice for just about anyone and with the emphasis on hooking up, this may not be the sort of advice someone is looking for when they think of dating tips (there’s less talk of on-date etiquette and more talk about what to do before, during, and after having sex). There’s some good don’t be a fucking dick tips which some people may need to hear every so often, even if they’re not the target audience or even that much of a dick. So when it comes to elaborating on exactly what being a dick means, this is definitely a good reference. There is some other issues I have, for instance my individualism and values for mutuality and solidarity aren’t a contradiction, contra #11. I also have problems with #16, considering that behaviours of “retreat[ing] into your head or use[ing] logic to disconnect from empathy when you find emotions coming your way” is more than just an effect of sexism …and it’s fucking ablist to tell someone who isn’t neuro-typical with emotions that it is. Then again, the author might as well just add neuro-typical to that list in the second paragraph. Aside from that a lot of what bugs me is word choice and the main concerns of the piece come through fine.

 

Yes, My Musician Kids Have Jobs. They’re Musicians.

A nice example of parenting from the father of a Days N Daze member …or at least that is what I was told with the article’s posting since it doesn’t actually mention what band this guy’s talking about.

I can relate to this article in my own way because I was brought up by parents with a very similar attitude about my creative projects and lifestyle. Just as much, I often overheard my folks putting what I was doing in the language of business or in some way justifying to their friends what they were letting me do in supposedly adult terms. I know I didn’t think about what I was doing in that way and I have no idea if this band does because really, I haven’t listened to them much. But, I’ve had friends who have faced some nasty consequences from their parents in their struggle to basically just live a different lifestyle. In their perspective, any labor (creative, social, etc.) that has come with surviving with different values was seen more as a compromise than the pursuit of a profession and a good amount of “fuck work” masked the actual work this article points out. Either way, go Dad.

 

FBI seizes underground drug market Silk Road, owner indicted in New York

First of all, some of the responses I’ve seen to this have come from the naive perspective that Silk Road is the terrorist go to hotspot on the dark web. I’m not sure how anyone could get this idea if they’re already familiar with TOR routed websites, and if you aren’t I’d suggest this decent overview from GeekBlog’s YouTube. That being said, boohoo for almost a million people who were getting their thrills and chills from Silk Road …and even more boohoo for all the agorists, free market fundamentalists, black market enthusiasts, bitcoin utopians, or in other words white, middle-class economics geeks with scorn for history. Most of the tears will be coming from Ross Ulbricht, though. The man supposedly behind the Silk Road owner account Dread Pirate Roberts, who allegedly succeeded in two BitCoin-operated hired assassinations, like any good ancap says shit like this: “Now, my goals have shifted. I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind … I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force.” Apparently a world without the systemic use of force is a world with… oh, a world which uses systems of coercion and force paid for in digital currencies. But at least everything could be a legitimate commodity in that world, right?

Here’s some discussion by anarcho-capitalists being trolled by some anarcho-friendlies on Reddit

 

Coming Soon? An Occupy Wall Street Debit Card

In other capitalist apologizer news, the Occupy Money Cooperative is making headway on its plans to digitize your currency with comrade Deutsche Bank and ally Visa. I agree with the point at the end of this article that since Occupy is a consensus-based movement an approved cooperative, spoke, or whatever shouldn’t use the Occupy brand. If some Occupy-associated group wants to compete in the financial instrument markets then as I’d argue for anarchist groups associated with the Occupy Movement, they don’t need approval to do so. Overall, the Occupy Money Cooperative can go fuck itself and I don’t consent (in the fantasy that is now Occupy) to their association to begin with.

For further insight and critique of the scum bags that are the Occupy Money Cooperative, I’ll leave you to check out Suzahn Ebrahimian’s article which carries a similar perspective nicely.

 

The ‘sell-by’ dates on your groceries are useless. Here’s why.

I take it as a given that ‘sell-by’ dates are useless, but I never realized exactly how incoherent these systems are and food waste is one of those stastical figures that doesn’t stick in my brains.

There’s no question that food waste is a problem both from grocers and from restaurants. This issue has bothered me since I heard someone compare how many people go hungry nationally and globally with the insane amount of food that is thrown out in the US …and that’s before thinking about how much food would be saved from a more reasonable diet and the real impact vegetarianism has the more people adopt it (even though I don’t). Granted, the issue with ‘sell-by’ dates is a problem that I’ve benefited from in a huge way from dumpstering and the same can be said for plenty of people I know. I am pretty sure though that I would prefer to live in a community that does not produce so much food for the bins in the first place.

 

Disinfo Wars: Alex Jones’ War on Your Mind

Alex Jones… sucks. You can read this article if you want some specific data which demonstrates the extent to which he sucks, but you probably already know that this guy sucks. The article itself is, not bad. I don’t find its main argument very useful – which is that Alex Jones disrupts the spread of credible research and he might as well be a CIA operative carrying out COINTELPRO – for the most part because I think that’s an obnoxious argument that gets tossed about whenever someone thinks they are entitled to more attention for their research. I’ve known plenty of idiots that are Alex Jones fans who are impossible to convince of Jones’ bullshit; but, I’m positive that those same people would latch onto some other hokey garbage if Jones wasn’t around. What’s interesting to me is how much this dip-shit lies. I can verify for myself several things he’s lied about (every black bloc and riot being a false flag) and much of his commentary is clearly looney tunes. But, some of the things in this article show that Alex Jones isn’t just in the wing-nut camp, he’s intentionally deceptive. Even in his somewhat well-known documentation of the Bohemian Grove’s Cremation of Care ceremony, his sensationalizing goes beyond mere hype and into straight-up deception: the mother fucker was invited to it and snuck in without any fear of consequences.

 

 

Arizona Democrats, Obama Supporters Trash Office of Congressman David Schweikert

Come… QUICK! Somebody just put sticky notes on the principle’s door! “Pssst” whispers one teacher to another, “I heard it was actually student council members.”

trashedoffice

Nope, just a bunch of liberals letting off some steam; or, more like unrolling some masking tape.

What Happens If The Debt Ceiling Is Breached?

When economics tries to be doom and gloomy, it’s still some pretty dry shit. Instead of posting something about the government shutdown though, I wanted to put some focus on this. I’m not going to bother summarizing this one since I read it to learn more which also is to say that I probably couldn’t perform much of a critique (or even a summary). But there you go! That does it for the first half of the week.

 

 

26
Sep

Extra-Terrestrials Choose Hollywood’s Sexiest Geeks to Lead Humanity in the War Against the Machines

by Squee in Ramblings

jonny_lee_miller_angelina_jolie_hackers_1995

Are you a Sexy Super-Geek? We need you to lead the Resistance!

Once again, capitalism needs MORE GEEKS …and as always, Hollywood is here to build the prototype. There is a history to this trend. The movie Hackers came out in 1995, shortly before venture capitalists started frothing at the mouth causing the Dot-com bubble to grow. A decade earlier, and the nerd/geek archetype was whipped out in Revenge of the Nerds with the boom of the computer industry. Now with the controversial crises in qualified geeks (the STEM crisis), there has been no short supply of sexy scientists and hackers, adorable IT professionals, and hero worship of computer industry giants like Steve Jobs. The world is filling up with Brogrammers and fetishized female gamers.

But the economy really doesn’t matter to the powers that be. What is really happening which requires such a daring attempt to make geeky so sexy?

skynet-britanico\tHE MAChIneS R WINniNG!/

Just when you thought that organic trends, paleo diets, and the health food craze meant middle-class Americans wanted to get back to mother nature, here we are now in a world of Geek Heroes vs. Geek Villains, and the distinctions between the two aren’t very clear. Whose side are you on, Bill Gates or Jeremy Hammond? Are you an on the right wing or the left wing of intellectual property law? Certainly, you’ve heard of BitCoin! What do you mean you don’t have a smart phone?

Survival books aren’t about nature at all anymore. Now, they include a primer on cyber-spying, counter-insurgency, whistle-blowing, and 10 chapters on how to potentially protect yourself from the NSA (or the neighborhood peeping cyber-Tom). With the developments in brain-to-brain technology, google glasses, creating and deleting organic memories, and an endless list of sci-fi wet dreams come true, it’s hard to deny that ‘human’ is a useful distinction (not compared with other animals, but compared with machines). I’m not so far in the camp of tech paranoids that this is causing me nightmares or anything, just enough to admit that yes… the machines are winning.

Or are they?

Mars-Attacks-mars-attacks-30461370-300-364

Take me to your leader!

The real news, folks, is that the aliens are using Hollywood to find the best leaders to save humanity from the inevitable machine take-over. Or are the machines really alien technology that are being promoted by extra terrestrials through the sexy Nerd/Geeks, as evidenced by ancient alien technology and the difficulty in imagining that this modern tech is a human invention? Maybe it’s two or more species of extra-terrestrials with different plans based on different galactic interests in the future of Earth and the human species? MAYBE THE EARTH IS AN ALIEN THAT WANTS THE MAChINES TO WIN BECAUSE HuMANS HAVE PROVEN TO BE NONREDEEMABLE FAILURES!

DOOM!

DOOM!!!!!

!!!!!DOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

 

…Fuck it. Let’s just get going on this Mars thing and let Earth problems take a piss.

24
Sep

Revisiting a Lesson from Philosophy 101

by Squee in Ramblings

When I read intellectual debates on the internet, I tend to see very problematic presumptions in, incoherence, contradition, and a lot of people talking past each other. A lot of this could be avoided by using a simple guideline for articulating the features of someone’s position, which I’ll describe below. While I don’t recommend that for every debate on the internet, each participant begins with such a broad description of the philosophical positions they take in these areas. But, when the debate comes to a point of intense involvement, it is at that point which I think something like this is extremely useful. Also, as a tool for developing and assessing one’s own personal philosophy.

As anyone who has taken the most introductory class in philosophy presumably knows, philosophy is often divided into a variety of categories which deal with matters from distinct angles: metaphysics, psychology, epistemology, aesthetics, politics, ethics, pedagogy, etc. While there isn’t a strict hierarchy among these categories and their boundaries are permeable, depending on what type of argument is being made, certain things must be presumed logically about more fundamental issues. For example, if I were to make the argument to support an ethical statement about government and liberty, such as “It is unethical for governments to impose on the right of its citizens to bare arms”, the ethical question only really makes sense if we have some idea what liberty means, what the role of government is, what a citizen is, the capacities and limitations of human beings, whether or not God determines the course of human life, and such which create a reason to even ask this question in the first place with any import. So to really unpack and explore what may seem like a simple question of ethics, there is a lot of theoretical groundwork which should support and not contradict the statement. On the other hand, if someone were to make a metaphysical claim such as “nothingness is really a type of somethingness” they don’t need to cohere with any ethics, politics, psychology, or other categories which follow metaphysical conclusions.

While some of these categories depend on conclusions from others and some don’t, often they influence each other. The way in which someone understands the psyche (psychology) and knowledge and truth (epistemology) will influence their metaphysical positions. So when talking about metaphysical questions, there is always the problems of how any claim to truth can be made, if there is any truth to begin with.  The spiraling logical arguments which come out of this conundrum when talking about metaphysics and epistemology is an annoying, but necessary part of doing philosophy. When more and more conclusions are drawn about psychology, this also has an impact on former metaphysical and epistemological conclusions. What doesn’t happen though is the fleshing out of an epistemology or a psychology from metaphysical conclusions alone. Those two categories of questions and answers requires their own considerations which depend on metaphysics but aren’t sufficiently answered by metaphysics. Sometimes people attempt to use metaphysics (and physics) to make an argument for something social, such as “everything is in a state of homeostasis, therefor it is psychologically healthy to give gifts often”. The problem with statements like that (and others which glide over fundamental categories) is that everything being in a state of homeostasis, true or not, says absolutely nothing about the nature of the psyche and what consequences are the result of such-and-such behaviors.

Below is an ordered list of some philosophical categories, the next categories conclusions depending on the former categories conclusions:

 

- metaphysics (physics, biology, evolution, ontology, phenomenology, theology)

- psychology and epistemology (post-structuralism, existentialism, skepticism, behaviorism, divination)

- aesthetics (crafts, arts, applied sciences, technique, technology, style)

- ethics and politics (activism, war, friendship, ingroup-outgroup relations, international policy)

- pedagogy (learning, education, schooling, curricular design)

 

It may seem curious that aesthetics follows from psychology and epistemology, preceding ethics and politics. I could go into a detailed explanation for why I’ve positioned it there, but I hope that the subject matter in parenthesis will go some way of explaining the logic. The list follows a logic of questions beginning with “what is all of this?”, “what is thought, perception, knowledge, truth?”, “what is there to do, individually with the former conclusions?”, “in applying those conclusions as an aesthetics, what ethical limits do I want to place on my practices and what social position, enemies, friends …conflicts are the result of this practice?”, “how should I treat the next generation, what is both in their interests and in my own, and to what extent am I to impart my conclusions unto them?”.

This is what makes taking philosophy seriously a lot of work, but the consequences of that work, I believe, are invaluable. To be able to evaluate your own actions and make decisions on the grounds of your own conclusions, to have confidence in knowing what is in your interests and what serves those interests, to move through life with a rich and coherent perspective, etc. It is tempting to take short-cuts, by which I mean using some form of psychic manipulation to experience the emotions one wants (drugs, self-hypnosis, “faith”) or rely on the non-conclusiveness of God’s will or some other prefabrication.

…k well that was fun for a minute, but I just bored the hell out of myself.