Wednesday, September 25, 2013

They Devour

Structural Example

Presume that you beat someone up every couple months or so, whenever you've had a bad day at work. Fists, elbows, all that. You just walk into her apartment, beat the hell out of her, and then, after you're done, you get her some ice. You order her favorite meal, set her on the couch, and rub her neck. When she still seems a little down, you tell her, "Hey, you gotta make the best of it. Roses are red, sunsets are beautiful, and tiramisu is tasty."

How nice are you? How good is your advice?

The structural elements of this issue are as follows:

1) You feel bad yourself (bad day at work);

2) You cause something bad to happen (beating up another person);

3) Someone suffers (other person gets beat up);

4) You suggest, and assist with, a coping strategy (you rub her neck and get her tiramisu).

So, how nice are you? If hurting another person is bad, does helping them out afterwards exonerate your original crime? Was the beating, itself, right? What if it's not a beating, but just a few insults--maybe you tell the person, while laughing, that she's worthless. "Beating" is emotional and physical, so reconsider the same question, but assume it's just a negative verbal act, to eliminate the emotional distortion of the physical component.

All that done, does it exonerate you that you felt bad yourself before passing that badness on to others? Or that you "helped" that person out afterwards, by suggesting how she could learn to deal with the sad feelings you instilled in her?

2013, Real World

The domestic psychological operations agent known as "Louis C.K." has spent years targeting middle-class self-identified Caucasians with a high degree of success. His recent work in the field proved intriguing enough to his colleagues to permit him multiple appearances on Conan O'Brien's venerated program. In his second appearance in late 2013, he delivered a strong message of hopelessness to individuals who might dare to challenge existing social structures. C.K. spoke, sic:
[U]nderneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it's all for nothing and that you're alone. It's down there. And sometimes when things clear away, you're not watching anything, you're in your car, and you start going, 'oh no, here it comes. That I'm alone.' It's starts to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it...

Parsing through the Snickering Rich Fat White Dude act, we translate:

1) Life is empty.

2) Life is sad.

3) Every accomplishment, both personal and social, is for nothing.

4) This applies to "everyone;" e.g., no matter what you think, your life is empty, sad, and pointless.

5) If you don't distract yourself by "watching something," you will eventually realize these truths.

6) You are alone.

C.K. then went on to giggle a little about smartphones, slur all human children ever born on this planet as "mean," and suggest that we must learn coping strategies for the emptiness of our lives, such as not using smartphones.

Hell

All dressing aside, what could be the worst possible thing to tell someone? "You're a stupid-head," "you're economically unsuccessful," or even, "Everything you've ever cared about has been destroyed, and I enjoyed it," does not reach the level of pure evil that C.K. has achieved above. To declare, "There is nothing except unalterable sadness and despair," is the worst thought one can possibly express. It implies not only the waste, destruction, and ostracism of other insults, but turns happiness itself into an isolated refuge; a farce; a lie. Even your tiramisu is a lie (cake! ;)); the ecstasy of the symphony or the gallery is a lie; not only your love, but everyone else's love, now and forever, is really a veneer atop eternal sadness.

Never doubt that evil exists. These are the people who strive to make the world hell. Be on the lookout for smiling, laughing, good-natured people who are desperate to convince others that existence is misery. Life is full, both sadness and happiness can exist, and it is only in the darkened dreams of lustful demons that times of despair prove the futility of times of happiness.

More Politically Put

Elite entertainment branches disseminate and celebrate the message of hopeless to encourage docile behavior. People who believe that life is essentially worthless are less likely to cause trouble for their masters, because what's the point? If there is no point, then there is, by definition, no point. If "watching something," e.g. distracting yourself temporarily by purchased sensations, be they TV or trinkets, is the only way to occasionally alleviate the misery of truth, you become an excellent, functional cog. You follow orders, labor, and cherish the few moments when you can live vicarious levities that, deep down, you know are worthless anyway.

Hopeless people are willing to not rebel; to suffer constant cuts to their permitted resources and movement patterns; to support lesser evils in all aspects of life; to be obedient to bosses they don't respect; to work at things they don't care about; to do business with companies whom they know are lying to them. Honor and truth have no place in the hopeless world--in a world that is empty, to what end, dignity? Any conception of an empty world mandates behavior in accordance with emptiness, namely, "dealing with it the best you can."

If there is no escape from misery to offer--if, instead, life is meant to be happy--people may suddenly become brave. They may think of the happiness of generations ahead, and fight for them, rather than gobble a few distractive "somethings" because they believe the next generation is doomed to sadness anyway. If life means something instead of nothing, they may seek deeper knowledge; they may improve themselves; they will be less willing to suffer the abuse of themselves or others.

The message of hopelessness is carefully, masterfully crafted by those it benefits. The frequent refocusing of our general attention toward both subtle and overt versions of the theme, "Life is but a distraction from waiting emptiness," is performed to rationally ground almost all other elite cultural messages.

Altruism has to be marketed based on, "how good it makes you feel." To get people to care about war, you have to tell them, "It costs you money," or, "It could result in blowback that could hurt you," because otherwise, who the hell cares if X-thousand people die? Operatives like C.K., above, are a major part of why so many "first world" humans possess the chilling, terrible power to find out that someone is killing thousands of our fellow humans and not immediately get up and put a stop to it. Americans gloss over cluster-bomb-baby pictures because those hunks of bloody shrapnel would only have led lives that were "forever empty" and "all for nothing." Our collective stupor is only partly--a very small part--caused by lying politicians. The decree that life is "all for nothing" is a far more powerful calmative than budget bloviations or geostrategical window dressing.

5 comments:

  1. The only part I would dispute is the plan vs. unfortunate side effect of the enlightenment problem. At a minimum, Rousseau was aware of the mess those thinkers were getting us in.

    Per Allan Bloom's diagnosis:
    "Locke had illegitimately selected those parts of man he needed for his social contract and suppressed all the rest, a theoretically unsatisfactory procedure and a practically costly one. The bourgeois is the measure of the price paid, he who most of all cannot afford to look to his real self, who denies the existence of the thinly boarded-over basement in him, who is most made over for the purposes of a society that does not even promise him perfection or salvation but merely buys him off. "

    and

    "Once the old virtues were refuted—the piety of the religious or the honor of the nobles—Hobbes and Locke assumed that most men would immediately agree that their self-preservative desires are real, that they come from within and take primacy over any other desire. … Locke’s rational and industrious man partakes, as a prototype, of the charm of the sincere man who acts as he thinks and, without fraudulent pieties, seeks his own good. Beneath his selfishness, of course, lies an expectation that it conduces more to the good of others than does moralism. "

    and

    " Nihilism in its most palpable sense means that the bourgeois has won, that the future, all foreseeable futures, belong to him, that all heights above him and all depths beneath him are illusory and that life is not worth living on these terms."

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  2. Basically I'm torn between unconditional compassion and fuming hatred for the enthusiastic embrace of 'the burgeois way of life' by some.

    It may be an old-fashioned concept, but there is something to it. My wife tells me that one of the biggest differences between her old and new schools (located in upper middle class and working class neighborhoods respectively) is that parents in the poorer neighborhood are (on average) are more polite, empathetic, and grateful, while the middle classers (on average) were demanding, inconsiderate, anxious, and ungrateful, no matter what. Ugh.

    As long as you start telling me that you love science, are atheist, and love organic food I know you're basic.

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    Replies
    1. The race and class elements of all of these things do correspond pretty neatly. Bourgeoisie have an artificially "long" view of things, gushing about anarchy, atheism, and technology, while subtly condescending toward the Hispanic, African-American, and Scots-Irish white trash who still (occasionally; maybe only occasionally) respect the neighborhood policeman, the community church, longstanding, non-interchangeable personal relationships, and other outdated things--because those things actually help them in a day-to-day way. The bourgeoisie have already bought their way into neighborhoods where the need for such things is veiled, so they consider the hoi polloi as something of a neanderthalic race in need of psychological salvation.

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  3. "psychological salvation" indeed.

    "The dream of the liberal democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeoisie" (Flaubert)

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