Friday, March 30, 2018

Legs in Eggs

La vie est une tragédie pour celui qui sent, et une comédie pour celui qui pense.
Feelings are extremely harmful things to possess in the time of humanity. Like apoptosis, there are many other more plausible scenarios--genetically programmed characteristics--which could fulfill the same relationship to a positivity of growth or random evolutionary success as the pseudo-benefits supposedly fostered by building organisms with terminator cells or emotional worry about imagined conclusions.

The quote above, attributed posthumously to de La Bruyère, translates into English as "Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think." So true, and what a demented stew it becomes when one attempts to do both. The mouse can perhaps speculate on the existence of an owl--to the mouse, a force of complete and utter death and misery--when it contemplates running across the field at night, but the human's ability to imagine terrors for which it has no, nor will ever have, proximate evidence akin to a screech is many degrees more advanced a form of anxiety, and cannot be likened to a ritual which contributes to increased running speed or additional mental resources applied to noticing one's surroundings like the actions of the mouse hoping to feed where owls fly.

Feelings can be related to positive evolutionary results, though never justified in being created, randomly or purposefully, to achieve said results. (This is one of the many tacit understandings possessed by people then tricked into believing in, or hoping for, Christianity.) For example, postulate two enemy tribes of equal strength, able to achieve parity in numbers due to equally successful reproduction and resource-management strategies, identical knowledge of metallurgy, et cetera. They are going to fight tomorrow over access to additional farming territory, which for the victors, will mean a substantially larger population in a generation or two, and for the defeated, an unchanging society that eventually vanishes. Tribe 1 rests easily through the night, while some significant portion of Tribe 2's warriors speculates about the meaning of life, the meaning of death, the wishes of the Eagle God for the outcome of the battle, and so forth. Which tribe wins?

Modern Terran Bangism holds that the less rested tribe will win. Worrying about the outcome of the battle, rather than achieving necessary and sufficient mental or physical rest, is deemed advantageous due to the inexplicable performance increases experienced by the exhausted warrior. Those warriors' failures to resolve, but willingness to address regularly, various metaphysical conundrums, will--somehow, says the Bang religion--result in increased crop yields and offspring.

More humorous are Bangist conclusions about the effectiveness of only exhausting worry, rather than worry engaged in during other times. For an illustration, use the example above, and presume that both Tribe 1 and Tribe 2 worried about the process and outcome of the battle identically regarding the details and duration of their worry. Tribe 1 did its worrying over dinner, while Tribe 2 stayed up all night instead, worrying. Again, Bangism holds that the less rested tribe will win. Even if both sides had the same theoretical benefit of over-analyzing and worrying about impossible or unlikely scenarios related to the battle, which may have produced a preparatory benefit against tribes which did not think about the details, many modern survivors demonstrate that the trait "worries rather than rests" is far more evolutionarily successful in some groups than the trait "worries over dinner but sleeps without automental interruption." How ridiculous! After billions of years of competition, the duck-billed platypus may have proved the master of a certain evolutionary niche, but the idea that humans who mentally self-mutilate during attempted sleeping periods defeat or outlast those humans whose bodies choose sleep is quite illogical.

The beneficial results of stress or worrying are not always argued to be so ridiculous; it is postulated, for example, that the contrasting nighttime thought of the ancient European and the African were very beneficial to the former. If the European, for example, worries about the integrity of the shelter and/or food stores each night, fewer infants will freeze to death and fewer preserves will be forgotten about or stolen or lost to the weather, therefore the winter can be survived, whereas just thinking "Mmmm bed soft, bed warm," or "I hope I have great food/sex tomorrow" does not lend itself to such preservation. The tribe which can't think about necessary tasks, and which does not suffer such stresses, has too much spoiled food and too many exposed infants, and thus must retreat to the tropics. (Again, though, to random-mutation dogma, any such pro-evolutionary considerations must often interfere with mental and physical rest to be surviving traits. If someone merely spends spare time at other hours of the day being a conscientious survivor, it won't work. The prevalence of the trait "worries at unwanted times" in so many individuals today, particularly if they are ancestral members of a dominant human strain, demonstrates under Bangism how evolutionarily effective it was.)

Such entertaining ad-hoc rationalizations are, though, functionally useless, though they add a veneer of explanation to our retrospective view of how things might've happened. Of course, White people have existed in tropical climates before, and their pre-planning and worrying made their cultures similarly more successful compared to others; they could still build nicer things, and their having been massacred by people who could not of themselves survive winters does not prove that the Whites were developed by or for winters. Substantial evidence of long-lasting, successful White cultures achieving success in non-wintry environments proves that this fantasy of forgery by the ice is, however flattering, untrue. All of the theoretically positive functions of stress could be much more easily generated by an overpowering urge to check the food, check the doors, et cetera, without throwing into the mix worries about someone else's winters thirty seasons from now, metaphysical wonder or excessive thought on the nature of truth or beauty. Feelings are nice, to be sure, but they are not useful as traits for competitive mating. A desire to spend two decades producing the finest visual art may produce a net reproductive gain for a tiny percentage of people for a comparatively tiny slice of available human history during which that art can be monetized and/or socially appreciated/respected, but for a majority of people, a desire to devote large portions of time to being a rich and successful actor or sculptor, et cetera, is not rewarding in the evolutionary sense, consistently, over thousands of generations. How many novelists used their art for evolutionary gain before the printing press (let alone after)?

What many of us humans worry about or dwell upon is far in excess of what could theoretically provide a benefit. Indeed, as in the case of a tribe staying up all night exhausting itself before a contest of survival--or every or most such contests they ever face, if fretting pointlessly is their minds' molecularly generated way--the levels of thoughtfulness many of us have "achieved" are demonstrably not conducive to survival. Even in modern times, the office employee or assembly line worker who stays up worrying and then performs less than optimally, loses his job and moves to the street, serves as a good modern example about the failure of feeling. Nervousness at public speaking before the big industry conference and succeeding promotions; worrying about whether Mr. Johnson likes your quarterly report or not and thereby having weird sweaty hands when he wants to shake, or sleeping through your alarm and being an hour late; modern examples are easy to understand, but would be dwarfed by the ways in which caveman-examples or medieval-examples could show the harmful nature of feelings. A man who becomes ill and then spends his evenings worrying about death and getting his affairs in order, rather than faking affection for unattractive partners and trying to get a few kids implanted based on pretty lies, is far less reproductively successful than one who stays focused on the survival of the selfish gene. Indeed, adaptation to modern social mores and notions of proper behavior has proceeded at an incredibly fast pace, far exceeding the utterly absent adaptations for genetic survival which the age could reward.

Some people feel a need for existential validation, or spirituality, or other such things, the presence of which can be, ridiculously, explained as an evolutionary benefit which, despite its connection with suicide, life-destroying worry, or limited or eliminated reproduction, helps foster a need for community that then itself benefits the anxious, or some other flimsy pretext for explanation. Of course, the desire for community could be and has been mentally created without any of the negative things, but our attempted retrospective justifications try to tie everything we find into a potential benefit to save the core thesis, similar to attempts to explain why a good omnipotence would cause that school bus to crash--e.g., if a man has the overpowering desire to live near trusted allies, versus a man has metaphysical quandaries and is indirectly driven to seek social validation in them, we can pretend that both things are a benefit, or that one doesn't tend more toward deadly, and detrimental to survival and reproduction, consequences compared to the other, and is thus an evolutionary failing, particularly if others have only the first trait. How traits of anxiety could have won out, in the battle for survival, with the desire to compliment your friends and family more often, or give hugs every day to random people you meet, or to be extremely flattered when you are hugged or complimented, is one of the mysteries that abounds in Bang dogma (um, that dude who kidnapped those kids and tortured them to death exists because God has a plan--modern religion is really as stupid as older such dogma, despite our pretense that we have no such dogma. An interesting dissertation from some biology major's capstone endeavor, if it hasn't already been presented to some overjoyed committee, might be a horribly wishful description of why sleep-ruining anxiety is far more helpful than anxiety which causes people to recall or complete tasks earlier in the day). Similarly, a people determined to die with their honor intact rather than fight like rats to have more of a chance of reproducing, can be said to be an evolutionary benefit because it fosters some kind of honor-based society, but the numbers in favor of reproducing rats versus the nobly dying honorists strongly favor the rats...and yet, an affection for things like "honor" abounds. If honor randomly occurred during a competitive random evolution, the idea that it would out-reproduce a sneakier or more vigorous or longer-lasting sex drive is absurd. Men can and do father children at eighty, yet in their twenties or earlier, their cells are designed to start becoming less vigorous--the notion of an organism custom-designed to reproduce and materially thrive is embarrassingly false. For modern Bangists, it's hilarious and perhaps embarrassing to think that people once believed someone rose from the dead and performed healing just by wishing it, but the Bang-based justifications for human character are far more ridiculous. We have no proof that a Risen Rabbi really did bypass death and perform miracles, but we also have no proof that it didn't happen. Being sure it happened is a certain kind of stupid, but cannot compare, in quantity of "stupid," with a belief in directionless mutations--the very models that are used to support randomized mutations having a positive effect disprove it. There are thousands more to study; summon up the thought of any nervousness-related human mental trait which theoretically fosters a sense of community, then come up with ten superior traits, and wonder, "Why did the nervousness one triumph?" Any stupid trait could have been created under a random system, but how such a mental tendency could then outlast "longer fertile lifespan" or "sturdier biceps," or how "compulsion to miss sleep by repeatedly envisaging scenarios of yourself at work tomorrow" could defeat "compulsion to get plenty of sleep and do things faster and better tomorrow," is a question so absurd as to provide its own answer. Certainly some slow, infrequent thinkers might come up with an incredible strategy that saves their job only when thinking about it in the middle of a sleepless night, but this is the apex of hundreds of thousands of years of competitive development of the human organism? The required jests for believing Bangism are numerous.

Honor? Compassion? A sense of decency? Oh, your opponent makes a sad face when you knock him down, so you stab him in the neck and go home. Or you have a time-consuming conversation with him and accept his promise to not be mean again. Or he drops his sword and is disarmed through no fault of his own or the wind randomly blows him off his feet during your duel, so you stab him through the neck. Or you look proper, let him steady himself and recover his weapon, and then resume the duel so you can see who's really the best? Which is more likely to lead to a trouble-free future for you and your offspring? And yet, the recurring western obsession with alliances forged when people recognize honorable behavior. Because then you can forge a mightier alliance. Yes, but so mighty, this alliance, that it can overcome the hard realism of the alliances of everyone else who stabbed their enemy through the neck instead of handing the fallen weapon back? Even understanding that the vast majority of people who got doe-eyes and waited to be stabbed instead of stabbing are dead and unavailable to the future honorable alliances? Elements of paganism and monotheism both explain the existence of these things; competitive random evolution, no. How stupid must we be to contemplate the victories of the honorable non-stabbers, who then go unstabbed in turn so much that they out-fight and out-breed the "dishonorable"? There's a little bit of that naive, doe-eyed idealist, indeed, in the ability to believe that surrendering nicely really pays off in the toughest of fights. (Ironic that only in a world where Bangist evolution is false could people be so silly and soft-headed as to believe in Bangist evolution. A population of hard-headed realists, asked to contemplate the thriving of competitive compassion in a brutal arena of the species, would have more accurate answers.)

Conjecture the existence of a pre-newborn chick developing in an egg which chick can think in a language that you can understand. Being able to think, the chick wonders why life inside a tiny environment calls for those two protrusions on its lower half which keep getting bigger. To the chick who's only ever been sort-of extant in the egg, there's no non-metaphysical justification for it, anymore than for limbs on humans in the womb. Existential necessities are fully provided for, waste is removed, and there's really no reason for legs in eggs; it takes quite the flight of wishful fancy to imagine some "use" for such nonsensical things, which by definition do nothing but pointlessly exist, sometimes make you feel cramped, and take up space that could otherwise be used for stretching or sleeping or eating.

The existence of the worthless, obstructive, existentially harmful things in humans is similarly explained. Truth, justice, honor, decency, et cetera, are pleasant enough when they find rare bedfellows in this material, or some purpose for or validation of those things is imagined, but otherwise these things eminently hinder the process of acquiring assets or reproducing. The Bangist notions of a selfish world whereby people destroy each other, and other things, in order to attain temporary material supremacy, is as wrong as it is obscene, because these inexplicably present things some of us have--those who are more prepared to go somewhere better, versus the rotting yolks of those who want to stay in this forever--evince considerations beyond the seen. Indeed, the most boring and mundane, decidedly non-spiritual analysis of these things produces the materially necessary conclusion that, like infant legs, they have a purpose and a reason for existing that does not, cannot, depend upon achieving success here.

There are hopeful ancillaries to such thoughts, certainly, for existence being confined solely to this filthy stab wound where truth and honor are worthless, nigh-imaginary distractions from doing well is an awful thought if you're getting strong enough to ever go somewhere else. It hurts to be cramped against the walls, rather than free to bounce around enjoying the environment. The temptation is strong, particularly in a culture dominated by Bangism, to believe that the randomly produced traits of worrying about the lifetime future or the post-lifetime future is merely a curious variant meant to inspire you to better accumulate and leave more stuff to your genetic legacy, yet viewing the irrationality of "legs growing in the egg-as-world" through a sober, un-spiritual lens, we are forced to conclusions, however unpleasant (unpleasant as unbelievable, in a world that favors the patented lifespan, whether in the sense of one trip per person and no more, or this ride lasts forever but with better treats later) in a certain type of way.

This one can perhaps make transitions more palatable--believable, to the modern mind--by promising that the kinds of sensations we might here call something like "existential dread" are more profound elsewhere, in keeping with the same complexity variance protocols of developmental cycles which are also capable of similarly magnifying the size and quality of existential satisfaction and passable pleasure. To whit, enjoying a street vendor's hot dog here is comparable in difficulty of obtaining to what, elsewhere, might be enjoying a thousand years of a pristine love affair. I can drop all kinds of hints about transcendental nirvanae, but more appealing to the critical, oft-marketed-to Terran mind, which has been heavily inundated with stories of very suspicious, incomplete and culturally- and temporally-dependent paradises or ineternal hells, is more likely to view negatives as plausible, and from there move to considering the potential reality of positives. Ergo an existential dread of contemplating possibilities pertaining to why light shines or why perception is, and what unthinkably dark answers might lay beyond those curtains are, ironically, a better way to begin envisioning the positive aspects of an "afterlife" than trying to meta-conceive of super-hot otherworldly androgynes applying your sunscreen lotion (or whatever the hell else it is; crystallized local stuff or flights of faraway fancy, either can wrongly but hopefully serve).

The worthless appendages of having, or aspiring to, the understanding of qualities which have no material evolutionary purpose--in particular, those which recur in entities of questionable material utility: those entities which have theoretically "won" so far at the Terran breeding competition, e.g. exist now, despite the worthlessness, or, indeed, the negative utility of their traits--are clearly extant only as predecessors to something which we cannot here understand, e.g. some level of development of entities for which things like "morals" or "honor" are not mere amazingly over-represented by-products of randomness which harm survival chances but somehow keep occurring, but traits with a purpose, the purpose and use of which is something not found here. It is laughable or offensive to say this to the new generation of geocentric flat-earthers, who will not believe that there could be something or somewhere else beyond that which their technology at present can show them. Nonetheless, it is perhaps Galilean as we like to think of it to, at least inside what remains of the privacy of your mind, allow yourself to believe a little less and suspect a little more. Those legs have to grow if you ever want to get out of here.

The idea of morals as a testing element in God's cruel and confusing plan has many deep and grievous problems, particularly to the moral individual, but that theory is at least semi-plausible, in comparison to the "must've been good in competition" alternative theories offered by Bangism. Indeed, a homicidal, infantile tantrum-God may exist at the highest stage of all of this; that is, however stupid and terrible the clumsily delivered implication that such a being should be worshiped, the story that He exists and does actually have those plans and desires and contradictions in His holy books is far more sound a theory than that of Bangism, which is, so to speak, that the tornado hit the junkyard and turned it into a working 747.

Many philosophers and philosophies have played about this concept; Christianity certainly has its illusions, but admits an existential confusion in the inability to understand that something is meant to happen; the Hindu and Buddhist traditions of accepting or preparing for being detached from the world-as-womb are more directly on-point and less Terra-centric, and as preparatory exercises, they are certainly more honest and less anthrocentric than the childish analogies of perpetual humanish pleasures determined to be the rewards of any stage of growth.

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