Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thoughts on Yesterday's Post

On further reflection, I can't help but feel utterly appalled at the willingness people have to entertain delusion, in their attempt to affirm their own existence. I tried to speak to my ex-wife about this the other night, and she did everything short of putting corks in her ears to shut out what I was saying. Finally, she simply admitted that she's perfectly happy in her ignore-ance, considering the alternative would be to acknowledge that our having had children was a big, fat mistake. Understandable? Yes. Reprehensible? More than yes.

Furthermore, it's my considered opinion that almost everybody is aware of this universal trait of self-deception. The major religions of the world either ostensibly or tacitly acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with life. The world's mythologies are rife with stories about the 'fall of the world', offering escape routes of one kind or another. St. Paul even advised that it would be better if people stopped having children altogether; though he copped out in the face of his message's obvious futility. Doubly surprising when one considers that Christians are willing to bring a child into the world, full well knowing there's a chance the child might turn away from the
faith, and spend an eternity in God's torture chamber.

My ex is a Christian, btw, and both our children are agnostic, bordering on atheist. I can only wonder at the psychological hoops she's forced to jump through in order to maintain her denial that her little girls are headed for an appointment with a pitchfork. Knowing the way she thinks, I assume she's somehow convinced herself that they're actually Christians in a perpetual state of backslide; and that, at the end, Jesus will take that into account. I feel bad for her, but there's really not much I can do about it. After all, I'm the lone voice crying in the wilderness, countered by the interminable background noise of a whole culture intent on perpetuating the Lie.

I could go on, but I'm just too pissed off about the whole thing today. From time to time, it dawns on me that the whole idea about Truth being an ultimate ideal is just so much horseshit; most people are more than content to lie to themselves, and to pay professional liars to enforce those lies. And life affirmation is the biggest lie of them all. No...strike that! Bringing new lives into the world, in order to sustain the lie of life affirmation, is the biggest lie of all. Or, perhaps, it's just the biggest crime of them all.

And THAT'S the truth.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Life Lie

I found this essay at http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/achieve-happiness-by-creating-a-life-lie/ , and thought it was important enough to post in its entirety...

Achieve Happiness by Creating a Life Lie
February 28th, 2007 by John Wesley

Reality, when looked at truthfully, is quite depressing. We’re all doomed to tumultuous lives filled with toil and frustration. Most of us won’t live up to our potential. Most of our hopes and dreams will never be realized. Most of us will never become rich or famous or successful.
Just when you think a problem is solved, an uglier one replaces it. The cycle of desperation continues as our faculties decline. We lose our strength and beauty. We become shells of our former selves and eventually die.

Fortunately, thinking about the nasty truth can be averted with a well crafted Life Lie.
How? Luckily it’s easy. If you are relatively happy person, my guess is you already have one.
A Life Lie is a story we tell ourselves. A story we actually believe about our lives that lets us ignore reality and focus on a glorious future. Allow me to provide a background story.

I first learned about the Life Lie (in explicit terms) from reading a play; The Wild Duck by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The main character of The Wild Duck is a man named Hjalmar. By all accounts, Hjalmar is pathetic. His father was ruined by a shady business deal and he’s lived his entire life in shame. His poor family makes a living from a photography business. A business that his father’s arch enemy gave to him out of pity and that his wife runs for all practical purposes.

Useless old Hjalmar should be miserable, but in fact he’s quite the opposite. Despite his pathetic life, Hjalmar is happy because he’s created a beautiful Life Lie.

Hjalmar’s Life Lie is ingenious. He truly believes that he’s going to invent an incredible machine that will make his family wealthy and erase his shame. He doesn’t just tell himself this lie, he actually lives it. Each day he goes off on his own for a few hours, supposedly working on the invention.

What is he really doing? No one knows. It truth, it’s irrelevant. Each day he comes back in high spirits, believing he’s on the cusp of completing the invention and elevating his family.
This is the key to a great Life Life. You can’t just tell yourself a beautiful story. You really have to live the delusion.

After learning about Life Lies, I immediately identified with the concept. Despite myself, I tried to deny it.

I’m different, I thought. I’m no washed up old coot. All my hopes and dreams will come true. Or so I thought. Eventually I realized that it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is being happy, and a great Life Lie accomplishes that.

My Life Lie really isn’t that much different than Hjalmar’s. I believe that if I keep working hard, this blog will become incredibly popular or that I’ll come up with a great idea to make money online. Once I have the money problem taken care of, I’ll be free to indulge my passions for the rest of my life.

I don’t just tell myself this. Every day after work, I come home, boot up my personal computer, and start working on the next blog entry, Photoshop tutorial, redesign, or traffic building activity.

Let’s be real. Is my Life Lie really going to happen? Maybe. It’s not impossible, other people have done it, but success is far from certain. The odds are probably against it.

But that isn’t important. Believing a Life Lie gives my mind something to focus on. I can ignore the pain and uncertainty of life and work towards a goal. I sleep better at night because I know I’ve done my part. If it doesn’t happen, that’s fate.

Sometimes I lose my Life Lie. Reality sets in and it’s incredibly depressing. I feel my smallness, weakness, and the lack of control I have over my life. It’s almost unbearable. Fortunately, I always come up with a new Life Lie.

If you want to be happier, create a fantastic Life Lie for yourself. Don’t worry about what other people think. Convince yourself and start living it. If you’re already happy, keep living the lie.
If you lose faith in your Life Lie, don’t panic. Think about what really makes you happy, create a plan to achieve that happiness, and start working towards the plan. A Life Lie is merely a more accurate description of a life dream.

Thomas Jefferson said that the greater part of our happiness and suffering is caused, not by physical pain or pleasure, but by our hopes and fears. Knowing this, you can make yourself happy and avoid suffering.

By creating a beautiful Life Lie you can fill your life with hope and purpose. You can avert the paralyzing uncertainty of reality. You can live a life of ignorant bliss.

Even if your Life Lie isn’t real, your happiness is. In the end that’s all that matters.

Wow! I'd like to believe that the author is being ingeniously satirical; unfortunately, I'd just be lying to myself. Nonetheless, some fascinating (and telling) exposition here. Seldom are we offered such a clear picture of the coping mechanisms we employ to prop up this farce we call life. It's the 'emperor has no clothes' story, stripped of its metaphor, but with a twist at the end. The Lie becomes the thing-in-itself, the ultimate end AND means of the human sojourn. An understandable strategy when the truth becomes simply too hard to bear...at least, from the author's stated point of view that 'your happiness is all that matters'.

And is this psychological placebo really so different from the maxims offered by the various self-help schools of thought; from the life affirmation gurus who fill the New Age shelves at the bookstore, to the Buddhists who tell you to 'detach and rise above' the suffering of the world? The message seems pretty much the same to me: "Skeptician...delude thyself!"

Which probably isn't the worst strategy in the world, from a personal level; beats the hell out of suicide, anyway. Except, we are willing to sacrifice other lives for the sake of maintaining the Lie. We keep spawning generation after generation, because to even question this process is to peek under the curtain of our motives for doing so; and that, above all else, is unacceptable. Thus the visceral, unreasoned reactions towards subjects like antinatalism; because the Lie is actually a thin veneer covering a barely concealed Truth. The truth that life, taken as a whole, is not a good thing.

The Great Life Lie-a consuming fire, kept alive and blazing through the children we are willing to cast into it, and all simply because we're afraid of the dark.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Night Falls For Each of Us

But when it falls for all of us,
who'll be left to mourn?
The stars will be set free from their constellations.
The moon will breath a sigh of relief,
and return to its state of modesty.
The sun will rise unanticipated,
and not be held accountable for anything at all.

Best of all, hell will finally freeze over,
while heaven waits...forever.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Below Replacement Level

Keeerist, I hate that expression; referring to human breeding levels, of course. Makes the aggregate of wombs sound like a global parts warehouse. "Hey, Ernie...looks like we's running low on #7-G hominids. Youse better gets ahold of the factory rep, and tells him to lights a fire under them slack-off line workers."

Of course, this is EXACTLY the prevalent attitude of the pronatalist crowd, and always has been. Never question the course, just keep shoveling the coal, and surely we'll eventually get there. And make damned sure there's more of us, than of them!

So silly. So futile. An imaginary kingdom, built in an unreachable future, on the backs of children who never asked to be born. A trifle of no real consequence if there were no suffering along the way. But there is...plenty of it. Both physical, and psychological. And for what? A vision of what might be (really based on nothing but a rather pathetic kind of hope), for some future citizens who don't even exist. I've made the point before, folks, and I'll make it several more times along the way. It's all about irrational, non-sensical vicarious immortality; a subconcious game played with real pawns. You are programmed to die. I am programmed to die. Why pass this 'gift' along to succeeding generations? Why not just play with it ourselves; and when it breaks, it breaks.

Every child born, is a child condemned to some degree of suffering according to the luck of the draw, and to death. Always. And yet, all human suffering could be eliminated in a single generation. In a sea of preposterously imaginary solutions, there is one absolutely sure way to end suffering, and death. Simply...stop...breeding. It's as easy as a trip to the drugstore, or an outpatient visit.

Don't have children. There'll be nobody to thank you for it, and that's what makes it such a selfless, philanthropic act. Let each death be final; faced squarely for what it is, instead of buying into this ludicrously deceptive hedging of bets that procreation tempts us with. Let the end truly be the end, and know that, in eliminating human suffering and death, you are doing a good thing. A very good thing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Meet the Woman Who Won't Have Babies

This link http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=495495&in_page_id=1879&in_page_id=1879&expand=true#StartComments will take you to an article about a woman who had herself sterilized to help 'save the planet'; and, while my antinatalist stance isn't primarily motivated by environmental concerns, I'll take my allies where I can get them.

Anyway, the reason I've posted this is to direct your attention to the 'comments' section of the article. Here's my favorite:

"How bizarre to say babies 'pollute the planet'! Surely by this logic you ought to commit suicide for the benefit of the planet.What is the point of saving the planet if there's nobody to save it for? And what a miserable, squalid and agonizing old age we'd all have if nobody had any children to provide the next generation of doctors, wheelchair pushers and bin men!I think the eco-argument is an excuse."- Emily, London UK

Once upon a time, we used to throw our children into volcanos in order to insure a good harvest, health for the tribe, etc. The only difference I see between that circumstance and the general pro-natalist philosophy as expressed above is, nowadays we expect them to feed, clothe, and carry us on their way to the volcano.

Monday, March 3, 2008

To Live Happily is to Lie Heartily

At least...to an extent.

I happened to catch something on the downstairs T.V. out of the corner of my eye last night, on my way back from the kitchen after having fetched a fistful of Doritos. A woman and her two young daughters were sending some rather large, colored balloons skyward, after attaching notes addressed to 'Daddy' (I gather he was a soldier killed in Iraq, or something). Some guy obviously involved in instigating this nonsense was assuring the kids that their father would soon be reading their letters in heaven. I've gotta tell you, the whole deal gave me the willies, and that's laying aside the tasteless exploitation of childrens' pain for entertainment value.

Once again, it occurred to me how much the palatability index regarding human existence, is artificially inflated and maintained by an egregious mountain of lies. There is this ocean of hard truths out there, walled up behind a piss-weak facade built largely of deceptions both overt and subtle. We buy into them, we pass them along; we internalize them to the extent that anyone who dares to point them out faces knee-jerk ridicule, and sometimes even threat. But rather than make a list here, I'd like to suggest that they all boil down, more or less, to this one truistic palliative, "It'll all work out ok."

That, my friends, is why I ended up having children. Oh, I had the doubts, the skepticism (though not fully formed as yet), the anxiety about doing something I knew in my heart of hearts was probably not the best idea. But, as was my wont in those days, I turned to my then-wife, and she would allay my fears with those magic words, "It'll all work out, honey. Everything's going to be all right." It was the permission I needed to grasp at a life affirming faith; to choose feeling better about things than a truly reasonable approach would warrant.

I have two children now- daughters. One's already a legal adult, with the other following along shortly. I love and cherish both of them, though I'll openly confess the way has been thorny at times (still is!). I hope the best for them, but I have very few illusions left. Yes, they will have moments of joy- in between the tedium, the anxiety, the banality, the loss, the suffering, and the dying. And, of course, the self-deception, with which they will try and strike an imagined balance between the very unbalanced poles of human experience. It won't be easy for them; I've taught them to cultivate clarity, which is, perhaps, the greatest of my many sins. There is another truism...'ignorance is bliss', but that one's far beyond my reach these days.

I've also encouraged both of them (with great vehemence, at times) NOT to have children. One's in love, and of an age not to pay particular respect to an old man's 'advice'; though I'm still hopeful that the logic I've ingrained in her since she was 4 will eventually win out. The other one seems to understand the way the deck is stacked; at least, so far. Of course, this could have all been avoided by simply sticking to my guns at the beginning (isn't 20/20 hindsight the BEST kind of hindsight?), and I wouldn't miss them any more than I miss all the other potential sons and daughters I might have hypothetically sired had I never wised up.

One more thing: to those whose simplistic rejoinders to the antinatalism stance condense to, "If you hate life so much, why don't you kill yourself?", my responses are (and not in any particular order...

You already know.
Why do you even bother?
Oh, and...go fuck yourselves (now THAT'S responsible fornicating!)

*It strikes me to point out that I'm just having a little fun with that last Tourettical outburst there. It's not even aimed at any critic of mine; rather, it's just a little snark at the simplistic rejoinders I've seen around the net in response to the idea that one shouldn't bear children. So, no offense to anyone who might happen to take offense; unless, of course, you're one of the ones I'm referring to. Then, by all means take offense!*