Bigsley the Oaf

To Know Ourselves/Drowning in Life

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on November 28, 2011

There is a very common feeling that something is wrong. Something is wrong with our morality. Something is wrong with our consumption patterns. We are fundamentally bad – the same genes and culture that created you also created Hitler, Stalin, Charles Manson, etc. etc. etc. There is genocide and war. There are liars in the government. Everyone will die. The sun will eventually crash into sun, but long before that (with any luck), an asteroid will crash into earth, obliterating life.

Something is wrong, something is wrong, something is wrong, something is wrong…

A lot of the time it feels like it’s the background to everything. You’re watching the news and you can feel it in each pronouncement: new genocide here, new protest there, new corruption scandal over there. You watch a Disney movie, and it’s there, behind every smile. Something bad will happen to those characters. They may look happy now, but they will get old, and diseased, and die. Everything, everywhere. All culture, all religion, all time.

But then, every once in a while, something good happens. This something unerringly takes the form of a technology. Like the dishwasher, or the car, or taming horses, or taming fire. Something that makes us collectively exhale our tension – something that makes us forget that everything is wrong, something that makes us feel as if we’re finally – finally! on an upward trajectory.

I feel like there is some very deep truth, here, that I can’t quite uncover. I can’t say it. I feel it. I know it. But, I can’t put it into words. Instead I’ll just say a few (seemingly unrelated) things and hope that you can see the connection:

– Cancer cells are the same as regular cells, they’re just cells that “do not die when they should.” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_cell]

– The idea for the pyramids could not have possibly come from anywhere. It is completely, 100% irrational. It is not the solution the a problem. Thus, humans are capable of monumental collective undertakings without there being an underlying, “real,” reason.

— The connection being that the pyramids might have been the consequence of over-population, of human cancer, which had to take some form before technology allowed it to attain self-control.

– Humans have undergone a process of self-knowledge, but this process is still ongoing. Does it have a possible completion? Can humans ever “know themselves?”

– Perhaps what feels “wrong” is this – the fact that there is precisely one zone which is fundamentally hidden, in all of the universe, and it is us.

– There is a law governing conservation of energy, one for conservation of momentum, one for conservation of information, etc. But, if anything, life on this planet is exploding in complexity. Things are getting weirder. Why are complexity and weirdness seemingly increasing, without bound? Why don’t we see them increasing on other planets?

– As organic systems evolve, they seem to attain a sort of equilibrium. But, we generally think of this equilibrium as somehow slippery – as if we could all just get up and act differently if we wanted to. Perhaps it’s instead like a crystal, and as time goes by we are locked into our positions. Perhaps there are only a few dimensions in which we are locked, but in the others we are free. Perhaps we do “work” by locking down extra dimensions. The work of capitalism is to turn society into a crystalline form.

– Let’s go one step further with the crystal metaphor, however. The peculiar thing about human systems is that whenever a human system attains a form with a finite description it seems that there must be, a priori, a way of acting externally to that form – of stepping outside of the form and gleaning nourishment, creating new professions, new definitions, new math, etc.

– So, if we ever truly, fundamentally, deeply, purely, completely know ourselves – if we can create a human system which takes its elements completely into account – then there will be no stepping-outside-of. We will have pinned ourselves to the wall.

– The paradox being that it seems like there should always be a way of stepping-outside-of. Thinking of the something-else. A freedom unchecked. It seems like there’s something that can’t be pinned down.

– What is the force that pins it down? How do we do work by transforming freedom -> rigidity?

– Is this not precisely the definition of technology? (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=technology) The formalization of art? Self-knowledge? Reification? Turning our abstract selves into concrete selves, selves that can be locked together, formed into a structure?

– Has there ever been a movement towards more freedom? Away from technology? Is such a thing even possible?

– Sometimes I think that, if we were to kill 99.9% of everyone, the remnants of humanity might have enough perspective not to over-populate the planet, not to create new technology. We could, perhaps, know ourselves by remaining finite, rather than by conquering all possible selves.

– This is the “something that is wrong” – there is only finite novelty, and at some point the gig will be up.

He/She/It

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on November 23, 2011

You know what’s weird? The fact that we’re uncomfortable referring to ungendered/ambiguously-gendered entities as “it.”

Example:

Let your friend know that it can stay at my place when it is in town.

Somehow this is dehumanizing?

But doesn’t the fact that this somehow feels dehumanizing mean that we see sex/gender as intrinsic to humanity? So that a non-man, non-woman is non-human? This is very strange to me. There seem to be multiple conflicting systems at play, here.

1. Progressives are the main source of contention w/r/t use of “he” as the gender-neutral/gender-ambiguous English pronoun.

2. Progressives maintain (though perhaps not explicitly) that sex/gender is unrelated to humanity. You can be whatever you want – gay, straight, cis, trans, androgynous, inter-sex, a-sexual, etc. But you’re still human. You can still be human, even if you’re uninterested in sex/unrelated to sex.

3. But somehow leaving out the gender (“it”) is dehumanizing?

It doesn’t have to do with animacy. We can refer to animate (asexual) creatures as “it” – bacteria, plants, protozoa, viruses, archaea, etc. We also refer to ambiguously-sexed animals as “it” – e.g. “Look at that horse over there – it’s beautiful!”

So we have a conflicting set of intuitions/emotions here. Feel what it’s like when I refer to your mother as “it” – “Would it like to eat now?” It feels like I’m calling your mother an animal! But somehow assigning her a gender (“she”) makes her human?

So we have two transitions:

Reference: Neutral -> Gendered = humanizing

Actuality: Gendered -> Neutral = no effect

The reason that referring to a human as “it” feels dehumanizing has to do with the history of seeing non-gendered creatures as somehow less. Like – oh, your mother isn’t a horse! she isn’t an “it!” she is a SHE, she has a gender! she is more than a mere creature!

Then shouldn’t referring to people as “it” be the first step in undoing the history which put gender above non-gender?

Just another example of fools not willing to be radical enough to find the pure solution.

Simply Visible

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on November 22, 2011

The idea that physical beauty moves only for so-called “genetic” reasons is obviously ill-founded. There are two interesting questions which follow:

1. Why is this obvious?

2. If it’s obvious, why is this concept of “skin-deep” beauty so popular?

It’s obvious because I can come up with lots of alternative explanations off the top of my head:

Characteristics like simplicity and symmetry are generally found attractive – perhaps this is because it’s easier to store information related to a person if their characteristics are simple/symmetric (which is a type of symmetry). A person whose face is simpler will not burden our weak little minds as much as the face of a beast.

Lots of deformities are actually related to some type of pain. E.g. burn victims, people with genetic disorders, victims of abuse, people with scars, etc. Seeing a deformity can then remind one of such a type of abuse.

Physical attractiveness is “known” to be important/desirable. This leads to lots of social effects. E.g. wanting hot girlfriend/boyfriend so that others will be jealous -> do more for you.

Certain types of body-attractiveness are associated with freedom. E.g. part of the reason that contortionists are so hot is that they can move freely through space. This is poetic and romantic and therefore desirable.

Certain types of body/face-attractiveness are associated with sexual pleasure. E.g. pouty lips -> better blow job. E.g. flexibility -> more interesting positions. Etc.

And those are just the reasons that come up off the top of my head. NOW. You could be thinking (assuming you’re one of those fetid everything-is-genetics/evolution types) that this all really relates back to genetic pressures. But in thinking so/saying so/doing so what you’re really doing is conflating genetic pressure with genetic relation.

Everything is trivially related back to genetics. We are genetic creatures. The earliest forms of life were little more than a lump of genetic material, lying around somewhere, and they are what you come from -> what you essentially are.

But not everything is genetic. Some things are. E.g. when I am hungry and see meat and my stomach growls and I get this strong urge to eat MUST EAT, that is genetic. When I smell pussy and get turned on, that is genetic. Perhaps even when I see boobs and I’m like “mmm boobs, must suck,” that is genetic.

But appreciation of freedom of movement? Wanting someone because I know my friends will be jealous? Appreciating the fine and gentle curves of someone’s face?

The reason that we want to believe that beauty = genetics is that then we can dismiss it and doesn’t that make us all so much more comfortable?

We can dismiss it at this point because genetic makeup is somehow not related to intention. As far as the moral fabric of the society I’m a part of is concerned, the #1 most important thing is intention. If you hit someone because you wanted them to hurt, that is bad. If you hit someone because you are crazy, that is not bad or, at least, you are not bad.

Somehow we think that mental makeup is related to intention. Like, when I was born, I sat down and just intended the rest of my mental development. I thought “oh, I’m going to care about Math and Science and Art and Language.” And when I was given the chance to stray from my path – I didn’t take it! I didn’t intend to and I didn’t. My mind is my own creation, yada yada.

The real crux is that physical appearance is visible. If you have not yet engaged with the manifold question of “why is visibility important?” then here’s a quick run-down. If no one finds out that you killed someone, then it’s actually 99.9% OK. If you don’t see someone suffering, then you don’t care. If you see them suffering once, but never again, then you will forget. If you saw someone for the last time 3 months ago, you might die right now, and you’ll never see them again. If a politician has plausible deniability w/r/t a morally unsanctioned act then the political may commit it.

Visibility is awkward. It punishes negative behavior much more than it rewards good. It connects us in uncomfortable, awkward ways. It has this pernicious ability to ruin our freedom. It instills neurosis. It prevents us from throwing stones, etc.

It disconnects us from the physical world.

It’s strange to think that this is the case, but surely it is true. The path of our material has been inward and away. Away from reality. Away from phenomena. Build a cell wall. Make a million of you! Create a culture which encodes information about what not to do. Live in a house. Live under a blanket. Predict the weather. Don’t let anything be a surprise, ever. Create your cage, and then sit in it.

And why? Because you can see that there is weather and violence and horror. The fact is that 99.9% of everything is shit. In order to come up with a good idea, you have to have 999 bad ones. In order to make a beautiful painting you must create sketch after sketch, hone your skills, ride the waves of technique passed down through generations of people making mistake after mistake and the only way they could make those mistakes is by being shielded from the fact that: HA HA you just spent your life making mistakes and now you are dead!

As visibility increases – as we see the type of beauty which the physical human form is capable of, we simultaneously see the monsters that we have become. We see what types of twisted forms we have allowed to carry through our genetic histories. We see the disease that has spread and become commonplace because not just someone, but many people, had to get their sex on.

And this is the sick twist! What is really “genetic” is our response to physical ugliness. Now that our psyches are clean and our eyes wide open we can see, and react, fully. We can want, really.

The reason that someone has sex with an ugly person is some other reason. In a society that systematically obliterates all other reasons, only beauty can remain important.

We Must Die

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on November 9, 2011

bailouts, life-support, fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, we must die, dairy-free, anti-oxidant, chemotherapy, heart transplant, face-lift, caffeine, we must die small deaths, cocaine, viagra, bio-dynamic, alcoholics anonymous, and we must die giant deaths, narcotics anonymous, anti-depressants, psychiatry, we must die all the time, hip-replacement, boob-job, vaccine, makeover, shock therapy, cancer, we must learn to let it go