Sunday, October 31, 2010

Questions to Ask When Assessing Your Life

Is this job really necessary? Am I doing anything that needs to be done? Even if people are willing to pay me for handling stupid, pointless tedious, empty little tasks, will I one day look back at my life and wonder what I did with it, what I have to show for my multiple decades of existence?

Is this person capable of having an actual grownup relationship? Is there any actual affection here? Are they worth the investment of your time and effort? Are they just dragging you down? Are you dragging them down? Is there any mutual need, any kind of positive symbiosis?

Will any important life-function be improved by purchasing this? Will owning it even make me feel better? Might this be just the empty disposing of disposable income? Is there anything important that I need to do, that I could do, with this money?

Do I really have a reason for reproducing? If I don’t have an actual reason (like a love for the other person that requires a human testimony, a stamp of authenticity) should I be doing it? Do I want to be tied to this person as "co-parent" for the rest of the kid’s life? Will this person produce good children? Will I produce good children? Do I want to do the massive giving-operation that raising a child requires?

How good a person am I, really? Am I good at anything? Am I somebody that anybody should want to have around? Do the people who hate me have a point?

Bloggers, Not Jonathan Alter, Killed Newsweek

Michael Wolff writing at Newser says that Jonathan Alter is the cause of Newsweek’s decline. Something about Alter’s “glowering presence”. Probably not. Blogs are the cause of Newsweek’s decline, just like they are the cause of Glenn Beck’s ascendance and and the likes of Sarah Palin rising to fame and power. As a matter of fact, you might as well just blame the Internet for everything bad in contemporary culture, as well as most of the good.

Blogs and the voice of the quarrelsome, uneducated, and completely unprofessional, have diminished the respect once held by journalists. People want to hear their own views validated, they do not want truth, Humans have never wanted truth. Were Glenn Beck to tell the truth, or to have any respect whatsoever for it, he would not be popular, he would not be rich, and nobody would care what he had to say. Instead of being a reasonable, fair, professional commentator, he is instead a character actor embodying the spirit of the common man, the average red state American. He is simply spewing forth the views of his audience, regurgitating that which they, and all the people like them already believe. Phrasing absurd, bigoted propaganda in more refined terms so as to make them feel smart for thinking the way they do.

To a certain kind of person, the educated professional is a boring elitist to whom they cannot relate. There is nothing there to cheer for, to enjoy vicariously. Jonathan Alter, with his reliance on learning and experience speaks from an ivory tower to which they cannot approach and have no desire to approach. The blogger, though, with hyperbole, and typo-riddled half-truths, misunderstandings, and speculation masked as fact, is entertaining, approachable, and offers a kind of clarity.

This is a blog, I am a blogger. I, too, write in the typo riddled, half-truths and speculative nonsense. I don’t think it is a bad thing. This is life, blogs are supposed to suspect, untidy, rough, organic. They are like families with several small children, barely functional, but still worthwhile, still possessing that which is of value. The idea is to make you think, to make you assess, and work it out. You are supposed to think critically, not simply accept as true. Be cynical, don’t trust.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

When Stupidity Rears it’s Ugly, Stupid Head

Dealing with idiots is a skill that all intelligent people should learn. Anybody with the ability to rationally analyze an issue, and who thinks in terms of objectivity and who strives to think clearly, is outnumbered. They need to learn how to not draw too much attention to themselves, and to get around the fact that morons cannot be reasoned with.

The moment you encounter your first real idiot, or a set of them, you find that it is not funny at all. It's scary and frustrating and you can't keep that look of disbelief off your face. They off course can sense your scorn. Idiots are good at sensing when other people look down on them, mostly because it happens so often. They see your scorn and think that you believe yourself to be a superior person. Of course, you do, but they won't know why. If there is a difference in race they will ascribe it to that, if there is a difference in education or social class or religion or nationality they will ascribe it to that. Idiots never know that they are idiots and so they never realize that that's why you hate them.

The futility
It is futile to try to to convince or seriously converse with somebody who is wholly emotionally invested in the wrong idea. Relationships with them should be kept on light topics, sports, food, alcohol, weather, the little things that are of no consequence and can fill up conversational dead air around a dinner table or at a bar. They will want to discuss weighty matter with you, because things like religion and politics are how they discern their clan, the people they like. You have to be on the same dumbass page with them or you are the enemy. Your job is to avoid it. Leave if you have to, or find a way to change the subject.

The truth about them
Your average moron is twice as moronic as they let on. Lets say you hear somebody talking about “health-care death panels” at work, know that they are showing you the stuff that they thought about and are fully certain of. They know this to be true and believe their logic to be insurmountable. They are not voicing the million other idiot beliefs that they have with minor doubts, this is the shit that you, Mr educated-and-rational-thinking-smarty-pants, cannot possibly counter.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fathers are not all that necessary

Yes kids “need” both parents at home. And, supposedly, they need to be of different genders too. The truth is that many kids grow up without a dad and turn out perfectly fine, meaning that a dad is not altogether necessary, though, I am sure, it is convenient to have one handy. One important lesson to learn in life is that after a certain point, neither parent is as necessary as they like to think, except, of course, for providing things like food and shelter.

Not being a daddy’s boy
Yes, that peculiarly obnoxious male sub-set. Guys who live to please their fathers. If you never had a dad it looks slightly gross, the fawning and submission and desperation for approval. The desire to imitate and to be servile. It’s a sign of all kinds of insecurities and and self-doubt, as well as an asshole father who plays emotional games with his children. Daddy’s boys are usually made that way by their fathers. It can be done with the right kind of manipulation.

None of the daddy issues that come from having a guy that looked like you in the house

The constant battles for control, the war between the young bull and the old one, the battle for attention from the mother. In the case of teenagers, there is the fact of being essentially a man and still being dependent for most of the essentials. The need to surpass and outdo your father in order to feel like a man, to compete and win, to be a better father, more successful etc.. All of these things plague guys with a live-in dad and at various turning points later in life.

No bad example

Every parent makes mistakes, is deeply flawed in ways that they can’t help but pass on to their children. This goes for everybody, no exceptions. One less parent is one less set of mistakes.

None of that paternal certainty that older men get
People like examples, younger men especially, although many men never grow out of it. It’s part of why sports are popular even among middle-aged men, they are all looking for people to admire. Role models. The role model, or template, makes you more certain that certain behaviors that you share are right. You get reinforcement. If you reflect the opinions and habits of your father you are more sure of them, even when they are wrong.There is less of the continual work-in-progress self-doubt that single-parent children have. They get set in their ways and never change because daddy was that way too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

5 Different Ways of Escaping Real Life

Everybody tries to escape life, remember the Cormac McCarthy quote. People have different ways of doing it, and to some extent the means of escape is a sign of personality assets and defects. What does your escape mechanism say about you?

Romance fiction
This is an escape for those frustrated, for whom real life relationships are never satisfactory because the person they are with does not make them happy. These are the women who go into relationships expecting that some guy is going to, or should, make everything in their lives perfect and protect them from ever feeling unhappy about anything ever again.

Insulting commercials
Why the fuck do you have an animated lizard advertising insurance? Are toddler’s insuring their pacifiers now? Nobody questions it, either so the whole world must think this kind of thing appropriate. The reason they do it is because a fantasy animated creature automatically shuts down the grown-up part of the brain and switches on the infantile picture-book entertainment part so that you watch and accept instead of thinking about, real-life adult matters like money and property. The idea is to make you into a kid again so they can take advantage.

Mexican Immigrants
Yes, those undocumented workers, so loathed and despised by the right wing in American politics, they serve as an escape for many Americans. They are here because of Americans who  think they are too good to pick lettuce, and clean their own homes. Everybody sees themselves as belonging to the upper middleclass, or are longing for it so badly that the idea of doing menial work is unpalatable to them.

Science Fiction, for the most part
The genre, like most genres of everything, is mostly shit, built on stories that have nothing to do with science, written for people who know nothing about science, and with no themes that apply to real life. It serves only as an escape for people who are too ignorant to know what bad writing is. Speculative fiction is written usually by people who know very little about the real world and who can relate only to their own daydreams. It’s the attempt to circumvent your ignorance of the world around by making up your own worlds.

Marriage, how you see it
Your fairy-tale happily ever after lie. Of course, nobody is going to admit to being naive to the point where they actually believe that everything will turn out perfectly now, but they do. Deep down they think that marriage will change their lives for the better, which it doesn’t because can’t, and when they find this out they switch their expectations to having kids. After 3 or 4 kids they still aren’t happy so then it’s onto the divorce and the second marriage and so on and so forth on in perpetuity.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sometimes paranoia is the right feeling

Paranoia has a stigma to it. If you feel that people are working against you there is something wrong with you. There are conspiracies, sometimes they are grand and consist of many conspirators. To believe that you are the object of widespread hatred is not always narcissistic. Learning to recognize camouflaged hatred is an important life-skill.

Somebody hates you (1)
That's without knowing you, too. They hate you for being one of a gender or a race or a religion, or a sexual preference, or the lack of a religion. They might hate you for not being easily identified or for not overtly siding up with them. It doesn't matter who you are or what you do somebody, will hate you.

Somebody hates you (2)
They hate you, specifically. You. I don't care how lonely you are, how reclusive you are, somebody somewhere has noticed you and hates your guts. Everybody has enemies is not some cynical myth it's true. They hate you because of the way you wear your pants, the fact that you get Chinese delivered one night more a week than they do, the fact that your car is newer, or that you had an Obama yard sign a year ago. Odds are they know your name and that they search through your garbage weekly for some reason to make an anonymous call to the police.

The hatred is profound
It is an expression of any one of a number of issues they have. You are an excuse, a scapegoat, an outlet for all the emotions they have pent up and held inside them. You are the high school teacher who humiliated them in front of the class, the girl who pointed at the tiny penis and laughed, the father who subtly undermined their confidence in their teen years. You are a substitute for all the people they want to hurt and you never know why.

They will likely be sneaky about it
When people hate you for no reason they know that to just come out and tell you or to be overtly hostile would not be well received. They would look like an asshole (possibly racist, sexist, or xenophobic) to everybody and possibly crazy as well. No, they will keep it hidden behind a smile. They will then spend a lot of time looking at you, trying to find a reason they can use to legitimately hate you and to get other people to hate you as well.

You can't read minds
The fact is that there is always a fair chance that any given stranger will be hostile. It's far from a certainty, but the odds are pretty good that they don't like you or your kind. You can gamble that they are not, or you can bet that they are and act accordingly. If you are wrong in the first instance then you might get hurt. Wrong in the second and only they get hurt. Which sounds better to you? Bad people exist. Nobody disputes that. You know that there is always a possibility of evil people working to cause you harm. They exist. If they exist then that guy over there might be one of them. It's possible, if it's possible then you

People are interested
All of them. That's why TV is popular, that's why porn is addictive, it's the joy of getting to see into the private places in other people's lives. It doesn't matter how boring or unattractive you are, if there is a hole in your wall somebody will spend a lot of time on the other side of it just to be able to see you without being seen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Life Skill of Maturity

The word "immaturity" can, in certain contexts, conjure up a picture of childlike innocence. Toilet humor, for instance, is "immature", but it brings back memories of youthful innocence and the time when bodily functions were still novel. It can make you laugh because it's juvenile and nostalgic.

There is another kind of immaturity that is not at all pleasant. It is that of people who have not learned how to handle life. This is the teenage, pubescent kind.

These are people who in their thirties and forties still have tantrums, still have issues dealing reasonably with others, and controlling their emotions.

Immature people are a burden to themselves and to the people who get involved in relationships with them. Never learning how to escape your adolescence and get into adulthood is a kind of retardation, a kind of defect.
If you are one of these people, you probably won’t know what I am talking about. You probably would not read this far down the page either.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Life Lesson on Soiling Your Pants

It happens, if not to anybody, at least to lots of people. How many places on the Internet attempt to teach you about dealing with the psychological and social fallout? Not many, I assure you.

Let’s just say that it’s many people’s idea of the most
 embarrassing experience possible. How you handle it will determine how you handle pretty much every bad thing yet to come in your life, and trust me, there will be many bad things yet to come. You can freak out and make yourself into a social outcast, but hiding from your problems is just a coward’s way out.

First of all, you will find that it does not really matter if this happens to you in high school, or in your work-place, or in church. In all settings you will be known as the person who crapped their pants as long as you are there. It will be used against you so get used to it.
Talk about it ad nauseam. Tell everybody who is willing to listen to you exactly what happened in detail. Describe every single awkward moment with a second-by-second descriptive replay. Seek a public forum in which you can address many people at the same time. Continue to bring it up until  you are asked to stop. If you have the presence of mind to do it, take a picture of your be-crapped self with your phone and do a show-and-tell. If people are sick of hearing about it, they may be unwilling to continue talking about it amongst themselves.
Something else you can do is poison everybody with laxatives, but this is illegal, so I am not endorsing it, merely mentioning that it could be seen (by criminals) as one. If everybody craps their pants then you will not be alone.
Tell people you were seriously ill. Induce vomiting and get yourself sent to the emergency-room. Lying could be seen as another way of chickening out, though. Not endorsing, just saying…
Joke about it. This is actually the most practical suggestion for a complete recovery here, though not everybody has the skills for it. Maybe this is your motivation to acquire them.  If you don’t you probably won’t, but it could actually make you more popular if you were to pull it off and show no trace of discomfort whatsoever, about the whole thing.
Man up (or woman up) and do what you have to do and survive. It won’t go away, but in many cases nobody will bring it up to your face. Simply going on in spite of your embarrassments is one of the most important skills for adult life, consider yourself fortunate to have been given an advanced class in it.

Note: You have to Suffer to Learn Anything

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tips For Being Less Ignorant

  • You have to admit that you are ignorant
    This is the hardest step and one impossible for genuine morons to complete. You have to actually admit that you don't know something that is 
    worth knowing. Morons tend to fall into a cycle of ego-protection and pretentiousness, so that they never have to admit to anybody just how little they know about anything. The first step to separating yourself from the morons is to be able to accept your shortcomings.
  • Learn to avoid patterns of ignorance There are educated people everywhere who know nothing about anything that they didn't learn by rote in college. There are people who read the newspapers everyday who can't tell you what they just read or point to Spain on an unlabeled map. Ignorance cannot be eliminated by the consumption of facts. You can only truly learn if you are genuinely interested.

  • Learn a new language
    This opens up a whole world of people to you who don't speak English. Granted, they are mostly hicks, but you get to know what hicks from other places are like. You get to follow any interest you may currently have only in an arena that isn't open to you right now. For instance, Univision has a ton of soap operas.

  • Meet new people I mean new people, not the people at your work-place, not the people you could possibly run into at your local bar. I mean convicts, homeless, illegal immigrants, mercenaries, hookers, senile shut-ins. Talk to them, observe them, mess with their heads.

  • Break your routine Obviously your lifestyle hasn't been helping you break the shackles of dumbness, so you need to do things differently, insert yourself into Navajo culture, watch porn in a language other than English, learn to kill someone with your bare hands. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Many Invaluable Life-Skills are Rare

It took me a long portion of my life to understand that clarity of perception, accuracy of understanding, wisdom about life, are very rare things. Bullshit ideas, self-delusion, complete and thorough and deliberate misunderstanding about the way the world works, those things are almost universal.

I am not saying that everybody is stupid. It’s too universal for so common and simple a concept as mere foolishness. No, this is something else. Apparently the ability to deceive yourself is built in to the human condition. Maybe it’s some kind of psychological self-defense mechanism.

People believe what is comfortable for them to believe whether it makes sense or not. They do not appreciate challenges. They are compulsive liars to themselves, and as such, are compelled to hate anybody who speaks the truth.

Nobody wants to see anything as it is, they want you to tell them that what they believe is right and logical. They can’t handle the truth. I am convinced that even those who claim to want the truth and to eagerly seek it out, have just repressed their need to deny it to a deeper level. They are the worst self-bullshitters of all. They have honed their arguments to sound reasonable, and put more effort into appearing to analyze the evidence more honestly, but really, they are just looking for the smaller loopholes.

Friedrich Nietzsche Life Lesson Quote

"Character is determined more by the lack of certain experiences than by those one has had."
Friedrich Nietzsche

Ignorance provides you with as many flaws/virtues as knowledge. 

Bad Parenting: The Birthplace of Materialism and The Consumer-Culture

Firstly, you realize that you can do it. Meaning, you possess the physical equipment to knock somebody up, and if you can find somebody who is willing to impregnate you, or let you impregnate them, then it seriously could happen. It’s like having a super-power, some people want to use it as quickly as possible, and often as possible, while others are afraid of it and will pretend that it’s not there.

One day, when you are in your late 20s and the novelty of being a grown-up has worn off, you will start to wonder what it would be like. This is where much of it starts. Boredom, ennui. You start to think about it and wish for it. Your parents might be pressuring you for a grandkid, that makes it seem right, like the thing you should do. Also, by now, you have a bunch of friends and acquaintances that are breeding. All of this makes it feel necessary, natural. You don’t want to get too old to “start a family”.

You meet somebody, and they have no major flaws, they haven’t raped anybody that you know of, anyway, and they are willing, so you let nature follow its course and soon you have a little human on the way. It is at the point that somebody is pregnant that the truth of it hits home. You are stuck with an 18 year job that pays nothing. 18 years at least. Not only that, the world is as shitty as it always was. You are bringing a kid into it to suffer, and why? It certainly doesn’t feel “necessary” now. It is at this point that the backpedaling starts, way before the actual birth. It’s almost never conscious, just little subtle decisions, that get rationalized as being for the “good of the child”.

From early on the kid gets a mountain of gifts. These are guilt-presents, for having brought them into the crappy world, and for feeling so burdened by them. The child sees this gift-giving as love and approval, and learns to equate fluffy toys bought in Wal-Mart with parental affection. They grow up into people who seek comfort in material things, who see them as essential. The women, especially, think that if you buy stuff for them then you must love them. The men think that if they are able to buy stuff then it means they matter, that they are important. These ideas follow them to the grave.

You see kids who live at the mall, whose entire sense of self is wrapped up in purchasing stuff. Your value as a human being, your rank, is based on what you buy. This all comes from their parents and the fact that they never really wanted the responsibility.

Ten Things That Can Make You Successful

What we have here are some skills and qualities essential for success in life, generally. Sure, they are all unfair, shallow, bigoted, but so are most people. I am not talking about how people should be, I am talking about how people are. These are what you need to climb that ladder to the top. 

1. Looking Good
By "good" I mean attractive. Pretty soon you will be so solidly networked that no mistake will be so bad your buddies won’t cover it up for you. The more people turn to fatty foods and alcohol to comfort them in times of stress (like the cable getting cut off), the harder it gets to find good-looking people, this means that having good looks goes up in value. Good looking people are favored, we all know that, everybody wants to impress them and when they are stupid we pity them, taking an hour of our day to show them how to change their desktop wallpaper. This is in the hope that they will like us ordinary people, like being around us and so that we can either impress (the also ordinary) chicks we want to seduce, or perhaps get a drunk pity-handjob one night after work.

2. Ass kissing expertise
Possibly the best workplace skill anybody can have. The really good ass-kisser can do it without looking like they are doing it, so that their co-workers don’t hate them, and their bosses don’t see the edge of sneaky insincerity that goes through it. When expertly done it can disarm even the most cynical and bitter of employers, even when they know what you are doing. The truth is that your boss secretly believes that he deserves to have his ass kissed, that getting to where he has gotten is worthy of kudos, so even insincere props will generate a positive feeling, and the guy who generates positive feelings is the last person to get fired.

3. Whiteness
This is not some rant about everybody being racist, but the fact is that being white does usually generate positive feelings in the mind of the employer, or at least no negative ones. At worst a white employee starts at zero, whereas a minority has to have a Harvard education to start at zero and sometimes not even then. The reason I can say this isn’t about racism is that this is the case with minority employers too. White people have an air of confidence (often fake)  and the will to take on responsibility that you don’t often get from other cultures, this will has nothing to do with their competence just with the ability to appear competent.

4. Being tall
This is a separate issue from having a pretty face. Being short and pretty means that you are cute if you are a girl, not beautiful, not even "hot", just cute. It permanently limits you to the upper end of mediocrity, in other words. If you are a short guy and you look like Brad Pitt, or Orlando Bloom, you will be attractive only to chicks it is illegal to have sex with. Even adult women who are shorter than you will find you vaguely ridiculous. Eventually you will have to settle for your Sarah Jessica Parker type, who is not all that hot but passably smart, and thinks she is too good for taller, more jock-like types. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, if you are tall, basically, you have a shot at most women.

5. Knowing when to shut up
You don’t have to be smart, you just have to have learned, the way a dog learns, that you should stop talking now. Just knowing how to control your speech and your tendency to share everything can get you looking smarter than you really are. People often assume that the quiet types are smart, also you get the opportunity to listen. Just listening on a regular basis can actually get you information, would would have thought? The more you talk the more tells you give away and the more readable you become.

6. Sharing interests
Know how to pretend that soccer or (insert random social activity) is not the most boring thing ever? So begins your social life. This is similar to kissing ass, but not the same as. This is how you make friends, not ingratiate the boss, unless he happens to be lonely and needs a friend. People like having their hobbies validated by other people, which is why every fucking time-waster on earth has a ten-year-old website attached to it. You want to get "in" with your new co-workers, you just pretend to really like whatever thing they do when they aren’t at work. Cars, swinging, martial arts, WoW, whatever. Pretty soon you will be so solidly networked that no mistake will be so bad that your buddies won’t cover it up for you.

7. Being straight
Everybody knows a gay person, some straight people even have gay friends, it still creeps most guys out, kind of like seeing your dad tweak your mom’s nipple. The thing is that straight men are not usually interested in other men’s anuses, whereas gay men are. The vagina focus versus the guy-anus focus. It is a distinct difference in priorities and that causes a rift. Rifts are not good when you are tying to claw your way to the top of the shit-pile. You want unity and solid tribal narrow-mindedness. Straightness, real or pretend, is like being white (see #3), it gets you starting at zero so that guys don’t get creeped-out picturing where your dick has been.

8. Your accent Educated black Americans learn early on that Ebonics terrify white people, and English-speaking Hispanics learn to speak slowly and loudly in short sentences so that Americans don’t have to ask them shit more than once. Your accent tells people your class and your level of education. No, not really, but people like to think it does since they want to make snap-judgments about strangers.  Snap-judgments make us feel smart and in control. The key is to be able to modify your accent to suit whoever you are dealing with. If you are in the northern part of the USA, you may want to make your Tennessee drawl get thick so that you can become instantly memorable and a "character", whereas in the South you may want sound like a Yankee when applying for a job so that you can sound competent and perhaps get hired.

9. Contacts
99% of all success comes from knowing the right person. You get jobs, meet women, get good weed, get bargains on pretty much everything, if the right person thinks that doing something for you might pay off for them in the future. The key is to find out who you need to know, know the people who can put you in touch with the guy who does this thing, he can help you out.

10. Your parents It’s less about them pushing you to succeed and how much "drive" they instill in you than how driven they themselves were, meaning, how many contacts they have, and most importantly, if they are rich. An unambitious rich kid doesn’t need a whole lot of pushing to stay rich, they can ride on their last name at least to the point of moderate success. Their dad will have done a favor for some guy and that guy will hire them over the heads of better-qualified, more competent applicants and they will get a steady pay check to just coast along rather than have to prove themselves.

You have to suffer to learn anything about life

If they don’t know what it’s like to live homeless, to have their heart broken, to watch a loved one suffer and die, to face death, to face their own death, to work hard and fail, to recover from a horrible mistake, to live with a burden on their conscience, to be addicted, to quit an addiction, then they are not truly human. Not in the sense of someone who has seen any of the above. They can have no empathy with hardship because they have no idea what’s hard about it. They can fake compassion, but it the fakery is shallow and obvious and usually has the effect of making people feel worse.  Oh, yes, and it's fake.

People who have not suffered are morons when it comes to pain. They cannot recognize it, and deep down do not believe that it’s really there. Overt anguish looks theatrical, anger looks like a lack of self-control, despair is weakness. It’s all melodrama. Suffering is, to them, a Hollywood production. All the suffering in the world is distant and vaguely unbelievable.

The inexperienced are not truly human in the sense that they are unfinished. They have not been made complete by life. Invariably they are boring to talk to, pompous, trivial, with absurd priorities, and an inability to fully understand all but the most basic parts of being sentient. They are cold and unsympathetic, but not from malice, rather, from ignorance, from complete oblivion to darker realities.

If you have not overcome something, if you have not been swallowed up by pain and emerged from it, if you have not entered into to battle and survived to come home, how can you consider yourself a grown up? In what way are you different from an infant, pampered and protected by its parents? What exactly do you know about yourself or have you gained from being alive as long as you have been?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Philip Roth Life Lesson Quote

"...the world is full of people who go around believing they've got you or your neighbor figured out, there really is no bottom to what is not known. The truth about us is endless. As are the lies."
Philip Roth from The Human Stain

This is the source of racism as well as countless other types of human folly. Everything people think they know about other people. People love to feel wise and smart, and in control of the facts, except nobody really is, so that kind of knowledge really is just another form of BS.

Some aspects of getting older that people don't often think about

Aging is, possibly, the most important aspect of living. Dealing with aging, meaning time itself, is an essential life-skill that not many people acquire, no matter how long they live. It's about maturity, acting your age, time-management so that it doesn't fly away without you having accomplished anything, and coming to peace with death. There are all kinds of less-pleasant things, too, like the following:

You are going to miss a lot of things
When you are a child everything seems possible. One day, you think, you may get to see space, maybe visit another planet, at the very least there is the possibility that you will become an astronaut and know what it's like to be free from gravity. Technology seems to be moving rapidly, so that by the time you are grown up you may be able to live in a domed city, own a flying car, and a have a clone of young Demi Moore that you keep locked in the basement for your entertainment. Except, it won’t happen. When you get old enough to compare your aging to the movement of technology you realize that while it will probably happen, some day, for somebody, it won't for you. Some cool shit will happen while you are able to do something with it, but lots of cool shit will wait until you are too old to care, and most of it for when you are beyond being even so much as a memory.

You learn stuff that would only have been useful prior being old
One the big reasons people have kids is that they can find something to do with the accrued knowledge that you get only from screwing up. The shy loser learns to talk to young pretty women at age 50. You learn the appeal of cunnilingus only when the only women you have access to are somebody's grandmother. You get a work-ethic when your hands are too arthritic to do much, or technology is so far beyond your ability to grasp that you cannot adjust. You truly learn how to win a football game long after the scholarship offers have disappeared. If you don't have kids then you have nothing to do with it, you can't use what you know ever again.

Young people are assholes
Young people are to old people what the Red States in America are to Liberals. Crass and ignorant without know it. When the fact of your own ignorance is hidden completely from you, so that you are uninhibited with it, unable to disguise it or remedy it, then there is simply no point in having anything to do with you. Discussions are meaningless. The first and most important obstacle to any meaningful understanding of anything, is to admit that you do not know. If you truly believe that you do, then there is nowhere to go. You have to agree to disagree, which is what a cold war is.

You learn what a crappy kid you were
This is the other side of learning that young people are assholes. With each newly understood part of life your previous ignorance gets clearer. With old age comes the tools to introspect better, and often the time to do it in. If you have kids you see yourself reflected in their stupidity. Even if the kids around you are worse than you ever were, you still learn that you were on the same path, and could have been as bad. Parenting is a form of justice, though. The people who were the worst kids usually wind up raising kids who are worse than they ever were.

Nothing is as good as it used to be
No food, no art, no device. Nothing is made as well as when it was new, no technology can be enjoyed in the same way it was when new. No food tastes the same as when you were young and your life was relatively simple. For one thing, your tastes were less mature, you asked less of life, you had no preconceived notions and no pretensions. Now you are jaded and tired of experiencing things. For another, people change, the world changes, the ethic of one generation does not necessarily carry over to another. A pie made in one decade will cater to a different set of sensibilities the way a novel might.

So many things that you can't leave behind
You get over exactly nothing. You leave no addictions behind, you just replace them, none of your traumas are forgotten, they just get covered up. What people consider getting over stuff really has to do with the quality of the covering. How well do you mask it? How well do you keep it locked down so that you can live the rest of your life around it. It's always there, a part of who you are until you cease to be you anymore. The only recovery is a paint-job, not a reconstruction.

The True Secret of Career Success

You happened to work, and you happened to make some money. It's a coincidence. Correlation is not does not imply causation. The attempt to draw a line between the two things, your work and your wealth, is an attempt to validate yourself, to seize credit, glory, to feel like a better man than those who struggle with poverty. There are lots of people who work hard and remain in poverty and there are people who do less work than you do ("less" in effort and "value") and are still better-off than you.

The whole connection between wealth and hard work is a piece of propaganda invented by those who want to make money from your hard labor, like big business and the government. It's a gimmick that is meant to get parents to motivate their kids to enter the line of people who live and die to turn a profit for a handful of billionaires. Instead of the slave-herder's whip you get to be blamed for being poor, and poor is what you are if you do not work.

The possibility of getting rich because you studied the right thing in school and networked with the right people, and worked nights and weekends to impress the the right boss is a gamble like betting your life-savings at the blackjack tables. You might get rich. Or you might just wind up as the reliable mid-level workhorse-type that keeps industry going while a bunch of rich retards (whose families all know each other) purchase gold jewelry for their dogs and Lotus Elises for their 16 year-old kids. Or you might fail on some rung of the ladder and fall into homelessness.

Making money has to do with being liked by the right people. That's it, and you can't control that. The same way that leadership of a county has to do with whether the electorate likes you more than the other guy and not to do with whether you are competent, your career success has to do with you having the right kind of social skills to handle your employer's insecurities, disarm a supervisor's  paranoia about younger, possibly-smarter people. It's about gambling with how you portray yourself to somebody else, the part you play when around them.

The Error-free Life

People talk about the unfairness of life and the disappointments and heartbreaks as if they are inevitable. Everybody makes mistakes, right? Of course. You make mistakes because you were not careful, did not know what to look for beforehand. Mistakes show you what you should have taken the time to find out before going ahead. They show you what happens when you lack foresight, are lazy or are ignorant.

So maybe everything that makes you unhappy is your fault, is something you could have avoided if you had paid attention. Maybe all that talk about life just being tough is how fools rationalize their suffering and avoid the fact that they, and no one else, are to blame for their pain. Maybe life does not have to be tough or screwed up and would not be so if you were smart enough to make it otherwise.

Maybe out there who live perfect lives, with no pain, no hardship, who are smart enough to avoid people like you, who keep the secret of the error-free life to themselves because they know it would make no difference (to people like you) if they shared it. You can’t teach a fool to be anything else but a fool.

Chuck Palahniuk Life-Lesson Quote

"You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be." 
Chuck Palahniuk

You are alive because you want to live, don't you forget that. If you have not yet committed suicide, don't pretend that you secretly want, because you are making the same breath-to-breath choices as the rest of us.

Some Simple, Life-Changing Experiences

So you want a life-changing experience, huh? You want to experience something new and magical? You don't have to climb Everest for your life-lessons and wisdom. In fact, if there is anything that life wants to do at any given time is change. It can do so dramatically without going to a whole lot of trouble. Here are a few simple things you can do to alter your perspective and gain insight. 

1) Watching two people having sex in front you, in real life
It changes how you think about sex, humans, and human relationships forever, suddenly everything seems less magical and special and you are left with the impression of the general lowness of the human species. The word “rutting” is what best describes the live human sex-act.

2) Being homeless
I mean the destitute kind of homeless, not the kind where you move back in with your mom. It doesn't make you a nicer person, it doesn't make you stronger, but even 2 or 3 nights on the street will give you an appreciation for things that most people take for granted, and open up a little empathy for your fellow man. Note: any empathy you gain will be lost soon after you find someplace decent to live.

3) Smoking (cigarettes)
You become part of a specific demographic that cuts through racial and age-boundaries. More and more smokers are becoming a tight-knit community bound by nicotine addiction and pariah-status. It's like becoming a Christian in a Muslim country. You meet new people who give you the benefit of the doubt even if you are of a different race. If you happen to be black, non-black people know you want that cigarette more than you wan to rob them. If you happen to be an older person, they look up to you, because you know how to smoke without getting ashes on yourself. If you happen to be a chick, maybe they have a shot since non-smoking guys find them disgusting, and so on.

4) Russian roulette
There is nothing like having a loaded gun pointed at you with the safety off, even when you know that the trigger will not be pulled, you know that you are a millisecond away from eternity. Turn that up a notch by actually pulling that trigger yourself and all your doubts about the meaning of life and whether you really want to be here or not will be solved instantly. If you don't have access to a gun, driving down an unfamiliar country road at night with your headlights off is an acceptable substitute.

5) Get your ass kicked 
Trust me, it's not difficult to find someone who will do this for free, but it's best if it happens spontaneously, meaning that somebody who really wants to do it, just opens up and beats you down when you least expect it. First of all it gives you motivation for getting in shape, but it also makes you realize that there are people out there who hate your guts, that humanity has people in it who are stronger and more dangerous than you, and who actively want to hurt you. You see your vulnerabilities, you learn to distrust other people, and most of all it makes you want to compensate by working really hard at everything.

Fear, anxiety, and general insecurity are what make leadership effective

Fearful employees work harder, case in point: slavery, and basically every workforce in history prior to the invention of labor unions. Fearful children are not so much of a pain in the ass. Basically, fear has very broad applications across the spectrum of life. Once people are afraid of you, they become more useful.

A fearful populace has to be the most desired thing for men in political office. When the people you govern are consumed with their terrors you don't have to be smart, they won't care about your intelligence, they won't care how corrupt you are, they won't care if you choose young virgins from among the peasants to fuck in your castle. They just want safety, or the illusion of it. Pissing in their pants they will give you the money, the weapons, the approval for anything you want to do if you can tie it to making them safer. Nobody is careful when they are panicking, they don't look closely they don't think clearly, they don't pay attention, they just want to stop being afraid, they have no other goals.

The more you know about the way governments operate, the art of manipulating the masses, the less susceptible you become to fear and the cattle-prods leaders use to motivate. It takes the desire to learn, however. People don't have much of a desire to do anything when they aren't afraid. You can't really motivate a whole population with anything else, definitely not the desire for knowledge. Greed is a close second but there are too many people whose identity is built on resisting it. No, fear is the key to the crowd.

Fear thrives on ignorance an everybody is ignorant of something, on some subjects most or all people are ignorant. This is what you use, this is your kindling. You make up stories about monsters hiding in the dark, under the bed.

Cormac McCarthy Quote

"Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave."
Cormac McCarthy, The Road

In context, the quote is about life and death. In other words, life sucks but nobody wants to die, which is basically what The Road was all about. No matter how utterly miserable life gets, most people are still going to want to live, badly enough to put up with anything.

You trust people all the time…

On the topic of anxiety and cowardice, there are things that people, however “cynical”, seem to forget or take for granted. Everything around you involves some kind of trust, or some kind of ignorance. Since this blog is here to enlighten, here are some things you probably want to think about.

To stay in a hotel-room you need to trust your fellow guests to not be rapists or robbers, not to accost you in the hall and force their way into your room. You have to trust them not to be perverts, running little cameras through the ventilation system or through the wall to spy on you as you shower or have sex. You have to trust the staff too, as they have easy access and control over the rooms before you have checked in. To eat at a restaurant you have to trust that the cooks are not bigots, whether racist or homophobic or religious. I find it fascinating that people will eat food prepared by people they openly loathe and are known to loathe. American slave-owners used to eat food cooked by slaves, in the present day Conservatives eat in restaurants whose kitchen staff is almost consistently Latin American.

Most worshipers trust that their cleric is telling them the truth and not taking advantage of their ignorance. To take the news seriously you have to trust that the journalists are not lying to you. Corroborating information using other sources is not a reliable means of determining truthfulness as they could all be lying to you, or all be equally ignorant and apathetic.

To drive you trust your car-makers, your mechanic, and the other users of the road. You trust your bankers to keep your money safe. You trust food and drug companies and farmers to not tamper with what you put into your bodies. You trust condom makers to make a reliable product, you bet your life on that. Most people trust their spouses to not sleep around every time they leave the house. You place a lot faith in your fellow man.

You live your lives trusting, expecting goodness from the future, your faith is in the unseen future whether or not you believe in a deity. You still believe in blessings from that which you do not know and have not seen. There is no reason that you should. You rely on strangers who have no reason to look out for you. Your inability to imagine the worst, your belief in “luck”, is seen as courage. For people who are largely fearful (and most people, everywhere, are fearful, fear-motivated), the lack of consistency in the things feared is glaring, almost to the point of being absurd.

Cowardice: a logical point of view

Pessimism, anxiety and fearfulness get a bad rap. The fact is that there are tons of things out there that can make your life bad and pretending that they don’t exist or won’t happen to you is just naive. It’s best not to live in naivety. So, yes, being a pussy is sometimes a practical way of dealing with life. Not necessarily the best way, but there are good reasons that people live in cowardice. Let’s look at some of them.

1) Death- It's going to happen no matter what 
All kinds of things in life can happen to you. May happen to you. You may get cancer. Your plane may be hijacked by terrorists. You may live long enough to see your youthful looks fade. You may lose all your money and wind up living on the street. They are all possible. This one, though, this one comes to everybody and you can't run, you can't bribe your way out, you can't do anything to change it's mind. The sheer certainty of it, is what makes it more important than anything else you fear. Your whole life, every second, every problem, every good thing, all of it has to be taken with this in the back of your mind. You are here, you are reading this, and just as surely, you will be a memory soon enough, dead meat to rot or burn.

2) Tomorrow- Nobody knows for certain 
It's an unknown factor. In fact, it's the ultimate unknown factor. No amount of intelligence or computer power can solve the riddle of the day after this. We are all agnostics here. We think it's possible but we cannot be certain. It's like reaching down into a dark hole where something bad might live. You know that you will feel things tomorrow, euphoria, disappointment, maybe horror, but you don't know which. If the unknown is scary then when you wake up in the morning you should be terrified. You choose to hope for the best, you choose to think that it will be like every other day, but you don't really know. If you are smart you will make that same choice for all the things that scare you.

3) The police- They can kill you
Think about it this way: they are armed, are held to a different standard when it comes to killing people, are not chosen for their smarts, and most people trust them. Change the meaningless word "police"  the equally vague "gang" and you will see what I mean. An armed gang patrolling your streets at night, looking for a reason to stop somebody and take their money or to torture and kill them. Only morons believe that they actually have to do something wrong to get in trouble. Human beings are random, subject to error, prejudice and emotion but these are armed and have the authority to make your life miserable.

4) Rich people- Another set of rules 
The fact that a rich person can do the same things that a poor person can do is an accepted part of life. Everybody sees the bias, nobody cares, they just want to be rich too so that they can take advantage of the status quo. Some rich kid driving drunk could run into you tonight in his 350z  and never have to suffer a moment's discomfort. The newspapers and TV stations wouldn't cover it, and the district attorney would not ask for any kind of serious punishment. That's just the way it is and has always been. You live at their mercy. Just be happy they have not taken to openly hunting the rest of us for sport.

5) Food- There is something wrong with all of it 
It's either too fatty or lacking in something. Everything you enjoy will kill you and/or make you poor if you eat as much of it as you want. What you can afford is mediocre, but you need it so you buy it anyway. You are dependent on eating. You have to acquire food or you die. It's like a drug for which there is no rehab, to which you are bound by the chains of being human. You are stuck in addiction until you die.  Grocery stores are just dealers, restaurants are like shooting galleries where you go to get your "high".

6) Women- Fickle, dangerous 
Do you have any idea how different they are from us? If you are a straight guy you are stuck to them forever, forever interested, forever loving of vaginas and breasts and moans in the night. And yet they are so different from us that they might be of another species altogether. You want extraterrestrials? You want to see some weird, surreal intelligent organism before you die? Check women out. Insecure, emotional, vicious, amoral, and yet incredibly attractive. You respect them as equals and yet you cannot stop thinking about their asses. You fall in love and your happiness is at their disposal.

7) Men- When will the posturing end? 
A creature completely obsessed with status, with domination, competition and thrusting their viewpoint on other by using whatever means are at hand. You have to work with them every day, assholes who bring their egos into every little discussion about everything. Minor office-tasks become territory to be pissed on, defended for no reason other than symbolism. Projecting status to the pack. Manhood comes with slavery to the penis, and a dumb trust in women no matter how cynical you imagine yourself to be. You always fall for it. Lucy and the football. Your dumb maleness keeps you kicking and falling and kicking and falling.

8) Popular religion- They will stop at nothing 
Nor would you if you believed that your eternity depend on you doing something weird. You can get people to reduce themselves to animals on national TV to win a few hundred thousand dollars. Promise an eternity free of suffering and you can pretty much get them to do anything depending on the strength of their belief. Imagine an army of soldiers who would do anything they were told to with no hesitation and passionately, as if they had a personal stake in the outcome.

9) Kids- Annoying parasites 
While they are still children they have little of importance to think or to say, but they don't know that. They think that everything that passes through their mind is as new to you as it is to them. Some never grow out of the habit, never acquire a sense of not being smart or important. They are greedy, wanting everything while having no sense whatsoever of the value of money or the ignorance of youth until they have lost both. You think that being yours, having your genes makes them special, and maybe they are to your ego, but the pragmatic part of you sees that you just burdened the world with more average assholes.

10) Aging- It's like a disease 
Time's sewing machine embroiders death in your flesh. Every morning you wake up and look at the mirror something has changed you lost another day, another day that you won't ever be able to use, that you wasted doing something to make somebody else rich. You also died a little. Lost something that you won't have to day, a little quickness in your step, perhaps, ease of breathing, some little imperceptible thing is gone forever every 24 hours. Your wrinkles and your birthdays are like signs of how little you have gotten done, how much time you have wasted.