part one of two
"Reasserting Innocence", the initial screed
February 3rd, 2020 / May 25th, 2020 / June 4th, 2020
'The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno
where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering
it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno & become such a part of it that you can
no longer see it. The second is risky & demands constant vigilance & apprehension:
seek & learn to recognize who & what, in the midst of the inferno, are not
inferno, then make them endure, give them space.'
- Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
A Disorganized Set of Ideals That
Have Consumed Me in the Year of 2020
i only let the internet make me feel human. innocence is a trainable muscle & an inherently reacquirable active state of being,
being a nice good person is paradisiacal, much cruelty is based on the masochistic/autoflagellatory thrill of deliberately acting
against one's inherent human goodness & instinctive empathy for others, & the sort of propaganda that cuts people off from
their capacity to acknowledge & express calmness, goodness, benevolence, sincerity, honesty, mawkishness, corniness, &
vulnerability, is the worst thing there is. life is a wonder of wonders & to wonder i dedicate myself on my knees like an orphan
committing to a total rejection of toxic & jaded aspects of contemporary culture.
committing to a total refusal to engage with toxic & jaded aspects of contemporary culture
refusing false hard truths
all of this can be easy, i promise
refixating on the senses of
that are latent in one's existence
exhibiting an unashamed embrace
of all of the adjectives one would reach for
when prompted for examples of goodness:
exhibiting a willingness to risk being mawkish.
exhibiting a willingness to risk being corny.
exhibiting a willingness to risk being vulnerable
and still: it may be worth considering that there may be things it takes
to really begin to emotionally process these things in earnest,
as opposed to reducing them to aesthetics that one tries to label themselves with ...
it's ok. with enough time, anyone can become fully & indisputably sincere
exhibiting a refusal to characterize innocence as fragile
committing to a rejection of tropes, narratives, memes, & sentiments
which emphasize innocence as negatively disposable,
characterizing these portrayals of innocence as propaganda
this rejection must exist simultaneously with the acknowledgment
that it is always in one's ability to fall into jaded & entropic
thinking. the acknowledgment that it is still a kind of balancing
act. it requires responsibility & vigilance.
it may call for pruning & management of
one's expressions & thought patterns
but this shouldn't be construed as being intended
to maladaptively remove you from your own nature,
as though in a moralizing & maladaptively puritanical
way, but to protect what you find to be the best
elements of your nature from external infection.
it all depends on what elements of the world you personally can tolerate reflecting,
while making a point to honestly reflect on what your standards are, & why you have them
it is about letting your most human & sincere
desires, for things like joy & acceptance, shine through
regarding yourself as a fluid being
regarding yourself and others as conduits of traits
striving only to improve the pool of traits.
acknowledging to yourself that slipping
up in regards to these things doesn't
constitute a removal of innocence
because innocence is a trainable muscle
it is not a veil draped over every baby's head when it's born
until it is violently shredded, left to be a nostalgic footnote
it is a muscle,
a way of being
part two of two
"Innocence Addendum (Cruelty & Humanism)", a sprawling P.S.
More Recent Thoughts, Some About Cruelty & Humanism
July 3rd, 2020
i've recently come to believe that there are lots of things that i need to know
& feel that are in my head as a big undifferentiated blob, of sentiments & attitudes
& principles that will make me happy & not destroy me, & i don't have to waste time
separating them & crystallizing them & verbalizing them before i act on them, as
long as i earnestly feel that they add up to a pure & benevolent blob
i also recently realized that this hard stance i've taken this year, of innocence
being a reattainable state of being, is kind of secularly analogous to the idea
that people can always ask god for forgiveness ... they both have the same feeling
of finding a pretense to grant oneself "infinite currency" in their head, to feel
safe & to function better ... one appeals to an external supernatural force to
validate the currency, the other internally derives that validation by meaningfully
managing themselves in relation to a concept they value (innocence)
anyway, here is a conversation i had with my friend nik
me: realizing the feelings i've developed around innocence are like a secular version of asking god for forgiveness, kind of
nik: you feel like you need some sort of forgiveness or catharsis for having behaved in contrary ways in the past
me: it's that like ... the notion of "innocence is a way of being that is always reattainable" is analogous to-
nik: you can always reattain a state of grace via confession and penance
nik: there was something you expressed a week or two ago that i have kind of thought about some and meant to ask
you which i guess is related to this in that. you expressed that like. innocence as being something which it takes deliberate
effort and discipline to maintain and project. and like. i can conceive of it like that, but it feels contrary to what i would
mean by innocence, i think, and i think it contrasts with the idea of innocence as effortless sincerity, lack of ego, etc
me: i think it's kind of like ... lots of the world does ultimately try to exert a
corruptive influence on you, & it's partly about vigilance against that but partly about
that more meta aspect of naturalizing yourself to not even have to think about it
nik: thinking about it and putting effort into it so that you might theoretically reach a state where you don't have to
think about it or put effort into it, but that state is never reachable as long as you exist in relation to outside influence
me: maybe ...
looking to an external supernatural force for validation vs. internal validation by meaningfully managing yourself in relation
to a concept that you value. both practices invoke the same action of like. finding a pretense to grant yourself "infinite currency"
nik: idk if it's possible to draw clean lines between external and internal validation. does one try to atone for
guilt because you have an internal persecutor that makes you feel bad for it in a vacuum, or because you
want to be a good person to other people, or because you want other people to think certain things of you, etc
i was thinking the other day, since i've been reading you know.
catholic fiction. i wasn't raised catholic, and it strikes me as
an intensely weird and alien thing to just be habituated to keeping
track of all the sins you do so you can confess them later
i think it's possible to hang onto and luxuriate in the bad things
you've done and what a bad person you are just as much as it is
to hang onto and luxuriate in the good things you've done and what
a good person you are
i also feel like maybe once you ever tell anyone how good or bad
having done something made you feel, or whatever, there's an
inevitable creeping element of performativity to it, so you can
never like totally circumscribe everything into a personal uh.
idiolect of feeling
the guilt/shame dichotomy doesn't make a ton of sense to me because
they're kind of the same thing ultimately, and you can't separate them.
guilt is like, inbuilt or conditioned shame, shame is public guilt
when you talk about innocence it sometimes seems to mean. like a deliberate
purging of the spirit via rigid adherence to certain ideals. and sometimes
it means an attempt at existing, externally, as a sincere and un-affected
being. maybe the internal aspect is enabled by the external projection?
like the external projection of the ideals, and the maintaining of them,
is the penance that enables the internal state of grace. to put it in those
terms. or maybe it's the other way around
me: that sounds accurate. it's. i think defined in part by contrast against things.
it's about not becoming resigned or giving up or accepting false "hard truths"
nik: self-purgation via refusal of autoflagellation instead of the reverse
me: yes. what's the reverse though
nik: self-purgation via autoflagellation, either literally or metaphorically
me: oh, yes definitely instead of that
nik: to what extent do you feel like. it's about. doing penance for having been jaded or
resigned or tainted etc in the past that you feel guilty for. versus. trying positively to be a
better version of yourself... i think the way it's framed precludes it entirely being one or the other
me: it's mainly the latter. the former is there but it's less guilt & more being driven by the
realization of the terror of it, that it so deeply harms the latter & consequently makes earth worse
nik: you've had kind of. a religious fervor about it. and an almost moralistic revulsion towards
anything that seems to point in that direction. towards jadedness and insincerity and irony etc.
me: mm hm. i don't want to be too confrontational or moralizing. i've been trying to just.
not engage so much with things i don't like, really. to just look the other way. to a reasonable
extent. like it's not like i think very abjectly harmful things should just be ignored
nik: yeah. i'm kind of like. withdrawn and conservative and prudish by nature, tho idk if i'd use those words.
the trick is just. not crossing the line into being a scold and telling strangers how they should live their lives. i
think crossing the line is like. if someone is hurting themselves in some way, at least from my perspective, i don't
think i have any right to say anything to them. if they're hurting other people, that's where it crosses the line
i think everyone has the right to harm themself in whatever way
they want. i think if they want help to like. stop harming themself.
they deserve that. but telling them they're wrong and to stop is bad
and just. unless the person in question trusts you and you genuinely
care about them etc it's just pointless moralizing and it's like
sticking your arms elbow-deep in muck. if they're harming someone
else then i think it's good and maybe imperative to do something.
& here's the sections on cruelty & humanism:
April 16th/25th / May 4th/17th / June 11th/14th / July 9th, 2020
i don't disapprove any less of people who act evil & nasty,
but encountering them is making me less depressed now.
i don't know why ...
maybe it's because i've been limiting my potential exposure to that kind of stuff, so it doesn't overload my brain ...
&/or, i've built new & beneficial structures in my head (or demolished old & malignant ones), so that i can see evil people
without getting stuck in endless thought loops, centered around the inability to cope with those people's ongoing existences ...
i used to see people being mean, & i would feel (presumptuously, yes ...) like i clearly, clearly,
clearly understood the headspace they were in, to be saying & doing that stuff ... & it was like i could
imagine inhabiting it, in first person. it was like i felt forced to do that, really ...
i can't know if my "understandings" were ever accurate, but they brought me to a central & deeply unpleasant feeling:
like the person was running as a little virtual machine in my head. i don't like it at all, i don't like feeling like
a splinter of me is being squished into the shape of someone i dislike ... & i don't like feeling like i understand
another person's malignance so well that maybe i could pry it apart like a tiny little lego toy & improve
them, if i could just find the vocabulary, but i can't find the vocabulary ...
especially if i could hardly see anything i found even mildly disagreeable without feeling that way!
OH, & of course ... gaining the actual confidence to express positive energy! just feeling like i'm putting out contrary
energy is a huge basic comfort. if i don't like someone, well ... they'll keep existing no matter what (unless i KILL
THEM :P), so putting out contrary energy is really the best i can do, & the only thing that can have any chance of
changing anyone. it's the only way i can have my say & hope to propagate what i believe in, further into the world ... god
knows i've been improved by other peoples' displays of positive energy plenty of times! i only want to reproduce that
i used to be mean, & i wasn't happy being mean, yet i was mean ...
i used to be devoid of hope. resistant, even, to the idea of it.
i used to believe that i was devoid of innocence
i believed the rules of reality precluded happiness
that i could only accept that
but the rules are malleable
i think some people start off unhappy, & that serves as an initial pretense for being mean. & then that catalyzes a
vicious loop where being mean makes them unhappy, but they attribute that unhappiness to the original unhappiness,
which might feel essential to their lives, & that reinforces their internal justification for being bitter & mean. & on & on
Recent Quotes From My Friends Nik & Paz
"The feeling of a pattern in your life being existential to your existence is so hard
to break because you've loved every bit of perception in your life under it" - Paz
"Trying to emphasize the potential for self-improvement to someone who is hostile to
the idea can't really have a positive effect anyway, cuz it just comes across as
moralizing or behaving like you have secret knowledge they don't" - Nik
"They get a masochistic/autoflagellatory thrill out of deliberately acting against their instinctive
empathy for other humans" - Nik, postulating what people get out of provocative cruelty
"Bigotry and fascism are deep down based on self-loathing, deep pessimism about
humans, and then also a sort of nihilistic hedonism building on those" - Nik
"The thing is, you can't ... Teach people not to be mean or cruel or racist or bigoted in
other ways ... The only thing that works, although it doesn't always work, is for them to
engage with other people who are different than them, and then have them gradually and
unintentionally catch glimpses of themselves in the "other" and realize that all humans
are basically the same deep down, and cruelty to other people is cruelty to oneself" - Nik
August 12th, 2020
a tumblr post, not authored by me:
"it's your own fault if you allow tumblr dot gov to like, taint words like "yearning" for you to the point
where you basically develop a "cringe"-based aversion to all expressions of love and tenderness. that's
also a very very funny problem to have and maybe you can get it named after you if you act quick enough"
i love this post for pointing out this phenomenon & disparaging it. i guess i don't really like the snottiness though. i think its
bad to verbally weaponize one's own humanity & orientation towards tenderness. anyone who is alienated from those things
in the way it describes is probably suffering from it even if they don't realize, & the post is kind of mocking. idk maybe
snottiness for the sake of a slap in the face to wake someone up is ok ... maybe i'm projecting but i think the kind of
mindset it describes can stem from people being isolated & not having the right people to show them nuanced forms
of expression & they're not wrong for feeling alienated if all they're exposed to is portrayals of emotion that make
it to them specifically because they're like the blandest possible lowest common denominator platitudes
idk saying "bland platitudes" almost feels weird, insinuating that even expressions of love could fall under the logic i
automatically go by where things' popularities can be marks against them because i think the property of, like, memetic
aerodynamicity is inherently bad. i can't see another way of thinking about it though. like when it's a numbers game
like that, anything that comes out on top is going to have had its edges capitalistically sanded off. idk, expressions of
love should be good in a vacuum, so maybe all expressions of love are something you can read & derive earnest
meaning & positivity from if you're in the right place, even if they're really sleek & universal? but if you're
not coming in with like a personal idiolect about love to let that stuff reflect off of then it's grey mush
offensively mushed into the shape of something that should be more than grey mush
("universal" ... like, it feels weird to demonize universality, like the negative trait is "number
of people it has appealed to"??? that by definition seems like the opposite of how it should be)
July 9th, 2020
i am thinking about how, in my opinion, i was a very awful person
for three to five years & i completely disavow that period of my life
i joined a friend group in 2016 that i deeply dislike in retrospect, & i think that was a big part of it
... & there was plenty of other stuff poisoning my brain too. it'd be simple to oversimplify things, & say,
"if i hadn't fallen in with so-&-so, or hadn't joined yadda-yadda, or hadn't consumed blah-blah, i might've
gone on a straight path of growth that led to & beyond the way i conceive of myself right now! not wasting
all that time!". but that's not true ... i really value all of that stuff as a basis for comparison! it makes
me so happy to view all of that as a discrete section of my life that i'm not in anymore
of course, even if i do feel like i'm in a part of my life marked by strong
positive progression from what came before, i still have a set of replacement
neuroses about that bug me ... it's like whack-a-mole, the fun just never stops
speaking of neuroses, for years i used to be very fixated on the simplistic notion that suffering
enabled people to become better as people, & that any suffering i had experienced was to be
cherished for that effect. but i believed i hadn't experienced nearly enough suffering in
my life & that it made me fundamentally incomplete in ways i couldn't even know. then
on top of that i felt guilty & disgusted with myself, because i felt like by framing
suffering as sort of an ironic good, i was indirectly fetishizing lots of terrible
things that should never happen! & it was just this awful gnarled thought ball
it's ok, though. i don't worry so much about that anymore. it is very possible
to learn from suffering, but suffering is not intrinsically good or redemptive.
there are plenty of people who end up being worse for having suffered
anyway, being a nice good person is paradisiacal & the sort
of propaganda that cuts people off from their capacity to
recognize & express those traits is the worst thing there is
July 24th, 2020
corruptive internet stuff is scary. i saw awful things & consequently turned
awful. but i stopped. & other people are seeing awful things all the time. you
want there to be a systemic means by which their latent goodness is incited to
shine through. but it only happens by personal means. there's no sweeping remedy.
you can only have local effects, to whatever extent that you're capable of positively
affecting others through your words/actions, which can only extend as far as your online reach.
i guess that's why i've made this
webpage, really. a barrage of pleas
i once read a long series of cruel things that were very focusedly written about specifically me by lots of strangers.
this was very hurtful, unnecessary, & rooted in unproductive sadism. it caused me emotional pain that lasted a fairly
long time after my initial exposure to it. however, in the things they said, i did identify that my public presentation
at the time, albeit being fairly benign, was very unfiltered. careless! feral! resigned to a total lack of self-respecting
effort put into the cultivation of my own personality! so over time, as a response to it all, i did begin consciously moving
away from that way of being, & attempted to build up an identity for which i felt even a corrupted internet sadist could not
make a reasonable case for me being so inviting of ridicule. (a fool's errand, i know, but ...) now i do truly feel that there
is much less of any valid measure by which i could be considered in that way! could it be said that it all drove me to become
a better person?! but i am not the kind of person to subscribe to that kind of outlook, which would promote people beating one
another into submission until they're driven in a frenzy to heuristically formulate ways of being that preclude them being
beaten anymore! i guess the more productive principle to derive would be that there will always be unkind people, so if that
is to be a constant, then finding a way to derive positive change from one's encounter with it must be the best possible outcome
my ultimate form would have the rhetorical ability to have a conversation
with any given scary, bad "four chan" person & plant a seed in
their brain that over time would spread roots into them & grow &
inexorably cause them to cease to be a bad person
there have been times when people were mean to me, where i wish my response had been to cry, rather than feel
immersed in ... what i guess i would describe as a sinking, simmering, numbing feeling, accumulates ....
anger is terrible! that gradual, reactive, embittered calficiation of one's personality ... it's terrible
i think that things might be better if people were more prone to cry when someone else tried to hurt them emotionally.
i know that not everyone would actually feel remorse if they made someone cry, but still. just having that visceral prompt
for the aggressor to recognize that they're trying to cause someone pain, & to maybe feel empathy instead
something i dislike about text-based communication on the internet is that you can't see anyone cry. & consequently there
is less impetus to cry. the only way it can be clear that someone on the internet is crying, is if they make a point of
expressing that they're crying. & then the fact that they explicitly chose to communicate it could be dismissed as a performance ...
okay, i suppose it might not be strictly dependent on crying per se ...
i think it's very possible to verbally conduct oneself in a way that communicates that same vulnerability & lack of
bitter confrontation ... just a calm & perplexed desire to know why the other person is being hostile. calmly
requesting for them to stop, because you're finding it hurtful, & they should simply recognize that
but online culture encourages all of this strict emotional resilience. snappy & bitter comebacks ... i don't know if this is
strictly bad, but maybe there are situations where if someone had just been hurt, & the other person had felt bad, it
wouldn't have become a vitriolic feedback loop, trading insults as each person refuses to budge,
& the other's eye twitches more & more, while they think:
"How the fuck am I going to emotionally access this person?"
& of course, some people have a way of undermining their own empathy in online conversations, where the other person can say:
"I find this hurtful. these sentiments hurt me." but the offender refuses to take it at face value, & confront it as an
underhanded tool of control instead. there is an aura of inconvenience projected onto their feelings. everything would be
fine if they weren't voicing them. this is a classic hallmark of spats between left-wing & conservative people, you
know, the whole snowflake thing ... "Oh, I gotta submit to your feelings, huh? You're not giving me a CHOICE, huh?"
this is often often less a good faith assertion of one's agency & more a bad faith refusal to engage with oneself about
whether ... it wouldn't be that bad to just treat the other person more kindly
at the same time, i do believe that people have a sad tendency to use guilt & moral relativism to control other people
EVERYTHING IS JUST CONFUSING FOR EVERYONE!
June 16th, 2020
humanism makes me so happy, at least as i understand it.
it looks like some people use that word in dumb ways, maybe ...
i feel better at avoiding cognitive dissonance, because i measure things by whether they make me feel
more human or less. i know what stuff on the internet i dislike because it makes me feel less human.
i only let the internet make me feel more human. it's my justification for when things feel intuitively
wrong. they must be encouraging some suppression of the goodness of my humanity.
i'm devoted to never letting anything convince
me to suppress my empathy or innocence or love
i try to feel like a happy dog
i'm more complex than a dog, & that complexity is wonderful & good,
but it's not in competition with being like a happy dog either ...
i can be like a dog blessed with a more cogent understanding of the
happiness of existing in the world! i feel less afraid of the inevitability
of death. true, i really would like to never die! it's scary to think about.
but as it is, i try to feel like it's the natural course, that like a happy
dog i am born & i die & it makes me happy to follow my course
ok, it's not like i exist in constant bliss of course!
i slip up & i get lonely & frustrated & mad & sad.
but this is what i am finding myself believing in
August 4th, 2020
the album "medulla" by bjork is very inspiring
to me & i think about the word "medulla" a lot
Bjork struggled to find a title for the album. She said that something in her "wanted to leave out civilization,
to rewind to before it all happened", wondering, "Where is the human soul? What if we do without civilization
& religion & patriotism, without the stuff that has gone wrong?", originally calling it Ink, as she wanted
the title to represent the five-thousand year-old blood which is inside of human people, a passionate &
dark ancient spirit, a spirit that survives. Her friend Gabriela then suggested "Medulla", a medical
term for bone marrow in Latin. She complemented that it was not just bone marrow, but marrow
in the kidneys & marrow in the hair; it is about "getting to the essence of something".
At the time of its construction, Bjork considered Medulla to be her most political album, saying that it countered
outbreaks of racism & patriotism that followed the 11 September attacks. "On 9/11, in the space of a half an hour,
this became the most patriotic place on earth", she recalled. "I remember describing to my friends on my phone that
[if] I turned 180 degrees anywhere I was in New York, I would count at least 37 American flags. So it was kind of
scary for a foreigner to be here". Regarding the album's composition, Bjork also mentioned that she tried to find
the common soul in everything, outside nationality & religion, whilst elaborating that she felt that "in that
sense, it's a greatest hits of human spiritualism [laughs]. I think it's the first time I have done an album
while I am reading the news. These are crazy times. It just seems that patriotism is a bad idea. I don't know
how directly the album reflects that, but it is sort of anti-patriotic. Anti-Iceland as much as anti-anything".
"medulla" to me is like the opposite of when someone is in a place where they're kind of alienated from their humanity in that
their expression is unintentionally an impersonal expression of cultural artifacts that don't draw from as much humanity as
they could? maybe they've learned how to engage with the world & others in a way that imitates media that itself imitated
life but didn't portray it with the most sincerity, or optimism about humanity, or didn't encourage vulnerability, or
something. or they're echoing aesthetics that don't really have anything behind them? also what bjork said about
politics/religion ... the notion that love & empathy are core aspects of people & the suppression of them for
religious/political beliefs is an active exception being made to someone's nature, distorting them as a
person ... the word doesn't make me think "abject opposition to all that bad stuff" as much as the
ideal of having avoided it all in the first place, or at least found the wherewithal to abandon
it. not having to think about it. it specifically makes me think of unfiltered connection
between people, & unfiltered conception of oneself, in a language of universally
understood concepts with no cultural artificiality. human-ness. marrow ...
trying to form the most productive possible synthesis of one's condition
as a mammal & one's condition as a conscious person. expressing love,
saying & doing things out of love, not being internally separated from love
i'm not really sure where else on the page to put this, so i'll put it here. this is a
conversation i had with my friend nik, with some input from someone on tumblr.
it is probably the first time i cogently verbalized the sentiments of this page
i'll precede the chat with this additional statement from nyaaly
on january 28th, that i was even less sure of where to put:
"Even the word innocence has been co-opted. It's either looked at as an asset, by people whose view of humanity
has been reduced to numbers, looking to hurt or exploit people, or as a detriment, that must be ripped off by
people who are bitter at their own atomized, paranoid existence, and hope to inflict that on others. Or as a
fragile veil to be preserved in others, by those who sense how painful modern 'responsible' life can be, but
don't realize why it's so painful. I'm not saying being responsible is bad, more that a lot of what we see as
an adult mindset is actually just a sadness and lack of hope that didn't naturally go away, it was removed.
The people treating innocence as a fragile veil see it as something to be preserved, but still view it as
something unnatural, fragile, detrimental. These views aren't a result of 'innocence' or a result of
a lack thereof, they're just outcomes of the way life is treated by so many as a game"
and now, the chat:
January 27th, 2020
me: maybe there are media tropes that share a common gene of subtly demonizing any trace of innocence in a person
as inherently naive & stupid & "cringe" with no other ways of exhibiting it, & implying the only path for anyone who
wants to have any self-esteem is to adopt like, caked-on jadedness & residual snarkiness & confrontationality
toward others as a way of exerting their mandated & Worldly & Realistic & Calculated outlook, all adjectives
which are not inherently wrong, but in this case take on a deeply maladaptive shade
& some people become normalized to this & turn into emotionally repressed
wrecks in a state of constant cognitive dissonance with how their way of
engaging with the outside world is keeping them in this constant state
of being like, Pried out of their human nature at a 45 degree angle
with all the tendons connecting them to it stretching & tearing
another valid consideration is that that way of being just
originates in the world & people who have it organically
can create media that exhibits it & other people like that
gravitate toward that media & it reinforces it in a loop
nik: I feel like... There's pressure to be sort of a callous selfish hedonist who regards human interactions transactionally,
and if you aren't you're hopelessly naive. I feel like... This is probably a rotten-through endpoint of hyperindividualism.
I think "self-esteem" is sort of a con. If everyone in the world had high self-esteem by the most common signifiers:
assertiveness, determined self-advancement, etc ... The world would be a much worse place. It'd be like everyone were
a hypermasculine man, just an atomized hellhole. Or more of an atomized hellhole. I think self-worth or dignity are
different things than "self-esteem" which seems to me in most usages to be a buzzword justifying selfishness. I
don't think the opposite extreme of personal submission to the common good is unmitigatedly good either. I
think every individual is valuable in some way. Probably. But that selfishness is generally an evil
I don't think it's just 4chan, I think there are broader societal and cultural
pressures to be like. Basically the bad kid in a peer pressure warning-story
PSA for elementary school kids. "Come on, don't you wanna be cool? Don't
be such a baby, try the drugs". It's presented negatively in that context
because obviously adults don't want kids doing drugs, but once
you're an adult it genuinely is "cool" to be callous and
selfish and self-seeking like that
I think consumerism and capitalism encourage selfishness and self-seeking
and hyperindividualism, and thus a sort of dim hedonism, and this is like ...
Probably an immensely elitist thing to say, but i feel like a lot of my
personal conservativism or anti-hedonism is just out of reaction to that,
because my own innate inclinations, so far as I can tell, are more towards
finding meaning and the sublime in life and art than in simple pleasure.
Although pleasure is not an evil.
Basically I think material reality and culture are such that they sort of nudge
you to be a sociopath. I don't know if this is deliberate. Although I think
sociopaths, insofar as they exist, would probably have an interest in
everyone else behaving like sociopaths too ... It's much easier to sell
fun than it is to sell meaning, it's possible to sell sex but not love
nyaaly: In the 2010s, it seems like there's been a rise in this kind of performative callous disconnection, and
it seems like it's a reaction to the way social interactions and human qualia are getting quantified and
measured by corporations. Suddenly, data becomes for sale, things you say inform ads, political
campaigns hire psychologists or experts in teen behavior, and a kind of artificial predator-prey
dynamic is inserted into daily life. The gamification of the soul.
People don't like that, obviously, whether they know it or not. But one common
maladaptive trait is that kind of ruthless "redpilled" genre-savviness like
they're trying to outsmart everyone else by being "above" sincerity or
cloaking themselves in so many layers of irony they can't be read
and scrutinized as the world tends to try to do to us nowadays. It's
tempting to use words like "self-justification" or "mass delusion"
or even "falling for it" but to be honest that kind of worldview is
a symptom of the same kind of thing. Not that being misinformed
is good, but the fact that now everything is either Raw Truth or
Fragile Naivite, and the people who aren't right are suffering
from some sort of impingent weakness of the psyche.
It's almost like a rebranding of the old "weak will vs virtue" ethos, which hasn't
disappeared with the Enlightenment. Instead, it just seems like a lot of people have
adapted it into a kind of toxic strength test where they compete to see how bitter of
a "truth" they can swallow, and that just leads to doomers and "blackpill" 4chan people
nik: Hmmmmmm ... I don't think the first proposition is true. I think this is something that
goes back before Big Data or whatever, and I don't think it's a coherent enough thing to
be in opposition to that ... The second proposition I partially agree with. I think there's
definitely a dopamine hit of being Right that people get from being selfish and callous
me: I think people have always gotten kind of a wry smug satisfaction
out of feeling like they know exactly how to pigeonhole another person
...Leading to a mutual fear of being like ...Predictable like that
nik: Which itself is predictable ... I don't know, i think a genuine person, like in the sense of "genuine"
meaning like, unfiltered, free of ego, is just not going to actually care about whether people pigeonhole
them or judge them. Trying to affectedly avoid being categorized is itself a categorizable behavior ...
This problem is reaching regions where it is difficult to think about ...
I think the motivation is: People like feeling that they're right or smarter
than other people. Being selfish and callous is a basically culturally
acceptable way to get away with this, because those are attitudes
encouraged by capitalism and consumerism ... American Psycho is
basically a documentary. The ideal human in late capitalist
society is a narcissistic sociopath, with no internal thoughts
or feelings, just an endless hunger for external approval
and new experiences to be poured into the slough
I'm leaning pretty hard on materialist sociological
explanations because i think the motivations of
individuals are of course. Black boxed
me: I guess the pigeonholing thing is common because it's like an attack on someone's
identity & their feeling of having legitimate agency ... The aggressor using that
Maladaptive Calculatedness to reframe someone as not having made any real choices
& just being a statistically likely data point, like a dirt particle in a stream ...
I think this can maybe be a useful introspective prompt
but people usually just use it with kind of a sadistic
bent ... Instantly framing the exhibition of behaviors
& identities as a competition ... There's people who
want a variant of the word "sheeple" for any particular
brand of person they have a petty dislike toward
nik: I think pigeonholing and judging other people are inevitable results of human psychology. But like.
Being cruel is not. I can be pretty judgmental of people, I think, but also by some combination of
personal inclination and cultural conditioning i am like. Basically incapable of actually telling
anyone I don't like them to their face, even if I think they're a genuinely shitty, wicked person
Maybe also a flaunting of wealth or privilege.
Like "Ah, I'm so jaded and wise because (implicitly) I have gotten
to have so many different experiences and been able to shape my life
to such a degree because I occupy a privileged position in an affluent
society. Whereas you, you sheep, are forced into certain niches by your
material reality. You like things in a way that is anything other than
trying to efficiently suck personal pleasure out of them? How cringe.
I'm rich enough to be able to afford to not sincerely care about
anything or feel passionately about anything, and to justify my
position I will frame the contrary position as a moral failing."
And this attitude itself becomes a cultural signifier.
People who aren't themselves that privileged or rich
want to be able to feel that hit of superiority, even
without its material basis. So they might imitate it
Sincerity is good and necessary because
meaning cannot flow from insincerity.
It's not hard in isolation to like.
Avoid being insincere or cruel.
It's not hard to avoid trying
to predate on other people
and suck them dry for
But those attitudes are normalized
at some point in the next few decades i'm going to compose an infallible manifesto for human
kindness that will virally eradicate any & all ill will, cruelty, & malice in all people on the planet!
wish me luck, everyone!