Thursday, May 6, 2010

Book Update

The word's just in from my mother. She hated it. My first negative review!

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Earlier you wrote

"My mom called me the last week. After living 73 years as a more-or-less nominal Christian, she finds herself believing (or not believing, as the case may be) along atheistic lines. In her words, 'faith is nothing more than hope in the face of the horrible alternative'. That alternative, of course, is that life ultimately comes to nothing. That all the suffering of the world is NOT somehow intrinsically valuable, and that it would have been better off if it hadn't gotten started in the first place. I never thought I'd hear the words "I'm suddenly beginning to think like you" from her."

What changed her mind?

metamorphhh said...

Anonymous:

My mother has never been much for rational consistency. She has her moments where reason prevails, but she's basically always been an emotional creature. Plus, she's addicted to FOX news...LOL! Need I say more?

CM said...

At least she read it. That's something, I suppose, especially from a person addicted to Fox news:)

Anonymous said...

Regarding Mom's no-likey... let's face it, antinatalism is a tough pill to swallow for one who has already procreated (and tougher still, if the indictment comes from the very fruit of one's loins!) For what it's worth, I'm midway through Confessions right now and am really enjoying it.
-femme

metamorphhh said...

C.M.: Yeah, no joke! LOL!

Anonymous: Glad you're enjoying it so far. And yeah, I just got off the phone with my older daughter, and here response was, "Well, what did you expect?" I'll be interested to hear her opinion when she gets around to reading it.

The Plague Doctor said...

Vampires: A lion in a den of men

Anonymous said...

Hey Jim!

I just found out about your book ...CONGRATS! I look forward to reading this :)

your littlest bro

metamorphhh said...

H? How the hell are you doing? Haven't seen you for ages! Hopefully you'll give me a better review than mom...LOL! Of course, what did I expect? Hehehehehe!

Hey, shoot me a mail at quidproquo55@rocketmail.com, and catch me up. Nice to hear from you, little brother! :)

carbon unit said...

Jim, Are you aware of anyone who has attempted to translate Mainlander's
Die Philosophie der Erlösung, or Julius Bahsen's
Der Widerspruch Wissen und Wesen der Welt? Whoever does so would do a great service to humanity! Carbon Unit

metamorphhh said...

carbon unit:

Unfortunately, no. I've been on the lookout for translations of both Mainlander and Zapffe for quite a while now. Perhaps another reader can point us in some direction?

metamorphhh said...

For those readers who might not be aware, Philip Mainlander's thesis boils down to the idea that life, including the subsequent death of all life, is the physical manifestation of God's own suicide. A somewhat interesting coincidence from a personal perspective is that I wrote a series of haikus with this idea in mind, several years before I ever heard of Mainlander; the only difference being that Mainlander took this idea literally (from what I understand), and saw it as the culmination of all things. Whereas I used the idea as metaphor with a more cynical take based on the idea of the eternal return.

Anyway, I sort of grafted this 'haiku fable' onto the end of a loosely connected collection of poetry entitled 'Castaway'. Here it is for anyone who's interested, including the three line conclusion to the collection...

A Haiku Fable (epilogue)

when God slit his wrists
life issued forth forever
stained and innocent


with his dying breath
God tried to take it back but
it was an exhale


all existence fled
into the void riding on
that mephitic wind


dreamless sleep drifts on
a null sea blind radiance
a broken circle


sequence extension
pus from creation’s sore a
link becomes a chain


cilia writhe stretch
howl with the agony of
organization


feed back looped wedding
ringed street smart ganglia fills
up the pussy space


order established
now down to business time to
polish the mirror


all strays accounted
for the last has become the
whole we are not two


reflection is self
Narcissus is sucked in and
it begins again


In Summation-


Place the eye of an eagle inside the mind of a man…

Take him up to about 70,000 feet, and then…

Drop him, and hear the music of humanity...the end

metamorphhh said...

For anyone interested, I went ahead and posted the version of 'Castaway' that I had on my laptop here.


When I have some time, I'll go through and replace all the dirty words in their entirety. The public forum I originally posted this on was prone to censorship, so I had to fudge here and there.:)

The Plague Doctor said...

This reminds of the book "God's Debris" by Scott Adams (of Dilbert-fame), which is about the idea that the Universe is the result of God's self-destruction.

filrabat said...

Forgive the Off-Topic, but I don't know where else to put it. Here's an oldie but goodie from The Economist (Dec 18, 1998) article "Sui Genocide". It basically argues that because humanity will die off one day anyway, there's no point in reproducing (one of my core reasons for not procreating).

http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/sui_genocide_lets_extinguish_ourselves/

of The Space Review makes an admittedly noble attempt to answer here ( http://www.thespacereview.com/article/657/1 ). Unfortunately the author implicitly is trapped by the same old DNA/neurological-Based circular logic: Life is worth continuing because...well..umm..BECAUSE IT JUST IS

Karl said...

Not sure if this has been posted here before, but just in case:

http://vorosh.blogspot.com/2008/03/o...-delusion.html

It's currently under discussion on the Thomas Ligotti online website, where I left my own comment under the name of 'Malone'.

metamorphhh said...

Plague Doctor:

Thanks for that reference. A friend of mine read that, said she quite enjoyed it. I'll check it out.

filrabat:

Thanks, I read your links. I must admit there's something extremely...hmmm...logical about choosing our own end via cessation of reproduction when compared to all the nasty, 'natural' alternatives. The idea of little outposts of humanity clinging to rocks in order to keep the human race from dying out seems so comically desperate, especially since we all die anyway, and all that's really being kept alive is the notion of vicarious immortality.

Karl:

Couldn't get that link to work, just kept taking me to a profile page in a language other than English. Also, could you link us to the Ligotti discussion? I haven't learned to find my way around there yet. Thanks!

Karl said...

Here's another go at the link. If it doesn't work, then just put 'optimism delusion' into Google and you'll get it first up.

http://vorosh.blogspot.com/2008/03/optimism-delusion.html

Here's link to the Ligotti forum:

http://www.ligotti.net/showthread.php?t=4190

metamorphhh said...

Karl:

Ok, this is just too bizarre!:) First of all, someone sent me this Benatar article quite awhile back, but some time after I had written this. And seconds before I responded to you here, I responded to Plague Doctor here with a link to my aforementioned 'Richard Dawkins' Blindspot' article. What's the frequency, Kenneth? LOL!

Thanks for the links, btw.

Karl said...

A happy set of coincidences:-) Excellent piece on Dawkins, Jim. Gets right to the heart of it. The chap who runs (or ran) the 'Everything is Pointless' blog also made that his central theme. I don't like getting ad hominem on people, but just because Dawkins is a multimillionaire who does what he loves and is lauded and feted across the world shouldn't make him so blind as to life's misery. I saw him give a talk in London last year and he was treated in such a slobbering, fawning manner, and worshipped by the audience. I imagine that that's his typical reception, so perhaps it's gone to his head a bit. BTW, I'll respond to your thoughts on the Ligotti site back over there.

carbon unit said...

re: Dawkins.Harry Neumann calls it jack ass worship, John Gray ersatz religion. In short, desperation! A side note: Everyone knows the Nazi socialists murdered 20+ million; Communists (according to The Black Book of Communism) 100+ million; capitalism (according to the silly compilation The Black Book of Capitalism) 100+ million. But what I would like to know is how many people have people killed? Any estimates?

Anonymous said...

These don't necessarily belong under this post, but I'm not sure where else to put them. I haven't seen these or this author mentioned on this site or related sites, so I thought I'd throw them in the mix. They probably deserve their own post, but I don't have a blog and am not about to start one. (I'm not Hayry, by the way; I just think these articles may be as important as Benatar's book or Shiffrin's article, and I'd like to see what others think.)

Article 1 (PDF): http://www.helsinki.fi/collegium/english/staff/Hayry/2004%20HF%20If%20You%20Must%20Make%20Babies.pdf

Article 2 (open the PDF): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1733883/

Article 3.1 (open the PDF): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1734020/

Article 3.2 (PDF): http://www.helsinki.fi/collegium/english/staff/Hayry/Publ%202010%20liite%206.pdf

metamorphhh said...

Anonymous:

I appreciate the links. Your contributions, along with many others, have persuaded me to add a permanent and more accessible repository for outside articles. It'll be our own little nihilistic library! :) Thanks in advance for everyone's donations.

timcooijmans said...

Check out the second comment on the article on Dawkins by Benatar:
The whole argument is based on the assumption that there is somewhere an entity (let us call it a "soul") that is brought in to existence or not. That is where the whole argument collapses.

To us, it is obvious that Benatar's argument doesn't rely on dualism at all. Yet we get this kind of smug "rebuttal" all the time. In this case, Benatar didn't carefully word his way around the non-identity "problem", presumably because Dawkins wrote about "the unborn" similarly.

I've been looking for a good way to word the asymmetry for a long time now. Some disjoint aspects of it (like the non-problem of non-identity and the goodness of the absence of pain) can be worded naturally by showing them in a different perspective, but then it's difficult to unify these again to show the whole point.

I just don't want to end up with a TL;DR or academic blurb.

carbon unit said...

I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Dawkin’s evangelical atheism and it’s pious optimism would be as fervent had he been born in a Calcutta slum or sub-Sahara Africa? Optimism is a bourgeois luxury, the morality of privilege. An invidious and cruel prejudice ripe with feelings of superiority and their accompanying guilt complexes, but no true compassion.

carbon unit said...

Jesus Ignacio Aldapuerta on pleasue and pain:

“Consider the capacity of the human body for pleasure. Sometimes, it is pleasant to eat, to drink, to see, to touch, to smell, to hear, to make love. The mouth. The eyes. The fingertips, The nose. The ears. The genitals. Our voluptific faculties (if you will forgive me the coinage) are not exclusively concentrated here. The whole body is susceptible to pleasure, but in places there are wells from which it may be drawn up in greater quantity. But not inexhaustibly. How long is it possible to know pleasure? Rich Romans ate to satiety, and then purged their overburdened bellies and ate again. But they could not eat for ever. A rose is sweet, but the nose becomes habituated to its scent. And what of the most intense pleasures, the personality-annihilating ecstasies of sex? I am no longer a young man; even if I chose to discard my celibacy I would surely have lost my stamina, re-erecting in half-hours where once it was minutes. And yet if youth were restored to me fully, and I engaged again in what was once my greatest delight – to be fellated at stool by nymphet with mouth still blood-heavy from the necessary precautions – what then? What if my supply of anodontic premenstruals were never-ending, what then? Surely, in time, I should sicken of it.
“Even if I were a woman, and could string orgasm on orgasm like beads on a necklace, in time I should sicken of it. Do you think Messalina, in that competition of hers with a courtesan, knew pleasure as much on the first occasion as the last? Impossible.
“Yet consider.
“Consider pain.
“Give me a cubic centimeter of your flesh and I could give you pain that would swallow you as the ocean swallows a grain of salt. And you would always be ripe for it, from before the time of your birth to the moment of your death, we are always in season for the embrace of pain. To experience pain requires no intelligence, no maturity, no wisdom, no slow working of the hormones in the moist midnight of our innards. We are always ripe for it. All life is ripe for it. Always.
“Consider,” I said.
“Consider the ways in which we may gain pleasure.
“Consider.
“Consider the way in which we may be given pain.
“The one is to the other as the moon is to the sun.”
The Eyes p.26

metamorphhh said...

timcooijmans:

“I've been looking for a good way to word the asymmetry for a long time now. Some disjoint aspects of it (like the non-problem of non-identity and the goodness of the absence of pain) can be worded naturally by showing them in a different perspective, but then it's difficult to unify these again to show the whole point.”

A concise summation, or an alternatively succinct allegorical representation, has so far escaped me as well.

Concerning the happiness v. suffering, good v. bad arguments favoring the asymmetry, I think part of the problem (or maybe confusion is a better descriptor), has to do with the several ways in which most of us apprehend these terms. Sometimes we envision good and bad as paths extending in different directions. At other times, we view the good as a straight path, intersected now and again by a serpentine counterpart whose existence must be adapted to and ultimately reconciled as a necessary aspect of the ‘good’ path. At still other times, criteria that favor incremental valuation are either diminished or sometimes ignored completely in favor of defined landmarks along the path, or even at the imagined end of the path, where the significance of ends v. means becomes a defining characteristic of the journey.

Then there’s the whole problem of what seems to be the conjoined nature of these supposed opposites of experiential valuation. When it comes down to personal experiences, our judgments regarding what’s good v what’s bad seem to be skating on a particularly slippery surface. For example, I mentioned the other day that I’ve been feeling really shitty lately. Headaches, weakness, numbness, coupled with dizziness as well as one pretty severe, though shortlasting, episode of vertigo (doctor’s appointment forthcoming...ugh!). But a few days ago, I had the most wonderful respite from my symptoms that I felt like weeping for joy right in the middle of work! LOL! It was just a couple of hours or so, and even in the middle of it I was objectively aware that, relative to a more perfectly healthy experiential state, I still felt like crap. Now, most anyone reading this can probably relate to what I’m talking about, but how could I possible render this experience into any sort of quantitative, formulaic exposition? Happiness seems to exist along a sliding scale where the only relevant data point is the subjective moment. In this sense, arriving at any sort of agreement regarding this subject relies not so much on comparison against this or that objective scale (a point I try to pound home whenever possible), but on a confluence of subjective opinions. Once that’s established, we can then proceed to the logical extrapolations emerging from those opinions, though often overlooked or otherwise downplayed. And of course, the final hurdle is convincing people that the State of Negative Bliss (SNB) is as close to perfect happiness as is achievable, and not nearly as bad as it sounds. You know that Zen conundrum, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” I have something similar, but it comes with an answer. More of a proper riddle, I suppose. ‘When is a sliding knot not a knot?’ Answer? When you slide it off the end of the rope.

Anyway, the best approach I’ve come up with to demonstrate the asymmetry is through serial personal examples by which others can personally relate; the ‘common sense’ approach. That’s not to say that I’m not still searching for that ‘ah ha!’ aphorism that would make everything a hell of a lot easier. But so far, no go. If you come up with something, feel free to offer it here, Tim. I’ll give you a headline :)

I’d also like to address your non-identity problem. It’s a little simpler, I think, and I’ve been formulating something the last couple of days that might suffice. Stay tuned.

metamorphhh said...

carbon unit:

Thanks very much for this! Quite Schopenhauerian, and more explicit to boot! And, of course, it illustrates quite nicely what to me comes down to the lion's share of the experiential asymmetry.

"The one is to the other as the moon is to the sun."

Wow! And precisely correct.

Anonymous said...

"A concise summation, or an alternatively succinct allegorical representation, has so far escaped me as well."

The most succinct argument against a pronatalist who insists that life is good is to bludgeon him in the face with a hammer.