Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thought for the Day

Sometimes maintaining a mental equilibrium in the face of this terrible existence is a very hard thing to do. All it takes is a little contemplation, a seeing into the horrible, built-in exigencies of life on this planet, this tooth and claw world where everything ultimately comes to nothing, and all that's left to do is scream or throw up. Or to weep.

14 comments:

Karl said...

Or all three together, maybe. Everyone who sees it like it is should get a lifetime government pension on existential grounds for having to endure human life.

Sister Y said...

Interesting article on N=1 - folie à plusieurs.

Life is a Forced Labor Camp said...

I just saw The Sunset Limited and Tommy Lee Jones (character "white") is def a an antinatalist or against life in general. His closure argument against Samuel L Jackson(Black, the religious guy) was damn impressive. You guys have to watch this movie, i thought it was gonna be the old "save the poor suicidal atheist" movie but damn..went completely the other way.

The movie resembles "the man from earth" but without the bullshit illusions and tackles Life head on. Both Samuel and Tommy give a great show,) Phew :)

Here's the link

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1510938/

metamorphhh said...

Karl: I could certainly use it.

Sister Y: A telling conclusion in that article, isn't it?

Life is a...: I'd like to see that. Looks really interesting.

Josep said...

Life is...
The movie you mention sounds very promising, but is written by Cormac McCarthy, the author of
"The Road". I admired the man until I read this account of his first television interview: "He also spoke about the experience of fathering a child at an advanced age, and how his now-eight-year-old son was the inspiration for The Road".

Karl said...

Yeah, I was really disappointed with MacCarthy's late foray inrto paretnhood too, Josep. For a man who'd previously talked about the futility of human life and had written a masterpiece of nihilism like 'Blood Meridian' it was a let down. Just shows you're vulnerable until you die!

Josep said...

You're absolutely right, Karl. In no country for old men, there's always a place for the young... Unfortunately.

Modern Man said...

Karl,

Although the majority of 'Blood Meridian' is nihilistic, let's not forget the hopeful epilogue that closes the novel.

Even in 'No Country for Old Men,' a novel in which the character who symbolizes nihilism remains undefeated at the end, McCarthy closes the book with a pro-natalist, "the-human-race-must-go-on," dream.

It's unfortunate that an author who has such an uncanny ability to portray the devastation of life always pulls a sleight of hand at the last instant, just like he did with fathering a child in his old age (although, to be fair, he already had a child from a previous marriage).

-MM

metamorphhh said...

You know, I can certainly understand a young person blowing all this talk off, and going ahead and having a child anyway. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of hard knocks for reality to sink in. But an aged, pessimistic nihilist having a child? My god, what's going on here? Is it possible that his supposed nihilism is just an artistic affectation, a tool meant for carving out his own particular niche in Hollywood?

On the other hand, denial runs deep. Consider Peter Singer's codicil after his positive reviewing of Benatar's book, which boils down to "breeding's ok, because all will be well".

Anybody ever read Frank Herbert's 'The White Plague'?

metamorphhh said...

Speaking of 'The White Plague', I was just reviewing it on Wiki, and realized I'd forgotten a lot of it since I read it back in the mid Eighties. Unlike 'Children of Men', the disease actually kills all the world's women, instead of merely sterilizing them (or was it the men who were sterilized in C.of M.? I forget). Anyway, in both stories society basically falls apart when the abstract, vicarious immortality machine appears to be broken. Do you suppose it's this fear that makes otherwise realistic thinkers like McCarthy and Singer feel pressed to support the notion that the 'show must go on'?

Or is the real reason that nihilists will always be generally regarded as on the fringe of serious philosophical debate; that is, if they do more than merely play with the ideas while keeping one foot firmly planted in acceptable optimism bias? I sense a cowardice here, and I'm cynical enough to believe that some of it's rooted in professional concerns aka ego and money.

Karl said...

Life is a Forced Labour Camp: Thanks a lot for the heads-up re.The Sunset Limited. I wasn't aware it had been made into a movie. Am very keen to check it out.

Modern Man: Good point about the ending of BM. In interviews I've read with MAcCarthy he does talk about his endless curiosity about life and how he's never been bored for a moment. As someone currently suffering from profound boredom re.human life and its endlessly unvarying carnivals, I have to say this proves to me that MacC is fundamentally a life-lover.

Jim: Thanks for the heads-up re.The White Plague. I read the Wiki page and stopped as the summary sounded so damned good and I don't want to spoil it. I also happen to be Irish so the plot settings sounded intriguing. One of the features I really like about this little community here is how we can disseminate info re.books, movies, tracts of interest to fellow anti-natalists. Thanks everybody!

Karl said...

Jim: By the way, I think you're definitely on to something re.motives for not following the pessimistic line to its ultimate conclusions. I was once at an academic seminar where the speaker talked about Benatar. The guy admitted Benatar's logic was unimpeachable, but just didn't want to accept it. He said something along the lines of 'I know there's soemthing wroong with it, but just can't figure out what' and 'there's something profoundly unintuitive about Benatar's conclusions so there must be a flaw somewhere' and other such mulch. When push comes to shove, careers and peer approval seem to trump truth for most academics and public intellectuals.

Josep said...

"The Genocides", by Thomas M. Disch (who had no children and killed himself recently) is another grim, pessimistic fable about humanity as a pest fumigated eventually by alien gardeners. By the way: it seems that mainstream writers tend to procreate more and proselytize more about the matter than SF authors...

Ann Sterzinger said...

I've been reading a lot less of Jim Goad since he decided to have a baby. What the hell? Whatever happened to "you're not a photocopyer"? Maybe Debbie wrote that, but after she died Jim claimed to have written/edited most of her copy, so my "what the hell"? remains. I guess he goes with the "smarter people need to breed" fallacy, and while the scenario in the movie "Idiocracy" was scary, if indeed that's the way things are going, why the fuck do you want your smart kid to be the lone freak? I think a lot of this "tough guy, I see the world for the sewer it is, things suck, but I'm gonna have my kid because that's the one thing in this shit world that means a damn to me and that's the one thing I'm gonna make beautiful" stems from the cognitive dissonance between a. An actual recognition of how bad things are and b. The biological drive to reproduce (but how far does that drive really necessarily take you beyond achieving orgasm?)plus desire for some kind of fake immortality. It makes no sense to dump your "one beautiful accomplishment" into a sewer that's going to eventually kill it no matter what, but no matter how "real-thinking" one tries to be, the human mind is an impressive rationalization machine.

Side note: yeah, writing antinatalism into a sci-fi plot can be a lot easier to do, if only because it's known to be a more cerebral genre than feel-good, so the formula doesn't mandate the cheesy ending; people don't feel as ripped off if it doesn't manifest. I'm playing with some antinatalist sci-fi projects at the moment and having a good time.