Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Book of Job

Sister Y. has written an article entitled The Empirical Nature of "Meaning" that everyone should check out. One particular comment in the thread so resonated with my own feelings that I thought I'd post it over here:

Chuck G. said...
Regarding the book of Job: I've been in three separate classes now wherein the professor or TA mentioned that there was once an alternate version of Job floating around in which the eponymous main character gets nothing at the end save for being left alone with his festering boils and ruined estate. God doesn't even give him a pat on the back for trying to figure things out - he just leaves. Of course, that kind of honesty doesn't sell, so the *real* book of Job didn't make it into the final cut.

It's too bad that this alternate version of Job, the one that didn't make it into the Tanakh, is probably the only honest take on monotheism that there ever was. If anyone dives deeply enough down the spiritual rabbit hole, the only thing they get in the end is crushing surrender, the absolute and final end of all hope, period. Disillusionment is the only gift one should ever expect from God. Thus I think it's interesting that, at the end of the alternate version, Job still retains his faith. Why, aside from the faith of the author sneaking in, should he still believe in God?

Absent a translated reading copy of the text, I can only speculate as to what exactly Job's retention of faith in the alternate version looks like - it seems wholly implausible that it would be the kind of faith one sees being sold like a drug at the tax-exempt megachurches that hawk drive-thru salvation. I imagine Job would feel something like the Zen master who finally woke up one day and burned all his scriptures and cursed the day he heard the Buddha's name, after wasting decades trying to square the spiritual circle. Your enlightenment may come, that is for sure, but it won't be the cheap dopamine perma-fix you thought it would be. Happiness is a high, but Truth is Truth. And the handmaidens of Truth are disenchantment, disillusionment, and death-awareness.

I say that for the truly faithful, God must be seen as nothing other than a yawning void in place of an answer, an untouchable mystery which for no reason at all churns out gasping life, then drowns it in final eternity. This is not the God that anyone would ever go looking for, but the ones who look, who *actually* look instead of just trying to trap their cognitive dissonance in yet another layer of spiritual nonsense, will find this one. Only seek this God if, like Job, you have absolutely no other choice - if you're not ready to throw your entire terror management apparatus out the window, with all the suffering and despair that entails, you're better off at the megachurch.

114 comments:

mrsneutronsgarage said...

I think you are mistaken Jim. In my experience the greatest taboo is cultivating a Hitler mustache. Lots and lots of people choose not to reproduce, but, you never see a really good Hitler mustache.

I should begin by confessing that I have, with the aid of my wife of 42 years, reproduced. If that were not bad enough my remarkable offspring, in the full flower of their foolishness, have gone on to reproduce themselves. I freely admit, as any parent will tell you, that I have not had a worry free moment since. Then again, I never had one prior to reproduction either.

Am I correct that you had unfortunate experiences with fundamentalist Christianity? Well, there you go.

Give some consideration to what that might have done to your filters. Like a really bad tank of gas fundamentalist religion can so muck up your filtering apparatus as to render you never quite capable of ever running smoothly again. Indeed, it's a pain in the ass, but replacing the filters, dropping the tank and giving it a good scrubbing and blowing clean all the lines can work wonders.

Being a physician myself it's relatively easy to come to a snap diagnosis with respect to your case. You are a sufferer of Woody Allen Syndrome. "Insufficient Laughter". Of course, I will have to run many more expensive and painful tests, but, my clinical impression also includes "Absurdopenia". Like anemia, but rather than indicating a lack of red blood cells, "Absurdopenia" describes an acute lack of a true appreciation of the absurd. Since we will have to drill deep into your bones, where the absurd cells are generated, to determine the seriousness of your condition I will, in advance, prescribe something for the pain.
http://whoistheabsurdman.blogspot.com/

Until your next visit please leave your credit card number and social security number with my receptionist. She will run a complete credit check and from that we will be able to determine the likely length of your treatment.
Chin up Jim.... Always darkest before the dawn Old Boy.

A Deeply Caring
Mrs. N

Karl said...

If you want to read a superb commentary on The Book of Job then check out the article by the great Norwegian philosopher of pessimism Peter Wessel Zapffe. This chimes in perfectly with what Sister Y and Jim are talking about:

http://sirocco.blogsome.com/category/philosophy

The article can be found under the entry for March 20th 2006 entitled 'An Accusation of Timeless Proportions'.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Karl.... Any relation to Arnold Zapffe?

Jeepers, I am desperately trying to understand where you guys are coming from... but, I'm having a hard time "getting" used to the black vibe. I keep waiting for the punch line, you know?
I mean, Job- Schmobe... Certainly "shit happens", but, is that any reason to get so serious about it all? Do I condemn a fantastic, superbly cooked meal simply because I will be hungry tomorrow or because millions are starving today?
Where is your appreciation for the absurd?

timcooijmans said...

Do you value the absurdity of witch-burning more than you value the pain of those burning? Should slaves toil in the fields because of some artificial valuation of the absurdity? Would you appreciate the absurdity of me skinning you alive? Was it a mistake to abolish slavery and witch-burning, and am I mistaken if I decide not to skin you alive?

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Oh Tim... You too?

Listen, I didn't use the word "value". You did. My question... "Where is your appreciation for the absurd?"... was no invitation for you to list all the things in the universe that you do not approve of. Nor was it an invitation to get nasty or personal.

Trust me Tim it isn't MY fault that YOU are having a bad time here on earth. I'm not and I refuse to apologize for it.

And this nonsense... "Was it a mistake to abolish slavery and witch-burning, and am I mistaken if I decide not to skin you alive?"...

What do you think Tim? That IS what you wanted me to ask, isn't it? That IS what's important... right? You just go right on and get it all off your chest... I'll wait.

metamorphhh said...

mrs.neutronsgarage:

Some years ago, I was enjoying a middle school production of 'Waiting for Godot', when suddenly a pack of hungry wolves burst upon the stage, mauling and devouring the young actors. For some inexplicable reason, the tone of the absurdity changed and I could no longer enjoy the play. Now, I fully realize that my sense of appreciation may have become deadened due to an improperly maintained filtering system. Then again, wolves are wolves and children are children and screaming is screaming, and perhaps next time I go out I'll wear a blindfold and plug my ears so as to better appreciate the absurdity of it all.

Always darkest before the dawn? But for some, the sun never comes out, although I suppose their pain has some intrinsic entertainment value for someone watching from an emotional distance. One man's absurdity is another man's tragedy, and even though one solution might be to distance one's self through optimism bias and philosophical abstraction, a wiser man might simply call the play on account of wolves.

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

Speaking of wolves, let me welcome you to our little lion's den (to mix some metaphors). I look forward to your contributions and challenges :)

Garrett said...

Have you ever known a really "funny" person? You know, the type who always greets the group with the same exact joke? He gets a great reaction from everybody right off the bat. It makes him popular and well liked by everyone, so naturally, he runs with it! But some faces in the group never change. The funny man tells his joke to a bunch of new people and raucous laughter ensues, but you barely manage a chuckle... because you've heard it all before. Mr. Haha notices your non reaction and can't help but worry. You might cause the loss of his entire entourage! After all, a rotten apple spoils the whole bunch! He takes you aside in private and asks you what's wrong. You reply that nothing is wrong. Nothing has changed. That's the problem. It's the same old, tired, cheesy joke and the humor has worn thin... that's all. However, the comedian has taken offense. You have committed a grievous error in daring to be honest with a joker. Since you don't harbor any ill will for the comedian, you ask him to tell his joke again. His face lights up with hope as he recites the punchline flawlessly! He sees no sign of reaction from you and in desperation he throws a low caprice, then a bone crunching vagary, then a walloping parody! Nothing. You explain to him that you clearly see life as a joke... but it simply isn't funny anymore. Maybe once upon a time, for a few foolish childhood seasons... but not anymore.

I was never "in love" with life. It was just an infatuation. A constant search for distraction which slowly turned into a daily endurance run. There is no pleasure left in it. I didn't rejoice at the realization that a caring God doesn't exist, and that all I have in it's place is the twisted hall of mirrors created by the likes of you, mrsneutronsgarage. I would never subject another sentient to such a mundane, no, horrifying state of being. That is the heart of the matter, sir. Then again... maybe you think I'm just joking.

The Plague Doctor said...

Nor was it an invitation to get nasty or personal.

YOU are the one who was making it PERSONAL, by derailing a serious philosophical viewpoint with your faux-humoristic amateur psycho-analysis of the people who hold that viewpoint.

it isn't MY fault that YOU are having a bad time here on earth. I'm not and I refuse to apologize for it.

By being so light-hearted about suffering you are in fact indirectly responsible, as you perpetuate what Thomas Ligotti calls "the conspiracy against the human race".

mrsneutronsgarage said...

..."a wiser man might simply call the play on account of wolves."...

The play was over anyway, called due to a lack of actors. I'm curious...

1. How do you think the wolves viewed this?
2. Wouldn't it have made a great premise for a Monty Python episode?
3. How, if you find life in matter SO full of pain and SO devoid of humor can you bring yourself to go on? I don't get it. Is it just for attention? Is it some duty to inform the world that you have discovered that every coin has two sides? Or, have you missed the point that the name of the game is "Black & White".... NOT "White must win"?

I honestly don't get rolling around in misery when you have every opportunity to slip a Whoopee cushion under the Mayors chair.

timcooijmans said...

@mrsneutronsgarage:

I didn't intend to get personal or threaten you. I intended only to show you that there are things that have value, whether you intellectually acknowledge that value or not. Would you hate to be skinned alive, or would it not matter to you since you seem to think that nothing matters? Would you avoid getting skinned alive if that was something likely to happen to you in the near future? (Again, not a threat or anything like that.)

I know you did not use the word 'value', but I thought it was a fair assumption that that was the intended meaning of 'appreciate' in your comment. The other probable meaning ('to be aware of') seemed wrong in the context it was in. Anyway, yes, we appreciate the absurd. What does that do for us? Should we value the absurd? Should we value appreciating the absurd? If we should value neither, what was your point?

No, I don't think the abolishment of slavery and witch-burning were mistakes. I'm not yet sure whether to skin you alive, though. (It's a joke -- laugh!) I think we should recognize and fix things that are broken. What do you think?

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Thanks Garratt. You ask: .."Have you ever known a really "funny" person?"... and then go on to describe ANYTHING BUT.
But hey... I bet you are the life of the party.

Plague Doctor (nice name) you state..,. "By being so light-hearted about suffering you are in fact indirectly responsible..."

Sure. If everybody was miserable all the time things would improve dramatically in no time. I see that now.

The Plague Doctor said...

I didn't say "being light-hearted", I said "being light-hearted about suffering".

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

1. Funny you should ask that, as I've just listened to 'Call of the Wild' and 'White Fang' recently on the mp3 during my bicycle commutes. How do the wolves see this? One word: MEAT.

2. I doubt it, although...perhaps. Of course, they'd have to throw an artificially devised contrivance into the mix, since they most likely realized that such tragedies are only funny when selectively parodied so as to mask the true horror of the event.

3. Ah, an Alan Watts fan? I loved the guy, although I eventually outgrew him. And there were probably some underlying reasons for why he was drunk off his ass all the time. Why do I go on? Peruse the blog at your leisure, and you'll probably figure it out.

I'll assume that if you get a call in the next 5 minutes informing you that one of your grandchildren has been raped and murdered, the whoopee cushion will stay in your pocket for awhile. You might also discover that facile dismissals and
less-than-subtle disparagements don't carry much weight around these parts. Bring your A game :)

metamorphhh said...

I'm thinking that maybe a laugh track inserted into the footage of the 911 disaster might put the whole thing in better perspective, yes? Then again, those damned victims' families would probably take it the wrong way...sigh.

Garrett said...

Thanks Garratt. You ask: .."Have you ever known a really "funny" person?"... and then go on to describe ANYTHING BUT.
But hey... I bet you are the life of the party.

Bingo! We have a winner :) That's exactly right. What I have described is hardly what should be considered funny. That's why I used those little quotation thingies "", see? ;) I created an analogy. If you look again, you might notice that the comedian is not a sentient, but a force. It is in fact, life itself. I can understand why you took it personally, but please don't. I don't know you, so the only tools I have at my disposal for gauging your personality are right here in cyberspace. Not much to go on, I'm afraid.

The sooner you accept that you aren't exchanging words with sophomoric goth kids who just had a bad day in gym class or broke up with their significant other, the sooner you'll be able to pick up your shattered feelings and move forward with civil discussion.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Thanks Garrett.

Honestly, I do want to understand, but, I can't get over the feeling that it's all so silly.

Now it seems my grandchildren have to be raped or murdered and I must never stop crying over the life-long friends I lost on 9/11 to "really" understand the true meaning of life. What garbage.
I'm sorry most of you seem not to be enjoying your lives. I'm not sorry I am. Perhaps it's chemical, I don't know.

Garrett writes: .."The sooner you accept that you aren't exchanging words with sophomoric goth kids who just had a bad day in gym class or broke up with their significant other..."

I did wonder about that. It's almost like they were given a new car and got pissed off because it will run out of gas or get a dent one day.
Simple solution that involves no bitching and moaning what so ever... GIVE IT BACK.

Garrett, where does a civil discussion go between a person thrilled at the opportunity of being life in matter and people who seem disappointed to be alive? I'm a happy person who is doing his best to leave the world a better place than I found it never missing an opportunity to laugh along the way.

Like, I should be ashamed of being happy?

The Plague Doctor said...

Following your moronic line of reasoning, why did they need to abolish slavery? If those stupid slaves did not like being slaves, they could always kill themselves!

No more court systems are needed, too. If you were robbed and don't like it, just kill yourself! If you were raped and don't like it, just kill yourself!

All problems "solved"!

The Plague Doctor said...

Like, I should be ashamed of being happy?

Again, you keep making it personal, when it is not about YOUR life (or MY life).

Modern Man said...

Mrs.Neutronsgarage,

The flippant online persona that you're adopting in this discussion might seem purposeful to you, but if you really wish to understand the anti-natalist argument - whether or not you end up agreeing with it - then I'd recommend adopting a more contemplative approach.

Of course, you're not really here to understand anything, are you? If not, then, as Jim mentioned, this really is going to be like spending time in the "lion's den" for you, and from the looks of the discussion, so far, you're getting eaten alive.

-MM

revolutionaryandjoyful said...

I'm curious as to how a person who is so happy with their life finds life to be so grand ends up on a site such as this.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

The easiest and most honest answer would be... by mistake, I guess. I was curious after reading a post at another site. The next thing you know I'm being asked if I would enjoy being "skinned alive"and told things like... "all I have in it's place is the twisted hall of mirrors created by the likes of you, mrsneutronsgarage."

Gosh!

I'm not interested in raining on anyone's parade (or funeral march)... I just seem to have a different outlook on life in general. I enjoy it very much in spite of its price. Not as an argument to those who don't, but, I suppose, as an adaptation to the situation as a whole. Who can say how any of us get to where we are?

The Plague Doctor writes to me... "Again, you keep making it personal, when it is not about YOUR life (or MY life)."... Then, what is it about?

Modern Man writes... "Of course, you're not really here to understand anything, are you? If not, then, as Jim mentioned, this really is going to be like spending time in the "lion's den" for you, and from the looks of the discussion, so far, you're getting eaten alive."..

I think a "lion's den" is a place that is immediately and completely "understandable". This isn't. It was never my intention to insult or belittle anyone. I was here to try to understand. What appears obvious to you is not obvious to me. I was always told... "It takes all kinds". You are, of course, free to disagree. No one will "eat you alive"... or ask if you would enjoy being "skinned alive" for that matter.
It looks like it is going to be a beautiful morning here at the foot of the Blue Ridge and at the risk of being asked if I would enjoy having pins stuck in my eyes... I hope you all find some enjoyment today and are well.

Mrs. N

Josep said...

Mrs N.

Sometimes, when ideas fail, aphorisms come in very handy:
Il mondo non é un panorama (The world is not a landscape.)

mrsneutronsgarage said...

I'm afraid you lost me on that one Josep.

Josep said...

Sometimes, when aphorisms fail, movie quotes come in handy.

(From "I Walked With a Zombi")

Paul Holland:
It's easy enough to read the thoughts of a newcomer. Everything seems beautiful because you don't understand. Those flying fish, they're not leaping for joy, they're jumping in terror. Bigger fish want to eat them. That luminous water, it takes its gleam from millions of tiny dead bodies. The glitter of putrescence. There is no beauty here, only death and decay.
Betsy Connell:
You can't really believe that.
Paul Holland:
Everything good dies here. Even the stars.

(Where "here" means "here").

Josep said...

And here's the YouTube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8PUsose3kE

Josep said...

Mrs N.

I reccomend to you (and to the cheerful rest) this insightful article on laughter:

http://www.filminfocus.com/article/laughter_is_the_worst_medicine?film=burn_after_reading

mrsneutronsgarage said...

..."There was something clean and honest in his voice... but hurt, badly hurt."

Thank you for that Youtube site Josep. After listening to it I think I am beginning to understand. It is not something that hadn't occured to me, I assure you, but, it's far better (for me) having you bring it up.

Here is a Youtube link that represents my life and views better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dxFYPknuwI&feature=related

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Thank you for that article Josep. I never go to "the movies". I find it impossible to concentrate there.

... “loud laughter is the mirth of the mob, who are only pleased with silly things… A man of parts and fashion is therefore only seen to smile, but never heard to laugh.”

I am apparently not a man of "parts and fashion". I was born with a double compliment of CL2816. Known to the layman as the "cheap laugh" gene. Many people see that as an afliction, but, I have always seen it as a positive boon. Go figure.

Josep said...

Many thanks for the trailer, mrs.neutronsgarage. I saw this movie ages ago, and I loved it! The great Alec Guiness in the performance of his life! "A Genius on the Loose" was the Spanish title. I think I understand what you mean. We should try to be "genius" all the time, right? Larger than life types, such as Guiness' character, W.C. Fields, Jackie Gleason, Charles Bukowski... We should try to live our lives as a neverending state of drunkennes, in a permanent cloud of narcotic exhilaration... I drink to that, really, but there's always this "putrescence" lurking everywhere, spoiling the fun, and then you remember that most geniuses die young o kill themselves, and most comedians are depressives who resort eventually to alcohol, and that some clowns are killers and laughter might not be a laughing matter. Life is a badly scripted mess, and I don't like reccomending rubbish movies to anybody, especially to potential viewers yet to be born.

Josep said...

CL2816? (Cheap canned laughter :) I suffer from a much worse affliction called S4 (Selective Sound Sensitivity Syndrome). I can't stand laughing, or crunching, or Dolby. So I don't go much to the movies, either. I prefer these interesting YouTube exchanges.

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

I think the roots of the communication problem here can be seen in something you wrote early on:

Certainly "shit happens", but, is that any reason to get so serious about it all? Do I condemn a fantastic, superbly cooked meal simply because I will be hungry tomorrow or because millions are starving today?
Where is your appreciation for the absurd?

No, you don't condemn the superbly cooked meal, but the fact that millions are starving today. Or EVEN, perhaps, the fact that the possibility for starvation exists.
The part that should be interesting to you is that you've somehow managed to interpret an argument about the makeup of the world as a personal attack against yourself. Now I'd suggest you re-read your statement I've pasted above. Is the fact that you've just enjoyed a fine meal while millions starve really an absurdity to be appreciated??? Then again, considering the intimation behind your question "How do you think the wolves felt?", maybe so, maybe so. Phew.

Since you opened this thread with a pseudo-comical diagnosis of what's wrong with me, I thought I might take some time to return the favor. You've talked some over at TWIM about mankind's need to embrace illusions in order to get through life, and especially to cope with his ever lurking knowledge of death. We're talking psychological defense mechanisms here, and while I suppose there's a certain meritorious bravado in learning to laugh even as the jaws of the lion are closing upon you, it's quite another thing to cultivate an appreciation of the fact that millions are being eaten alive while you are, at the moment, safe. Which is EXACTLY the idea that your statement, as well as much else you've said here, epitomizes.

I'd also like to say that while I certainly appreciate a good sense of humor, I feel that you're often using yours to isolate yourself from reality. Same goes for your constant reference to 'filters' in an attempt to reduce everything to a state of irreconcilable relativity. Again, 'How do you think the lions felt?' This is doubly ironic, since you seem to be operating behind several screens of cognitive dissonance yourself, not the least of which is your penchant for passive/aggression in your bids to 'one-up' through mere dismissal of the subject matter, both here and at TWIM (thought I'd throw some Watts out there meself :))

Whoops! Comment's running long, and I forget the humor part. Ok, here goes:

A troop of girlscouts were iceskating on a frozen lake, when suddenly they broke through the ice. As they quickly sank below the surface (alas, some of them were carrying puppies), I cried out from the far shore "But, can't you appreciate the marvelous absurdity of it all?" and I raised my cup of chamomile to them in salute.

Josep said...

Jim:
I loved your joke, especially the part of the puppies. I had a fit of guilty laughter.

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

However, your focus on this idea of how one should relate to existential absurdity has given me an idea for a new post. Thanks!

metamorphhh said...

Josep:

Laughter's an odd thing, isn't it. Not only what motivates it, but the actual, physical process. The harder we laugh (which supposedly coincides with how 'funny' the subject matter strikes us), the more our laughter resembles a full and rather unattractive body spasm. It's a lot like throwing up, when you think about it.

A lot of humor- as well as a lot of the arts, when I think about it- allows us to deal with the horribles of life from a safe distance. Perhaps laughter is a simulated vomiting up of our repressed anxieties, with humor playing the role of the finger down the throat? A spiritual ipecac, as it were. Maybe the funnier a person is, the more profound the sourness of his existential tummy?

I've always been considered a funny guy, if that tells you anthing :)

metamorphhh said...

Josep:

Good comment a little ways up, about life being a badly scripted movie not to be recommended.

You know, I'm up to HERE with people telling me that life is a wild rollercoaster, so try and learn to enjoy the ride. This is the kind of bullshit that nobody actually experiences nor believes deep down, but they have to keep saying to maintain their own delusional states. At best, life has its ups and downs, with a lot of tediousness and banality in between (as well as waiting in lines). Yeah, there are thrills on this ride, but there are also a lot of injuries, and throwing up, and apprehension for what appears to be a brick wall ahead at the end of the track.

Now, I suppose we can adopt an attitude of total emergence into whatever passion suits our temperament, damping down the outrage of our empathetic sensibilities through pretense and looking away, but GOD DAMN IT, that doesn't do a flying fuck for the overall state of things. And, frankly, the cultivation of blindness and philosophical relativism for the sake of peace of mind makes me feel ill.

I say, enjoy yourself if you can. Even play the self-delusion game...if you can. But try to AT LEAST maintain enough distance from your need for self aggrandizement to recognize that just because you've found temporary shelter from the storm does NOT make it a sunny day, for crissakes! Don't tell people that life is good. Tell them you are content for the time being, and leave it at that. At least be halfway honest about things, instead of spreading the lie of hope that people are programmed to be SO susceptible to, and which justifies continuing this existence through the act of procreation.

Josep said...

Jim:

Humor can be emetic, diuretic and euthanasic on the long run. How many comedians, including the brilliant George Carlin you mentioned in a previous post, have died or sadly declined because of the side effects of their comic talent?

"I've always been considered a funny guy, if that tells you anthing :)"

If you find some comfort in it, Kierkegard was the funniest guy in the room when he was at his deepest despair.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Hi Josep... I don't think we should try to be geniuses all the time. I do think we should try to be artists in all we do to the best of our ability.

you write: .."We should try to live our lives as a neverending state of drunkenness, in a permanent cloud of narcotic exhilaration..."

I can't agree with that. If you have to "try" it's fake. If it just seems to come of itself it's another story in my opinion. I also don't see life as a "badly scripted mess". I think we can and do write that script and if it's that awful we can start over, or, walk out at any time at all.

you write: .. "I can't stand laughing, or crunching, or Dolby." That's interesting. I detest leaves in tables. Positively infuriates me.

Matamorphhh... I'm sorry, I think you misunderstood me or I wasn't clear enough. I don't see people starving as absurd. I see LIFE in matter as absurd, but, I can't pretend to be that character who will refuse to enjoy ANYTHING as long as one person suffers. It's a mutual eating club. I didn't set it up, but, I'm damn well going to make the best of it while I await the death sentence. The moment it becomes more trouble than it is worth... I'm out of here. But until then I'm going to enjoy myself without hurting others to the best of my ability.

Beyond that... I assure you I do not "appreciate" the suffering of ANYONE as you seem to have gotten the idea that I do. For my part, I will take any blame for not being clear enough in my writing. For your part, can you not in the least understand how someone could see life differently than you do and not understand where you are coming from as a result?
As far as your "joke" goes... I didn't think it was funny. I don't think absurd means funny. I think it means...unreasonable, unsound..."having no rational or orderly relationship to human life".

I don't think you are right about laughter. I find nothing more enjoyable than a babies laughter. If you are under the opinion that I have "filters" that make the enjoyment possible... of course I do! Could it be that your filter is never letting yourself enjoy what there is to enjoy because you will lose it?

I don't begrudge you that. We have choices. Understanding that nobody gets out alive is a given. What we choose to do with that information makes life all the more interesting.

Karl said...

Jim, boy, your last few comments here have been cracking. Well done and keep it up.

Yup, the whole 'life is a ride and enjoy it while you can' line is a sure puke inducer. I generally find that almost all objections to anti-natalism/philosophical pessimism boil down to 'Well, I enjoy my life and that's all that matters to me'. In other words, pure shameless egotism. Sickening really.

My current beef is with the evangelical popularisers of science such as Daniel Dennet, Dawkins, Brian Cox and their associates such as Christopher Hitchens. The whole 'life is a miracle' thing and 'the odds of you being born are so small that you should be down on your hands and knees giving thanks to who knows that you're here' schmaltz enrages me. Personally I find the fact of being alone in a godless universe doomed to extinction doesn't have me waving the pom-poms....

BTW, collected my copy of 'The White Plague' this morning. To say I can't wait to start it is something of an understatement...

timcooijmans said...

Yo Mrs N,

You seem to have ignored my previous comment. It was important. Let me recap:

You did not use the word 'value', but you did use the word 'appreciate'. Was 'value' the intended meaning?[1] If not, what was the point of your post?[2] On what basis were you making your disguised normative statements?[3]

Do you value anything?[4] If you do not value anything, would you have any problems with being skinned alive?[5] Do you feel an aversion to the prospect?[6] Would you try to avoid it if it appeared likely to happen in the near future?[7] Hell, do you feel an aversion to being asked these questions?[8] Do they MATTER?[9]

Again, this proposed skinning alive is not a threat or personal attack, nor anything else of the sort. I explicitly said this in my previous comment, yet you continue to refer to it as if it was such. Unless you accidentally missed the comment, you are being dishonest.

Your snarky sarcastic stab at the idea that we must recognize problems to be able to fix them structurally was no argument against this idea. If we ignore all problems, we can only fix them accidentally. If we recognize problems, we can work toward fixing them. Do you acknowledge this?[10]

Don't make another whimsical contentless joke in response to this comment. At least answer the questions. I numbered them for your convenience.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Wait a minute. This is all a practical joke right?

It has to be, or, you all would have committed suicide LONG, LONG ago. What excuse could there POSSIBLY be for not ending it the moment you came to this truth you all share?

Josep said...

mrsneutrongarage wrote:

"I can't agree with that. If you have to "try" it's fake. If it just seems to come of itself it's another story in my opinion. I also don't see life as a "badly scripted mess". I think we can and do write that script and if it's that awful we can start over, or, walk out at any time at all".

I'm sorry, but I believe that our life is a "Truman's Show" with no viewers and no writer/director living in the Moon. We "try" desperately to make a work of art of it, but it resembles at last, if we're fortunate enough, a Punch and Judy show.

"I find nothing more enjoyable than a babies laughter".

Please, mrneutronsgarage, a baby laughs because nobody has spoiled the punching line for him... Still.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

OK Josep... then what is the only honest thing to do?

1. End it quick.

2. Hang around as a perpetual wet blanket at the dance doing your best to squeeze any enjoyment out of others who ARE enjoying themselves.

metamorphhh said...

Karl:

I'm home sick today with time on my hands. I'm actually corresponding on other subjects, as well :)

It's interesting how often the antinatalism message is interpreted as an attack on one's own happiness, or on happiness in general. Interesting, but understandable; self satisfaction is often gained at the cost of repression, which of course generates often subconscious defensive strategies in order to maintain the illusion.

Hope you enjoy the book. I've always enjoyed Herbert, even his old stuff. And of course, I've probably read the Dune series 5 or 6 times, including the ones that get reviewed badly. He's a bit plodding at times, I'll grant, but usually worth the price of the meal.

mrsneutronsgarage:

"Certainly "shit happens", but, is that any reason to get so serious about it all? Do I condemn a fantastic, superbly cooked meal simply because I will be hungry tomorrow or because millions are starving today?
Where is your appreciation for the absurd?"

Not sure how else to interpret this, especially with your continual emphasis on 'appreciating' the absurd within the context of this statement of yours. Perhaps when you answer Tim's challenge things will be made clearer to me.

Maybe part of the problem here is based in your misapprehension that I and others here are never happy i.e.:

"Could it be that your filter is never letting yourself enjoy what there is to enjoy because you will lose it?"

There are many things I enjoy in this life, and I'm sure the same applies to others here. However, my ability to enjoy things was never the point, and has never been the point. Perhaps I even enjoy things MORE because I know I will eventually lose them. So what? That doesn't speak to the subject of this blog.

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

From your last comment, it seems that we are perpetually destined to talk past one another. You continue to interpret philosophical antinatalism as merely an attempt to rain on your parade, and your ripostes consist mainly of restatements of that basic attitude. And now it's come to this once again "Why don't you all kill yourselves and quit spoiling it for the rest of us?" completely ignoring relevant statements throughout this thread that reduce your arguments to nothing but parody; which is, perhaps, the point?

I don't care if you disagree, but at least confront the arguments honestly.

Josep said...

Perhaps to substitute "enjoy", a verb too reminiscent of coca-cola's spark of life, for something less sugary and more pungent (fill the blank.) Besides, if you listen to Jim and Kierkegard, we pessimists are not "wet blankets", but the life and soul of the party. We mix very well with life-lovers. We know how to please everybody. We even tell jokes about skaters and puppies...

Josep said...

Sorry:

mrsneutronsgarage wrote:

"OK Josep... then what is the only honest thing to do?

1. End it quick.

2. Hang around as a perpetual wet blanket at the dance doing your best to squeeze any enjoyment out of others who ARE enjoying themselves".

Perhaps to substitute "enjoy", a verb too reminiscent of coca-cola's spark of life, for something less sugary and more pungent (fill the blank.) Besides, if you listen to Jim and Kierkegard, we pessimists are not "wet blankets", but the life and soul of the party. We mix very well with life-lovers. We know how to please everybody. We even tell jokes about skaters and puppies...

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Nice way to dodge the question.

OK Meta... if your enjoyment of things isn't the point... what is?

How can you write... "Good comment a little ways up, about life being a badly scripted movie not to be recommended.".. and not have me think that you don't recommend being alive and find you hypocritical for STAYING alive?

You appear like a guy at the buffet table saying "This food STINKS... and there isn't enough of it, so don't let anybody else in the door!"...

filrabat said...

As for rollercoaster rides? Why even put someone on the ride in the first place?

The joys of life - while by definition enjoyable - is just one more thing that humans naturally do (or try to find) along the road between birth and death. No birth, no need for joy.

It's similar to an android. An android does what it's programed to do, but it's essentially just something it does before it goes permanently offline. We may have a use for what it does, but that's just us imposing our own attitudes onto the android (in this case, imposing our purpose is perfectly permissible because androids - at least at present - do not have wills and desires of their own).

Still, that will likely change when we DO develop such an android. In that case, what purpose would the android serve, if not merely for our convenience?

Essentially, the same thing applies to humans. What are humans but machines made of nucleic acids, proteins and material necessary to continue the machine's operation?

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutrinosgarage:

It's not that I meant to dodge your question, but simply that I consider not so much an honest inquiry as an empty rhetorical dodge of the problem as stated. Be that as it may, rather than restate my position for the umpteenth time, just scroll down the right side margin of the blog to the link 'avoiding redundancy' and have a read.

I've also written something on the position you appear to be advocating here:

http://antinatalism.blogspot.com/2008/03/life-lie.html

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

"...and not have me think that you don't recommend being alive and find you hypocritical for STAYING alive?"

Just in case you don't make it to the 'avoiding redundancy' link, I'd just answer briefly here that there's a profound difference between staying alive, and creating new life. If not, and by your logic, then anyone who finds any reason not to breed short of possible medical complications FOR THEMSELVES should go ahead and kill themselves.

It might be good to make yourself more familiar with the antinatalist position, if you're at all truly interested. Like I said before, we seem to be talking past one another.

The Plague Doctor said...

"Again, you keep making it personal, when it is not about YOUR life (or MY life)."
... Then, what is it about?


It is about the lives of those people who are yet to be born, people other than both of us.

The way in which I or you feel about the world is irrelevant to the question of how another new-born person will experience it.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Finally I get it Meta. Thanks for the advice to read your other remarks on the right side of the page.

You ARE a guy at the buffet table saying "This food STINKS... and there isn't enough of it, so don't let anybody else in the door!"... (except my kids)

I thought I smelled hypocrisy, but, the extent of the blaze surprised even me.

And this is ridiculous... "I'd just answer briefly here that there's a profound difference between staying alive, and creating new life. If not, and by your logic, then anyone who finds any reason not to breed short of possible medical complications FOR THEMSELVES should go ahead and kill themselves."...

How about selfishness, or knowing that you wouldn't be in a position to be a good parent? There are perfectly sound reasons not to breed, But... claiming to enjoy life yourself enough NOT to kill yourself and then denying others the same choice... or advising your children that they shouldn't reproduce AFTER you produced them!

That's just twisted.

The Plague Doctor said...

You appear like a guy at the buffet table saying "This food STINKS... and there isn't enough of it, so don't let anybody else in the door!"...

Oh boy, beware of The Curse of Sister Wolf, I have a feeling history is about to repeat itself...

timcooijmans said...

claiming to enjoy life yourself enough NOT to kill yourself and then denying others the same choice...

This is another brutal mischaracterisation. Nobody is being denied this choice. Unborn people do not exist.

You claim that you intend to understand the position most of us share, but you have shown that you do not intend that at all. You are a liar and a troll (if you'll allow me some ad hominems).

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutrinosgarage:

"You ARE a guy at the buffet table saying "This food STINKS... and there isn't enough of it, so don't let anybody else in the door!"... (except my kids)

I thought I smelled hypocrisy, but, the extent of the blaze surprised even me."

Is it hypocritical to urge others not to make the same mistakes you have?


"But... claiming to enjoy life yourself enough NOT to kill yourself and then denying others the same choice..."

So...uh...I'm denying others the choice of not killing themselves? Huh? Are you perhaps equating suicide with non-procreation here? Ah, the defensive postures corresponding with death denial are blatant here. I can understand the confusion, since both are attacks on the survival instinct as made manifest in the abstract realm. An existential knee-jerk reaction, as it were.


"... or advising your children that they shouldn't reproduce AFTER you produced them!"

Yes, certainly a parent should never give advice to their children than they didn't follow themselves. After I've posted this, I'll be sure to call them and encourage them to be promiscuous drug users. What a hypocrite I've been!

"That's just twisted."

What is, perhaps, twisted is your penchant (so far) for exercising bad logic, and your penchant for (so far) sidestepping the challenges to your own-dare I say, 'filtered'-perspective.

TinTin said...

Oh boy, now we have Mrs. N pulling the cliched argument ad-hominem card against Jim's "hypocrisy."

*yawn*

Let this discussion die already, and by the love of god, please don't reproduce it anymore.

metamorphhh said...

Just for the record, I don't consider mrsneutronsgarage a troll. His are the almost universal reactions we see all the time. And challengers are always welcomed. If nothing else, it demonstrates the solidity of our philosophical position. I'm tempted to bemoan the lack of anything new in the way of argumentation, but then again...is there really anything else to say?

mrsneutronsgarage:

LOL, I just noticed I called you mrsNEUTRINOSgarage in the last post. Too funny! Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the interchanges thus far. However, in the interest of fairness, I am now compelled to return the favor of labeling you with an unattractive, polemical adjective corresponding to your uses of 'hypocrite' and 'twisted'. Ready for it?

Dense :)

It WOULD be interesting to see you answer Tim sooner or later, though.

metamorphhh said...

TinTin:

Admittedly, there's probably not much more to be said; and now that the gloves are off, can anything other than a slap fight ensue?

However, this concept of 'absurdity' has provided me fodder for a new post; which, if I ever manage to excuse myself from this thread, and if the NyQuil doesn't knock me out soon, I MIGHT even get around to writing.:)

mrsneutronsgarage said...

..."After I've posted this, I'll be sure to call them and encourage them to be promiscuous drug users. What a hypocrite I've been!"...

Don't do that. Call them and tell them the truth. Tell them that you wish they were never born. That it was a mistake you would undo if you could. Isn't that the REAL truth?

My father died when I was 4, I never knew him. My mother died when I was young also. I always thought that was unfortunate. It was NOTHING compared to having a parent that I knew thought it would have been better if I were never born.

you ask... "Is it hypocritical to urge others not to make the same mistakes you have?"

YES if life is a mistake or better NOT happening to begin with while all the time YOU insist on continuing yours. It's the height of hypocrisy! It's blatantly doing as I say, not as I'm doing. And then to claim you must continue to endure this life because you don't want to "hurt" your children. How does one hurt a child more than letting them know that, if you had it to do over, you NEVER would have wanted them in the first place?

Pessimism is one thing, but laying that on a kid is just beyond twisted.

... "it demonstrates the solidity of our philosophical position."...

No, it just demonstrates your unhappiness and your desire to spread it as if that will, somehow, make it right.

Thank you for the discussion (I think). I have learned all I care or need to know about your so called movement.

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

1. I HAVE told them. Fortunately, they're mature enough to understand the meaning and context.

2. Life is not a mistake, it's simply a fact to deal with or not as one is able and willing. The mistake- at least, the avoidable mistake- is beginning that life in the first place, to subject to the vagaries of horrible chance, and always, always condemned to die. Each time one creates life, one recreates suffering and death.

"No, it just demonstrates your unhappiness and your desire to spread it as if that will, somehow, make it right."

Until you're able to see that there are more important things than your happiness and desires, you're probably right to back out of the discussion.

metamorphhh said...

On a side note, I thought I'd address this question. After all, I AM a parent, and many of the others who frequent this blog are not:

"How does one hurt a child more than letting them know that, if you had it to do over, you NEVER would have wanted them in the first place?"

This CAN be a hurtful subject to bring up with children, but you weigh it against the alternative of never bringing it up at all. A lot of their reaction is probably predicated on the other, ofttimes unspoken factors involved in raising children. Love, respect, involvement...those sorts of things.

As to the subject itself, you posit thought problems. For instance, has the parent been cruel to the potential children he's not yet birthed? If not, why not? If so, how so?

Or, you ask them if they can think of good reasons not to have a child? If so, you simply point out that any child born runs the risk of suffering those very problems they would choose to avoid by not having children.

Or, you discuss death with them. How do they feel about it? Are they afraid? If so, why subject a child to such an unnecessary destiny, as well as to the fear of that destiny, simply to fulfill their own wishes of being parents.

All of that said, it must also be said that truth is harsh, and always leaves a mark. That's the way of life, and in the breaking of childish illusions. That's why all this talk of maintaining and actually embracing the illusions is so understandable. Simply put, most people don't want to grow up into the real knowledge of the world.

What's the result of all this? Well, I suppose it will vary between people as much as everything else does. I have two daughters. So far, I've gotten through to one of them. The other would still rather live in the fantasies of happily ever after; although I still hold out hope since she's such a bright little cracker. And if someday I have a grandchild, I will still love it, and offer it affection, and I will also rue the day it was born because I'll know that it will suffer, and that there's a chance it will suffer horrible, and that it will eventually die, and that all this could have been avoided by simply not creating it in the first place, and left it in a state of non-existence where it would NEVER have known the difference. No, not even one little whit.

metamorphhh said...

Whoa! Nyquil's kicking in, so I'm backing out myself for awhile. Thanks to one and all for a thoroughly entertaining brouhaha. I'll try to get that article up soon as possible. Special thanks to mrsneutronsgarage, since we haven't had any challengers for awhile. Take care, all.

filrabat said...

The problem, mrsneutron, is there is no consent in the matter. The pre-existent person (such as can exist in the abstract) doesn't have a choice in whether to be born, nor could he or she be asked, nor could their parents ask if they'd like to be born into this world.

It does no good to appeal to the majority opinion of "I'm glad I was born", for they can speak ONLY for themselves. Assuming that any person is bound to be glad to be alive simply because the majority of people believe such about their own lives is mere presumption - and forcing our interpretations of "good life" and "bad life" down their throats. In this regard, the pro-living crowd is guilty of the very arrogance that they decry in hellfire-and-brimstone street preachers. Slamming religion down other people's throats vs slamming "it's good to be alive" down other people's throats - is there really that much difference?

Garrett said...

You appear like a guy at the buffet table saying "This food STINKS... and there isn't enough of it, so don't let anybody else in the door!"...

Change that to "This food STINKS... and the fact that there is ANY is too much of it, so please don't force anybody else in the door!"

Take my word for it. If I could leave you and others like you, to your precious little world of decay, imposition, jealously, megalomania, and violence... I would happily do so. Whatever floats your boat, y'know? The problem is, people like yourself will eventually produce individuals with similar feelings to our own. This happens because you are not REproducing, but actually, producing. You are making an entirely new individual. This individual will have it's own views, thoughts, and feelings in response to the stimuli surrounding it. It's a fact of this imposed bio matrix. To reiterate: I DO NOT object to you creating more of those who think and feel just like yourself, you understand? What I (and many others) are opposed to, is your mindless production of individuals who are painfully aware of the sewage in which they exist.

continued...

Garrett said...

Some of us here are imaginative beings, mrsneutronsgarage. Creative and kind in ways that are, quite simply, beyond the realm of your understanding. We see in our minds eye what could have been (and others, well... they may have seen those limitless possibilities and instantly become nauseous at the mere thought. I respect their feelings too). We can conceive of limitless possibilities and see clearly that a set of limitations have been placed. Limits which benefit only those who desire control over others, and those "others" are pushed into it by mere chance. Or perhaps, they are pushed into it by malevolence. You know, the kind of malevolence that says something to the effect of: "Wait a minute. This is all a practical joke right? It has to be, or, you all would have committed suicide LONG, LONG ago. What excuse could there POSSIBLY be for not ending it the moment you came to this truth you all share?" OR "OK Josep... then what is the only honest thing to do?

1. End it quick.

2. Hang around as a perpetual wet blanket at the dance doing your best to squeeze any enjoyment out of others who ARE enjoying themselves."

continued...

Garrett said...

Have you considered the other factors at play in this reality? Things that might make someone reluctant to end their own life? Things that might make a person afraid that something even worse may lie just beyond this mortal life so they postpone the inevitable because procrastination seems like the only solution? Hell? The concept of a plane in which no relief ever comes? Eternal separation from their concept of God. Maybe the fear of leaving others to suffer unknown trauma when they are gone? Or just the miserable thought of going out on a bad note. Think about it... one final pain and wave of fear and then a howling void of nothingness... or worse, an infinite realm of pain, fear and sorrow!

You have no imagination mrsneutronsgarage! Lucky you. Would you be capable of remorse if one of your grandchildren confessed to feeling the way most of the readers of this blog do? If so, why would you confine that remorse to only your direct bloodline? The answer just might have something to do with your own biological defenses. But, what good would introspection do for you? I don't think you're actually that concerned for others. You are probably an egomaniac, and we can all see you more clearly now. Thanks for your honesty. I can never fault anyone for being forthcoming :)

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Garrett says:

..."Have you considered the other factors at play in this reality? Things that might make someone reluctant to end their own life? Things that might make a person afraid that something even worse may lie just beyond this mortal life so they postpone the inevitable because procrastination seems like the only solution? Hell? The concept of a plane in which no relief ever comes? Eternal separation from their concept of God. Maybe the fear of leaving others to suffer unknown trauma when they are gone? Or just the miserable thought of going out on a bad note. Think about it... one final pain and wave of fear and then a howling void of nothingness... or worse, an infinite realm of pain, fear and sorrow!

You have no imagination mrsneutronsgarage!"...

..."I don't think you're actually that concerned for others. You are probably an egomaniac, and we can all see you more clearly now."...

Afraid to live AND afraid to die. No wonder it all looks so horrible to you Garrett.

Josep said...

"Afraid to live AND afraid to die. No wonder it all looks so horrible to you Garrett".

I hate catchphrases and mantras, especially "fear of living, fear of dying". They mean nothing, they explain nothing. They are short catchy phrases used by advertisers of Life, a mediocre produce with a clear expiration date. All goods (ha!) that requiere this kind of obsessive marketing ("I'm loving life!") must be necessarily mediocre. Nobody buys Life of his own accord, quod est that we are trying to painfully demonstrate.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Well, then here is another one for you Josep.

What could be more sad than a group sitting on the shore, afraid to go in the water because they can't swim AND claiming they can't go home and change out of their bathing suits because they are afraid that might be worse?

I guess hearing them condemning the happy swimmers for enjoying themselves?

(.."Don't they know about DROWNING?"..)

Josep said...

My answer, mrsneutronsgarage, is the ending of a movie about another group of people on the beach. It's sadder and truer and likelier than your simile, I'm afraid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upg2eqNbF3w&feature=related

The Plague Doctor said...

"What could be more sad than a group sitting on the shore, afraid to go in the water because they can't swim AND claiming they can't go home and change out of their bathing suits because they are afraid that might be worse?

I guess hearing them condemning the happy swimmers for enjoying themselves?"


Again, you seem to believe mistakenly that antinatalists are unhappy themselves, and want everyone else to be unhappy; when, in fact, an antinatalist can have a happy life (but realize that he has no right to impose life on others nor guarantee that the life he imposes will be a happy one), and rather want to prevent anyone else from having an unhappy life.

It appears YOU are the one who wants others to be unhappy. On timcooijmans' blog you write "Do you cut yourself a lot?" This is the kind of bullying one would expect from a 4chan btard, not from an adult in his 60th (?!) decade. Is this how you attempt "to leave the world a better place", sir? By inciting other people to kill themselves, and by leaving snarky comments, "never missing an opportunity to laugh [at others, apparently] along the way."

(.."Don't they know about DROWNING?"..)

I won't mind it if YOU drown, just stop throwing babies into the water with a big smile on your face.

By the way, one of your kids is a goner, dude. The Curse of Sister Wolf may take several years to take effect, but the days of one of your kids are numbered. You can write it in your calendar.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

You know PD... if there is ONE THING that really comes screaming through this site it's how happy you all are.

I don't know how you can get anything done.

The Plague Doctor said...

Again, you keep MAKING IT PERSONAL.

The Plague Doctor said...

P.S. I never claimed that I was happy; just that being unhappy is not some sort of requirement to be an antinatalist.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Oh, I keep making it personal.

You write: ..."By the way, one of your kids is a goner, dude. The Curse of Sister Wolf may take several years to take effect, but the days of one of your kids are numbered. You can write it in your calendar."...

EVERYBODY'S days are numbered Mr. Happy! Some of us understand WHY Woody Allen movies are comedies.

..P.S. I never claimed that I was happy; just that being unhappy is not some sort of requirement to be an antinatalist."...

OH... that's easy to see.

Josep said...

mrs neutron, I think you feel the urge to keep coming into this hellish blog like the morbid, masochistic tongue on a bad tooth. Otherwise you woulndn't stand the continuous bashing of so many embittered, semisuicidal people like us. I think you're being abducted unawares by the antinatalism views. Admit it at once, admit your attraction of the void, plunge into it... and be unhappy in your happinness.

filrabat said...

What could be more sad than a group sitting on the shore, afraid to go in the water because they can't swim AND claiming they can't go home and change out of their bathing suits because they are afraid that might be worse?

Sadder still is that they are forced to go to the beach in the first place.

That post of yours is just shaming language - painting negative caricatures onto our beliefs simply because they go against the grain of mainstream society. Shaming language doesn't disprove any of our beliefs wrong - it just makes you look like narrow-minded, judgmental,

You remind me of those same churchmen 400 years ago who refused to look through Galileo's telescope and directly interact with strong evidence and suggestions that the earth isn't the center of the universe.

Speaking of science, it's pretty well that DNA and/or the brain architecture is responsible for the desire to live? How else to you explain how a collection of atoms throw together will do whatever it takes to sustain all the chemical reactions in that glorified chemistry experiment called the human body? This is what I dub Survival Instinct Bias - which basically says "We have to live because we just do. End of Story". If that isn't an unexamined bald assertion, then I don't know what is.



I guess hearing them condemning the happy swimmers for enjoying themselves?

Nope, we're happy that they're happy they are joining life. They have their lives to live, we have ours. I can't speak for Jim/Metamorphhh and others, but I come to this board to let others out there know they are not alone in their philanthropic antinatalist beliefs.

The Plague Doctor said...

Everyone's days are numbered, except the days of those who are never born.

The Curse of Sister Wolf, however, only befalls those pronatalists who incite antinatalist to suicide.

Woody Allen's views on life are closer to antinatalism than you might wish.

metamorphhh said...

"Everyone's days are numbered, except the days of those who are never born."

Which of course is the real point here, a point that's generally missed by those who see antinatalism as an attack on their own self-interests. When optimism bias is threatened, it comes out swinging, and I don't think any of us here should be surprised that this is so.

mrsneutronsgarage, perhaps you'll take some time later to better familiarize yourself with the arguments as presented on this blog. Perhaps not. The reason I became interested in your viewpoint over at TWIM is because you seemed to put some stock in self-evaluation, and in the value of recognizing areas of repression. But so far, I haven't seen you rise above the level of a rather childish kibitzer. If you're simply looking for hostile banter, you might want to look somewhere else. There are plenty of blogs for that, as I'm sure you know. This isn't to say that I haven't valued your presence here, but we seem to have reached a stage of diminished returns. Run along and find your happiness where you can; no one here begrudges you that. A fact that I suspect will never sink in.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Morning Fellas,

Meta writes: "...the real point here, a point that's generally missed by those who see antinatalism as an attack on their own self-interests. When optimism bias is threatened, it comes out swinging, and I don't think any of us here should be surprised that this is so."...

Well, that isn't me. I don't see how antinatalism attacks my self interest at all. People deciding not to have children only serves to open a little more space for those who choose to reproduce. It certainly can't be seen as an attack. As far as "coming out swinging" when "optimism bias" is attacked... I think there is more than enough pessimism swinging here too. This antinatalism is new to me and, I admit, hard to get my mind around.

Josep writes: .."mrs neutron, I think you feel the urge to keep coming into this hellish blog like the morbid, masochistic tongue on a bad tooth."..

No, but I do feel a kind of curiosity. A large part of the joy and beauty I see in life is a result of the transient nature of it. Gardening would suck if flowers hung around forever. I honestly can't help myself, this time of year, from feeling the ecstasy that I do feel in seeing new life spring forth. It never occurred to me that it would be better, since they are just going to whither and die anyway, if spring never came. Perhaps that has something to do with why I have always hated artificial flowers. I don't know. But I do know that something very valuable would be missing, at least for me, if this whole shebang just went on and on in a straight line.
I'm not a Buddhist, but, I get the reason for suffering. The grasping for permanence in a universe where nothing is.

Could it be that the impermanence and death that ruin it for you guys is the very thing that makes it attractive for me?

The Plague Doctor said...

I'm not a Buddhist, but, I get the reason for suffering. The grasping for permanence in a universe where nothing is.

Again, you seem to blame suffering on the mindset or mental disposition of the sufferer (blaming the victim), while many (most?) forms of pain and suffering do not involve any vague "grasping" whatsoever.

Could it be that the impermanence and death that ruin it for you guys is the very thing that makes it attractive for me?

Pronatalist are the ones obsessed with permanence and keeping civilization alive at all costs.

Anonymous said...

http://revolutionaryandjoyful.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/not-crazy/

Guys, stop wasting time with this troll.

Josep said...

Mrsneutronsgarage:

"I'm not a Buddhist, but I get the reason for suffering. The grasping for permanence in a universe where nothing is.
Could it be that the impermanence and death that ruin it for you guys is the very thing that makes it attractive for me?"

Come on, mrsneutronsgarage, suffering and dying and being impermanent is very, very ugly. This is the unwritten (and re-written ad nauseam) consensus of this blog. We are Romantics, in a way, but we prefer not to bury and then unbury our lover in order to copulate with the remains. We prefer him/her alive. We don't see any beauty in pain, because it leads only to more, ugly pain. And the most painful of all pains is this nasty death you find so attractive.

Josep said...

By "Romantics in a way" I mean we see the beauty and the poetry of a humanity so mature and lucid to stop bringing impermanent,sufferint, mortal things into this world.

timcooijmans said...

But I do know that something very valuable would be missing, at least for me, if this whole shebang just went on and on in a straight line.
This is the nature of sentient beings; they desire certain things, and the frustration of these desires makes them suffer. A fulfilled desire, on the other hand, usually goes unnoticed. This is a reason sentient life should probably be brought to an end. Antinatalism is the view that this should be accomplished through the nonagressive act of non-procreation.

I'm not a Buddhist, but, I get the reason for suffering. The grasping for permanence in a universe where nothing is.
But the grasping is not done for any reason. Life is not on a mission. Life just happened, and it just keeps happening. It does not operate in the interests of phenotypes (living individuals like you and me), but in the interests of genotypes. Of course, genotypes are not sentient and so do not have interests, so we need not respect them.

For example, most Eurasian coot chicks are painfully murdered by their mothers; this helped the genes associated with this behavior to spread, but obviously did not help those millions of unfortunate short-lived individual coot chicks.

Could it be that the impermanence and death that ruin it for you guys is the very thing that makes it attractive for me?
I don't think so. I'm sure most of us can subjectively "enjoy" it as long as it does not happen to us personally. From an emotional distance, as Jim said. But this subjective enjoyment requires that other sentient beings suffer.

Anonymous said...

http://revolutionaryandjoyful.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/not-crazy/

Guys, stop wasting time with this troll.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

The PD writes: .."Again, you seem to blame suffering on the mindset or mental disposition of the sufferer (blaming the victim), while many (most?) forms of pain and suffering do not involve any vague "grasping" whatsoever."...

I can't help but disagree. Some people (me) can have fun in a mud puddle while others are miserable with millions of dollars in the bank. I see a balance tipped in the favor of what I can enjoy as apposed to what makes me suffer. You guys obviously see it in the reverse. The idea of spring not being worth the price of fall simply does not ring true to me. Also, I can't agree that.. "many (most?) forms of pain and suffering do not involve any vague "grasping" whatsoever."... If you fully expect NOTHING to be permanent you really can't complain when it turns out you are right.

Josep writes: .."Come on, mrsneutronsgarage, suffering and dying and being impermanent is very, very ugly. This is the unwritten (and re-written ad nauseam) consensus of this blog."...

Well, apparently, THAT is a matter of taste. I look at my garden, children, grandchildren, friends... and KNOW that it all must pass...know everything will die and STILL find it magnificent. Perhaps that is connected in some way to my revulsion at seeing artificial flowers and why I find the whole "youth cult" so distasteful. Frankenstein lives forever and THAT, at least to me, is what makes him a monster.

So, where does that leave us? It would be easy for me to quip... "Misery loves company" so that is what makes me such poor company for you guys and if that is how you see it I will bother you no more. I'm not looking for converts here, nor do I expect to ever get one. I was just, honestly, taken back by your whole philosophy. I could "say" I understand it now, but, that wouldn't be truthful. No more truthful than any of you guys claiming to understand mine I suppose. In the end I don't see how any of us can claim we are "right".... We are just who we are... a product of genes and environment. What else could account for the differences?

mrsneutronsgarage said...

(just saw this)

Tim writes: ..."I'm not a Buddhist, but, I get the reason for suffering. The grasping for permanence in a universe where nothing is.
But the grasping is not done for any reason."...

It MOST CERTAINLY IS! It is done as a direct result of failing to understand the nature of the universe. It is an attempt to change the rules for selfish motives. Not cricket Old Boy!

The Plague Doctor said...

mrsneutronsgarage reminds me of St. Anselm's famous proof of the existence of God: "I woke up with a boner this morning; therefore God exists! QED" (The original is in Latin of course.) mrsneutronsgarage apparently still erroneously believes that if HE PERSONALLY has been able to have a happy life, this somehow proves anything about anything. I am sure you enjoy tolling around in your mud puddle, which confirms that you are indeed a swine, but how does your enjoyment justify throwing other people into the mud, who before had no need for mud, did not ask to be thrown into the mud, and may not have wanted to be thrown into the mud?

mrsneutronsgarage said...

The PD drops me an ever so nice reply..

..."I am sure you enjoy tolling around in your mud puddle, which confirms that you are indeed a swine, but how does your enjoyment justify throwing other people into the mud, who before had no need for mud, did not ask to be thrown into the mud, and may not have wanted to be thrown into the mud?"..

I'm sorry you are having such a horrible time in this universe. Perhaps it's natural for you to resent those who are enjoying themselves. Perhaps you can't help yourself. The fact that I DO enjoy my life in spite of the rules you find so objectionable seems proof to me that, if you had your way, others like myself would never be "permitted" that enjoyment.
You have a choice to be done with your life or continue to bitch about how awful it is. You have a choice not to reproduce, BUT, you don't have the choice to "assume" that anyone born would share your opinion. I don't!
I also don't think calling you names will accomplish anything.

The Plague Doctor said...

This will be my last reply in pointless discussion, as mrsneutronsgarage blantanly ignores all the points I make and questions I ask.

I'm sorry you are having such a horrible time in this universe.

STOP making assumptions about my (or anyone else's) life.

Perhaps it's natural for you to resent those who are enjoying themselves. Perhaps you can't help yourself.

I do not resent anyone; STOP making assumptions about me.

The fact that I DO enjoy my life in spite of the rules you find so objectionable seems proof to me that, if you had your way, others like myself would never be "permitted" that enjoyment.

I do would never prohibit anyone's enjoyment; STOP making assumptions about me.

You have a choice to be done with your life or continue to bitch about how awful it is.

This is the same "choice" given by a mugger who says "your money or your life!".

you don't have the choice to "assume" that anyone born would share your opinion. I don't!

You are the one who is making all kinds of assumptions on behalf of others.

This is as good a place as any to mention mine and Karl's favorite inmendham video: (part 1) (part 2).

The Plague Doctor said...

This is my last comment in this pointless discussion as mrsneutronsgarage blatantly ignores all the points I make and questions I ask.

I'm sorry you are having such a horrible time in this universe.

Stop making assumptions about me (or anyone else). You know nothing about my life, and it is irrelevant to this discussion.

Perhaps it's natural for you to resent those who are enjoying themselves. Perhaps you can't help yourself.

I do not resent anyone's (innocent) enjoyment. Stop making assumptions about me.

The fact that I DO enjoy my life in spite of the rules you find so objectionable seems proof to me that, if you had your way, others like myself would never be "permitted" that enjoyment.

I would never prohibit someone else's (innocent) enjoyment. Stop making assumptions about me.

You have a choice to be done with your life or continue to bitch about how awful it is.

This is the same "choice" a mugger gives who says "Your money or your life."

You have a choice not to reproduce, BUT, you don't have the choice to "assume" that anyone born would share your opinion.

You are the one who is making all kinds of assumptions on behalf of others.

This is as good an occasion as any to mention my and Karl's favorite inmendham video: (part 1) (part 2).

Josep said...

"We are just who we are... a product of genes and environment. What else could account for the differences?"

At last we speak the same language, mrsneutronsgarage. In the end, everything is coarsely material, shallow and un-poetic. Where is the poetry of Alzheimer? And the music of cancer? The baby who wets himself in its cradle is the nonagenarian who'll wet himself in a geriatric home. I find it very easy to look into the future, and what I see doesen't smell of roses, it stinks of shit, the shit of all of us, the poetically incontinents who were brought into this wonderful world of war, misery and death.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Well Josep, at least you didn't call me a swine.

This is probably THE messy question, but, am I correct in assuming you feel justified in seeing to it that people (like me) with the potential of enjoying life with all its horrors shouldn't be born because they just may turn out, instead, to have your point of view? Because I "might" have ended up like you would you feel comfortable denying me life?

If this turns out to be more genetic than environmental will you be content to go the way of the Shakers, or, would you be happier to, if you were capable, end all sentient life?

If this turns out to be more environmental can you conceive of a "different" kind of environment producing a different kind of you? Or, for that matter, treatment options? Note: I have no wish to insult you with that last question, I don't consider philosophy a disease.

The Plague Doctor said...

[It appears my comment is not coming through, so one more try.]

This will be my last reply in this pointless discussion, as mrsneutronsgarage is blatantly ignoring all the points I make and questions I ask.

I'm sorry you are having such a horrible time in this universe.

Stop making assumptions about me (or anyone else). You know absolutely nothing about my life, and your psychoanalysis of me is irrelevant to the argument.

Perhaps it's natural for you to resent those who are enjoying themselves. Perhaps you can't help yourself.

I do not resent anyone their (innocent) enjoyment. Stop making assumptions about me.

The fact that I DO enjoy my life in spite of the rules you find so objectionable seems proof to me that, if you had your way, others like myself would never be "permitted" that enjoyment.

I would never prohibit someone's (innocent) enjoyment. Stop making assumptions about me.

You have a choice to be done with your life or continue to bitch about how awful it is.

This is the same "choice" a mugger gives, who says "Your money or your life!".

You have a choice not to reproduce, BUT, you don't have the choice to "assume" that anyone born would share your opinion. I don't!

You are the one who is making all kinds of assumptions on behalf of others.

This is as good an occasion as any to mention my and Karl's favorite inmendham video: (part 1) (part 2).

timcooijmans said...

Well, apparently, THAT is a matter of taste. I look at my garden, children, grandchildren, friends... and KNOW that it all must pass...know everything will die and STILL find it magnificent.
But do you think so DESPITE this or BECAUSE OF this? Your words suggest DESPITE, which would imply that you feel an aversion to those things. Surely it would be a good thing to avoid these things?

In the end I don't see how any of us can claim we are "right"...
And yet, every day of your life, you make decisions based on the assumption that you are "right" and we are "wrong". Now, instead of making vague all-encompassing God-of-the-gaps arguments, how about you tell me what specifically is wrong about the following argument:
1. Suffering is bad.
2. Bad things should be avoided.
3. By 1 and 2, suffering should be avoided.
Until you offer a convincing argument why either or both of 1 and 2 are false, I will consider this "right" and your as yet unspecified (let alone supported with arguments) position "wrong".

It MOST CERTAINLY IS!
Individuals may have reasons, but life does not.

I'm sorry you are having such a horrible time in this universe.
Do you still beat your wife? Are you ever going to stop these childish games and instead actually engage what is being said? Do you understand what the Plague Doctor meant by "who before had no need for mud"? I for one have recently played in mud and I had a splendid time (I doubt you have, just as I doubt that you have every slipped a fart cushion on the mayor's chair). But take away my history and it would have meant absolutely nothing to me. So it is with "the unborn". There is nothing at all wrong about withholding life from "the unborn", just as there is nothing wrong about denying me a chance to play in the mud unless I have all this personal baggage with me that makes it something I want to do. The unborn have no need for a life that may or may not turn out "just fine", and they won't miss it.

timcooijmans said...

(Gah, finally figured out I had to break this post up to satisfy motherfucking Google's mystery machine.)

The fact that I DO enjoy my life in spite of the rules you find so objectionable seems proof to me that, if you had your way, others like myself would never be "permitted" that enjoyment.
This does not follow at all, and it is likely that your conclusion is in fact false. Stop making irrelevant accusations based on nothing.

You have a choice not to reproduce, BUT, you don't have the choice to "assume" that anyone born would share your opinion.
But apparently YOU had the choice to assume that not a single one of your kids and grandkids and great-grandkids and so on and so forth would hate life? Suppose one of your kids did hate life. What would be your response to them?

Anyway, this discussion is pointless. Your position is vague, and you have not provided any clarification, not even when specifically asked.

timcooijmans said...

This is probably THE messy question, but, am I correct in assuming you feel justified in seeing to it that people (like me) with the potential of enjoying life with all its horrors shouldn't be born because they just may turn out, instead, to have your point of view? Because I "might" have ended up like you would you feel comfortable denying me life?
Are you feeling comfortable having denied all of those kids you could have had but didn't life?

No one is being denied life, and even if you insist that someone is, then whoever it is that is being denied life is not sitting in some waiting room suffering under this denial. There is no one to be deprived.

(I'm glad you finally uncovered the point where you disagree with antinatalism.)

timcooijmans said...

Sorry, that should have read "There is no one to feel deprived".

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Tim... I'm not interested in convincing you of anything. I think, at least from your point of view, I have been answered.
You would, if you could, have denied me my happiness and right to live.

as far as...
1. Suffering is bad.
2. Bad things should be avoided.
3. By 1 and 2, suffering should be avoided.

That's just another kind of "white must win" game.

Everybody can't win the race, so, the race shouldn't ever be run. The nature of the universe is not to your liking, so, nobody should be born. Jeepers! I'm not happy, so, happiness is not possible. I don't deny suffering, but, you would deny happiness because suffering exists too. I don't know how to say this without sounding offensive, but to me.... that's creepy. Sorry.

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

"Because I "might" have ended up like you would you feel comfortable denying me life?"

No one who has not yet been born has ever been denied anything. If you had never been born, you would occupy the very same position of all the potential progeny of yours that you never created. Do you feel bad about that? Do you feel that in not breeding at every single opportunity that you've robbed all those could-have-beens of precious opportunities?

In that light, I feel VERY comfortable in not creating more life that will suffer, than has the potential to experience GREAT suffering, and all for the opportunity of going right back to where it came from i.e. non-existence.

"You have a choice to be done with your life or continue to bitch about how awful it is. You have a choice not to reproduce, BUT, you don't have the choice to "assume" that anyone born would share your opinion. I don't!"

And yet, you seem to feel that you have the choice to 'assume' that anyone born will share YOUR opinion. And if they don't? Oh, well, they can always go kill themselves. That you end your statement with "I don't" once again demonstrates your unwillingness to see the bigger picture here. You always keep coming back to "don't rain on MY parade!"

Here's the deal, as simply as I can state it. The unborn can experience neither joy nor sorrow. But the denial of joy in this case is meaningless, since there is no experience of deprivation, as there is in life.

However, when we bring a new life into the world, we are taking the chance that this life will experience great suffering, not to mention certain death. Furthermore, since this life's previous state of non-existence was one of zero deprivation, what was the reason for creating the life in the first place, beyond a purely a selfish one?

We like to justify our actions in this arena by using euphemisms, like when we call breeding 'giving the gift of life'. But in reality, there was no gift, for there was no one to receive that gift. To have a child is to give a gift to ourselves, and then pretend we were actually doing something nice for SOMEONE WHO DIDN'T EVEN EXIST.

In the end, procreation is a thoroughly selfish act, and even though you've been fortunate enough (so far) to not regret your life, your attitude isn't the universal template, believe it or not. Procreation is wrong because it is an unnecessary risk with a life not your own, committed without consent.

metamorphhh said...

Whoops, looks like Tim went and stole my thunder :)

Once again, I see MrsN has used that phrase 'denied ME MY happiness' as if he could have been denied anything when he didn't as yet exist. I guess I can do some short deconstructions to add to Tim's points:

"Everybody can't win the race, so, the race shouldn't ever be run."

Life isn't a race. There's no trophy at the end, only a grave. And, unfortunately, everyone is drafted into this erroneously called 'race' without consent. Along the way, some learn to tolerate the conditions, ofttimes by telling themselves lies that there IS a trophy to be had at the end. And when they see their brothers and sisters falling down in the mud, they rationalize it by telling themselves "Ah, well, where there are winners, there must be losers. C'est la vie. At least I'm having fun!"

"The nature of the universe is not to your liking, so, nobody should be born."

No, the nature of the universe is capricious, and we have no right nor good reason to cast others into the jaws of a fate not under our control.

'Jeepers! I'm not happy, so, happiness is not possible.'

No, It's possible that the child I bring into this world may not be happy, so why take the risk knowing that in their present state of -non-existence, they're not feeling deprived of anything at all?

'I don't deny suffering, but, you would deny happiness because suffering exists too.'

No, happiness and suffering both exist. Unfortunately, there will be many instances where suffering gets the upper hand, and we have very little control in the matter. Let's set up an imaginary scenario where for each group of 100 children, 90 get to go to Disneyland while 10 are severely beaten. So, do we cancel the trip to Disneyland in order to avoid the beatings? Your call.

'I don't know how to say this without sounding offensive, but to me.... that's creepy. Sorry.'

I COULD say this without sounding offensive, but I choose not to (which is most likely the case with you, as well)...your argumentation sucks.

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Thanks Meta.

In short, to do away with pain you would do away with pleasure?

..."I COULD say this without sounding offensive, but I choose not to (which is most likely the case with you, as well)..." No, it's not. If I wished to sound offensive, I know how.

metamorphhh said...

I just posted a few comments I found in the spam filter. Sorry about that :(

filrabat said...

Given Mrsneutron already brought up (implicitly) the "antinatalists are existential weaklings" argument, I'll go straight to the source

Tell me why a nonexistent person HAS to be forced into life when there's clearly no need for IT to come into existence (given the nonexistent have no needs, desires, or anything else needing fulfilling? This is especially true if we're going to die one day anyway.

Special Addition for religious oriented people: Even if we do manage to take our memories with us, is it really worth it if a substantial proportion of your descendants end up in eternal torment?

timcooijmans said...

You would, if you could, have denied me my happiness and right to live.
Are you feeling comfortable having denied all of those kids you could have had but didn't their happiness and right to live?

mrsneutronsgarage said...

Simple question.
In short, to do away with pain you would do away with pleasure?

metamorphhh said...

mrsneutronsgarage:

"Simple question.
In short, to do away with pain you would do away with pleasure?"

Since we're talking about a pleasure of which no one will actually be deprived, I answer with an unqualified YES.

Here's a simple question for you:

You would affirm a process by which some people will suffer terribly, so that others may flourish?

CM said...

While it pains me to hear the rehashing of the same old non-arguments, it pleases me to note that the appearance of hungry trolls is probably indicative of the rising popularity of this blog. Of course, if the world weren't full of mrsneutronsgarages, there wouldn't be a need for this blog in the first place. So... back to square one.

timcooijmans said...

In short, to do away with pain you would do away with pleasure?
In the context in which we have been discussing this, yes. Not in general. The context is, as Jim notes, one in which the pleasure does not have value (because there is no one to say "Hey! Gimme my pleasure damnit!").

(I'll have to point out once more that you have "denied pleasure" to all those kids you could have had but didn't.)

revolutionaryandjoyful said...

this is eerily similar to the abortion debate.

filrabat said...

The reason pleasure doesn't really matter is that non-existent people can't experience pleasure - or even anything at all! It's ultimately a neutral state at worst, and (if the person would have really disliked life in general or his/her life) very possibly a benefit.

It all boils down to a person saying "the benefits of my life are not worth the inevitable bad points I have to put up with". Of course, there's a certain subjectivity to self-assessment - which is precisely the point. We have no right to determine another person's quality of life - at least from an attitude of finality.

filrabat said...

@Revolutionaryandjoyful

this is eerily similar to the abortion debate.

Very true, R&J. I also see similarities to the atheist vs theist debate insofar that even most atheists hold on to "humanity must continue" attitudes at least as fervently as religious people - although for radically different reasons. Jim did an excellent job of skewering Richard Dawkins' almost quasi-religious praise of life. Classic read for this blog, I tell ya!