Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why is Suicide Wrong?

I'm not an advocate for suicide- other than species suicide perhaps, although I prefer to think of antinatalism as a proactive alternative to the need for suicide- but this morning's visit to The View From Hell has prompted me to do some Googling to find out why people believe that suicide is wrong. In my searching, I came across this tidy little list:

1.Suicide is FOREVER. You do not get to wake up. You do not get a second chance. You will not be able to say, "Wait, I want to stay." There is no turning back.

2.Think about the situation in grisly fact. Someone will have to find your body, and most likely it will be someone who loves and cares for you. They will bear this in their memory for the rest of their lives.

3.If you kill yourself at someone else’s hand, such as laying in front of a car or train or forcing a police officer to kill you, know that these people will bear the brunt of the emotional turmoil and will always wish that it could have been different.

4.There may be people standing on the sidelines, knowing that you are in pain and wishing that they could help you. These people will suffer forever in guilt, wondering if there was more they could have done or said to change your mind. They will blame themselves.

5.The repercussions go far beyond this. Friends or family members may grow so despondent that they, in turn, take their own lives.

6.Most newspapers will not even mention your name after death by suicide.

Here are my brief response:

1.Death is FOREVER. Everybody dies. There is no turning back, once you've been born.

2.Which speaks to the need of integrating suicide optionality into the cultural psyche in such a way that it becomes a viable, acceptable alternative. Irrational stigma is a HUGE factor here, and a little softening of societal denialism could work wonders in taking the edge off.

3.Ah, the old guilt trip rears its ugly head yet again. Remember, life was the burden foisted on the unfortunate chappy for the benefit of persons other than himself. Contrariwise, suicide is a gift he gives himself.

4.More guilting. On the other hand, an enlightened and sympathetic person might think "Wow, she's finally released from her pain. Though it hurts me to lose her, she is finally at peace. And, after all, I'm headed for the same destination in short order, one way or the other. God bless her!"

5.Yeesh! Guilt, upon guilt, upon guilt! I mean, really- at some point, you just have to say fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, don't you?

6.Is this a comment on social denialism reflected in the press, or are they merely pointing out that shortly after your death you're forgotten by almost everybody? If the former, then I'd say this simply reflects society's general immaturity when it comes to looking reality square in the face. If the latter, well...DUH! We are the future's dirt.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Parenthood- Reel Life vs. Real Life

The film 'Parenthood', a Steve Martin vehicle from 1989, has always seemed a case study for me about how people contrive to salvage overall positive value from negative situations. In this case (as in almost all cases when we're talking about the movies), the film maker sets up several conflictive scenarios within the framework of a fictional extended family. One brother feels pressured by having to maintain a job and lifestyle he loathes to support his children, with another on the way. At one point, he even quits his job, which threatens to bring down the whole house of cards. Another is on the verge of divorce because he and his spouse have different visions of how they should raise their offspring. Still a third brother is a flake on the run from creditors who ultimately runs off, abandoning his son to parents who basically hate each other. The fourth sibling, a sister, is raising a rebellious teenage daughter alone, and is having a very hard time of it.

Of course, since the film is ultimately nothing more than another blatant exercise in facile life affirmation, all conflicts are resolved in the last five minutes, and the film fades out with- ugh, this makes me cringe- more babies. Fade to black.

There's one particular scene near the end of the film, when everything seems like it's going to hell, that's particularly illustrative of the simplistic philosophical 'out' that almost everybody seems to crave in their disparate, desperate attempts to make real life fit their optimistic fantasies. It comes in the form of a little speech uttered by the aged matriarch of the family, and goes a little something like this...

Of course, the difference between a story about a roller coaster and real life is the difference between a 60 second up-and-down ride purposefully designed to imitate danger within the confines of numerous fail-safe mechanisms, and real life, where all bets are off and where too, too often 'downs' are just plain 'downs'.

For a more realistic take on things, let's posit a roller coaster built by an imbecile who never really had entertainment in mind, with rusty tracks and safety bars, where the wheels have the nasty habit of falling off unexpectedly, and a sizable portion of the riders die from heart attacks and brain aneurysms. A ride that people don't actually choose to go on, but rather find themselves inexplicably strapped into after waking from their naps, who soon realize that, even if they survive the shoddy manufacturing defects for a time, they're eventually going to crash headfirst into that brick wall that some idiot built at the end of the track. A thrill o' minute, indeed! Then of course, there's this...

Ah, the best laid tracks of mice and men, eh? I wonder, do you suppose there are some who might think twice before allowing their children on dangerous rides after this? And before you go getting cocky about merry-go-rounds, you might want to check this out

UPDATE: Wow, I just caught the last line on the tombstone there: 'One Day We Will Understand'. Yeah. Sure we will.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Antinatalism as a Dangerous Idea

I made a new video this morning, and have spent most of the rest of the day watching antinatalism material on YouTube, pro and con. Wow, the idea continues to slowly infiltrate public discourse; slowly, but (I'm hoping) surely. Not so surprisingly, the refutations are by and large empty rhetoric of the kind we're used to seeing. Lots of posturing on both sides, although I'll confess I don't mind the posturing if it's backed up with some salient argumentation. Gary's wonderful and devastating to his opposition (Consumption, Reprodution, Canabalism and it!), even though I'm aware that some are probably averse to his style. I love the guy, but then I have to admit I'm biased towards his side of the argument. But within the bluster he has a helluva lot of good things to say, and good points to make that nobody I've seen has refuted to any substantial degree.

Anyway, in my perusing I came across this fine, balanced take on the debate, and I thought I'd share it with you all here. I'm not aware of the guy's position on the subject, or even if he has one, but I thought he made a lot of sense. Plus there's no yelling :) Enjoy.

UPDATE: And even as we speak, a new voice has joined the chorus. Jeebus bless the youngsters!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gordian Not

For the transhumanists-

Lessons learned, and lessons lost-
neither can dispel the frost
accumulating on the pane
that looks in on this 'grieved quatrain.

The future is only logic and experience extended beyond the capacity for memory. Prediction is ridiculously easy in general terms: there will be oscillating periods of unraveling punctuated with oases of relative stability followed by calcification, fracturing, and the sound of broken glass. Magic touches are notoriously short-lived, frustratingly counter-productive, and while the pursuit of golden goose eggs is always temptingly close at hand, we often find ourselves dipping our heads into wells full of mirage water contaminated with reality. In other words, I wedged my hat down over my ears for eight hundred years, and when somebody finally managed to pull it off for me, what did I see?

A graveyard of flying cars in a desert of old, abandoned avenues.

Liposuction performed through easy access zippers with sharp teeth and very tight smiles.

Gluttonous bi-weekly reappraisals sweetened with almost universal lactate intolerance.

Shrines dedicated to Bostrom the Conqueror erected on endless plains of dragon guano.

And, of course, a reanimated Jack LaLanne towing five gross of corpulent corpses still in their berths for his 892nd birthday party.

Men in hats, running; the dream in anticipation
of the nightmare. A second sun swallowing yesterday’s

taciturn whimsies. No one looking, legs a blur on the treadmill
of prescience, without heroes or helmets big enough

to contain insecurity’s eruption. No standing up. No standing
down. Only a teeth chattering recollection of tidal pool

simplicity, and corporeality’s urge to return. The melt runs
far and deep, eating time, eating salvation, vomiting up itself

within itself, covering itself with thoughts of exceptions, and
redemptions, and little plans no larger than this. Transcendence

was never the motivation, always the excuse for patience. Men
die again. Others take their places while sunset beckons, unheeded.

I die, you die, we all die for the white lie! You know, a sleigh ride on a carpet of snow on Christmas eve, up on the mantle but tossed out on the 26th to make room for the bills and Aunt Sadie's urn (Wasn't it a shame? She had so much to live for!). Cordwood selling cordwood to cordwood, splinters being just the price of doing business, right? We learn our lessons and learn them well, eventually learning to ignore the smell. The cadaverous rot of fuels sequestered just below the surface, venting off the seepage to power the turbines of progress. But we need fucking gears, people, and THAT MEANS YOU! Have faith, and someday your leftover teeth will grind THRICE as long, and isn't THAT a comfort and recompense?

Entropy? We don't need no stinkin' entropy!

The Last Men

Icebound, savage,
waving tattered remnants of national identity,
hunkered in their bunkers,
monkey division army men
playing Anarchy by Milton Bradley
until somebody steals the dice,
then howling for the National Guard
when their compatriots aren’t looking.

Just imagine Gilligan’s Island
without the Professor.
Who’s first on the spit?
Or, with the last vestiges of
civilization left to them,
hand in hand,
walking into the lagoon,
the geographically misplaced chimps
and screaming pihas
bidding them a fond farewell.

Or a comet!
Maybe Robert Frost was wrong for the right reason.

Indulge me, it's been a long morning :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

From 'The Philosopher's Magazine'

Something fairly recent from Dr. David Benatar, being basically a re-statement and fleshing out of his premise that all lives fall short of a good justification for having started them in the first place. It's well worth a read or three, and any commentary from me probably isn't really necessary. I WOULD like to offer the final paragraph, since it sort of encapsulates most of what we talk about here-

What does follow, I think, from the conclusion that life is not good, is that we should not create more of it. When we bring new people into existence we start more lives that are not good – and we necessarily do this without the permission of those who will live those lives. We have no duty to create new people and failing to create people can do no harm to those we fail to create. Not having children might make our own lives less good, but starting lives that are not good, merely for our own gratification, is unduly selfish.

On this blog, we sometimes practice a bit of mind coitus, like 'what if I were king of the world?' sort of stuff, and in doing so often get into rather controversial conversations. You know, the stuff that the press would immediately fasten onto if we ever got their attention-

"So, Mr. Metamorphhh, your goal is to either forcibly sterilize everybody in the world, or just blow the whole thing up? Can I quote you on that?"

I just wanted to emphasize for anyone new who might drop in that the thrust of this blog is to promote awareness of the problems inherent in existence, and to offer what I and others here see as a fairly simple and elegant solution i.e. IT IS WRONG TO BRING LIFE INTO THE WORLD, SO STOP HAVING CHILDREN. Of course, when I say 'simple', I'm describing the essence of the solution, and not the practical applications in a world where the vast majority disagree with the basic premise. Thus, from time to time some of us here dally in the fringe arguments in the context of this or that hypothetical tomorrow when attitudes might be different, and political powers shift. But please don't be mistaken! Speaking for myself, the emphasis is and always will be on awareness and personal choice FOUNDED IN EMPATHY. Where that awareness takes us in the distant future is beyond my ken. Yes, if things go my way situations could, and probably will, get ugly; such is the nature of the collective human beast. On the other hand, the path of sympathy and peaceful acquiescence to the truth of antinatalism's position always lies open to us. Right here, right now, this generation could choose to end all human suffering and death, and the result would follow shortly.


Thanks to commenter Compoverde for the Benatar link. And thanks, as always, to David Benatar.