Wednesday, April 22, 2009


A few hours ago, a 15 year old boy was hit by a train a block from the local high school. The body was still on the tracks when my daughter and her mother passed through. Of course, such catastrophes in their thousand permutations will be repeated every few seconds on this planet. I mention this fact not to minimize the horror of this particular incident, but to heighten the reader's awareness of the universality of tragedy both in essence, and in the concomitant reverberations that will assuredly fan out and engulf those who love and care. Even now I await with dread the release of the child's name for fear that I knew him, or that my daughter knew him. But why should that matter? I know for a fact that for several people today, the sun has fallen from the sky, and may never return. That is enough, and too much.

To the parents and others with close emotional ties, I'm sorry. I wish I could make it better, but I can't. The best I can offer is my belief that he is now at peace. He's returned to where he came from, as all of us do, eventually. It may seem that his life was unfairly cut short; but remember, that's only from our perspective. For the child, all worry, all fear and pain have ceased to exist. He sleeps the most pleasant of all sleeps, untroubled by bad dreams, schedules, and anxiety about the future. His peace is pure, and will last forever.

Rest in peace, young man. I hope your short sojourn here was relatively pleasant.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Occasionally when reading back over your comments, I find myself getting all schmaltzy and shit, and feeling the need to reach out and give everybody a big group hug. I've never learned the trick of swallowing my cynicism whole, and often find myself moved by the passion I sense behind your missives. It resonates with my own. Hang in there, my friends, and spread the message each in your own way. Different ears respond to different voices, and each of us has something relevant to say on the matter. Thank you for your efforts born out of empathy, and an understanding of the stakes.

So, there you go.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ending Suffering One Snip at a Time

CNN reports that, in the face of our deepening economic crisis, more men are deciding to have vasectomies....

"They realize they don't have the financial security long-term with what's going on," Jones said. "Several of them have mentioned, 'We can't afford to have any more children in this economy.' My perception is that it's more of the concept of raising children in an uncertain economic future."

This should come as welcome news to antinatalists on two fronts. Of course, the obvious and immediate benefit is that for each man sterilized, the gross number of lives being dragged into this suffering existence goes down; that is, unless other poor, misguided souls take it upon their shoulders to take up the slack.

But what REALLY encourages me is that this news flies in the face of those who would make the 'hard-wired-to-breed' argument the be-all and end-all demurrer of the debate. Evidence like this proves that human beings, at least partly rational some of the time, are able to override visceral yearnings and aspirations with an eye towards the bigger picture. Unfortunately, for many people the nimbus of empathetic concern rarely encompasses more than direct descendants, and maybe a few others. At least, that's the case when it comes to deferring or denying the wants of the self. So the perceived danger has to be of the immediate sort, such as a threat to one's future prospects. In this case, it's a loss of 'faith' in the economy.

All this may, of course, be over-spoken, not to mention temporary. Still, there are other promising signs that some societies are slowly finding their way onto the long-term consequentialist bandwagon. In both Europe and Japan, the birth dearth trend seems to be holding steady, even in the face of government intervention. Russian and Eastern Europeans have seen dramatic downturns in population replenishment, which is scaring the hell out of all those who only seem to recognize progress in terms of growth, growth, GROWTH!

It's all about the consequences, people. We're generally pretty good about accepting and dealing with those consequences when it comes to day-by-day activity. But when it comes down to issues like our own mortality, the facts become just too hard to face, so we construct fantasy worlds to hide our rationality away in. We begin to have 'faith' in things. In gods who promise to put all into an understandable context...SOME day. In our fellow know, the ones we see killing each other every day on the news. In our, the ones we're always bitching about. And of course, we must have faith in our economies, because THAT'S where the money is!

Only, gods don't exist, many of our fellow men would stab us to steal our shoes, our governments are made at least partly of such men (and women too...sorry to forget you, ladies), and economies; well, you've seen the news. And a little well-placed truth, especially when it hits close to home, sometimes opens eyes to the real state of affairs here in good ol' Mortalsville, population...well, it varies, but the graveyard keeps growing and growing and growing and growing and growing and..............................................................................

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Unspoken Truths

I remember the first time I made the statement "I hate life!" out loud. I won't go into the details, other than to say it was in front of my then-wife. Her eyes opened wide, and she cried, "Jim, NO!" as if I were revealing some deeply hidden family secret. But the cat was out of the bag, and we both knew it. I had committed irreparable treason against the mythology that upholds human existence. I actually remember thinking the words, but trying to hold them in behind clenched teeth. Of course, once spoken I knew that I'd felt this way for an awfully long time. Hell, I even knew that I knew. But speaking the words, that open acknowledgment in front of someone I, it was devastating, and our world was never the same again.

Do I regret it? Not really. I've always been sort of a truth hound, and after all this was just a minor component of existence's generalized suffering. Not nearly as bad as getting one's fingernails pulled out, or passing out from near starvation every night, like so many millions around the world do. The marriage had been on the rocks for quite a while, anyway, mainly upheld by another bevy of lies, and hopes for brighter tomorrows. Life goes on.

On another note, I found this comment on a blog today-

"There's not a great deal of suffering in life. The odd break-up, the odd death. But there's a world times a lifetime of pleasure to be had."

I surely wish I could find this planet these people are beaming their opinions down to Earth from. I know a lot of people who'd be willing to re-locate.

Request From Compoverde

I thought this was worth moving up from the comments section...

Hello everyone again. I'm sorry, I forgot to actually put the link of the antinatalism philosophy thread. Here it is: anyone would like to add their thoughts, opinions, arguments, or responses to this thread, it would be greatly appreciated. This is a thread a created on a philosophy forum. It has gotten a lot of responses. I essentially proposed that it is immoral to procreate. There is a lot of opponents and some advocates; both sides giving their reasoning behind why they agree or disagree. If someone from this blog has already responded and given their input, thank you, it is much appreciated. If you haven't checked it out, I implore you to go on there and look at some of the comments made and give a good argument for the antinatalist cause. You have to register on the forum first with a username and password. But once you do that you can comment on any of the threads.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Suicide Ponderings

I was doing some reading about suicide this afternoon, and came across this screed over at

Suicide is Never an Option

by Kevin Caruso

I have talked with several suicidal people who have said something like this: "If things don't work out I can always kill myself. I always have that option."

Suicide is not an option. And the type of mindset that accompanies this type of statement needs to be changed immediately.

People who make that type of statement would never say: "If so-and-so doesn't shape up, I'll just kill him. I always have that option." Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? So, why is it so easy for some people to believe that taking their own life is okay? That suicide is an option?

Because of a mental disorder--People with depression, or a similar disorder, cannot think straight because they have a chemical imbalance in their brain. And almost everyone who is suicidal has a mental disorder.

So it is critical that people get treatment so their thinking will change.

If you need help because you have a similar mindset, then get help now.

Do not delay.

Take a step back and analyze your thinking. What is really going on in your mind? What kind of self-talk do you engage in?

Do you say to yourself: "Suicide is always an option"? or "I can always kill myself if I need to"? or "If things don't get better, I'll kill myself"?

If your thinking is even close to that, then please get help. Call 1-800-SUICUDE now if you need to. The sooner you get help, the better.

Be honest with yourself. If you need help, get it. And get it now.

And remember that suicide is never, under any circumstances, an option.

Note the blatantly paternalistic assertions based on...what? Personal preference? Cultural indoctrination? Unconsidered presuppositionalism? God’s moving finger? And what’s with the 1-800-SUICUDE? LOL! Anyhow, all this got me to thinking- since we’re all destined to die anyway, what’s all the fuss? Why is tomorrow better than today, or next year better than next week? Isn’t an appropriate analogy one where we’ve been pushed out of an airplane, and are being impassionately admonished to flap our arms until we hit the ground? What is there, if anything, that sets this attitude apart from fundamental denialism? Oh, and I love the way the guy equates suicide with murder! One can only wonder if he typed this with a straight face.

Of course, there IS the argument that our deaths cause others to suffer, but that’s the case regardless of WHEN we die. I suppose it could be argued that it’s worse if young children are involved, but that’s only saying that death stings less the more people grow inured to the realities of life, and what does THAT say about the realities of life? Isn’t this just another justification for suicide? There’s the matter of foisting the ‘suicide stigma’ upon surviving loved ones; but again, isn’t that stigma a result of societal reinforcement, making the negative attitude towards suicide the real perversity, and not the suicide itself? It all seems twisted somehow, an attempt to displace our own selfishness, and to anchor it to the object of our selfishness. And there’s this whole air of self-righteousness about the matter, as if delaying the inevitable amounts to the fulfillment of some holy mandate...all done for the potential suicide’s own good, of course. And if that potential suicide goes on to live another 3 or 4 or 5 decades in misery, why, it’s just a work in progress, is all, because NOTHING is worse than suicide, because...well...well...because there’s always hope, and death never solves anything. Well, until it comes, and it does solve everything. At least, it solves everything for the one who dies. And we all die. Every fucking one of us.

Of course, solutions are only necessary as far as problems are concerned. When life ends, the need for solutions vanishes. And if we stopped bringing life into the world, we’d never need those solutions in the first place. Life is like an unhealable wound that just keeps bleeding, and bleeding, and bleeding, but we’re too stupid, or stubborn, or afraid to stop administering transfusions, though all of us know we’re dealing with an ultimately hopeless case. Because it’s all about us, you see, our own fears of mortality, and the way we fend it off through fantasies of vicarious continuity through succeeding generations of little girls and boys, to whom we teach the very same lesson. It’ll be alright. Everything works out for the best. The sun’ll come out tomorrow. And my personal favorite, we’re all God’s chilluns. What a royal crock of shit.

P.S. I ESPECIALLY love the assertion that suicidal thoughts are always the result of some kind of mental disorder. Couldn't it be just as possible that depression is often the result of too much truth burning out the coping mechanisms that keep the wheels turning? I've written about some of this here.

P.S.S. You know, this guy is really starting to piss me off. After equating thoughts of suicide with thoughts of murder, he goes on in another place to assure us that suicide is nothing like murder. I often run into this sort of compartmentalized thinking with religious apologists. Offer whatever answer happens to fit a particular situation, or discussion, and to hell with consistency or a coherent philosophical position. There should be a name for this sort of thing. How's 'situational pontification' sound?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Who May Be Sterlized?

Here's an interesting thread concerning the unwillingness of some in the medical establishment to perform voluntary sterilization on childless women (and in some cases, men). Here's a sample comment-

I have been arguing for years that I never want children and it took me threatening to do self surgery with “a kitchen knife and a copy of Grey’s anatomy” to finally get referred to an OB. And then I had some anti-choicer offer to ‘adopt’ if anything happens between now and my waiting list. I assured her that there was no way I was giving birth by any means necessary, be it a clinic, a coat hanger or a jump in front of a fast moving train. I also reminded another anti-choicer that by getting my tubes tied I could suffer a tubal pregnancy that will kill me and thereby made every possible pregnancy a life threatening one just to make damn sure I will have it terminated. What sort of society makes you have to threaten yourself with self-mutilation and possible death because you choose not to have children?

It seems the issue also extends into the right to have IUDs implanted. Think about it- these are adults in their twenties and thirties being denied contraception based on a naive pronatalist notion that someday they'll 'come around to the right way of thinking'. Societal paternalism runs deep.

It's also interesting to note how many women reject the idea of the so-called 'nurturing instinct', at least as a universal female attribute. Makes one wonder how much is simply culturally ingrained mythology, doesn't it?