Thursday, 16 August 2012

Quick Update

Just a quick update. Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post: I'm glad good poetry is still appreciated in a world of plastic shit:-)

I've nothing much to say at present. I turned 36 last week and am feeling pretty blank and bored. Even though current finances dictate that I should be out hustling, my non-interest in the world prevents me from engaging with it.

I definitely think that what seperates me, and I daresay other people of an AN disposition, from the mob, is the lack of what I referred to a few posts back as ontophilia: the natural love of being. I definitely don't have it, and as a result feel hollow and empty at the core.

If you love life, you're motored by delusion, whether it be Religion, Art, Family, Nation, Career, Progress, Nature or any of the other capital letter words.

If you've seen through all of humanity's self-important nonsense, then your only recourse is distraction/diversion. I really don't see any other viable way. Delusion or diversion; the choice is yours.

Anyway, one of the commenters on the last post inquired about having a 'How I became an Antinatalist' forum. Seeing as how I am too mired in sloth to set up such a site, I'm happy to let anyone tell their story here if they wish.

Hope everyone's well.

40 comments:

  1. I hope that you are also well Karl. And many thanks for a very worthwhile blog.

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    1. Thanks, Mr Graverol. Your contributions to the blog are always welcome!

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  2. You turned 36, Karl.If I wanted to be sarcastic I would have wished you a Happy Birthday.

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    1. Thanks, Anonymous. You're not the first to make that joke:-)

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  3. I, too, lack this natural love of being. I used to search on the web for things like "Why do people live?" and "Why do people stay alive?" because... I just don't get it. I don't understand what's so appealing about life.

    Having dealt with and brushed aside many of the delusions you mention, I now find myself utterly bored with the distractions. They trick the mind for a while, but it's always temporary. They help you ignore or maybe even forget about the problems of existence until... you realize or remember that you still exist. So I suppose distractions are really nothing more than another delusion. They hide the fact that I'm just killing time, waiting for nonexistence to show up, hopefully without any effort on my part.

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    1. In moments of despair/curiosity I search the web for 'What do I do when I realise life is pointless?'. The answers generally tend to be:

      a) It's not pointless
      b) You give your own life meaning.
      c) It's pointless, yes, but just enjoy yourself!

      a) is wrong, given what we know.
      b) makes no sense. If the whole thing is pointless, then the tiny nodule of the whole that is your existence cannot have point or meaning.
      c) I've realised over the years that hedonism is a character disposition, not an attitude that can be adopted. It's not a trait of my character.

      And excellent observations about the distractions. If taken too seriously, they can indeed become yet another delusion. Maybe the key is to have as many distraactions as possible and not linger too long on any one of them.

      By the way, I thoroughly enjoy your blog, Kefka P, and admire its succint, no-nonsense style.

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    2. Even people who think life is wonderful say "you need distractions". If life is so wonderful, why do we need to be distracted from what is really going on?

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    3. Karl,

      (a) I agree, especially if we are a mass of atoms create/undergo a huge number of chemical reactions that transform atoms exterior to ourselves (air, water, food) into resources the first said mass of atoms (our bodies); with some of the exterior atoms becoming part of our bodies. In the meantime, first said mass of atoms rest, entertain itself, and (most of us) create more copies of oitself. So we consume and jettison materials and make more copies of ourselves - and entertain ourselves in between. Then we die and cease to remember it at all.

      (b)Even if that were true, that meaning comes at the price of inevitable suffering, which may be fine by most people's self-assessment of how their own lives are going AND their own assessment of the morality of the "rules of 'the game of life'"- BUT there is no guarantee such a person will, in fact, have such favorable self-assessments of either. Even if "Yes" for the first but not the latter, they can still see life is a crap shoot.

      (c) Enjoying ourselves (or at least finding some level of contentment) is relevant ONLY for those who alerady exist. It is not a reason to create a person. That's like saying we should breed puppies so that 3 yrs later they can enjoy catching frisbees or playing chase with kids.

      However, as I said on the updated version of my blog, I don't favor suicide (at least not without family consensus allowing it) because (1) the anguish a suicide creates for others and (2) it implies nobody should give a damn about the negative effects of their actions upon others, or even that it's ok to commit actions with impacts on others less negative than suicide would be. That, of course, leads to a whole bunch of ethical problems, and in fact is closer to Moral Nihilism than anything our critics accuse us of.

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    4. Stacy: Even people who think life is wonderful say "you need distractions". If life is so wonderful, why do we need to be distracted from what is really going on?

      IM(Unprofessional)O, it's because entertaining ourselves (i.e. distractions) is simply the basic way we operate, like eating, breathing, etc. It's simply what we do. It's human nature to do so. It is part of "recharging our batteries". Miserable people do this as much as the happiest person, though maybe in a diffferent way. Ultimately (if you ask me, at least), it's a core component of our psyche, evolved to motivate us to stay alive.

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    5. I'm also reminded of Schopenhauer's remark that if life in and of itself were good, then there would be no such thing as boredom; existence itself in its barest state would be sufficient.

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  4. Does self love mean anything to you?

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    1. No, the concept revolts me. Self-care, yes, self-love, no.

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  5. I generally enjoyed living a lot before. Still do in several aspects, but it's harder with more awareness of the cruel and, as Ligotti put it, 'malignantly useless' nature of our world.
    I've always derived lots of pleasure from creativity, exploring smth new. From romantic relationships, too. A little hedonism helps as well...
    But the price of experiencing these things is way too high. I wouldn't buy this 'life package' if I had the chance. No pleasures can compensate for all the suffering that permeates existence. It feels like I have to constantly keep propping up the door behind which more and more pain is building up. I experience some of it, but to let it all out seems suicidal, more than I could bear without going insane. I usually love to live true to my feelings, it makes me actually feel alive, but I can't do it all the time because some of some feelings that this world evokes are too horrific to be lived.

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    1. I don't know who exactly said it, but someone attributed it to Benatar (can't say for certain). Anyway, the line is that life ultimately is like a going to a movie theater and ending up seeing a mediocre film - not bad enough to make you walk out of it before its scheduled ending, but not good enough to compel you to see it again or recommend it to anyone else.

      Oh well, while I'm in this movie theater, I can still find other ways to entertain myself in my mind until this movie's finished.

      Probably not a perfect analogy (especially the last part), but it's still a pretty strong one.

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    2. Even the most devout Christians sometime admit the weary nature of existence. Here's a telling quote from Cardinal Newman:

      "I know, on the contrary, and from sad experience I am too sure, that whatever is created, whatever is earthly, pleases but for the time, and then palls and is a weariness. I believe that there is nothing at all here below, which I should not at length get sick of. I believe, that, though I had all the means of happiness which this life could give, yet in time I should tire of living, feeling everything trite and dull and unprofitable. I believe, that, were it my lot to live the long antediluvian life, and to live it without Thee, I should be utterly, inconceivably, wretched at the end of it. I think I should be tempted to destroy myself for very weariness and disgust. I think I should at last lose my reason and go mad, if my life here was prolonged long enough. I should feel it like solitary confinement, for I should find myself shut up in myself without companion..."

      Welcome to the Real, Cardinal!

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    3. The problem with the movie theater analogy is that even those who enjoy the movie somewhat and are not compelled to leave (a gross underestimation and an optimistic note in Benatar's books which I didn't like) would not have regretted not being in a theater or watching anything at all had they not been born and thus any attempts to justify it post-factum do not carry any more meaning than someone who walks out of the theater and laughs at how stupid and horrible the movie is (not to mention meaningless).

      The analogy could have SOME merit if someone who thinks the movie is a bad joke would walk out into a better movie and let the rest wallow in their deluded mirth away from him, but unfortunately the exit doors are boarded up and chained and the only way to open them is to plant a bomb and blow yourself up.. hopefully taking everyone else with you including the universe.

      The scary thing is that there was never another movie or another theater or another anything outside those doors... so the thought of leaving was just as futile and pointless as the thought of staying - you would just suffer way more from actually staying there than someone who actually somewhat enjoyed watching the movie.

      Overall, the analogy is fucked and inaccurate.

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    4. Love the last paragraph. Like something from a Ligotti story:-)

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  6. Hey Karl,
    "Happy Birthday" (can I say that?) and "hang in there" (can I say *that*?)

    Here's a little gift for you (posted on Jim's site as well):

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/08/16/abortion_when_not_being_born_would_have_been_better.html

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    1. Thanks, anonymous! Shame the suthor of the article wasn't harder on her mother:-)

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  7. I was born antinatalist. My parents played that Russian roulette game called concieving a child, and 9 months later I was born with severe genetic birth defects. This didn't have to happen...just don't play the game. Beyond that there is something about me that I have a hard time putting into words but it is like I was born with an automatic, complete rejection of being alive in this world. I think it is particularly deep for me because I feel I was meant to be a miscarried fetus but by an unhappy twist of fate I remained alive. I am extremely frightened of this world and I don't enjoy things (I almost never experience pleasure). You could put me into an arena full of excited sports fans, lets say, everybody's having a wonderful time, and I would sit there staring, empty, devoid of whatever it is that makes everybody else feel happy. I've always been that way.

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    1. Hi, Ray. I'm sorry for your woes, my friend. I think it safe to say most regulars here share to whatever degree your feelings. You are not alone.

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  8. Does anyone else say "congratulations" when their family members or friends is pregnant (or delivered child)? I (almos) NEVER do it and they always ALWAYS resent me for it. Really akward when you are at your sister's hospital bed and she is waiting for glorious confirmation of her exalted deed known as birth. Sickening to admit, i did break under pressure some times and uttered those disgusting words.

    Anyways, Happy closer to dust day! I don't have any advice because i suffer from pointless syndrome too. Hedonism and artificial oblivion works a little but it's nothing compared to the real thing. Your blog definitely helps in much needed venting , so thanks for that Karl^^! Take care:)

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    1. Thanks, KaBoem! I do feel obliged to text my friends when I hear of a new birth, but I keep it to 'Hope mother and child are well'; I omit 'Congratulations'. I've yet to be picked up for it so far!

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    2. Recently a friend announced a daughter, I asked, "What are you naming her?" instead. I don't know if child being "well" is better for it than being stillborn!

      It seems even Aztecs believed that being stillborn took you to the highest heaven directly.

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    3. Great work around Karl, i'm gonna use that:). I really feel for the female antinatalists , they probably get invited to baby showers and other crap. Hehe i can just picture Ann Sterzinger in these life cult ceremonies haha.

      Strikant, if you ever saw the movie "Candy", a couple of detox junkies deliver a premature stillborn baby and that scene was really horrifying...for the parents that is. The kid would've probably ended up abused by junkie parents, addictive personality and god knows what else! So i really understand your position, i rather have suffering with purpose (child escapes, junkies suffer) than one with none at all (child suffers,junkies suffer nonetheless).

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  9. Karl:If you love life, you're motored by delusion, whether it be Religion, Art, Family, Nation, Career, Progress, Nature or any of the other capital letter words.

    Ultimately, it's the Survival Instinct Bias, which takes a hell of a lot of hopelessness, sense of burdensome-ness on others, and fearlessness of the likely highly painful process of death to overcome (according to Florida State Univ. psychologist Thomas Joiner). Of those, my life isn't bad enough to motivate me to suicide - especially in light of the above reasons I told you near the top of the comments section. At this point, nothing short of incurable terminal illness with a highly painful and/or undignified demise will get me to off myself.

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    1. 2At this point, nothing short of incurable terminal illness with a highly painful and/or undignified demise will get me to off myself."

      Careful, Filrabat. The malignant Gods of Olympus love human hubris:-)

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  10. I was a teenage transhumanist who expected immortality for everyone in a few years, and had no concept of having children myself. A few more years passed and the immortality revolution wasn't happening, and it incrementally dawned on me that I actually thought having children was a bad thing. And I've just kept evolving my ideas about what that means, and what it should imply, as I learn more about life.

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    1. hahaha
      same thing happened to me...!
      let's see where it all leads to...
      best luck, friend!

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    2. Yep, no immortality, due to entropy. Also, there's the fact that every technology we develop has been used to hurt others (intentionally or not) as well as help them. Using TH wisely requires humans to neither abuse their power over others nor be so grossly negligent that tragedies linked to such technologies never happen. IOW, people would use TH, if it comes to past, will be willing to enhance their own well-being or (worse yet) their mere power and control abilities at the expense of others or society's overall well-being. That's how I see it playing out in practice - assuming TH is anything more than a "nerd's rapture".

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  11. I became an antinatalist after becoming disillusioned with radical politics. I thought that I would be able to give my life meaning by helping to create an anarcho-syndicalist utopia. Then I realized that it is not possible to change human nature. And being born in a utopia would still be a horrible tragedy.

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    1. I flirted with politics on and off even after becoming an antinatalist: reading Chomsky and so on, raging against the injustice of everything, wondering if there was an alternative. But, like you, the intractability of human nature, finally crushed any lingering hopes. I sometimes feel guilty about this, but usually manage to quash that guilt, rightly or wrongly, fairly quickly. I find it pretty telling that Chomsky has always shyed away from outlining any positive vision of a future society; I suspect he may think humans can never change, but then he makes annoying smokeshield comments such as 'we don't know enough human nature to judge it yet'. Like fuck we don't! So even someone of Chomsky's moral stature can't live without illusions!

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    2. Chomsky has children and grandchildren. Maybe that's why he doesn't join us.

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    3. I'm pretty sure Chomsky would regard AN as insane; he has refered to the VHEMT movement as 'genocidists', so I don't think he'd have much truck with us. He appears to have always been a life-lover, although.....

      "Are we all doomed?
      If there was an observer on Mars, they would probably be amazed that we have survived this long. There are two problems for our species' survival - nuclear war and environmental catastrophe - and we're hurtling towards them. Knowingly. This hypothetical Martian would probably conclude that human beings were an evolutionary error."

      http://www.newstatesman.com/international-politics/2010/09/war-crimes-interview-obama

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    4. Well, that doesn't necessarily mean he's not AN. I mean, ANs could agree that we're all doomed due to nuclear war/environmental catastrophe, it's just that we don't see it as a bad thing. ;)

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    5. Well, if he anti-VHEMT, then he's logically going to be anti-AN. I daresay he would attribute AN to social and historical forces that make individual life unbearable. I'd counter this by referring him back to Sophocles, Ecclesiastes and all the other life-mourners who were around before the steam-engine:-)

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    6. Ha! I too am a disillusioned radical. I still float around in those circles a bit. May even give the ol' activism gig a whirl if its something like abortion rights or anti-racism- both pressing issues here in the American Midwest. My days of organized political activity appear to be over, however. Funny story- I remember talking to my fellow group members about how awesome I thought VHEMT was (we were selling papers at the time). Some seemed to think I was nuts.

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    7. Yup, people are always happy to divert themselves with the symptoms, never the cause, ie existence!

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  12. You're probably right. He also said, “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”

    He's clearly very anti-pessimist. ;-) Anyway, I thought you might be interested Chomsky's response to New Atheism:

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/616576-noam-chomsky-on-new-atheists

    He hates them almost as much as we do! I agree with what he says about New Atheists being insensitive. I think only ANs have a valid reason to disabuse people of their faith. Also note that Richard Dawkins Himself commented on the article.

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    1. Thanks for the article. Most interesting! Yeah, the New Atheists annoy me mainly because they stop just when they should be getting started. Atheism, real atheism, is a negative revolution, which, if taken to its logical conclusion, can only end in AN. These guys just want to congratulate themselves for their rebellion against institutional modes of authority. All a bit teenage.

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