Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Jack Kerouac, Antinatalist



 

No hangup on nature is going to solve anything -- nature is bestial -- desire for Eternal Life of the individual is bestial, is the final creature-longing -- I say, Let us cease bestiality & go into the bright room of the mind realizing emptiness, and sit with the truth. And let no man be guilty, after this, Dec. 9 1954, of causing birth. -- Let there be an end to birth, an end to life, and therefore an end to death.  Let there be no more fairy tales and ghost stories around and about this.  I don't advocate that everybody die, I only say everybody finish your lives in purity and solitude and gentleness and realization of the truth and be not the cause of any further birth and turning of the black wheel of death.  Let then the animals take the hint, and then the insects, and all sentient beings in all one hundred directions of the One Hundred Thousand Chilicosms of Universes. Period.

Nature is the cause of all our suffering; joy is the reverse side of suffering.  Instead of seducing women, control yourself and treat them like sisters; instead of seducing men, control yourself and treat them like brothers.  For life is pitiful.

Stop.

 Some of the Dharma, Viking 1997, p. 175, (bold added)

44 comments:

  1. How cute and lovable!

    I also want to mention that I too, like Jack Kerouac, hope that if we peacefully end our race, other creatures will follow suit. As the more intelligent, we should show the way.

    Under this hope, we need not go through the trouble of blasting an omega bomb or something such either. Creatures like various apes, elephants, monkeys, dolphins, and dogs and cats even, are CONSIDERABLY intelligent. I believe at least some of them will learn from our example, should we set it first!

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    1. Srikant, now that is insane optimism!:-)

      If humans do go under, I can imagine the other animals having the biggest party in Earth's history:-)

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    2. Beautiful, i love your blog Karl <3

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    3. Maybe Chickens, Cows and Pigs...but then the Animals will return to business as usual!

      At times I have imagined, seconds before the Asteroid which eviscerated with flying rock, baked, or drowned the dinosaurs; a t-rex feeling the satisfaction of the kill, or raptor winning a mating battle. For me, it's such a clear example, of how nature instills us with purpose, but in context, how ridiculous it all is.

      Karl, thank you for your blog and regular posts.

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    4. Thanks for the nice words, Anonymous and Dima:-)

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  2. Wonderful stuff Karl. Really really great. :)

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  3. Great post!I did not know Kerouac was an anti-natalist & yearned for the blessed oblivion.

    Hey,Karl,in one of your posts you wrote something about different ways in which we may mitigate our misery while we are still around-well,ever heard of a guy called Trechenberg,he was a jew ,held captive in a Nazi concentration camp. He was shipped in a cattle car to a concentration camp-one noted for its brutality. The slightest variance from the rules resulted in outrageous forms of punishment. Daily the ranks of the prison were decimated by the ruthlessly random selection of victims for the ovens.

    To keep his sanity, Trachtenberg moved into a world of his own-a world of logic and order. While his body daily grew more emaciated, and all about him was pestilence, death, and destruction. In a world gone mad, the calm logic of numbers were like old friends to him.
    Do you find math soothing?

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    1. No, gotta say I'm not a Maths person. I definitely need to be able to focus my thoughts more, though, and get less swamped by all the shit I see around me!

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  4. A quick and somewhat unrelated question: Why does it seem like most anti-natalists are vegetarians?

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    1. I guess it ties in with the principle of causing as little harm as possible.

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  5. "Let there be an end to birth, an end to life, and therefore an end to death"

    I couldn't agree more. However I disagree with Jack that antinatalists need to be celibate; if you use an effective means of birth control, that should suffice.
    Enjoyed going out to see "Superman Man of Steel" the other day but found myself getting peeved at Superman's parents for deciding to keep him alive by shipping him to earth even though they knew he'd suffer for their decision (by being a "freak" placed in the wrong world, a world he was never meant for). If I was in Kal-El's situation I would rather have died. Instead he got a first class ticket to a troubled earth forced to spend his life trying to "save" it. Don't we all. But the movie was fun even though Kal-El's parents were too stupid to be antinatalists.

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    1. "Instead he got a first class ticket to a troubled earth forced to spend his life trying to "save" it. Don't we all."

      Great pithy line!

      I guess Antinatalism isn't going to lead to great movies, given the absence of characters and plot:-)

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    2. Anon, I think what Jack is saying is that you should see and treat people like brothers/sisters, which resonates with me. It's hard to do so if you are lusting after them and have ulterior motives when dealing with them. But I know that not everyone is going to agree with or even understand that mindset so whatever.

      About birth control: I agree that it's not necessary to be celibate, but there's no such thing as effective birth control. Nothing out there is 100% effective, even sterilization. The only effective birth control is no penile-vaginal sex. If one takes their antinatalist beliefs seriously, I would think they would not have penile-vaginal sex. It's just not worth the risks.

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  6. Thank you Karl for the outstanding work that you do!

    Please allow me to share just briefly what bothers me immensely, for I am an ardent antinatalist and an extreme pessimist in regards to the efficacy of any life-negating philosophy:

    The tragic truth of the matter is that people are not going to stop having kids, and humanity may continue to persist for potentially millions of years. All I can beg for is that if people are going to be MORALLY CALLOUS enough to have kids in the first place, they should AT LEAST optimize the GENETIC QUALITY of their offspring, by choosing the most attractive and physically healthy mates possible. This will at least increase the likelihood that those offspring will possess traits that will ensure their survival and at least a modicum of social well-being in a morally bankrupt species, driven by greed, delusion and psychopathy. There are far too many people, who are shunned by society for their physical and aesthetic inadequacies, having children, and imprisoning those children in a life of ostracism, misery and loneliness.

    Please don't take me for an eugenicist. All I am saying is that if people are going to procreate, they should at least DO IT RIGHT! (in accordance with the principle of maximizing Darwinian fitness)

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    1. True. But then again, what if all offspring were programmed to be unattractive so as to hasten the end of reproduction? But then again, as you say, there's no stopping the breeders. Problem is, though, that the elite require vast numbers of socially inferior slaves to do their dirty work, so in many ways it suits their interests that the poor propogate.

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    2. A painless, socially-accepted option to exit will do. Genetics is uncertain; what is certain is that some people want to shed away their sentience, and deserve to get to do so in peace.

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    3. I don't think that making genetically superior children is much more ethical than simply making more worthless DNA-puppets.

      For the antinatalist cause to advance, the human race would need moral improvements, rather than genetic improvements.

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    4. "For the antinatalist cause to advance, the human race would need moral improvements, rather than genetic improvements."

      What a beautiful thought! If only!

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  7. This is awesome. Never knew he was pessimistic like that. But I already know that many authors are intelligent, so... =)

    I echo everyone´s words: thanks for it, Karl, my brother!

    Let´s continue spreading the message!

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    1. Thanks, Shadow! Keep safe, brother:-)

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  8. Karl,what do you think of van Gogh?Do you think he was some sort of antinatalist?

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    1. An unhappy man, certainly, but I think he believed in God.

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    2. Come on, Karl, believing in God has little to do with antinatalism! =)

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    3. Certainly, but VG started off as a missionary and I think he always loved children, and life, for that matter. From what I know of him, I reckon he would have found AN repugnant.

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  9. David Rickerby26 June 2013 at 12:12

    He may have been an AN,but he was also a deadbeat dad. He disavowed,his daughter,who spent many years establishing her rights to his estate. You may regret breeding,but, you still have a moral duty to recognise and provide for your offspring, which Kerouac was able but unwilling to do. That's not to say what he wrote was wrong,but it sounds slightly disengenuous if not hypocritical.

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    1. Didn't know that, David. Thanks for the info. I guess we can admire the sentiments expressed while compartmentalising the behaviour of the man who spoke them. A bit like Bukowski and Camus, who also talked big but procreated nonetheless.

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    2. David Rickerby27 June 2013 at 12:03

      Absolutely, Karl. A friend of mine who is a philosopher appreciates Martin Heidegger,while despising his Nazi ass. Perhaps, when a writer/philosopher formulates a conclusion, with which we agree,we shouldn't expect them to follow it themselves. After all we don't expect those who call themselves christians to follow the Gospels:)

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    3. True, David, although let's guard against complacency. There isn't a human being alive who isn't a selfish hypocrite; part of the package deal unfortunately!

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  10. Have you read The Last Messiah by Zapffe ,Karl?
    This is what I found about him-that he believed that having children should be problematised and remained childless by choice.

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    1. Yes, Harsh. TLM is a great essay, easily available online if you haven't read it. Zapffe was the man alright, total integrity!

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  11. Q.To be or not to be?
    A.Not to be.

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    1. Not to have ever been is undoubtedly the best plan of all. Unfortunately, it is in no one’s reach.

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    2. Not to have ever been is undoubtedly the best plan of all. Unfortunately, it is in no one’s reach.

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    3. You are right George,we can't undo a human being who's been born already.
      But we "can"prevent producing future generations.
      From Kreutzer Sonata:

      But," said I, with astonishment, "how would the human race continue?"
      "But what is the use of its continuing?" he rejoined, vehemently.
      "What! What is the use? But then we should not exist."
      "And why is it necessary that we should exist?"
      "Why, to live, to be sure."
      "And why live? The Schopenhauers, the Hartmanns, and all the Buddhists, say that the greatest happiness is Nirvana, Non-Life; and they are right in this sense,—that human happiness is coincident with the annihilation .

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    4. "Let the day of my birth be erased, and the night I was conceived."- Job

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    5. Nice lines, harsh. Must have a read of that Tolstoy story.

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    6. Just don't read Kreutzer Sonata if you're in a relationship, Karl. It takes every illusion about love and blows it to pieces. I'm always amazed that Tolstoy had such a large family and yet wrote stories like KS and Death of Ivan Ilyich :-)

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    7. Don't worry, I'm under no illusions:-) And Tolstoy did his procreating before he had his crisis. There's a good movie about his last years entitled 'The Last Station', available to watch on YouTube, or it was last time I checked.

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    8. "We only have babies when we're young enough not to know how grim life turns out. Once we really get the full measure of it — we're slow learners, we women — we dry up in disgust and sensibly halt production.

      But men don't dry up, Melena objected; they can father to the death.

      Ah, we're slow learners, Nanny countered. But they can't learn at all."

      - from Wicked by Gregory Maguire

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  12. Great blog, great find. -- Thanks.

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  13. Thanks Karl:-)
    Read this:
    Vasilievich reproaches me for rebelling against my nativity: 'You opened her matrix,' he says. I don't know about her matrix, but I'd have let them kill me in the womb, so as not to come out into the world at all, miss.”
    ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

    The idea of bringing someone into the world fills me with horror. I would curse myself if I were a father. A son of mine! Oh no, no, no! May my entire flesh perish and may I transmit to no one the aggravations and the disgrace of existence.”
    ― Gustave Flaubert

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    1. Yeah, know them both well:-)

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