Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Whining, transhumanism, Danny Elfman

I’m a pretty inconsistent person. I can’t focus on any one thing for any real length of time. This sort of behavior runs up and down everything I do, from actual physical activity to things I’m interested in. It’s a rather large part of my character, and I sort of hate it. I’m not sure what it is (actually, I have a few depressing theories that I will tack to the end of this) and I don’t really like it. It makes it hard for me to finish things sometimes. I get distracted and decide to do something else instead. In order to really finish things, I need to devote all of the time I have that I am still interested in doing them all at once. I write, yes? I write everything I write in more or less one sitting, because I can rarely come back to it and find myself in the same mindset that drove me to write the original. It’s tough.

What I worry about most, though, is how it must appear and affect other people. I do my best to be reliable, I really do. I don’t promise things very often, but the things I say I’ll do, I almost always do. It’s just that once in a while I wake up in the morning and think “Ugh, I don’t want to do whatever it is I agreed to do today” and then I don’t and I feel sort of bad, but I get over it pretty quick because I am pretty self-centered. Check out all those “I”s. I have moved a total of 13 times in my life, most of those as a kid. I don’t keep in touch with anyone that is not in my immediate vicinity any more.

I really don’t get super attached to people or stuff because of this. I literally have no clue where I’ll be the next year. I had no clue I would be where I am last year. I never minded much, because that’s just how stuff is. It’s not a huge deal, you get used to it. I can’t hold on to people, so I rarely try. Welcome to Jake-land, where all is Jake because Jake is all I have. I dunno, I forgot what my point was a while ago. Let’s make it sound angry and stuff like usual. HEY YOU FAGS BE GRATEFUL FOR THE SHIT YOU’VE GOT. I guess. I dunno, nothing I say or yell will make a difference to you. Maybe if I were your psychotic parent who threw away your shit and kicked you to relatives for no reason then I could impart something of what I’m talking about. I really wouldn’t wish that sort of instability on anyone, though.

So I guess that’s what I am here to whine about now. I am an unstable person because I was brought up in an unstable way. That shit is kind of uncool. Obviously I don’t mean emotionally unstable, I just mean incapable of keeping focus.

But none of that feels true. I do things pretty regularly. I sit on the internet for hours at a time bouncing from the same websites and do that day after day. So maybe I am not unstable, just lazy? I’m not all that lazy, either. I don’t know. Clearly I didn’t think this one out too well. I have been sitting here applying for scholarships and WASHING FUCKING EVERYTHING so I can clean up in here. My dad who I have the misfortune to live with has told me that he has essentially broken up with his fiancé and he wants to move to LA of all things to attend UCLA for…. some reason. I am a few months behind on rent because I am unexpectedly broke this summer, so I get to hear all about how anything I do that isn’t directly related to getting a job is an out and out waste of time. Anyway, I am trying to clean up and make my stuff more or less ready to go, both for this Montana trip and the point in time in which I get back from Montana and he kicks me out again for some retarded reason. I really hate this “not having a support structure” thing.

It’s not really true that I don’t have one, my mom’s side of the family is very nice and are pretty willing to help me in any capacity that they can, for which I am incredibly grateful. I just think they’re a bit overbearing and I don’t really want to take any more help from them than I have to. It’s stupid. My dad’s side of the family has no idea who the fuck I am, for the most part. There was something of a schism after my grandpa died. Or something. They’re just not close at all. I don’t know what I’m going on about now, really, but let’s get back to the angry and say HEY FAGS, BE GRATEFUL FOR ALL THAT FAMILY SHIT YOU GOT.

I guess the only thing that is stopping me is money right now, which would probably explain why I have been complaining about it so much. Stopping me from what, though. I don’t know. I want to go find somewhere nice that I can live and hang out with people that I like. The only friends I do keep in touch with anyway, the ones I really have never met. But that would be dumb.

Who am I even writing to anyway? I don’t even know any more. Who was I writing to before? Hi Bill! I love that someone reads the stuff I write. It makes me happy, which is the only real reason I am sitting here at three in the morning whining about dumb stuff. It’s funny. I write stuff like this and there is literally an internal monologue going “Stop whining so much, Jake, so many people have it so much worse than you. None of your problems really matter. No one will read about them. No one cares. Everything you do is awful.” I think this would be enough for most people to just give up, and that is why most people don’t write rambling 1500 word essays about how shitty they feel. The thing is all I can hear when I hear that is my mother telling me that I have problems and that everything is my fault and why won’t I just get over it and behave. That stuff just makes me mad. So I’ll write this and publish it anyway. I don’t even care. Maybe if more people were able to personify their insecurities into a person they don’t like, less people would be so insecure.

Haha, that was sort of silly. I like to talk dramatically. I’m a melodramatic person, I think. Every emotion that is worth feeling is worth feeling to the fullest extent possible. I am going to join a Slaaneshi pleasure cult. That will be fun. Until my inevitable mutation and death, I suppose.

I’m a determinist and a strong proponent of the concept that humans are just complex chemical reactions, but I get a bit frightened of the implications of that idea. Today I was confronted (in a dark alley(it had a knife(I threw my wallet at it and ran))) by the question “if transhumanism works out and we find a way to hook up the pleasure circuits to run constantly, would you?” The obvious answer is yes, as life is essentially a quest to receive that sensation or one closely related. If the easiest way was simply to hook your brain up to an automatic dopaminifier or whatever this thing would be, then that would be the best way to go. It’s not a question of which way is more honorable or any sort of maniacal religious belief that demands a greater difficulty in achieving pleasure, it’s closer to a question of “there are two houses near your job for sale for the same price. One is behind a deadly mountain range filled with cavernous gaps and rickety rope ladders, the other is across the street from your workplace.” If it were that simple, it would be unwise to choose the harder path. No argument could be made because all of the sensations associated with anything else you do and at any intensity would be covered.

Then, what if human life is reduced to essentially auto-hedonic activity, assisted by these machines or this escape from the physical limits of the body? How will humanity cope with essentially the most powerful drug ever? Will that finally signal the end of the species, not in violent war but in masturbatory pleasure? Is that heaven? I really do hope such a thing is never invented, or at least humanity reacts essentially the same way as rats whose pleasure centers are constantly stimulated and they crawl to the corners of their cage and die in ecstasy. But what a way to die. I’m sure it will be extremely popular. It feels a little strange to bring this up, it’s not a new idea at all. I just worry that it is a legitimate problem I am going to have to deal with in my lifetime. Technology has been advancing at a breakneck pace, and it’s aimed straight at what I’m talking about. Entertainment is the biggest and best selling branch of high tech knickemknacks. I can get pleasurable vibrations transmitted into my ears by devices not much larger than a pebble.

The only real difference between an iPod and a drug is the ridiculous notion that iPods have no harmful side-effects. Of course they have side-effects. Look at the obsessive reliance on iPods just to get through the day, look at the vast amount of accessories designed to increase your time exposed to music, look at the people who are finding themselves hard of hearing because they blast the pleasure waves into their brains as loudly as they can to drown out the unpleasantness of the rest of the world. It’s totally a drug, and anyone who disagrees is in denial. The same with TV, movies, video games. They’re all designed to evoke a pleasurable reaction in their users. It’s all an industry entirely set up because we’ve gotten so good at keeping ourselves alive that we can devote time to simply making ourselves feel good.

I don’t know, I guess I’m not really worried about what other people choose to do with their lives. I probably wouldn’t get into it, or even if I did, I would lose interest because I’m not a consistent person. I think the thing I will be most bitter about is if this sort of invention keeps us here on earth instead of exploring and traveling through space. That’s all I really want to see happen, I think.

Note: it’s not that I think that music, movies, television, or video games are incapable of providing a legitimate artistic medium through which to share ideas and emotions. I just saw this music video of an old Oingo Boingo song and realized that it did a great job of expressing how it feels to be me when I feel lonely and shut in from the lyrics to the expressions on the face of Danny Elfman. Here’s the video. I just dislike the trend of pulpy movies made to visually delight but not to particularly think. But what am I saying, I loved Speed Racer. Everything in moderation, I guess. Balance is really where it’s at.

Theories of my inconsistency:

1. I am inconsistent because if I work too hard on one thing I begin to feel like I’m stuck doing that thing, and in order to free myself from the grasp of an activity, I switch to something else. This is possibly some sort of delayed rebellion from the intense level of structure that I was forced into in my adolescence. I instinctively try to destroy that structure before it can affect me.
2. I have some form of ADD or AD/HD. I really don’t think this one is true, but I have probably been diagnosed with this before? I’ve been diagnosed with pretty much everything at one point or another. I don’t really agree that these are real disease; it is much more likely that they are simply a result of living in a world, or at least a culture, where there’s been a dramatic upswing in things to do. And I can certainly focus if I really want to. I spent a good week solid doing little more than playing WoW. I read every Harry Potter book after the third nonstop until I was finished when I got them. I have done nothing this evening but write this, with occasional music and textan.
3. I blow my load too soon. Metaphorically. I enjoy something and then I exhaust everything I enjoy about it instead of experiencing it in full. I used to have this problem with music. I would really like one song and then I would listen to it over and over and over until I pretty much didn’t like it any more. There was no newness left, because I had worn it out instead of taking it in moderation or mixing it with other songs by the same artist.
4. I think too damn much. For years I have been doing this weird sort of psychological conditioning experiment with myself where I try to think without using words, because my thoughts are always faster than the words I make out of them. It’s worked pretty well, and I’ve got great intuition for a lot of things. Stuff occurs to me really fast. This can be really distracting, though, cause I can sort of detach from a situation and start simply absorbing my surroundings and making free associations. Lots of fun, but terrible if you’re trying to get something done.
5. I am just buttfuckingly lazy. I don’t consistently put a lot of effort into things because I really don’t like putting any effort into anything. Seriously if it involves a lot of movement or strain I generally put it off until the last minute. I am only really skinny because I am too fucking lazy to eat most of the time. It’s pretty pathetic. (:D)

Like I always always always say: the answer is probably some horrible amalgamation of these and several additional factors. There really are no simple clear-cut answers whenever living things are involved. That’s part of why I like anthropology and sociology so much. If you can come up with a theory and argue it well, it may end up as canon. Though, it does bug me when self-help “psychological professionals” start trumpeting their theories as the end-all be-all of human behavior. “Evolutionary psychology” is probably the most egregious offender. I’ve read EP essays supporting the most absurdly sexist ideas, arguing that culture has no appreciable value to a person’s psychological makeup, and just in general promoting the concept that Human behavior is inherited instead of learned. It’s a major reason why I hate atheists and Richard Dawkins in particular. They all have their heads up their asses for these sweeping statements about humanity that are poorly researched, poorly conceived and poorly understood. It’s a god damn fucking religion and a terrible one because it pretends to have some sort of scientific legitimacy rather than a blind faith in the process that creates it. It gives the rest of legitimate social studies a bad name. Oooh, I am livid now.


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