Value Relationships

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the Value is the word prescribed to the relationship between object and subject. This is my subjective view of value, a somewhat extrinsic one, but not entirely. Value requires an object to exist, and a subject to give it value. Intrinsic value is real, but has no meaning, as it is identical in quantity and quality in and out of all things at all times.

So value is the relationship between the object and subject. The subject can determine some kind of affection that the object has on the subject, which varies only subject to subject, and force behind the value is determined by how the object may change the composition of the subject. This does not mean that subject is the sole determinant in how the object affects, for the current composition of the subject is both undetermined by the subject and determines how a subject may be affected by a particular object.

No object is free from subjection, even by the blind subject. Objects, save those which are imaginary, have the capacity to affect the subject in every way. The way, the senses, which objects may have an impact on subjects is determined by the essence of the object. The sun may impact a subject with its light or heat, the way it cooks up the ground to smell, the way it stirs the wind to blow into our ears.

The composition of the subject changes faster than the subject can know. When the subject encounters an object, its composition will either mix well or clash with the object, entirely depending on the composition (or the elasticity of the composition) of the subject. When the subject sees jumper cables, his composition determines the value he places on them. If this composition is that of one who needs jumper cables to start a car, he may be satisfied, and the value relationship between the two is positive. If he is reminded of a particularly gruesome torture scene from a film, one involving jumper cables like the ones in front of him, he may have feelings of disgust, and therefore the value relationship is (temporarily) negative.

This negative and positive value, which changes in degrees subject to subject, is simply how the subject has valued. If the object is empowering, satisfying, pleasant, it would be positive. If it is saddening, crippling, melancholy, it would be negative.

With these criteria in place, I need to think about mirrors.

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School and Authority Figures

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Sunshine is rarely seen in a lot of the classrooms that I took my tests in. It was usually a smaller room, some number of doors down from the rest of the class, with white walls, comfy rolling chairs, and a fridge. It was a teacher’s lounge or break room. Having no other good place to put kids who need to be separated from the rest, this room was utilized, and I spent a decent portion of my class time in the windowless room.

The lack of windows was by no means depressing, as even with windows all the classrooms are more or less equally drab. What impacts me the most is the alienation I felt. It was a silent feeling, I never mentioned my dislike of it. I had the problem of only expressing 1% of my grievances, typical of a quiet kid. It was deep in my though. It affected me very much, cause kids are porous like a frog in that way, any subtle toxicity around them can poison their body. How am I too think of myself, if the entire test-taking experience is away from my peers?

I have to be their because I get distracted, because I take more time than the rest, because the classroom makes me anxious. In truth, I think I was just as anxious as the rest, and maybe even less distracted at times. But, early in my academic life, I was determined to need extra help. Not that much, I was not differently abled or anything, I just needed a little extra time. I never had a person sit me down and tell me that.

When you are just a little bit below average, when you perform (at times) just a tad slower than normal, the school cannot send you to a room only for the slightly slower kids. If they separate you, you go with the kids who have down syndrome, who are in a motorized wheel chair, who cannot help but scream from time to time. Special education is a necessity, but my special education only helped convince me that my mind operated in such a ‘below average’ level that I was equivalent to a kid who was born with the inability to control their volume, or with the reading comprehension of a toddler.

From the 4th grade onto the very end of high school, I experienced classes different from everyone else. I was not the only one, but when you are in school, where social pressures are peaking, you don’t always think about how other people have it. I conceived a reality that I still have a tough time breaking through. Everyone in my age group, all above, and even some below, where more capable than me. Even if I got better grades than someone else in my class, I had my extra help to point to for success. Every time I did worse than them, I would only point to me and find myself incompetent. When you think like that, that everyone has more competence than you, you don’t give yourself agency. I have formed a bad habit of being easily swayed and pushed around, to change my actions based on others commands, and to be submissive towards people who I really shouldn’t be at all.

I see authority in everyone to some level. Even today, knowing more of myself and the causes that made me who I am, I have trouble thinking of myself as equal to anyone. I always feel lesser. I have a stunted sense of independence. My overall self-esteem is crippled. I still fight feelings like that today.

What is more, I had a inactive life outside of school. My time was consumed by entertainment, video games, television, movies, and later pornography. I didn’t grow as a person at all, I felt no direction. Instead, what structure did exist in my life was created entirely by others. The most solid structure, and the most visible and consistent, was the school. My life was aimed by a curriculum. My path was set by my teachers. It was rare that I felt any kind of preparedness for life after school. I did not know well a way of comfortably living outside of that sort of structure. Even worse, it has all been done out of love and good intentions. I find myself a nervous wreck, and what has this help gotten me? But I cannot point a finger at it, at my loving teachers and considerate parents, as there is not a drop of venom in their actions.

I am still in school. I still have (now optional) extra help. I still struggle with structuring my life outside of school. I still have low self-esteem. It is getting better though. I am thankful, extremely so, for the path I have been set on. It isn’t perfect, but it made me who I am, even though I have trouble enjoying who I am.

Roach

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In what way am I like a cockroach? In what way am I not like one?

I eat trash, that is to say, the food I eat is not all that great. I have the option to eat better food, a roach does not. I sometimes just eat whats out of the cupboard. There are also times I just eat when it is dark out, and I hide in my room when there is daylight. I don’t skitter away when the sun is out, I am more like a slug in that instance. I feel like a roach when I eat, because I eat bad food at night. I feel like a roach because I feel smaller than the people around me. I feel like a roach because sometimes I feel like a very subtle pest.

To say that I feel like a cockroach or bug might be a bit much. On average I feel nothing like a cockroach, and I hold the same amount of disgust for the habits of the bug. However, I cannot say that I have never had days, weeks, where I have felt like that. The sensation of the largeness of everything else. Everyone I know demands authority, I feel like an insect under their shoe sometimes! Is this what Kafka was doing in Metamorphosis? Everyone is a human, but I feel like an over sized bug who’s carapace is just as fragile as it would be on a normal scale. Like Gregor, it just starts one morning, the roach appears out of nowhere.

Roaches are not organized. They live in filthy places, with food on the floor and half eaten. They don’t finish their food, though I usually do. I don’t finish much else. No real discipline. No person holding the reigns all that tightly. Lots of unfinished work, especially this one!

Cockroaches thrive. They are hard to get rid of, too. The amount of life a building, forest, lake, or whatever can hold, the richness of biodiversity, never seems to consider the cockroach. Why should it? Who wants to know how well the cockroach is doing? No real value, since if one place cannot support a roach, there will always be another. There are lots of cockroaches, there are lots of people the same as me.

Celebrate the uniqueness! Individuality! Specialness! What is all that, if I know I am a roach? Just a copy of the last, maybe to produce another roach for the future. Millions share my same identity. I can’t make anything but more cockroaches. Even my cockroach is a copy, Kafka described before I even got the feeling. My plagiarism is what I am made of. Just a collage of my environments, a roach preferring the indoors to the outdoors. The preacher has it right. Nothin’ new under that dang ol’ sun! 

Pity, pity, pity! Pity? Pity. Roach under the shoe, poor little bug. Roach feeling blue, poor lil’ fella. Roach has not done anything new. Shouldn’t complain, it isn’t unique! This has happened before, it is happening again, and it’ll keep happening long after me.

I am lucky I don’t feel like a cockroach all the time.

The Singularity is a Shitty Rapture

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The future is near! It is happening! The singularity! An event horizon! Mans ascent to godhood! And you can be apart of it for just $19.99!

That is a joke, no way would it be that cheap. And I doubt it is happening, but if it does, it’ll be too much.

The singularity, from what I understand, is the blending of circuit board and nervous system. Not just jamming a microchip in my brain, but having technology become bigger and faster than ever. The effect on human kind as a whole is still in question. Will we get advertising shot into our brains? Will we live in a solar-punk utopia? Will our thoughts be more clearly translated from person to person than ever? It is like “The Jetsons” at this point, our rate of technological growth does not outright determine what it will produce. The shift from massive industrial production to a new focus on phone and computer production has changed our dreams of the future. No buzzing flying cars are talking about much anymore, instead we get to talk about dystopias run by evil AI. But those are just dreams. People dream up a utopia in their head, everyone thinking of the gaps in their life and filling it up with a gadget. I doubt the singularity is close.

Why not? The singularity I think about would have to include everyone. Singular singularity, that transhumanist goal of having mankind ascend together with the assistance of technology, everyone goes to heaven. We do not, however, have the privilege to take part of the singularity. I doubt people in the slums will take part either. It is the ascension to techno-heaven that is reserved for the saved. Only those who have enough money can become part of this new bliss. The mighty technocrat will don his computer helmet and rule us as an immortal demigod, citing his knowledge as the justification for his authority. The singularity will have occurred, but only for the select few.

It is just a rip-off rapture. The technocrat gets his fancy computer-throne and nice internet, but those of us who are not saved will get stuck with normal chairs and bad internet! What hell!

Technology has done little to unite people, it has only further stratified us. I cannot think of a good reason to expect otherwise.

What do I Want to Be

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What is it that I want to be? What is it that I am?

What I am and what I would like to be are immediately very different. The ‘ideal’ version of me is entirely fictional, not achievable, and alien to my current self. My current self is hard to understand, always changing, and only half under my control (and less than half of that control is conscious!).

I must elaborate on what it is I want to be. I desire strength, like all others. Not physical strength (though I do desire it), but strength of will. The willpower to discipline myself. The strength of my mind. Mastery over my desires and impulses, which gives me more control over the world than even the most capable athlete. I want to be that stoic man on a mountain, able to shrug off the cold, surviving with only what is necessary, completely free from societies and cultures. To shrug off the winter, those harsh winter blues, the draining sadness. To be able to adapt to any world, and only rely on myself and not any sort of medications or consolations. I wouldn’t be subject to the world, only to myself.

What I am, is much more realistic. I am a physical machine slogging through the muck, getting my cogs clogged with wire and oil from the world around me. It is necessary, though. I must pull the wires, let the oil clear my rust. The wires need pulling, the oil needs a use. I know that my parts, the nuts and bolts and springs and tubes, are always changing paths and functions (to an extent). The parts don’t sync perfectly, because I am not a perfect machine. I require maintenance. To believe I, or anyone else, can be so independent is ridiculous. No machine repairs itself fully without the help of a handyman. No person can go on without the nourishment of the mind.

I have been manufactured in a strange place. A baby, like every newly invented machine, should go through a stress test. How much weight does it take? Every moment the body is reinvented, and it must go through that new stress test. The weights are the challenges of the environment around the body. The body constantly improves, scarring itself like tempering a metal, learning to resist burns and diseases. The machine reaches adulthood, but my machine doesn’t feel ready. It feels incomplete, wired a little sloppily, rusted in places underused. My body wasn’t invented and reinvented under the conditions and stresses that my genetic schematics anticipated. Perhaps to make up for this lack of external pressures, I have tried to make do with a half-formed masochism, attempted to simulate the external forces, fight myself.

A machine cannot stress test itself. I cannot effectively create the experiences that I should have had so many years ago. Some bodies are able to get by without this, but I am unable. What was it that I needed? What causes me to bring about this misguided self-harm? School was not the correct stress test for my body. I don’t know how to go on alone, my body needs the external aids in order to continue its existence.

I need new parts, or rather, new experiences. I need to utilize the underdeveloped parts of myself, what few schools or parents think to test. If I want to even come close to what I want to be, I have to run experiments, I have to form habits, I have to commit to exercises, I need an engineer.

If any engineers are reading, please help! I know I can do it, but some days I feel like I cannot do it alone! Make me a better body, and I will make yours better too!

Sapolsky’s Lecture on Depression

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Stanford Professor Robert Sapolsky

 

This is my favorite lecture on depression. Sapolsky is an outstanding lecturer. There is a whole series on the Standford youtube channel of Sapolsky lecturing on Human Behavioral Biology (the above lecture is a segment of that series). I think it is probably one of the most important lecture series out there, regardless of what one’s field of interest is. It is entertaining and informative, plus gives an excellent point of view for understanding yourself and others.

King Ludd is on His Way!

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As the Liberty lads o’er the sea
Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood,
     So we, boys, we
   Will die fighting, or live free,
And down with all kings but King Ludd!

What Byron says is true. King Ludd will return, I think it is inevitable. In this instance, I think of Ludd not as the symbol for willing denial of our tech, but for the unwilling denial; a fall from our computerized world and back into simplicity.

The Luddites, those with the hammers to break the machines, who yearn for the old-fashioned style of living, are a good people. But when they break the machines, the mechanical stilts that hold up the kingdoms we live in, I am not certain how well I will fare under the rule of King Ludd. Is it a lot to say that I think I will be in such a condition in my lifetime? Hard to say, but it is on my mind constantly.

King Ludd is a just king, but perhaps an intolerant one. I am, like the Luddites, sick from all the money and cars of today. But I do not have the constitution, the wit, or maturity to survive under King Ludd. I have been chiseled into a form that best suits the environment I live in, the city or suburb. When I am tossed into the low-tech world of Ned Ludd, what will I do? How can I cope?

 

I am sure I will figure it out if I live to see the day. It is inevitable though, King Ludd will return, and no human on earth can escape him.

Dread n’ Me.

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I dread all the time. Even when I forget what I am dreading, I feel some of it. I am dreading the future, at all times, just because it is the future. Mindfulness, living in the moment, meditation, a video game, a movie, reading, friends, television; these distract from the dread for only moments. When I lay down, sober, and try to force myself to sleep, dread is still there. When I sleep, dread manifests itself very clearly in my nightmares. When I wake up, dread is still there, loud and terrifying.

What am I dreading? What the hell is bothering me all the time? I live a great life, I love my family, I love my friends, I have money and food at all times, I have free time to do practically anything I want. I have medicine, I have therapy, I have lovers, I have showers. I get to go to school, I get to work out, I get to dress up, I get to watch tv. Some poor child in war-torn Syria,  famished Zambia, polluted India has it worse than me. Their dread stares them right in the face, gnaws at their stomach, chokes them. I have clean air, celery, civil order.

So what am I dreading? I know what it is, it is not always a mystery. I dread my future, particularly my future grades and relationships, my future income and health. So much dread, in fact, that it has brought me close to death. What is wrong with me that I am so privileged and rich, with so many paths and opportunities before me, that I must medicate myself to halt attempts for suicide? It makes me feel guilty! Where did I go wrong, what makes me this selfish, why can’t I trade my life for one of the African children’s?

I can’t trade in my life for another, it is impossible. I have to think about this differently. Who else dreads like I do? Many people, as it turns out, dread. They dread more, in fact. They are anxious about everything. They are afraid of waiting in line, of beeping cars, of paperwork, of tall buildings, of failure, of minimalism, of meaninglessness, of loneliness, of everything. I am just like them, I hate money and signatures, I hate all the news reports and the traffic, I hate the power lines and the smoke, but I don’t do much about it. It cripples me, I stay in bed, and I hide. We both take the medicines, see our doctors, and it helps so much. It is not an escape though. I have not learned to love this.

With so many of us on anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-whatever pills, what can we do? The people in famished Africa don’t take them (not that they even have it available). How do they get by without killing themselves? Well, maybe it is civilization itself that has created this mess. After all, we only need to look at how Chinese suicide rates increased with its industrialization (google that, please, I am pretty sure it is true). What has civilized society brought to me to make me happy? I am horrified of bad grades, obsessed with and disgusted by money, always panicking about my future. I want to love nature, but how much can I love it when I know it is so close to death? How can I escape society and join the forest when there is so little left?

I often wonder if civilization was the problem, would I be happy to return to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle? It seems unanswerable. There is no tribe I can join that isn’t simply a spectacle for us modern folk (That tribe in Brazil, who use bullet ants as a rite of passage. Not thank you). I can go camping, live off the grid, but how many of my friends and family will I isolate by doing that? Even so, am I even capable of doing that? Will my foggy memory of boy scout wilderness knowledge keep me going? Even so, how long will my adventures in the forest last until it gets clear-cut and paved? Dread is setting in, I feel almost trapped.

I am very thankful for everything I have, especially my medicine and food, especially floss and air-conditioning. It pretty much stops there, though. What good is this system, if the price of technology is happiness? What good is this system, if it is killing the world and myself? How far will it go before the medicine loses its effectiveness and the land cannot produce enough food for our exploding numbers?

Dread dread dread, it is so hard to be optimistic, holy shit.

The only thing that brings me comfort is what I know. I know that it has to be this way, I know that the universe almost pre-ordained this. But that only goes so far, before dread comes back up, mutes my reasoning. I don’t want to be a sad-sack, but I would be foolish not to.

 

 

[EDIT] It has been a little 3 hours since I wrote this and I feel fine now.

Ethics V, Proposition XXXVIII and Coping

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Ethics V, Prop. XXXVIII.– In proportion as the mind understands more things by the second and third kind of knowledge, it is less subject to those emotions which are evil, and stands in less fear of death. 

Spinoza understands three types of knowledge that people are capable of. The first kind is the most false, caused by imagination, superstition, prejudice, and general inadequate ideas of things. Any inadequate idea is evil (IV Prop. LXIV). The second kind of knowledge is born from reason, intellect, and knowledge common to all men. The third kind, is from intuition. Intuition is defined as the “…kind of knowledge proceeds from an adequate idea of the absolute essence of certain attributes of God to the adequate knowledge of the essence of things.” (II Prop. XL Note 2).

I don’t know if I have any sort of the third knowledge, but I believe the point to take from this singular proposition can be very stoic. It is not uncommon, after all, to consider Spinoza a stoic. By increasing our understanding of a particular thing, it has less ability to affect us. For example, when you are mugged by someone, it is naturally a very negative experience. As soon as you have a more adequate understanding of the mugger, their life, the factors that drove him/her to crime (such as desperation or a messy childhood), and the ‘chance’ element at play, you are able to take it less personally. It is not an attack on you, it is you walking into a series of determined causes that just happen to crest as a mugger. Sure, knowing all that won’t make you super zen about it, but at least you can move on much more easily after it occurs.

Trauma from such things is hard to avoid. There is one traumatic experience I have gone through, inappropriate to speak of the details here, but one of the best mechanisms for coping (besides just not thinking about it or letting the thought slip on by) is to try to understand the cause. Not just that, but the cause of that cause, find the chain that led up to the event. Grab that chain, pull it, observe each link, find the vast interlocking web of events that the actors towards what you are trying to understand. Causes are external, internal, from genetics, from parentage, etc. When so many things are at play, I get the sense that it was predetermined. I cannot control the event, but I have a better understanding that the event is simply one of the many waves of causes coming to a crest.

Celery

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There is no vegetable better than celery.

I find it to be the most pleasant vegetable of them all, not when its mixed in with a salad, nor when cooked up in a stew. The celery I love is pure, naked, and crunchy.

The crunch is essential! It is like a pickle, but more refined. I feel the crushing of the stem under my teeth, the water squeezing out of the vascular tissue. I love pulling on the cuticle, which is always revealed when I take the first bite. It is the string cheese of vegetables, with its long fibers, tightly packed together giving you a nice stalk of nutritious greens. The pickle has none of this, and while it is certainly more sweet, I think the celery gives a satisfaction to many more senses.

The fresher the celery, the better, of course. However, the plant has one special property that allows me to enjoy it when it ages. The increase in psoralen, a furocoumarin, causes an allergic reaction when it touches my tongue. Usually a defense mechanism, the celery sets up a toxic attack to repel any bugs or small mammals to feast on it’s body, but I am not small. The psoralen, instead poisoning me, makes me numb. The numbing sensation is just on the surface of the tongue,  it gives that weird tickle you feel when you sit on your leg too long, and it lasts for as long as you are eating the celery. What pickle can do that? Do apples do it too? No, celery excels at providing me with a sensation that no other vegetable (that I enjoy, carrots can do it too) may offer! What other foods numb the tongue? Spicy foods bring pain, but none of it numbing. Celery is truly a character.

I believe the best way to eat celery is slowly. I like to do so while reading. Passively chewing away at the stalk, slurping down stray fibers, using the pleasant crunch as white noise. It makes me feel like a big ol’ gorilla, sitting in his favorite gorilla-spot, munching down some bamboo shoot full of termites; the perfect condition for reflecting on gorilla-life. It is a calming vegetable, one that grows abundantly and beautiful, naturally sturdy like a tiny tree, and therapeutic to gaze at or eat.